Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Berries and Cream

I want to talk about berries. I love berries.

I also love Summer. Summer brings berries, hence why I love Summer.

When everyone else is BBQ-ing everything under the sun just to keep the heat out of the house, I've got the oven roaring for hours indoors....Sorry, air conditioning. My bad.

I do love the BBQ, but I mean, grilled blueberry pie? Seriously? No.

An oven-baked Summer Berries and Cream Tart? Definitely. Yes.

Now it's August and I've fallen in love with blueberries all over again. I also fell in love with my fiance around this time 3 years must have been the blueberries...and his totally squishable face. I love him.

I love this tart.

I thoroughly enjoy the combination of blueberries and strawberries, but this tart is also spectacular with raspberries. I'm sure the strawberries won't mind.

If you really can't get a hold of good fresh strawberries but you want to stick to this recipe, you can also use the frozen sliced kind as long as they are younger than a few months. No offense, but I don't invite crusty old frost-bitten strawberries to my parties.

As a matter of fact, I have a bunch in my freezer right now...No, not the crusty ones, I've got the good stuff. I froze them back in June when they were in season and perfectly sweet. You can keep them fresh-tasting, firm-textured and frostbite-free with a few simple steps. Want to know how? Awesome.

First, rinse your strawberries off and let them dry completely. Hull and slice them to about 1/4-inch thickness. Arrange the slices individually on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Place the baking sheet flat in the freezer until the berries are completely frozen solid, about 2 hours. This is called IQF (Individually Quick Freezing) in the food industry and prevents lump/block formation so that the berries are free-flowing.

Once frozen, quickly transfer them to a resealable bag. Press the air out and begin to seal the bag leaving a small opening where you can use your mouth as a vacuum to suck all out of the air from it before sealing it up completely. Store them for up to 8 months in your freezer and laugh evilishly while you have thoughts of eating Strawberry Apple Pies in the middle of November when everyone else is going solo with straight up apples.

So here they rest - beautiful berries over a layer of sweetened, whipped cream cheese. How bad could that be? Really?

Then, there's that bit of berry juice that bubbles up over the edge of the pastry crust. Can you see it?
Yeah, that's the best part. It gets all gooey and jammy-like, and the flavours intensify by a factor of "holy crap that's good!". You're welcome Berries, you're very welcome.
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