When berries are in season I seem to revert to childhood and savor those puddings whose names were as fascinating as their contents. Many of these old ''receipts'' are written on paper now brittle and yellow with age.
Fortunately, copies of most of them have been preserved in modern cookbooks. Several are of British origin; including Buckle, Flummery, and Fool.
Buckle is a word that has 40 definitions, one of which is a crisp curl, or having a crisp, curly surface.
Flummery is an old English and Irish sweet pudding originally made from oatmeal with cream and stewed fruit added in England, and sugar, raisins, and sometimes almonds added in Ireland. It is served cold.
Fool is an English dish of pureed fruit. It is sweetened, and half of its quantity is either whipped cream or whipped egg white. The name comes from the French word ''fouler'' meaning to crush.
The Fool was traditionally made with tart gooseberries but strawberries and raspberries work equally well. The word ''fool'' was once a term of endearment and we can imagine a Colonial maiden preparing this dessert of fruit and cream for her ''intended.''
Here are some recipes to try when ripe berries arrive. Strawberry or Raspberry Fool 1 pint strawberries or raspberries, hulled 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste Few drops lemon juice 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Puree strawberries or raspberries by forcing through sieve or fine-hole disk of food mill. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.
Stir sugar and lemon juice into puree. Turn into glass serving bowl. With rubber spatula, lightly fold in whipped cream. Chill well before serving. Serves 4.
The ''Flummery'' was sometimes made with oatmeal cooked until gelatinous, and sometimes like an English custard with flour, milk, and eggs. The most popular of these Yankee versions of Flummery are made with blueberries or blackberries. Blackberry Flummery 1 quart fresh blackberries 1/2 cup hot water 1 1/4 cups sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 2 tablespoons cornstarch 3 tablespoons water
Wash berries and pick over carefully. Combine berries, hot water, sugar, salt , and nutmeg in a saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat.
Reduce heat and cook slowly until liquid becomes slightly syrupy, about 7 minutes. Combine cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water and mix well. Stir this into berry mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and clear. Cool and serve with heavy cream or ice cream.
The Charlotte Russe is a luxurious and luscious dessert. It probably got its name from ''charlyt,'' the old word for custard, although another possiblility is that it was named for the French Princess Charlotte. Strawberry Charlotte Russe 2 pints fresh strawberries 1 tablespoon lemon juice 3/4 cup sugar 2 envelopes plain gelatin 16 ladyfingers, split 3 cups heavy cream 7 large whole fresh strawberries, garnish 3 tablespoons currant jelly, melted
Wash berries gently in cold water and drain well. Line a 9-by-5-by-23/4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. In medium bowl, crush berries with potato masher, or use food processor. Press through sieve to make a puree. It should make about 2 cups.
In medium bowl, combine strawberry puree, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in small saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Place over medium heat.
Stir constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Blend gelatin into strawberry mixture. Place in bowl of ice cubes, stirring occasionally, until consistency of unbeaten egg white, about 15 minutes.
Press uncut sides of 8 split ladyfingers, against each long side, not ends, and on bottom of prepared pan. In large bowl, with rotary beater, beat 2 cups cream until stiff.
Carefully fold gelatin mixture into cream. Turn into prepared pan. Arrange remaining ladyfingers, uncut sides up, on top. Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours to overnight.
To serve, run spatula around edge of mold. Invert on serving platter. Carefully remove pan and plastic film.
To decorate, whip 1 cup cream until stiff. Turn into a pastry bag with No. 5 tip. Pipe ruching of whipped cream over top and around sides.
Dip whole strawberries in melted currant jelly. Arrange attractively on top of Charlotte Russe. Serves 8 to 10.
The ''Slump'' and the ''Grunt'' are dumpling desserts, so alike as to be interchangeable. The origin of the terms is anyone's guess. Blueberry Grunt 1 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 3 cups fresh blueberries 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar 1 egg 1/2 cup milk 1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
Mix water with 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Add blueberries and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. To make the dumplings: Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Beat egg and add milk. Add flour mixture. Drop by teaspoon into simmering blueberries. Cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes. Do NOT peek. Serve with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream. The following is not the traditional ''slump'' described above but it is a quick dessert to make when you have leftover cake or bread for crumbs. Raspberry Slump 2 cups stale cake or bread crumbs Milk 1 egg, beaten 1 pint fresh raspberries 1/2 teaspoon salt Sugar to taste
Cover cake or bread crumbs with milk and let set for 1/2 hour. Combine remaining ingredients and mix with cake or bread crumbs and milk. Pour into baking dish and bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees F. Serve with whipped cream. Blueberry Buckle 1/4 cup butter or margarine 3/4 cup white sugar 1 egg 1/2 cup milk 2 cups sifted cake flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups fresh whole blueberries
Cream butter or margarine with sugar. Beat egg and add milk. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture with the milk and egg mixture. Fold in blueberries. Spread in greased and floured 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Topping 1/4 cup soft butter or margarine 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup sifted flour 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream soft butter or margarine with the brown sugar and flour. Add cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter in pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees F. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.