7.29.2015

Low Country Boil + A little time in Beaufort….

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My instructions were simple and rattled on repetitively in my head; after traveling down U.S Route- 21, look for a gravel inlet and a broken stop sign, turn there, park and follow the rest of the way on foot.
"You'll see other folks walkin" 
The gravel inlet was actually an unpaved road with cars littered haphazardly along the sides. Being unfamiliar with the area, it took me a good 15 minutes before I got the courage to trek down the path with the "other folks". Wayward coastal breezes made the Palmetto trees sway surrounding me with the most fragrant scent, leading my feet to veer off the path a little.
"Hey, you here for the boil? If so you're not gonna get there going that way." Says a gentleman watching me with amusement.
"Sorry, I'm not from here." 
"Ahh, figured that"
Quietly, I thank him, ask if I could follow and Jacob (my new friend) and I made our way down the road. About a mile and another new friend later, we walk up on a clearing with tables and people..
A colorful tableau of people.
My eyes glazed over after noticing an array of desserts standing proudly on a table to my left. "That's not what you're here for" Jacob murmurs beside me. Sparing a quick glance in his direction, I inform him that after traveling several hours to the low country coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina from my hometown in N.C , I'm here for something for sure.
One thing only...food.
Spotting my friend at a table ahead, I nod my head to make my way over to her while noting Jacob following on my heels. I've seem to have made a friend for real
"You made it" She hugs me tightly and I return it with as much gusto; it's been a year since we've seen each other. "I wouldn't miss this for the world" is my response as a squeeze her hand lingering in her closeness a little while longer.

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Our table begins to fill with people and newspaper is laid in front of me in anticipation of what's to come. It's hard not to notice how diverse the people are that sit among each other like old friends. Across from me sits a sun visor clad little lady, in her mid 70's, whose shoulders were pink from the South Carolina sun.
"That sun is bad for my eyes" she pronounces .. Then goes on to ask me at least 100 questions because she's never seen me before. A few minutes later she is joined by a a young man, tall with dark brown skin and kind eyes. He is very good looking so I shuffle a little in my seat. Turning to the sassy visor lady, this handsome stranger lowers himself in the seat beside her, with kiss on the check as she calls him her sweet boy.
"His mama, worked for me and his grandma worked for my family.. Our families go way back" she says in adoration looking between the newcomer and I. He turns my way, shrugs his shoulders, shaking his head a little. A logo on his t-shirt reading "Gullah TV' grabs my attention and an anxiousness consumes me. "Can I talk to you about the Gullah Culture" I inquire ,perhaps a little too loudly as he stares at me then smiles. In the interest of time, I won't go into the conversation we shared.  Truly, it needs it's own post, a series of post to accurately explain the importance of it. Something that sparked the flame in my desire to know more about the Gullah heritage.
The Gullah people are descendants of the enslaved Africans that labored the rice plantations in the Atlantic coastal plains and the chain of Sea Islands in the United States. It's a culture, that includes it's own language, history and contributions to alot of the dishes I see posted on the internet but is hardly ever mentioned. It's my hope that this blog encourages people to explore the world of food from all perspectives, to learn the true journey that dish you are eating has taken.
Onward-
We are all engrossed in conversations as a group of people come into view, carrying large stock pots towards us, then proceed to dump mountains of shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes that smell of spice and lemongrass along the newspaper lined tables. Immediately I realize that I had in fact been raised in the wrong area of the south. Where we praise the whole hog in N.C, proverbially dance around a pig as it roasts in expectancy of chopped BBQ smothered in vinegar based sauce, this seaside town climbs peaks of seafood and spicy sausage. I was in love and after about an hour, about to pass out from trying to climb that same mountain by consuming all in my wake. Wiping the wetness off my hands with paper towels, I notice a few people walking back with plates of pie and cake. No longer does the coconut cake hold the appeal it originally did upon first sight.
Jacob leans over- "told you that's not what you were here for"
True Jacob, very true....

Low Country Boil 5 (1 of 1)

This recipe is very simple. To me, the largest appeal is the fact that it can be scaled to serve a small group to a large crowd. It draws a mass crowd of all types of diners, who share a commonality in food. It's very fitting for a summer dinner, perhaps with a side of cheddar biscuits and ice cold locally crafted beers. Let's plan it.. How about August 22nd at 7 pm, where will once again sit around the table new friends and old friends and feast on our own Low Country Boil, beer, and maybe a biscuit or two. More to come along with the link for tickets, next week.....

