Hurray for the Red White and Blueberry Shortcake!

berries shortcakePerfect for Independence Day* dessert! I kept the sugar low, but the fat content is, well it is what it is, but the fresh berries make up for all that cream, right?

The shortcake recipe is based on my Light as a Feather Cream Biscuits. I added vanilla, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar, and a tad of nutmeg to complement the berries. Buy a pint of cream to make the shortcakes, and softly whip the remaining 1/2 cup to top them.

*4th of July in USA, and or any country whose flag is red, white and blue.

Shortcakes:  Makes 5 or 6 large shortcakes

2 cups flour

1  Tb baking powder

1/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 Tb sugar

1 1/2 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 450′

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir in sugar. Add vanilla to the cream and pour it into the flour mixture. Slowly stir until the dough is shaggy. Turn it over a few times with your hands to gather up any flour into the dough.

Spray an insulated cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make and quickly form it into circle with your hands. You don’t want to handle the dough too much, so the circle doesn’t need to be perfect.

Bake for 12 minutes, until biscuits are light brown. Keep the oven light on so you can keep an eye on them.

Let cool on a rack about 20 minutes.

Softly whip 1/2 cup cream with 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp sugar or maple syrup.

berriesRinse 1 pint each strawberries and blueberries. Organic berries are best, since conventionally grown berries contain a lot of pesticides. Cut tops off strawberries, then slice. Mix berries together in a bowl.

middle of shortcakeSplit shortcakes in half crosswise (top and bottom). Spread whipped cream on the center, cover with berries, then put a dab of whipped cream on the top and cover with more berries.

Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette

saladThis light vinaigrette is perfect to toss into salad greens and arugula. I sprinkle a few strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and sliced almonds over the coated greens.

Champagne vinegar is a light golden, mild vinegar made from Chardonnay grapes aged in oak barrels. It can be expensive, but the Berkeley Bowl brand is a good deal. I’ve generally avoided salad vinegars because of their strong acidity. But  just ½ tsp honey is needed to balance the acidity of the champagne vinegar in this dressing. Since I don’t like the sharpness of fresh raw garlic, I prefer to get the garlic flavor from garlic olive oil. I used a shallot, which is milder than an onion.

Makes ¾ cup, which is enough to sprinkle on about 6 large or 10 small salads. Refrigerate leftovers and use within a week.

vinaigrette ingredientsIngredients:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tb minced shallot
3 Tb champagne vinegar
½ tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
a few grinds of black pepper
1 Tb garlic oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

champagne vinaigretteIn a small bowl or blender, whisk together all ingredients except oils. While blending or whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

American Flag Salad

??????????????????????????????? Perfect for the Fourth of July, don’t you think?

Cut red bell pepper into 7 strips

Peel jicama and cut into rounds, then square them and cut into 7 strips. Cut one of the strips into little chunks for the stars

Wash blueberries.

Trim 4 red bell pepper strips and 3 jicama strips to fit around the star square.

Assemble the flag: Start with the red bell pepper, alternate with the jicama, so that the last stripe is red (13 altogether).

Put the blueberries in the square and sprinkle in jicama stars

Lemon Ricotta-Cornmeal Pancakes

Inspired by a similar pancake I ate at the organic restaurant Gather in Berkeley, I invented this recipe. I loved the lemon ricotta cream with the grated Meyer lemon. It is sublime mixed with apricot jam and fresh peaches. Flax seed meal amps up the nutrition level.

Combine milk with lemon juice first, and let it sit while you mix the other ingredients. The lemon juice will curdle the milk so it resembles buttermilk.

Makes about 15 medium-sized pancakes

Mix milk and lemon juice:

2  2/3 cups milk (I use 1%)

1 tsp Meyer lemon juice

Mix other wet ingredients:

¾ cup low-fat ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

½ tsp grated rind of Meyer lemon

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 tsp melted butter

Mix dry ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal

1 1/4  cup whole wheat pastry or finely ground flour. If you can’t find this, use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour

1/4 cup ground flax seed

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

2 Tb sugar

Stir in:

½ cup sliced blueberries

1/2 cup pecan pieces

Directions:

Combine wet ingredients, mixing well.

Alternate 1/2 of milk mixture and dry ingredients, stirring only until lumps disappear. Fold in blueberries and nuts if desired.

Heat oiled skillet or pancake grill. Rub a cube of butter over surface. Fry pancakes over low-medium heat.

