Two Hits and a Miss

Since buying my house last September, I have found that weekends are now a time to play catch up instead of just for play. Cleaning has to be done, cooking, errands, gardening and home improvement. I don’t see friends nearly as much as I’d like, and I go to bed on the weekends the same time I do on a work night. Throw a new dog into the mix and time simply disappears. That is why last week I took a couple extra vacation days and committed to completing some neglected projects. This allowed Saturday to be a play day!

It was a beautiful morning and I had plans to go raspberry picking with friends in Carnation, WA. I was excited not only to spend some time with a new and old friend alike but also for all the possibilities there were for raspberry recipes. That morning we got an early start to beat the crowds and get the best berries. The drive was lovely, the company was lovely, but when we reached the family owned farm we hoped to pick at there was already a sign out saying “picked out for the day”. This at 9 am! Luckily, Biringer Farms was just down the road and had plenty of berries left for us. We were there for two hours and left with over seven pounds of raspberries each!

Raspberry picking at Biringer Farms.

Raspberry picking at Biringer Farms.

Now, I should state that I’m not the best cook by any means. I’m cheap, impatient and rarely follow recipes closely. In fact, I try to only cook once a week if possible, making enough of whatever it is to last me for the rest of the week in lunches. That being said, most every Sunday afternoon I’m dedicated to whatever dish it is I’ve planned. This week I had already blocked out my entire Sunday afternoon for three recipes using both the raspberries I picked the day before and veggies from my CSA box.

I had scoured the internet looking for just the perfect recipes and the first one I attempted turned out better than I could have possibly expected. Raspberry and Apricot Upside-down Cake with cardamom batter. I feared that the Mango and Cashew Upside-down Cake recipe I used as my model would not translate well but, I must say, it was a roaring success. To bad I had no one to share it with, except you of course.

2-3 apricots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 – 2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter

Cake Batter:
6 tbsp softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a pie dish lightly with cooking spray.
2. Combine raspberries, apricots and lemon juice.
3. In a small bowl combine brown sugar and butter and sprinkle evenly in the pie dish. Arrange the raspberries and apricots slices and set aside.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a bowl.
5. In another bowl, whisk butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until incorporated.
6. Add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture and whisk until incorporated, next add half of the milk and mix well. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.
7. Pour the batter evenly over the prepared raspberries and apricots.
8. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate.

My second recipe used ingredients from my CSA box: Wheat Berry Salad with Fennel, Orange, Endive and Roasted Beets. Here I used two recipes to shape this one because neither one offered exactly what I wanted, which was a little sweetness, some grains for beefiness and the combined beets, fennel and orange. The endive was a last minute edition I would definitely do again.

3-4 medium beets (any variety. I used a mixed bunch)
1 medium fennel bulb
2 endives
2 navel oranges
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups cooked wheat berries
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. Clean and chop beets into 1 inch cubes. Place in the center of a 16 x 12-inch sheet of foil and coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 10-20 minutes or until tender
3. While beets cook, peal and cut oranges into manageable sizes, and cut up fennel and endives
4. Mix together dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. I prefer something with a lid that seals so I can shake the dressing instead of mixing it with a spoon.
5. In a large bowl mix together cooked wheat berries, fennel, endives, oranges and dressing.
6. Spoon wheat berry salad onto plates and divide beets evenly on top.
7. Enjoy!

Unfortunately, the last recipe I made was a dismal failure so I won’t even bother including the recipe. It sounded so promising. Raspberry and Ricotta scones. Not only was the batter too gloppy and had far too little sugar (this from someone who doesn’t like much sugar in muffins and scones), but after leaving the scones to cool for less than five minutes, I returned to find them flat as pancakes (thick pancakes, but still very flat). They didn’t look or feel like scones, they where completely pink because the recipe had me mix in the raspberries half way through the process instead of at the end, and they just didn’t taste good.

In all I guess I can’t complain too much about two out very good recipes out of three.