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Low Country Boil

This recipe is very forgiving, as in, the measurement of ingredients are more specific to the cook. A low country boil is meant to highlight the summers’ peak and the freshest shrimp, corn and potatoes which are what really make this one pot of perfection sing. The sausage that I used is chicken from my local butcher, I also sauteed it before adding to the pot for my non pork- non shellfish eating friend that joined us for dinner. Normally I go for Andouille for a bit more kick, just adding it to the pot like the instructions say below.
Traditionally, the shrimp is cooked with the heads still on. I'm noticing that is a something that freaks some folks out. Which I think is super strange since growing up everything we ate still had the head attached, from the fish to the pig.
Let's Eat Yo!

Ingredients: 
¾ cup old bay seasoning
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 lb of potatoes, here I used small red potatoes
2 lbs sausage cut into 1 inch pieces, fresh chicken sausage
3 small sweet onions, peeled and halved
6 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut into thirds
4 lbs fresh shrimp, unshelled

 Directions: 
 Bring a large stockpot of water (about 9 quarts) to a simmer. Add the old bay seasoning and kosher salt. Now add in the potatoes and sausage, boil until the potatoes are tender, about 15- 20 minutes. Bringing the water back to a slow simmer, add the corn, onion and cook until corn kernels are just a little softened about 3-4 minutes. You still want that bit of crunch when biting into the corn cob. Add in the shrimp and cook (with the water still on simmer) until shrimp becomes pink and white, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for about 10 minutes, drain from the liquid and transfer to a platter or most commonly to the center of the table lined with newspaper.
Serve with lemon wedges, Tabasco and more old bay seasoning. Along with butter and olive oil for the corn.

7.10.2015

Videri Chocolate Brownie Pie

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Chocolate, It's what I turn to in times of sadness and the first thing I look for on the dessert table. Preferably, nestled between 4 cake layers.
As the band plays that first wedding song, people gaze along in admiration as the bride and groom sway to the music, you'll find me with that same glossed over look as rivers of chocolate pour from a odd shaped fountain over my wooden skewer impaled fruit.
To sum all that up, I like chocolate..
Videri is a bean to bar Chocolate Factory, using the finest organic cocoa beans and cocoa butter available, they’re doing some impressive things with chocolate, starting with a pink peppercorn bar I just couldn't get enough of. Located in Raleigh North Carolina (my hometown), Videri is a full out chocolate factory, where you can roam their space while taking in all the gloriousness that comes along with watching the process of making chocolate, while learning how they source fair-trade ingredients. Then shop the shelves for all kinds of chocolate confections.. As well as grab a cup of coffee. Here I've used their Classic Dark Chocolate to create this dreamy pie that's the equivalent to a fudge brownie lying in a bed of flaky pastry dough.
You’re Welcome.

Videri Chocolate Pie 5 (1 of 1)
Videri Chocolate Pie 7 (1 of 1)

*Full disclosure: I was given payment in the sweet form of chocolate by the good folks of Videri Chocolate Factory. However, this is damn good and I'm happy to support those doing great things with food in the South. Thanks for supporting those that keep things rolling here on Southern Souffle*

Videri Chocolate Brownie Pie:
Prep Time: 40 mins + atleast 2 hours rest for the pie crust Cook Time: 35 mins Yield: 6 servings  
Pie Adapted from: Handmade Baking by Kamran Siddiqi 

Ingredients
Pie crust:
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ in cubes
¼ cup ice water

Filling
3 oz bittersweet dark chocolate
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter (mixture should look like crumbles). Stir in the water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours (or overnight) Preheat oven to 350 On a floured surface, roll out the dough to fit your pie pan.
Center dough in the pan and trim the edges, leaving about ½ inch over hang around the sides. Fold the over hang under the rim and crimp the edges. Put the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes. After removing the crust from the freezer poke holes at the bottom of the crust using a fork.
Line the crust with parchment paper (you can also use foil) and fill with pie weights to cover the bottom and along the side of the pie. Bake for 15 minutes with the pie weights . Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the filling: Melt the chocolate by placing a wide skillet with about an inch of water on a burner on your stove. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl directly in the water (in the skillet) Bring water to a simmer and let the chocolate melt while stirring occasionally. (you can also melt the chocolate in the microwave but I prefer this method)
Remove bowl from stove and whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until combined with the melted chocolate. Slowly pour in the cream, whisking until the mixture is smooth. It truly looks like a bowl of pudding but it's not so don't eat it yet.
Pour the filling into the pie shell, place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. The top will crackle on the top like a pan of brownies.. This is a good thing.. A really good thing. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool before slicing. I try slicing it way too early and it was troublesome getting it out of the pan.
*Note: if the edges start to brown too quickly, cover the crust with strips of foil.

