Berry days of summer
There’s nothing quite like the flavours of lovely, fresh, local berries and the health benefits are an excellent excuse to occasionally splurge on something very decadent that includes them.
They’re also delectable tumbled over a green salad with crumbled sharp cheese such as feta or blue; or cut up and mixed into a bowl full of plain yogurt.
Fresh, refreshing and full of flavour, cherries and berries are symbolic of summer.
But, there are many other flavours that are are also evocative of this time of year, with its long, hot days ablaze with lots of sun.
I’m eating my first tomatoes of the season right off the vine now, and that’s a flavour I’ve waited eight months for.
Then, there’s the peas and beans, baby carrots from when I thinned a row and the salad greens have been fantastic this year with such a cool spring.
I’ve got pots of dried herbs set aside for winter and I’ve been enjoying all of them fresh from the garden.
Next, I’m looking forward to an over-abundance of zucchini, some garden-fresh cucumbers and the list goes on and on.
What we can’t eat right away, we’ll can, freeze or dry, and we’ll share with friends and neighbours, co-workers and family.
Anything I didn’t grow, someone else grew for me and it’s available fresh-picked at the farmers’ market, so there’s no reason to not be inspired by what’s in season.
For more seasonally-inspired recipes, pick up a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen published by the Okanagan Institute wherever books are sold.
Jan’s Chocolate Crepes with Strawberries & Almonds
These are the ultimate in decadence, and they contain my favourite dessert flavours: chocolate, berries and nuts. Much of it can be prepared ahead of time, so there isn’t too much to do at the last minute. This makes a couple of dozen filled crepes.
1 1/2 c. (375 ml) flour
1/2 c. (125 ml) cocoa powder
3 tbsp. (45 ml) icing sugar
1/8 tsp. (.5 ml) salt
2 c. (500 ml) milk
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. (30 ml) melted butter, cooled
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) almond extract
oil for the pan
Put flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in the bowl of the blender. Whirl to thoroughly combine dry ingredients.
Add milk, eggs, melted butter, flavourings and whirl until thoroughly blended, at least a minute.
Refrigerate batter for an hour.
Oil a five to six-inch frypan lightly and put over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, pour in about a quarter cup of batter and give it a swirl off the heat to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.
Return to the heat and cook for 45 to 60 seconds or until lightly brown on the bottom. Flip the crepe over and cook the second side for about 15 to 20 seconds.
Place cooked crepe on a rack to cook and continue cooking until all the batter is used.
Once they’re completely cool, the crepes can be stacked between layers of wax or parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together.
The stack can be carefully double-wrapped and frozen for future use.
1/2 c. (125 ml) fresh strawberries
2-250 g packages cream cheese
1/2 c. (125 ml) sour cream
1/4 c. (60 ml) brown sugar
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) almond extract
1/2 c. (125 ml) chopped almonds
Toast the almonds lightly and soften the cream cheese.
Rinse, hull and puree the strawberries.
In a mixer, whip the cream cheese, sour cream, brown sugar and almond extract.
Fold in strawberries and almonds.
Put a dollop of filling across the lower third of each crepe. Cover the filling with the bottom edge of the crepe and roll it up snugly.
Place rolled crepes on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2 oz. (60 g) unsweetened chocolate
1 c. (250 ml) white corn syrup
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1/4 c. (60 ml) butter
1/2 c. (125 ml) sugar
3 c. (750 ml) fresh strawberries
1/4 c. (60 ml) almond liqueur
1/2 c. (125 ml) Malbec red wine
whipped cream, to garnish
Rinse, hull and quarter strawberries, reserving a few whole ones for a garnish, if you wish.
Make chocolate sauce by melting chocolate in the microwave on medium heat. Do not overheat. Stir in the corn syrup and a tablespoon of the butter until thoroughly combined.
In a large frypan, melt the remaining quarter cup of butter over medium heat and add the sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
Add strawberries and cook another minute. Ad the almond liqueur and simmer gently for a couple of minutes. Add a nice red Malbec (or a different red wine with juicy berry flavours) and heat it through.
Add as many of the filled, rolled crepes as fit easily into the pan. Heat them through, basting with the sauce for a minute.
Repeat with any remaining crepes.
Serve, topped with the sauce and garnished with the whipped cream and whole berries, if desired.