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.
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.
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.
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.