{sms} mini strawberry rhubarb cobblers

With apologies to Tracey, I only made a third of the components of this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie. It was supposed to be a biscuit-topped cobbler in a pie crust. I didn’t make the pie crust and I’m not a fan of biscuit toppings for cobblers. I made the strawberry-rhubarb filling though!

For the the cobbler topping I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything and I made 1/2 the recipe of the filling which I baked in mini-ramekins. I ate mine with Fresh Ginger Ice Cream a la David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. It was the perfect dessert for a warm lazy Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures for hosting this week. Check out her blog for the recipe and  her fabulous content/pictures. She’s also one of my blogging friends, although I admit I haven’t been active in the food blogging world as of late.


{twd} flaky mixed berry and ginger turnovers

I mowed the lawn! After going through my entire life without ever mowing a lawn, I finally did it. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I was dreading doing it. Now that I’ve done it, I have no idea why I was so worried about it. Once I figured out how to start the lawn mower, I was good to go. Although my technique might not be perfect and it’s not the best job, I DID IT.


Freshly mowed lawn

This week’s Tuesdays with DorieFlaky Apple Turnovers, which I made with frozen mixed berries–are like my lawn mowing-skills. Although my technique isn’t perfect and they aren’t the best looking turnovers, I got the job done.  Instead of apples I used frozen mixed berries I had on hand. Instead of cinnamon I used Chinese 5-spice (I was going to substitute cardamon, but I didn’t have any.) I also added candied ginger bits.

Thank you to Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen, the wonderful host for this week’s pick. The turnovers were FLAKY and delicious. If you would like the recipe, please visit her blog or buy the book.

{sms} whole-wheat triple ginger fresh peach muffins

I was wide awake at 3 am on Thursday morning. I thought to myself, Why don’t I make this week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday recipe? Isn’t that what any self-respecting baker with deadlines thinks to themselves in the wee-hours of the morning? I quickly scanned the ingredients to see if they needed any room-temperature butter and since they didn’t I was good to go.

I think because of my recent bout of seasickness, I couldn’t stop thinking of Trader Joe’s Triple-Ginger Gingernaps Nancy of The Dogs Eat Crumbs mentioned in this post. I made the following changes/additions to the recipe: I used half whole-wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour; I grated 1/2 inch of peeled fresh ginger and rubbed it in with the sugar and orange zest; I added 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger; and finally added 2 tablespoons of chopped crystellized ginger.

There were a big hit both at home and at work. I like making muffins because they are easy and tasty. Thanks to JoVonn of The Givens Chronicles for selecting the Fresh Peach Muffins for this week’s recipe. For the recipe visit her blog or buy the book.

{sms} strawberry shortcake, four-ways

This week I’m playing host for Sweet Melissa Sundays, the online group that is baking our way through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  I wanted to pick something that was seasonal and strawberries have been wonderfully sweet and delicious from the farmers’ market.  The minute I saw the Strawberry Shortcake, I knew it was THE ONE.

Los Angeles Times was also thinking the same way because they also profiled shortcakes in their food section this week: A Short Path to Shortcake Nirvana.

This is my very first time selecting a recipe for a group. And because of that I may have, possibly, gone a wee-bit overboard with my variations.

#1 Strawberry Shortcake, Original

Strawberry Shortcake

#2 Chocolate Chip-Espresso Variation

Chocolate Chip Espresso Shortcake

#3 Ginger-Lime Variation

Ginger-Lime Strawberry Shortcake

#4  Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

I sprinkled both, #1 and #2 with Essential Cane flavored sugars, raspberry and espresso flavors. I found them at sur la table. They are cool and come in a bunch of flavors, all with only two ingredients: sugar + natural flavor.

So which variation did I like the best? This is like asking a mother (I imagine) to pick her favorite child. I loved each of them for different reasons. The original version was great because it was the classic strawberry shortcake with a twist from the lemon zest. The chocolate chip-espresso variation was wonderful, because, come on, chocolate and espresso. YUM. The ginger-lime variation was outstanding because I love the spiciness ginger lends to sweets and the ginger/lime flavor combo is classic.  And last,  but definitely not least,  the ice cream. I’m an ice cream lover at heart. I can eat ice cream everyday. It’s my dessert. So yes, I loved the ice cream.

Go HERE to see all the other Sweet Melissa Sunday bakers and their shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcakes

From  The Sweet Melissa Baking Book: Recipes from the Beloved Bakery for Everyone’s Favorite Treats


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 tablespoon for glazing
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing


  • 1 dry quart fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or more to your taste)


  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar


Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a course meal. Little by little, stir in heavy cream until the dough starts to hold together (you may use a bit more cream if need be).
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat together to form a rectangle 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches long that is about 1 inch thick. Cut the long side of the dough into thirds, and the width in half to form six 2 1/2-inch squares. Place the shortcakes 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

While the shortcakes are cooling, prepare the strawberries. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the sugar. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to macerate.


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla on medium speed. In a slow steady stream, add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms medium-stiff peaks.

The whipped cream is best used when just made, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight and beaten again before serving.


Fork split each shortcake in half horizontally. Place one half on each of six plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons of berries  on each with a large dollop of whipped cream. Spoon more berries on top. Place each of the remaining halves on top of the berries. Garnish with more cream and berries, if desired. Add a sprig of mint for garnish, if you’d like.

PRO TIP: When whipping cream, the colder the cream the better. If the bowl, the whisk or beaters, and the heavy cream are all well-chilled, you will achieve the most volume.

Prepare the strawberries and whipped cream no more than 30 minutes before serving. The shortcakes are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Variation

Omit lemon zest and use 2 teaspoons espresso powder and add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with espresso sugar.

Ginger Lime Variation

Omit lemon zest and use lime zest instead and add 1/2 of chopped crystallized ginger into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with chopped crystallized ginger

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

My go-to base vanilla ice cream recipe is David Lebovitz’s Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream.  This recipe uses his base and strawberry shortcake mix-ins.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 shortcake
  • 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

While mixture is chilling, chop up shortcake into 1/2-inch pieces. Place shortcake pieces and strawberries on a dinner plate, separating pieces and forming a single layer. Scoop rounded teaspoons of whipped cream on to plate. Place plate in freezer to chill mix-ins.

When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you scoop churned ice cream into container, layer with mix-ins.