Friday, 27 June 2014

Cherries and Berries

It's cherry and berry picking season. I know this because of all the roadside stalls suddenly springing up like nettles. How many of you stop to buy at these stalls? Are they cheaper? Fresher? More local?

I have my doubts - I wonder if the fruit (freshly doused in emission fumes) is as local as all that. And indeed if the sellers are as homegrown too- or are they like the prolific French markets which we see all too frequently in the UK now.. where a request for 'un kilo de tomates' is met with a blank stare and a request to speak English.

Reading that back, it sounds a bit grumpy. PYO farms however,  look tempting in the June sunshine.  So maybe it is time to pick up some punnets, and dust off all the fruit and berry recipes on the blog.

And my goodness, there are plenty of them. I've got fifteen of them to share with you today- so get ready for a Vitamin C overdose!

Roadside stalls apart, let's start with cherries.

My first recipe is for a cherry soup: cherries poached in red wine and spices with a few red grapes.

Take a punnet of cherries, take off the stalks, cut them in half and squeeze out the stones. Put them in a saucepan with a glass of red wine, a tablespoon of vanilla sugar, a handful of red grapes and a good dusting of nutmeg or a tsp of mixed spice.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until syrupy.

Allow to cool and then serve either in shot glasses on its own or spooned over ice cream, garnished with a sprig of mint.

Cherry soup

Leftovers are good spooned over chocolate cake or Swiss roll, chocolate mousse and with cream as a Black Forest express,

Black Forest Express

or added to blackcurrant jelly crystals and served as mulled wine jellies.

Mulled Wine jellies

A variation of this is Muscat jelly- Muscat wine and lemon flavoured jelly with raspberries or strawberries.

Muscat jelly

If you have any more leftover, top coconut rice pudding with it.

Coconut rice pudding
I like this rice pudding recipe from Bill Granger:
It works well every time.

And if there's any more rice pudding and fruit- try rolling them up in pancakes to make sweet maki rolls.
Sweet maki rolls- ready for rolling

Now, what about strawberries? English strawberry season is well under way- helped by the recent warm weather.

I like to eat them just as they are- but if there are any left over after the first meal, I top them with yoghurt, a swirl of lemon curd and some brown sugar - caramelized with a blowtorch or under a hot grill for an Eton brulee:

Eton brulee
Or mixed with crushed meringue, ice cream and creme fraiche for an Eton-ish Mess:

Eton-ish mess
Or on scones or meringues, with a spoonful of clotted cream as part of a sophisticated afternoon tea:

As the fruit season goes on, raspberries begin to make an appearance. I love their taste. It's almost Proustian for me, taking me back to my childhood when we picked them off the bushes that grew wild in the back garden of our first cottage in Norfolk.

Here, I've layered them with wonton wrappers to make mille feuilles:

Raspberry mille feuilles

They are also lovely mixed with rhubarb and blackcurrants to fill a summer pudding:
Summer Pudding
 Or atop some creme patissiere for a summer fruit tart:

Summer Fruit Tart

And if you're not all berried-out yet, here are a couple more for you:
Iced berries with white chocolate sauce

Blueberry muffin cones

And finally- have you ever thought about having your fruit on toast? Don't knock it until you've tried it. Here I've used nectarines- but they're not ready yet- so use strawberries, raspberries....or indeed cherries.

I leave it up to you where you buy them!

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