Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake (again)

I had a project last year in Boston that didn't afford me nearly enough time to sufficiently survey the city's culinary offerings. The problem with visiting most bakeries, is that by the time I finish work for the day, they are either closed or pretty much gutted of their wares. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in pizza joints and bars. One place I really wanted to get to, but never had the time was Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery. Due to the crammed together schedule I was never able to free up the time. (One place that I was able to get to was L.A. Burdick in Cambridge. Open into the evening, this little cafe serves up fantastic baked goods, chocolates, and coffee drinks. I spent a mint bringing home macarons for Regina.)

So we find ourselves coming up against the back end of strawberry season here in NE Ohio. The highly anticipated sour cherries are going to be making their way down from Michigan here in the next week and a half, so Regina and I are doing everything we can to squeeze out the last of the season's strawberry crop. Six months from now we'll be wishing we froze more than we ate.

The traditional biscuit type shortcake is what everyone really thinks of when they think of this popular American dessert. In a previous post I showed you something a little more sophisticated and decadent. This time I wanted to try something a little more familiar, so Regina suggested the Strawberry Shortcake with Balsamic Strawberries recipe from Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook.

The first time I had ever had balsamic vinegar and strawberries was during our visit to Jean Georges in New York. At the time I though it was a seemingly "out there" combination. Now, years later, I think you find it - well - in a lot of places. To quote Forrest Gump, "they go together like peas and carrots."

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

The biscuit is a pretty straightforward shortcake recipe. There really isn't anything that jumps out as being unique. I opted to used a very fine baker's sugar (which we love, and tote back from the West Coast whenever we're out there), on the top and perhaps that was a mistake. The granules were entirely too small and dissolved into the egg wash in a matter of ten seconds. I think next time I might try just regular sugar (or maybe even turbinado) so you get that texture of the granules included with the whipped cream and strawberries.

The strawberries are a basically combined with balsamic vinegar (we used a high quality 30 year syrup-like balsamic that we dispense sparingly), sugar, and lemon zest. The recipe suggest combining all of this 30 minutes before hand. We found that the whole thing tasted better when they spent an overnight in the fridge.

Playing off that zing of the lemon (after the photo was taken) we paired it with some very tart lemon yogurt from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. [Great idea, BTW]

Here is a link to the recipe that comes from the book. The Flour cookbook, by the way, is an abundance of very well written recipes that don't require a tremendous amount of skill or technical prowess. I think it would make a very good gift for just starting to cook. That's not to say they're plain run-of-the-mill desserts, just not something that requires a million and one different pieces of kitchen equipment or the skills of François Payard.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

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