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Blackberry Patch

I have a passion for Kentucky blackberries and recently found myself in blackberry heaven. My brother, Ron Allison, has a beautiful farm in Breckinridge County and every little path and tree stand has a name. There is Matthew’s Persimmon Patch, Emma’s Garden, Allison Way, and my favorite—Blackberry Hill. Path signs are posted everywhere and we had a great time covering most of the 67 acres on his four-wheeler. By the time you read this the blackberries will be ready and I’ll be up to my ears in one of my favorite summer treats. So get out there and pick the blackberries and try some of my favorite recipes, especially the Blackberry Salsa.

MESQUITE MARINATED FLANK STEAK WITH BLACKBERRY SALSA
1-1/2 to 2-lbs. flank steak
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons dry mesquite seasoning

Put all ingredients in a large zip-style plastic bag and marinade, preferably overnight or at least eight hours before grilling.

Blackberry Salsa
1 cup blackberries
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cantaloupe, finely diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together salsa ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Grill the flank steak to medium, about 8 minutes per side, or 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, over hot coals. Slice steak against the grain on the bias. Serve several slices with a large spoonful of salsa.

BLACKBERRY SUMMER COOLER
5 lemons
4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh blackberries
Lemon slices for garnish

Remove zest from three lemons. Squeeze the juice from four lemons to make 1 cup of lemon juice. Boil two cups of water with the sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining two cups of water and allow to cool. In a food processor or blender, puree the blackberries and stir into lemon mixture. Pour through a sieve into a pitcher and chill. Slice remaining lemon into very thin slices. Serve over ice in tall glasses and garnish with lemon slices. Serves 4.

BLACKBERRY VINAIGRETTE SALAD
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced green onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 pint fresh blackberries
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cups mixed salad greens, washed and dried
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced thin

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and garlic; sauté, stirring, for about a minute. Add all the blackberries except for about 12 (for garnish) and cook, stirring, for about two minutes. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom with a spatula and allowing to cook until the vinaigrette is reduced by half. Remove from heat and put blackberries into a blender. Add sugar, mint, and tarragon. Process to a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper. While machine is running add the 1/2 cup olive oil through the feed tube and process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and refrigerate until dressing has cooled completely, at least one hour. Combine greens with almonds and toss with the vinaigrette when ready to serve. Check seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if desired. Divide salad among four plates and top with the feta cheese and sliced avocado. Garnish with blackberries. Serves 4.

BLACKBERRY TRIFLE
1 (11-oz.) frozen pound cake
2/3 cup blackberry jam or preserves
3 cups blackberries
3 kiwis, peeled and cut into chunks
2 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups whole milk
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Blackberries for garnish

Cut pound cake to cover bottom of trifle bowl. Spread cake with jam (heating jam briefly will make this easier). Place all fruit on top of cake. Heat milk in top of double boiler over medium-low heat until film forms. In separate pan, beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla and heat until it forms a ribbon. Slowly pour hot milk into the egg mixture, beating constantly. Place mixture in a heavy pan and stir over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Strain through a fine sieve. Cool custard in a bowl set in ice water. Pour cooled custard over the fruit and refrigerate, covered, for four hours. Whip cream to soft peaks and beat in powdered sugar. Continue beating until stiff. Spread over the trifle and garnish with additional blackberries. Serves 6-8.

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