By JAN MAIN
My rule is summer may officially begin once the first Ontario berries are ready for picking.
Of course, this date varies a little from year to year with changing weather conditions. This year with the cool, rainy days strawberries are about a week later, from mid-June to July 1, just in time for Canada Day.
Luscious, sweet, juicy and aromatic, they are amazing ambassadors to the summer table. What a great way to celebrate Canada’s birthday with our own delectable strawberries!
Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
On a strawberry picking adventure, a fellow picker proclaimed, “The only thing we have for dinner on the first day of strawberry picking is a great big strawberry shortcake.”
That sounded like strawberry heaven! If you decide to follow this example, here is an excellent recipe for old-fashioned shortcakes, often called scones. If you prefer, you can use a sponge cake layered with sweetened strawberries and generous dollops of whipped cream.
These should be made and served warm or within hours of baking for the ultimate yummy effect!
2 cups (550 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 mL) each, milk and plain yogurt
1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat oven to 425 F (225 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix milk and yogurt together; make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in milk mixture. Using a fork, starting from the centre and working outwards, stir milk-yogurt mixture into flour mixture just until flour mixture is moistened to form a soft, slightly moist dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured piece of waxed paper and knead gently with floured hands about 10 times. Pat out into ½ inch (2 cm) round and using a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter, cut into rounds.
Gather up any scraps and pat into another round to use up the dough. Should make about eight biscuits. Using pastry brush, brush the top of each biscuit with beaten egg; sprinkle with sugar and bake in pre-heated oven 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on rack.
To serve: Slice in half with sharp knife and top the bottom layer with a spoonful of sweetened berries and a dollop of the whipped (Chantilly) cream. Serve with a spoon and fork for easy enjoyment!
4 cups (1 L) fresh berries, sliced
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
Remove hulls from strawberries and wash in a deep bowl of cool water. Drain and place on towel. Repeat process until berries are clean. Gently pat dry.
Slice then combine in bowl with sugar, stirring gently to coat. Allow berries to sit at least ½ hour to allow juices to flow. This may be done at least an hour before serving, or refrigerate and use within a day or two.
For longer storage freeze. To freeze whole berries: Wash and pat dry; arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets and place in freezer. Once frozen (4 hours), place 4 cups (1 L) berries in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 year.
Once sweetened and flavoured, whipped cream is referred to as Chantilly cream.
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
2-4 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla
In a deep bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate. May be prepared 1-2 hours before serving.