Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Merchants’

Halloween Treats – It’s a Cake in a Jar!

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Cake in Kilner jars

Happy Friday, folks!  With Halloween less than three weeks away, we here at Pacific Merchants have been crafting and cooking Halloween projects and recipes like mad people. I spent yesterday afternoon making delicious cakes with our Kilner Jars in preparation for Halloween.  For a more refined, friendly, and cute take on the Halloween spirit, this baking project proves a great family activity, but is easy enough to whip up on your own for a party or your home.  Surprisingly easy with great opportunity to satisfy everyone’s creative Halloween ideas, and of course, your sweet tooth.

What you’ll need:

  • -1 box white cake mix or your favorite cake recipe (white cake is great because you can add food coloring to change the color!)
  • -Non-stick Spray
  • -1-2 tubs whipped white frosting
  • -Food coloring
  • -Halloween Sprinkles
  • -(3) 0.5 Liter Kilner Round Clip Top Jars. You can also use preserve jars, but I love the look of clip tops for this.
  • -1-3 Mixing bowls, if you’re making more than one color batter or coloring your frosting.
  • -Piping Bag/tips (or you can just spread the frosting on)

On to the instructions.  Step one: Put a cake in a jar. . . I kid. But really. . .

1.  Make sure your jars are clean.  It’s really important when using any canning or preserve jars to make sure they’re clean: You don’t have to sterilize them like you would if actually canning something, but just make sure you clean them before baking in them.

2. Preheat oven according to your box or cake recipe.

3. The only part of these jars that shouldn’t go in the oven is that orange rubber seal.  See it? It’s super easy to remove: just pull at the tab and it should pop right off. If you’re using preserve jars, just leave the lids out of the oven.

4. Grease your jars!  Easy to forget, so I’m putting this step up front.  Non-stick spray comes in handy here as jars are harder to grease than an open pan.

5. Batter time!  I used white cake to match any frosting or decoration I would later adorn the cake with.  I kept the batter white, but try making some green, purple, or red batter for a more intense Halloween cake experience!  I dyed the frosting, hence why I recommend using white frosting as well.  Our Mason Cash Mixing Bowls are great for batter making. They’re easy to clean, big enough to mix up a huge batch of batter, and the white interior makes it easy to see when all your color is blended in (if you’re coloring your dough.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. Pour batter into Kilner Jars, filling up about half way.  The cake will expand and rise in the oven, bringing the top of the cake right above the lip of the jar.  If you want to be able to close the clip top jars completely including frosting/decorations, pour batter a little less than halfway full. Making cakes in jars that you can close makes for a great hostess gift, school lunch treat (use a smaller jar) or holiday gift!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7. Place jars on a baking sheet or pain, and stick ‘em in the oven.  I kept mine in for 43 minutes.  The batter densely sits in these jars, so I followed directions for a bundt cake on my boxed cake mix, versus a 8” or 9” pan or cupcakes.  Plus or minus a few minutes won’t hurt anyone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

8. Keep an eye on the cakes when they’re in the oven.  They’re ready when you can stick a toothpick or knife through the center of the cake and it comes out clean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

9. Take out, and let cakes cool completely before going to town with icing/decorations.  We don’t want messy melting icing (unless you do).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

10. Once cakes are cool, frost those babies.  I put whipped white frosting in a piping bag with a professional piping tip to get that cool star effect.  You can also just use a hefty zip-top bag with a professional tip, or no tip, just cut the corner off; it just won’t have that star effect. You can even just use a butter knife and spread the icing on smoothly. Two of the cakes I frosted with plain white frosting, and the third cake I frosted with my own mixed green frosting.  Get creative here!  Mix and match your cake color with your frosting color and/or decorations.  Decorate with sprinkles, candy corn, sugar eyeballs, or cupcake flags.  Most kitchen supply stores and even some big craft stores like Michaels have awesome sugar bats, pumpkins, ghouls, etc.  Drip with red food coloring for a more gruesome cake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

11.  Grab two spoons, a scarfing partner, and go to town.  Or just tackle that cake solo; that may or may not have been what I did. Enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tune in next week for some awesome Halloween roundups and DIY projects, brought to you by yours truly.  Now go have a craft-tastic weekend!

