Raspberries bring flavour

Fresh and local raspberries are ready for picking or purchasing in the North Okanagan and are a versatile addition to any meal

What’s red, yellow, black, or purple, grows in temperate zones the world over, has enormous nutritional value, and is delicious?  Raspberries of course, and they are now readily available to purchase or to pick from farms and markets in the area.

As a child I didn’t like picking raspberries. Back then the bushes were  extremely prickly, the sun bakingly hot, I was always thirsty, and I disliked the fact that the rest of my siblings didn’t pick their fair share (of course that was my perception), which kept us there longer than I deemed necessary. Worse was the fact that in another few days we’d be sent back to the Heal’s garden to pick again. Now I see the generosity in Mom being invited to send over the  kids to glean what was left of the crop, but back then I just wished we could get our jam another way.

Nothing goes together like raspberry and chocolate and today’s chocolate and raspberry mousse cups are sure to be a hit with summer guests. The raspberry salad with its feta and golden raisins, blends well with the raspberries and mustard vinaigrette to add a sweet-salty tang. Couscous is always a great speed-prep ingredient for this colourful salad.

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cups

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp. vegetable shortening

1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavoured gelatin powder

1/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup sugar

1- 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

2 cups whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream, whipped)

6  3-1/2 inch muffin foil liners

To make chocolate cups, in a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips and shortening over high heat, stirring continuously until melted. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread the chocolate evenly inside six 3-1/2-inch foil muffin liners. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

To make the mousse: in a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water and allow the gelatin to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Transfer the gelatin mixture to a blender. Add the berries and blend until liquefied. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through the strainer  to strain out the seeds. Refrigerate until thickened (see tip below).

Rinse the blender of any remaining raspberry seeds and return the thickened raspberry gelatin mixture to the blender. Add the whipped cream and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until thickened (see tip below).

To assemble, peel foil from chocolate. Fill with mousse and top with fresh raspberries and a curl of chocolate. Tip: The gelatin should be the consistency of an extremely dense pudding. Keep in the fridge for about 90 minutes (depending on volume, thickness and chilling temperature).

Confetti couscous

with mustard vinaigrette

1/2 cup corn oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

3/4 tsp. dry Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon corn oil

1 pkg. (10 ounces) couscous

3 cups diced squash and/or zucchini

1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup) Driscoll’s Raspberries

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cups chopped red onion

1/2 cups golden raisins

1/2 cups pecans, chopped

For the Mustard Vinaigrette:

Whisk oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, sugar and pepper together until blended. Set aside.

For the couscous: bring chicken broth and oil to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in couscous; cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff lightly with fork. Spoon into large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook yellow squash and zucchini in 2 quarts salted boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Add squash and zucchini to bowl with couscous. Stir in raspberries, feta cheese, red onion, raisins and pecans; toss gently to combine. Drizzle with mustard vinaigrette and toss until blended.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.