Endless variations for using berries in recipes

Wednesday, July 24, 2002


My parents celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary Tuesday. It is a joy to watch married couples who have withstood just about every diverse situation possible and still hold strong to their wedding vows and commitment made to each other. They have been wonderful parents to all six of us children. For those of you who know them, you will agree that they are just the best! Many more, Mom and Dad.

If you have blackberry bushes, you know very well that blackberries are in full swing right now. My dad and sister both have these big beautiful berries and they are delicious. Many people enjoy them in pie, cobblers or to make jam or jelly with. But have you ever made blackberry dumplings? Larry and Melba Dees of Scott City, Mo., first introduced me to blackberry dumplings many years ago.

Like many other recipes, there are a number of different variations to this summertime favorite. Some people use canned biscuits and cut them or pull them into small pieces. Some use regular pie crust dough recipes and roll and cut into strips or small squares. Some cook on the stove top, and others bake in the oven. As you can see the possibilities are endless.

To help you along, I will share two different recipes with you. With a bumper crop of blackberries available, you can try variations until you get one you really like. Have fun and enjoy.

Blackberry Dumplings

1 quart blackberries

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup milk

Whipped cream, optional

Bring blackberries, 1 cup sugar, lemon extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; stir in milk just until blended. The dough will be very stiff. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto hot blackberry mixture. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Blackberries and Dumplings

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup skim milk

2 cups fresh blackberries

2/3 cup water

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir well. Stir in milk; set aside. Combine blackberries, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and water in a saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil. Drop about one-fourth of the batter at a time into boiling mixture; sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and cook over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until dumplings are done. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired. Yields about 4 servings.

Do these sound inviting? Let me confuse you even further by trying blueberries. That is really delicious, and I like to add lemon juice or lemon peel to blueberry dumplings.

Of course if you simply can't decide which berry you like best, try combining several different ones into a true taste bud explosion in this pie recipe. It combines the flavors on three different berries, as well as apples and rhubarb. Don't like rhubarb? You might be really surprised if you give this recipe a chance.

Bumbleberry Pie

2 large cooking apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup chopped fresh rhubarb, or frozen; thawed and drained

1 cup fresh raspberries, or frozen berries; thawed and drained

1 cup fresh blueberries, or frozen berries; thawed and drained

1 cup fresh strawberries, halved, or frozen berries; thawed and drained

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Combine first eight ingredients in a large bowl, stirring gently. Spoon fruit mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Arrange top pie crust in a lattice fashion on top of the fruit mixture. Fold edges under and crimp. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer. Shield edges of pie as necessary with aluminum strips to prevent over browning.

Do you enjoy cold soups? No matter the time of year, a bowl of soup, whether hot or cold, is comforting. Now that peaches are available, try a very different way to eat peaches; in this cold peach soup recipe. It is also a great way to use your cardamom spice hiding in your cabinet or freezer. If you are like me, the spice is used baking at Christmastime or baking scones throughout the year, but needs to be used up. Here is another way to help.

Chilled Peach Soup

3 whole cloves

2 pounds peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 cups orange juice

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 (8 ounce) container vanilla nonfat yogurt

1 teaspoon dried crystallized ginger

Fresh mint and peach slices, for garnish, if desired

Place cloves in a cheesecloth square; tie with string, or use a tea ball.

Bring bag, chopped peaches, and next six ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until peach is tender. Remove and discard the spice bag; cool peach mixture.

Process peach mixture in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth; stir in yogurt and diced ginger. Cover and chill; garnish, if desired, at serving time. Yields about 6 cups.

The St. Louis Dairy Council reminds us that July is Ice Cream month, and a no better excuse to eat ice cream. A very easy way to make ice cream in fruity flavors is to use this simple recipe and you can change the flavor desired by simply changing the fruit used.

Fresh Lime Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

3/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 6 limes

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients; pour into freezer container of a 5-quart hand turned or electric freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Pack freezer with additional ice and rock salt, and let stand for 1 hour before serving. Yields about 2 1/2 quarts.

Lemon Ice Cream

Substitute grated lemon rind and fresh lemon juice for lime rind and juice in above recipe.

Orange Ice Cream

Substitute grated orange rind and fresh orange juice for lime rind and juice in above recipe.

For a good true old-fashioned vanilla ice cream, this is about the best recipe I have ever tried. It is very rich and very delicious.

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/3 cups sugar

4 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups whipping cream

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens and will coat a spoon; cover and chill. Stir in half-and-half and remaining ingredients; pour into freezer container of a 5-quart freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately; or spoon into an airtight container, and freeze until firm. Yields about 3 1/2 quarts.

My husband will ask me where the meat recipes were if I don't include any.

And is there a better way to fix prime rib, than on the grill or smoker? This smoked prime rib takes time, so allow for that in your menu and meal preparation plan. If using an electric smoker, make the necessary adjustments to the time of cooking. It will be listed in the manufacturer's guide for smoking this cut of meat.

Smoked Prime Rib

1 (10 pound) beef rib roast (6 ribs)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced Hickory chunks

Rub rib roast with salt, pepper, and garlic; cover and chill at least 8 hours. Soak wood chunks in water about 1 hour. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker; let burn 15 to 20 minutes. Drain chunks of wood and place on coals.

Place water pan in smoker; add water to depth of fill line. Place rib roast on lower food rack, and cover with smoker lid. Cook 5 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145 degrees for medium.

Let stand about 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Slice to serve.

I hope you have enjoyed this wide variety of recipes today. You might enjoy the homemade vanilla ice cream recipe I shared with you along side of some of the blackberry dumplings or the bumbleberry pie. Have fun experimenting with new recipes, and don't forget to send in your favorites to share with others.

So until next week, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699; Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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