012: Berries

Another summer fruit. You’ll sometimes see them around in other seasons, but it’s usually not worth picking them up, or even looking at them, really. This is the time to be eating berries, and Butternut is here to help you do it.

Menu (Serves 4)
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Sweet Berry Bruschetta
Chilled Strawberry-Pepper Soup
Berry-Balsamic Turkey Cutlet with Skillet Yams
Raspberry Mousse

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
-10 lemons
-3/4c sugar
-4c water
-10 strawberries
-1/3c fresh basil

Juice the lemons. You’ll end up with about a cup of lemon juice. If you have extra, save a tablespoon for the next recipe. Pour into a pitcher or other container, with sugar and water. Cut the tops off the berries, and put them into a food processor with the basil. Chop it all up finely, then add it to the container and stir well. Put the container into the fridge to chill until dinner.

Raspberry Mousse
-2c raspberries
-1/2c sugar
-1T lemon juice
-1.5t gelatin
-1/4c water
-1c heavy cream
-20 blueberries
-4 blackberries
-2 strawberries
-fresh mint

Throw all the raspberries into the food processor. Puree. Pour the berries into a strainer, and push the fruit stuff through into a large bowl. I was directed to do this in some other recipe and I lost my patience, but it worked this time. I just scraped the spoon across again and again and it kind of felt like I wasn’t making progress, but eventually the seeds were really noticeably free from the pulp. This is almost definitely a necessary step for the recipe. Check out the photo of the straining process to see how many seeds you’d be leaving in the mousse otherwise!

Mix the lemon juice and sugar with the fruit in the bowl. Put the water in a little saucepan, and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it sit for a minute (I forgot to do this, but it came out fine), then stir over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Mix it into the raspberry  mixture, then chill in the fridge for an hour.
With an electric hand mixer, beat the raspberry gelatin stuff on high speed. Get it a little frothy, then slowly add the cream. Mix it all up really well. As you keep mixing, it’ll start to thicken. When that happens, and it furrows like early-stage egg whites, stop. Get four small glasses. Fill the bottom with blueberries (mine took 5-6 berries each). Fill each glass half way with the mousse. Slice the strawberries, and set a layer on top of the mousse. Fill to the top of each glass, and garnish with a blackberry and a mint sprig. Put the mousse into the fridge for a few hours to set.

Berry-Balsamic Turkey Cutlet with Skillet Yams
-1-1.5 lbs turkey cutlets
-2 medium-small yams
-1/3c marsala
-1/4c balsamic vinegar
-2 shallots
-4 strawberries
-handful of blueberries
-handful of blackberries
-2 cloves garlic
-1t brown sugar
-1/2t salt
-chili powder
-2T butter

Put the berries, marsala, vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and diced shallots into a blender. Blend it up; you’ll end up with a dark purple gloop. Give it a taste, and adjust as needed.
Lay down a sheet of clingfilm. Put a couple pieces of turkey on the plastic, and fold the sheet over so that the meat is sandwiched between. With a meat tenderizer or rolling pin or whatever, smack the turkey so that it flattens and spreads out. When all the turkey has been pounded out, put it in a large ziploc, and pour the marinade in. Shake it and smoosh it around to coat the turkey.

Put the bag in the fridge for at least half an hour and no more than four hours. I did it for four (maybe even a little longer than that! It’s cool, guys!!).
When you’re really preparing dinner, it’s time to cook the turkey and yams! Skin the yams and cut them into half-inch thick disks. Pour as much of the marinade as possible into a saucepan, and set the heat to medium. Add the butter, and stir it in. When the sauce has cooked a bit, turn the heat to low and just let it be.
Heat the oven to 200. Get a large skillet. Pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the yams with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Lay them down in the pan. Don’t move them too much — just make sure they don’t burn, and it’ll be fine. Check them once in a while. When the color is good, flip them. Let them cook on the other side, and they should be done. Take one out of the pan and test it for doneness and taste. Put the finished yams into a metal tray and into the oven. Some yams may not have fit all the way in, and will need to cook longer.
When all the yams are done and in the oven, clean out the skillet. Bring it to high heat, and start cooking the turkey. No need for oil, the marinade will provide moisture. It will caramelize and cook onto the pan, but it shouldn’t be hard to clean off. The turkey will cook quickly; like 2 minutes per side is fine. Remove the finished turkey to a bowl. It should be okay to put this bowl in the oven, as well, if you need to keep the food warm.

