Rachel's Table

Fourth Finale

Tomorrow is July 4th, the Fourth of July, and Independence Day (at least in America). That’s cause for celebration!

Last year at this time I was soaking up the sun at my childhood vacation spot – Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Revisiting old haunts always makes me happy and content, especially when new spots are discovered along the way.

One night after a seafood dinner, I happened upon one such place. A short walk away from our hotel sat an ocean-side, open-air bar with an uninhibited view of the sea (and standing heaters to combat the cool breeze coming off the water).

From my comfortable stool looking over the jetties and up at the moon, I noticed people converging on the sand setting up chairs, spreading out blankets or venturing out on the rocks.

The moon shone bright over the water

Suddenly, unexpectedly, magically, the black sky lit up with blazing colors.





(Fireworks photos courtesy of Massachusetts based photographer Meghan Jones)

The display dazzled. Onlookers cheered. The finale took my breath away.


If you’re looking for your very own breath-taking finale, serve a quintessential July 4th favorite – Strawberry Shortcake. You’ll be in the kitchen for twenty minutes, leaving plenty of time left over to enjoy family, friends and fireworks.

Not-too-sweet Strawberry Shortcake

Not-too-sweet Strawberry Shortcake

Fourth of July Strawberry Shortcake

For the strawberries:

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

2 tablespoons sugar

For the shortcake:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter

Splash of almond extract (1/8 of a teaspoon)

For the whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the strawberries and the sugar. Set aside so juices can develop.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. With fingers, work the cold unsalted butter into flour until pea-size lumps form. Stir in milk and almond extract to form a dough.

Red white and white

Red, white, and white

Using a tablespoon, place heaping spoon fulls onto a greased cookie sheet (makes about 9 biscuit-like short cakes) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the shortcakes are beginning to brown on top.

While the shortcakes are baking, pour the cream into a chilled bowl and whip with a hand mixer on high (or use a whisk like I do) until stiff peeks form. Then fold in the cinnamon and sugar.

Layer the whipped cream, shortcake, and strawberries in a bowl, making sure to end with whipped cream.

The beginnings of a bangin' July 4th dessert

The beginnings of a bangin’ July 4th dessert

The finished product - almost as good as a spectacular fireworks display

The finished product – almost as good as a spectacular fireworks display

So tell me, how will you be spending the holiday? Happy Fourth!


  1. Chillin’ by the pool! This looks awesome, luv me some strawberry shortcake. (The dessert, not the cartoon character. Because that’d be creepy.)

    Hitting the farmers market today so will lookout for strawberries.

    • What I love about this recipe is it’s not too sweet. The strawberries are the star (okay and the whipped cream, because it’s whipped cream).

      Chillin’ by the pool sounds AWESOME. I’ll be watching the fireworks in America’s hometown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

  2. I agree with Jules. 20 minutes? Pfft. Yeah, maybe for a pro like you. But you obviously are not taking into account my disasterous history when it comes to baking things. It is beautiful, though, and looks delicious. Happy 4th!

      • Hadn’t really thought about it yet, actually. I guess it depends if people are coming over. I’ll whip up something, I’m sure. I tried that Pirate Pop one last week from my blog contest . . . it was NOT great. So . . . not that one at least. 😉

  3. These are some seriously unskilled readers you have here. I’m thinking you may want to start with a few simple introductory posts before you launch into something so complex as strawberry shortcake — “Let’s Get to Know Flour,” for example, or “The Oven — Easier Than You Thought!”

  4. In a sad commentary on today’s economic plight, my community CANCELED this year’s fireworks. They couldn’t afford them! Instead, I plan on rubbing my eyeballs with my fists really hard.

    Every 4th of July, my bride prepares a desert of blueberries, strawberries and fresh whipped cream on a pastry shell. Red, white and blue! Simple but delicious.

    Speaking of pastry, have you ever heard of a cronut?

    • Hahahaha. Eyeballs + fists = homemade fireworks

      Nothing more Fourth of July than strawberries AND blueberries! It’s a perfect marriage.

