Cakes, Desserts, Salads

Raspberries

IMG_0890I’ve always been obsessed with raspberries. Raspberry iced tea at the Coffee Merchant when I was a kid, raspberry sorbet (once!) at Chez La Vigne, raspberry tart baked from an old Harrowsmith magazine, raspberry soda on a road trip with my parents to the States. I can’t seem to get sick of them. Finally this year, I’ve planted a little row of them in my garden, but until they can provide the 50 pounds or so a year that I eat, I’ll be buying them frozen from Webster’s, a farm a few miles from the Cafe that also supplies us with our baking beans. They pack them solid in tubs, which isn’t totally convenient, but I’ll tell you this: those berries, defrosted carefully, look and taste so much like fresh it’s ridiculous.

Strawberries are very nearly done for now, though I look forward to eating more in August when the later-season berries are ripening. I love how, just as they slip away, the pints of raspberries start appearing at little tables and stands. My favourite spot to buy fresh raspberries is at Darlene’s in Windermere, where the Grays also grow wine grapes to perfection. These are expertly converted into the luscious Windermere white wine by Jost Winery. Last year, the kids and I stopped there and I spent ten minutes in their driveway madly hunting my car for 3.50 in change (this is a good reason not to clean your car!) and we returned home with our prize.

Just this evening my son and I wandered down our driveway and picked two small handfuls of raspberries from wild canes. A taste was enough for my daughter to get her mind off her missing chicken for a second and smile (the chicken returned a while later). Oh, July! If only we could spread your sweet summer excesses over the entire year. Well, get your freezer bags ready. Nothing freezes quite as well, or is more welcome in January, then a Valley raspberry. Buy a few pints and spread them gently in single layer on a cookie sheet. After a few hours, when they’re frozen solid, shake them into a bag. Hide them away. There are plenty of lovely simple ways to enjoy raspberries, like on top of your hot cereal with a good hit of maple syrup, or gently crushed into a Raspberry Shortcake, or with creamy goat cheese and greens. For that one, I suggest the following vinaigrette:

Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

1 clove Garlic
1/2 t. Salt
2 T. minced Red Onion
1 t. Dijon Mustard
1 T. Honey or Maple Syrup (omit if using jam)
a few good grinds of Black Pepper
1 t. dried Oregano
1/2 C. fresh Raspberries or 1/4 C. Raspberry Jam
1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 C. Canola or Olive Oil
Combine everything but the oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a jar, add the oil, and shake until combined. This dressing will keep for at least 2 weeks, refrigerated and tightly sealed.

If you like your raspberry recipes a little more complex, this should keep you busy! It will also result in a memorable cake, one that you might think about more than you want to.

Lemon Raspberry Cream Cake Serves 16

You can make everything ahead of time and refrigerate, then assemble the next day!

The Cake:

2 C. sugar
4 eggs
1 C. oil
1 C. water
2 ½ C. flour
½ t. salt
2 ¼ t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla

Beat sugar and eggs, than add remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute. Pour into two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured pans. Bake about 30 minutes at 350, until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

The Lemon Curd:
3 eggs
1/3 C. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
½ C. lemon juice
6 T. butter
1/2 C. Cream Cheese
Whisk together in saucepan, then cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Continue to whisk until mixture is thickened, then strain. Set aside to cool. Beat cream cheese until smooth, then whisk in the lemon mixture.

The Raspberry Sauce:

2 C. raspberries
1/2 C. sugar
1 T. Lemon Juice
1 T. Cornstarch
Combine in a sauce pan and heat gently until mixture bubbles and thickens. Scrape into a bowl and let cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz. Cream Cheese
½ C. butter
1 T. vanilla
3 ½ C. icing sugar
Pulse in processor until creamy.

To Assemble: Split cakes into two layers. Top three of the layers with Raspberry Sauce and Lemon Curd, then stack together. Top with the plain layer. Frost all over with Cream Cheese Frosting.