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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

We're both experiencing a glut of strawberries, Mom from her garden and me from my favorite local grocery store that has had cases on sale. Here's a favorite way to enjoy them.  



Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

Yield: 4 servings plus extra shortbread (about 50 cookies, if you follow size directions)

For the shortbread:

1 c unsalted butter, preferably cultured (European-style), at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teas fine sea salt
1 T vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded with a tip of a knife 
1/2 teas orange blossom water or grated orange zest (optional)
2 c AP flour

For serving:

1 pint strawberries, sliced
granulated sugar, to taste, remembering the cookies are on the sweet side
1 c heavy cream
1/2 teas vanilla

Attach a paddle attachment to either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, salt, vanilla (extract or seeds), and orange blossom water, if using and beat. Add the flour and stir until smooth, occasionally using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Place a 12-inch long piece of  plastic wrap on a counter and place the dough in the center. Using the wrap to form a barrier between you and the sticky dough, form it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can also form 2 logs if you find that easier. Wrap tightly and place in the fridge until it's completely cold, at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.

Preheat oven to 350F when you are ready to bake and place parchment paper or baking liners on 2 baking sheets.

Remove the plastic wrap from the dough log and slice it into quarter-inch rounds. Place the dough on the prepared sheets and place in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes until they are golden at the edges. These spread a little so keep that in mind. I successfully placed 4 across with 1 1/2-inch cookies. 

Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack and allow them to cool thoroughly before removing. These can be baked up to 4 days ahead as long as you store them in an airtight container at room temperature. 

About 20 minutes before serving, sprinkle the sliced berries with a little sugar and stir. Allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes while they release their juice.

Whip the cream using a mixer with a whisk or a whisk and a bowl (more effort on your part). Add a teaspoon or so of sugar. Again, the cookies are so sweet you may not need sugar in the cream.

Divide the strawberries into serving bowls saving a little juice for drizzling. Top with the whipped cream and drizzle the cream with some of the juice.  Tuck several cookies into each bowl and eat with spoons. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Shrimp and Grits

When I leave my landlocked state and spend time oceanside, this is one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant. Thankfully, freezers make it possible to enjoy this dish other places and other times. 


Shrimp and Grits

Source:  The 150 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens
Serves: 4


4 c water
1 c grits (preferably stone ground)
1/2 teas salt
2 T butter
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground white pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg, all to taste


6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
oil for frying
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined if desired, rinsed and patted dry
2 c wiped and cleaned mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sliced scallions
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 teas fresh lemon juice
Hot pepper sauce to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

I found it easiest to prep the ingredients for both portions of the meal before starting to cook either. 

To make the grits:

In a large heavy saucepan, bring the water to boil and gradually stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to it's lowest point and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  When grits are thick and tender, stir in the salt, butter, and cheeses. Add about a pinch of each of the spices and taste to see if you would like to add more.

To make the shrimp:

This can be started as the grits finish up. You may want to keep the grits in a warm oven if they finish first, as mine usually do.

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet and remove bits from the pan when they are finished. You may pour off all but a couple tablespoons of bacon fat.

If you wish, you can add some neutral cooking oil to the bacon fat in the skillet, so you have a thin layer of cooking fat. Bring the fat in the skillet to a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the shrimp and cook until the shrimp start to color. Quickly turn them over and add the scallions, bacon, and garlic. Stir in the lemon juice and some hot pepper sauce, if you wish. Top with a sprinkling of parsley or save it for garnishing each serving.

Place the grits on warm plates and top with the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.