Wondering how to eat the berry of the season? The berry all the celebrities are raving about*? Over the weekend, I used a quart of red currants for three different dishes.
First, currants served as a garnish for Mark Bittman's fluffy pancakes from How to Cook Everything. Though they are too tart for some to enjoy raw, I think the sweetness of the syrup cut their tartness just enough that even currant newbies could enjoy them this way. Dan added lemon zest to the pancake batter, which complimented them nicely.
I also made a rhubarb and red currant tart using a recipe from The Paris Kitchen. I used this alarmingly simple (just watch the screamingly hot bowl) French tart dough recipe method recounted by David Lebovitz. I doubled the sugar in the tart recipe when I realized that it was described as "savory." I wanted something sweet and tangy, not savory. That was a good move. It was still very tart, which I like. I also found that it needed only 40-45 minutes to bake, which worked out well because any longer would have burned the tart crust.
You know how there are a zillion recipes online for strawberry-rhubarb pie? I love rhubarb, but I've always railed against pairing it with the traditional strawberry. I just don't think that baking it with strawberry adds much in terms of flavor or texture. Currant, on the other hand, gives the sour fruit more dimension (says I) and it only becomes a bit softer with baking, so there's still something in the pie or tart on which to chew. Rhubarb is also good with sour cherries, and I've always wanted to try baking rhubarb with cranberry, but don't forget that it's swell on its own.
I have now officially typed the word "tart" too many times. Where's my thesaurus?
Finally, after sharing a few raw handfuls with my 15-month-old, who apparently is as big a fan of currants as I, the remaining berries went into Ina Garten's fruit salad with limoncello recipe. I also used this week's CSA strawberries and blueberries, as well as a few bananas. Without the time (or multiple lemons) to make my own lemon curd (though I've done it in the past and recommend it), I mixed the yogurt topping with a spoonful of lingonberry preserves. This is an excellent summer dessert, side, or breakfast (I tested it three times, of course).
Currants! They're so now! They're so trending! They're so sassy! They're so you.
*Celebrity raves and currant trends may be fictional. I've loved currants since finding them growing on a bush near my childhood home in Dubuque, Iowa. A previous resident must have planted them, and I loved the novelty of being able to eat something right off a plant in my backyard, as well as their sharp, fruity, almost bitter flavor. I think I may also have enjoyed that they look a bit like they'd be poisonous.