basil

Strawberry Basil Shortcake

It is June which means it is the start of Strawberry season! In NY we can buy berries all year long, but there is a drastic difference between the berries in the winter and the berries in the early summer.  Strawberries in June are deep red throughout, they are extremely juicy and fragrant and they are as sweet as sugar! This easy recipe really showcases summer fruits, and the best part is you can use whatever you have on hand! Use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or fresh or grilled peaches! The basic buttermilk biscuit recipe is super flaky and buttery and if you want savory biscuits you can even leave out the sugar and cinnamon and add chives and cheddar or leave them plain! My strawberry filling is brought to a whole new level with the addition of fresh chopped basil...my favorite smell in the world is basil.  I always say if I could walk around with sprigs of basil under my armpits I would ;) My whipped cream filling has a little vanilla and a little almond extract which really compliment the strawberry flavor. This is the perfect 4th of July treat or for any summer night for that matter ;)

 

Shortcake (Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits)- You can leave out the sugar and vanilla for a delicious savory biscuit! Use them for egg sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and more!

Ingredients-

  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 3 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 7 tablespoons cold butter
  7. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  8. 1/2  teaspoon vanilla
  9. 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  10. Sugar in the Raw (white sugar is fine too but large granule is better)- All you need is a few teaspoons
  11. Cinnamon (a sprinkle)

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or using an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  You want the butter to be tiny pea size pieces in the flour mixture. Make sure the butter is super cold because it will only make the biscuits more flaky.
  4. Make a well in the center of butter and flour mixture. Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla extract; stir until just combined.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured work surface, pat together into a rectangle.
  6. Fold the rectangle in thirds. Turn dough a half turn, gather any crumbs, and flatten back into a rectangle. Repeat twice more, folding and pressing dough a total of three times.
  7. Gently roll dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Cut out 10-12 biscuits using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter.
  9. Transfer biscuits to the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops of biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle a decent amount of sugar in the raw on top as well as some ground cinnamon.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until browned, about 15 minutes.

Strawberry Basil Filling

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Lb Fresh, Ripe Strawberries sliced in 1/4 inch slices (tops removed)
  2. 2-3 Tablespoons Granulated White Sugar
  3. 4-5 Basil Leaves Chiffonade (cut into thin ribbons)
  4. 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice 

Steps-

  1. Stir together the ingredients and set aside for at least 30-45 mins. You want the juice to slightly extract a little.  If it doesn't have enough juices, add a few drops of water.

Vanilla Almond Chantilly Cream- (You can use store-bought whipped cream as well)

  1. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  2. 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Steps-

Whip all the ingredients vigorously with a whisk or use hand beaters or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until it is fluffy and forms peaks.  Do not over whip or it will get grainy or even turn into butter!

To Assemble the Cakes-

Cut each warm biscuit in half, top with a heaping scoop of the strawberry basil mixture, top with the chantilly cream and then place the top of the biscuit on top.  You can even place another dollop of cream on top and then sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds over the top. 

Spaghetti Squash Fritters- Vegetarian "Crab Cakes"

I HATED leftovers as a child!  I always felt like they never tasted fresh, and being the foodie that I am, I didn't want to have the same dish multiple times in one week.  Once I started managing restaurants and cooking in professional kitchens, I realized how important it is to take the scraps and leftovers of your vegetables, meats, cheeses etc. and use them to create more dishes!  Ultimately, if you throw good, useable leftovers in the garbage, you are throwing money in the garbage!  This week I had a substantial amount of Spaghetti Squash leftover, so I got a little creative and created a delicious appetizer to bring to my friend's apartment for dinner. These fritters are crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside.  The pleasantly stringy texture of the spaghetti squash and the flavors of the capers, sun dried tomatoes and breadcrumbs oddly make these little patties taste just like crab cakes! My friends kept insisting that I was lying to them and that they were crab cakes and not vegetable fritters!  So if you are a vegetarian or have vegetarian guests, this is the perfect dish to serve!  You can even make a "crab cake" sandwich by making a larger spaghetti squash patty, put it on a nice brioche bun with a cajun style aioli and top it with some mixed greens..now how delicious does that sound!


Ingredients-

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash

Canola Oil

5 Sun Dried Tomatoes chopped fine (you can use more if you'd like)

2 Small Cloves of Garlic Minced

Seasoned Breadcrumbs (about 1 cup sometimes you need a little more)

1/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1  1/2- 2 Tablespoons Capers

2 Eggs beaten

Flour (you just need a few Teaspoons for the mixture to hold together)

About 4-5 Large Fresh Basil Leaves Chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)

Salt & Pepper


Steps-

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Cut the spaghetti squash in half vertically using a big chefs knife.  Scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of the squash and then drizzle the flesh with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place the cut side down onto a foil or parchment line sheet pan and roast in the oven about 35-45 minutes or until a fork can easily poke through the outer skin of the spaghetti squash.  

When the squash is cooked, using a fork scrape the squash flesh into a bowl.  It should fall into the bowl like spaghetti! Let it cool and set aside.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooled place in some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and try to squeeze out any excess water that the squash naturally has.

Place the squash in a bowl and add the minced garlic, chopped sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese an capers.  Add the 2 beaten eggs and a dash of salt and black pepper.  Stir together until combined.

Add the seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1 Cup and stir together.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of Flour and stir together.  This will help to bind the mixture.  If you try to fry them and they are not crisping up and are just falling apart, add a little more breadcrumbs and flour.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with Canola Oil and heat on medium heat.  Test the temperature of the oil by placing a dot of the batter into the oil and if the oil sizzles around the batter, your mixture is ready.  Scoop about 1  1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture into you hands, make a ball, and flatten it out into a pancake shape.  You want them about 1/3 inch thick.  Place them in the pan with the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crusty on the bottom and then flip and brown the other side. Only fry a few at a time so they brown evenly and the oil temperature doesn't drop.

When they are cooked place them on paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve with a dollop of the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Crema! See below!


Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Crema-

Ingredients-

Plain Greek Yogurt

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (you can also use regular pesto)

2 Large Basil Leaves Chiffonade

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Steps-

1. Mix together some Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with the Greek Yogurt, a drizzle of Olive Oil and the chopped Basil. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper, and give it a taste!  If you feel the flavor or color is too bland add more of the pesto! That is all there is too it!