Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake on plateSpringtime brings juicy sweet strawberries that are wonderful just on their own. But sometimes an occasion begs for something fancier – in this case dinner with an old friend. I sweetened my recipe for Light as a Feather Cream Biscuits and added vanilla and a squeeze of lemon juice, spread them with freshly whipped cream and sliced ripe strawberries.

Makes 6 strawberry shortcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2  Tb baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

2 Tb sugar

3/4 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp melted butter, cooled

For cream:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tb sugar

1 pint strawberries (Organic is best. Farmer’s market organic is even better!)

Preheat oven to 450′

Melt butter and let it cool. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add cream, vanilla and lemon juice and slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Oil a cookie sheet. I use the insulated kind. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool until you can handle them, then split horizontally.

open biscuit

Add vanilla and sugar to 1/2 cup cream.  Whip until thick. Spread on biscuits. Slice strawberries and put atop the cream.

open strawberry shortcake

Cover and enjoy!

strawberry shortcake on plate

Lemon Fruit Tart

lemon-tartI just made this lemon fruit tart for my daughter’s 24th birthday. She declared it the best birthday dessert she’s had. Which of course raises the bar for next year!

Although I didn’t have any rosemary blossoms on hand, I used lemon-rosemary tart pastry
(It still works without them.)

I filled it with lemon curd. I used the recipe from epicurious http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lemon-tart-231349 which they call Lemon Sabayon:  I used a tad less sugar (2/3 cup instead of 3/4 cup) than their recipe called for. Here’s their recipe with the reduced sugar:

  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 large egg yolks, cold
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

    1. Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.
    2. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.
    4. Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.

I topped the tart with raspberries, strawberries and pomegranate seeds. I put a slice of orange in the center, sprinkled with a bit of orange zest, and cut out the middle white part to place a candle inside.

candle-tart

Summer and Autumn Fruit Tarts

It’s so fun to decorate a tart with seasonal fruit. Fill lemon-rosemary tart pastry with pastry cream, decorate with fruit, and then glaze it with apricot preserves.

Autumn fruit tart

Autumn fruit tart with blackberries, fuyu persimmons, kiwi fruit and strawberries

peach and berry tart

peach and berry tart

peach tart with thyme

peach tart with thyme

I substituted fresh lemon thyme leaves for the rosemary when I made the peach tarts. I garnished the peaches on one tart with small sprigs of thyme.

Pastry cream:

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

2 Tb all-purpose flour

2 Tb cornstarch

4 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1% )

2 tsp vanilla

Separate eggs and remove the thick white chalazae from the yolks. Whip egg yolks on high speed. Add sugar and sift in flour and cornstarch, then whip again until light colored.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan until it just begins to simmer. With mixer on medium-low, slowly pour 1/2 cup  milk into the egg mixture until it is well combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and whisk in well. Then pour it slowly back into the pot with rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Cook over low-medium heat and continue whisking while the mixture thickens, then whisk for another minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Strain the pastry cream into a clean container,

Place plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on the hot pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool on the counter. Pour the pastry cream into the cooled lemon-rosemary tart pastry  and spread it evenly.

Wash fruit, then dry on paper towels. Cut the green tops off the small strawberries and slice the larger fruit lengthwise.

Arrange fruit on top of the pastry cream. Have fun and let your artistic side come out!

Heat about 1/4 cup apricot preserves and 1 Tb water in a bowl for about 30 seconds in a microwave and stir well. Strain into another bowl. Gently brush jam over the fruit for a shiny glaze. You can glaze the strawberries, then layer them to stick them together, then glaze again.

peach berry tart

peach berry tart

Sticky Rice with Mango

sticky rice n mango in dish
This is one of my family’s favorite desserts. It’s actually quite easy to make.Making the sticky rice is the most time-consuming part. You can also just purchase 2 cups of sticky rice from a Lao or Thai restaurant and go from there!
Serves 5
1 cup sticky rice (glutinous rice)
10.5 oz can coconut water (with pulp is nice).
13.6 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar to taste
A few shakes salt
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut                                                                                                                                             2 Manila mangoes

Isn't this a pretty package!

Isn’t this a pretty package!

Rice: You can get sweet glutinous rice from Asian grocery stores. (Despite the name, it does not have gluten.) Rinse the rice several times, soaking in water for a few minutes, then draining in fine mesh sieve. Soak it in water for 7 hours or overnight. You can soak it in coconut water if you want a bit more coconut flavor.

My friend Jenny Chan uses a traditional Lao rice steamer basket to make her sticky rice. Since I don’t have one, I used my rice cooker.  Cook the mixture in a steamer basket in a rice cooker until done. If the steamer’s holes are too big for the rice, place a piece of cheesecloth over them first.

