IT’S THE BERRIES: June 2008

Berries are one of my favorite early summer fruits. That’s fortunate, since berries are nutritious as well as delicious. However, I recommend organic berries whenever possible, since the skins are thin and allow pesticides to penetrate.

Berries contain anthocyanins, natural chemicals in plants that are very beneficial for the body. They also contain antioxidants, organic substances that help fight disease. (See Glossary for more information on these two terms.) In addition, these delicious fruits—-raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries—-are quite low in (natural) sugars and a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Not too shabby for such tiny tidbits of fruit!

Speaking of tidbits, an interesting one from the Internet tells us that Native Americans were the first to incorporate berries into their diets, so we have a strong history with berries. My own “history” with berries starts every summer, since the warmer months are the peak harvest for these fruits. I love fruit all year long, but at this time of year I especially love berries. They are great in (fruit) salads, smoothies, desserts, and just washed and enjoyed as finger food.

I hope the recipes below with whet your appetite for these colorful and bountiful berries. (If you have freezer space, you can freeze some fresh berries for later in the year.)


Berry Buffet


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This is a fruit version of a salad bar with tart shells to be filled with berries and roll ups made with berry jam. Recipes for all follow. (Thanks to my husband, who gave me the title.) Feel free to add or subtract other fruits, such as kiwi, grapes, etc.

Utensils: Bowls, knives, serving dishes
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (If not making Cashew Creme*)
Cooking Time: None

Ingredients
On small container organic strawberries, washed and sliced
One small container organic raspberries, washed and drained
One small container organic blueberries, washed and drained
One small container organic blackberries, washed and drained
Other fruit of your choice: Kiwi, Pineapple, etc. washed and peeled and sliced
Slivered almonds
(Toasted) unsweetened, dried coconut
Toppings: Yogurt, Sour Cream, Whipped Cream or Cashew Creme*

Directions
1. Place all washed and cut (if needed) fruit in separate bowls in a circle or line.
2. Fill small bowls with toppings. (any or all)
3. Place larger bowls nearby so guests can pick and choose to make their own berry sundae. Enjoy!

* Cashew Creme: Soak one cup of untoasted cashews in 2 cups hot water for ½ hour. Drain. Puree the drained cashews with ½ cup of the soaking water in the blender or processor, adding ½ tsp. vanilla extract and a dab of honey, maple syrup or agave to taste, if you wish. Place in a small serving bowl and use as a topping. (Variation: Add one Tbl. orange juice for citrus cashew creme.)




Raspberry Roll-Ups (Ruggelachs)



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Utensils: Rolling pin, knife, jellyroll sheet, small pot, small bowl
Prep. Time: ½- ¾ hour
Baking Time: 45 minutes (Preheat oven to 350 degrees)

Ingredients
Two cups all-purpose pastry flour (extra flour for dusting table surface)
One Tbl. baking powder
Dash of salt
½ cup oil (I used macadamia) (Extra for baking pans)
one jar raspberry jam (no added sugar)
about one cup raisins (or dried cranberries) soaked in warm water and drained
½ cup raisin juice (from soaked and drained raisins), heated until almost boiling
crushed walnuts and/or pecans (1/2 to one cup)
Cinnamon (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets and set aside. Also, add warm water to raisins and allow to soak for about 15 minutes. Drain and place raisin water in a small pot and bring almost to a boil.
2. In the meantime, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
3. Add oil a little at a time and mix with a fork until pebbles form.
4. Next, add heated raisin juice from drained soaked raisins, and combine well until a ball forms.
5. Divide the dough into three balls. Roll out each ball onto a floured surface.
6. With a rolling pin, roll out into a circle, the size of a small pizza. Next, spoon on some jam to about one inch from outer edge. Add some raisins and chopped nuts, about one tablespoon of each.


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7. Do this sparingly because you need to roll up the wedges and don’t want the contents oozing out. Sprinkle on cinnamon, if using.
8. Cut the dough into wedges, the way you would a pizza, and roll each one up carefully. Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet(s) and bake at 350 degree until the top is slightly brown. (You can brush some extra oil on the tops for a glaze before baking.)
9. Cool and serve. Since this is a labor intense project, feel free to double the recipe and freeze half the roll-ups for a future time. Also feel free to use apple juice concentrate instead of raisin juice and other flavors of unsweetened jam.
Note: Any leftover nuts or raisins can be added to your favorite fruit salad or the berry buffet or the tarts.

Variation:Instead of the circle format, you can make a rectangle, fill it at one end with the same ingredients and roll it up like a jelly roll, slice, and bake. This is a tighter roll up and may take a little longer to bake. See photo below:

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Berry Nice Tarts



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(This uses the same recipe as the roll-ups, except you make smaller circles with a bowl and drape them over the back of a muffin tin. This recipe is actually a combination of the Berry Buffet and the Ruggelach)

Utensils: Muffin tin, knife and bowl
Prep. Time: About 30 minutes
Baking Time: About 15 minutes

Ingredients
One batch of pastry dough posted above
Berries of your choice, mixed or separate
Toppings of your choice (See Berry Buffet)
Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
Coconut or slivered almonds

Directions
1. Make dough as described above under rollups. Using a bowl, cut circles that will fit over the bottom side of the muffin tin. Measure the diameter as well as both sides and add together. (See photo)
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2. Shape circles over the muffin tin and bake in a preheated 350 degree over for about 15 minutes, or until the shell is browned.
3. Remove and allow to cool. Fill with sliced or whole berries tossed with sweetener of your choice and toppings of your choice. Serve at room temperature.

(Note: Do not fill the tarts until right before serving or they may become soggy.)



Berry Smooth


Note: This is a remake from a former posting (June 2006), renamed Berry Smooth. Rather than sending you back to look it up, I am just reprinting it here for your convenience, with a few modifications. The photo is new and I also added the utensils, preparation time, and cooking time hints.

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Utensils: Knife, blender
Prep. Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: None

Ingredients
4 oz. juice (pomegranate, apple, or orange)
4 oz. filtered (cold) water
one cup washed and sliced berries of your choice (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
one small banana (fresh or frozen), sliced
one T. protein powder (I used Vanilla Whey Protein)

Directions
Place all ingredients in blender and buzz until smooth. ENJOY!



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