Raspberries

Can you have too many fresh raspberries?  No!  But I came close one year for the first time when I bought 10 quarts of fresh raspberries from Vasa Gardens.  They are so perishable (especially in this heat) that I hurried home with them  and then stared at how many raspberries 10 quarts actually is.  I really didn’t want to make jam or jelly, since they lose so much of the fresh flavor; but we certainly couldn’t eat that many fresh.  Freezing is another way to preserve them and the one I opted for with those we couldn’t devour in a few days.

The beauty of freezing raspberries is that it is so simple.  You don’t have to slice them, or sugar them or put them into syrup.  All you do is wash them, drain them well and spread them on a large baking sheet in a single layer.  Do not even wrap them; just put them into the freezer on the sheets and freeze them solid, about 4-6 hours.  Then put them quickly into freezer bags (the zipper kind), label and return to freezer.  They are ready to pour out and use for lots of wonderful dishes.  Raspberries keep their shape and texture better than strawberries; although they will not be the same as fresh, of course.  Nevertheless, you can successfully do most things with frozen, thawed raspberries that you can with fresh.

The raspberry is the queen of the berry family just as the rose is the queen of flowers– and they belong to the same family. Raspberries are grown on bushes, both wild and cultivated. Whole, they make an elegant contribution to salads and desserts or garnishes or just eaten as is with cream.  Pureed, and with the seeds sieved out, they make a ruby-red sauce.  There are several colors: red, purple, black and amber.  Although the other colors are beautiful too, the red raspberry is my favorite.  The color is really spectacular, but the taste is amazing.

One of my favorite places to eat is The Chickadee Cottage Cafe in Lake City. When their famous raspberry cream pie was on the menu,  I can’t resist.  It is so good I came home, looked it up in the New Cottage Cook Book and there it was.  A great idea for those raspberries!  And it was really easy.

Raspberry Cream Pie

1 baked pie crust, 9 inch

Cream filling:
1 pkg. Dream Whip prepared to directions, using 1/3 cup milk
¾ cup powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Raspberry Glaze Topping:

1 pkg. raspberry junket, prepared according to directions using 1 ½ cups water*

With a mixer combine powdered sugar and cream cheese and mix until smooth.  Prepare Dream Whip in a chilled bowl.  Gently blend in to cream cheese mixture.  Spoon into baked crust.

Cool junket in refrigerator until thick, about 1 hour.  Using only ½ of the glaze mixture carefully fold in raspberries keeping the berries as whole as possible.  Pile on top of cream filling and refrigerate.

*Raspberry Junket can be found at Koplin’s Market

Another favorite from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Raspberry Chicken

4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
4 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
¼ cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream or Crème Fraiche
1 Tbsp. canned crushed tomatoes
16 fresh raspberries

Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Raise the heat; add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly colored.  Remove from skillet and reserve.  Add onion to the butter in the pan and cook, covered over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the vinegar, raise the heat and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful.  Whisk in the chicken stock, heavy cream or crème fraiche and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.  Return chicken to skillet and simmer gently in sauce, basting often, until just done about 5 minutes; do not overcook.  Remove chicken with slotted spoon and arrange on a heated serving platter.  Add the raspberries to the sauce in the skillet and cook over low heat for 1 minutes.  Do not stir the berries with a spoon, merely swirl them in the sauce by shaking skillet.  Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.  4 portions.

Start early for a delightful Christmas taste of summer—best when steeped for 4 or 5 months.

Raspberry Cordial

2 cups sugar
2 pints ripe raspberries, picked over
1 quart vodka

Place sugar in a 3-quart glass jar with a lid.  Add the raspberries and the vodka and cover.  Place in a dark cool place.  Each week for about 2 months open the jar and stir the cordial.  Strain the finished cordial through a very fine sieve into a lovely decanter.  Its color is vibrant.  Makes 1 ½ quarts (Silver Palate Cookbook).

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