Saturday, August 05, 2006

Woe Perfected

There are a lot of things you can do with good fresh fruit, but nothing is not one of them. Just now I am picturing a movie called Fruitful Attraction where one of the principal players is a big bowl of fresh blackberries which is saying to me, "I won't be ignored." But if one has just picked a large quantity of blackberries and has made jam with half and left the other half in the refrigerator and one then gets very sick for a couple of days and one then -- while one is still sick, mind you -- gets on a plane and goes to Florida for a five-day vacation, one is likely to return to a large quantity of berries that have been sitting in the refrigerator for just over a week and which are then good for nothing.

A large bowlful of once-delicious berries representing perhaps forty-five minutes of extreme discomfort is not an easy thing to throw away, but sometimes a guy's just gotta do what a guy's gotta do, and at least they're the right color for mourning.

I tried to comfort myself by saying that I could likely pick more berries, but for most of this week, it was far too hot (right around 100 degrees -- that's about 38 degrees for those of you thinking in Celsius) to even think about donning heavy jeans and a heavy, long-sleeved shirt. The heat did finally break on Friday, and on Friday evening, at about 7:30, I was almost comfortable when I returned in my armor to the blackberry patch.

Though the picking was much more comfortable this time around, the berries were much smaller and much less plentiful, and by the time I was beginning to have trouble seeing the berries, I had only a couple of pounds. There is, of course, always next year.

Still, what to do with those couple of pounds? Some of them may work their way into a peach-blackberry pie tomorrow, but in the main, I didn't want to fuss around with the berries too much. Though the berries were not so big as they had been earlier, they were still very tasty, perhaps due to the great amount of heat and sun to which they had recently been exposed, and I wanted to enjoy them in their uncooked splendor.

Blackberry Parfait

One quart yogurt
The juice of one lemon
1/3 cup sugar
Blackberries, about a pint, rinsed and dried

Drain the yogurt in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight. Put the drained yogurt into a bowl, add the lemon juice and the sugar and stir until smooth.

Put a dollop of the yogurt mixture in the bottom of a glass bowl or parfait glass. Add a thick layer of blackberries. Follow with another dollop of yogurt. Continue alternating layers until the container is nearly full, then finish with another dollop of the yogurt mixture. Serve at once or refrigerate for a few hours first.

I am not, generally, a big fan parfaits: they have always struck me as a bit gimmicky and, well, lazy. This opinion might well explain why I have no glasses suitable for parfaits and why I ended up using one of my beloved big clunky tumblers. And when you get right down to it, there's no reason at all why you couldn't just fold the blackberries directly into the yogurt mixture, though if you wanted to do that, you'd probably only want to use about half the yogurt mixture. It's very refreshing, and I'm sure you could find a good use for the other half.

The layering was pretty, and the final product delicious. Either because I didn't dry my blackberries sufficiently (you really can't avoid rinsing them, but they're very difficult to get dry after you do) or because I didn't drain my yogurt for the full time and I then let the parfait sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before I ate it, there was a bit of liquid in the blackberry layers. When I saw the liquid, I thought it would be a problem, but it was actually very tasty. When I first tasted the yogurt mixture, it seemed somehow heavy to me, as if I should perhaps have used lowfat yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt. But after its sojourn in the refrigerator, the yogurt mixture was just right. You could certainly use a lowfat or nonfat yogurt if you prefer, however.

You could probably use a different citrus juice to flavor the yogurt mixture, but lemon juice seems to me just right to go with blackberries. With another fruit, you might also use honey instead of sugar for the sweetener, but with the blackberries, you want very clean flavors. You can, of course, use more or less lemon juice and sugar according to your taste. Between the lemon juice and the blackberries, my parfait ended up being fairly tart, but I would not have wanted it otherwise.

You cannot tell from the picture, but I really did put in thick layers of blackberries and relatively small amounts of the yogurt mixture. You want a high proportion of blackberries to yogurt here.


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