We interrupt the regularly scheduled flan to bring you something much simpler, almost as good, but just as pleasing to any palate. The strawberry shortcake. It’s all American. It’s pretty. It’s super good. And it’s appropriate for Mother’s Day this Sunday. Only, I made it early this morning for Mami. It’s her birthday and I couldn’t wait to cater to her this morning. I already knew my options for cooking something fabulous were limited. Mami doesn’t like breakfast at all and avoids it at the expense of her metabolism. If I was going to convince her to enjoy anything this morning, it had to be extremely light and refreshing. No fuss. No cook.
And this was it.
But it took some serious coercing and manipulation to get out her out bed. Mami is very simple but ultra complicated. She likes what she likes. Her only ask for the combined weekend is a rose bush to add to her existing rose garden in the front yard. We’ve been gifting them to her for a few years now and she’s determined to win a neighborhood association award for the best groomed garden. I’m sure you can clutch it. Just 20 more bushes to go!
In all effort to placate her and add to her minimal list, Papi and I showered her more than heavenly bed and floor with pink rose petals at dawn while she was sound asleep. We quietly dropped each petal on the wood floor as she sank her cheek into her pillow. We giggled, wondering when she was going to jolt around and ask what we where doing. She’s like that. At 62, she still has a mother’s keen sense of a child’s movement. My mother knows every single step I take in her room. This morning was no different, I learned as she beckoned mi for cafecito. She told me the exact time I snuck in there.
Over our kitchen sink conversation this morning, I mentioned the forthcoming breakfast idea. I promised her it was going to be equally divine as her pan con tomate she religiously enjoys almost every afternoon. I also guaranteed her request for a 2nd plate. She sighed. After 10 minutes of relentless arguing over her disdain for early noshing, I let her taste the whip cream I had whipped by hand right after the stealth rose petal lacing. Her eyes lit up and she caved. I should have started there first, no!?
I had this idea late last night so she really had not choice to sit on the deck and allow me to indulge her.
But I kept it super simple. Instead of baking a pound cake, I gravitated toward a vanilla waffle wafer cookie. A little Italian boutique shop in DC has the most amazing delicacies and handmade divines, mostly imported from Italy, but some made right here. I grabbed a few packs earlier in the week just to have. They came in hand and were the perfect substitution. Had I planned this morning with more time, I would have made a batch myself. But these little fancy ones did the trick.
The whip cream was the special element of my 3D creation. I was staring at a beautiful tin pot of flowers and herbs I was given last week while in Richmond. The bulk of the bouquet blooms with sage stems and buds. There was little reason to not infuse that lovely fragrance into a light cream. I went right for a good amount and added them to the whipping cream station. A bit of lemon zest and the whipped cream was on it’s way to becoming big ball of fluffy amazingness.
Note to self: invest in an electric hand mixer. Beating 3 cups of heavy whip cream is not fun. All the love in the world doesn’t take away the painful muscle engagement.
I moved on to the strawberries with excitement. I could drink strawberry anything, whenever. Next to raspberries, it’s my favorite berry and at its core essence, makes me really happy. When used properly, they can convert a boring dish into a vibrant dish of refreshing pretty. For the shortcake, I macerated them in Courvoisier Rose and mango juice… a splash of sugar and the bright red bowl was ready to be chilled. See, I beat her to all of this. Everything was all chilling in anticipation of her compliance with our gesture.
And sure enough. Mami planted herself in her comfy patio chair and let me serve her.
And Papi joined her. I made a spritzer with the same Courvoisier and mango juice for both to toast to. It was a perfect complement to the morning bird’s song and perfectly placed sun rays. She had a direct view of her one deck flowers which made her smile.
It was simple. It was delicious. It was just what she needed and could actually enjoy. And she asked for seconds. Didn’t I tell you.
I’m thinking my mother had everything to do with coining that appropriate statement, “Eat Dessert First!” It’s what she does and makes complete sense to her.
She proved it this morning. Mami had dessert for breakfast on her birthday.
And, I’ll be making this again for all the Mami’s in our family this Sunday. I invite you to add this simply beautiful dessert to your table.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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LEMON INFUSED WHIPPED CREAM
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 tbsp. white sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1/8 cup sage leaves, minced
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a glass or metal mixing bowl, add whipping cream, lemon zest, sage, and vanilla extract. Start whisking in sugar until the cream reaches a stiff peak, (about 222 beats per minute!). Store in tight container for up to 10-12 hours. I’ve kept mine 2 or so days and simply rewhisked for about 10-15 seconds to reconstitute.
COURVOISIER ROSE AND MANGO STRAWBERRIES
- 2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1/8 cup Courvoisier rose liqueur
- 1/4 cup mango strawberries
- 3 Tbsp. white sugar
In large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir. Cover and chill for one hour.
Top one wafer cookie with 1 tablespoon of strawberries. Top berries with huge dollop of whipped cream. Top with more strawberries if desired. Garnish with one sage leaf. Top with another wafter cookie if desired. Bottom cookie will become soft from liquid goodness. Repeat to make 8 cakes.