Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake

This is part 2 of a feature on my delicious experience with Chef Matthew Nolot at Tolon in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can find part 1 here.

When I walked into the kitchen at Tolon to find out what recipe the chef would be cooking and sharing with me, he told me that he came up with an idea that morning for something that he’d like to try out, and that he’d just kind of wing it and hope for the best.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

And to him, “winging it” involves making Corn-Lime & Ricotta Biscuits and Buttered Popcorn Whipped Cream to go with his Strawberry Basil Shortcake.

Have. Mercy.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 11: Tolon - This installment features a Q&A with international award-winning Chef Matthew Nolot who recently opened the first farm-to-fork restaurant in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

He used ricotta to keep the biscuits nice and fluffy, as well as fresh corn and strawberries that he picked up at the Farmers Market that morning.

He also used a duck egg, but it’s fine to substitute a large or extra large chicken egg at home.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

I love that he picked a sweet dish with lots of savory notes. The buttered popcorn whipped cream was really interesting to me, and it worked out beautifully when I made it at home and used a hand mixer to whip it.

You pop the popcorn on the stovetop in butter, then add cream and fresh basil and bring it to a simmer. Then it steeps and cools before you whip it for the dish. The flavor is absolutely incredible – beautifully rich and silky smooth.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

The biscuit dough also has lots of lime zest inside, and a little smoked salt on top. Both work beautifully with the fresh basil. It was a really interesting and unique combination that I loved. He sent me home with a little container of smoked salt – if you can’t find it locally, there’s plenty of options online. It’s definitely worth keeping around in your pantry!

At the restaurant, he clipped off some basil microgreens for garnish. I used some regular basil on mine and it was still delicious, though not as adorable.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

One thing that I picked up on was that in Tolon’s kitchen, they keep fresh basil leaves in a little bucket of water to keep them nice and perky until they’re used in different dishes. I need to try storing mine like that in my tiny kitchen.

When I made this dish at home, made the popcorn-infused cream first, reserving a few of the popped kernels for garnish. I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours so I could whip it right before dessert time. I made the strawberry mixture next, letting the flavors mingle for a few hours out on the countertop, but it could also chill in the fridge.

I baked the biscuits last, letting them cool on a metal rack while I made dinner. It turned out so well, and tasted just like it did that day at Tolon.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

When dishing out the dough, he used a #12 scoop, which made 8 biscuits. I don’t have that size, so I used a #16, and got 10 biscuits (which took about 14 minutes to bake in my oven).

He taught me that the number on the scoop indicates the number of scoops per quart. I had no idea what they stood for, I just knew that having different sizes at home serve different purposes. But that tidbit was really helpful, so I wanted to pass it along.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

This dish does take a bit of time to prepare, but you can do the different components ahead of time like I did so it comes together more easily at dessert time. You could chill the strawberry mixture and the infused cream beforehand and even bake the biscuits in advance if you want. And it would be fun to try it with different fillings, too. YUM!

We had some leftover for a few days and we just toasted them briefly before assembling more. It was absolutely delicious every single time!

This dish was a lot of fun to make, and a huge hit with my family. My mother-in-law was definitely skeptical when she heard the names of some of the components, but she was licking her plate clean in no time once it was in front of her.

Strawberry Basil Shortcake / Corn-Lime & Ricotta Biscuits / Buttered Popcorn Whipped Cream

Makes 10

Strawberry Basil Shortcake / Corn-Lime & Ricotta Biscuits / Buttered Popcorn Whipped Cream

Chef Matthew Nolot's tips: Don’t get to crazy trying to plate this dish, it should have a very approachable and rustic feel. No dots or foams or fluid gels here. Think family reunion with updated flavors!!

Ingredients

Corn/lime/ricotta biscuits:
Dry:
1 ½ cups of flour
½ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of smoked sea salt
½ cup sugar

Wet:
¼ cup melted butter
1 ½ tablespoons of lime zest
1 ear fresh corn on the cob (shaved on a mandolin)
¾ cup of ricotta cheese
1 Duck egg
½ tablespoons vanilla extract

Sugar and smoked sea salt for dusting

Strawberry-basil filling:
2 pints of fresh strawberries (cleaned and sliced in half)
¾ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
½ cup of chopped fresh basil
Pinch of smoked sea salt

Buttered popcorn whipped cream:
3 tablespoons of butter
½ cup of popcorn kernels
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
½ cup of sugar
1 sprig of fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Corn/lime/ricotta biscuits: Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry batch and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Portion batter into 8 individual biscuits on a lightly greased cookie pan.
  4. Sprinkle each biscuit with extra sugar and a small amount of smoked sea salt and bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes until lightly browned and completely set.
  5. Strawberry-basil filling: Puree approximately a ½ pint of the strawberries along with ½ of the basil and the sugar until smooth.
  6. Transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Buttered popcorn whipped cream: Pop popcorn in the butter, being careful not to burn.
  8. Add the heavy cream, sugar and basil to the pan with the popped corn.
  9. Bring to a simmer and turn off heat and allow too steep for about 20 minutes.
  10. Strain through fine sieve and chill cream completely.
  11. Whisk chilled cream to stiff peaks.

Notes

Recipe by Chef Matthew Nolot of Tolon

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

https://bigflavorstinykitchen.com/big-flavors-from-a-restaurant-kitchen-volume-12-tolons-strawberry-basil-shortcake/

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Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 12: Tolon's Strawberry Basil Shortcake: This installment features the results I got baking Chef Matthew Nolot’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake recipe in my tiny kitchen!

  • What an intriguing dish…it looks and sounds delicious! I had no idea that was the case with scoops either…thanks for the tip! That is definitely good to know!

  • Beautiful dessert Ashley!!! Love strawberries w/basil – I make a strawberry lemonade with basil. So refreshing!

  • Gorgeous dessert. I love the sweet and savory combination pairing that uses a shortcake base. Looks like you had a fun time following the chef around too:)