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Tuesday, August 3, 2021 10:25 AM
Whether you pick your own, rake your own, or buy them from roadside pop-up vendors or your favorite farmer, Maine blueberry season is in full flood. This year, as with many crops, berries began ripening about two weeks earlier than usual, but the crop is bountiful.
Blueberries, in addition to having outstanding antioxidant properties, are the perfect fruit: when used fresh in a cake or muffin, they hold their shape as perfect little nuggets of flavor. But combine them with water and sweetener and they release their juices for soupy buckles, crisps, pies and crumbles. They make great jam, and they can go straight into the freezer with little fuss. To freeze, sort and remove twigs or leaves, but don’t rinse your berries. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place them in the freezer for two hours. They can then be poured into a freezer bag or airtight container and kept in the freezer for up to six months. Blueberries can also be oven-dried, to take on a camping trip for use in granola or yogurt. For a half-cup of dried berries, take a cup of fresh ones and toss them with a teaspoon of honey. Heat your oven to 225 degrees and bake the berries on a parchment-lined baking sheet until shriveled but still a bit soft, about two hours, then let them cool.
What’s the perfect use for blueberries? For breakfast, you can’t beat a blueberry muffin. The best recipe around is the one served in the tea room of Jordan Marsh, Boston’s iconic department store. One tip: Fill each muffin compartment about three-quarters full; a recipe that says it makes a dozen muffins should really only make 10 — in my world.
J O R D A N M A R S H B L U E B E R R Y M U F F I N S
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar, plus 1⁄4 cup for topping
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 21⁄2 cups blueberries
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 cup blueberries, plus more for topping
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 8 Tbsp. sugar, divided
- Pinch sea salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each. In a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture along with the milk and vanilla. Add the berries to the batter, stirring until just combined. Scoop the batter into a greased or paper-lined 12-cup muffin pan. Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar over each muffin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
If blueberry pancakes are a family favorite, a Dutch baby is a pancake raised up several notches, with a contrast of crispy, crusty outside and soft, custardy center. Because it’s a giant cake made in the oven, the cook doesn’t have to stand flipping pancakes while others tuck in. One of our fledgling chefs, at age 11, has made this his signature breakfast.
B L U E B E R R Y D U T C H B A B Y P A N C A K E S
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend together eggs, milk, flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a blender.
Melt butter in a cast-iron or oven-proof skillet (at least eight inches in diameter) over medium-high heat. Pour in batter, then scatter with berries. Bake until puffed and cooked through and top is set, about 20 minutes. An alternate method of baking is to place a 9×13-inch glass baking pan and butter in the pre-heating oven while you prepare the batter and proceed as you would with the skillet. Either way, when done, top with additional berries and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or with butter and maple syrup. Serve immediately.
With midsummer weather finally warming up after a rainy month, you’d be a fool to be stuck slaving over a hot oven. A better type of fool is a make-ahead dessert, as pretty as it is delicious, with streaks of purple puree throughout.
Combine blueberries, lemon juice, cinnamon, four tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until blueberries become very soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree. Pour into a sieve set over a bowl, stirring and pressing on solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and refrigerate puree until cold and thickened slightly, at least 1 hour or, covered with plastic wrap, up to a day. Beat cream with remaining sugar to soft peaks in a large, wide bowl. Drizzle puree evenly over cream and fold cream over puree twice with a large rubber spatula or slotted spoon just until puree is streaked throughout cream. (Do not overmix, lest you end up with a fool that’s a dull grey in hue.) Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual serving dishes and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Serve cold.
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