The kids voted for which red-white-and blue dessert we would make as part of our Fourth of July festivities this year — smoothie parfait with a blueberry level, coconut milk yogurt level and sour cherry or raspberry level; blueberry shortcake with raspberries, or something along the lines of Sabrina’s Berries ‘n Cream.
As you can see, shortcake had unanimous support, and I made a sour cherry smoothie to wash it down — mostly cherries, with a little water, one banana and 2 dates. To prepare for this colorful treat, we picked oodles of fat blueberries at Belltown Hills Orchard in Glastonbury. Afterward, we followed Matson Hill Road to the end and went for a walk in the woods and dip in the water at Cotton Hollow. Then onto the Glastonbury library (to reluctantly relinquish their overdue copy of David Wolfe’s The Sunfood Diet Success System) and Whole Foods where we found organic strawberries on sale.
I hem and haw (gee, that seems silly in print) about buying organic berries from California, but everything I have read on the topic makes me feel very strongly that even washed berries contain high levels of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. You remember the invaluable resource we mentioned back in February — Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Like this article today from Rodale: Coming Soon to Your Strawberries: Newly Approved Carcinogenic Pesticide. Aside from those grown in my yard, I have yet to find a good source of local organic berries, especially strawberries. Last year we drove out to the lovely and amazing Kristin Orr’s organic blueberry patch at Fort Hill Farms in Thompson, CT. A gem of a woman, a very special farm, it was worth the trip and we picked 10lbs of organic blueberries! If you know of another organic pick-your-own or farm stand in CT, please pass that info on!
I avoid buying food from across the country when local alternatives are present, but we wanted us some strawberry shortcake. We had several bowlfuls of homegrown strawberries this year (well, those that actually made it into the bowl, that is, and weren’t gobbled up by my two garden gremlins), but we only made shortcake once.
This is a picture of our first attempt at almond flour drop biscuits which I actually made as drop biscuits. Ignoring the directions, I scooped out a bunch of dough, dropped it on the pan and baked it. Dante chopped and slightly mashed up our berries with a little wood sorrel and Voila! We sliced them in half and added the berries, but since they were so big, the texture of the biscuits left something to be desired and we didn’t have the abundance of berries so much biscuit required. Since they were tasty, we tried again.
I followed the directions and used my 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the dough, and flattened it once it came out on the baking sheet. Much better! Here’s the recipe, once again using almond flour so entirely gluten free and without that odd aftertaste that we find in many GF flour mixes that involve beans and loads of tapioca or corn starch!
Gluten Free Almond Flour Classic Drop Biscuits
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line baking sheet with parchment or grease the baking sheet.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine wet into dry until thoroughly mixed.
- Drop the batter in scant 1/4 cups onto baking sheet (will make 8-10 biscuits). Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
She called for grapeseed oil and agave, and we replaced each egg with 1 Tbs ground flax mixed with 3 Tbs water, allowing it to stand until thickened. I mooshed the dough into my 1/4 cup measure, and it came out nicely onto my sheet. I then pressed it down a bit into the shape you see on the right and popped them in the oven.
I whizzed some blueberries and chia seeds in the Vita-Mix, and once smooth I added another couple handfuls and ran the blender gently to chop them a bit to give the sauce a chunky texture. Blueberries thicken on their own, as anyone who has left a blueberry smoothie to stand for a while can attest, but I added the chia to accelerate this and boost the nutrition of the dish.
I started 1 cup of cashews soaking before I mixing shortcake dough or chopping berries. I rinsed these well, drained and added them to the rinsed blender with some water, several dates, the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt and whizzed til smooth to make a cream sauce to top our shortcake. I didn’t measure, and did this to taste, adding a little water gradually until the blender was able to do it’s job and I achieved the consistency I was looking for.
Our red, white and blue shortcake was a big hit with the family, and some had seconds. The shortcakes were tasty, and I want to try them with little or no sweetener perhaps mix in some chives or other herbs and serve them with a savory dish for dinner. We used to make a veggie stew with cheesy cheddar biscuits, and I think these would be a lovely sub. We’ve even found a replacement for the cheese that melts, stretches and taste delicious! More to come soon on that!
The garden beckons, and the heat wave demands a pilgrimmage to a local body of water, so I’m off!
Happy high garden season!