For this Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Foodie and I squeezed in some fun (around work :P) with our family and friends. For one of these occasions we wanted to bring a recipe I’ve been dying to make ever since I saw it while scrolling past my instagram feed: Strawberry Shortcake with Biscuits! Unfortunately I did not have time to actually *make* the biscuits, but I did pick up grocery-store biscuits, strawberries, and whipped cream so I could still make these delicious summer desserts. What better way to celebrate the “start” of summer than strawberry shortcakes?!
I realize that it is by no means a universal expectation to show up to a party with a host gift, but for some reason I’ve adopted this approach over the course of adulthood. I’ve certainly walked into parties with your standard wine/liquor/beer contribution, but I’m sure it is no surprise that my preference is always to bring food. Sometimes it’s my super addictive molasses, ginger cookies (so easy you can bake a batch in under an hour while you also shower, do hair, and apply makeup); sometimes it is my deviled eggs (inexpensive, easy, and they are always the first appetizer to disappear). But whenever I deviate from those options, I think about a few essential questions before choosing my party food gift.
1) What season is it?
Considering the season helps me determine ingredients that I will use for my food gift, certainly, but also the type of party food. For instance, if a party falls during the super-short fresh rhubarb season, nothing would stop me from making a pie or crisp. If it is a winter party, I’d be more likely to bring a heavy/hot recipe or a spiced dessert. The season also helps because you’ll want to think of whether the party will likely be outside in the sun/heat (then nix the deviled eggs or mayonnaise potato/chicken salads) or if it will be inside.
2) How will it be assembled and served?
Ideally you’re bringing a food gift that requires little to no assembly. Unless you’ve worked it out with your host ahead of time, sometimes it is a burden to show up with a complicated recipe that needs preparation, on-site cooking/baking, or requires a bunch of extra kitchen tools that your host wasn’t counting on. Does it require a lot of counter-top space to prep/assemble? Does it require fridge space? Will you need to use the stove/oven? Do you need to plug it in (for a crockpot or hot beverage)? Does it require a special serving utensil or platter/bowl? If you are still determined to bring something that requires assembly/prep, then I recommend a) giving your host some notice, b) prepping as much as you can ahead of time, and c) bringing any kitchen tools you’ll need to pull it off. I’m more likely to do this with friends I know very well. Last December, I brought the fixings for moscow mules. Ahead of time: measure the vodka, squeeze the limes, and bring a serving pitcher/bowl, and then all you need is a bottle opener to add the ginger beer at the party itself.
We happen to live next to the amazing Wegmans grocery, so of course the biscuits were ahhh-mazing. I cut them in half, topped them with sliced strawberries that I let sit with some sugar (to get a little strawberry syrup going) and topped with whipped cream. This dessert could not be easier or more delicious. If you can slice strawberries and sprinkle sugar, you can make this. Some day we’ll make the biscuits by hand so you can see how easy that is as well, but for now, keep this party food or potluck idea as an option for your next summer party.
For transport, we just packed the biscuits, sugared strawberries, and whipped cream in a insulated bag with an ice pack (for the whipped cream). At the party, I kept the whipped cream in the fridge until we were ready for shortcakes. This works better for smaller parties because you should eat them right after you assemble them – otherwise the syrupy strawberries will soak into the biscuit and the whipped cream will flatten.
These are also good options for when you are hosting a summer party. You can make each component ahead of time and assemble when everyone is ready for dessert. The tartness of the berries and creaminess of the whipped cream cuts through the sweetness of the added sugar and the buttery biscuit rounds the whole thing out. It is both light and indulgent!
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