Sunday brunch at Diner on Berry Street at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. Brian had ricotta pancakes with sour cherry compote (and plenty of butter on the side there), and I had the soft scramble with chorizo, mustard greens, and grits. We both wanted the pancakes, but the soft scramble turned out to be the dish we loved the the most.
The first meal of the summer. All of the ingredients were fresh from the Saturday McCarren Park farmer’s market and highlighted the flavors of late June in New York.
This supper was a collaborative effort. Brian made the roast chicken, a simple affair with just salt, pepper, and olive oil. Brian takes his chicken pretty seriously and absolutely hates to overcook it, and this chicken was perfect. It looks a little pink in the photo, the result, I think, of flashless nighttime photography coupled with the overhead kitchen light. I sautéed the zucchini with butter, salt, pepper, and chives. The bread was lightly toasted and spread with roasted fresh garlic, butter, salt, and parsley. Brian and I both thought the dinner was delicious, and that was before the strawberry shortcake.
In my excitement I see that I overlooked photographing the most important part of the strawberry shortcake – the biscuits. They were amazing. It was the first time I had ever taken the time to roll them out; well worth the effort, it turns out. I used the recipe from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food, and they were delightful. My only complaint, and I know this sounds crazy, is that they were too buttery. I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow it’s true. That said, you can’t see these biscuits in the picture, only the perfectly ripe strawberries and the totally amazing whipped cream.
To make the whipped cream I put a glass bowl (I usually use metal, and found the results to be much improved with glass) and the metal whisk into the freezer for a solid hour. I come from a family of dedicated electric beater users, but all that equipment is so much trouble. So I have been honing my hand whipping abilities and from start to finish it took 3 minutes. Alright, I forgot to actually time it, and next time I will, but it was fast. As fast, I think, as if I had used the electric beater.
I felt it best to let the strawberries speak for themselves, and, rather than cooking them, I macerated half of them with a tiny bit of sugar (a tablespoon?) and let the bowl sit at room temperature. I then added the other half of the sliced strawberries just before making the whipped cream. My love for strawberries is intense and I felt I did them justice.
And the shortcake? It was perfect. Summer in a bowl, smothering a too-buttery biscuit that was still the best I’d ever had.