Soon we will all be revelling in the superb local berries, drupes (peaches and cherries), and pomes (pears and apples) that will be flooding Ottawa’s markets — just thinking of the aroma of a basket of ripe strawberries, raspberries, or peaches makes my mouth water!
What to do with all that wealth? Obviously, the simplest and purest way to taste fresh berries, peaches and cherries is to make sure they are perfectly ripe and not refrigerated, and eat them plain, maybe with just a bit of sugar?
Going a step further (some cooking involved here), you could make a blueberry sauce, spoon it still hot into individual serving bowls, and drop a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.
In the summer, I like to keep things simple. Individual, free-form raspberry or strawberry pavlovas; if you are lucky, you can buy good, ready-to-eat meringues for the base. Then there is Mark Bittman’s peach cobbler made with Ontario Red Haven peaches—accept no substitutes!—and that is about as complicated as I want to get.
No cooking is required for the following recipe, but you do need to plan ahead because the cream will take 6 hours to set. On the other hand, you can make it a day ahead. If you are a vegetarian, you might try using agar agar instead of gelatine. Halving the recipe works very well.
400 grams fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
1 envelope unflavoured gelatine powder
4 eggs, whites only
125 grams (½ cup) extra fine sugar (but not confectioners’ sugar)
250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
Mint sprigs or extra raspberries for garnish, optional
Purée the raspberries and at the same time remove the seeds by pressing the berries through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Be sure to extract as much of the pulp as possible.
Dissolve the gelatine powder in 4 tablespoons (¼ cup or 60 ml) almost boiling water, stirring until all the gelatine is liquefied. With a whisk beat the gelatine into the raspberry purée, add half the sugar, beat until the sugar has dissolved, and place the mixture, covered, into the refrigerator.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until ‘stiff still but not dry’ and gradually beat in the remaining half of the sugar to make a meringue. Fold in the sugared raspberry purée and mix well. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
In a very large bowl, beat the cream until it holds a peak without sagging—be careful not to turn it into butter. Fold a fifth of the whipped cream into the raspberry-egg-white mixture until well mixed, then pour that mixture into the remainder of the whipped cream and fold it in thoroughly with a large spatula or wooden spoon. Pour the raspberry cream into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Garnish before serving, if desired.