December to March is when fruit lovers can devour their way through an amazing choice.
It is almost like we are given licence to gorge ourselves because of the bounty but also because we know the bounty won't last.
Berries and stonefruit are at their best. Peaches and nectarines, raspberries and blueberries are the ones I adore and raspberries remain at the top of my berry chart.
I have loved them since I was a little girl and continue to do so. There is something about that sweet yet tart flavour that makes them most captivating.
They are of course really good for us as well, full of antioxidants, like all berries packed with goodness, and therefore justify a little excess.
I have found ways to incorporate raspberries in many dishes and I am particularly delighted that friend Christine Boswijk makes raspberry vinegar and if I am lucky I will get the odd bottle from time to time. It makes a stunning salad dressing ingredient.
Its sweet tart flavour combination gives a salad an extra quality. I combine it with a little balsamic vinegar as well, as the combination of raspberries and balsamic vinegar is great.
It helps to have your own abundant crop to make raspberry vinegar as they are not cheap to buy. You can also buy raspberry vinegar from good supermarkets.
They are a delicate fruit and are highly perishable so how you handle them is important. They will keep for a couple of days in the fridge but be careful about the fruit you chose.
Always select fruit yourself if you can and if you buy a prepackaged punnet look for any seepage of colour on to the packaging as that will normally indicate the fruit could be soft and mushy.
Fruit can also go mouldy quite quickly and contaminate other fruit.
Before storing in the fridge check all the berries and discard any that are beginning to mould.
Raspberries freeze really well so if you are not going to use them immediately or you have a big supply, freezing is a good option. Always wash the fruit gently and pat dry before use or before freezing.
Raspberries are a great topping for pavlova, use a great thick layer of them on top of the cream. They make a wonderful coulis that can be poured on to many desserts or cakes.
They are a marvellous counterpoint to chocolate and I recently made a peach and raspberry cake that was excellent. The combination of peaches and raspberries is particularly tasty.
When planning the photo shoot for this story I came up with the idea of raspberry and cream-filled crepes with more raspberries on top and topped off with a raspberry coulis.
The taste, colour and texture were really great and enough raspberry to satisfy any berry lover.
RASPBERRY CREPES WITH RASPBERRY COULIS
This will feed six people and allow extra crepes for other things.
I use Julia Child's crepe recipe. She has a sweet and savoury crepe recipe. I prefer to use the savoury recipe as it is more neutral and there is plenty of sweetness in the filling and extras.
It also means you have enough batter for some savoury filled crepes as well.
Makes about 15 crepes, about 18cm in size. Use a small frypan or a crepe pan that size. Crepe batter should be made at least two hours before it is to be used - this allows the flour particles to expand in the liquid and ensures a tender, light thin, crepe. 1 cup of cold water
1 cup of cold milk
2 cups of flour
4tb of melted butter Put the liquids, eggs and salt in a blender or food processor. Add the flour and butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. The batter should be like light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Rub the pan with butter or oil and when very hot add a ladle of about 3 to 4 Tbsp of batter, making sure the pan is evenly coated by tilting the pan in all directions. Cook until the crepe is golden brown and turn over and cook the other side for about a minute. The second side will be spotty brown. Place on to some baking paper and continue making crepes, putting a piece of paper between each crepe. Allow two crepes per person. CREPE FILLING
1 to 2 cups of cream
2 cups of raspberries for the filling and 1 cup for adding on the top of the crepes
2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Whip the cream. Stir in the icing sugar and vanilla. Fold in the raspberries.
Put 2-3 Tbsp of filling per crepe and roll up.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and spoon over the raspberry coulis and top with some extra raspberries
2 cups of raspberries
cup of sugar
cup of water
Put the ingredients in a pot and cook gently until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.
Pour through a sieve and store any that is leftover in the fridge or freeze.
PEACH AND RASPBERRY CAKE
3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of oil
cup orange juice.
4 peaches sliced finely
3 cups of raspberries. Preheat the oven to 160
Sift together flour sugar, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add eggs,, vanilla, oil and orange juice. Mix well together. It forms a quite stiff dough.
Grease and line a bundt pan. Layer batter, then the peaches and sprinkle over the raspberries. Another layer of batter, fruit and finish with batter. Bake for about 1 hour until cooked.