6.24.2015

Forever Thankful with Roasted Potato Salad...

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Last Wednesday, June 17th I called myself finishing this post, reading over the ingredients, shutting down my laptop and going over my plans for the day and weekend ahead.
Waking up the next morning, I'd learned of yet another occurrence of hate in my community, against my community and this post and everything else floated away- rage and deep sadness took it's place.
I still do not have the ability to express what I'm feeling. Police Brutality, Church Massacres, pool attacks as the Confederate flag waves above. I'm living the stories of my mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and all those before... The stories of their past have become a part of my daughters present.
Generational hatred, a elephant people like to sweep under the rug but always let's us know that it does in fact still remain. Standing proud like the bronzed encased Confederate soldiers that Lord over Federal buildings in the south. Highways and bypasses named after generals that are no heroes of mine. It is a weapon in every sense of the word, used to continuously bring down a community that refuses to be broken, we are descendants of people with unwavering resilience and faith. Growing up in an A.M.E church we sang praises to Mother Emanuel, the church that paved the way. Wednesday night bible study was followed by snacks in the fellowship hall. All this is part of my journey in food, all of this is part of my heritage, all of this makes me weep at the thought of how we are not safe even in worship. Weep at the thought of the times that I have stood in Emanuel A.M.E Church and heard Pastor Pickney speak, shaken his hand and been in his presence. It really hits close to home.
I keep hearing this song in my head, I keep hearing my grandmother singing as she did often everywhere that she went..

 " When Darkness veils his lovely face, 
 I rest on his unchanging grace. 
 In every high and stormy gale, 
my anchor holds within the veil. 
On Christ the solid rock I stand, 
all other ground is sinking sand; " 

 Standing on solid rock.. No weapon formed against us shall prosper.. It won't work.

The thousands of people that stood upon Ravenel Bridge in Charleston Sunday night, is a testament of that.
The rainbow of diners that broke bread with me on June 13th in the honor of the ladies of South Slocumb Street is a testament of that.
With that being said, I'll move on.... for now.

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Photo by Meghan of Stir and Scribble 


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Photo by Meghan of Stir and Scribble 

There are an endless amount of ways to give thanks.. The simplest is to say the words standing face to face with those who you deem deserve it.
Often this could hardly depict just how grateful you feel.
Last Saturday, 20 guest sitting at wooden tables, enjoyed 4 courses of love in the form of fried chicken, blackened fish and peach cobbler. A celebration of dishes that at heart, represent me as a cook and the vast history that I've carried with me for years. Other than a few mishaps here and there, I'd say it was a great success, one that could've never happen without the help of a few folks that I call friends.
Forever thankful I am for my dear Joni and her charming appeal and knowledge of wine, thank you for keeping the guest engaged and that wine flowing.
Rick, you were a master at all that was asked of you, for that I owe you many thanks.
Meghan, I would have drowned in a sea of commercial kitchen inexperience and plate prep as well as a host of other things (like flowers arrangements) if not for you... I'm serious about our vacation.. So much love to you..
Lastly, to my one and only Mr. Southern Soufflé your support of all my endeavors. If it's designing some new computer automation to deciding to embark on pop up dinners, it's what keeps me going. Just those words.. "Sure my dear, I think you should give it a shot" give me wings to take flight, knowing ultimately you'll always catch me if I fall.
A special thanks to all those that dined with us and the kind words you shared. We hope see you again at the next one. Here is one of the most praised dishes from Saturday's dinner, potato "salad" with crispy pancetta topped tangy roasted potatoes.

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Roasted Potato Salad
Prep Time- 25mins Cook Time- 35mins Yield- 6 servings 

*Toast the potatoes in just olive oil or grapeseed oil and remove the pancetta completely to make this vegetarian. Take it one step farther and substitute the mayo for veganaise or this tofu mayo and make this dish vegan friendly* 
 

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pancetta, diced
12 fingerling potatoes, halved (or you can use whatever white potatoes that you have on hand)
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup of mayo (Duke's Mayo is magic-that is what I always use)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups arugula leaves

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 400
In a large cast iron skillet add the olive oil and pancetta and cook until crispy. About 10 minutes of med-high heat. Remove the pancetta using a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Using the same skillet, add the potatoes and cook in the fat for about 10 minutes or until they turn slightly golden.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast the potatoes for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown and tender on the inside.
While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, chives, and pepper in a large bowl. When the potatoes finish, fold them into the mayo mixture. Toss in the arugula and pancetta. Serve while warm.

