Cooking with Berries


Recipes from Café Rouge

In early summer, when berries come tumbling into the markets, no chef can resist them as a garnish. Berries start poking out from amid the micro greens in salads, and a homey berry cobbler suddenly appears on every dessert menu. The chefs at Cafe Rouge are as enthused about berries as anyone, but our decision to showcase this wonderful West Berkeley dining venue with our summer recipes was a bit arbitrary; we could have gotten good berry recipes from any number of other sources, but we simply wanted to share our enjoyment of Cafe Rouge.


Since she founded Cafe Rouge in 1996, owner Marsha McBride has been a strong supporter of our local, sustainable producers, but she is best known for her leadership in working with a select group of ranchers who practice careful land stewardship and compassionate treatment of their stock. The cafe menu benefits from these longstanding partnerships, but so do local home cooks, who can come to the cafe’s retail butcher shop to purchase the same expertly cut, organic meats and house-rendered and house-cured meat items that are used in the cafe kitchen.


An exciting innovation at the cafe has been a monthly butchery class, where students learn about the journey from land to table. The classes feature a different animal each month and are led off with a talk by one of McBride’s ranchers, followed by a demonstration of the butcher’s craft by Scott Brennan, lead butcher at Cafe Rouge.  Throughout the evening, executive chef Rick DeBeaord brings out a variety of dishes illustrating how the various cuts of meat are used in the cafe’s menus.


Chef DeBeaord’s menus change biweekly, and dishes show great finesse in their subtle balancing of seasonal flavors. He also takes obvious delight in the simple things that have helped the cafe weather the recession. One trick, he says, has been the addition of snack items to the bar menu, where an excellent wine list and oysters on the half shell have drawn enthusiastic crowds for years. Another has been Scott Brennan’s superb house-made hot dogs, which are served with house-made pickles and sauerkraut from a large smoking Weber grill out on the market plaza’s large patio.  “It’s our vacation,” McBride pipes into the conversation.


Mâche salad with blueberries and toasted almonds

Courtesy of Rick DeBeaord, executive chef at Café Rouge

½ pound mâche
1 pint blueberries
1 cup almonds
½ teaspoon Espelette pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Place almonds on baking sheet and toast in 350˚ oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cool and chop roughly. Mix olive oil into vinegar with whisk then add salt and Espelette pepper.

When ready to serve toss all ingredients together and serve on chilled plates.

Serves 6.


Sautéed Chicken Breast With Lillet Blackberry And Raspberry Sauce

Courtesy of Rick DeBeaord, executive chef at Café Rouge

12 ounces chicken breast
½ pint blackberries
½ pint raspberries
¼ cup white Lillet (a
citrus-flavored French
aperitif wine)
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 450˚.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in an ovenproof pan. Place chicken in pan with skin side down and brown, then bake chicken in oven for 12 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove chicken from pan onto a serving plate pan and pour off butter and fat. Add berries, Lillet, and 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Simmer over high heat for 3 minutes.

Pour sauce over chicken breast.

Serve with brown rice and sautéed zucchini. Serves 2.


Iced summer berry pudding

Courtesy of Bernice Tzong, pastry chef at Café Rouge. Stop by the café this summer to try her berry ice creams and sorbets.

For the glaze:
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons strawberry jam
4 tablespoons crème de cassis (optional)
2 cups fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

Line a 2½–3 quart pudding mold or a glass bowl with plastic wrap. Heat the water with sugar over stove until all the sugar is dissolved. Mix 1 tablespoon of this sugar syrup with

2 tablespoons strawberry jam in a bowl. Brush the mixture over the plastic wrap and then line with sliced strawberries.

Mix remaining sugar syrup with the remaining strawberry jam and all the crème de cassis. Set aside.

For the sponge cake
(can be made in advance):
4 eggs
4½ ounces sugar
4½ ounces cake flour

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a half-sheet cake pan (11 x 18 inches) with parchment paper. (If you don’t have a half-sheet cake pan, you could try two layer cake pans.)

Whip the eggs with sugar until light and fluffy (about triple in volume). Sift cake flour over the eggs and sugar and then fold it in. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading the batter evenly
in a thin layer.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Baking time will vary, based on how thinly the batter is spread.) Let cool to room temperature before removing from the pan.

Cut cake into a circle to match the size of the top opening of your pudding mold. Then slice the rest of the cake into triangles and brush with the strawberry glaze. Line the pudding
mold with overlapped cake pieces and press them against the strawberries.

For the raspberry mousse:
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups whipped cream, chilled
1¼ cup sugar

Mix 1½ cups raspberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Cool slightly and purée in food processor along with the rest of the raspberries,
then press through a sieve to remove seeds. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Mix 1 cup of chilled whipped cream into raspberry mixture until well combined.

Fold in remaining whipped cream and then pour this raspberry mousse into the pudding mold, filling almost to the top.

Put the cake circle on top of the mousse then put the pudding in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

About 15 minutes before serving, take the pudding from the freezer, dip the pudding mold in hot water for about 30 seconds then flip it over onto a plate.

Take off the plastic wrap.

Dip a long knife in hot water and cut pudding into wedges.

Serve with fresh berries of your choice.

Serves 6–8.

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