berries

Sweetened Whipped Ricotta with Berries and Tarragon

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When I was coming up with this summer dessert, it was 90 degrees and unbearably humid. I wanted something that didn't involve heat; not even the grill (going outside wasn't an option). Just the thought of turning on the oven made me sweat. But, of course, by the time I finally got around to preparing it, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees and, not long after, the rain came. Go figure! I have no doubt that the heat and humidity will return... and now I'll be prepared. 

No-fuss desserts are my jam and this one is about as no-fuss as you can get (though you'll definitely impress dinner guests with the presentation). Ricotta is blended with a bit of maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest, until light and creamy. Top with a mix of your favorite berries and herbs (I went with tarragon for its vanilla notes, but mint or basil would also work nicely). You can go traditional with your choice of fruit, or you can get a bit more playful. I like contrasting flavors, so I paired the deeper, sweeter blackberries and blueberries with tart raspberries and currants. The gooseberries (aka ground cherries, husk cherries) may be harder to find, but if you can get your hands on some, they not only look great, but they have a subtle sweetness (a blend of cherry and pineapple) that make them the perfect addition to your fruit salad.  

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SWEETENED WHIPPED RICOTTA TOPPED WITH BERRIES AND TARRAGON

SERVINGS
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and currants)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the ricotta, maple syrups, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt into the bowl of a food processor (alternatively, you can use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. 

2. Spread the ricotta out onto a platter or board. Top with berries and garnish with a sprinkle of tarragon leaves. 

3. Spoon berries and ricotta into bowls. 

Blueberry Crumble

I do my best to avoid turning the oven on from June to September, so baking is an infrequent occurrence during the summer. When I do prepare desserts, they tend to be fruit-based and rustic.  Crumbles are my go-to sweet, mainly because it pairs so well with our favorite summer treat: ice cream. This last weekend, I brought the remains of a blueberry crumble to the Cape to share with friends, alongside vanilla ice cream from Four Seas, a local shop near Craigville Beach. This crumble is more cookie than fruit-filling, with just a bit of jammy innards, which make for a great sauce for whatever you scoop on top. 

Blueberry Crumble

Yield
8-10 servings

Ingredients
For the blueberry-filling
1 quart blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch

For the crumble topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using 1 tablespoon of butter or cooking spray, grease a 9 inch glass pie plate.
3. Place the blueberries into a large bowl, toss with sugar, corn starch and lemon juice. Spread fruit across pie plate.
4. In another bowl, add the dry ingredients for the topping.  Using a fork, mix the topping ingredients while drizzling the butter in, until it begins to come together. Sprinkle the topping over the blueberries and pat it down until it has completely covers the pan.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has turned a slightly golden-brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream topped.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
BalsamicStrawberriesTrio2
BalsamicStrawberriesTrio2

Until now, it hadn't quite hit me that Eric and I had bought a house.  There were a lot of questions that we'd been waiting answers on... like when exactly we'd be closing. Which then left a lot of other things open. Would we be able to refinish the floors before we moved in?  Would we be able to paint rooms? And when the heck would we even be moving? But now a lot of these questions have been answered and we can officially get excited about the move.  Currently, I'm not that stressed about the process. Yes, I know there's a lot of work to be done. But we're in a good place with packing and, for now, we're basking in the joy of knowing that in just a little over a month, we will be home.

It's hard to express how important this move is for us. We've been wanting to purchase a place for a long time. But, more importantly, we've wanted to live in a place where we felt comfortable. Living in South Boston has a lot of benefits, but it never felt like a place where Eric and I could be ourselves. We're looking forward to becoming a part of our new town's community; to embrace all it has to offer. And I think we both agree we'll be welcome with open, loving arms.

Last week, we got our first container of Florida-grown strawberries in our farm share box and while maybe I should have just let them be, I was too excited. Roasting the berries doesn't take a way from their flavor, but, instead, deepens it. Their tartness shines through the balsamic reduction. Including ice cream just brings the dessert together. And who ever passes up on a chance to eat ice cream?  Not this guy.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sauce

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

2 pints of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Ice cream (or, if having for breakfast, plain yogurt)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and vanilla. In a bowl, pour 1/4 of the liquid of the strawberries and toss to coat. Spread onto the baking sheet in an even layer and roast for 12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, transfer remaining liquid into a small saucepan and set over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, cook until liquid has reduced in half and is a syrupy consistency.

4. Remove strawberries from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Pour balsamic reduction over strawberries and toss to coat.

5. Scoop ice cream into bowls and top with sauce.