I adore strawberries—in part because of their lovely, sweet color and juiciness and in part because (at least where I live in western Massachusetts) they ripen just as the earth does. Their arrival in local fields and farmstands coincides almost exactly with the arrival of summer.
I haven’t picked strawberries in several years. Living by myself as I currently do, I don’t need the large quantities with which one comes home after picking. I know I could make jam and freeze or dry the darn things. Somehow I’m short sighted enough to want to enjoy a few at a time while they’re ripe and not worry about putting them by too much. (I have made a little jam this year; old habits are hard to break.)
This week on Mass Appeal I HAD to use strawberries. I made one savory recipe and one sweet. (Technically, the savory recipe was sweet as well; it actually included more sugar than the sweet. Because it was a little spicy and because it’s not a dessert I think of it as savory.)
The savory recipe was strawberry chipotle sauce. This jam-like substance is wonderful as an appetizer on crackers with cream cheese, although it could also be used as a cooking sauce or condiment with chicken or pork.
The sweet recipe was my “once a year day” special. I generally consume a pretty balanced diet; I love my vegetables. Once a year, however, I like to have ONLY strawberry shortcake for supper. Shortcake is filling, and I can lose my hunger for it if I eat a real meal. If shortcake IS the meal, however, I can enjoy it with gusto. And eating it once at year can’t hurt me.
The shortcake recipe I posted before on this blog made one giant shortcake. I find it easier in general to make smaller shortcakes so I can serve as many people as I want (sometimes just Tinky!) and then give away or freeze the remaining cakes.
The shortcake recipe here comes from King Arthur Flour, and it couldn’t be easier. To make it more festive, I include a bit of stewed rhubarb along with the strawberries. We still have a bit of rhubarb here in the hilltowns, although it’s getting ready to leave us.
King Arthur Flour also provided the self-rising flour, the nice new sharp biscuit cutters, and the sparkling sugar for the top of the cakes.
I hope you enjoy the recipes … and the season … as much as I do.
Strawberry Chipotle Sauce
2 cups strawberry slices
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 to 2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce (plus a little of the sauce)
1 dab butter
In a nonreactive pot combine the fruit, a cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for an hour or so to allow the berries to juice up.
Cook the fruit over low heat until tender. Add the remaining sugar, the salt, the chipotle, and the butter, and cook rapidly until thick, stirring frequently. Remove any foam you see (there shouldn’t be too much, thanks to the butter).
If you want jam, it will be ready when it sheets off a cold, stainless-steel spoon.
If you don’t cook it that long, your sauce will just be a bit more liquid. (I like it slightly more liquid so I measure the sauce with an instant-read thermometer and turn off the heat when the thermometer reads 217 or 218 degrees.)
Let the sauce cool for a few minutes; then pulverize it with a blender or immersion blender.
Refrigerate the sauce after it cools. Makes about 2 cups.
for the filling:
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups chopped strawberries (lightly sweetened if you like them juicy)
for the self-rising biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a small amount of melted butter (optional)
coarse white sugar (optional)
sweetened whipped cream
A couple of hours before you want to begin working start the filling by sprinkling the sugar over the rhubarb. Stir in the lemon juice, and allow the rhubarb to juice up.
After an hour has passed prepare your filling. (You may also prepare the rhubarb portion of the filling in advance.) Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil; reduce the heat; and cook, stirring, until the rhubarb becomes thick (about 5 to 7 minutes).
Allow the rhubarb to cool. While it is cooling you may begin making your shortcake biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together the flour and sugar. In a separate bowl (or a measuring cup!) combine the cream and the vanilla.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the cream mixture into the well, and gently stir until the mixture is combined, adding a little milk as needed to incorporate all the ingredients into the liquid.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Fold the dough over several times; then pat it into a circle or rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.
Using a sharp biscuit cutter cut the dough into rounds, about 2 to 2-1/4 inches wide (or however wide you want them!). Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (you may line the sheet with parchment or silicone if you’re paranoid about sticking). If you like, brush the tops of your biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle a little coarse sugar on top.
Bake the biscuits until they are golden brown (12 to 16 minutes).
When you are ready to assemble your shortcakes, cut the biscuits in half horizontally. Decorate the bottom halves with the cooked filling followed by the strawberries; then dollop on whipped cream. Top with the biscuit tops. (Or divide each shortcake into two mini-shortcakes, one strawberry and one rhubarb, as shown in the photo above.)
Serves 8 to 10, depending on the size of your biscuits.
And now the video.…