Happy Labor Day: Garnish your Barbecue with our Best Guacamole Recipe

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Labor Day doesn’t mean “back to school” now that most schools seem to start in August, but it’s a really good time to throw a great, end of summer barbecue and enjoy spending time outside before the weather turns cold.  Of course, now that it’s the end of the summer, you might be a little sick of a traditional BBQ with burgers, hot dogs, and even ribs, so we’ve got some great tips to add some color (and some spice) to your Labor Day Barbecue!

First up, Set a colorful table! There’s something about bright, lively colors that make even the most casual get-together feel like a party.  Use flowers, colorful foods, and vibrant placemats.  For a recent party, we used 24 of our Laguna placemats as a tablecloth, and it looked great! As a labor day gift for you, we’re offering 25% off of our ENTIRE Laguna line to our retail customers from now until Tuesday, Sep 3. Just enter LABORDAY at checkout! Laguna mats look great indoors and out, so they’re perfect for entertaining as the seasons change.

Second, make (or buy) snacks that you can set up ahead of time, like our chips, salsa and guacamole in the picture above.  They’re easy to set out an hour ahead of time, and they’ll help keep your guests snacking and mingling if you need a little extra setup time. We love making and serving guacamole in our Mason Cash Mortar and Pestles.  They’re perfect for crushing garlic, cilantro and spices and mashing avocado. Plus, they’re made of heavy stoneware that looks great on the table.tacos

Here’s our signature guacamole recipe. It’s simple to make, and whether you’re grilling hot dogs and burgers or carne asada for tacos, it works.  If you like more heat, add a chopped up jalapeno.  If you like more tang, add more lime.  This serves 4-6 people and is the perfect amount for the large Mason Cash Mortar and Pestle.

  • 3 avocados
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp whole cumin
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. In the bottom of your mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, cilantro and cumin until they form a paste
  2. Add the lime juice and half the avocado
  3. With the pestle, grind until very smooth. Add the other half of the avocado, the onion, and the tomato
  4. Combine with pestle (you may also need to use a fork) until thoroughly combined
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve right in the mortar and pestle!

If you want to make a bigger batch, the recipe doubles or even triples really nicely.  Just grind up the cumin, mince the garlic and cilantro, and make the whole thing in an Acaciaware bowl. Just like when you serve in the mortar and pestle, there’s one less dish to clean, since your serving dish is also your prep bowl.

Since you’re already making guacamole, I suggest you grill up some simple carne asada to go along with it.  This flavorful dish is easy to prepare and uses a cheaper cut of steak, so even if you’re cooking for a crowd, you won’t break the bank.  Do most of the prep the night before to save time!

  • 2 lbs flank or skirt steak
  • 4 garlic cloves,
  • 1 jalapeno,
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves,
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppe
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1.  In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the flank steak. Blend until smooth.
  2. Put flank steak in a gallon-sized sip top bag.
  3. Pour marinade in on top of steak and seal bag, pressing as much of the air out as possible.
  4. Allow steak to marinate for at least 1 hour, or as long as 12 hours.
  5. Heat your grill to medium high. If using a gas grill, allow at least 10 minutes for the whole grill to heat.
  6. Brush grate with vegetable oil carefully to avoid flare ups.
  7. Grill the steak for 7-10 minutes on each side, turning once for a medium-rare steak.
  8. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes
  9. Slice across the grain, on the diagonal, into thin slices.
  10. Arrange on an Acaciaware plate.

We suggest serving the carne asada with fresh tortillas, grilled corn, our amazing guacamole, and some cheese and salsa.  If you want, you can put together a whole condiment bar using small acacia bowls and  condiment serving sets  Consider filling bowls with pico de gallo, shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos, grilled peppers, grilled onions, and sour cream.

