Strawberry shortcake

It’s strawberry season, and the berries have been loving this cool and wet spring; they’re big and sweet.  So–it’s time to make strawberry shortcake.

There are a few ways to make strawberry shortcake.  Some people use biscuits, and others use sponge cake.  I follow my mom’s recipe; this delicious cake has a texture that is somewhere between a sponge cake and a pound cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • strawberries
  • extra sugar to juice the strawberries
  • whipping cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease and flour two 8 x 8 cake pans. If you only have one pan, you can bake the entire cake in one pan, then slice it in half height wise.
  3. Sift flour, backing powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
  4. Heat milk with butter until it is just scalding, then let it cool slightly.
  5. In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat eggs until they are foaming.  Gradually add the 1 cup of sugar until the mixture is thick and fluffy, then add the vanilla.
  6. Sprinkle flour mixture, a third at a time, over eggs, alternating with the warmed milk and butter mixture, until all three mixtures are combined.
  7. Equally distribute the mixture into the two pans.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or more, until cake tests as done.
  9. Slice some strawberries and place them in a bowl.  Add a bit of sugar, if desired, to make them juicy.
  10. Whip the cream.
  11. Assemble cake:
    • Start with one cake.
    • Add a layer of sliced strawberries, followed by whipping cream.
    • Add the second cake.
    • Top with more whipping cream and some whole strawberries.
    • Try not to eat the whole cake yourself.

Anyone else have any great strawberry recipes?

 

Grow your own meal

One thing that is really satisfying about growing your own food is making meals that are almost entirely from the garden.  Chili and stir fries are great examples.  Here is a recipe I made several times last year:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/recipe-eggplant-burger/

 

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more to brush on eggplant before roasting
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 an eggplant (should equal about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup classic hummus (or your favorite flavor hummus)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • tomato, sliced for topping (optional)
  • lettuce, for topping (optional)

The bolded items are easy to grow.  Substitute your own dried beans for cannellini beans (simply soak in water overnight, then cook until soft).  That leaves only a few things that you need to purchase.

Do you have any great garden-fresh recipes to share?

 

Sweetening tomato sauce naturally

Many recipes for canned tomato sauce call for two ingredients: tomatoes and lemon juice.  The latter is added to “acidify” the tomatoes; insufficient acidity could possibly (though very rarely) cause botulism.  A side-effect of adding lemon juice is that your sauce may be a tad bitter.  You may be tempted to add sugar to it when you use it, to make it taste more like commercial tomato sauces, which contain sugar.

There is much healthier way to add sweetness to your tomato sauce: zucchini!  Zucchini is full of nutrients and though it doesn’t have a lot of flavour, it does have a mild sweetness that really comes out when you add it (grated and frozen) to your sauce.  It breaks down so easily that the fussiest eaters don’t even notice the secret ingredient.  🙂

Homemade tomato sauce base

(for lasagne, chili, pasta dishes, etc.)

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Garlic cloves, chopped
  • Onions, peeled and diced
  • Homemade canned tomato sauce
  • Frozen, grated zucchini
  • Frozen tomatoes

To prepare:

  • In a saucepan, heat the oil, then add the garlic and onions and cook them until they are translucent.
  • Run the frozen tomatoes under warm water, or place them in a bowl of warm water.  Rub the skins, and they’ll easily peel off.
  • Add frozen zucchini.
  • Cook with the lid on until the tomatoes and zucchini have thawed and the sauce is hot, then add the other ingredients needed to complete your dish.

What’s the secret ingredient in your tomato sauce?