Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Summer berries

One of the first books I bought Jasper is the beautifully illustrated Eating the Alphabet. Perhaps because of the abundance of summer produce currently available we have been reading this book at least once a day. We love pointing out foods we've eaten recently and wondering about the less familiar. So I was delighted Friday when we came across green gooseberries and red currants at the farmer's market in downtown Brooklyn.

We sampled each berry immediately and discovered they were tart and... tart! What to do with such lovely but seemingly inedible berries?

Fortunately I had the July issue of Martha's Living magazine handy. I made a compote with the gooseberries based on her jam recipe and spooned it over marscapone. With some Carr's whole wheat crackers (which are rather sweet) crumbled atop we had a kind of gooseberry parfait.

I used the pickling recipe with the currants. I've yet to use the currants in a salad as presented in the magazine, but the pickled currants themselves are bright and tangy, mellowed a bit by the sugar and ginger.

Gooseberry parfait

1 pint gooseberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
Carr's whole wheat crackers (or graham crackers)

Bring berries and water to a boil, then simmer a few minutes, smashing the berries. Add sugar, bring to a boil, then simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Let compote cool completely in refrigerator before serving over desired amount of marscapone. Crumble 2 crackers over each serving.

Pickled currants (with apologies to Martha et. al.)

2 cups currants
1 cup champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
3/4 cup sugar
1 t whole coriander seeds
1 piece (3/4 inch) peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
3 strips orange zest

Put currants into nonreactive bowl; set aside. Stir 1 1/2 cups water, the vinegar, sugar, coriander seeds, ginger, and zest in a medium pan. Bring to a boil stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve over currants in bowl. Stir gently to submerge currants. Let stand at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

The article includes a dressing recipe using the pickling juice and a salad recipe using the currants and some mixed greens, with pate on toast on the side. You could use the currants any number of other ways, though. Tonight I may spread a few on our ham and creamy French tomme cheese sandwiches.


Silly Marie said...

Hmmm...translucent red currants should not be tart. We had multiple currant bushes growing up and loooooved to eat them. We'd make currant cobbler. Green curants and opaque red currants were tart, but that was because they weren't ripe enough yet.

Adriana Velez said...

I'm not surprised that your expiernece with currants differs from mine, Marie. Berry flavors can vary depending on climate, rainfall, soil quality, amount of sunlight -- even age of stems. Red currants are typically tart (hence the recipe), though white currants are a bit sweeter.

What is surprising is that you could grow currants in Arizona! Currants are usually a colder-climate crop.