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strawberries

May is the start of Strawberry season throughout most of the U.S, with peek seasons from (May – July).  Here in WA we have to wait until July to get great local strawberries, so I regularly take advantage of California strawberries in early May.  I decided to do two of my favorite strawberry recipes, the classic Strawberry Shortcake with Fresh Whipped Cream and my non-traditional version of the classic Strawberry Jam.  I hope you get as much joy from these 2 recipes as I do. Please feel free to add your own twists and variations to make them your own.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar, plus additional to sprinkle on top

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-ounce pieces

1 cup heavy cream (I like Twin Brook Creamery from Lynden, WA), plus additional to brush on top

3 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed

2 or 3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons port wine

1 teaspoon orange zest

Fresh Whipped Cream, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 or 2 baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter and process just until combined. With the motor running, add the cream through the feed tubes, stopping just before the dough forms a ball.  If you don’t own a food processor you could do this step by hand, just use your fingers and fork to combine butter and floor.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead, forming a smooth ball. Do not overwork. Roll the dough out into a 3/4-inch thick round. Using a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 7 circles. Knead the scraps together, roll and cut out 3 more circles.

Arrange the circles on the prepared baking trays, brush the tops with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for 10-15 min, or until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the strawberries. Cut each berry into thick slices and toss with sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, port, and orange zest, and gently mix. Set aside.

When ready to serve, split each shortcake in half and warm slightly. Place the bottom half of the shortcake on a dessert plate. Spoon about ¼ cup of the strawberries and its juices on the bottom half, arrange a scant ½ cup of whipped cream over the strawberries and top with the shortcake Serve immediately.

Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream (I like Twin Brook Creamery from Lynden,WA)

½ teaspoon Vanilla extract

Directions

Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the sugar and vanilla extract into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Directions

Combine the sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate. (I keep one in the freezer.) Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines below.

Tips on Sterilizing Jars:

Properly-handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.

Sterilizing Tips:

Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic, or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.

To sterilize jars, before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Or, boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.

Use tongs when handling the hot sterilized jars, to move them from either boiling water or the oven. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.

As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

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