Monday is Bastille Day, a French holiday akin to July 4th in the US. Our countries are bound by ties going back to the American Revolution, so I thought it fitting to mark the occasion with a rouge, blanc et bleu dish inspired by the current Cook the Books selection, “The Apprentice - My life in the Kitchen” written by French chef Jacques Pepin.
I am doubly found of Jacques Pepin. He was raised in one of my favorite regions of France, in Bourg en Bresse near Lyon. Friends and I have spent many all too short weekends wandering the villages of this area, stopping in at local places for Sunday lunch and sipping Burgundian wine. And he was a collaborator with the Francophile chef Julia Child. Their banter during joint TV appearances and his courtesy to his older friend made him a likeable kind of guy.
Author of more than 20 cookbooks, he remains a gracious celebrity. When I attended a chef’s roundtable, he spoke genuinely about his life working in French kitchens and amiably signed cookbooks afterward. I brought my copy of “Jacques and Julia Cooking Together” and that autographed book holds a special place on my cookbook shelf.
Although I enjoyed all of the recipes in The Apprentice, they mainly seemed suited for hearty winter cooking so I chose instead to make a dish celebrating the fruits of summer. It features blueberries, which have just come into season in nearby New Jersey. They are a delight dressed with nothing more than a little sugar and whipped cream in this dish which perfect to serve on a sultry July day. I hope you will enjoy its red, white and blue colors as much as its refreshing fruity taste.
Bastille Day Red White and Blue Dessert
Ingredients for shortcake:
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
8 tbs cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
Ingredients for Fruit Mix:
1 pint blueberries
1 pint cherries (pitted) or raspberries
¼ cup strawberry jam
¼ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, plus ¼ cup sugar
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter cut into fine pieces and use a pastry cutter or knives to incorporate butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend the cream into the flour mixture using a fork till all the flour is incorporated. Turn out onto wax paper and press by hand into a disk 1 inch thick. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a cookie cutter, press into the dough to cut out biscuits. Place on parchment paper on a baking tray. Continue to gather up remaining dough to make additional stars until it’s used up. Brush the tops of the biscuits with an egg wash made of the beaten egg and 2 tbs heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 5 minutes then turn heat down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until the stars are golden brown.
Biscuits can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to use.
Rinse fruit, cut cherries in half and put into a bowl with the sugar. Let sit 30 minutes. Whip cream with ¼ cup sugar till soft peaks form. Place biscuits on a serving plate, top each with jam. Then spoon macerated fruit on top. Add whipped cream on top and finish with shortbread stars. Serve immediately.
This is my contribution to edition #441 of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now organized by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and Brii of briggishome and hosted this week by Simona of briciole.
This also is my contribution to the June-July edition of Cook the Books, this time celebrating the work of Jacques Pepin in his biography The Apprentice My Life in the Kitchen.