Dear Eric: My wife and I picked a big bucket of blackberries. Can you suggest some ways to use them? Norm Dear Norm: This type of query is one I seem to get every September and its not surprising. Wild Ill-grow-just-about-anywhere blackberry bushes have fruit ready for picking this month. You can also still buy locally harvested cultivated blackberries at some food stores and markets.Blackberries are one of my favourite fruits for several reasons. I love the look of them, enjoy their sweet (when ripe), almost wine-like taste and theyre good for me, containing such things as vitamin A and C, potassium, fibre and calcium. Blackberries also freeze well, something youll want to do if you picked or bought a bunch of them, as theyll keep only a few days in the refrigerator. To freeze them, place the blackberries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze solid, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. They will keep in the freezer several months. Another reason I like blackberries is because you can use them in all sorts of tasty ways.For example, you could simply add some to your morning bowl of cereal, or fold some into a muffin or pancake batter before cooking. You could blend blackberries with yogurt or soft tofu, and pomegranate or other juice to create a nutritious smoothie. You could also blend them with icing sugar to taste, and then strain the mixture to create a smooth and dark blackberry sauce to spoon over cheesecake, ice cream or other dessert. Norms blackberries could also be turned into a preserve by trying one of the recipes using blackberries on canning-jar manufacturer Bernardins website, bernardin.ca. Below are two other ways to use the fruit in a West Coast-style main-course salad and home-style dessert.
Eric Akis is the author of the bestselling Everyone Can Cook series of cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.
Butter Lettuce with Smoked Salmon, Blackberries and Goat CheeseServe this main-course salad with some good bread and a glass of white or sparkling wine.
Preparation time: 20 minutesCooking time: NoneMakes: 4 servings
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil1 tsp Dijon mustard1 tsp honeyn salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste1 medium head butter lettuce, separated into individual leaves1/2 lb. (250 grams) hot smoked salmon, skin removed (see Note)1 cup fresh blackberries100 to 125 grams Saltspring Island or other soft goat cheese, pulled into small nuggetsTo make salad dressing, place the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Divide and arrange the lettuce on 4 plates. Artfully arrange the salmon, berries and cheese on top of the lettuce. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve. Note: Hot smoked salmon is a fully cooked product sold at most supermarkets. Blackberry Apple CrumbleBlackberries and apples go well together, particularly when baked with a sweet and buttery oat topping. Serve bowls of the crumble with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes Makes: 6 to 8 servings
For the filling1 Tbsp lemon juice2 medium apples 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice1/4 cup golden brown sugar1 Tbsp cornstarch
For the topping1 1/4 cups large-flake rolled oats3 Tbsp golden brown sugar1/4 cup butter, at room temperature 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour1/2 tsp ground cinnamonn pinches of other ground spices, such as nutmeg, ginger and cardamom (optional) Preheat the oven to 350 F. To make filling, place lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, half, core and fairly thinly slice the apples. Add apple slices to the bowl and toss to coat with lemon juice. Add remaining filling ingredients and gently toss to combine. Spoon the fruit mixture into an 8- x 8-inch baking dish.Place the topping ingredients in a second bowl. Work mixture with your fingertips until crumbly. Distribute the topping over the filling. Bake the crumble in the middle of the oven 40 minutes, or until the top is browned and the filling is bubbly. Serve crumble warm or at room temperature.
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