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eG Cook-Off #73: The Fruits of Summer


David Ross
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Raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, marionberries, gooseberries and huckleberries.  Peaches, apricots, plums and pluots.  And don’t forget the cherries.  Pies and ice cream.  In a cake, a clafouti or a cookie. Cobblers, crisps, compote’s and Betty’s.  Whichever fruit you pick, whichever recipe you choose, there’s no denying the sweetness, the juiciness, the lushness of summer fruits. Yet we never limit our creativity at eGullet, so let’s go beyond the boundaries of sweet dishes and showcase the piquant notes of summer fruits in savory recipes.  Blackberry jelly with grilled quail you say?

Summer fruits evoke fond childhood memories—the ultimate expression of the words “farm-to-table.”  And we each have our own coveted summer fruit recipes, and for me that means the huckleberry, the wild, elusive berries that grow in the high mountain reaches of my native Pacific Northwest. 

Summer fruits don’t need a lengthy introduction, no limitations on your creativity are necessary.  I for one have a number of dishes I’ll be sharing, and I know you’ll enjoy me in tasting the bounty of summer fruits.

See our complete Cook-Off Index here:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/

 

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If you look closely at my avatar, you'll see a huckleberry bush.  And that's intentional.  While I love almost all foods, (with the exception of canned peas, pickled beets and canned creamed corn), for my tastes the huckleberry reigns supreme.  (I wrote about my relationship to the huckleberry with a piece for the Daily Gullet, below).

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This season I wanted to break out of my traditional huckleberry path and use the berries in a new dish, in this case a classic French clafouti.  Every year in early summer when the season's crop of Washington Bing cherries arrives, I make a cherry clafouti.  But I never made one with huckleberries, and I worried the berries would seep too much juice.  How much sugar would I need to add and should I macerate the huckleberries in liquor like I do with cherries?  In the end I just went with my instincts using my standard shortbread crust, a tart tin with removable bottom, the same custard recipe, and simply tossing the berries in sugar with no added booze or flavoring.

 

My standard shortbread crust, (which also serves as a buttery base for lemon bars), is a mix of 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar.  That will fit in an 8" tart pan, but I doubled the recipe for a 9" tart pan.  (I like to have bits leftover to roll into shortbread cookies).  Par-baked the shell for about 10 minutes in a 350 oven. Then in went about 1 1/2 cups of huckleberries tossed in a bit of sugar.  (You don't need a lot of berries, they pack a lot of tart flavor, and you want to stretch out your stash since this lot cost me $50 bucks for a gallon bag).

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The custard base is from Joel Robuchon's cherry clafoutis recipe.  2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 tbsp. heavy cream and 6 tbsp. milk.  I added a tiny wisp of cinnamon and nutmeg. The key to Robchon's clafouti is to save the trimmings from the shortbread crust.  Use those little bits of dough to scatter throughout the berries and custard just before baking.  It gives a bit of texture and helps the custard set.  Into a 350 oven for about 40 minutes until set.

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Out of the oven and let it cool a bit, I like it served warm, or chilled the next day.  Dusted with powdered sugar and then a scoop of vanilla, (or huckleberry), ice cream on the side.  This recipe works with any summer berry.  Aside from cherries, I've made it with apricots, blueberries and peaches, but I think all the summer fruits would work well.

IMG_0852.JPGClafouti.JPG

 

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Oh this will be a great cook-off topic.  Good idea, David :)   This now pushes me over the edge to go ahead and order some Colorado peaches.  I've been waiting for them to show up here.....but I'm nervous.  I'd rather KNOW that I'm getting some :) 

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In Eastern Washington we usually don't see peaches until mid-August, and my tastes have always favored the September peaches.  I really gulped 10 days ago when I heard the peaches were ready.  How could a peach in this region be ready so early?  I headed-up to a grower's cooperative on the slopes of Mount Spokane and asked for the best eating peach they had.  Can't remember the variety, but they were huge, juicy and sweet.  Delicious.  I guess I can't rely on decades of knowledge when Mother Nature makes the final decision on when summer fruit is ripe.

