Saturday, July 25, 2009

Red Grits

What a title to make a comeback with! What can I say... it has been a very busy summer for me and I hope that it will start to slow down enough that I can get back to blogging, even just a sliver of the recipes and ideas that I've been thinking of during my unofficial break.

Most recently on the agenda, my family and I went to East Hampton to visit my cousin, her husband, and their beautiful baby boy. In case you're wondering, the Hamptons are located at the end of Long Island, New York. A short drive from NYC, they are famous for being the summertime hangout of many American big-wigs.

There was one famous resident of East Hampton that I was dearly hoping to run into. The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. After my cousin showed me where her house was, I did attempt several drive-bys, with no luck. The best we did was see her car in the driveway. Still, I was thrilled !

Next on my list was a little more realistic. A visit to the Loaves & Fishes food shop in Sagaponack. The owner-operator, Anna Pump, has been friends with Ina for 30 years. As you know if you have read through any of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Anna Pump gets at least a couple of mentions in every book and is credited with being a huge inspiration for Ina.

When we entered the charming little store, there was Anna behind the counter, working away. Not only did she serve us, she also signed a number of her own cookbooks for me (she has three). She was friendly and obviously very hands-on in her store. She also runs the Bridgehampton Inn and the Loaves and Fishes Cookshop, a beautiful kitchenware store. It was a delight to meet her.

This afternoon the kids and I went raspberry picking. They have finally hit ages that are appropriate for berry picking. No more rotton or underripe berries in their baskets. They were a great help and I'm actually looking forward to taking them back again, unlike any other berry picking adventure I have ever taken them on, up to this point!

This recipe comes from Anna Pump's book Country Weekend Entertaining. This dessert doesn't actually contain anything resembling grits, so don't let the name put you off. I added the cinnamon that she called for but I would have preferred to have had it without (the new Vietnamese cinnamon that I have been using is quite strong). For the berries, I used 2 cups of red currants, 2 cups of black raspberries, and additional 4 cups were the fresh raspberries that the kids and I picked. Serve with lots of whipped cream and you have a simple very-berry dessert that is perfect for almost any summer gathering.

Red Grits

2 cups red currants or raspberries
2 cups black currants or black raspberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups additional berries of your choice
1-2 cups whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons fruit sugar (extra-fine sugar)

1. In a large saucepan, combine the currants or berries, sugar, and 3/4 cup of water. Stirring often, bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 of water and the potato starch. Pour it into the berry mixture while it is still over the heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Fold in the lemon juice, cinnamon (if using), and the 4 cups of additional berries. Remove from the heat and chill.
3. Just before you're ready to serve dessert, beat the whipping cream and the fruit sugar to soft peaks. Serve the red grits with a dollop of whipped cream.