Sweet pickings, no longer so easy, have their rewards


"All you can pick for $1.50, bring your own basket." Every summer when I was a girl, the "raspberry lady" down the street put up the same weathered sign with the price that never changed. Next to our house, there was a field filled with wild strawberries from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July.

And it seemed somebody was always bringing us blueberries; they knew that my mother made the town's best pies and that blueberry was my father's favorite.

But I no longer take berries for granted. My summer weekends now are spent searching out berries at market stands and U-pick farms, berries that (if they don't get eaten on the way home) will make their way into luscious summer desserts.

The recipes that follow are not elaborate, but were created to flaunt the flavor of the berry. Bear in mind that berries are fairly interchangeable within recipes.

Huckleberry cobbler


2 pints huckleberries

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour plus extra for rolling out dough

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3/4 cup skim-milk buttermilk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, preferably canola oil

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Spray a deep, 9-inch pie plate with vegetable cooking spray or lightly brush with vegetable oil.

To make filling: Combine the huckleberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Transfer to the prepared pie plate.

To make cobbler dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk or stir together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut butter into flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in lemon zest. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk into the center. With a fork, stir until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat to a rough 8-inch circle. Gently lift the dough and set it on the berries. Use your fingers to pinch and patch together. Prick the dough in several places with the tines ++ of a fork. Sprinkle the top with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Bake the cobbler for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles dTC and the dough is golden brown. Serves 8.

Blueberry-raspberry sauce

Cooked blueberries provide a base for a sauce of whole fresh berries. Serve over lemon sorbet or pound cake.

1 pint blueberries, picked over

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

L 2 tablespoons eau-de-vie de framboise or Chambord (optional)

1 cup raspberries

In a large heavy saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries with the sugar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the berries pop and a sauce forms, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in framboise or Chambord. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and chill until ready to use. Stir the remaining blueberries and the raspberries into the sauce just before serving. Makes about 3 cups.

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