A simple summer pleasure: jewel-like red raspberries

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Raspberries are the most fragile and fleeting of summer's fruits, and yet they don't store well enough to be saved and eaten a precious few at a time. They are always the most expensive of the berries, and therefore regarded as the most luxurious. But raspberries are like summer itself - too sweet to be missed - so take full advantage of their short season and enjoy them.

After a berrying expedition, most raspberry pickers will want to put up several quarts of jam, in order to taste the full flavor of these berries in the dead of winter. A purist will simply wish to sit down for breakfast with a bowl filled to the brim with the fruit and a pitcher of fresh cream.

More adventurous cooks will add a handful or two to a shrimp or chicken salad , fold them into a bread or muffin batter, or combine them with other summer fruits and berries in a compote.

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Not only do raspberries add a delicate flavor to a dish, but they give a splash of color and a nice fragrance too.

The raspberry season extends from about June 20 through the end of July. Because they must be sold within a day or two of being picked, about 90 percent of the harvest is frozen.

Frozen berries can be substituted for fresh ones in many recipes. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of berries and about 1/2 cup sugar, you can substitute a 10 -ounce package of frozen berries.

Like blueberries and lemons, or strawberries and oranges, raspberries and peaches are particularly complementary to one another.

Slice the peaches, add some raspberries, and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Or, for a pretty dessert, puree them, sweeten with sugar to taste , and serve over sliced peaches.

Here are more ideas: Raspberry Cream Cheese Crepes 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup light cream 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Beat eggs slightly. Add milk and cream; beat until blended. Add flour and oil; mix well. Heat 8-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Butter first time to prevent sticking.

Spoon just enough crepe batter into pan to coat bottom of pan. Cook about 30 seconds, turn with fork and cook about 30 seconds on other side. Stack crepes on a plate and let cool. Makes about 1 dozen crepes. Make cream cheese filling. Cream Cheese Filling 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese 3 or 4 heaping tablespoons whipped cream

Soften cream cheese. Stir in whipped cream just until blended. Spread cheese mixture on cooled crepes, about 1 tablespoon per crepe. Roll up. Make raspberry topping. Raspberry Topping 1 pint fresh raspberries 1 cup raspberry jam 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Gently rinse berries and dry on paper towel. Heat raspberry jam in small saucepan over low heat. Add half the raspberries and sweeten to taste. Heat just until mixture is hot. Serve over crepes. Top with remaining raspberries. Serves 4 to 6. Raspberry Corn Muffins 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup fresh raspberries 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, and vanilla. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the flour. In large bowl, stir together the rest of the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

In small bowl, gently toss raspberries with remaining 2 tablespoons flour.

Pour liquid mixture, along with melted butter, into dry ingredients. Stir quickly until just blended; batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup. Working quickly, scatter 3 or 4 floured raspberries in each cup; spoon remaining batter over top of each muffin cup.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until muffins are lightly brown. Raspberry Stuffed Pork Chops 4 2-inch loin pork chops 3 cups fresh raspberries 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs 1 tablespoon hot water 4 teaspoons butter or margarine, melted 4 teaspoons minced celery 4 teaspoons minced green onion 4 teaspoons minced green pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon sage 1 tablespoon cooking oil 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup soy sauce Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pockets in pork chops to within 1/2 inch of edge.

Combine 1 cup raspberries with bread crumbs, water, butter, celery, onion, green pepper, and seasonings.

Lightly salt and pepper chops. Fill each pocket with stuffing and seal openings with toothpicks.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add chops and brown well on both sides. Remove chops from skillet and place in ovenproof casserole.

In small saucepan, combine remaining raspberries with brown sugar and soy sauce. Bring mixture to simmer and baste chops, setting aside remaining sauce for basting.

Cover casserole with foil and place in oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with reserved raspberry sauce. Serve hot to 4.

Raspberry vinegar is used to make a vinaigrette that goes well with fruit salads, salads with poultry or shellfish, or vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, artichoke hearts, and asparagus that have been quickly steamed, then chilled.

A simple vinaigrette can be made by combining 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon creme fraiche, and a grinding of fresh pepper. Raspberry Vinegar 1 cup white wine vinegar 1 cup fresh raspberries

Place raspberries in a 3-cup glass or ceramic container and pour vinegar over them. Cover container and let it sit undisturbed at room temperature for 5 days, until color and flavor have been extracted from the berries.

Strain vinegar through a fine sieve; discard raspberries. Pour vinegar into glass bottle, cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

Creme fraiche is fresh, thick, slightly tart cream in France. It is available in a few areas in the United States, but it can be made at home by combining buttermilk and heavy cream. It will taste quite a bit like French creme fraiche and will keep 10 days or more in the refrigerator.

A spoonful is delicious on fresh raspberries, and you can spoon it over other fruits too, or use it to add body and richness to sauces and salad dressings. Creme Fraiche 1 teaspoon buttermilk 1 cup whipping cream, not ultra-pasteurized Pour cream into a screw-top jar. Add buttermilk and stir to combine. Loosely cover jar with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature. The length of time needed for cream to thicken varies according to temperature. In summer it can be as short as 8 hours, although the normal length of time is 14 to 18 hours.

After cream has thickened, screw on the jar lid and store in the refrigerator. It will keep from 1 to 2 weeks.

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