Josh Johnson's Tender Strawberry Shortcake

BERRIES AND SAUCE:

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2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

¼ cup sugar, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

SPONGE CAKE:

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

¾ cup sugar

2 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

½ cup whole milk

TOPPING:

¾ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar plus more for sifting

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare the berries, toss the strawberries and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the berries give off their juices, from 2 to 8 hours.

Puree 1 cup of the strawberries with their juice and the lemon juice in a blender, adding more granulated sugar to taste. Pour into a sauceboat and cover. Refrigerate the sauce and the remaining strawberries separately.

To make the cake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the inside of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with wax paper. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In another bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar and continue beating until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beating at low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and mixing until just smooth.

Spread the batter in the pan. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto the rack and remove the paper. Turn right side up and let cool completely.

To make the topping, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a chilled medium bowl with an electric mixer set on high speed until soft peaks form.

To serve, transfer the cake to a platter. Sift confectioners' sugar on top. Cut the cake into 8 wedges and place on dessert plates. Top each with equal amounts of the whipped cream and strawberries. Drizzle with the strawberry sauce and serve.

Yield: Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 407 calories, 22 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 117 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 49 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 243 milligrams sodium.

Hanley Ramirez's Empanadas

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 ounces ground round (85 percent lean)

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

½ medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 ripe medium tomato, seeded and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 beef bouillon cube, crushed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice

½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

15 frozen empanada discos (1½ packages), thawed

Vegetable oil spray

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and garlic salt. Cook, stirring to break up the meat with the side of a wooden spoon, until it loses its raw look, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, tomato, garlic, bouillon cube, cumin, chili powder, orange juice and vinegar. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the drained meat and cook to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (you might not need much because of the salty bouillon). Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a heaping tablespoon of the cooled filling on the bottom half of a disco. Brush the edges of the disco with water, and fold in half to enclose the filling. Press the edges closed with the tines of a fork. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining discos and filling.

Spray empanadas lightly to facilitate browning. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Yield: 15 empanadas.

Approximate nutritional analysis per empanada: 145 calories, 8 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 408 milligrams sodium.