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the definition of summer

Can you tell that summer is weighing hot and heavy on my mind? The last few posts have been Gazpacho, Panzanella Salad, Peach Pizza, Baba Ghanoush, Mojitos, etc. 

I know that for many of you, summer does not begin until June 21 (actually June 20th is officially the first day of summer this year – don’t ask me why).  But here in the Arizona desert, summer hit on the first 100-degree day, which was April 21st this year.  Yes, a full two months before it’s “official”.  And yes, that sucks royally! Today’s forecasted high temp is 108 degrees! UGGGGG!!!

But I can’t deny that I do love summer foods; tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, plums, radishes, watermelon, cherries, cucumbers, eggplant, corn, basil, and, maybe most of all… berries! 

“Boo” to 100+ Degree Days!
“Hip Hip Hooray” for Summer Produce!

Summer Berry Shortcakes with Lemon Crème

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled
2 containers fresh blackberries
2 containers fresh blueberries
1 container fresh raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 large lemon

Lemon Crème
1 cup sour cream or vanilla Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
(plus lemon zest as directed below)

2  1/3 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk, divided

Mint sprigs for garnish

Berries: Cut some of the strawberries in half, slice others, and dice the rest. This combination of cutting techniques makes the berry mixture more interesting.

Combine all of the berries in a large bowl.

Use a micro-plane to remove all the zest from the lemon. Add a small pinch of the zest to the berries and place the rest in a medium bowl for the Lemon Crème.

Add sugar, mint, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the berries; toss well and chill, tossing occasionally, at least 4 hours and up to 10 hours ahead.

Lemon Crème: Add the sour cream and sugar to the bowl with the lemon zest; mix well. Chill at least 1 hour.

Shortcakes:  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Whisk flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg in a bowl until well blended. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut butter pieces into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. (If it is warm in your kitchen and the butter becomes too soft when using your fingers, place the bowl in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding.)

With a rubber spatula, stir in 1 cup of the buttermilk until just moistened and dough begins to form, it will be sticky at this point.

With floured hands, gently knead dough in the bowl 3 or 4 times until it holds together. On a  floured surface, press out dough with your hands into an 8-inch circle about 1/2 inch thick.

With a floured 2 1/2-inch crinkled biscuit cutter, cut out 8 circles from the dough and transfer to a baking sheet. Either free-from extra biscuits, handling the dough as little as possible (or the biscuits will be tough) or discard dough scraps. (BTW, I was making these for a cooking class, so I more than doubled this recipe, that’s why I have so many rounds. Additionally, I used a  smaller cutter to get a couple more rounds out of the dough.)

Transfer rounds to the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the top of each shortcake with the remaining 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake until shortcakes rise and turn lightly golden about 18 minutes.

Cut each shortcake in half crosswise. Place the bottom on a plate and top with 3/4 cup berry mixture and a large dollop of the lemon crème. Cover with the top half of the shortcake and top with another small dollop of lemon crème. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

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1 Marissa { 05.21.12 at 10:40 AM }

If you hate the hot weather so much you should move up to the Bay. It is never hot here.

2 Linda Hopkins { 05.21.12 at 11:08 AM }

Do NOT temp me… you have no idea how close I am to doing just that! xoxo

3 Marissa { 05.21.12 at 3:29 PM }

I can do PR for your cooking school up here! 🙂

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