Why does it always seem to be either feast or famine? We go for months without so many things we love, then suddenly, come July, we’re up to our ears in too many good things.
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, fresh corn on the cob, green beans, lettuces, chard, spinach, artichokes, green peas … well, I don’t need to go on and on; you know what I mean. And, to add to the inundation of delights, it’s also Dungeness crab season, and there is no better seafood in the world, in my estimation. Throw in a geoduck or two, and/or a bucket of steamer clams and seafood surplus is surpassed only by fresh fruit overload.
No complaints, however; coming up with as many ways to enjoy it all while it’s with us presents a pleasant challenge, one I thoroughly enjoy. So, today it’s all about the recipes, no more yak about too much of a good thing. I’m sure you have your own favorite ways to deal with our wonderful summertime abundance; here are but a very few of mine. And if you’d like to share any of yours with our readers, please feel free to email them to me and we’ll have a “readers’ recipes” column.
Meanwhile, enjoy the feasting, for too soon follows the famine.
A number of years ago, I was on my computer looking for new ways to use raspberries, my top favorite berry, and came across this spectacular recipe that uses not just raspberries but also fresh peaches, a great combination. This can be made ahead and is a stunning summertime dessert; it looks complicated, but it’s not. It’s definitely not low fat, low calorie, however.
RASPBERRY PEACH FREEZER CAKE
1 pkg. (13 oz.) soft coconut macaroons
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1½ t. grated lemon peel
9 large peaches, peeled, pitted and some diced, some sliced (see instructions)
6 half pint containers of fresh raspberries, divided (see instructions)
2½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream
9 large egg yolks
1¼ cups sugar, divided (see instructions)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 T. unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/3 cup plus 2 t. peach schnapps (you can buy a small bottle at the liquor store and it’s usable in other peach desserts, as well)
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides with nonstick spray. In a food processor, finely grind the macaroons, almonds and lemon peel. Press half the mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan.
2. Dice three of the peeled, pitted peaches and puree them in the food processor. Transfer the puree to a heavy saucepan and bring to simmer over med. heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup, stirring often, about 10 min. The color will darken a bit.
Transfer to a bowl and chill until cool, about 15 min.
3. Puree 3 of the half pint containers of raspberries in the food processor, then strain through a sieve set over a bowl, pressing to extract as much fruit as possible without seeds. Chill.
4. Whisk ¼ cup of the cream, egg yolks, ¾ cup of the sugar, corn syrup and butter in a large metal bowl to combine. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 160 degrees F., about 8-10 min.
Remove bowl from over the water; using electric mixer, beat the mixture until billowy and completely cool, about 9 min. Divide between two medium bowls (abut 1 cup in each).
5. Beat the remaining 2¼ cups cream in a large bowl until medium peaks form. Fold the cooled peach puree and schnapps into one of the cream/egg bowls and then fold in half of the whipped cream. Spread this peach mixture in the prepared pan.
Sprinkle remaining macaroon mixture over the peach puree in the pan and place pan in a freezer.
6. Fold one cup of the raspberry puree into the cream/egg custard in the second bowl, fold in remaining whipped cream and spread this over the macaroon mixture in the pan. Cover and freeze at least 8 hrs., and up to 2 days.
7. To make compote and topping: Thinly slice the remaining 6 pitted, peeled peaches. Gently combine them with ½ cup sugar and 1/3 cup peach schnapps and fresh lemon juice. Let stand at least 15 min. and up to 1 hr., stirring occasionally.
8. Using a heated knife, cut around the cake to loosen; remove pan sides. Arrange the remaining 3 containers of raspberries on top of the cake; cut into wedges to serve, with compote to spoon over as desired, or you can spread the compote on the top of the cake then arrange the raspberries on top.
This next recipe was given to me by a fellow tap dancer friend many years ago. It’s quick, very easy, delicious and virtually any fresh fruit or combination of fruits can be used. I made this with our fresh strawberries, because I had plenty of both that needed to be used; it disappeared in minutes. Equally tasty with fresh peaches or nectarines.
QUICK & EASY FRUIT COBBLER
¼ cup butter
¾ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1½ t. baking soda
2 cups fresh fruit (berries, cherries, peaches, or combos of)
¼ to ½ cup sugar, depending upon tartness of fruit
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter in an 8×11 baking dish or pan; place dish in oven to melt butter. Don’t forget it and burn the butter!
2. Mix together the milk, sugar, flour and baking soda; pour this over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR. Put fruit over the batter in the pan (DO NOT STIR), and sprinkle sugar over the fruit, using less with sweet fruit, more if the fruit is very tart (sour cherries, as an example). Bake 30-40 min., until batter puffs around fruit and is golden. Serve warm, with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8-10; increase batter/fruits amounts if you want to make this in a larger baking dish.
If you’re fortunate enough to have crab left over after you’ve eaten your fill of fresh cooked Dungeness, you can turn it into this easy, delicious crab casserole.
6 T. butter
1 cup soft bread crumbs
¼ cup flour
¾ t. salt, or to taste
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
½ t. Worcestershire Sauce
½ t. dry mustard
1½ t. horseradish
1½ cups milk
1 lb. fresh cooked crab meat
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Melt the butter; add 2 T. of the melted butter to the crumbs and mix. Blend flour and all seasonings into the remaining melted butter. Add the milk and cook the mixture, stirring, until thickened. Stir in crab and lemon juice; remove from heat. Divide the mixture into 4 small individual baking dishes, or into an 8×8 baking dish. Top with buttered crumbs; bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 10 min. Sprinkle with parsley garnish, serve.