Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let the fruit parade begin: strawberries, raspberries and cherries

Even though it barely felt like July this past weekend, I spotted strawberries, cherries and raspberries at the market. Okay maybe strawberries have been at markets for a few weeks, but as soon as cherries arrived, for me, the fruit procession had begun. Even Finn is thrilled to see all the strawberries I brought home this week.

At the market, I was filling a bag with English peas when my friend Patty told me this was the last week for strawberries at Rent's Due Ranch. I had to add a half flat of strawberries to my produce order because I love Rent's Due strawberries. I'd freeze these seasonal gems for smoothies later.

Red raspberries also arrived at the market, along with pie cherries. I found myself wondering how these two fruits might taste together. I bought a half flat of raspberries from Willie Green's Organic Farm in Monroe--the tiny half pints were pricey at $4 each, so you have to really want raspberries, and I did. The pie cherries were also costly, but the 2nds at Mair Farm-Taki were smaller and they were marked down to $7. a pound.

Finn was pleased when I set the two bowls in front of him. He clearly favored the raspberries, but my thought was why not pair the cherries and raspberries together in a dessert? So that's what I did.
(By the way, this is $30 worth of local organic fruit--and worth every penny!)

I decided on a Lavender Scented Raspberry-Cherry Crisp, because I love the crispy topping. And the lavender--well you just have to try it and see. I used my "Northwest Berry Crisp Recipe," in my book as a pattern for my crisp. It's got a decadent-tasting, almost oatmeal cookie-like crust. I've found the best way to get a crispy top is to add maple syrup to the topping. The maple syrup holds the topping together and it looks so pretty and caramelized when it's finished cooking. I also used Nash's Soft Whole Wheat Flour for the topping.

In this recipe I blended 3 cups raspberries with 2 cups pitted pie cherries, and a handful of black raspberries. I flavored the fruit with about a half teaspoon crushed lavender buds, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. I used the same basic recipe to make a Cherry Crisp a few months ago. I don't know why people need new recipes all the time. (And by the way, how many cooking shows with endless recipes do we need?)

When you've got a basic crisp recipe winner, why not stick with it?

I love to top warm fruit crisp with coconut sorbet. And Tom and I often take turns leaving the last smallest portion of dessert for each other. I could easily lose that game.

So could Finn. Since I'm watching his waistline, all he scored this time was the last few licks from an empty bowl.

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