From all of us here at Pacific Merchants, have a really happy Labor Day. We hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer and get to have a fun, relaxing 3-day weekend. And remember to enter LABORDAY at checkout to get 25% those colorful Laguna mats from now until September 3! You deserve a treat.

Celebrating Summer Produce: Tomatoes and a Tomato Salad Recipe

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Tomatoes are no longer just a salad bar garnish. With such a huge variety of heirloom tomatoes available, especially in August and September, tomatoes are quickly on their way to becoming the star of the dinner table.  Magazines from Food and Wine to Martha Stewart Living have featured tomatoes on their August covers, and we’re taking inspiration both from them and from the colorful heirloom tomatoes at our local farmer’s market. For the next two weeks, we’ll be showing off beautiful, versatile tomatoes.

 

Here are some quick tips to buying and storing tomatoes.  It’s the height of the season, so making sure to pick the right ones and keep them fresh and flavorful is key.

  1. Look for tomatoes that are heavy for their size, have smooth skin, slight give when touched, and are noticeably fragrant. If you can’t smell them, they’re not ripe.
  2. If you see a tomato that looks unusually puffy or bloated, don’t get it. That’s probably a waterlogged tomato.
  3. Remember that tomatoes, especially heirloom tomatoes, come in a rainbow of colors. Green heirloom tomatoes can be perfectly ripe, as long as they’re heavy for their size and smell fragrant.
  4. If you’re not sure, ask the farmer’s market vendor or your store’s produce person to help you chose. They want to keep your business so they’ll make sure you get the best fruit possible.
  5. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator. I get it, they last longer, but refrigerating tomatoes makes them mealy. The cold also shuts down the compounds in the fruit that make tomatoes so flavorful.
  6. Keep tomatoes out of direct sunlight. Tomatoes will ripen off the vine, especially in sunlight, and leaving them in the sun can overheat them and cause them to ripen unevenly.
  7. Don’t pile tomatoes on top of each other when storing them. This could cause them to bruise. Instead, spread them out on a tray or a countertop. We’ve noticed that our baguette trays are the perfect size and shape for lining up tomatoes!

 

 

We’re starting off with a beautiful raw presentation in one of our Acaciaware salad bowls. This rustic Panzanella Heirloom Tomato salad is hearty enough to be a meal all on its own. It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken and steak.  The keys to making this salad perfect are picking great tomatoes, leaving the bread out until the very end, and using a big enough bowl that all the tomatoes, bread, and cucumbers end up doused in that rich, garlicky dressing. We suggest our 12” Calabash bowl. The rich tones of the acacia wood set off the colorful tomatoes nicely, and the bowl doesn’t absorb odors from the rich, garlic-infused dressing.

023

Ingredients:008

  • 4 cups cubed French bread.
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, cubed and seeded
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 3-4 large cubed heirloom tomatoes, any color
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 10 basil leaves, diced
  • ¼ cup diced parsley013
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or run through garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Toss cubed bread in melted butter, salt and pepper. Spread in a single row on baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

018

  • In the bottom of your salad bowl, whisk the Dijon, salt, pepper, chili flakes and garlic together.
  • Add the vinegar and whisk until well combined.

010  011

  • Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, whisking well to combine.
  • Prepare vegetables. Add tomatoes to dressing first, toss well to combine.
  • Let tomato and dressing mixture sit for 5 minutes in order to draw the juice from the tomatoes.

015

  • Add other vegetables and herbs, toss to combine.
  • At this point, the salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

017 019

  • 5 minutes before serving, toss the bread cubes into the salad and serve.

022  021 020

We hope that this beautiful panzanella salad inspires you to get out there and experiment with the best that the season has to offer.  Make sure to check back next week when we put our Kilner jars to work and teach you how to make and preserve the perfect tomato sauce you’ll be sure to enjoy all year long!

024

 

 

National Watermelon Day and a Great Watermelon Recipe

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Nothing says “summer” like biting into a big, juicy slice of watermelon. Since tomorrow, August 3, is National Watermelon Day, we think it’s the perfect time to introduce you to a more grown up watermelon recipe. It’s not that we have  anything against biting into a big, juicy slice of melon, but should your occasion call for something a little less messy, here’s a great, summery alternative!