 

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Blackberry crips from Deb Madison's Greens book.  Incredibly simple to make and a nice twist:  grated orange peel.  I made three of them, using up 12 cups of freshly picked blackberries.

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Here is the 'crisp' recipe which is online (I have the book).  Sorry for the typo.

 

BLACKBERRY CRISP

6 servings 

FILLING:

About 4 cups blackberries 

1 tablespoon flour 

3 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar 

1 teaspoon orange rind, finely grated 

 

TOPPING:

1/4 cup unbleached white flour 

6 tablespoons light brown sugar 

" teaspoon cinnamon 

" teaspoon nutmeg 

" teaspoon salt 

4 tablespoon unsalted butter 

Preheat oven to 375 F. 

Sort through the berries and toss them with 1 tablespoon of flour, 3 tablespoon of granulated or brown sugar and orange rind. Put them in an 8-inch glass pie pan or equivalent earthenware baking dish. Set aside. 

To prepare the topping, place the 1/4 cup of flour, the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces, then work it into the flour with two knives or your fingers until the small pieces begin to hold together. 

Distribute the topping over the berries. 

Bake until the top is lightly browned and the juices have risen around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes. 

From "Greens Cookbook" by Deborah Madison (1988, Bantam Books, $24.95)

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Sounds wonderful I'll try it. When I lived in Salem Oregon the blackberries grew wild everywhere. Some folks thought they were weeds but I knew better!

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@Okanagancook That looks lovely. I have that book. i would love to make that but all the blackberries that cover the hill behind our house have shriveled up in this dry summer. I may try it with blueberries. 

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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43 minutes ago, Shelby said:

That is beautiful Okanagan.  Thanks for the recipe.  I like the topping part--not too much.  Lets the fruit shine.

And no damned oats!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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And I thought I was the only "no-oats" person.  Not that I don't like oats in cooking, but in a summer fruit crisp I think oats jumble things up and soak up too much of the warm juices that seep out of the fruit.

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I was thinking that summer fruits are an obvious choice in a cocktail.  This was my first attempt at a huckleberry cocktail.  Now mind you, I make a cocktail about once every three months, but I do draw inspiration and ideas from our mixologist enthusiasts. I started by crushing some huckleberries, sugar and mint.  Then in went Bombay Sapphire gin, ginger ale, ice and a sprig of mint from the garden.  I wanted it to be sweet, not too sweet, but next time I think I'll add some lemon juice.  And I think I'll muddle more huckleberries up front, and use crushed ice rather than cubes.  I wondered if gin would be too strong a flavor next to the huckleberries since gin contains so many herbs and strong notes of juniper.  But gin, rather than vodka, was perfect, evoking the flavors and perfumes of all the ingredients. 

 

Now what would you call this thing?  Huckleberry Ginger Fizz?

IMG_0914.JPG

 

 

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1 hour ago, David Ross said:

Now what would you call this thing?  Huckleberry Ginger Fizz?

 

The first name that comes to mind is a "Huckleberry Finn"  

A quick search turned up a few Huck Finn cocktails (all different) but none with the full Huckleberry moniker.   This one sounds closest to the flavor profile of your drink.  I think I'd pick lime over lemon if you want to tart it up, but that's just me. 

Either version sounds very refreshing

Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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My very favorite summer dessert is blackberry cobbler. Now, I am a cobbler purist. I do not like the ones with the cakey-like topping, although I'll accept that on a peach cobbler (but not a  berry one). No, I want dumplings. Thin, non-risen dumplings.

 

I make up a pastry recipe for a two-crust pie. Roll it out, cut out a big enough piece for the top. Cut the rest up into short, thin dumplings. 

 

Stew the fruit just lightly with sugar. (Dumplings are not sweet at all, but will soak up sweetness from the fruit juices.) Put it in a deep dish pie plate. Distribute the dumplings around in the dish. Top with the top crust, pierce in two or three places, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or so, until the top crust is golden.

 

Eat within 30 minutes. With vanilla ice cream. Repeat until dish is empty.

