Summer’s first berries
Well, goodness, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Time seems to be passing so fast lately. Nearly the summer solstice, it’s muggy and warm. There’s a steady breeze and thunder storms on the horizon for this evening. In a fit of – what? – heat stroke, summer craziness, something… I picked eight quarts of strawberries today from a local pick your own farm. It was hot, it made my back ache, and it felt very much like summer. It felt good.
Our garden is supposed to have strawberries in it. A week ago, I was eying the blushing berries, gauging that we needed one more day of ripening before picking. We were going to have friends over the next day for dinner and I was anticipating picking those berries and serving them sans any gussying-up for desert.
I got home with only a half hour to prep and headed out with a huge plastic container to fill. (You know what’s coming, right?) There wasn’t a damn berry left on those plants. As I threw a mini tantrum in the midst of our strawberry patch, swearing at the wee beasts that thought they were entitled to my strawberries, I noticed my husband looking at me with a wary eye. Sigh. Over-reacting? Probably. It was a lot of strawberries though.
And so, my weekend yielded this spontaneous strawberry picking episode and a now a fridge packed with berries. I ate them for lunch with plain, whole milk yogurt and some maple syrup. I ate them plain while I waited for the grill to heat up for dinner. And while dinner was on the grill, I sliced strawberries for homemade strawberry ice cream. And this treat is always what makes it really feel like summer to me. This means annual visits from nieces and nephews and the first heat waves of the summer. And I’ll be honest, it’s really the only time of the year I pull that heretofore much-coveted ice cream maker out of the basement.
And then, just because there are so damn many berries in my fridge, I also made strawberry shortcake. With gluten-free biscuits, cobbled together from a couple different recipes, mostly Gluten Free Girl’s. The first batch was kind of weird. Note to self: sweet potato flour makes things taste like sweet potatoes. Perhaps that would have been obvious to someone concerned less with using up all those berries and more concerned with what was in front of her. They were tasty, but not exactly what you’d top with strawberries and cream. And so I tried again. This time, I used less assertive flours, and the results were much better.
I’ll also point out, in her defense, the Gluten Free Girl’s recipe did not include sweet potato flour. This was my own innovation. Ahem. Baking? Well, clearly my talents lie elsewhere. And in my defense, I never claimed otherwise. However, all that aside, please do try the biscuits below. They really were lovely. Though I still have strawberries left over.
Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. light buckwheat flour
1/2 c. gluten-free oat flour
1/2 c. sweet brown rice flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1 t. coarse salt
4 T. cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 c. buttermilk (or milk soured with 1 t. cider vinegar)
1 egg white
Preheat oven to 450° F. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add butter pieces and smoosh it around with two forks into the flours until it has the texture of little peas.
Beat the egg white until frothy and add to dry ingredients. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients. Fold both into dry ingredients until it just comes together. Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet in 2.5-3″ diameter rounds.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Makes a baker’s dozen.
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/4 c. sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in bowl and allow strawberries to macerate for a half hour.
Slice each biscuit in half and place several large spoons full of strawberries onto bottom half. Place second half over strawberries and then top with whipped cream (or strawberry ice cream, should you have it). I didn’t use all of the biscuits. If you’re making all 13 of them, you’ll need more strawberries. Biscuits keep several days in an air-tight container.