Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strawberry and Peach Shortcakes with Basil

It was a full strawberry moon last week, the name native Americans gave to the full moon in June for the short strawberry season. Strawberries this month taste real and sweet and not manipulated by man. I had a quart of organic red, ripe strawberries picked straight from the vine and a small basket of organic white peaches. Still dreaming about my Compote of White Peaches with Basil I had in Paris last month, I stepped out into the garden to snip basil to begin my recipe for the basil simple syrup. Basil is such a good partner with strawberries as well as peaches, so I wanted to use them, too. I kept the strawberries fresh, poached the peaches in vanilla, and made little shortcakes to serve them with. A generous drizzle of the basil simple syrup over the strawberry and peach shortcakes and a dollop of whipped cream made me want to bring summer to a halt and freeze frame this moment of summer goodness.

Happy Fourth of July!

Strawberry and Peach Shortcakes with Basil

4 shortcakes, split
about 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and cut in half
4 vanilla poached peaches
1/2-1 cup basil simple syrup
lightly sweetened whipped cream

Split the shortcakes in half and place each one on a serving dish. Add about 4 strawberries (8 halves) and 4 quarters poached peaches. Generously drizzle the basil simple syrup over the fruit and cake. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a basil sprig.

Serves 4.

Basil Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed and rinsed

Put the water into a small sauce pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and bring to a boil without stirring. Continue to gently boil for about 5 minutes or until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
Test by taking out a spoonful and let cool. Do not let it boil too long or it will become too thick. Let cool to room temperature. In a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade, add the simple syrup and basil. Pulse until the basil is fine. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container until ready to use.

Makes one cup.

Vanilla Poached Peaches

1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
4 peaches, peeled and quartered

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the water, sugar and vanilla bean. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean and using the backside of a knife, scrape the seeds into the sugar mixture. Add the peaches and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the peaches are just cooked. Cool and store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to use.


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk*
1 tablespoon cream, for brushing
*Add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1/3 cup to milk and let stand 5 minutes for a buttermilk substitution.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick pan.

Put the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just mixed. The mixture will be slightly sticky. Using a rubber spatula, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Without handling the dough too much, pat and flatten to 1 inch thickness.
Using a 3 inch cutter, cut out 6 rounds. Place the dough circles on the baking sheet, brush with cream, sprinkle with sugar and place in the preheated oven. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Tie dye flag by my son. Once again, thank you, Zac!!!

Strawberry and Peach Shortcakes with Basil recipe.

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