 

blackberry pie 052816.JPG

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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I've been working on the recipes I'll be using at an upcoming cooking class with a theme of herbs and spices.  Last night I finished the testing of the salad.  When I started to work on the recipes it was long before we launched this cook-off, but I think it fits in our theme quite well.

 

The salad is strawberries, cubes of cucumber, watermelon balls and feta cheese that I marinated in olive oil and dried herbs.  I chose the Italian castevetrano green olives because they are a bit sweet and only slightly tangy to not overpower the strawberries and watermelon.  What really went well with a bit of the strawberry was the marinated feta.

 

The vinaigrette was simply 3/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.  I'm not a fan of lots of vinegar in a salad dressing, but it had just enough tang for my tastes.  I think balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup would also work well.  The mint and basil really bring out the sweetness and freshness of the watermelon and strawberries. 

IMG_0927.JPG

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Not sure if this qualifies, but I'm making a rumtopf this summer. I made one a few years ago and it was fun to make, even more fun to drink and eat. It's all summer fruit, starting with the berries of early summer, macerated with some sugar and then covered with rum. Let it sit until the next summer fruits ripen, maybe plums and peaches, mix them with some sugar, add to the rumtopf, and again cover with rum and let it sit for the next summer fruits. This goes on until about September or October, when the summer fruits are gone. The fruit, sugar, and rum just hang out, either in a cool cellar or the fridge, until Christmas (I used mine for Thanksgiving). It is sweet, potent, fruity, and delicious. A bit of summer fruit in the winter. And did I mention potent? 

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12 hours ago, David Ross said:

I've been working on the recipes I'll be using at an upcoming cooking class with a theme of herbs and spices.  Last night I finished the testing of the salad.  When I started to work on the recipes it was long before we launched this cook-off, but I think it fits in our theme quite well.

 

The salad is strawberries, cubes of cucumber, watermelon balls and feta cheese that I marinated in olive oil and dried herbs.  I chose the Italian castevetrano green olives because they are a bit sweet and only slightly tangy to not overpower the strawberries and watermelon.  What really went well with a bit of the strawberry was the marinated feta.

 

The vinaigrette was simply 3/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.  I'm not a fan of lots of vinegar in a salad dressing, but it had just enough tang for my tastes.  I think balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup would also work well.  The mint and basil really bring out the sweetness and freshness of the watermelon and strawberries. 

IMG_0927.JPG

 

Dave,

 

Your salad looks lovely, and doesn't appear to be drowned in olive oil. I use a scant Tablespoon for a generous serving of salad for two. I know this is for a class, and may serve many, but I was taken aback by the 3/4 c olive oil. 

 

How much fruit and other ingredients are you using, or if you would rather not say, how many is it supposed to serve?

 

Also, you and I will have to agree to disagree on the oil, acid ratio. Sorry. :)

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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I love the idea of rumtopf, and even have a couple of vessels ready for it, but the strawberries did not make it out of the fruit cage this year. Maybe next year :)

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6 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

Dave,

 

Your salad looks lovely, and doesn't appear to be drowned in olive oil. I use a scant Tablespoon for a generous serving of salad for two. I know this is for a class, and may serve many, but I was taken aback by the 3/4 c olive oil. 

 

How much fruit and other ingredients are you using, or if you would rather not say, how many is it supposed to serve?

 

Also, you and I will have to agree to disagree on the oil, acid ratio. Sorry. :)

That's a great question and I'm glad you asked.  The salad would easily serve 6.  I drizzled about 1 1/2 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the top.  I wanted the sweetness of the strawberries and watermelon to come through and not be drowned in oil and vinegar. 

 

Now our classroom setup is 16 students at 3 long tables in front of the kitchen.  We have two large video monitors overhead that pickup the camera feed on top of the cooking area I'm working on. The students are home cooks that are seeking more knowledge on ingredients and techniques, but may not have made their own vinaigrette.  In order to showcase the way to craft a vinaigrette, it's best to do it in a bowl--with the 3/4 cup olive oil--then add the vinegar.  It helps visualize the final result, then we mention you only need a few drizzles over the salad.  Same way we would teach a vinaigrette that incorporates a mustard.

 

 

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