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Hellllloooo strawberries! Is there any greater jewel in summer’s berry bounty? Juicy, sweet, packed with vitamin C, these ruby red delights have it all. Pop them in your mouth straight from the vine or dress them up in a million ways: doesn’t matter how you get them, strawberries are nature’s way of saying, “dessert is OK!” This is one of my favourite variations on the classic Strawberry Shortcake – the balsamic and pepper add a twist that takes this from the deliciously ordinary and raises it to the extraordinary.

What’s your favourite way to eat strawberries? Drop us a line in the comments, we’d love to hear how you’ll be eating yours this summer.

Makes 6 dessert servings

Strawberries

  • 4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Biscuits
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  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. medium coarse ground cracked black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp. water
  • crystal or granulated sugar 
Combine the strawberries, vanilla, sugar, orange juice and cornstarch in a large bowl, mixing well. Put the filling into a non-reactive pot and heat just until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing biscuits.
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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 C.). Make the biscuits by combining the flour, sugar,baking powder, salt and pepper. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Using a fork, stir in the cream until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until smooth. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough. Pat the dough down to about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out six biscuits. (You can gather the scraps and press together; repeat until dough is used up)
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Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush the biscuits lightly with egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and noticeably risen.
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To assemble: slice warm biscuits open and spoon a serving of balsamic strawberries onto bottom layer. Place top layer on and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

 

This is a perfect mid-week pasta dish that is light enough to eat even in the height of summer. The key here is to use the freshest and best ingredients you can get – good olive oil and spaghetti along with fresh herbs and garlic will make all the difference! Serve along with a nice dry pinot blanc or rosé and you have simple supper perfection!

dl_acken_photography_0407Serves 4

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ⅓ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the spaghetti, cooking until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add the crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add the drained spaghetti to the pan and toss, adding a little of the pasta water, until the spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

Remove the pan from heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Check for flavor, adding more salt if necessary. Add the lemon juice, garnish with more Parmesan and serve with lemon wedges and crushed red pepper.

Fresh, D.I.Y. ricotta is all the rage right now and it’s no wonder! It couldn’t be simpler to make and the results are infinitely better than the store bought variety. I love to spread it on toasted bread but it’s also great as a base for tarts and other sweet treats. To add some extra flavour, add fresh herbs, a spoonful of pesto or tapenade and serve as a dip with your favourite flavour of raincoast crisps and grilled rustic baguette slices. The ricotta will keep atleast 4 days in the fridge.

dl_acken_photography_0403Makes 3 cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Line a large sieve with 2 layers of wet cheesecloth.

Bring the cream and milk and salt to a full boil in a heavy based saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar: allow the milk mixture curdle which will take 1 – 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve and let sit at room temparture for  20-30 minutes. The whey will drain from the mixture and you will be left with ricotta. Transfer to another bowl throw away the whey and cheesecloth: cover the ricotta and refrigerate until ready to use.

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