BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘desserts

Berries and Curd

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Bon Appetit's Lime Tart with Blackberries and Blueberries.

Ivy Manning's strawberry shortcake with lemon curd cream.

Okay, okay, I finally posted something pretty and tasty for those of you made squeamish by my last blog post. Berries and tart citrus curds (tangy egg yolk puddings) should be less controversial. Well, not curd perhaps. For a shortcut with the above strawberry shortcake dessert, I might recommend buying some store-bought lemon curd. Instead, I stood over a hot stove (in last week’s heat wave, which even swept northernmost Maine) for 30 minutes, constantly whisking the thickening curd slowly heating in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. But stirring that zesty curd into freshly-whipped whipped cream made for a memorable, albeit rich, shortcake. The citrus in the cream and orange zest in the homemade biscuits (I would add chopped crystallized ginger next time, too) complimented the fragrant local Maine strawberries.

The berries are ripe at the Small Farmers' Project site in Eugene.

It was sad to leave my blueberries, just now ripening on the cane.

Then just two days later, curd turned up again in a berry dessert tonight at dear reader Judy’s house. She made a magnificent lime curd tart with blackberries and blueberries that looked just like the picture that ran with the recipe in Bon Appetit! With no whipped cream, this fruit tart was a considerably lighter dessert, the perfect conclusion to a barbecue on a warm summer night. Best of all, the latter curd takes less time to make, requiring a mere six minutes of whisking instead of 30. This one calls for gauging the curd temperature with an instant-read thermometer, but both curiously instruct you to press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd while it cools? Does that just ensure it has a smoother texture? That’s one recommendation I ignored. Here’s a good step-by-step guide to making curd from Bon Appetit. I’ll have to ask Portland cookbook author Ivy Manning why the process she outlined in The Farm to Table Cookbook took so much longer.

Speaking of berries, check out my recent radio piece on rare black cap raspberries, which a group of Latino farmers is reintroducing in the Northwest. I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to make black raspberry ice cream before we ran out of town. Let’s hope there’s an even larger crop for us to bake and can with next year!

Written by baltimoregon

July 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Foraging Again, through Brambles of Blackberries

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Fresh from the woods.

Fresh from the woods.

Lots of treacherous thorns to dodge.

Lots of treacherous thorns to dodge.

Blackberries were about the last thing I should have bought upon my return to the Corvallis Farmer’s Market Saturday. Not because I don’t like them. Oregonians love to forage for and eat those wild blackberries so abundant here. But they loathe those same thorny canes that can become some of the most invasive plants, suffocating all other life out of your garden and yard with those looming, downward-seeking vines. Luckily, wild blackberry plants line the trails where I run, just minutes from our home. I didn’t realize they were already blackening (ripening) until I stumbled upon them in Bald Hill Park yesterday. Why buy blackberries when nature gives them up, generously, for free?

I set out to collect two cups more today for dessert. This time, I came prepared, pulling thick rubber boots over my jeans and bringing yard gloves to protect my hands from thorns. Blackberry gathering is like bee-keeping I suppose: the threat of pricks and stings somehow makes the fruit and honey gathered that much more sweet. I’m sure Novella Carpenter would agree. In 30 minutes (including my bike ride down the road and back), I had gathered what I needed.

Ivy Manning’s cookbook once again inspired me: this time, to make her uber-local Peach and Blackberry Hazelnut Crisp. Unfortunately, peaches are just barely in season here, but I still managed to snag some at the food co-op. Though ripe, the peaches sure didn’t seem freestone, clinging as they did to their pit. The blackberries: foraged. The ground hazelnuts, from nearby Hazelnut Hill farm. The Quaker rolled oats didn’t quite belong. Add chopped crystallized ginger to the fruit mixture if you have some lying around. Top with vanilla ice cream. I used vanilla coconut milk cream, because the pricey concoction was $2 off. Now if I could only forage for peaches.

Written by baltimoregon

August 11, 2009 at 12:48 am

Strawberry, Rhubarb and Banana Crostata

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Looking for something different to do with your rhubarb this spring? Try this Italian crostata recipe. It comes from the Tra Vigne Cookbook, Michael Chiarello’s Napa Valley restaurant. The toasted aniseed in the crisp really compliments the tart rhubarb flavor. Be sure to try to use extra ripe red bananas, which are more custardy than their yellow cousins. The polenta made for a dense, cookie-like crust. But it was still a bit crunchy, like undercooked rice. Any suggestions on how to soften the polenta? I added vanilla, ginger and cardamom to the recipes, all flavors that subtley enhance that rhubarb flavor. Remember that rhubarb acts as a thickener here to sop up the berry juices. If you omit the rhubarb, add a thickener, like tapioca pearls. Here is the recipe in full:

Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Banana Crostata

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello

Prep Time:
40 min
Inactive Prep Time:
hr min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
4 to 6 servings



  • 1 1/2 cups pastry flour (1/2-pound)
  • 3/4 cup polenta (1/4-pound)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • Large pinch fine salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 full pint basket large, ripe strawberries, about 1 pound, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 orange, zest freshly grated
  • 1 lemon, zest freshly grated
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Vanilla gelato or sweetened whipped cream, for serving, optional


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the topping, measure the flour, polenta, sugar, salt, baking powder, and anise seeds into a food processor or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.

Add the butter and pulse or mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the egg into the well and toss the egg and flour together lightly and thoroughly with your fingers until evenly mixed. The mixture will not adhere in the manner of a dough but will clump together if pressed in your palm. Set aside until needed.

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Turn mixture into a 2 quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the filling in an even layer. Do not press down. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch the drips and place in the oven.

Bake until the juices are bubbling up around the topping and the top is crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm with gelato, if desired.

Chef’s note: If you choose to bake the dessert in individual dishes, cut the baking time by about half.

Written by baltimoregon

April 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

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