Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Balsamic and Fresh Asparagus with Pea Shoots. (just another Sunday afternoon experiment)

I picked up some exquisite groceries this weekend.  We stopped by a new store that just opened - Trust Local Foods.  Basically it's an outfit that connects local farmers with the areas more responsible restaurants.  They recently opened a retail outlet, so people like myself can stop by.  It's small, featuring fresh produce, patured meats, fine local cheeses, etc. etc.  All the best stuff from right here in our community just brought together in one place.  I recommend it.  I loaded up with asparagus, non-homogenized goat milk (also available in cow), pea shoots, spring grassfed butter (phenomenal), and strawberries.

Despite the overwhelming joy from eating a fresh ripe strawberry, I get pangs of sadness because so many times the strawberries you find don't even approach what a strawberry should be.  I buy grocery strawberries once in a while, and sometimes in the middle of winter even fool myself into thinking they are ok.  They're not.  Once you have a real strawberry once more, you realize what you've been missing.

I also stopped by my fishmonger to check out the selection and picked up a couple of snapper fillets.  I guess they probably weren't local, but they looked pretty good and I'm almost always pleased with his offerings, even if I did have concerns about buying fish in Wisconsin on Sunday.  It turned out to be unfounded as they were quite good on the grill.  But this isn't about the fish.

So I had this beautiful asparagus and fresh pea shoots.  I decided to improvise.  Added a little butter and olive oil to the pan and sauteed a few cloves of finely chopped garlic.  Added the asparagus and sauteed.  Threw in some pine nuts and frozen peas (blasphemy I know, but couldn't find any fresh and compared to most other produce peas actually freeze pretty well).  I added a couple squeezes of grilled lemon, then turned off the heat.  I added a couple handfuls of the pea shoots and tossed together.  Then finished with a little sea salt and cracked Grains of Paradise.  This turned out well.  Delicious in fact.  We polished off most of it that evening.  There was just enough left over to save, but Jamie raided the leftovers while I was gone the next night. 

Next, I had to do something with the strawberries.  Besides just eat them, which I had already been doing off and on for about the last 6 hours.  I had recently made a strawberry-balsamic jam that, in my humble opinion, turned out to be fairly impressive, so I thought a shortcake with that hint of balsamic to balance with the berries would be good.  I didn't have a good shortcake recipe though, and a quick search on Pinterest yielded nothing that looked exciting.  I basically ruled out anything that started with Bisquick and there was nothing left.  (Not that there's anything wrong with Bisquick, but I've had Bisquick shortcake, and it is serviceable but no better than that, so maybe there is something wrong with Bisquick.)  So I googled strawberry shortcake, finding all the normal food recipe sites.  These also had recipes that were mostly uninspired.  So I thought, if I am adding balsamic to my berries, maybe similar minded people have done the same, and they will have put the same thought into the shortcake as well.  So I added balsamic to the search string.  Right off the bat I got a couple interesting hits.  But I decided to go with this one from someone who calls herself the kitchen fiddler.

I basically followed her recipe, though the measuring cup was in the dishwasher so I had to just sort of wing it on the measurements.  Basically though this is it:  2 cups flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2.5 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Mix together.  Now here's the genius of her recipe.  Cut a cold stick of butter into half inch cubes.  Add to dry ingredients and pulse in the food processer until the butter is broken down to pebble size.  Add 1 cup cream and bring dough together.  Spread into about a 1.25" tall rectangle and cut into 6 squares.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake 15 minutes at 425F.  Credit to the Kichen Fiddler because this shortcake was good.

After baking, slice shortcakes in half and fill with berries and real whipped cream (Heavy cream, vanilla, powdered sugar whipped to a moderately stiff peak is what i do)          

These were also Tasty. (capital T)  And I'm going to go have another one now!

1 comment:

  1. My mouth is watering. Maybe I'll have Dad try the shortcake recipe. Although I'm not real sure what you did with the strawberries. Did you sugar them? Or put balsamic vinegar on them? Or did you just use plain whole berries?

    I caught just the tail end of a cooking show yesterday, and the cook had mixed strawberries with balsamic vinegar and then sprinkled them with cracked pepper. She put the berries in a bowl and added a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She said it was delicious. I'm just not sure how I feel about that though. I just can't see vinegar and pepper on strawberries. Maybe if I tried it sometime. But I do like pepper on watermelon and cantaloupe, so maybe putting it on strawberries isn't so strange after all.