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  • Writer's pictureChef Kelly Unger

Raspberries & Sonker for July 4th!

All berries are brain food, and raspberries are loaded with Vitamin C to boost your immunity and repair skin. Raspberries are also anti-inflammatory, good for your eyes, full of potassium, high in fiber and magnesium, and contain compounds that will help improve your memory. While you hardly need a reason to eat more raspberries, I just gave you a few. Raspberries are so perfect for 4th of July festivities, playing the role of red in the patriotic color scheme, with blueberries for the blue and any cream or vanilla thing as the white. Three cheers for the red, white and blue!

I love raspberries and chocolate together. Sometimes I pop a chocolate chip into the center of a raspberry. And I love the French custom of serving fresh fruit mixed with Cassis or red wine. Since raspberries are ripe in summer, I like to serve them with rose instead of red wine. I like to muddle a few in the bottom of the serving dish, then add the rest of the whole raspberries and pour on the chilled rose and stir to combine and enjoy immediately. I just add enough wine to be like a sauce for the berries.

Since I vacation in North Carolina every summer, I enjoy getting to know the customs, traditions, vernacular and culinary history. I’m familiar with the fruit crisp, of course, and a cobbler, slab pie, and even the pandowdy. But it wasn't until I spent a significant amount of time in North Carolina that I heard of the fruit dessert called sonker. That’s right, sonker. I read about it in a magazine, so it wasn’t like I misheard someone pronounce the word. To simplify, a sonker is kind of a cross between a slab pie and a cobbler or pandowdy, in that it’s made in a large shallow pan like a slab pie but only has a top crust, like a cobbler or pandowdy. Though in true Southern fashion, there is some disagreement on one crust or two. A sonker’s top crust is like a pie crust, with holes cut into it for venting. The other component and distinguishing factor of a sonker is it’s accompanying vanilla cream “dip”. In true North Carolina fashion, the word dip is not literal. The sonker dip is a sauce poured onto it. Why is it called a dip? It’s North Carolina so, we may never really know but it’s kind of a vernacular thing. So since blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are all in season right now, a three berry sonker seems like an imperative. I don’t have my own recipe for a sonker so I’ll share the link to Southern Living’s recipe for a Triple Berry Sonker. It’s delicious and not hard to make. Click here: Sounthern Living - Triple Berry Sonker

Also available at the farmers markets now are green beans, carrots with their green tops, zucchini and more fresh peas. Did you know you can eat the carrot tops? They are so packed with carrot flavor and are perfect in salads and make a great pesto! Use steamed snow peas and raw kohlrabi slices as pesto dipping vessels. And since we’re Northerners, dip really means dip! Enjoy!

photo courtesy of Southern Living

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