This colorful savory watermelon salad is most beautiful when served in our round Calabash serving set. The shape of the bowl mimics the shape of the watermelon in a cute way and the rich brown tone of the Acacia hardwood offsets the reds, pinks and greens in this salad beautifully!  This dish serves a crowd, so it’s great to bring to a picnic or party.  If you’re making an extra-large batch and need a bigger bowl, try one of our larger Mason Cash Mixing bowls!

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Salad

Ingredients

–          1 medium watermelon, cubed (about 15 cups) Not sure how? Here’s a tutorial

–          1 red onion, thinly sliced

–          ½ cup fresh mint, minced

–          3 cucumbers, cubed

–          8 oz crumbled feta cheese

–          1 heaping tsp cayenne pepper

–          1 tsp black pepper

–          2 tablespoons lime juice

–          2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

–          ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

–          Sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of your serving bowl, whisk together the spices
  2. Add the lime juice, vinegar, and olive oil, whisk to combine
  3. Add in cucumbers, red onion, mint, and feta. Stir to combine well.
  4. Toss the watermelon in with everything else.
  5. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, lime juice or cayenne if necessary
  6. Serve cold or at room temperature.

One of my favorite things about this salad is how easy it is to change up. Sometimes I add tomatoes, sometimes I leave out the feta, and sometimes I use basil instead of mint. No matter what variation I use, it tastes great! This salad is as delicious as it is easy, and it’s a great way to turn a classic taste of summer into something a little more sophisticated!  What’s your favorite way to eat watermelon?

Perfect Pecan Pie Recipe and Tips

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Today is National Pecan Pie day!  Like so many of those other food related holidays, we think that it’s a pretty good excuse to get creative in the kitchen and bake something delicious, and pecan pie is one of  my personal favorites! Even if you’re not a pecan pie fan, this simple recipe is sure to change your mind. It is fragrant with orange peel, rich with bourbon and cinnamon, and amazing with vanilla ice cream.  So let’s get started!   This is a great pie to finish off a summer BBQ, but it’s also wonderful for the holidays, so make it now and bookmark it for later! Trust me, it’s a total crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving!

First, gather up your equipment.  You’re going to need a saucepan, a mixing bowl that can handle heat (our Mason Cash cane mixing bowls are perfect,) a rolling pin, a pie dish, a baking sheet and a whisk. If you’re making crust from scratch, you’ll need a separate bowl for that. I suggest popping a Mason Cash bowl in the fridge for your crusts. They stay cold forever, which makes for a better dough!

 

A note on pie dishes:  You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of different kinds of pie dishes on the market. On a recent trip to the cooking store in my area I saw flimsy foil dishes along with metal, Pyrex, enamel, ceramic and stoneware.  For pies with a pre-baked crust, I’m partial to enameled pie plates like our Enamour dish.  It conducts heat really evenly which is essential for baking an unfilled crust.  For other pies, I really love terracotta bakeware. I use our Mason Cash terracotta pie plate for pretty much every fruit pie I make, along with this pecan pie. It promotes a really crisp crust, but keeps it flaky and buttery, rather than drying out the crust.  Now on to that pecan pie recipe!

Ingredients

  • Pie crust (either store bought or use our favorite recipe HERE)
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon or whiskey
  • Zest of one orange
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves (1/2 pound)

 

Instructions

  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.
  • Place in buttered terracotta pie dish.
  • Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
  • Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.
  • Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork.
  • Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add brown sugar and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, bourbon, orange zest, and salt.
  • Let cool for 2 minutes
  • Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl that can handle heat.
  • Gradually beat the corn syrup mixture into the eggs, whisking the whole time
  • Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them.
  • Bake on baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Cool completely.

 

Enjoy! It’s National Pecan Pie day, so the calories definitely don’t count.

Tips for a Great Fourth of July Barbecue!

