Summer brings a different sort of cooking. Cooking that can be started and ended with a simple plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and marinated garbanzo beans. Meal time around here in August often means a big salad with cold cooked chicken, or it could even be a large plate of antipasti, with good bread. A cold and peppy gazpacho is also a welcome guest in the evening.
I often bake during the year, but summer gives me a different idea of what to do for something sweet. When it’s warm and muggy, turning on the oven is not often in my plan in the month of August. Canning and preserving is the only exception, and for that I’ll pay the price of a hot kitchen.
When there’s something sweet to be had, I try to do one of two things:
A. Bake very late at night. This usually only works if it’s the weekend. Baking at midnight is a practice I’m known to do no matter what time of year it is. In the summer it’s just as fun, with the windows thrown open, to imagine the scent of cookies or muffins wafting down the street, through people’s window fans, and into their dreams (this happens to me when I go to bed right after baking). I’m a night owl, so this option works for me.
B. The other option is to make a dessert that doesn’t require heat. Cutting up berries, melon or stone fruit, spooning it over ice cream and devouring it until my mouth is so cold it cools down my entire body. You can also try this method of making a sweet and lightly spiced syrup.
This syrup (and the berries that make it) is totally carefree and no work at all. You could throw anything in a jar with a little sugar and it would make you a sweet syrup that is quite useable. Stone fruit, berries, or possibly citrus could be used interchangeably, depending on what’s in season. The spices could also vary from cardamon to cinnamon or even a few cloves. Some wedges of ginger, cinnamon and citrus would be very nice in a colder month. The vanilla and the sugar will go with anything.
Just layer spices or aromatics, sugar and fruit.
Store in the fridge for a few days. This batch was made on Monday and finished by Thursday, though longer would be fine too.
And there you have it. The syrup is created by the fruit and sugar, flavored by the aromatic spices, and soft and sweet berries are a treat too. Not a flame or pan in sight.
This is a real treat at breakfast time over my favorite yogurt. (I’m not paid to say that, I just really love that stuff!)
They would also be fantastic over cheesecake, pound cake, or even pancakes or waffles.
1 pint raspberries
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 vanilla bean pod, cut down the middle and lightly split open (I like to buy them online)
2-3 green cardamon pods
1 jar or vessel that will hold about 1 and 1/2 cups.
In the bottom of the jar, place the vanilla bean and 1 cardamon pod.
Put down a layer of berries, to cover the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle some of the sugar over the first layer. Keep layering the sugar and the berries, adding the spices in every so often. I put the vanilla bean in first so that it would steep in the syrup that will be created at the bottom.
Store in the fridge for a few days. Serve the syrup and the berries spooned over yogurt, cake or ice cream.