Vegan Raspberry Cornbread

Bread, Desserts

Cornbread, complete with bacon fat and eggs and butter, is a food by which my stomach is most enamored. I love to share it with my friends. Most of them indulge with the same voracity as me. But not all of them. Some of them don’t eat pork or eggs or dairy, or a combination of these, for one reason or another. I have been pondering for some time about how to make a vegan cornbread that isn’t awful — lets face it, most vegan cornbreads just plain suck.

I baked this early in the morning of Independence Day. It ended up turning out unexpectedly patriotic.

Cherimoya Almond Cake (Tarta de Chirimoya)

Desserts, Fruit

Cherimoyas–at least up here in the Pacific Northwest–are beginning to leave the shelves. For the last few years, since I discovered it, this tropical fruit has been part of my warm transition into the spring. Most people have never heard of them, not in my encounters. And those who have face difficulty in figuring out how to use them.

The flavor of cherimoya reminds me of mango, banana, apple and pears all at once. In other words, the cherimoya isn’t simply sweet. It is a symphony of different flavors: sugar with a hint of piquancy, a creamy and mellow tartness and an almost winey clarity. Thus, this dense and moist cake has a flavor profile way beyond its simpler cousin, the Galician cake, Tarta de Santiago.

Salmonberries in Their Own Syrup

Desserts, Fruit

For those unfamiliar with salmonberries, or those who have had unexciting or unpalatable experiences with them, this recipe is for you.  The natural tartness of the berries is sweetened by the sugar, heightening the pleasant qualities of their overall flavor.  For sweeter berries, add more sugar.  Pair with ice cream, cheese, pastries and baked goods like scones or soft breads. Or eat them as I prefer: by themselves with your sticky fingers.

Salmonberries Stuffed with Cognac & Mascarpone

Desserts, Fruit

One benefit the salmonberry has over more popular and cultivated berries is its ability to be stuffed. Because of its dry exterior and the strong flesh around the seeds, these berries can handle a little poking around. The honey and the elderflower introduce the tongue to a subtle but complex sweetness. The slight sourness of the salmonberry is barely tasted as the sweet cognac cream returns with the layers of sugars initially desired.

Salmonberries with Wine

Desserts, Fruit

Salmonberries are as varied in color as they are in taste.  Sometimes they are sweet, sometimes they are sour, sometimes they are insipid and sometimes they are an indescribable mix of flavors.  Because this is my first harvest of the season, I thought it best to keep them the centerpiece.  They are the first spring berry to ripen in the Pacific Northwest, and their presence is a reminder of the long, warm days to come.

Keep this plate small.  Salmonberries aren’t known for their abundance.  You might be able to put this plate together from only one bush, if you’re lucky, and if the bush is large.  The simple syrup recipe makes way more than you need, but you can store it in your fridge for a long, long time.