It would be an understatement to say that we love berries. We eat them by the handful all summer, and freeze what we can’t eat for the winter.
We have a few favorite places to pick or buy. You can find them here.
We also have a few favorite recipes. Over the years we’ve found several favorite very basic recipes you can use with just about any summer berry.
- use items you probably already have in your pantry, or at least that you can easily find.
- Are all very doable with younger cooks.
- Can be made in just about any baking vessel.
- Are just as good with berries as they are with other fruits.
- And bonus: each one is easier than the next (I promise).
I’ve written about berries before. You can find some cool recipes from those posts here. Don’t worry if you don’t have strawberries or blueberries or whatever the recipe says. Interchange berries. Mix and match berries. Just have fun with berries!
“What the shiitake mushrooms is that,” you might say? Well, it is custardy and creamy and vanilla-y….but not just one of any of those things. The eggs and milk make it something akin to flan, but the addition of a bit of flour adds texture and structure. You can make this recipe in a cast iron pan or pie dish, individual ramekins or ceramic bowls or even a tart mold–basically anything that can go into the oven. A reminder to take the clafoutis out when the edges begin to turn golden. It will fall a bit, so don’t be disappointed–this is as it should be.
- 1 cup milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- pinch of table salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract AND/OR seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 3 TB Grand Marnier, kirsch, rum or homemade liqueur, or orange juice
- 2 TB butter, melted (plus more for dish)
- 2 cups raspberries, blueberries or strawberries, marionberries, mulberries, serviceberries, raspberries…you get the picture.
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Generously butter whichever vessel you plan to use.
- Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla with a stand mixer or whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved. Add the milk, salt and flour and whisk to a smooth, batter-like consistency. Fold in the butter and liqueur.
- Pour the batter into vessel and top with the berries.
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until the clafouti turns golden brown.
- Leave to slightly cool and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
- Garnish with fresh handmade cream.
This recipe comes from Kurt Beecher Dammeier and Laura Holmes Haddad’s wonderful cookbook Pure Flavor. Kurt is the founder of Seattle’s famous Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. My children love to watch through Beecher’s large pictures windows when we are able to visit Pike Place Market.
A buckle is a breakfast treat or dessert (it is excellent with tea or coffee) made by adding berries or sliced fruit to a single layer of cake batter. The buckle is topped with a streusel that adds a sweet crunch. During baking, the fruit sinks into the cake, having the over-all effect of buckling. This is an old fashioned recipe, and for a reason: it is timeless.
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ¼ ts grated lemon zest
- pinch of table salt
- 3 TB cold unsalted butter
- 8 TB (1 stick) butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ ts vanilla extract
- ½ ts grated lemon zest
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 ts baking powder
- ½ ts table salt
- ¾ cup milk, at room temperature
- 2 cups berries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan.
- With a handheld mixer or the flat beater attachment of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the egg and mix on medium speed to combine, scraping the bowl once.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the milk and flour mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beating until smooth on medium to low speed after each addition. Pout the batter into the prepared pan, top with the blueberries and sprinkle with the topping.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the buckle.
- This recipe also works well with stone fruit like cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, etc. Even apples or pears.
#1’s NO BAKE “CHEESECAKE”
This is one of my 8 year-old daughter’s favorite recipes. It is easy to make and requires virtually no baking. You could purchase a graham cracker crust, but this one is so easy you might as well try it. #2 once made the crust with a combination of graham crackers and ginger snaps, and it was awesome, so I am including that option here.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1½ cups (about 12 crackers) crushed graham crackers or ginger snaps or a combination.
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ ts table salt
- 5 TB butter, melted
- Pulse the ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor until completely crushed and combined.
- Firmly press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or individual containers such as ramekins.
- Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden and fragrant but not burnt.
- 8 ounces cream cheese*, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 ts pure vanilla extract
- 8 ounces crème fraiche, sour cream or mascarpone
- 10 ounces homemade whipped cream
- 1 prepared graham cracker crust
- 1 lb. clean, dry and fresh berries
- Whip the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth.
- Add in the sugar and vanilla, then the sour cream or crème fraiche.
- Fold in the whipped cream.
- Pour into the crust.
- Top gently with the berries. The desserts #2 made is obviously amateurish. Try to align the berries in a pretty, polished and more thorough pattern. You can also make a stars and stripes pattern.
- Refrigerate until firm
Option: you can brush the berries with a jam glaze for shine.
* we used low fat neufchâtel cheese, only because we happened to have it, and it was fantastic. No noticeable difference…
Here is another ridiculously easy no bake recipe my children like to make. I found all-natural pre-baked tarts at HomeGoods. You may also find them at other area grocers. You could also use pre-made quiche tartlets. I like the idea of arranging the berries like a flag for Fourth of July a la The Food Network.
- 1 container mascarpone cheese
- 3 TB confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 ts vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 1/2 cup freshly whipped cream (optional)
- Whip cheese, sugar and vanilla together until well combined. Fold in cream, if using.
- Pipe or spoon into the tartlet shells.
- Top with blue and red berries.
- Garnish with sprigs of mint or micro-basil.