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Culinary Patriotism, No Food Coloring Required


Our love affair with Oregon berries continues!

This delicious twist on strawberry shortcake is a patriotic crowd-pleaser. Punctuate your Independence Day feast with this all-American combination of berries, biscuits, and bourbon. All the components can be made ahead, allowing you to mingle, man the grill, speak reverently of constitutional democracy, or dodge roman candle barrages until it’s time to whip up dessert. Heck, even if you decide to procrastinate till the last second, you can whip up the bourbon hard sauce and berry toppings while the biscuits bake.

Though frozen blueberries are a good choice for adding to the biscuits, we highly recommend using the ripest fresh red berries you can find for the fruit topping—strawberries, raspberries, pitted and macerated cherries, even mulberries if you’re lucky enough to find them. To serve, halve the biscuits (or not) and liberally smear them with Bourbon Hard Sauce. Plate the glazed biscuits and spoon sugared red berries over each biscuit. Just before serving, drizzle some of the berry juice on top. Of course, for larger crowds a self-serve buffet is more suitable; just arrange the glazed biscuits on a tray and serve the berries alongside in a big bowl.

Happy Fourth everybody!

Berry Shortcake with Bourbon Hard Sauce Glaze
10 generous servings; 24 stingy ones


Don't let the three-part recipe scare you... this is one of the easiest desserts ever. Plus, you can scale it up to feed a backyard-cookout mob without overcrowding the oven or harshing your mellow.

Blueberry Buttermilk Biscuits
About ten 2 1/2-inch biscuits

For smaller servings, make twenty-four 1 1/2-inch biscuits instead.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Sift together into a large bowl:
     1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
     2 teaspoons baking powder
     1/2 teaspoon baking soda
     1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the size of small peas:
     6 tablespoons chilled butter
Make a well in the center. Add all at once:
     3/4 cup buttermilk
     1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Stir just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently and quickly, about 8 to 10 times. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin, to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
If desired, brush the tops with:
     Melted butter
Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. If making ahead, let them cool completely and cover in an airtight container.

Bourbon Hard Sauce
About 1 cup

Beat in a bowl until creamy:
     5 tablespoons butter, softened
Gradually add:
     1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Beat until well blended and fluffy. Add:
     2 tablespoons Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (or 4, depending on the crowd)
     1⁄8 teaspoon salt

beating until very smooth. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. To serve, bring to room temperature before topping the biscuits. Do not let the sauce sit out in the summer heat for more than 30 minutes.

Sugared Strawberries
About 2 cups

Making this ahead will give the flavors time to meld.
Hull (if desired) and slice:
     1 quart ripe strawberries (or the ripest red berries you can find)
Mix in a bowl with:
     2 tablespoons sugar
     1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped into the bowl, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove the vanilla bean hulls before serving.


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