Thursday, July 19, 2018

Strawberry Ginger and Basil Shortcake

So with summer here there are so many amazing fruits that come out. Now I have love for many food items - fruit and dessert is chief among those food loves (I mean are you surprised?) I also am in love with homemade pasta - so simple, so easy and so much better.  Anyways I have been hearing about Strawberry Shortcake for a long time and honestly for a very long time all I could think of was the character in a cartoon when I was a kid.  So when I started to figure out and see what these actually were I was sold on the concept - a simple yet sweet biscuit that is served with whip cream and strawberries - I mean yum!

This week has been about basil and using it in different ways. I have also wanted to do a white pepper Strawberry Shortcake (maybe later). In any event I was trying to think about the combination and how I could mix basil with strawberries, plus I was also trying to find ways that I could convince my willing victim to eat a sweet that he doesn't normally love so I set out to Google and I found some interesting drinks that featured a combination of Strawberries, Ginger and Basil!  I was sold especially since I had so much basil! I tried out the recipe below and while they were amazing (seriously amazing) I not sure I'm sold on this form of biscuit - I think I need to revisit the combinations used and maybe add more basil and ginger plus find a biscuit recipe that has butter in it (I mean everything is better with butter!) On a note: I did use a bit more flour just because of the moisture from the basil and ginger but maybe only 1 or 2 tbsp. more not sure - you'll know when you have the right consistency!

Strawberry Ginger Basil Shortcake

Makes 6 servings - takes about 1 hour with cooking and cooling

Strawberry Filling

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade
1” piece of fresh ginger finely (grate right into the strawberries)


2 tbsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade
1” piece of fresh ginger finely (grate right into the strawberries)

Whipped Cream:

1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
Note: I used Splenda in place of sugar in all parts of this recipe
  1. Mix the Strawberries with 3 tbsp of sugar with the strawberries, basil and ginger. Cover in a bowl and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the juices to develop. I grate the ginger right into the strawberries so that I can get the juices (do NOT use the ginger from a jar it won’t be the same).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F
  3. Sift together the flower, baking powder, baking soda, and 2 tbsp. of sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In mixing glass measure out the heavy cream and add the fresh basil and grate the ginger directly into the mixing glass. 
  5. Add the heavy cream mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  6. Either place the mixture into an ungreased 8” square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes OR divide the mixture into 6 equal size balls and flatten the top so they look like the size and shape of a hockey puck and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cook 20 to 25 minutes. 
  7. Remove the shortcake from the pan and place on a rack to cool. When ready to serve Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece if half horizontally. If you made individual biscuits allow to cool on pan and then store in an airtight container until ready to serve then slice in half. 
  8. Spoon some of the strawberries and their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. 
  9. For the Whipped Cream: Mix all items in a bowl using a mixer until soft peaks form about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. If you are preparing the Whipped Cream ahead and want to keep its form then add 1 tbsp of skim milk powder to stabilize the Whipped Cream which means it will keep its form and not become runny again. This will not change the taste. I also just whipped the cream without adding anything and it was good like that!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Inspired by Basil

Just a little Basil!
So I came home from the Lake where my Dad happens to have a little herb garden going in pots. Well - I took some basil home (just a little...) mostly because I have wanted to make Pesto but find buying all of the basil needed just too expensive (especially compared to how much a jar of pre-made pesto costs!

Now again I know that you can make Pesto with more than Basil and Pine nuts - really any combination of herbs with a buttery nut (walnuts, pecan) can be used to make a pesto. However, I can't remember having ever made pesto from scratch so I wanted to actually try a classic pesto. So I got inspired and made classic pesto from scratch. I also made dessert inspired by basil so stay tuned!

Inspired by the sheer amount of basil I had - I also made basil pasta, served with pesto and cheese chicken roulade (yes lots of pesto in this dish - but I had lots and wanted to us it. In order to make the basil pasta I started preparations like normal for the pasta but then when mixing the egg , water and oil I added in 2 ounces (by weight) of fresh basil that had been chopped and purred the mixture with an immersion blender. The dough was a little wetter than normal so I added a little more flour (not sure how much but I would guess up to 2 ounces of extra flour to accommodate for the extra moisture from the basil). 

Classic Pesto 

1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts (toasted if you want an extra touch)
2 garlic cloves
2 1/2 cups packed fresh basil
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper
1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil (a good quality)

  1. In a food processor blitz the cheese and pine nuts until they are coarse 
  2. Add the basil and garlic to the food processor (I mince the garlic or use a press prior to adding it to the mix) 
  3. Pulse 6 times just to get everything started
  4. turn on the food processor and add oil in a steady stream and there is an even consistency in the mixture.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (I use glass jam jars).

Basic Pasta Dough

1 lbs Flour (by weight - I use AP or sometimes a mix of AP and OO Flour) 
4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
2 tbsp water 

  1. Put the flour on a clean dry work surface. Make a hole in the center of the flour pile that is about the size of a dinner plate. Add all other ingredients into a bowl or heck just a large glass measuring cup and mix with a fork - then add to the hole or well in the flour. (If making flavoured pasta - this is where i would mix in the basil to the liquid mixture then work into the dough) 
  2. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture; be careful of the flour "walls" around the liquid or the egg mixture will run all over your board. Once the flour and egg mixture seems like it is less fluid and more gel like consistency (basically not running consistency) begin to use your hands to really get everything well combined. Once all of the flour has combined into one mixture then start kneading. 
  3. Knead until the pasta is soft and supple - when you push a finger in lightly the dough should bounce back. Be careful when kneading to not push too far or it will break or tear the dough. 
  4. Wrap it in plastic and let rest for at least 1 hour. If using immediately do not refrigerate.
  5. Roll and cut the pasta into desired shape - I usually roll everything down to an 8. 
  6. When rolling I always roll at the thickest setting a couple of times.  Cut the dough disk into 4 pieces and then cover three of them back in plastic wrap. Press the dough out until less than 1/2" thick.  Run it through the machine and then fold each side into the centre overlapping (so the rectangle folded in thirds). then run it through with the open end (not folded side) down and repeat several times just working the dough - you may have to dust a little with flour. I add flour to the work surface, place the sheet down then slap over the other side and brush lightly with my hands. When the dough seems to be a consistent size and thickness then I start going down 1 step at a time. When moving to the next pieces of dough - put the rolled out ones between two towels on a cookie sheet being sure to flour well between the folds. 
  7. Once cut to the shape or size you want boil a pot of WELL salted water and then add the pasta (being careful to not overfill the pot with pasta) and cook for about 3 minutes on a full boil).