"You Should Only Be Happy" ... with a gift of purple raspberries
A very dear friend of mine -- who shall remain anonymous so as not to be bombarded either by beggars or by neglected people with hurt feelings! -- bestowed a very precious gift upon me this week: purple raspberries. Oh, I feel so loved! The way to my heart, for anyone who cares to know it, is absolutely through my appetite. And special, meaningful gifts -- even those that are finite and transitory -- are always more treasured than most material goods could ever be.
I have received beautiful red and yellow tomatoes from this generous soul in the past, as well as shalach manot (traditional cookies and other treats) for the holiday of Purim (which celebrates Queen Esther having risked her life to save her fellow Jews). But never before had I reached the privileged eschelon of receiving a share of the purple raspberry bounty ... truly, a rare and priceless gift -- the love, even more so than the berries.
We're all familiar with red raspberries, and also with black raspberries. Purple was a new color even to me, and I'm familiar with such unusual items as fresh, fuzzy green almonds that are available for short periods of time at Middle Eastern markets. The berries are fairly difficult to come by, I'm told, though Tantre Farm had some available at the Farmers Market on Wednesday for $5/pint. The purple ones are even more fragile than the usual varieties and they grow on thornier bushes, thus making them difficult to pick. But they are absolutely worth the effort and cost ... especially when one is merely the very blessed recipient of a gift and didn't even have to endure the scratches to get them!
I tried one of the gorgous fruits, having been informed that they're rather tart and need a bit of sugar; I thought it was perfect, and immediately wanted to put a few into a salad with a balsamic vinaigrette and perhaps some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. But because of their perishability, it was recommended that I make jam as an accompaniment, perhaps, to pound cake. Sigh ... so many ideas! I went home that night and made a thin jam/thick sauce to pour over a to-be-determined treat.
This week has been very busy for me, what with seasonal chaos at work and a number of other matters; my days have been stressed and over-scheduled. So, it being a rainy Saturday morning, this seemed the perfect time to seek solace and joy with my purple raspberry sauce. One of my favorite foods is Ricotta Latkes -- simple little sweet cheese pancakes, a bit reminiscent of blintzes. The richness of the latkes with the twinge of tartness from the berry sauce ... well, if I could carry a tune, I would sing the praises of this simple yet extraordinary feast!
If you don't have the good fortune of knowing anyone willing to share these treasures with you, I highly recommend going to the Farmers Market to buy some purple raspberries for yourself. Follow this recipe, or pour some of the sweetened fruit over cake or ice cream ... frankly, just spoon the sauce into your mouth "as is!" Enjoy, and be happy -- the season is fleeting, and it will be a long year until these beautiful fruits reappear.
Ricotta Latkes with Purple Raspberry Sauce
1/2 pint purple raspberries 4 tablespoons sugar 1 15-ounce container part-skim Ricotta cheese 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/2 cup flour pinch of salt
Place the raspberries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a small saucepan; cook over medium-low heat, pressing on the fruit until the berries soften and break apart and the sauce is thickened.
Place the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. Heat a griddle or a skillet and brush lightly with butter. Pour batter by the 1/4-cupful and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the edges are set and the bottoms are golden; flip the latkes and cook for another 2 minutes.
Serve the latkes with the raspberry sauce
The phrase "You Should Always Be Happy" comes from Deuteronomy 16:15, and is my wish for all my readers as they cook along with me ... may you always be happy here!