strawberry

Strawberry Shortcake

Right now, what I really want to do is cry. 


Not because I am sad. 

I'm not. I'm calm. I'm joyous. It's summer. 

I want to cry with tiredness. 

I keep thinking about all the places I've been and all the people I've met and hugged and laughed with and in my mind I see all the paths I've taken, as if every place I've been this year is crossed and zig-zagged with red threads, all finally leading back to where I am now: home. 


Like this song, I'm home again. 



And home is the same, the doors and chairs and books and rugs are all the same. But I have changed. 


My mind is flooded with ideas and people and places. It's just too much. 
I am so grateful for all of it. Even though the past few months are incomprehensible to me, even though I have no idea what just happened, I know it was good. All of it. All the joys and all the aches. It's all been so FUCKING GRAND. I would do it again in a heartbeat. All of it.



I am just so grateful.

But the strangeness of being home again, of listening to my parents talk and eat dinner and drink beer, and the sound of my brothers playing basketball and shouting to their friends in the front yard, and here, me alone again, in the room I am trying to reclaim as my own, the unreality keeps coming at me in waves. 

Where have I been? What have I been doing? 

No. 


I need to stop. 

What does it matter? It's the past. 

There is only now. 

And in my now, I want lots of strawberry shortcake. 

As a sign of gratitude I give you a recipe. Finally. 


XOXO

Strawberry Shortcake
From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

I'm actually a cheater, I know Strawberry Shortcake is supposed to have whipped cream in the middle and all that jazz, but honestly I only had ice cream. So I just skipped all the extra steps that Alice write about involving the whipped cream and I felt very decadent and super simple. Which is a very good thing. After all YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. But for those of you who are fussy and like whipped cream more than ice cream I've included the rest of recipe. Also, my mum suggested I make this, so I have to give her credit for the idea. Because I wouldn't have thought of it on my own. She's a genius. 

For Shortcake:

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

Stir together in a large bowl
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons baking power

Add
6 tablespoons (3/4 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces

Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender until they are the size small peas. Measure: 

3/4 cup heavy cream

Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside. Lightly stir in the remainder of the cream with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Without overworking it, lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 thick. Cut into eight 1 1/2 inch circles or squares or whatever your heart desires. Reroll the scraps if necessary. 
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly brush the tops with the reserved tablespoon or cream. Bake for 17 minutes or until cooked through and golden. 


The The Other Stuff that is On Shortcake:

Hull and slice about 4 cups of strawberries (roughly 2 pints)
Stir in about 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste

Puree one quarter of the strawberry mixture. Stir the puree back into the sliced strawberries and let sit for 15 minutes.
Combine in a bowl:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

Whip together, until the cream just holds a soft shape. Slice in half:

6 baked 2 inch shortcakes or biscuits or whatever

Place the biscuit bottoms on serving plates. Over each biscuit, spoon strawberries and a DOLLOP of the flavored whipped cream. Top with the other biscuit half and dust with powdered sugar if you so wish. Serve immediately.

Crazy Apple Crisp






You never get full.



I'm hungry all the time. Not just for food but also for LIVING. There is so much NEWNESS that I've been experiencing and keep experiencing-- I'm absolutely thrilled by it.



And I'm not going crazy or anything. I'm a pretty tame person. But I am so excited. I'm seeing and doing so much. ALL THE TIME. I go out: Parties, bookstores, shows, plays, art openings, "cultural events." Darlings, I finally feel like I beginning to experience a little bit of the life I've been dreaming about for so long. 
And that is unbelievable. 
I may not be crazy in real people life, but sometimes in my head I am, and some times when I bake I get a little over excited too. 



I went home about a week ago, and I made this. 
And I added mango and dried cherries and pecans and two strawberries that were mouldering in the fridge to what was supposed to be regular apple crisp. You can basically make this crisp out of anything. Get wild and crazy. Add the mango. 
Add the strawberries. Add whatever you want. Experience newness.

Life is beautiful. 



And don't forget to drink lots of milk. 






Crazy Apple Crisp
adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone


It is really important to be pretty scant with the sugar here. Because if you add too much things just get SICKENING. And we can't have any of that. 

For Crisp Topping:

6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
some pecans
About three apples, a mango, some strawberries, dried cherries


Preheat oven to 375 F.


Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mizer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients (except blueberries) so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse crumbly mixture. Butter a 2-2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour in blueberries. Gently cover with the topping. Bake for about 45 minutes. Or until topping is lightly browned and blueberries are luscious and bubbly looking.

