Wednesday July 31, 2013 | 08:24 AM

The raspberry season is so short that as soon as they appear at the markets they’re nearly gone.  Just picked and they have a few days of stability in them before turning mushy or moldy. They will last, however, in a covered container in the refrigerator for only about three days before going bye-bye. One remarkable plus, though,   is that they’re extremely healthy, loaded with antioxidants.  Research is underway to prove if they can not only fight obesity but ward off cancer.

Raspberries on display this morning at Uncle's Farm Stand at the Monument Square Farmer's Market; they should be available for another week or two, depending on weather

And local blackberries are not far behind, just starting to appear at the markets

Otherwise, besides using in jams, ice cream or sauces, the most useful place for them is in a pie or tart.  You can prepare a great tart by preparing a prebaked tart shell, fill it with pastry cream and top with fresh-picked raspberries from the field. Then brush the top with red currant or raspberry jelly that’s been heated until it becomes a syrupy liquid and the tart is ready to serve. 

Here’s my basic pastry cream. Work together in a heavy sauce pan 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until well mixed.  Then add 3 tablespoons flour, beating with a whisk until the mixture is very smooth.  Scald 2  cups milk, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and slowly add about 1 cup of the heated milk to the egg mixture with the pan set over medium heat (don’t worry about eggs curdling because the flour stabilizes the mixture).  Bring to the simmer, whisking constantly until very thick, adding more milk until you have the consistency of pudding.   Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon butter.  For a finely textured cream pass it through a strainer, though it’s not essential, just make sure the cream is smooth by whisking it vigorously until very creamy. Use it right away or refrigerate by fixing a piece of buttered plastic wrap directly on the top to keep a skin from forming.

Another great use is to prepare a raspberry pie.  This is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious.

Baking the pie with a lattice crust helps the filling become thick and syrupy and absolutely delicious with just raspberries and sugar as the basic ingredients

Raspberry Pie
Servings: 8

Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie (see May 29th posting for recipe)

4 cups (2 pints) raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter
Heavy cream, for glazing
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Put the raspberries in a large bowl and add the sugar; allow macerate for about 5 minutes until the berries release their liquid.  Meanwhile prepare a slurry by combining the cornstarch, water and vanilla until smooth.  Add this to the raspberry mixture and stir gently to combine.

Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate lined with the pastry dough; put butter, in bits, over the berries; top the pie with a lattice crust.  Brush the top with heavy cream to glaze and sprinkle with sugar.

Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes; rotate the pan and lower the oven to 375 degrees and continue to bake for another 25 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Just a touch of vanilla ice cream is all this  slice of pie needs



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John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.

In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.

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