      I’ve never heard of a cronut!!! Please explain.

      • What to say about a cronut? They are the latest pastry fad sweeping Manhattan for which some imbeciles spend four hours standing in line for. In a blatant bit of self-promotion, but also to enlighten and entertain, I just did a post on these things. Click over for the sad details.

        P.S. My bride is a Blue Hen.

      • I googled it! They look really good, but I don’t think I’d wait in line for four hours. If they’re taking Manhattan by storm, then they should arrive on the scene in Delawhizzle in 2015. Maybe I can get ahead of the trend and make some dough? (Literally and figuratively.)

        From which part of the Blue Hen state does your wife originate?

      • I’d love to try one too but, like you, I am not so inclined to wait four minutes, much less four hours. I don’t think the idea is patented so jump in before it is!

        Pardon. She is from New Jersey but is a Delaware graduate. My house has an ample supply of Blue Hen coffee mugs, magnets and other accoutrements.

      • Ah, I see. Our state bird is a blue hen (so impressive) as well as the University’s mascot. U of D is a great school. I live about 9 miles away.

  5. Happy Fourth! I want fireworks! That strawberry dessert looks delicious (and almost simple enough for me not to screw up) I’m terrible with desserts

      • I mean – we love America and I’m sure most people want to emulate you guys, but no – we’ll let you keep your Independance Day to yourselves.

        We have fireworks for New Years and at events like ‘Shows’ (Fairs? Carnivals?) but not a massive firework day like you guys.

      • I saw an underwhelming fireworks display last night in America’s hometown, Plymouth, Massachusetts. But then on the walk back to our car people were setting off fireworks in their backyards so they were booming right over our heads. Kind of awesome (and probably dangerous now that I think about it).

        I love fireworks on New Years’s especially when the champagne you bring with you to celebrate overflows and causes a slick sheet of ice which later makes you slip and fall on your hip. This is why Australia is better – warm New Year.

  6. Hope you’re having a fun fourth, RP! That recipe looks like even I could make it. I am having a big bowl of fresh strawberries and cream later today. (might have to put them on top of some pound cake) But I just had a huge haddock sandwich at Cook’s Lobster house and I’ve gotta pace myself a LITTLE bit, right?

  7. Oh New England in the summer, how I miss you! And cinnamon in the whipped cream is genius — I can’t wait to whip this up later this afternoon and enjoy it with a cold dark & stormy while pretending like I’m back in Falmouth and not sweltering away in the depths of the south.

    • A fellow New Englander? Were you born there?

      Summers in New England cannot be beat. I just got back from Massachusetts where I ate fresh seafood, enjoyed breezy ocean views, and drank many a cocktail. I’m trapped in the Delaware humidity now. But I’m headed to Vermont in September so I’ll dream about crisp air until then.

      • Indeed. I was born and raised in southeastern CT (the part on the shore next to Rhode Island) and just booked a flight to head back there next month to get my lobster and steamers on. I cannot wait!

  8. We hung out by the pool several times that day. It’s all we’ve got here! Wound up watching the local fireworks show from the apartment balcony. It was like having a box seat but not having to deal with the masses of people, mosquitos, or parking madness. We had portobello burgers, potato bake (local roots) and popsicles – red, white, and blue, of course.

    Looks delish! I am really missing the strawberries now. They finished up early May here. It’s been so hot, the cucumbers and tomatoes are now on their way out too. Drat. Those three fruits SCREAM summer for me.

    • So how hot is it there, Shannon? I love a good portobello burger with pesto. The best.

      I’ve moved on to blueberries and cherries now. Although I can’t seem to find the time to blog about it!

      • Today? At the Houston Zoo? 100 degrees. It was at least 5 degrees hotter walking across the asphalt parking lot into my black vehicle, which was more akin to the surface of the sun. LOL

        I’m already looking forward to blueberries next February. We have two bushes, but looking to add three more. Fresh berries from the yard in the morning is hard to beat! If you’re still getting them fresh there, enjoy some for me. Please do post about it so I can live vicariously through my northern neighbors!! Hugs.

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