Summer Berry Gratin

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Oh, I do so love fresh berry season, don't you?  We grow our own Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries, and the Strawberries are coming fast and furious at the moment!  Oh, there is nothing more delicious on earth than a freshly picked strawberry with the warmth of the sun still burnishing its sweet flesh!

This is a beautiful way of using them during berry season.  Its a simple recipe which I adapted for use from the cookbook entitled Supper For a Song, by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  I love her recipes.  They are always well written and they always turn out.  I know she is largely unknown in North America, but she is a great cook and writer.

You are probably more familiar with her brother, Daniel Day-Lewis.  Ah-ha! See, I knew.  Anyways, this recipe is a real gem.  It is perhaps a bit faffy in a way in that you make a sabayon sauce to cover the berries with before glazing them under the grill.

A Sabayon is not difficult to make, just time consuming.  You do have to stand whipping it over simmering water for quite a time, but its so delicious when done.  I had to bring in the extension cord from the shed that Todd uses to plug our mower into because I don't have an outlet near my stove that I can plug into.

 Not a problem.  Eggs yolks, sugar and lemon juice get whipped in the top of a double boiler until they are creamy, thick and rich, and then you continue to whip them until the mixture cools, upon which you fold in very softly whipped double cream.  Take care not to over-whip the cream or it won't fold together properly.  Softly, softly is the best.  You can do this the night before if you want, and refrigerate it until you want to grill the berries.  This makes it a great last minute dessert for entertaining.

A mix of berries is macerated in some sugar and liqueur and then popped into a gratin dish, napped with the sabayon and then gilded beneath the grill/broiler until golden.

This does not take very long . . .  only a minute or so.  If you do it for any longer you risk the mixture separating . . .

Just long enough to burnish the cream mixture, but not long enough to cook the berries, maintaining the shape and integrity of their deliciousness.

 Altogether this is quite, quite lovely and so very delicious.  Mmmm . . .  I could eat that sabayon on its own by the spoonful!

*A Gratin of Summer Berries*
Serves 4
This is delicious.  Making the sabayon is a bit faffy, but well worth any effort taken.  The berries are not cooked through, so they keep a lot of their fresh flavour and texture.  The gratin mixture is unctously delicious. I could make a meal of that alone. You can make that part a day ahead if you wish, which makes it actually quite a great last minute dessert when the berries are ripe and the bees are a buzzing. 

For the Sabayon:
4 large free range egg yolks
120g golden caster sugar (10 TBS)
few drops vanilla extract
the juice of one lemon
100ml double cream (7 TBS, scant 1/2 cup) 

For the Fruit:
300g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (3 cups, halved if large)
300g fresh raspberries, picked over and cleaned (3 cups)
100g fresh blueberries, picked over and cleaned (1 cup)
1 TBS caster sugar, or to taste
2 TBS framboise of Grand Marnier

Put all of the berries into a large bowl.  Gently stir in the sugar and the liqueur.  Leave on the countertop to macerate for about 25 minutes, gently turning after 15 minutes. 

To make the sabayon, put the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in the top of a double boiler and set over a pan of simmering water.  Make sure the bottom of the double boiler isn't touching the water. (Alternately you can use a large heat proof bowl that will fit over top of your saucepan of simmering water without falling in.)  Using an electric whisk, whisk on medium high speed until th mixture has doubled in volume and thickened so that the mixture leaves a trail over top when you lift the beaters out of the pan.  Remove to the countertop and place onto a kitchen towel to keep the pan from moving about.  Continue to whisk with the electric whisk until the mixture is completely cold.   

Using clean beaters, whisk the cream just to the point where it forms very soft folds.  You want it slack, and not beaten stiff. It won't fold into the other mixture properly if you over beat it.  Gently fold the cream into the cold cooked mixture.  At this point you can continue on to finish the recipe or put it in a covered dish in the refrigerator overnight. (If you are doing it overnight, then don't macerate the berries until about half an hour or so before you want to make the dessert.) 

When you are ready to serve the dish, heat the grill/broiler to the highest it will go.  Put the berries into a shallow gratin dish.  Spoon the sabayon over top evenly.  Place under the heated grill for about a minute until the surface is just golden brown.  Serve immediately!

I really hope that you will take the opportunity to make this with your summer berries this year.  I think you will really enjoy it!  Bon Appetit!

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