One of the fun things about eating seasonally is enjoying the abundance of fruit in the summer. Yesterday James and I were able to choose between cherries, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, blackberries, raspberries and peaches for lunch. Operating our Bed & Breakfast in Asheville NC means more food than most in our refrigerator. Of course, your fridge probably doesn’t have such a wide variety of summer fruits in it all at once!
With so much to choose from, why bother dressing the fruit up? And I get this. I love the “grab and go” quality of a beautiful bowl of fruit. But sometimes it’s nice to do a little bit more. So here are two wonderful and easy-to-make sauces which you can use to give your summer fruit a special flare!
Both of these recipes use Mascarpone Cheese as a base. Mascarpone is an Italian triple-cream cheese which is made, like many cheeses, through the introduction of a bacterial cultural to the cream. When you add sugar and liquids to Mascarpone, the culture is re-awakened resulting in a sauce which will thicken as it sits. This doesn’t mean you can’t make your sauce ahead. but it does mean that if you do make it ahead you should make less than you need as you will probably need to thin it down before serving.
You can serve these sauces on top of your summer fruits and berries as is, or you can take advantage of the natural affinity of these fruits to pair with the fresh herbs which are also so abundant just now. One of the best ways to do this is to make an infusion, a sort of herbal sweet tea, and toss the fruits gently in it either just before serving or the night before.
RASPBERRIES WITH LEMON MASCARPONE CREAM
½ cup fresh berries per person
1 half cup lemon curd (commercial or home made)
2 tbsp mascarpone
1 tbsp heavy cream
Arrange the raspberries in a pretty glass or bowl.
Whisk together the lemon curd and mascarpone until it is smooth. Thin with heavy cream to a thick cream. Place a large dollop on top of the raspberries.
The process used to make the sweet basil syrup in this next recipe can be adapted to other herbs and combinations. Try it with fresh mint (and a little ginger) or lemon-thyme .
BLACKBERRIES IN SWEET BASIL SYRUP with MASCARPONE VANILLA CREAM
For the Mascarpone Vanilla Cream:
2 tbs Mascarpone (room temp)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup semi-sweet wine
½ vanilla bean (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
1 cup tightly packed Basil leaves
Juice of one lemon
Combine sugar, water and wine in a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean (or extract). Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and lemon juice. Cool to room temperature. Strain.
2 pints blackberries
Marinate blackberries in the sweet basil syrup at least 8 hours or up to two days. The longer they soak the more flavour they will pick up from the basil. Serve with a little sauce, topped with a dollop of Mascarpone Vanilla Cream (thin with cream if needed) .
Look for these recipes and more in my cookbook, Our Family Table: Lessons and Recipes from a Life Overseas, available in October 2016!