Chilled Strawberry-Pepper Soup
-2lbs strawberries
-1/2c sugar
-1 cinnamon stick
-1/4t nutmeg
-heavy dash black pepper
-1t orange zest
-1/2t minced ginger
-1/2c orange jucie
-1c water
-4T fresh mint
-olive oil

-1/4c chocolate
-1/4c almonds

Put all the ingredients in the first block into a medium saucepan. Heat on medium, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. When the 20 minutes is up, fish out the cinnamon stick, move the soup to a blender, and liquify it. Taste the soup. I found it to be a little harsh at first, so I added some olive oil to smooth it out and add a bit of a creamier flavor. Transfer the soup to a bowl that fits into the ice bath. Let it cool down, then cover with plastic and chill it in the fridge for a few hours.
Chop the almonds thin, and crush any stray pieces. Toast the almonds in a small pan. Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish, and melt it. Stir the almonds in, then pour the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper on a plate. Put the chocolate thing in the fridge until it’s solidified. When you’re ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, break the chocolate in four and distribute, and sprinkle the soup with blueberries.

Sweet Berry Bruschetta
-1 baguette
-3T butter
-3T sugar
-1/2t cinnamon
-1/2c mascarpone
-6 strawberries
-small handful blueberries
-small handful blackberries, plus 12
-fresh mint

Cut 12 slices of baguette. Melt the butter in the microwave, mix with the sugar and cinnamon, and brush one side of each slice. Chop three strawberries into very small pieces. Stir and mash the berries into the mascarpone. Heat a skillet, and lay the bread butter-side down. Cook until the sugar caramelizes a bit and the surface has browned. You should be making this after the yams and turkey are finished — place the finished toast on a baking sheet and put it in the oven to get crispy. When they’ve hardened up, pull them out. Spread them with the cheese, then top with a mint leaf, a blackberry, and a slice of strawberry.


I think this is the best thing for the blog. There’s been a few ingredients now where I was worried about using it, not because I didn’t know how to use it, (as with Fava Beans) but because I didn’t think I could make a full range of dishes out of it, ie Peach, Avocado, and now Berries, where the meal ended up really creative, fun, and genuinely good. Running out of ingredients that were “easy” has made me kind of scramble and experiment a lot more to get the menus done, and that’s a good thing.
I might be overanalyzing this stuff about using hard ingredients because this menu was SO GOOD. One of the best I’ve done. With the ingredients I had to work with, this is about as good as I could imagine it being.

The thing about this meal was that everything was sweet, at least a bit. That’s just something I had to deal with. However, the menu still progressed well and as if the ingredient were savory.
I loved the lemonade. It’s crazy good, and it’s lemonade, so it’s really easy. The basil added a nice adult touch, and the recipe also notes that you can add vodka if you like, which would be good, too. In fact it tastes like something that should have alcohol in it. The strawberry flavor was very strong, but it blended with the other flavors incredibly well. A great drink for a hot day.
The bruschetta were warm yet cooling, fresh, and sweet. I was worried they would be too dessert-y, but they functioned well as an appetizer. They introduced the ingredients in a simple, raw form that stayed true to their natural flavor while being more complex than just a handful of berries.
I really enjoyed the soup. I wasn’t sure about it when it was hot, because the temperature of it masked the spice. When it was chilled, the pepper came out hard and it turned out I had seasoned it perfectly. It was just spicy enough to heat you up. It tasted great, and, again, successfully conveyed the natural flavor of strawberries. While it looked pretty nasty on the wax paper, the chocolate went really well with the soup. It was also really simple to make; don’t leave it out if you make the soup. The blueberries added a lot of visual interest, and the occasional blueberry with this soup was nice as well. An unusual dish that would be pretty impressive to bust out at a dinner party!
I’m glad I chose turkey for the marinade. It was a good substitute for pork, in that it has the same kind of non-absorbent quality and sort of stringy texture. I might try this again with pork just to compare, but it’s perfectly good with turkey. The marinade was really fun to look at, made the meat a crazy color, and tasted great. The berries came through well. I wanted the yams to be spicy, but in the end I think it’s better that they weren’t. They also got a little soggy in the oven, which ended up being good, too. Everything just came together really well this time. The sauce was nice, and the plating was simple but interesting.
The mousse was perfect. It could have handled more flavors, but as a simple raspberry mousse, it was delicious, with a perfect, perfect texture. This recipe was incredibly easy, with a wonderful result. And you could even tell that it was raspberry!
I was worried everything would kind of come out the same color, and I combated this with the yams, the blueberries, and mint. It kind of was all red anyway, but for the most part it all looked good, and interesting. As I said, real big success. The ingredient limited me a lot, but that forced me to put more thought into the menu and I think it had an appreciable effect. Everything was delightful.  Some dishes, the bruschetta in particular, felt a little easy, but they came out well, so I can’t complain much. I regret not having whole raspberries anywhere, or golden raspberries. Shopping was a little short notice. Above all, everything tasted great, everything was presented well, and there was a good range of dishes.

Next Week: Garlic

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1 Comment

  1. Julie

     /  August 21, 2012

    An excellent meal with a knockout beverage – strawberry-basil lemonade rocks! It would be good with either gin or vodka, but it’s fine on its own. The turkey and yams were perfectly done and delicious, although a little salad on the plate would have been good.


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