6.10.2015

Corn Milk Biscuits

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Ms. Mattie would be the first to ever introduce me to corn milk.
Someone, who to this day remains a mystery, would bring her stalks of corn in several boxes each year, none of it going to waste. After removing the kernels, she'd boil the hell out of the Cobb in milk and cinnamon and other items she didn't share. Just a story that her great aunt told her about a Choctaw Indian that showed a relative the process. Oral history on top of oral history, never written down just passed along from person to person. One time in particular, she made the sweetest cake out of cane syrup and corn milk. I don't know that recipe and cake baking and I have a precarious relationship that often involves foul language.
However, Cane Syrup Corn Milk cake is on my list of recipes to "figure out".
Yet biscuits and I go back like red light- green light and are tight like that swimsuit from last year at the bottom of my closet.
There are some recipes on the internet for biscuits that make me cringe. The process for basic buttermilk biscuits are written down like science projects with tons of ingredients that can be intimidating to some. I'll be honest, White Lily self-rising flour will get the job done, giving you light and fluffy biscuits with just 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. Or 3/4 cup of buttermilk and some butter. That's all it takes... I swear.
With that being said, it's easy to build off of that recipe, adding things like corn "pulp" and corn milk.. Turning yourself into a biscuit Jedi with biscuit cutters as light sabers...
I realize that white lily flour is a southern thang and isn't sold everywhere.. But guess what, .Amazon.com , where I spend about 75% of my life scrolling and buying shit that I don't need, has it. So buy some and make these.

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Corn Milk Biscuits.
Prep Time- 30mins Cook Time- 10-12 mins Yield- 18- 2in biscuits 

Self Rising flour is a staple here in the south- It's a soft wheat flour with salt and baking powder already added. 

Ingredient: 
Corn Milk:
2 ears fresh corn
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Biscuits:
3 cups self-rising flour
¼ cup butter, unsalted and cut into ½ cubes
½ cup buttermilk

Directions: 
To make the corn milk- Remove the corn kernels from the Cobb, makes about 1 cup. Add corn kernels and buttermilk to a food processor and puree together to combine. Strain the corn milk puree through a mesh strain to remove the corn “pulp”. This should make about ¾ cup of corn milk and 1/3 cup of the pulp reserved.
In a large bowl add the flour. Cut in the butter, then mix in the corn pulp. Gently mix in the ¾ cup of corn milk and ½ cup of buttermilk until the dough comes together. 
Note that it will be slightly sticky.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and dust the top of the dough and your hands with flour. pat the dough out to ½ inch rectangle. Fold the dough over into itself in three sections. (like folding a letter- trifold style) pat the dough out again to ½ inch thick. Repeat this process 2 more times ending with the dough pat out to ½ inch thick and ready to cut with the biscuit cutters. Cut biscuits out using a 2inch biscuit cutter (or your desired size) Place the biscuit about a ½ inch apart on a baking sheet pan and baking at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until tops are slightly golden. Brush the tops with melted butter (optional) and serve while warm.

5.26.2015

South & Slocumb- A Pop Up Dinner Series…

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Dinner Party

Once again we are having another pop up dinner.
With the overflow (and encouragement) of friends at our dinner table and the success of other pop ups where complete strangers made their way to private residences to commune over shrimp and grits and fancy cobbler, I've decided to make this a series. One that I hope will allow me to meet some of y'all and we can share stories over Bourbon and maybe even moonshine.

South & Slocumb pays homage to a group of ladies who served and cared for their beloved community in the small town of Goldsboro, North Carolina. These devoted women would serve fried chicken dinners and BBQ plates to sold out crowds in the Fellowship Hall of their church; later taking the proceeds to fund their Saturday Soup Kitchen that would feed those in need.
Oftentimes, on weekends they would serve sandwiches to the local kids who would hang out at the park, just south of the street several of the women called home; the park just south of Slocumb St.

Let’s join together in the spirit of community and the Ladies of South Slocumb St; enjoying creative spins on some of their most cherished dishes.

