Saturday, June 29, 2019

Just in Time for 4th of July - Strawberry Shortcake!

I just got back from my Texas road-trip to my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, just in time for 4th of July! After seeing fields, and fields, and fields of strawberries growing along the gulf coast, I just had to make my absolute favorite, "Long-on-Strawberry Shortcake!" I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I love it! Instead of a biscuit, it is a moist, light cake, made with cake flour, poppy seeds, crushed strawberries, and even some almond extract! Topped with sliced berries and whipped cream, it makes a nice presentation and tastes fantastic! In addition, it only takes 30 minutes, start to finish! It is a nice variation of a true American classic!

Long-on-Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 8-10

For the Cake
2 cups cake flour (like Swan's Down)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup crushed (with a fork), ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon almond extract
2, 9" round cake pans and parchment paper

For the Topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 pints fresh ripe strawberries, sliced
3 pretty, small, whole berries, for garnish

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round cake pans. Cut parchment circles to fit the pans, place in the pans, grease the parchment, and flour the entire inside of the pan. Tap out any excess flour.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a bowl.

With an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 3/4 cup water and the almond extract with the crushed strawberries. Add the fruit mixture in thirds, alternating with the dry ingredients. Continue beating until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

With the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the layers for 5 minutes in the pans. Remove the layers from the pan and continue to cool on cooling racks.

For the Topping
While the cakes are baking, whip the cream and 1 tablespoon of the confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the sliced strawberries with the remaining confectioners' sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time, until desired sweetness.

Assembling the Cake
Remove the parchment rounds from the layers. Transfer one layer to a serving plate. Top with half the sliced berries and spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over the berries. Top with the remaining cake layer, the rest of the sliced berries, the remainder of the whipped cream, and garnish with the 3 remaining whole berries. Pretty and Yum!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Cherokee Legend, and How Strawberries Can Save Your Marriage!

As today is the first day of summer, I want to share the Cherokee Legend of the Strawberry:

The story goes that First Man and First Woman had an argument, in which the First Woman ran away, never to return. After First Man's temper calmed, he began to worry and miss First Woman. First Man prayed to Creator to give her something to eat and to slow her down, so he could tell her how sorry he was. Creator placed a patch of blackberries along her path, but the briars tore at her soft skin, and she continued to run away.

First Man prayed to Creator again to give her something to eat and to slow her down, so he could tell her how much he loved her. Creator reached down and picked the most delicate white flowers and some berries, in which he pricked his finger on the thorns. Drops of blood turned the berries large, bright red, and heart-shaped. He then placed the white flowers and berries along First Woman's path. 

When First Woman saw the delicate flowers and bright red berries, she stopped to enjoy their beauty. As she saw no thorns, she tasted one of the berries. They were so sweet that she stopped to eat more. She saw that the berries were heart-shaped and began to think of the sweet things First Man had done for her in the past. She began looking at the pure white flowers and began to remember how pure her love for First Man had been, and began to cry. She began to pray to Creator to bring her husband to her, so she could tell him how sorry she was and how much she loved him. Her husband appeared and they hugged, exchanged loving words, and forgave each other. 

This is why the Cherokee always have fresh whole strawberries, jam, and pictures in their home to remind them not to argue with one another. Their heart-shape reminds them that if they do slip and say something hurtful, to pray, ask for forgiveness, and say loving words, just like First Man and First Woman.

So, there you have it, strawberries make a happy marriage! Why not run out and pick up a bunch today, eat them whole, like First Man and First Woman, or do what I do, make Thomas Keller's "Strawberry Sorbet," from his cookbook, Bouchon. This luscious strawberry sorbet is so easy and just as satisfying as ice cream, but without any guilt! Keller suggests serving this sorbet simply, in a bowl with no garnish. It's pure perfection, and the perfect way to start your summer!

Bouchon Strawberry Sorbet

Makes about 1 quart.


2 pounds fresh strawberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lime juice in a blender and blend to a puree. Strain to remove the seeds. Refrigerate until cold.

Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Special thanks to Bonita Beautiful Meadowlark Sanders for sharing the "Cherokee Legend of the Strawberry!"