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This week's recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

June 16, 2012 |  9:00 am


With beautiful strawberries showing up everywhere, it's the perfect time for shortcake. Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila shares her family memories of strawberry shortcake, along with what it takes to make this classic dessert just right:

The trick is to hand-shape the dough into rough patties about a half-inch thick .... No rolling, which makes them very quick to make. And I don't reheat them. Since they take just 10 to 15 minutes to bake. I'll have the dry ingredients already measured out. And as guests are finishing their main course, I'll cut the butter into the dough with a pastry blender, stir in the cream, form the patties and slip them into the oven.

A chilled whisk makes quick work of whipping the cream by hand. It's important to prepare the strawberry mixture before dinner. You want the berries juicy — and very cold, the better to contrast with the warm shortcake.

No worries -- she includes the recipe!

And Food Editor Russ Parsons shares the secrets to making panna cotta

It struck me — how long had it been since I’d had panna cotta? A few years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it. Then just as suddenly it went away. It makes no sense. A good panna cotta is as good as dessert gets. Vowing I would never again leave my panna cotta cravings to the whims of restaurant fashion, I determined to master the dish.

How hard could that be? There’s not a lot to a panna cotta recipe. It’s just dairy, sweetened and bound with gelatin. A bit of vanilla for flavor. That’s basically it. Why, then, are some of them so wonderful and others so blah?

That’s where the spreadsheet came in. Never underestimate the lengths a food geek will go to in order to master a simple dish. I analyzed a dozen recipes for panna cotta for three main attributes: the percentage of butterfat, the amount of gelatin and the sweetness.

He mastered it, and shares the recipe with us this week.

This week's recipes include:

When you try one of this week's recipes or any L.A. Times recipe, let us know! Upload a photo onto the "Our recipes, your kitchen" gallery to share your take on the recipe and tell us about yourself. Your photo will be posted online and may be selected to run in print with our weekly section.


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-- Noelle Carter
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Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times