“Blondes are noticed but redheads are never forgotten.” – Unknown
Craving summer tomatoes and fresh NC Strawberries? Well we know the strawberries are far off, but the Kumato tomatoes make a perfect substitute on a BLT if you need a BLT fix. I started with Panera sun-dried tomato bread because that is what I got instead of their white bread, made homemade mayo with EVOO, crispy romaine leaves and thick slices of the “brown tomatoes”. Toast and butter one side of bread, layer thick sliced crisp bacon (I made mine in the oven), crisp clean lettuce, and sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with S&P. Slather your favorite mayo (Duke’s in the south) on the other piece of bread…enjoy.
Now dessert was Vivian Howard’s take on Strawberry shortcake, the shortcake was made with some cornmeal with additions of coconut milk and cocoa Lopez (cream of coconut), sounds different, but it works and is quite tasty. The mellow basil whipped cream, a bonus and I will make this again, can’t wait for our local fresh berries.
My coconut shortbread took longer to bake, about 10 minutes and I think that another 3-5 minutes wouldn’t have hurt. Also I baked it in a 9×9 casserole and perhaps using something that would result in a thinner layer (less than 2 inches high) of shortcake might be an option as well.
Strawberry Shortcake with Basil Whipped Cream & Coconut Cornbread
1/2 cup cornmeal
1.5 cups AP flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1 Tbsp. honey
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup Coco Lopez (cream of coconut)
7 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine and mix to incorporate the cornmeal, flour, sugar, coconut flakes, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, beaten eggs, coco Lopez, coconut milk, and coconut extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir to moisten. Put about 2 Tbsp. butter into a small casserole dish and place it in the oven. Allow the butter to melt and brown slightly. Take the dish out of the oven and move it around to make sure the butter is coating the inside of the dish. Pour the batter in. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
For the Strawberries
Top and wash the berries. Slice each berry into 4 or so pieces. For 1 cup of sliced berries, sprinkle 2 or so Tbsp. of sugar. Toss to incorporate and let this sit for 30 minutes or until the berries produce a syrupy, delicious sauce.
For the Basil Whipped Cream
Steep 2 oz. basil (stems and all) in 2 cups heavy cream. Strain out the basil and allow the cream to chill. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with your good old arm fitted with the same “attachment,” whip the cream to medium stiff peaks.
You can go wild here to fit your needs. At the restaurant we use Ball canning jars. You could use a trifle bowl, a sundae dish, or a wine glass. It is however nice to see all the layers, so keep that in mind when selecting your vessel. Spoon a small amount of your strawberry love on the bottom of the vessel. Top with coconut cornbread that you have torn into smallish pieces. Top that with a nice amount of strawberry dream stuff and finish that layer with several dollops of basil whipped cream. Continue this layering process until you reach the top of your vessel, making sure that you finish with the basil whip. Top the whole thing with a few whole or halved strawberries. In a perfect world you would let this sit refrigerated for a minimum of six hours before serving; overnight would be even better.