Next to a pot of soup and a loaf of bread or pan of rolls, the next most smug-making accomplishment I know of is jam.
So I smiled like a chessy cat all weekend, as our luscious local strawberries and raspberries went into jam jars and then went on their way out to the freezer.
I even grinned my way through two nights of leftover strawberries. These were sliced and sweetened and went over shortcakes and under mounds of whipped cream. Then it was on to the leftover raspberries. They were destined, as always, for one of my mother's marvelous raspberry pies.
If you're now berry determined to cash in on these seasonal delights, whether or not you wind up making jam, you may at least want to have some shortcake for dessert.
You can cheat if it seems like a good idea, and pick up the shortcakes at the store or whip up a packaged mix.
Or, you can make my favorite scone recipe. We think it's wonderful for shortcakes, and you can freeze the leftovers to haul out for breakfast or teatime some morning or afternoon. Just thaw, warm, butter the scones lavishly and spread with some of that freezer or other jam.
And then ... and then ... you might want to make the pie, too.
When I was growing up, it wouldn't have been summer at my house without at least one of these. Preferably, one after the other, as long as the berries hung in.
Naturally, but peculiarly, other people in the family had other ideas about dessert, so an unending string of this particular favorite never actually happened. But I never gave up hoping and, when summer rolls around and raspberries are ripe, I never ever miss a chance to make one.
Besides, either the shortcake or the pie might just be the perfect finish to whatever dandy dinner you're fixing this Sunday for our special dads and grandads (Editor's note: or moms and grams). Just in case, here are both recipes.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and patting out
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 egg, plus enough whole milk to measure 2/3 cup liquid
Few drops vanilla extract
Sweetened berries and whipped cream or butter and jam, jelly or honey
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and powdered sugar, stirring to mix well. Quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles little peas or oatmeal. Lightly beat the egg in a measuring cup; then add enough milk to make a total liquid measure of 2/3 cup. Add vanilla. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently with a fork until it holds together.
Gather dough into a ball, place on a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 10 to 12 times only. Still working on a lightly floured surface, with your hands, evenly pat the dough into a square 1/2-inch thick. Cut the square into 4 smaller squares. Cut each small square into 2 or 3 triangular pieces. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake at 425 degrees about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to serve as shortcakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Or serve warm with butter, jam, jelly or honey.
Makes 8 to 12.
My mother's raspberry pie
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries
1 pie shell (8 inches), baked and cooled
Garnishes: Whole raspberries and mint or lemon balm leaves (optional)
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice until thick; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar until it will form peaks when you lift the beaters; fold into milk mixture. Fold in berries and spoon into pie shell. Refrigerate until firm. If desired, garnish with whole raspberries and mint or lemon balm leaves.
Makes one 8-inch pie.
The next Forum will appear Friday.
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