It's hard not to get excited about warm shortcake biscuits adorned with seasonal fruit and soft dollops of cream.
This article first appeared in the 15 May 2006 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website www.foodservice411.com.
Based on seasonal fruit, they require minimal fussing. But quality is paramount as is flexibility regarding available produce. Take a cue from Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C. When strawberry season wanes, Pastry Chef and co-owner Karen Barker uses fresh blueberries for shortcakes. And like all things simple, every detail counts.
- Ripe fruits, particularly berries, have short shelf lives. When possible, buy fruit often and in small quantities to ensure optimal ripeness.
- Refrigeration can change the taste and texture of berries so Barker stores fruit that won't be used that day in the restaurant's wine cellar.
- Fresh fruit can be unkind to food costs, so when the price drops, think ahead and bulk up on purees, compotes and preserves.
- Individually quick-frozen fruits are a sensible solution in many operational settings. Make sure they are handled properly-no thawing and refreezing.
While it's hard to beat lemon with blueberries, at Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C., Pastry Chef-owner Karen Barker instead uses cassis to accent the sweet-tart flavor of the local crop.
Shortcake biscuits - whether made from scratch or prepared using a mix - can be baked in small batches and warmed to order; the extra step ensures that fruit isn't hampered by stale pastry.
Fresh or cooked? Stirring raw whole berries with a cooked compote offers appealing texture differentiation and concentrated flavor. The approach works whether berries are fresh or frozen.