This weekend we went strawberry picking. In Seattle, thanks to Jon Rowley (the man who brought us Copper River Salmon) it’s ALL about Shuksan strawberries. They’re ripe, they’re juicy and they’re extremely perishable. When you get your hands on some, you have about 30 seconds to figure out what to do with them before they begin to spoil. They’re that ripe.
This weekend, there Jon hosted a picking event at a farm in Mt. Vernon (about an hour north of Seattle). A group of about 20 people descended on the farm at 9am, got the primer on these gems, and were all set loose to pick their own. It was muggy (rare for Seattle), rainy (not so rare) and a muddy mess in the fields, but we were determined to find our own perfect berries. Now, as someone who loves cooking and for whom sustainability is top of mind, it is very important for me to go to farms and get closer to my food. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Was that believable? Screw that pretentious blather. It was muggy and gross, and there was no cocktail service. But we had fun seeing some familiar faces, meeting some new ones, and joking about whether or not the berries would survive the hour-long drive home without turning into their own moldy ecosystem. “Oh my god, I blinked….I think it made my berries rot”!
Joking aside, it was a fun experience, and it was cool to learn about the berries, the marketing behind them, and meet the 6th generation farmer who hosted the group.
When I got home and hosed the mud off, I searched for strawberry shortcake recipes online. Fearing my baketardedness, I decided to go with Emeril’s recipe for a strawberry shortcake trifle. Trifles are delicious, and forgiving if you screw up the cake...WHICH I DIDN'T DO, for the record. The cake was delicious on its own, but adding booze to it at the end made it even better. The recipe calls for ½ cup of liqueur ala the famous 70s Jello Poke Cake. I doubled that for ours, and I think it could still take a little bit more. When in doubt, add more booze.
Yes, Kairu. I MADE the cake. From scratch. It didn’t come from Safeway. As you can tell from the photo, it was so delicious, it sparkled!
And you’re a bitch.
(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus 2 teaspoons, softened
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur, plus a little more for drizzling (recommended: Grand Marnier)
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9 by 13-inch glass casserole with the 2 teaspoons of butter and set aside.
Combine the eggs and milk in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy. Add 1 1/3 cups of the sugar and continue to beat at high speed until the mixture is quite thick and pale yellow, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Fold this mixture gently into the egg mixture. Gently stir in the melted butter and then transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and bake in the center of the oven until risen and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before proceeding.
Make the strawberry topping by combining the strawberries, remaining 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup orange liqueur, and orange zest in a large bowl and tossing to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to assemble the dessert.
Make the whipped cream by combining the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl and beating with an electric mixer or whisk until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture nearly forms stiff peaks.
When ready to assemble the dessert, poke holes all over the cake using a cake tester or toothpick. Drizzle cake with a little orange liqueur. Cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch cubes and place half of the cake cubes on the bottom of a deep-sided dessert bowl. Add half of the strawberry mixture over the top of the cake cubes, juices and all, spreading strawberries evenly with a spatula and allowing the juices to absorb into the cake. Top with the remaining cake cubes and then the remaining strawberries. Top with the whipped cream and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour in advance before serving.