A knockout strawberry sundae with mascarpone, meringue and dulce de leche was on the deliciously varied menu for dinner this past Mother’s Day at the Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue. Then, at a wonderfully executed ‘Study in Green’ food and wine dinner at Almond in Bridgehampton, the dessert was a ‘Study in Red:’ strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with basil and lime compote. I couldn’t wait for strawberry season to arrive to share these local chefs’ recipes with you. They are generously offered by executive chef owners Christian Mir of Stone Creek Inn and Jason Weiner of Almond.
Fresh, juicy, locally grown strawberries are ripe and ready for picking. Baskets overflowing with the colorful fruit are available at farm stands and farmers markets – or you can join the band of berry pickers visible in the fields in the coming weeks.
Look for strawberries that have a full, sweet scent and are red right down to the tip, as strawberries do not ripen further after they are picked. Pass up berries in stained or sticky containers. To store berries, refrigerate them unwashed and covered with a tent of plastic wrap for up to 2 to 3 days. Strawberries are indeed unique among berries.
STONE CREEK INN STRAWBERRY SUNDAE
Christian Mir’s creative and luscious strawberry sundae
6 meringue discs
6 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream whipped, divided
1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
For the Meringue
1/2 cup egg whites, about 3 extra-large eggs
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 225°F
1. Cut aluminum foil to fit baking sheet at least 12 x 15 inches
2. In bowl of electric mixer at slow speed, beat the whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase speed to moderate and beat for almost a minute more until whites hold their shape. Continue to beat adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. When half the sugar is added, add the vanilla and continue adding all the sugar. Increase speed to high and beat for 7 to 8 minutes until meringue is very stiff and sugar is dissolved.
3. Fit a pastry bag with a plain round tube, fold down top to form a cuff and, with a rubber spatula, place the meringue into the bag. Lift the cuff up and twist the bag closed. Hold the bag upright at a right angle and close to the foil on the baking sheet, squeeze the meringue into round discs about 2 to 3 inches around. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 to 55 minutes until crisp and dry. Do not allow to color or taste will be off. Can be prepared ahead and stored in a tin.
For the caramel
1 cups sugar
6 to 7 tablespoons water, divided
1. Put the sugar in a saucepan and stir in 3 tablespoons water, or just enough to moisten the sugar. Set over high heat and, without stirring or shaking the pan, allow sugar to melt into the syrup and cook at a rapid boil. After several minutes, about 6 to 8, the syrup will start to color. You can tell when it is approaching the caramel stage by the appearance of the bubbles. Remove pan from heat and holding it at arms length stir in 1 tablespoon of water at a time to dissolve the caramel to a syrupy consistency. Set aside.
1. In a mixing bowl combine mascarpone with the sugar and stir to mix. Fold in 1/2 cup of whipped cream. Divide the mascarpone cream into 6 serving glasses, place a meringue over the cream and place several strawberry halves on the meringue. Pour over the caramel sauce and top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Caramel sauce adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Knopf, 1999.
Meringue adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, 1974
Note: No doubt the above recipe requires some cooking and baking skills. However, one can purchase meringues from a reputable baker and allow store bought dulce de leche ice cream soften to a pouring consistency and all you have to do is assemble!
ALMONDS STRAWBERRY/RHUBARB SHORTCAKE
Jason Weiner’s inspired and delectable strawberry rhubarb shortcake.
Serves 6 to 8
For the Shortcakes
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425°F.
1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Split while warm for the compote below and set aside.
For the Compote
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, sliced into half-inch pieces
1 cup strawberries, capped and halved (if using larger strawberries, quarter them)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Zest and Juice of 1 Lime
2 Large Basil Leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into chiffonade plus extra for garnish
Place rhubarb in a saucepan and sprinkle with sugar. Add the ginger, lime zest and juice and stir to mix. Place over medium to medium high heat and simmer until rhubarb just begins to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. When rhubarb is soft remove from heat and stir in the strawberries. Cool the mixture completely then fold in the basil. Set aside.
For the Assembly
1. Split the shortcakes when they are still warm to create an open-faced sandwich. Spoon the chilled compote into the bottom half and place the lid over the compote at an angle. Garnish with a dollop of whipped Crème Fraiche, a Basil Leaf and top with a dash of powdered sugar.