When I moved into our new house last year, the one thing I left behind at my old address, other than my amazing neighbors, was my garden. Some of you may remember Stefan and my “urban farm” project. I’d worked, or at least assisted, in the creation of a spectacular 14 x 14-foot farm. In my new house we have great big trees, that give us wonderful shade and privacy, but my chances of recreating my vegetable garden are zero. I’m lucky just to grow hostas. I studied the patterns of the sun on my new yard, in hopes that a small sliver of day light would present itself. The only spot is a little nook by my back door, but it is covered in concrete, so tilling the soil will never happen. On a trip to the farmers market I bought a potted patio tomato. Why not herbs and berries in pots too?
Now I have a rather impressive (albeit small) crop of lavender, sage, rosemary, lemon verbena, mint, other herbs and
two varieties of strawberries. It isn’t the lush mini-farm I once had, but at least I can step out my back door and “harvest” from the pots.
Truth be told, I’ve only eaten a handful of strawberries from those pots. I’m not sure if it is the rabbits, which we have many, or my boys, who are eating them all? The few I have picked are sweet, a little tart and the most spectacular color red, throughout. The berries we buy in the store are often perfect looking, but when you cut into them they reveal a hollow, white interior, that resembles an empty shell, with a flavor to match. The home grown variety are dense and lovely, just small in number. My new neighbor, who just happens to be an inspired food blogger, Stephanie Meyer of Fresh Tart, brought me a perfect summer gift of a couple pints of hand picked, locally grown strawberries. They were just like my little beauties from my pots, but a recipe’s worth. When she handed them to me, I knew I should do as little to them as possible, they just don’t need adorning. A tiny bit of sugar, a splash of a sweet wine, some herbs from my pots, paired with shortcake and whipped cream. That’s it.
“Shortcake” dough – I used the same dough my son used for his scones. Why not? They are easy, delicious and the perfect texture for this dessert. Just leave out the raisins.
4 tablespoons butter, melted for the tops
1/2 cup sugar, for sprinkling over the tops
2 pints fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar (more if your strawberries are very tart, or less if they are sweet.
1/4 cup sweet white wine (I used a bottle of riesling from Sofia by Francis Coppola, which I bought because the bottle is so beautiful and it works perfectly with this recipe)
3 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used basil, lemon verbena and mint)
1 pint whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
To make the shortcake:
Preheat oven to 425°F
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Make the dough according to the scone recipe, but leave out the raisins. Roll the dough into a log that is 2-inches in diameter.
Cut the dough into 24 pieces. they will be small, and you will use two per serving.
Spread them out on two pans (ignore the amount I have here, I made lots for a party). Brush the top generously with butter and sprinkle with a generous amount of sugar.
Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
To make the strawberries, toss them with the sugar, wine and herbs.
Let them sit for about 15 minutes. If they sit for any longer they should be refrigerated.
Whip the cream just before serving and assemble the shortcakes, serve immediately.