Best of berries

ELIZABETH LATHAM
Last updated 15:41 29/11/2013
 White tiramisu
ITALIAN WITH A TWIST: White tiramisu with raspberries.

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At the Table

'Tis the season to be hungry Echoes of the Med Hot from the pot There's no taste like home Land of hops and honey Eating on the street A taste of the tropics Myths and mellow fruitfulness Crustacean craving Oh for onions

Today I ate my first peach of the new season and I could not believe how good it tasted. After a winter of apples and pears and mandarins it is wonderful to experience the first hit of berries and stone fruit.

It is also only 25 sleeps until Christmas and a good excuse for a bit of excess, so this story is all about sweet stuff.

I have written about traditional Christmas puddings such as pavlova, trifle, plum pudding and even my grandmother's mince pies. This year I am imagining less traditional sweet options and there are three in particular that have come to mind - all involving either berries or cherries. They are white tiramisu with raspberries, bread and butter pudding with cherries and a charlotte royale with boysenberries .

First a little about berries and cherries in case you have forgotten. Food rich in antioxidants are said to go in this order, from the top: Blackcurrants, boysenberries, blueberries, strawberries, red wine, green tea, kiwifruit, broccoli. The values for blackcurrents, boysenberries and blueberries far outweigh the others.

Boysenberries grow in abundance in this region and they are reputed to have very high levels of antioxidants. Apparently the plants builds up a defence to combat the intense UV rays in this part of the world and this concentrates antioxidants in the fruit. Boysenberries are also high in Vitamin C and fibre and ellagic acid, a compound known as an anti-carcinogen, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.

The deep red colour of cherries comes from anthocyanins - a group of antioxidants. Cherries contain calcium, potassium and fibre, as well as being one of the few food sources of melatonin, a natural sleep enhancer.

Raspberries are also very high in all of the goodness as well, and my personal favourite and they are coming into their own right now in my neighbourhood.

In order to get the raspberries for the photo shoot for this story I stopped at Tasman Bay Berries on McShane Road in Appleby (formally Berryfields) to see if there were any ripe berries available. Lucky for me there were and I wandered through the raspberry patch with Maree Holland sampling the plump sweet goodness of fresh raspberries.

Glen and Maree have moved from their Paton Rd premises to the old Berryfield site and this Saturday they open the doors of their brand new shop. They sell mainly boysenberries and raspberries and some strawberries and blueberries as well.

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You can buy the fruit ready packed or pick your own and enjoy a real fruit berry icecream as well. Judging from the quality of the berries I tasted this is a place not to miss.

Raspberries are ready now and boysenberries before Christmas. Make the most of it as the season is quite short and by the end of January the crop will be over so a few trips to McShane Rd will be in order.

As you make a rich dessert with these fruits you can justify yourself somewhat knowing their nutritional benefits. There is also something splendid about setting out to pick our own berries to share at the Christmas table.

In today's list of puddings there is a theme of either bread or cake soaked in some way with a custard or filling added to it. The charlotte royale is less common now that it was in my mother's day. The charlotte my mother made was more similar to a bread and butter pudding using bread rather than sponge.

The sponge gives a lighter airy texture and you can combine with any fruit or jam or even lemon or lime curd depending on the flavours you want to achieve.

All of these dishes can be prepared in advance and they all look quite spectacular when they are presented.

BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING WITH CHERRIES

Serves 10

Preheat the oven to 170
1 cup of hot water
1 cinnamon stick
15 cloves
1 star anise
500g of stale or fresh bread
4 cups of coconut milk
4 eggs
1 cups of sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla
1 tsp salt
cup melted butter
1 cups of pitted cherries
cup chopped nuts-walnuts or almonds
cup of raisins
2 tbsp of cinnamon

maple syrup

Steep the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise in the hot water for at least 30 minutes. If the bread is stale add cup more water. Sieve and add to a bowl with the bread that you break up into small chunks. Add the coconut milk and set aside.

In another bowl beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and melted butter.

Add to the bread mixture.

Add the cherries, nuts and raisins.

Put into a large buttered dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours until it is set.

In the last ten minutes or so of cooking add the maple syrup.

Cool.

Refrigerate and serve cold in thick slices.

WHITE TIRAMISU WITH RASPBERRIES

Serves 8-10

2 eggs separated
85g icing sugar
350g mascarpone
6 tbsp full fat milk
125ml marsala
20 savoradi biscuits (available at Prego Foods)
60g chopped almonds-toasted
5tbsp grated white chocolate coarsely grated

2 cups of raspberries Whisk the egg yolks with sugar. Add the mascarpone cheese and combine well. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl then fold into the mascarpone mixture.

Pour the milk into a shallow dish and add the Marsala.

Dip half of the biscuits into the milk mixture just long enough to soften.

Arrange the dipped biscuits into a glass or china dish.

Sprinkle about half of the almonds over the biscuits.

Spread about a third of the mascarpone mixture and top with a layer of the remaining soaked biscuits and the rest of the nuts.

Spoon over the remaining mascarpone.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Top with the raspberries and grated white chocolate.

BOYSENBERRY CHARLOTTE

Serves 6-8

Sponge Roll
4 eggs
150g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
100g flour
tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
25g melted butter

4 tbsp of boysenberry jam Preheat the oven to 180.

Butter and line a 30x20 swiss roll tin with baking paper.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt until pale and thick.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and gently fold in.

Add the ground almonds.

Fold in the butter.

Pour into the swiss roll tin and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven.

Sprinkle a large piece of paper with caster sugar and turn the sponge on top.

Cut off any uneven edges and spread with the boysenberry jam.

Roll up from the long edge.

Refrigerate.

Line a large pudding basin with plastic wrap.

Cut the sponge into 2cm thick slices and line the sides of the basin.

Refrigerate again.

BOYSENBERRY MOUSSE

500g boysenberries
cup of sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp of powdered gelatine
cup boiling water
200ml of whipped cream

1 tbsp of caster sugar Mix 350g of boysenberries with sugar and lemon juice.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and stir to dissolve.

Cool.

Stir the gelatine mixture into the boysenberries and fold in the cream.

Spoon the mixture into the sponge lined basin. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve turn out onto a serving plate.

Use the rest of the boysenberries to decorate the top of the Charlotte.

- Nelson

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