Of Raspberries Sweet And Savory

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Enjoying Summer’s Berry Bounty

This was a terrific year for raspberries and my freezer is full, as is my jam shelf. As the next wave of berries begins, my thoughts are turning to more savory treatments for my favorite fruit. Raspberries are so versatile because their flavor is both strong and complex. They offer the palate not just a vague sweetness but a tasty cotillion of flavors that enhance all sorts of dishes, from soups and salads to entrees, sauces, dressings, and desserts.

An Old Fashioned Favorite

Well, truthfully, one of the best things I’ve made this summer is a baked custard layered over raspberry jam. Not too sweet, custard is cool and refreshing after a hot day and makes a heartening addition to breakfast as well.

Raspberry Custard

1 teaspoon butter
1 cup raspberry or any jam (peach is lovely too)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups milk, scalded
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
grated nutmeg
hot water

Lightly butter a baking dish or pie dish and spread with jam. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk eggs lightly, add sugar and salt, stir in scalded milk and vanilla. Add to pan, pouring over a spoon to avoid splashing or displacing jam, and add a bit of grated nutmeg. Place in a larger baking dish, add 1/2 inch hot water to outer pan and bake until set (about 45 minutes). Cool on a rack and serve warm or chilled. Serves 4-6.

Fish and Ripe Raspberries

Lively with ancho pepper and ginger, soothing with mint, this elegant entree is intriguing on the palate and pretty on the plate.

Halibut with Raspberries

1-1/2 pound halibut fillet
1 teaspoon virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 cup raspberries
1 Walla-Walla sweet onion, chopped
1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 ancho pepper, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 organic lime, juiced, rind grated
1/4 cup mint, shredded

Rinse fish, pat dry. Rub skinless side with oil and pat on 1 clove garlic and 1/8 tsp. salt. In a bowl, combine raspberries, onion, ginger, chilies, vinegar, lime juice and rind, mint, and remaining garlic and salt. Toss gently, set aside. Grill or broil fish for 4-5 minutes per side, turning once. Remove to a plate, cover tightly with foil, let stand 5 minutes. Skin fish and serve with sauce.  Serves 4.

Match Raspberries With Walla-Walla Sweets

Dry-fried Walla Walla Sweet onions make a crunchy garnish for pan braised chicken. Fresh sorrel, raspberries, and cilantro combine in an almost instant sauce that adds a pleasingly piquant touch.

Chicken With Raspberries and Walla-Walla Sweets

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 Walla-Walla sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh sorrel, shredded
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup cilantro, stemmed

Heat salt over medium high heat in a skillet that has a cover. Add onions and dry-fry, stirring gently, until juices run (2-3 minutes). Remove onions to a plate, add oil, pepper and chicken, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turn chicken, cover pan and cook until chicken juices run clear (15-20 minutes, depending on thickness). Add sorrel, cover pan and cook until greens are barely wilted (2-3 minutes). Stir in raspberries and cilantro, cover pan and cook for 1 minute. Serve at once, garnished with onions. Serves four.

Raspberries In Salads? Sure!

I often toss a handful of raspberries or blueberries into my morning cereal. For a burst of extra flavor, add raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries and chopped mint to any green salad. To make a refreshing dressing or marinade, add 1/4 cup mashed raspberries or strawberries to any simple vinaigrette. Garnish a chilled cucumber salad with raspberries or blueberries and slivered green onions or chile peppers.

A Summery Entree Salad

Plump prawns, toasted walnuts, sweet fruit and bitter greens provide  alluring contrasts in this summery main dish salad.  The herbed marinade also makes a fabulous dressing on its own for greens, mixed fruit, grilled fish or roasted vegetables.

Prawn Salad with Raspberries

1/2 cup fruity virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cups raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon balm, shredded
1 teaspoon lemon thyme, stemmed
1 tablespoon mint or spearmint, chopped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups peeled, cooked prawns
4 cups young mixed greens
4 cups baby spinach, stemmed
2 cup arugula and/or radicchio, shredded
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 nectarine, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

In a food processor or blender, combine blend oil, vinegar, half the raspberries, the herbs, and salt. Puree, add to prawns, set aside (this can be done ahead and chilled). Combine all leafy greens, onion, remaining raspberries, and nectarine in a large bowl. Add shrimp, then drizzle marinade over salad. Toss lightly, garnish with walnuts and serve at once. Serves 4-6.

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