On a perfect summer evening, what do you do? Where are you? The coast of Maine, maybe. Or an airy cabin in the woods in New Hampshire. Maybe you're on a lake, and you walk out to the end of a long, worn dock to sit in an Adirondack chair and watch the sunset over the glassy water.
Maybe the beach. Your feet are sandy and the outdoor shower stings your sunburned skin. Dinner is on the porch overlooking scrub pine and gray clapboard houses with tidy white shutters and perfect emerald rectangles for lawns. Hydrangeas edge the crushed shell driveways and tangles of pink roses climb the walls.
I like to take a run at dusk when the heat starts to quietly retreat. A few miles to break a light sweat, no music, just the evening murmur of cicadas. A cold shower followed by an even colder glass: an icy gin and tonic with a juicy wedge of lime.
Then comes dinner: something simple, like a salad of crisp romaine with homemade ranch dressing and Kirby cucumbers, and grilled steak.
But this will all be merely a pretext for dessert: strawberry shortcake. Lightly sweetened whipped cream and ripe strawberries sandwiched between a buttery, flaky biscuit. That is what a summer evening is all about.
CLASSIC STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
For the biscuits
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
For the filling
3 cups strawberries, washed and quartered
2 cups heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Slowly pour in the cream and mix until it just comes together as a dough (start with 1 cup of cream and use more if it looks too dry).
Knead the dough a few times with your hands until it starts to form a ball. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it gently into a disc about 1" thick. Using a biscuit cutter or sharp-edged glass, cut out rounds (I like to make the biscuits big: about 3" in diameter at least).
Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. If you want, you can brush them with melted butter and sprinkle some raw sugar on the top before baking.
Whip the remaining 2 cups of cream to soft peaks. Split the biscuits open and pile sliced strawberries and whipped cream on each one. Serve.