If fresh produce is any indication, summer truly is in full swing here in the Northeast.
This weeks goodie box contains:
Red Leaf Lettuce
Green String Beans
Sugar Snap Peas
Chinese Radish (white)
Let's start with the Romanesque Broccoli (also called Roman or Romenesco Broccoli). Have any of you ever seen this stuff? I've served it before, really as a novelty, because it's just so darn cute!!
When you pull the florets off the main head they look like little Christmas trees.. could you just die? Is it just me or is that the coolest looking vegetable around? You cook the Romanesque Broccoli the same way you would regular broccoli - only just a tad time shorter - it is more delicate and less woody than traditional broccoli. Romanesque B is also excellent in crudites because of its more tender sensibilities.
Let's move on to those berries! Blueberries, gooseberries and currants, oh my!
Blueberries - well don't we all know about these little gems? They are an excellent source of vitamin C which aids in the absorption of iron and promotes a healthy immune system. Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber AND have recently been recognized as an amazing source of antioxidants. You can eat blueberries 'out of hand', throw some into your breakfast cereal, bake them into muffins, coffee cakes and pies, or throw a handful into your pancake batter. Blueberries freeze beautifully and keep up to 6 months. Who wouldn't die for local grown blueberries stuffed into a muffin in mid-December?
Fresh Currants are new to me as I have only ever worked with the dried variety. Currants are a member of the gooseberry family. Currants are an excellent source of anthocyanins which are thought to reduce inflammation. In addition, the antioxidants in currants are thought to help promote heathy aging and neurological functions and recent studies seem to suggest they can protect against Alzheimer's disease.
The question is then, what should I do with my currants? I could bake them into some scones for a lovely Friday afternoon tea, squeeze the juice out and create a refreshing Friday evening cocktail or really get down to it and make the famous French preserve, Bar de Luc. But alas, I don't have the required goose quill to remove the seeds by hand (nor the patience). Perhaps a few tossed into a salad dressing, sweetened just barely with a touch of honey?
This brings us to the gooseberries.
Gooseberries (and blueberries and currants) should be available from now until mid-July. Like blueberries, they are an excellent source of vitamin C. They freeze well and do well preserved. In the sixteenth century gooseberries were used to treat plague victims as the juice has been known to reduce fever. Since no one has the plague in my house I think I'm going to make mine into a whole berry sauce that will compliment a pork loin this weekend.
How about you? What will you do with the berries that are all coming into the market?
Gooseberry Sauce: (this is much like a whole berry cranberry sauce you would serve at Thanksgiving)
1/2 pint Gooseberries, washed and stems removed
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
rind of one orange
Bring water to boil and add sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and maintain boil. Add Gooseberries and orange rind. Continue to cook at a high simmer until berries are soft and split open. You can pass through a sieve or keep whole.
Excellent with poultry or pork.
Don't forget, send me your fresh market questions and I'll post answers on Monday in my Ask Me Monday post.