Strawberry and Almond Crumble


I hope your spring break was lovely. Mine was. SXSW, a huge interactive/film/music festival took over the city. I had such a wonderful time-- I saw friends and lots of live music. It was the best week I've had all year. Seeing so many passionate musicians- who were all working so hard, and seeing how grateful they were, just for the opportunity to perform was so inspiring. There was so much joy for living and performing and music, it touched me deeply.

Acts that I saw that made me grateful to be alive:

Mother Falcon
Los Lonely Boys
Alejandro Escovedo
Pearl and the Beard
SPEAK
Alex Winston
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears

Go look them up and buy their albums and croon their tunes and see them when they tour.

I also baked a crisp. There are two things that I really loathe: woody strawberries and self-conciously ironic mustaches--COME ON PEOPLE IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE.

That said, if I could grow an ironic mustache I probably would.


Never mind.

But those strawberries! The flavorless kind that taste like cardboard-- There is a cure! They can be saved! They no longer have to moulder in your refrigerator! There is a God!
Oh my this is so amazing, I just can't believe it: baked strawberries are not only palatable, they are awesome. Especially when topped with a "rubble*" of ground almonds, butter and sugar.

This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, the busty and beautiful British goddess of home cooking. She suggests serving this crumble with "lashings of heavy cream,**" which strikes me as distinctly sweet and British. I didn't, because I was out with the hoards of skinny-jean clad wannabe hipsters sporting exciting mustaches.
But there you go.

xoxo
mary

*Nigella's words
** Nigella again.

Strawberry and Almond Crumble
from Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson

Notes: I used a food processor to grind my almonds. If you don't have one I suggest you go out immediately and buy one, just to make this recipe. Or try and grind some almonds in your blender. (?) In case you didn't already know, turbinado sugar is a kind of very coarse sugar, it is really delicious and most grocery stores now carry it, it gives the crumble a crunchier texture which is really lovely.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond meal/flour
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • Heaping 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, diced
  • 1 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Scant 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • Heavy cream, to serve
  • 1 ovenproof pie dish approximately 8-inches diameter by 2-inches deep (approximately 1 1/4 quarts capacity)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the hulled strawberries into your pie dish (I use a round one) and sprinkle over them the sugar, almond meal, and vanilla extract. Give the dish a good shake or two to mix the ingredients.

Now for the crumble topping: put the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and rub in the cold, diced butter between thumb and fingers (or in a free standing mixer).When you've finished with it, it should resemble rough, pale oatmeal. Stir in the sliced almonds and turbinado sugar with a fork.

Tip this over the strawberry mixture, covering the strawberries in an even layer and giving a bit of a press in at the edges of the dish. Set the dish on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the crumble topping will have darkened to a pale gold and some pink-red juices will be seeping and bubbling out at the edges.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving, and be sure to put a pitcher of chilled heavy cream on the table alongside.


Pink Lady Cake


This is the final cake in my birthday cake marathon:

I wanted to make one final cake and I was undecided about what I was going to do until I noticed this picture, on our fridge. This is me at age seven:
Even then I loved cake.

I saw the picture and decided I had to make a cake that looked exactly like it. Of course, nobody could remember what kind of cake it was, so I went with SmittenKitchen's Pink Lady Cake. Which was unbelievably caloric and delicious.
I also thought it was a bit on the dry side, but then again, that's just my perfectionist tendencies.
It was really good.
It was even better the next morning when the strawberry flavors had gotten time to develope and ripen.
That's right. You heard me. It's a strawberry cake: there are actual strawberries pureed into the batter. The batter turned light pink. It was so pretty. It was a very girly cake, one that my 7-year-old self would have loved. And my newly minted 17 year old self? I loved it even more.








Pink Lady Cake [Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Filling]

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Sky Hight

For the cake
4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed frozen strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye, if using (to make the pink color pop more)

For the cream cheese frosting
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350»F. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble strawberry ice cream at this point. (Deb note: I must warn you not to try the batter at this point. Not even a smear of it. How unbearably good it is will shock you, and lead to more dipping. Only you can stop this from coming to pass.)

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and red food dye, if using, to blend. Add the whites to the atter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorperate after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.

4. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.

Make the cream cheese frosting
5. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Frost and assemble the cake
6. Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Tucking scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake will protect the board or plate from any mess created while frosting the cake. (I forgot, as can be clearly seen above.) Spread about 2/3 cup frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge. Repeat with the second layer. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, reserving a small amount if you wish to tint it and pipe a decoration on the cake. If not, you can decorate the cake top with thinly-sliced strawberries. Remove the waxed strips to reveal and neat, clean cake board.

Decorate with lots of stawberries, tall crazy candles and other exciting things. Consume. Enjoy.