CATHI LITZENBERGER: Raspberries are a sweet reward


One of the summer chores I least favoured as a child was being sent over to a neighbour’s with three of my sisters, to glean the last of their raspberries. It was always near the end of the season, when they had had their fill, and although it was a generous offer that my mom never refused, I didn’t see it that way at all.

She saw us eating fresh fruit and all the jam she would make for the winter, which of course we all loved. All I saw was hard labour under the searing Okanagan sun, scratchy bushes which would be tearing holes in my arms and legs, and the slowness of my sisters picking, which would mean we’d be there all morning. Worse, though, was the thought that every few days for the next couple of weeks we’d be back in the patch picking again. That’s what kids were for in those days, after all (doing what they were told). I would have much preferred being in the pool at the park.

However, the experience was full of gifts that have lasted me a lifetime. Things like “You don’t get something for nothing,” appreciation for generous people, for nature, for the solitude of some work, and for fruit among many others. I even enjoy picking berries of all kinds today. This week’s recipes include a nice square and a fresh delicious unbaked pie.

Raspberry Squares

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 cup) plus 2 tablespoons, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened at room temperature

1/4 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark

1/2 cup rolled old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

3/4 cup fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover bottom and sides of a 13 x 8-inch pan with foil, allowing it to reach above the edges of the pan for easy removal. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place flour, granulated sugar and salt in food processor and pulse until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter 16 tablespoons butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles damp sand, about 20 one-second pulses (can also be mixed by hand).

Measure 1 1/4 cups flour mixture into medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture evenly in bottom of prepared baking pan. Using hands or flat-bottomed measuring cup, firmly press mixture into even layer to form bottom crust. Bake until edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes. While crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons butter by rubbing mixture between fingers until butter is fully incorporated. Pinch mixture with fingers to create hazelnut-sized clumps; set streusel aside.

Combine preserves, raspberries and lemon juice in small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain. Spread filling evenly over hot crust; sprinkle streusel topping evenly over filling (do not press streusel into filling). Return pan to oven and bake until topping is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes.

Cool to room temperature on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours; remove from baking pan by lifting foil extensions. Using chef’s knife, cut into squares and serve.

Fresh Raspberry Pie

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup water

1 package raspberry-flavoured gelatin (3-oz.)

5 cups fresh raspberries

1 graham-cracker pie crust (9 inches)

Whipped cream (optional)

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; add water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 2 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved; cool about 15 minutes.

Place raspberries into the pie crust; slowly pour gelatin mixture over berries.

Chill until set, about 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

Cathi Litzenberger has been The Morning Star’s food columnist for more than 10 years.