|By Debbie Gardner|
It's berry season, and there's no better time to indulge in these good-for-you fruits loaded with antioxidants those chemicals that are credited with helping to stave off the ill effects of things like oxidative stress and free radicals two of the chemical processes that damage our bodies as we age.
Most recently, the research has even honed in on how including all varieties of berries in one's diet can help preserve brain health.
During a recent visit to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires researching a story for PRIME magazine, I heard the Ranch's brain health expert, Dr. Cynthia Geyer, emphasize how much she felt berries were a star in the dietary fight to stave off Alzheimer's Disease. The next morning, there wasn't a berry to be found on the breakfast buffet!
The festive cake recipe listed below, courtesy of the test kitchens at The Pampered Chef(r), is a great way to jump on the berry bandwagon and satisfy a sweet tooth, all at the same time.
If you want to use native strawberries in the recipe, Veronica Jandrue, Manager at Meadowbrook Farm, located at 185 Meadowbrook Road in East Longmeadow, said she expects the crop to last through July 4th.
"It really depends on the weather- if we get cool nights it makes the season longer, hot weather tend to make them go quicker,"Jandrue said.
As for the blueberries and raspberries, well, you'll have to hit the supermarket.
Rudy Valonen , owner of Val's Berry Farm at 81 Parker St. in East Longmeadow said he doesn't expect to start bringing in the blues until July 15 "or there abouts."
And as for those sweet, local raspberries- the crop will be ripe and ready in late August.
All-American Celebration Cake
For a star-spangled finale, serve this easy berry-topped cake complete with sparkling candles.
1 package (16 ounces) angel food cake mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
(about 1 cup)
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
(about 1 cup)
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Fresh mint leaves (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into ungreased Rectangular Baker (or a 9" x 13" rectangular casserole with 14-cup capacity), spreading evenly. Bake on center rack in oven 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown and the cracks feel dry and not sticky. (Cake should be firm to the touch; do not underbake.) Carefully turn baker upside down onto Stackable Cooling Rack; cool completely. (Do not remove cake from baker.)
2. Zest whole lemon using Lemon Zester/Scorer. Juice lemon using Juicer (or by hand) to measure 2 tablespoons juice. Whisk lemon juice, zest and powdered sugar in Classic ( 2-quart) Batter Bowl until smooth.
3. Slice strawberries using Egg Slicer Plus (or by hand). Add strawberries, blueberries and raspberries to sugar mixture; mix gently with Mix 'N Scraper" to coat fruit.
4. Using Nylon Fork or large fork, poke holes in cake about 1 1/2 inches deep and 1/2 inch apart. Spoon fruit mixture over cake to within 1/2 inch of edges. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow juices to soak into cake.
5. Just before serving, attach closed star tip to Easy Accent" Decorator; fill with whipped topping ( or use pastry bag fitted with star tip) and pipe stars evenly around edge of cake. To serve, cut into squares. Garnish each serving with additional whipped topping and mint leaves, if desired.
Yield: 15 servings
(Low Fat) Nutrients per serving: Calories 190, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 37 g, Protein 3 g, Sodium 220 mg, Fiber 1 g
Cook's Tips: This cake can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance. Use the Serrated Bread Knife to easily cut through the tender angel food cake.
(c)The Pampered Chef, Ltd., 2001
The Pampered Chef(r) sells quality kitchen tools, stoneware bakeware and cookware directly to consumers through in-home Kitchen Shows.
For more information on the Pampered Chef(r) , contact Debbie Gardner at 737-0700, or visit www.pamperedchef.com.