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

US-flag-Florida-BridgeCan you believe that Independence Day is just around the corner?  That’s right, July 4th is almost here! Naturally, we’re getting ready for a big family barbecue with all the trimmings, from Red and Blue placemats to all-American apple pies to an incredible spread of food laid out on our eco-friendly Acaciaware serving dishes.  They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes ,  from baguette traysto bread boards to chip and dip

Acaciaware

Acaciaware® Salad Bowl

trays and they’re  perfect for serving a crowd. They’re durable and don’t shatter when dropped.

If you want to get in on the Acaciaware action this summer, enter code FIREWORKS at checkout! You’ll receive a FREE salad serving set with every 10” or larger salad bowl. After all, no one wants to serve a fruit salad with their hands.

We’ve actually already published a couple of recipes on this blog that would be absolutely great for your Fourth of July gathering.  Check out our National Burger Month post for a perfect, foolproof burger recipe. If you’re a ribs lover (and how could you not love ribs?) check out our Father’s Day dry rub recipe. Of course, one cannot live on meat alone – unless you’re a shark or lion – so today we’re going to feature a great vegetarian recipe to help you balance out your barbecue.

Before we get to that recipe, we’ve got our top five entertaining tips to share with you. We want to make sure that you can throw America a great birthday bash and still enjoy time with friends and family, instead of manning the grill all night.

Tip 1: Make as much of possible ahead of time. This seems like absolutely common sense, but it’s easy to forget. If I’m making burgers, I slice my tomatoes and onions the night before the party and put them in a sectioned serving tray like the Acaciaware tray featured below.   I also make all my salads and sides ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator in their serving bowls, so on the day of the party I can just pull them out, stick some serving spoons in them, and be done.  To keep salads fresh, I don’t add the dressing until the last minute – I make it separately and store it in jars, but beyond that, ¾ of my party foods are made ahead so I’m not running around like a chicken with its head cut off as guests start to arrive.

     Acacia Wood Deep Bowl, 12" x 12" x 6" Kilner Preserve Jar, 1.0 Liter/34 fl ozAcacia Wood Fork & Spoon Serving Set, 12"

thick-burger-mld108880_vert

Tip 2: Keep it simple.  I’ve thrown parties where I’ve overdone it on the food and forgotten to enjoy the guests. You’re throwing a Fourth of July bash. Burgers, a simple salad and a dessert , like our strawberry shortcake should be plenty. By making no more than one entrée, 2 sides, and a dessert, you’ll spend less time fussing and more time having fun.

Tip 3: Get help. There’s no rule that says that you have to make everything just because you’re hosting. Buy something (or a few things) pre-made at the store.  Most grocery stores have great vegetable trays, cookies, chips and dips, and so much more. If you want a consistent look, put them on your own dishes. Your guests won’t know the difference! We’ve got Acaciware serving solutions that are perfect for veggies and dips, chips and dips, and even big platters for appetizers and desserts.

Tip 4: Don’t try too many new recipes at once.  Maybe make a new entrée, or a new side dish, but don’t overwhelm yourself with new recipes unless you’re 100% sure they’ll work out.  You’ll be stressed by the time the food is served.  Adventurous eating is awesome, but it’s always good to have at least one dish you can make in your sleep, whether it’s burgers,  pulled pork, or guacamole.  You’ll know it’s good without trying it, your guests will love it, and it’s one thing you won’t need to worry about.

Tip 5: Fire extinguisher. It’s the Fourth of July, which means that there’s a grill going, fireworks, and children running around with sparklers. We’re not saying there’s going to be a fire, but it’s better for your peace of mind to have an extinguisher handy. Like my mother always says, “better safe than sorry.”

And now, on to the recipe:  Mom’s Black Bean and Mango Salad. With the protein from the beans and the sweet tang of mangoes, this salad is hearty enough that it can be a meal on its own. It’s also a great side that everyone seems to love, and it’s amazing on tacos. It can be made up to 4 days ahead, which is great: July 4 is on a Thursday this year, but you can get the prep out of the way on the weekend. Just add the avocado at the last minute or it’ll get brown and mushy.

