CLAUD MANN ’S STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE
One can toil for hours on more elaborate desserts without coming close to achieving the simple gratification of this almost effortless summer indulgence.
Using cream instead of butter in the shortcake not only makes for lighter, more tender pastry, but also eliminates the step of cutting the butter into the flour. (Double the shortcake recipe—these are great to have with morning coffee.)
3 pints of the ripest, sweetest strawberries you can find, hulled and halved if small, quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup, agave nectar or granulated sugar (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter
1½ cups heavy cream
A splash of pure maple syrup or agave nectar, to taste
¼ cup thinly sliced crystallized ginger
Mash about a quarter of the berries; toss with the unmashed berries, sweetening (if desired) and lemon juice. Set aside to macerate while you make the shortcake and whip the cream.
Preheat oven to 425°. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and sugar; whisk to combine. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cream and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Dump the mixture onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and using floured hands, knead only a few times until the mixture forms a soft dough. For the lightest shortcake don’t over-knead.
Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 5-inch round; cut both rounds into quarters. Brush each with melted butter. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each quarter, and bake 10–15 minutes, or until just barely golden. While the shortcakes cool, combine cream and sweetening in a large mixing bowl; whisk vigorously until soft peaks form. Have a friend help out if your arm gets tired. Split shortcakes crosswise; place bottom halves on plates; spoon berries and a large dollop of whipped cream over each. Add shortcake tops and repeat with more berries and whipped cream.
Garnish with crystallized ginger and eat rapidly.
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MY FAVORITE CEVICHE
We make this dish constantly during the summer. It's adapted from a recipe from Perla's Perla's Dad, who grew up in Acapulco.
Notes: The citric acid in lime juice firms fish and makes it opaque, so ceviche looks and tastes cooked but isn't. As with sushi, if you want to be extra careful, shop at a trusted market, tell the fishmonger that you plan to eat the fish raw, and always use safe kitchen practices
3/4 pound very fresh boneless, skinless halibut or sea bass, cut into 1/4-in. to 1/2-in. diced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tablespoons juice from a jar of sliced pickled jalapeños (sometimes labeled
1/2 medium sweet white onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup grape tomatoes or 1 medium firm-ripe tomato, cut into 1/4-in. cubes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-in. cubes
4 ounces pitted green olives (preferably not brined in vinegar; if they are, rinse with water before using), finely chopped
1/2 cup very finely crumbled cotija (firm Mexican cheese) or feta cheese (about 3 oz.)
1 serrano chile, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 firm-ripe avocado
Coarse kosher salt to taste
Thick tortilla chips
Mexican hot chile sauce, such as Cholula
1. In a medium bowl, combine fish and 2 tbsp. each of lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 6, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, mix olive oil, oregano (rubbed between your palms first if the flecks are large), and pickled jalapeño juice in a large bowl.
3. Drain fish in a colander, discarding juices, and add to olive-oil mixture. Toss to coat.
4. Add pickled jalapeños, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cheese, serrano, and cilantro. Peel avocado, cut into 1/2-in. cubes, and toss gently with remaining 1 tbsp. lemon juice; add to bowl and toss ceviche gently and thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and remaining 1 tbsp. lime juice. Serve with tortilla chips and hot chile sauce.