Lemon-ricotta cream:

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

½ tsp lemon juice from Meyer lemon

½ tsp grated Meyer lemon rind

1 tsp sugar

Whip ingredients together for about 2 minutes. Serve over pancakes with fresh strawberries and peaches. Top with apricot jam or maple syrup if desired.

Blueberry Cake or Muffins


This is perfect for late spring and summertime when fresh blueberries are plentiful. I love how the fragrant nutmeg complements the fresh fruit. My friend Marcia got this recipe from her mom. Our families used to pick wild blueberries with her in-laws in the New Hampshire countryside.

I changed the recipe a bit, substituting whole wheat pastry flour, cutting down a bit on the sugar and adding vanilla. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use 1 % milk and still get a tender and delicious muffin.

Makes a 13 × 9 inch cake or about a dozen muffins

Blueberry prep:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tb flour

Cake:

¾ cup sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 large eggs warmed to room temperature

½ cup milk

1½ tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Topping:

2 Tb sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350’

Wash blueberries, and discard overripe ones. Dry in a paper towel. Toss blueberries with 2 Tb flour so that they are lightly coated.

Sift flours, salt and baking powder and stir well to combine.

Beat butter on high speed and add sugar, beating for a few minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light. Scrape the bowl and add 1/4 cup milk, mixing well.

Stir half the flour mixture into the batter only until combined. Add the other 1/4 cup milk and the rest of the flour mixture and slowly stir only until combined.

Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Pour in a buttered 13 × 9 inch pan, or into about 12-14 paper muffin cups.

Mix 2 Tb sugar with ¼ tsp nutmeg in a cup. Sprinkle about 1/3 to ½ tsp over each muffin, or if making the cake, sprinkle evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes, until top is light brown.

Blueberry Nut Pancakes

I’m a big fan of pancakes. When my sister and I were little, our daddy used to make them into our initials and animal shapes. I did the same for my own kids when they were small.

Fresh blueberries add a delicious juiciness to pancakes, so I make these in the summer when the blueberries are cheap and plentiful. Just cut them in half first, otherwise they make big lumps that will cause your pancakes to have raw spots. Defrosted blueberries can be used whole, but they tend to turn the batter blue. Chop up a few strawberries to add to the blueberries if you like. I’ve  also tried adding a soft banana that I smashed up to the batter.

Several friends have introduced me to Sally Fallon’s cookbook “Nourishing Traditions” in which she maintains that soaking whole grains in yogurt, buttermilk, or a water and lemon juice mixture, aids absorption of minerals from the bran and increases B vitamins. I don’t know enough about nutritional science to explain or judge this, but she provides an interesting recipe for pancakes, which calls for soaking whole wheat flour in buttermilk overnight. This softens the whole flour to make the pancakes as light as those made with white flour, and gives them a sourdough taste. You can stir together 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt and 1/4 milk to substitute for buttermilk.

Beginning with her soaking method, I created the following recipe. I separate the eggs and whip the whites to lighten the pancakes. I add a little sugar and vanilla to balance the sourness of the buttermilk, nuts for a nice crunch and protein, and of course, blueberries.  My kids love to throw in a handful of chocolate chips for that sweet gooey touch.

Top with Strawberry Sauce

Serves 4  (about 20 small pancakes)

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup low fat buttermilk. You can substitute 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt and 1/4 milk (I use 1%)

2 eggs, separated

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 shake salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tb melted butter or extra-virgin coconut oil for coconut flavor. You can mix them too.

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired

1 cup fresh blueberries and/ or 1 large soft banana

serving suggestion: fresh peaches, strawberries, maple syrup

Combine flour and buttermilk, cover bowl with a clean dishtowel, and let stand in a warm spot overnight. (If you forget, you can do this step first and let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients. It still works.)

Separate eggs. Stir in yolks to flour mixture

Beat whites until stiff.

beat egg whites until stiff

Sift in baking powder and baking soda and add sugar and salt to batter

Melt butter and/or or coconut oil in oiled frying pan and stir into batter.

Stir in vanilla.

Slice blueberries and fold into batter.

Fold in nuts if desired

Fold in several spoonfuls of beaten egg whites to batter to lighten it. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites.

There should be enough butter in the pan  to fry the first batch of pancakes. You may need to add a bit more oil or butter to the pan for subsequent batches.

Fry spoonfuls into letters or shapes as desired, over medium flame.

Serve with sliced fresh peaches and/or strawberries   on top, drizzle with maple syrup or Strawberry Sauce if desired.