August 23, 2011

What to Eat Now: Raspberries from Park Hill Orchard

Raspberries are in season, and as it so happens, the incredibly picturesque Park Hill Orchard farm is just a quick mile down the road from my house. I visited the farm the other day, chatted with the owners for a bit, and picked my own sustainably-grown raspberries.

Fresh as they are, the berries are practically a dessert in and of themselves. But here’s a recipe that amplifies the berries’ flavor with some peculiar ingredients that turned out to be quite complimentary. 

Black Pepper Shortcakes with Raspberry Basil Sauce and Cinnamon Cream (adapted from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen)

Raspberry Basil Sauce:
6 cups fresh raspberries
½ t freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
pinch of sea salt
1 sprig of fresh basil
1 T agave nectar, or to taste

Place half the raspberries, the lemon juice, salt, and basil sprig in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently to break up the berries, for about 8 minutes, until the berries are soft and broken down.

Remove from heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight. Remove and discard the basil, then pour the sauce into a blender. Puree, then sweeten to taste with the agave nectar and add more lemon juice if needed.

Place back into saucepan and fold in remaining raspberries. When ready to serve, heat over low heat just until the sauce is warm.

3 cups white spelt flour, plus more for dusting
1 T baking powder
½ cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
¼ t salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
7 tablespoons very cold butter cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup unsweetened creamer plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the ½ c sugar, the salt, and pepper. Scatter the butter into the flour and cut the butter into the flour until the largest chunks are the size of large peas.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the creamer; using your hands or a wooden spoon, gently stir to make a soft, somewhat sticky dough, being careful not to overwork. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat it out to 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 2 ½ inch rounds and place 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheet. Gently press the scraps together and cut out more rounds. Brush the tops of the rounds with creamer and sprinkle with the remaining 2 T sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Remove and let cool.

Cashew Cream:
2 cups whole raw cashers rinsed well under cold water
¼ cup agave nectar
½ t vanilla extract
2/3 c refined coconut oil, warmed until liquid
½ t ground cinnamon

Put cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth.

Add in agave nectar, vanilla, cinnamon, and ¼ c water. Blend until thoroughly combined. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the coconut oil through the hole in the blender lid. Blend until emulsified.

Pour into a bowl and refrigerate, covered for 2 hours. Give a quick stir before serving.

*Hint: you can serve this cream with seasonal fruit any time of the year for a light, delicious dessert.

To serve:
Cut shortcakes in half and generously top with sauce and cashew cream. Garnish with a few more fresh raspberries and a basil leaf, if you wish.

I love how this recipe plays to the distinct flavors of the raspberries, the basil, the pepper, the cinnamon—they all seem to provide their own taste and texture while still working really well in combinations with one another. The dessert is sophisticated and savory while still pulling through to satisfy a sweet tooth. Recommended for summertime dinner parties!

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