 

This colorful salad looks particularly beautiful in an Acaciaware salad bowl. The natural wood tones really make colors pop! I l especially love the way it looks in a flared bowl.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked black beans (Canned and drained or cooked and drained)
  • 3 cups corn (canned and drained, frozen and thawed, fresh and lightly steamed)
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 3 avocados, diced right before serving
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced mint
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients except avocados in a large serving bowl.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper
  • Add avocado right before serving.
  • Serve on own, as a topping for tacos, or as a side salad.

We hope that this simple recipe and our helpful hints keep your Fourth of July barbecue as fun and stress free as possible. And remember, no one wants to serve that delicious salad with their hands, so enter FIREWORKS at checkout to get a set of free salad servers with any bowl 10 inches or larger.

Happy 4th, everybody!

Summer Strawberry Shortcake

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Last week wasNational Strawberry Shortcake Day! For us here at Pacific Merchants, even if we’re late, it’s just a great excuse to get out our Mason Cash baking supplies and bake up a storm!

To make strawberry shortcake, you’re going to need a few bowls in a few different sizes: one for making the fruit filling, one for whipping the cream, and one for mixing up the dough.  Naturally, this was a perfect excuse for us to whip out our Mason Cash strawberry mixing bowls. They come in four sizes, so I used the littlest one to eat out of, the next  up for the whipped cream, the 2 quart for the strawberries, and the large mixing bowl to make the dough!

Mason Cash bowls are perfect for strawberry shortcake because both the bowls and the desserts are classics with a long history. Strawberry shortcakes were actually mentioned in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, so we felt it was natural to make a British heritage dessert in bowls from a British heritage company.  And while Mason Cash isn’t Shakespeare old, it does date back to the early 1800’s.  So let’s get cooking

You can use anything from angel food cake to pound cake to biscuits for your shortcake dough. Personally, I love this scone-inspired dough. It’s not too sweet,  it’s sturdy enough to hold up to juicy strawberries, and it comes together easily with just a little work and very little equipment, just a large mixing bowl, a couple of butter knives, and a wooden spoon.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg,
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup half and half

 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in middle of oven.
  •  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
  • Whisk together the egg, half and half, lemon zest and vanilla extract and add to the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.
  • Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat or roll the dough into a 7 inch round.
  • With a 3 inch round cookie cutter or an overturned drinking glass, cut out rounds and place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream.
  •  Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Once those scones are cooling, start on the strawberry filling. Because strawberries are so good this time of year, they don’t need much, just a little sugar, some orange zest, maybe a splash of vanilla and (if you’re serving adults) a dash of bourbon, which really highlights the sweetness of the berries.  This mixture fits perfectly into a medium Mason Cash bowl, or you can use your large strawberry mixing bowl again.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons good bourbon, optional (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it)

Instructions

  • Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries.
  • Toss strawberries with the sugar, citrus zest, vanilla extract and bourbon
  • Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before using

Next, use a small bowl to whip up some cream. You can use a larger bowl and more cream if you want more whipped cream, but 1 cup of cream is plenty for me (probably because I put ice cream on my shortcake as well.  Do this right before serving or your whipped cream will fall flat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl
  • Whisk until medium peaks are formed
  • Serve!

Now, assemble your shortcake!

  • Split each scone in half.
  • Put a few strawberries on the bottom of the scone.
  • Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • Put a generous helping of strawberries over the top of the ice cream
  • Top with the second half of the scone
  • Top with whipped cream and more strawberries.
  • Enjoy

Our Father’s Day Gift Guide!

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Father’s day already. That’s right, Father’s day is coming up right around the corner on June 16, which means that you have until June 10 to get those orders for dad in.  We’re told that fathers sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to the holiday. They’re given a tool as a gift and told to fix something, or given a grill and told to make everybody dinner. Not quite the restful, fun filled day they had in mind. Here at Pacific Merchants (a company owned by a dad, FYI) we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen with this great Father’s Day Gift Guide.