PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- It's a berry good time of year.
"It's that time of year when everything is coming out strawberries, raspberries, blueberries," chef Kenneth Wollenberg said as he prepared a variety of dishes using this seasons berry crop. He described this year's crop as "awesome."
Wollenberg teaches baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University. He offered some basic tips during his recent cooking demonstration featuring strawberry shortcake, fresh assorted berry fruit tart, exotic berries with zabaglione glasatto, raspberry fool, and strawberry and chocolate fondue:
-- When making strawberry shortcake, use butter instead of shortening for a biscuit with better flavor. This also results in a batter that can be spooned onto a baking sheet.
"It doesn't get much easier than that," the chef said.
In preparing the strawberries for the shortcake, slice the berries a day ahead and toss them with sugar to macerate the fruit. Then add freshly sliced strawberries to the mixture just before making the strawberry shortcake for added texture.
-- When making a fresh berry tart, the chef suggests taking care of two tasks at one time by toasting the slivered almonds in the tart shell that needs to be prebaked.
-- When a recipe calls for using a propane blow torch to brown the surface of a creme brulee, a meringue pie or Wollenberg's recipe for zabaglione, you don't need to run out to the hardware store. Desserts can be easily browned by placing them under the oven's broiler for a short time. (Keep a watchful eye to make sure you don't burn the items.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
4 to 6 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 F. Sift the dry ingredients together. Cut in butter with a fork until mixture resembles a coarse corn meal. Add milk and mix until just incorporated; do not over mix. Spoon about 2 tablespoons per biscuit onto a greased cookie pan and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.
For Chantilly cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Vanilla extract, to taste
Combine all ingredients and whip until a firm peak is achieved. Reserve in refrigerator.
1 pint fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar, more or less to desired taste
Thoroughly wash strawberries and drain well. Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Toss with desired amount of sugar. This may be done a day ahead of time.
Split and place a biscuit on a dessert plate. Top generously with strawberries and syrup from the strawberries. Top with a dollop of Chantilly cream.
Serves 4 to 6.
Fresh Assorted Berry Fruit Tart
Dough cookie crust:
1 pound butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg
3 1/2 cups cake flour
In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and blend in thoroughly. Add flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Spread dough in 8-inch tart pan. Chill until needed. When ready, preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool and remove tart shell from pan before filling.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cake flour
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
Vanilla, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Melted chocolate, as needed
Apricot glaze or jelly, as needed
Toasted slivered almonds, as needed
2 1/2 cups of fresh berries (or slices of mandarin oranges or kiwi)
Place 1 1/2 cups of milk in a heavy sauce pan with 1/4 cup sugar and bring to a boil. In a bowl, mix together the salt, cornstarch, flour and the remaining sugar. Slowly whisk in remaining milk. Add the eggs and mix until very smooth. Warm the egg mixture with boiled milk and return to sauce pan. Bring back to a boil while whisking and scraping the pan with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching. Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool; refrigerate until needed (avoid skinning of the surface by covering with plastic wrap). When ready for use, whip vigorously until creamy.
Fill the tart shell with the pastry cream about 1/2-inch deep; brush shell lightly with melted chocolate to prevent crust from softening. Top with fresh fruit, creating rows around the tart starting from the outside and working toward the middle until completely topped. Brush fruit and sides of tart with apricot glaze or jelly that has been heated to a liquid state. Coat outside of tart with toasted almonds by pressing nuts into shell using your fingers.
Portion with a serrated knife, sawing gently to preserve the fruit arrangement. Serves 8 to 10.
Exotic Berries With
1/2 cup egg yolks, approximately 6-8 yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 pints of berries
Place egg yolks and sugar in top bowl of double boiler. (A bowl over pot of steamed water also will work.) Whip constantly over medium-high heat to form a thick fluffy mixture. Slowly add wine and continue whipping to a ribbon-like thickness; be careful not to cook the mixture on the sides of the bowl.
Use warm or refrigerate.
Place fresh berries of your choice in a casserole dish and top with zabaglione; place under a broiler to brown. Serve warm -- with cookies, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
1 pint fresh raspberries
Confectioners sugar, to taste
1 cup whipped cream
Kirsch, Madeira or Port wine, to taste
Prepare fresh raspberries by pureeing in food processor of blender and straining off seeds through cheesecloth. Sweeten to taste with confectioners sugar. Fold in equal amounts of whipped cream flavored with Kirsch, Madeira or Port wine.
Serve with crumbled macaroons or ladyfingers, if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.
Dark chocolate fondue dip:
1 pint heavy cream
1 pound semisweet chocolate
White chocolate fondue dip:
12 ounces heavy cream
1 pound white chocolate
2 pints berries
Half of pineapple or melon for serving
For each dip, bring cream to a boil. Add chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Serve in a fondue pan or warmer.
Wash fresh strawberries and dry well. Place on skewers. Stick skewers into face-down pineapple or melon. Dip strawberries into fondue.
Yields 2 pounds of dip for approximately 6-8 servings.
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