July 13, 2006

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Relishing the raspberries
This short but sweet season is upon us
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.com

For many of us, having raspberries in the house means a bottle of fat-free raspberry vinaigrette, a jar of jam or a bag of frozen raspberries that we use for smoothies.

Sadly, this super food has a short local harvest. When not in season, it can be found in supermarkets at high prices and low quality.

Lucky for us, New Hampshire’s raspberry season is underway and across the state pick-your-own will be available, farm stands will be selling rosy pints of raspberries for a fraction of the cost and even big box supermarkets will be offering raspberries from local growers — just look for the signs.

If you pick your own, go early in the morning to avoid the heat and choose brightly colored berries that are not dark or shriveled.

If purchasing raspberries already picked, look for ones that have had their hulls removed. If a raspberry has its hull, it was picked before it was ripe and will be tart.

Raspberries, like most berries, are highly perishable. If stored properly, they will keep for roughly three days. To maximize the life of your berries, store them unwashed, in a moisture-proof container on a single sheet of paper towel in the refrigerator.

While there are lots of obvious uses for raspberries — smoothies, on cereal, in pie, on top of cheesecake and in muffins — local chefs have found other uses.

At Del Vaudo in Nashua, chef and owner Jim Naugler serves up a cool duck-raspberry salad ($26) for summer that is: hearty yet sweet and tart at the same time.

Naugler uses tender duck breast, which is marinated in homemade raspberry vinaigrette, then braised. It is served atop a pile of Mesclun with fresh raspberries and the vinaigrette.

“For some reason the duck and raspberries go very well together. They complement each other very well,” Naugler said.

Raspberries make a nice addition to any salad. Consider a simple salad of raspberries, pulled grilled chicken, crumbled goat cheese and mixed green. No dressing needed.

At San Francisco Kitchen in Nashua, raspberries and cabernet are reduced to create a glaze that is used with banana-kiwi spring rolls ($5.95). The spring rolls are fried pastry rolled in brown sugar and filled with the fruit. The raspberry-cabernet sauce offers a tangy balance to the sweetness.

Having a basic raspberry sauce up your sleeve is a sure winner in a pinch, especially when paired with chocolate. Last-minute guests can be treated to a simple raspberry sauce over chocolate gelato.

Looking for a new summer cocktail? Giorgio’s in Merrimack serves up a Caipirinha. Muddled fresh raspberries, blueberries, fresh lime and Ketel One Vodka are topped off with a splash of Chambord.

Bartender Mike Day says the cocktail brings a lot of attention.

“When we make one, people always want to know what we are making,” he said.

While we may not all muddle the fixings for our cocktail at home, it is enough to make a simple raspberry sauce, freeze it in an ice-cube tray and add to a cocktail.

Whatever your plan, remember that raspberry season is short and sweet.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com  

Pick Your Own
• Brookdale Fruit Farm Inc., 38 Broad Street, Hollis, 465-2240/2241/2242.
• Durocher Farm, 448 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, 429-0999. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Hillside Apiaries, 31 Hillside Terrace, Merrimack, 429-0808.
• Wilson Farm 3A, Litchfield, 603-882-5551.
• Apple Hill Farm, 580 Mountain Road, Concord, 224-8862.
• Elwood Orchards, 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry, 434-6017.
• Northway Farm, 216 North Road, Candia, 483-2130.
• Sunnycrest Farm, Inc., 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-9652/7753.

Raspberry Recipes
Chocolate French Toast with Raspberry Sauce
Adapted from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

Raspberry sauce (note, this is a classic sauce that can be used on almost anything)
2 cups fresh raspberries (1/2 lb)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

French toast
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices from a brioche or challah loaf (not round)
4 oz fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Garnish: confectioners sugar; fresh raspberries; fresh mint sprigs
Make sauce: Purée raspberries, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor. Sweeten with confectioners sugar to taste (up to 1/4 cup more). Force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds.
Make French toast: Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a large shallow dish until mixture is combined well and sugar and salt are dissolved.
Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet or griddle over moderately high heat. Dip 2 bread slices briefly in egg mixture until lightly soaked, turning once if necessary.
Transfer to skillet, without crowding, and reduce heat to moderate. Sprinkle each slice with one fourth of chocolate and top with 2 more slices of egg-dipped bread. Press sandwiches gently with a spatula to help slices adhere. Cook, turning sandwiches over once, until chocolate is melted and French toast is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered. Wipe out skillet and make 2 more sandwiches in same manner.
Cut French toast in half diagonally and serve with sauce. Makes 4 breakfast or dessert servings.

Baby Spinach and Raspberry Salad
Recipe by Chef Don Jakubowski at Kohler Waters Spa, WI
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, chives and basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup canola oil
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 2-inch strips
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
Heat oven to 350°F. Toast sunflower seeds on a cookie sheet for 4 minutes. Whisk together vinegar, honey, herbs, garlic, and shallot. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a bowl, toss spinach with 2 tbsp vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with sunflower seeds and remaining ingredients and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Raspberry Champagne Cocktail
1-1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup water
2 Tbs. superfine sugar
lemon peel twists
2 bottles Champagne or sparkling wine
Blend fresh raspberries with water and sugar and strain to remove seeds.
Fill ice cube trays with the raspberry juice, garnishing each with a lemon twist and freeze until solid. (Check to be sure the ice cube will fit into the champagne flute.)
To serve, place one raspberry cube in a champagne flute and fill with champagne.
Serves 4-8


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