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*A portion of the proceeds will fund free programs teaching kids how to create everything from biscuits to building apps. * 

For this upcoming event we will be preparing a 4-course meal with cocktails and wine pairings for each course.

 Hope that y’all will join us.

Link to tickets here- South & Slocumb Pop Up Dinner Series by Southern Soufflé

There is also a link on the side bar.

Cheers!

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Ticket price includes cocktails,wine, food, tax and gratuity…

Get your tickets here… South & Slocumb Pop Up Dinner Series by Southern Soufflé


5.21.2015

Ramp Havarti Focaccia

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Ramp Havarti Focaccia 1 (1 of 1)

AKA the most expensive onion-garlicky bread ever.
Kinda.
Lately I've challenged myself in the art of bread baking, not only to feed my carb obsession which evidently effects the size and width of your hips. Also, the smell of freshly baked bread is better than any Febreze plug in you could ever buy. My attempts at different variations of focaccia have been met with amazing results; that has me on the fluffy bread cloud of euphoria and contemplating throwing in the technology towel and going to work at some little bakery making focaccia all day err day. Nevermind that, let me tell you a story..
Ramps never had a name to me.. They were "dirty onions" that grew in the woods behind Mr. Grady's house.
Who is Mr. Grady, that doesn't matter.
In search of honey suckles while precariously dogging bumble bees (that have disappeared from existence- anyone else notice that?), the woods behind his house held the most mesmerizing discoveries. A group of kids I was tagging along with, started digging up weeds, calling then dirty onions, all the while daring me to "taste it Erika!!"
"Umm Naw I'll Pass". Not to mention my grandma would kill me if I died out in the woods from eating some poisonous plant. Instead, I grabbed a handful, stuff them in my pocket and went about my business of watching the other kids to see how long it took them to turn into monsters after eating strange weeds growing out in the woods. Of course I forgot about my pocket plants, until they got washed with the other clothes and my grandmother cussed me to every 7th corner of hell.. (Because Hell has 7 corners in case you didn't know.) also now all my clothes had the most distinctive smell. Quickly, I went into this long spill about my walk through the woods and the discovery of "dirty onions"
"Ramps girl.. That's what there are ramps" 
"Uh-ok" 
"And they ain't poisonous, ask the Cherokee" 
"Do they live on this street?" 
The next day, my grandmother and I go back to the creepy place in the woods and I look on as she pulls up the remaining ramps, as well as few other things that she proclaims are "good for sickness". All the while I'm enraptured by her story of the people of Appalachia where ramps grow in abundance along the mountainous area. She cooked the ramps in stews with okra, mixed them in her grits and fried them in cornmeal, as the Cherokee who do, she'd say.
On the next day, we ate the saltiest bread with crusty cheese and a overpowering onion/garlic taste layered in the butter. So in other words it was incredible and sadly I have no clue how she made it. So I thought I'd create my own version, while recovering from a the shock of paying $20 for a pound of "dirty onions" that grow wild in the woods.
 I wonder if that large patch behind Mr. Grady's house still remains?

Ramp Havarti Focaccia 3 (1 of 1)

Ramp Havarti Focaccia 
Prep Time: 30mins + 1 hr- 30 to 40 mins rest time  Cook Time: 20-25 mins Yields: 8 servings 
Adapted from Back in the Day Bakery Rosemary Focaccia. (this is a great recipe)

Ingredients: 
5 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more to coat the bowl.
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup grated havarti cheese
1 package instant yeast
3 tablespoons ramps, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups room temperature water
3 teaspoons flaky sea salt

Directions: 
Combine the flour, olive oil, sugar, havarti cheese, yeast, ramps and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Blend on low speed until ingredients are incorporated. Add in the water, pouring slowly and mix for about 3 more minutes or until the dough starts to come together. Once the dough has come together continue to knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed for until smooth. Sprinkle with more flour if the dough is sticky.
Coat a large bowl lightly with olive oil (about a teaspoon) and transfer dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area until double in size. About 1 hour. Coat a jelly roll pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Punch down the risen dough in the bowl then transfer to prepared baking pan. With olive oiled fingertips, stretch the dough out to edges of the pan. (this seems strange but it works) Allow dough to rise again uncovered in the pan for 30-40 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 450. Once the dough has risen, press (olive oiled) fingertips all over the dough creating indentations.
Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting.

5.06.2015

Strawberry Lemon Biscuit Shortcakes...

