Since we're in France, we celebrated Easter on our own--just the three of us (me, hubby and our daughter). We wanted to make something special, but the typical big-crowd meals just wouldn't work. We decided to make some lamb chops (which I had never made before...I'm not a big fan of American lamb), roasted potatoes, green beans, and white asparagus. All of this was tasty, but the dessert was the coup d'etat for me! I'll post the recipes for the other dishes worth making again soon, but you should go out and make this strawberry shortcake...now! :-)
I'm not usually a fan of shortcake because it's usually that store-bought squishy stuff or a really dry and tasteless biscuit that can't hold up to the strawberry juices. This shortcake, though, was tender, buttery, and moist, but able to stay firm--the perfect vehicle for the yummy strawberries and vanilla whipped cream. (I also usually make my strawberries differently--a little sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar--but I decided to follow the recipe I found at Ezra Pound Cake, and I'm sure glad I did. The balsamic vinegar recipe is great for using strawberries as a topping for ice cream, but this one was great for a refreshing shortcake.) I'm posting the recipe below for ease's sake, but if it's representative of Alice Waters' other recipes, this is the first cookbook I'm buying when I get home!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar (optional, although not in my household!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar (if using) and baking powder.
Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips. The pieces should be the size of small peas.
Measure cream; set aside 1 tablespoon. Add the remaining cream to the flour, and stir with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Lightly knead the dough a few times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut six 2-inch circles or squares out of the dough. Reroll the scraps, if necessary.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and brush the tops with the tablespoon of cream and a sprinkling of sugar.
Bake for 17 minutes or until golden and done.
Strawberries and Vanilla Whipped Cream
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and sugar.
Remove 1 cup of the strawberry mixture, and purée it in a blender or food processor. Return the purée to the rest of the strawberries; stir. Set aside at least 15 minutes.
In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip together the cream, vanilla and sugar until it starts to form soft peaks.
To assemble the strawberry shortcake, slice the Cream Biscuits in half. For each biscuit, spoon the strawberry mixture onto the bottom half, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other biscuit half, and dust it with powdered sugar (optional).