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Berries under meringue, with wine or custard, in relish or pastel pies.

Berries under meringue, with wine or custard, in relish or pastel pies

Eating berries warm from the vine may be the best way to savor them. A close second choice: berries cooled by a rinse of water, drained and splashed with cream, and sweetened to taste with a little sugar.

But if you yearn for variety and some dressy trappings, these six dishes are grand enough for any occasion, yet the berries' beauty and flavor still shine through the embellishments.

To learn about seasons, selection, and care of berries, turn to page 126. Photographs with that report show four of the recipes given here: berries in chantilly custard (custard blended with lightly whipped cream), the wine and berry compote, the delicately tinted pastel pies, and the currant sauce with a gooseberry alternative. Shown here are berries warmed under a cloud of meringue with a piquant orange sauce and (on page 228) berries in sparkling wine.

Berries under Meringue

2 cups berries (strawberries, raspberries, any of the blackberries--see page 126, or blueberries), hulled, rinsed, and drained

2 tablespoons currant-, black raspberry-, or orange-flavored liqueur

3 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Orange-ginger sauce (recipe follows)

Place berries closely together in a single layer in the center of a 10- to 12-inch rimmed ovenproof platter. Spoon liqueur over berries.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until frothy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat on high speed until whites will hold stiff peaks. Whip the vanilla into the meringue.

Spoon the whipped whites in a mound on top of the berries, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border of berries uncovered. Sift powdered sugar evenly over meringue. Broil 6 inches from heat to brown lightly, about 3 minutes. Pour orange-ginger sauce around berries on platter. Serve warm or at room temperature (hold up to 4 hours). Spoon fruit, meringue, and sauce into individual rimmed plates or bowls. Makes 6 servings.

Orange-ginger sauce. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, stir 1/2 cup sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch. Blend in 1 cup orange juice and 3 thin slices (each the size of a quarter) fresh ginger. Stir constantly over high heat until sauce boils rapidly. Remove from heat; add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Discard ginger. Serve hot or at room temperature; if made ahead, cover and let stand at room temperature up to overnight. To reheat, stir over high heat until sauce is warm.

Wine and Berry Compote

1 cup each dry red wine and water

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1 vanilla bean (6 to 7 in.), split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds (4 to 6 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, any of the blackberries--see page 126, blueberries, gooseberries, or red currants), hulled, blossom ends removed, or stemmed; rinsed and drained

3 to 4 cups vanilla ice cream

In a 4- to 5-quart pan, combine wine, water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved; boil, uncovered, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups (if using vanilla, add at this point).

Remove vanilla bean and scrape seeds into syrup (you can rinse bean, let dry, and save to reuse). If syrup is made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 3 weeks. To continue, reheat to simmer.

Gently stir berries into hot syrup; set aside to cool slightly.

For each serving, place 1 large scoop ice cream in a dessert bowl or rimmed plate. Spoon fruit and syrup around ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Currant or Gooseberry Relish

Serve either version with lamb, pork, or chicken. Try the currant relish with salmon, the gooseberry with shrimp. Both relishes are also good for dessert, as a sauce on ice cream.

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup each sugar and orange juice

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup gooseberries (blossom ends removed) or red currants (stemmed), rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine water, sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice; stir on high heat until sugar dissolves. Add 1/2 cup of the berries and boil, uncovered, on medium heat until reduced to 3/4 to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Add remaining berries and continue cooking just until some of them begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Serve relish warm or cool. If made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days; reheat if desired. Makes 1 to 1 1/4 cups; allow 2 to 4 tablespoons for a serving. --Michael Otsuka, Westwood, Calif.

Sparkling Berries

To make each serving, hull, rinse, and drain 1/2 cup berries (strawberries, fraises des bois, raspberries, or any of the blackberries --page 126). Put berries in a stemmed glass and fill with sparkling muscat wine.

Two Pastel Pies

About 1 1/2 cups each (3 cups total) of 2 kinds of berries (use strawberries, raspberries, any of the blackberries--see page 126, blueberries, gooseberries, or red currants), hulled, blossom ends removed, or stemmed; rinsed and drained

1/2 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon each vanilla and granted lemon peel

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/3 cups whipping cream

2 butter pastry shells (recipe follows)

Granulated sugar

Fresh mint leaves

In a food processor or blender, separately and smoothly puree 3/4 cup of each kind of berry. Pour each puree through a fine strainer into separate bowls, rubbing pulp to extract as much as possible; discard seeds. Cover and keep cold.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon peel, and lemon juice at high speed until smoothly blended. Scoop out half the mixture; put in another bowl. Add one berry puree to each bowl; beat to blend well.

Whip cream until it holds soft peaks; add half to each berry mixture and fold to blend thoroughly.

To make each pie, spread 3/4 cup of 1 berry mixture into a pastry shell. Set aside a few berries of the matching flavor, and lay the remainder onto the berry filling (slice strawberries; sprinkle gooseberries with about 1 tablespoon granulated sugar). Top with remaining same-flavor berry mixture, swirling over the fruit. Garnish with reserved fruit and mint leaves. Serve, or cover lightly and chill up to 6 hours. Makes 2 tarts, 4 servings each (or cut each tart into 8 wedges so guests can sample both flavors).

Butter pastry shells. In a food processor or bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Add 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, cut into small pieces; process or rub with your fingers until fine crumbs form. Add 1 large egg yolk; process or stir with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Divide dough in half. Press each portion over bottom and sides of a 7 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom (you need 2 pans). Bake pastries in a 300| oven until pale gold, 25 to 30 minutes; let cool. If made ahead, cover and let stand as long as overnight.

Berries with Chantilly Custard

1/2 cup milk

1 piece vanilla bean (3 to 4 in.), split lengthwise (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon almond- or orange-flavored liqueur

1/2 cup whipping cream

3 to 4 cups berries (small strawberries, fraises des bois, raspberries, any of the blackberries--see page 126, or blueberries), hulled, rinsed, and drained

In a 1- to 2-quart pan on medium heat, bring milk with vanilla bean to scalding. In a bowl, whisk sugar and egg yolks together; whisk about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour egg mixture into the pan. Turn heat to low and stir until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon in a thin, velvety layer, about 15 minutes (do not let boil). At once, remove from heat and stir until slightly cooled. If using vanilla, add now, along with liqueur. Cover custard and chill until cold, as long as overnight. Lift out vanilla bean, rinse, let dry, and reserve for reuse.

Beat cream until stiffly whipped and fold into chilled custard. Spoon custard cream into 4 or 5 large (about 1 1/2-cup size) wine glasses or dessert bowls. Spoon berries onto custard cream. Serves 4 or 5.

Photo: Warmed under broiled meringue, raspberries lose their brilliant juice to color warm orange- and ginger-flavored sauce

Photo: Sparkling muscat wine sweetens berries; these are marionberries. Sip, then eat
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:May 1, 1986
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