Berries are everywhere right now, from straw to blue. Most foodies eat them plain or with a good dollop of whipped cream yet they're versatile in everything, from salads to all sorts of desserts.Try them in barbecue sauce or in a fresh summer salad.
Of course berries are used in baking. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are popular this weekend because of their patriotic colors. Melissa Clark wrote about them in her A Good Appetite column in Wednesday's New York Times Food section, She arranged them in festive red and blue stripes in a buckwheat (!) cake made with buttermilk The fruit adds a nice tartness because it's been baked and absorbed by the crumb. Another fun Fourth idea is making either a chocolate or vanilla sheet cake , icing it with whipped cream and decorate with berries to create the Stars And Stripes.It's a fun end to a barbecue. The idea can be carried over to cupcakes. Cupcakes can also be filled with a mix of chopped fruit and cream or pudding for a neat surprise.One of the easiest desserts to make with any berry is the crisp.It's cooking the fruit with a crunchy topping of brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.Usually made with apples the recipe can be expanded to include blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Cobblers are another great summer dessert that highlight any berry's juiciness. They're a bit more involved than a crisp , resembling a cake but they are still easy enough to bake on a hot summer's day. For a cooler treat think berry infused sorbets or old fashioned ice cream with whole cream and fresh produce.
Not surprisingly berries can be used in savory dishes as well.Salads always benefit from them, whether as a tangy dressing or a zesty addition, One tasty mix is taking half a pound of strawberries and mixing them with honey, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Use it for dressing a grilled chicken and spring green salad. Blackberries and even blueberries would not only add some sweetness but also color to a steak salad. Toss a few in with some chopped bell peppers and grape tomatoes for a spin on a classic salad. Any berry can be used in barbecue sauce.Imagine a raspberry barbecue sauce slathered on ribs. The sauce is easy to make. Take a cup of raspberries and blend with a variety of sweeteners such as brown sugar, molasses and light corn syrup. Garlic , red pepper and onion flakes zing it up.The base is balsamic vinegar and olive oil.It's pureed and strained through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. Ever think of blueberry ketchup? Yes, it can be made, In fact one of the original recipes was made solely from them.It's a mix of the fruit along with shallots, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and ginger. The flavor is bright and fruity, sort of jammy yet perfect for those grilled burgers or for giving those cookout some zing.
Get red white and berry this July Fourth and for the rest of the summer. Use blueberries in a ketchup. Strawberries in a crisp. Blackberries in a salad. It's the season for them so enjoy them.