As I keep mentioning, we went berry picking for the first time ever this year. It was a beautiful Spring day, not too hot with a gentle breeze and lots of sunshine. My girls became expert berry-pickers very quickly;)
Lakeview Farms, a local berry and gourd farm, is about 40 minutes away from us, out in St.Charles County, and they grow several varieties of strawberries, and red, yellow and black raspberries. We picked strawberries and red and yellow raspberries. I would have been willing to get into a physical altercation for the black raspberries, but, alas, they weren't ready for picking just yet. I hope to return when they ripen.
Another recipe I knew I was going to make that featured these Spring gems was a fresh lemon custard topped with the berries. Yes, believe it or not, you can make custard without milk, cream or eggs. Or poisonous refined white sugar. Did you know they actually add BLEACH to make it so white??? That's another post entirely...
Okay, so, how do you create a custard worthy of these God-given berries without all the aforementioned ingredients?
Surprisingly, it's easier than one might think. The recipe below is pretty basic, so I don't want to hear how it sounds like this person's or that person's recipe. Custard is not a complicated thing and only so many ingredients are required. If you find other recipes on the internet that seem suspiciously alike, just chalk it up to folks understanding custard-making basics, nothing more:)
This effort produced a creamy custard with a great lemony flavor that was not overly sweet and really allowed the berries to shine through!
Scroll down past the other pics (please be kind and understand that I am new to food blogging, food styling and food photography. These pics are not great, I know, but I'm learning!), trying not to drool, for this simple and quick-to-prepare custard. The next time I make this, I will likely top it off with a bit of freshly whipped coconut cream, which I am sure will be amazing and will elevate this dessert to the next level. For this time, however, I really wanted to enjoy these berries in as unadulterated a manner as a dessert would allow. Well, and I was out of canned coconut milk!
Plant-Based Lemon Custard with Fresh Spring Berries
(Prep/Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves 4--about 1/2 cup per serving)
1/2 cup unbleached flour (this means it contains gluten*)
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup of natural cane sugar
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
A dash of salt
1. In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup of unbleached flour*. Whisk it gently to remove any large clumps. Add 1/2 cup of the non-dairy milk and whisk again, thoroughly, until very smooth. Make sure it's smooth, otherwise you may end up with lumpy custard! Set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk, the sugar and the salt. Stir well and begin heating over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour*/milk mixture. Using a whisk, stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. It doesn't have to be super thick because it will continue to thicken as it chills in the refrigerator. Once it's thickened up some (about 5-6 minutes of cooking with constant stirring), remove from heat and add the lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well.
3. Pour into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic actually touches the surface of the custard so that no skin forms on top. That's just yucky.
4. Place in the refrigerator and chill for several hours until nice and cold, 6-8 hours should do it.
5. Spoon into serving dishes and top with your favorite mixture of fresh berries. Any leftover custard should keep in the fridge for up to two days.
*If you absolutely cannot do gluten, you could try something like arrowroot, tapioca, corn or potato starch, but you might need to decrease the amount quite a bit. I had a thought to try chickpea flour next time to add some protein. I imagine I might need to increase the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice, however, to make sure the flavor isn't too "beany." If you try an alternate starch or flour, please let me know how it turned out. Other options might be rice flour or agar-agar flakes.
Do any of you have a favorite type of light Spring dessert? Please let me know!