Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farmers' Market Bounty

Y'know, half the process of feeling better is in the mind. And thanks to all your concern and best wishes, dear readers, I've made a speedy recovery from my neck and shoulder injury. So thank you! The other half of my healing process, I contribute to DH. In particular, to his hands. That man has magic in his hands, I tell ya. I put him to good use this weekend, playing the damsel in distress card, and getting quite a few excellent massages out of him. I wish he'd use his special gift on me more often, but I think he knows he has the power, and therefore uses it sparingly - frankly, I just think the guy likes to see me beg.

Recently, I was excited to find out that my town had its own farmers' market every weekend, so that was my first destination as soon as I got better. It was no NYC Union Square Greenmarket, but I liked the setting, and they did offer a fair variety of fresh produce. There was also a Soup Lady, whose Curried Carrot Soup I tried, and loved!

I think these were carrots, if you can believe it!

I also picked up some radishes and a mixture of berries, both of which I put to immediate good use! I never really gave much thought to radishes, except for in salads. But then I remembered this one episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", where he and some of his chef buddies dined at Prune in Manhattan. One of their appetizers was a simple plate of raw radishes and soft, fresh butter, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the side. And all these extremely well-traveled chefs were digging into this thing like it was
manna from heaven! So I decided to give it a shot, and see what all the fuss was about.
My version was to thinly slice up the radishes, sprinkle them with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and smush them between two generously buttered slices of fresh bread. I was a little skeptical, but after the first few bites, I think I understand why some people love this stuff. I'm not a complete convert as yet (there is the small matter of radish-breath! eeewww), but it was oddly delicious in a rustic sort of way.

I can never resist the call of fresh berries, and knowing that there isn't a whole lot of time left to really enjoy them in season, I grabbed a bunch of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries when I saw them at the farmers' market. I immediately knew what I wanted to make with them. This recipe is definitely one of my very
very favorite desserts, even though it only came into my life a couple of years ago. But every time I make it, people rave about it, and if I'm lucky, I get to enjoy the leftovers for days. I have to thank a fellow Canadian for it - Lisa's Kitchen has a wonderful smattering of vegetarian recipes, and I love that she keeps it simple for rookies like me!
Berry Supreme Pudding Cake (original recipe can be found here)
Serves 6-8

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh/frozen raspberries
Handful of fresh blackberries (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I use a little less; more like 2/3 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1/2 - 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a greased 8 x 8 baking dish, place the mixed berries, and sprinkle them with cinnamon and lemon juice. Keep aside.
Forget chocolate ... cover me in berries!

3. In a separate bowl, mix the AP flour, 3/4 cup sugar and baking powder. Then add the wet ingredients - milk and melted butter - then whisk till smooth.

4. Pour this over the top of the berries. No need to be precise, but spread it out. Do NOT mix.

5. In a small bowl, mix the 2/3 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup if you want to use less) and cornstarch, then sprinkle the whole thing over the topping. This may look like a lot of sugar, but trust me when I say you won't feel it. The tart berries balance it out. Pour the cup of boiling water over it all - it looks like a mess right now, but have faith and put it in the oven as is!

6. Bake for 40-45 mins. The top should be golden-brown, with a delicate crust, and the berries underneath will be bubbling. Take it out and let it rest for a good 15-20 mins before serving with your favorite ice-cream.
Verdict: It's unbelievable how quickly this dessert comes together. Other than the berries, the rest of the ingredients are what most of you always have in your pantry anyway. This dessert is so satisfying, with the warm, soft pudding cake, smothered in delicious berry juices, topped off with the smooth finish of good vanilla ice-cream. It hits all the right notes with me, and I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't loved it, and gone back for seconds! The recipe is so darn easy, that I make this dessert several times a year. It keeps well in the fridge for days, but you lose the delicate crust on the cake after the first day. Not that you'll miss it much - the rest of it will still keep you moaning in bliss for a long time; if there's any left, that is.
A divine mouthful

I know I'm rather late, but I'm still going to submit this recipe to this month's SHF event, themed "All Time Favorite Desserts" hosted by Sweet Endingz. Sometimes I'm just needlessly stubborn.