By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, or as many of us in the area call it, “Amateur Night.”
It is an evening, and in some instances an entire day, of drinking and shenanigans.
Why do we celebrate the day in the first place? Well, it has something to do with St. Patrick, but as a dissident Catholic I have forgotten most of what I learned as a child.
I do recollect, however, that the day celebrates the death of this saint as opposed to his birth as we celebrate other celestial celebrities, which I always found strange. But that is neither here nor there.
We celebrate the man’s death by tearing up downtown bars and spending days in rehab and detox. Or at least “they” do.
As much as I like to imbibe, I have only been out on St. Patrick’s Day once or maybe twice.
Of course, I have worked many of them, but as far as going out and tearing out the streetlights, it has never been my jam, as quoth the youth.
With all of my curmudgeonly griping aside, the day does signify something that is so near and dear to many of us here at the beach.
For restaurant and bar managers, it means the nightmare of the season is impending. For line employees – servers, cooks and bartenders – it means that more hours and more money are almost at-hand.
And for restaurant and bar owners, it means that we are about to dig out of the winter doldrums and start catching up on bills. Ah yes, the halcyon days of summer are almost upon us.
By the time this goes to print, we will be eight days from St. Patrick’s Day and before you know it, winter will be back and I will be complaining about the slush and sleet. And so it goes in my Groundhog Day of a writer’s existence.
But what pray tell does strawberry shortcake have to do with St. Patrick’s Day, you may ask?
Absolutely nothing, except that the day ushers in the spring and summer seasons, and absolutely nothing screams summertime dessert like this ubiquitous offering.
We are about two and a half months-ish away from picking our own strawberries at our local farms, and we used to love taking the kids to pick a batch.
Who remembers that? Taking little kids to the patch, wanting to support small business and also teaching our tykes the proper berry to pick. And, then you have that one kid who prefers the small, green berries because they are prettier.
So your one tub is filled with dead, premature berries that you still end up paying for so as to support your local farmer. It’s all in a day’s work.
No, this dessert is a reminder of the season to come.
It is a tribute that says farewell to the hearty stews and roasts of winter, and ushers in the fresh and vibrant menus that will be adorning our tables soon.
And it literally could not be simpler. This is as ‘grandma wants to sit down with her gin & tonic now’ as you can get.
So, I say welcome spring, welcome Summer, and laissez les bons temps roulez!
1 loaf pound cake, sliced into 12
slices2 c. Mascarpone whipped cream (recipe follows)
4 c. Macerated strawberries (recipe follows)
2 c. Strawberry coulis (recipe follows)
- After preparing all of the ingredients below, set 6 chilled bowls on the countertop for assembly.
- Pour 1/2 c. coulis into each bowl.
- Place a piece of pound cake in the coulis.
- Top with some whipped mascarpone, then some berries with their juices.
- Repeat for a second layer, with the berries and juices drizzling off the top.
- You may garnish this with mint if you personally need more color, but it is a bit superfluous, as mint is nowhere else in the recipe. The berries shine through and speak for themselves in this dish.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
makes about 2 cups
1 c. Heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. Mascarpone cheese
1/4 c. Powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer or bowl to whip by hand.
- Whip until just under stiff peaks. You want to go a little further than soft peaks, as you will be stacking this dessert.
- Set aside until ready to assemble.
makes about 4 cups
4 c. Hulled and sliced strawberries
1/2 c. Granulated sugar
- Mix the ingredients and allow to stand refrigerated for at least an hour. The sugar is hygroscopic, which means it draws moisture out of things. That is exactly what it does here, and the juice from the strawberries will combine with the sugar to create the most amazingly simply and crystal clear strawberry syrup.
- Keep chilled until ready for use.
makes about 2 cups
2 c. Sliced and hulled strawberries
1/2 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Water
- Put all ingredients in a small saucepan, cooking until the water comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved.
- Stir until well combined and remove from heat.
- to cool enough to place in a good blender and puree until perfectly smooth.
- Strain if needed (if it is a good blender, you will not need to) and chill until service.
— Paul Suplee is the owner of
the boxcar restaurants and
is also Senior Lecturer of Culinary Arts at UMES.