Monday, June 28, 2010

Bursting with Blueberries



With our recent trip to pick blueberries, we are bursting at the seams with blueberries. This is really a wonderful thing because blueberries are considered a "Super Food". It's a refreshing berry that can be used in many creative ways in the kitchen but they are also packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium, and vitamin C. Blueberries have been found to reduce cholesterol, decrease heart disease, elevate mood, increase cognitive functioning, and improve skin. So you can eat your "apple a day" but I think I'll stick with a 1/2 cup of blueberries a day to keep my doctor away.

We snack on them throughout the day but I also found lots of recipes to use them in. I first made a blueberry almond french toast bake which sounded wonderful but I was disappointed that the recipe called for using wheat bread because the wheat flavor really overpowered the other flavors in the dish. No more random recipes from the Internet. Next time around, I decided to stick with a proven plan and searched for recipes by our favorite chef, Alton Brown. Who is Alton Brown?



He's the sparky chef on the show Good Eats on the Food Network channel that makes cooking seem fun while he teaches you about the science behind cooking such as what happens to the proteins when you heat this ingredient and why is that important to the final result that you want. He does this with cute props, stage crew in costumes, a magic refrigerator, and just lots of fun entertainment. Oh, and he always has awesome recipes that I know will turn out great. We have an autographed copy of his first cookbook, I'm Just Here For The Food, which was one of the best selling cookbooks when it came out in 2002 and won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Cookbook in the Reference category.

I made Alton's Blueberry Buckle recipe. My wonderful husband even found a clip from Alton's Blueberry Buckle show on YouTube so check it out for yourself - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7OXu5T5UyQ

Blueberry Buckle
by Alton Brown

Ingredients

For the cake:

* Nonstick cooking spray
* 9 ounces cake flour, approximately 2 cups
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
* 5 1/4 ounces sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 15 ounces fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups

For the topping:

* 3 1/2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
* 1 1/2 ounces cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* 2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed



Directions

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add 1/3 of the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.



For the topping:

In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving...

...if you can wait that long!



Delicious!

My son is quite creative with food as well. He was playing on my laptop while I put Rachel down for her nap. When I came back, he said that he helped himself to a snack - a peanut butter blueberry sandwich. Simple and interesting...just bread, peanut butter, and fresh blueberries. Creative little guy but we did have a little talk about eating sticky peanut butter and juicy blueberries while working on Mommy's computer!



Of course, we had to make our own blueberry lemonade too! Tastes vary, even in our household, about how sweet or tart a lemonade should be so you should experiment to find out the proportions that work best for you.





I couldn't find a blueberry lemonade recipe from Alton Brown but we also like Bobby Flay so I started with his recipe.

Blueberry Lemonade
by Bobby Flay

Ingredients

* 3 cups blueberries
* 3/4 cups sugar
* 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 3 cups cold water
* Ice cubes

Directions

Place the blueberries and sugar in a blender and puree.





(Note from me: This is a yummy syrup that could also be used in other ways like added to plain oatmeal or as an ice cream topping.)

Place the lemon juice and water in a pitcher and strain the pureed blueberries through a medium mesh sieve into the pitcher. Stir well and pour into tall ice filled glasses.

Note: This recipe has a very tangy, tart flavor which I like but my kids do not. So I made a separate pitcher that had extra blueberry syrup and water to cut down on the tartness for them.

Now I'm off go enjoy a little Blueberry Buckle with my ice cold Blueberry Lemonade. Enjoy blueberry season while it lasts!

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