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

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.

Caprese Fruit Salad

Caprese Fruit Salad

This is a delicious summer fruit salad masquerading as a caprese salad.

I got the idea when I visited the SF Giants Baseball Stadium (AT &T Park) Organic Garden with our CHEFS students. After the garden tour, they gave each of us a delicious strawberry wrapped in a basil leaf.

Cut summer fruit: Strawberries, stone fruit such as plums, apricots and /or peaches. Mix in ciliegine, little balls of fresh mozzarella. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle over the fruit and mozzarella. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fruit and cheese.

caprese fruit appetizers

Make caprese salad appetizers by threading a piece of fruit, basil and half a ciliegine on a toothpick. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I mixed in a bit of blood orange infused olive oil with the regular oil.

 

Ginger Mint Strawberry Lemonade

strawberry ginger mint lemonade

This summer drink gets a healthy kick from fresh ginger and ginger tea. Fresh mint brings the flavor up a notch! If it’s a hot and sweaty day, I like to add a bit of salt to replenish my electrolytes, much as a sports drink would.

I picked up some very sweet and ripe strawberries, fresh mint and  ginger root from the farmers market. Some of the strawberries were so soft they had to be picked over, and these sweet things went into the lemonade.

Ingredients:

ingredients

2 teabags ginger tea (I use Yogi Tea, which contains ginger root, lemongrass, licorice root, peppermint, and black pepper.)

about 2 inches ginger root

1/2 pint very ripe strawberries

a few sprigs fresh mint leaves

1/2 lemon

1 Tb honey (to taste)

1/4 tsp salt for a hot and sweaty day (optional)

Heat a kettle of water to boiling.

While it’s heating, peel the outer skin of the ginger root and discard. Peel the inner parts of the ginger root into a large teapot. Add the mint sprigs and the teabags. Pour boiling water over everything and let it steep for at least 10 minutes.

in blender

Remove green tops from strawberries and any parts that went bad. Cut them into quarters and put in blender. Remove the teabags from the tea, and pour remaining ingredients with the tea into the blender.

tea in blender

Peel a few pieces of lemon zest (just the yellow parts) and squeeze 1/2 the lemon into the blender. Stir in honey and the salt if you like. Add some ice to the blender, then run it on the highest setting until all ingredients are liquefied. Add more ice and water until you get a few quarts to the strength you like. One Tb honey is all I need, but sweeten with more if you like.

Strawberry-Bacon Salad for a Cheating Vegetarian

salad with dressing

“I am a vegetarian. But I also love bacon. And the only thing more satisfying than being a vegetarian is being a cheating vegetarian!” Sonia Mena, 2011.

Strawberries and bacon are the perfect complement to each other, sweet and salty, juicy and crunchy. I throw in some raw pecans and sprinkle everything over a bowlful of salad greens. Then I toss them with a strawberry-balsamic dressing flavored with black pepper and rosemary. A cheating vegetarian couldn’t ask for more!

For healthiest results, use organic or non-pesticide strawberries and greens and nitrate-free bacon (I found some at Trader Joe’s)

This makes 2 dinner salads or one large salad for lunch.

strawberries, bacon and pecans

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 slice bacon
3 ripe strawberries
¼ cup (or one handful) whole raw pecans
2 heaping cups of salad greens

Salad dressing:
2 small soft very ripe strawberries
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp water

a few few grinds of black pepper

a few needles rosemary, minced
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
salad without dressing

Salad:Fry bacon over medium heat until well done. Drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool enough to handle.
Rinse greens and strawberries. Put greens in bowls; either one large or two smaller bowls. Sprinkle pecans and crumbled bacon over greens. Slice strawberries over salad.

Dressing: Slice over-ripe strawberries into a blender bowl and add rosemary, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar and water. Run on liquefy until strawberries are mostly liquefied. Add olive oil and run on liquefy until oil emulsifies. Pour over salad and toss so that it coats the greens.

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.

Peach Smoothie

???????????????????????????????Summertime means peaches, juicy and sweet. I bought a couple that were not as perfect. I popped them in the blender along with a speckled banana,  a scoop of plain non-fat yogurt and a glass of orange juice. Gave it a whirl and poured out this delicious smoothie!

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4 Bananas Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or Muffins

banana loaf

I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness and rich banana flavor to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just 3 tablespoons of olive oil make this bread moist.  Add strawberries for a taste of strawberry jam or blueberries. Add chocolate chips for a nice gooey sweetness.

strawberry banana bread

muffMakes one loaf or 12 muffins.

speckled bananas

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 Tb for sprinkling on top. I used turbindo sugar for sprinkling.

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

3 Tb olive oil

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar pieces

3/4 cup roughly chopped strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup blueberries (optional) If you are using frozen blueberries, defrost them and drain them before adding

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

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Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

whipped egg and sugarWhip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. You can also whirl them in a food processor. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips and/or blueberries (if using) until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with turibindo sugar.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 1 hour- 65 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack a few minutes before slicing.

banana bread with cream cheeseDelicious spread with cream cheese!

Strawberry Sauce – naturally sweet with fruit juice

This strawberry sauce is made with only fruit. I used only strawberries and strawberry jam sweetened with white grape juice. It was sweet enough that I didn’t need to add sugar or other sweetener.

Necessity being the mother of invention,  when I was ready to serve blueberry walnut pancakes to our guests yesterday, I suddenly realized we were out of maple syrup. Having no time to run to the store, I grabbed a bag of frozen strawberries and microwaved them. I put them in the blender with fresh strawberries and several tablespoons of strawberry fruit spread  and hoped for the best. The guests and my family were delighted with the results! I guess you could say that the jam got me out of a jam…..

I froze the leftover sauce and will warm it up next time I make pancakes, French Toast or waffles.

Ingredients: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries (or a combination of both)

3 Tb strawberry fruit spread sweetened with white grape juice (I used the Whole Foods 365 brand). You can substitute 2 tsp maple syrup.

Microwaved frozen strawberries until warm. Pour into blender jar with strawberry jam and blend until pureed.

Valentine’s Heart’s Passion Dessert

Passion fruit is aptly named for the day of love

The fruit is unremarkable on the outside,

but cut it open, and inside is a gorgeous  red and white fruit filled with green juicy seeds

surround it with strawberries dipped in melted chocolate

or present it with passion fruit sorbet topped with a heart-shaped chocolate truffle and chocolate dipped strawberries