Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:29

Get tart with farm fresh raspberries

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There are precious few things that will make wading into chest-high thorn thickets, whirring with an alarmed horde of concealed grasshoppers, worth it.

Few, but not none.
Faced on one side with overwhelming insect anxiety, and on the other with the biggest, reddest raspberries, dangling from the innermost canes, the solution is simple: Face the fear, get the berries. Then make a series of appointments for psychotherapy.
Or, at least, that's probably the wiser course of follow up after a confrontation with six appendaged evils. Much better, that is, than doing absolutely nothing. Which is no doubt why, to this day, I'll cross the street twice to avoid a grasshopper on either side.
And what's worse is I'm unrepentant about my neurosis.
Nevertheless, when I was a girl visiting my grandparents' farm, every summer spawned this same juxtaposition of desires. Whether to suffer the swarm and get the raspberries (or strawberries, peas, carrots or corn), or flee back to the safety of the house, and there remain cooped up with the aunties until the first hard frost.
But because it was summer, and not worth living if not lived out of doors, there wasn't really a choice. Grasshoppers be darned, there were rewards for bravely, willingly, being outnumbered one to one billion.
That, however, was then.
These days, my grasshopper phobia is in as full a ripeness as ever. My once courage has flagged down to a nub. And so raspberries must be at least one step removed from the canes by the time they're mine. Which means a trip to the farmstand instead of the farm garden.
It's all fine and well, I guess. I'm happy to do my part to support local growers.
Still, it's not entirely the same berry when its juices aren't hot from the sun and running down your wrists, stinging its way into scratches left by snaggles of thorns.
So, while U-Pick patches could play surrogate for my current disproximity to a family garden, there's a familiar old clutch of panic that keeps me curbed.
Absolutely. But as it turns out, "face the fear, get the berries" doesn't hold up as well when you have ten dollars in your pocket and someone else to do the picking.
And besides, raspberries, still sun hot from the farmstand, make every bit as good a raspberry tart as berries that come with a side of grasshopper.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tbs sugar
1 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
12 oz fresh, ripe raspberries
Butter tart pans. Preheat oven to 350F. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and icing sugar. Add flour and mix until just combined.
Press into, and up the sides of, two 6-inch fluted tart pans (or equivalent other pans). Prick all over with a fork.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to prevent crust from shrinking in the oven.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely.
For the filling, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Spread into cooled pastry using an offset spatula.  Top with spirals of fresh raspberries. Dust tops with more icing sugar and garnish with mint sprigs. Serves 8.

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