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My post have been a bit heavy lately.. I promise to bring the humor back, however it's difficult when there are so many things whirling in the wind that effect your state of mind.
Which in turn shine through in the words that you type.
I wish there were words that could adequately convey how I feel about my mother.
How I feel about being a mother.
It's given me unspeakable joy and happiness, hope when I was hopeless, this superhuman power that allows me to keep going. I've been blessed with a kind-hearted daughter who makes the best pastries with stern concentration for a 14 year old and motivates me to do more of what I love, to show her she can be anything despite any stereotypes or negativity she may face. There is a place for her, always to shine bright. My brightest star, who writes the world in neon sharpies and wears mismatch socks. Dancing wildly in the front yard to her own drummer as her brother tries his best to keep up.
Truly one of my greatest treasures.

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Here she's made my favorite dessert, because It's for Mother's Day.. Duh... as she said when I asked. There is a story of course, the reason behind my love of shortcakes smothered in macerated strawberries and heavenly whipped cream.
My maternal grandmother felt strongly about Mother's Day and often my mother had to work causing us to spend that holiday without her. Each year we’d attend some fancy brunch, sometimes accompanied by my snazzy Aunt Rene, with her sequined berets and pet Chihuahua that would sit on her shoulder while she drove.
Yes on her shoulder.
One Mother’s Day afternoon in particular, we spent that mid day in May at a hotel brunch in downtown Durham. There was an array of typical southern delights and sitting proudly on the dessert table were golden puff pastry sandwiches stuffed with strawberries and cream.
"That's not a shortcake!" My grandmother whispered looking angrily at the table ahead.
 Huh? Why not?
"Then it's very improper to put out the dessert before you eat the first course!" She continues without answering my question. I knew nothing of proper dining protocol, however I wanted to eat those shortcakes. Unfortunately I didn't, for fear it would turn her anger away from the waiter putting out more pastries on the table- towards me. Instead we shared a slice of chocolate cake that she complained was "clearly not made with buttermilk."

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That next week I hear her singing in the kitchen, she always sang as she cooked or baked. Even now, years after she's been gone, when I close my eyes I can hear her.
"I've made us something!" She professes with such conviction, I figure it must be something wonderful. It was.
As we sat at the table, in front of two plates piled high with cream and strawberries dripping down the sides of golden flaky biscuits, I wondered exactly why we were eating this at 10 am on a Wednesday.
"That my sweetpea is a shortcake.. You use biscuits you see.. That's all you need is a big cream biscuit. And always add a touch of buttermilk to the cream. A shortcake should not be complicated" Her shortcakes were always incredible with tangy hints of lemon, yet I'd have to disagree.
Because my mother and I went back to that hotel brunch one year and they served those same shortcakes made with puff pastry.We ate 3 of them apiece and took some home with us. Sort of our little secret.
I've passed down my biscuit making magic to my oldest (along with the recipe to make Granny's shortcakes) and my youngest could eat all the strawberries and whipped cream you gave him if possible. We spent the day Sunday, filling up on strawberry shortcakes and reading over recipes to try for the perfect puff pastry, which is my mother's favorite. We'll make these when she comes at the end of the month, to watch as my oldest gets promoted from the 8th grade and sets on the path to high school.
We will cry together, my mother and I, hopefully eating strawberry filled pastries.

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Strawberry Lemon Cream Shortcakes
Prep Time- 35 mins Cook Time- 20 mins Yield- 8 servings 
Adapted from an old recipe that my grandmother adapted from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. 

Ingredients: 
Shortcakes:
3 cups self rising flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Egg wash- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Berries and Cream:
1 ½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped about 3 cups, divided
4 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 400

Whisk together the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Add cream and mix together into dough just comes together. Note the dough will be sticky. Lightly sprinkle a board or other clean surface with flour. Turn dough out onto board and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. With floured hands, pat dough out to a ½ inch thick, fold dough in half and pat out into a ½ an inch thick for a normal size biscuit or about ¾ inch for taller biscuits. Cut out rounds with a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter, brushing off any visible flour from the tops of the biscuits. Place the cut biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush each top with egg wash. Bake until tops are golden about 10-15 minutes. 

While the shortcakes are cooking- in a medium saucepan cook 1 cup of the chopped strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the berries are softened about 5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool. Once cooled, mix in remaining chopped strawberries, mixing gently to combine.
To make the whipped cream- Using an electric mixer, beat cream, buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of sugar to soft peaks, about 4-5 minutes. To assemble: Split the biscuit “shortcakes” and fill with strawberries and whipped cream.