SEASONAL COOK: SUMMER BERRIES
Well that was a cold week! I haven’t experienced such a chilly start to summer in all the years I’ve been in Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed it as the coldest first week of December in Sydney since 1960. I arrived as a 6 year old in January 1961 to a hot and steamy Melbourne.
Apart from the weather, most other things to do with summer are on time. Mangoes are back on form as are peaches, nectarines and some outstanding red-blushed apricots from Renmark.
But the berries in a large bowl on my kitchen table smell, taste and feel as if summer’s promises will finally be fulfilled. The shiny colours of velvety raspberries, plump blackberries and youngberries, and crunchy blueberries look as stunning as a flower arrangement.
The easiest way to serve berries is with freshly whipped cream or some good vanilla ice cream. With a little more work you could add some berry sauce over the cream or ice cream. It’s a good way to use up bruised or squashed berries.
Take a cup of berries and puree them with 30 grams of caster sugar. Pass the lot through a sieve, pushing the puree with a spatula to get as much liquid through. Adjust sweetness by adding a little more sugar, or acidity by adding some lemon juice.
SUMMER BERRY PROFITEROLES
Place water in a saucepan on a moderate flame. Cut butter into small pieces and add to water along with salt and sugar. Once boiling add sifted flour, a little at a time, and stir in with a wooden spoon till it forms a paste. Keep stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon, keeping it over heat, for another minute. Place mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and, on a low setting, beat to cool down to blood temperature. Crack one egg at a time and add to mixture only adding next egg when the previous has been incorporated. Place mixture in a piping bag with a 0.5cm nozzle and pipe about a good tablespoon of mixture the width of a 50c piece repeatedly on a baking sheet covered with silicone paper. Leave a good 2-3 centimetres between each pipe. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20-25 minutes depending on size. Remove and let cool on tray. To serve, cut each ball in half and fill with whipped cream and berries, make a stack with 4 balls per serve and spoon over custard first then finish with melted chocolate. Garnish with more berries.
Makes about 80 profiteroles but any left over can be frozen till needed.
Wine: Sparkling Moscato, Italian or Australian
BAKED ZABAGLIONE WITH SUMMER BERRIES
This dish has been adapted from a recipe in The Silver Spoon (Phaidon)
Preheat a toasting grill or salamander. Place all berries evenly in 4 gratin dishes. Beat together egg yolks, sugar and Grand Marnier in a flameproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat and stir in lemon rind. Pour the sauce over the fruit and cook under the grill until golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Wine: Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or Malvasia delle Lipari