Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Remembering My Mom and Dad: Strawberry Shortcake

You know, forever is a very long time. I think about this as Mother's Day and Father's Day come and go every year. My mother died when I was just 21 and I lost my dad 15 years ago so I have been missing them for what seems like forever. I wish there was a way to get them back because even after all these years the grief is exhausting. Since I know that I am asking for the impossible, I try to keep them present by remembering funny stories, and the tastes and smells that I associate with them.

When it comes to my mom, I think about her every time I smell Estee Lauder's Youth Dew. I hated it when I was a teen, but now, even though it still isn't my favorite, it brings a smile to my face. I also think of her when I hear Karen Carpenter's voice, see the color purple, watch The Sound of Music, and taste a good cabbage roll (one of her specialties). I only wish that I would have known her as an adult. We could have had a really great time.

Thankfully, I did get to know my dad as an adult. We used to talk on the phone almost every morning. We'd solve the problems of the world, have many great laughs and always end with a sincere "I love you" before signing off. Thanks to our conversations through the years, we were able to bring resolution to my youthful rebellions, hurtful arguments and clear up any misunderstandings that haunted us. When I lost my dad, as painful as it was, there were no unresolved issues, just peace and love. Thanks for that Dad.

As I write this post it occurred to me that I should start a new tradition and have my mom's cabbage rolls for Mother's Day and maybe strawberry shortcake in honor of my dad for Father's Day. Since he was a real foodie, it is hard to pick just one dish, but I think this is a pretty good one. I remember as a kid getting really excited when he would set a little square box of frozen strawberries on the counter top to thaw and pull some little round sponge type shortcakes out of their cellophane package. We'd assemble it all and top it off with a big swirl of Reddi Whip and tuck in.

Even though this is a fond childhood memory, to be honest I was never really crazy about those premade shortcakes. Even though they were adequate as a platform for frozen strawberries and a HUGE tower of canned whipped cream, I always knew that there had to be something better out there.

A few more years than I care to admit to, and about 10,000 shortcakes later, I just so happened to find what is in my opinion the best shortcake known to woman. . . or man. By the way, these are wonderful as scones for your next tea party too.

Even though I can take credit for the strawberry "sauce", oh how I wish I could also take credit for writing the recipe for these beautiful shortcakes, but I can't. This recipe actually belongs to Sur la Table. I was fortunate enough to have tasted these at their Memorial Day Cooking class and knew that I'd have to pass them on to you.

I was actually hoping to be politically correct and just provide the ingredients and a link to their site for the method. Although they do have a very similar and delicious strawberry shortcake recipe on their site, it is a bit different than the one I am giving you here today, so instead you will get my adapted version of this scrumptious little sweet biscuit.

If  you'd like to say thanks to Sur la Table for this awesome recipe by visiting their site, or to see more of their recipes (and maybe do a little shopping), please click here.

Strawberry "Sauce" For Shortcakes

2 pounds ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced into bite size pieces, divided
3 - 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water

Place 1 cup of the prepared strawberries into a small sauce pan set over medium high heat. Stir in the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer, smashing the berries with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Cook until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from the heat, cover and cool.

Once cooled, place remaining strawberries in a medium size bowl. Pour the cooked and cooled strawberries over the berries in the bowl. Toss well; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble, pour equal amounts of the strawberry sauce over fresh shortcakes (recipe follows), top with sweetened whipped cream and serve.

Serves 6 - 8

Shortcakes (adapted from Sur la Table's Memorial Day Cooking)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 - 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup (8 ounces) chilled heavy whipping cream
1 beaten egg for brushing tops
1 tablespoon sanding or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and process until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and pulse 4 to 5 times, until mixture is moistened and starts to come together in large clumps.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, gently squeeze the pieces of dough together until they form a nice dough. Gently pat into a 4" x 8" rectangle. Cut the dough into 8 squares and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle evenly with the sanding or granulated sugar. Place shortcakes on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown, about 14 to 16 minutes. Cool.

Makes 8

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