Coconut Milk: Heat 1 can coconut milk (lite coconut milk is basically watered down regular milk and has less calories; regular is much richer). If it has separated and you can’t shake it together in the can, you can either whisk it well or put it in the blender first. Stir in sugar, salt, shredded coconut, and then two cups cooked rice. Cook a few minutes until thick and pudding-like.
Manila mangoes

Peel mangoes with a vegetable peeler. I think that Manila mangoes are sweeter and easier to use. Cut into pieces.
Scoop rice mixture in serving dish and cover with mango slices.

This is best served warm. If you leave leftovers in the fridge, it will harden. It will still be good, but you can heat it in some sweetened coconut milk if you like a softer dessert.

Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Banana Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookiesThese scrumptious oatmeal cookies are lower in sugar than conventional recipes; banana, raisins and chocolate chips add sweetness. I used a mix of coconut oil and butter. Whole wheat flour and a few spoonfuls of flax seed add to the nutritional value. Shredded coconut and walnuts provide delicious crunch and fiber. These cookies are great crumbled over your morning oatmeal or just enjoyed with a glass of milk.

Makes about 30 cookies

Preheat oven to 350◦
Have all ingredients at room temperature

½ cup white unbleached flour
½ cup finely ground whole wheat flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 Tb ground flax seed

4 Tb coconut oil
4 Tb butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 large speckled banana, smashed

½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup raisins
¼ cup semisweet and/or bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ¾ cup oatmeal
coconut oil spray

Stir in flax seed to sifted dry ingredients.
Cream coconut oil and butter. Add brown sugar and beat until light. Add eggs and vanilla. Smash a soft banana with a fork, then beat into batter. With mixer on low, stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Add coconut flakes, raisins, chocolate chips, and walnuts and stir until incorporated. Stir in oatmeal.

Spray a baking sheet with coconut oil. Drop batter by spoonfuls to make 12 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350◦ on center rack for 10 – 12 minutes, or until brown. Cool on rack. Too many cookies? These freeze well.

Lemon-Rosemary blossom Tart Pastry

blossoming rosemary

baked pastry

This delicately-scented pastry is ideal for making fruit tarts.  Make it when rosemary is in bloom and it will compliment the taste of fresh strawberries. It tastes like lemon butter shortbread cookies. Have ingredients as cold as possible. This recipe makes pastry to fit a 10” removable bottom tart pan.

lemon zest and rosemary flowers

Ingredients:

Ingredients:
8 rosemary blossoms
Zest of one large lemon (yellow part of peel only)
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp cold lemon juice (Meyer lemon is best)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, frozen for at least 30 minutes
¼ tsp salt
1 cube = 8 Tb cold butter

1 egg yolk
ice water

Directions:

Prepare ice water: Add ice to approximately ¼ cup cold water and let sit until water is ice cold.

Make dough in food processor:
Pulse sugar, lemon zest and rosemary blossoms in food processor. Add flour and salt and pulse briefly to mix.
Cut butter into 8 tablespoon-size slices and add to ingredients. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

dough in processor before forming

Juice 1/2 a  lemon and measure 1½ tsp lemon juice. Mix lemon juice, egg yolk and 2 ½ Tb ice water in a small bowl or cup,  pour into processor and pulse a few times. Don’t over-mix the dough or it will toughen. Dough should be soft and malleable.

dough disk on tart pan

Pour the dough into a large bowl and form a ball and flatten into a disk. Place it in the center of the tart pan.

push dough into edges of tart pan

Press the dough into the sides of the pan so it gets that pretty fluted look. Be careful not to stretch the dough, or it will shrink when it bakes. Pat the dough with the flat part of your palm in the center so it’s even. Press on the rim of the edges to trim the excess dough. Reserve a little extra dough in case you need to repair the shell.

Cover entire crust with the parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

About 15 min before taking the pastry out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 375◦

Remove the pastry from the fridge and fill with ceramic pie weights. (You can substitute beans). and trim the excess parchment with scissors so it won’t burn.  Cover the edges with a pie protector or foil strips. Bake on the middle rack for 10 minutes.

unnamed

pricked pastry

Take the pan out and remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Prick the entire bottom of the pastry with a fork.  Cover edges with the pie protector again. Return the pastry to the oven for about 15 minutes until it is golden brown. Let it cool completely on a rack before filling.

baked pastry

Hachiya Persimmons and Yogurt

yogurt topped with persimmonTry this simple dish of plain yogurt mixed with sweet jelly-like Hachiya persimmon pulp for a tasty and healthy breakfast or dessert.

???????????????????????????????Hachiya persimmons are oval shaped, and should be so soft they are practically weeping. Scoop out the flesh and mix with a cup of plain yogurt. If desired, sprinkle a few raspberries and pistachios on top.

persimmon mixed with yogurt