Last Friday, I made my first yearly venture to a local farmers’ market hunting for fresh local deliciousness including lots of summer berries. Even during the winter, I must admit to consuming berries as often as possible and available.
This berry addiction started during the pandemic, when trying to turn my health around and get a grip on my future, I joined a well-known weight loss program, thus replacing a lot of the sugar and a bit of the fat in recipes with some actual nutrition. All fruits, but especially berries are my go-to choice when it comes to desserts. Being a long-standing sweet tooth, I began adding more nutrition to all our meals, but especially dessert. As just admitted, I love sweets and hoped at least reducing some useless ingredients and adding a bit of nutrition might be a tiny step toward improved health. That takes us right back to the berries. We bought half a flat and I proceeded to eat and bake.
A bit of information about berries: They are reliable sources of fiber, including soluble fiber. Studies have shown that eating soluble fiber can slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract. So, one feels fuller longer, is less hungry, and eats less. Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels, especially when consumed with high carbohydrate foods or blended in smoothies. Berries are some of the lowest calorie fruits there are, yet they’re high in vitamin C (especially strawberries) and manganese and have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Concentrates of blueberry may help lessen the eye pressure associated with glaucoma. And blackberries are high in fiber with a low glycemic level. Wow! Another super food!
For your enjoyment, this post includes two berry recipes from my recently published (unique, comforting and eclectic) cookbook, “Thrifty Comfort Cooking for Challenging Times”. This morning, in mere minutes, I had the Twin Rocks Blackberry Bread in the oven. The Raspberry Crème Mascarpone takes even less time to prepare (and is made just before serving). They’re both pretty to look at and even better to taste and contain the flavor of summer. They’re just two examples of over 100 recipes you’ll find in my cookbook. Remember, purchasing this cookbook serves as a donation to Oregon food banks and besides donating to help neighbors experiencing food insecurity, you come away from your good deed with a modern culinary masterpiece (my opinion) of comfort, taste, thrift, and nutrition.
Links to purchase “Thrifty Comfort Cooking for Challenging Times” are on my webpage (below). Bon Appetit!
Raspberry Crème Mascarpone
A lightly sweetened fresh fruity cheesecake flavor and mousse like appeal. This recipe takes just a few minutes to prepare but looks fancy and tastes great. Combine the components together just before serving. This is a great addition to tea time and also nice with a glass of champagne on a warm summer evening.
8 ounces mascarpone cheese OR softened light cream cheese
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (yellow only)
2 cups fresh ripe raspberries + 12 extra berries for decoration
8 small fresh mint leaves OR small fresh basil leaves.
In a 6-cup bowl, lightly combine mascarpone and honey with a whisk. Stir in lemon zest. In a separate bowl, lightly crush 2-cups fresh raspberries. Add lightly crushed berries to mascarpone mixture, folding in very gently. Transfer raspberry crème mascarpone to attractive dessert dishes or stemmed wine glasses. Top each with 3 whole fresh raspberries and 2 small mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Twin Rocks Blackberry Quick Bread
Fresh Blackberries grow wildly all over the place, free for the picking near my home in late summer. I’m sure many neighborhoods, particularly in rural areas, also have their share of these healthy, sweet, and tasty, low glycemic fruits growing for anyone with the time and the gloves (to avoid thorns) to harvest them. This quick, impressive recipe will be the star of your summer picnic or brunch.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest – yellow only (optional)
1 – 1 ½ cups fresh blackberries, well rinsed and well drained
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or line the bottom and up the long sides, of the pan, with parchment, leaving wings on those sides to easily lift baked bread from pan. You can use clips to hold the paper in place before pouring in the batter but remove clips before baking.
Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk well. Add milk, melted butter, egg, vanilla and lemon zest, if using, to the flour mixture. Stir until well mixed. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake bread in preheated oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50-65 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting or bread may fall apart. Store in foil or food storage bag. Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from original: International Masters Publishers recipe card