Kind of weird summer we’re having here. They say it’s going to be warmer next week, up to 24’C, but now and yesterday it is rather autumn-like. Windy. Cloudy. And surely my dear friend Jana from Germany arrived just when St. Petersburg won’t show its rare but still existing sunny side, boooo =( But I was really glad and somehow wondering at the fact that her trip to Russia happened faster than mine to Europe, not that I was planning it at all, but it’s just always seems to me quite easier to get to the EU from here than the other way round. Together we walked all along the Nevsky Prospekt till we reached the Hermitage and then back again. Janaki, I was really happy to see you!
But actually my post is about summer berries and the ways to use them. Above are some attractive-looking regular red (crimson! cause in Russian the word is ‘malina’ and it means crimson + lots of other sub-meanings, such as ‘easy life’ etc.) raspberries which are normally half-eaten by some disgusting-looking worms, so the part which is left for us is either eaten raw or turned into delicious raspberry jam by my Granny (her jams count among their adepts even a certain diva from Puerto Rico! =). I did not venture to use them in a cake this time, although I did use quite a lot of another kind of red berries in my cooking this summer – red currants.
These can be nicely turned into these fluffy gorgeous slices:
Last time I suggested some ways of using your berries, such as sorbet and frozen berries. This time here is Cardamom and Red Currant Cake adapted just a bit from nami-nami.blogspot.com – the recipe yields a very soft and fragrant aaaand tasty cake!
I just used less butter, regular granulated sugar instead of caster sugar (and less), mixed in some oat flour and added just a bit of chopped walnuts on top of the cake (specially for my Father).
Here you can also spot two cups with improvised berry crumble – I made them cause we needed something quick-cooking for tea, so I just mixed up some oats, flaxmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter, which I used to top berries (some of them from the freezer) mixed with some fresh raspberry jam for the fear of the filling being not sweet (ahh, those Northern berries, they are rarely too sweet!). We like eating berry crumble with some kefir or yogurt, it somehow softens the taste.
These are yellow raspberries, a very old bush that has somehow survived in our garden through all these turbulent years and still gives us its wonderful fruit!
And this is a painting from our neighbour’s friend – we actually rescued lots of them from inevitable destruction under the rain, the painter got rid of them and then apparently her friend did the same thing in her garden… Back then, the pictures seemed to us a real masterpiece, although only several of them have survived till now. She – whoever she is – painted them at a fine arts school and must have been not very fond of them to give them all away. I just loved the double light effect – the light depicted by the painter and the light falling from the real sun=)
Let’s meet another option of how to use up your abundant red currant harvest, not a sweet one for a change:
Red Currant Sauce taken from www.food.com will produce a jar of sauce for many a meal.
After a night in the fridge, the sauce got to such a point that… this trick became possible!
So the next day we took a small amount and warmed it up in the microwave for our lunch – the sauce became more or less liquid again.
The sweet sauce with a savoury meal is very unusual for us, the Soviets=) Because it is made from berries and is almost a jam but it is NOT! It’s sweet & sour and goes very well with meat (they say) and rice. We have tried it with rice, pasta and vegetables.
The only change I made was to use apple cider vinegar instead of the listed malt vinegar. I am no fan of vinegar, but I did not dare omit it.
And finally, another superb recipe for your red currants, Red Currant Pie found at allrecipes.com. This one is not your usual pie, it has a meringue on the top, sourish berries inside and a super shortcrust pastry base (NB!)!
The meringue layer was immense before baking but it gets thinner after baking. I would suggest adding some flavouring to the meringue though, so that it wins over the egg hmm flavour (maybe it’s just our eggs here in Russia, but they do tend to have quite a distinct smell even after being baked). As I didn’t do that, I sprinkled some vanilla sugar on top of the still warm pie and it somehow solved the problem.
This is how it goes: first, the sugary meringue melts in your mouth but immediately the sour berries burst in your mouth and then comes a sweet and crunchy crust, amazing!
The changes? Surely there were some. I used less butter and orange zest instead of lemon (and I think it even rendered the crust even better!). That’s it =) And I assure you, this pie will not stay long on your table, because it seems so light and fluffy that you reach out for more and more! My Mom wonders whether you can use some other berries too – perhaps yes, but I think that than you should choose some similar sourish berries, like cranberries or cowberries, for instance. Anyway, the pie is amazing!
Hope it’s still summer in your parts!