Tag Archives: blueberry

Be Cool and Patriotic

Cool off at your US Independence Day party with these red, white, and blue popsicles.

My brother bought me some new popsicle molds that look like sailboats, so I’ve been playing around with different recipes.

I made these with my friend, Laura, in mind.  Her favorite holiday is the Fourth of July.  In fact, she likes it so much she even chose it for her wedding date.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now, I’m a sucker for the fun shapes of the popsicle molds (as my husband can tell you), but you don’t need them to make this recipe.  You can just use paper cups and wooden craft sticks.

Patriotic Popsicles
Makes about 6 popsicles (depends on size of molds)

about 1 1/2 cups strawberries, washed and cored
about 2 cups of blueberries, washed and stemmed
3 – 5 Tbsp agave syrup, divided
about 6 Tbsp vanilla yogurt (low-fat, no-fat, whole, or soy all okay)

Puree strawberries with 1 to 2 Tbsp of agave syrup in a food processor or blender.

Pour equal amounts into popsicle molds and place in freezer for about 20 minutes.  This is creating the top layer of your popsicles.

Puree blueberries with 2 to 3 Tbsp of agave syrup in a food processor or blender.

Pour  equal amounts into popsicle molds on top of slightly firm strawberry puree.  Place in freezer for another 20 minutes to create the middle layer of your popsicles.

Remove popsicle molds from freezer and spoon in equal amounts of vanilla yogurt to create the final layer of your popsicles.

 

Put in sticks or tops and place back in freezer to completely firm.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Pie in the Hand Is Worth…

A lot.

Hand pies are great, aren’t they?  I mean, the fact that a piece of pie doesn’t require a fork to eat it is pretty cool.  And, that is not just because I don’t have a dishwasher.  No, I’m more impressed by the ease in which it can move from the pan to my mouth.

I wanted some pie this weekend, and I liked the idea of not using forks, but I didn’t want to roll out and press a bunch of individual pies.  So, I made a slab pie instead.  (ASIDE: When I told my husband that what he was smelling was a slab pie baking in the oven.  He replied that he had never tasted slab, but he hoped it was good.)  No, silly, it is called slab pie for its shape, not its flavor.  It is long, flat, and rectangular, like a stone slab.  I figured it was a sturdy enough pie that once it was cut into slices, it could be eaten out of hand.  I was right.

Strawberry Blueberry Slab Pie
Serves 8 to 12

Crust:

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I mean it, really cold)
3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water

Filling:

4 cups berries (I used equal parts sliced strawberries and blueberries)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 Tbsp orange zest

To make the crust:
I experimented with a Fine Cooking recipe for pie dough because I wanted to use my food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe by hand,  though.

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.

Add the really cold butter and vegetable shortening.

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  It took me about 10 pulses.  You want the fats cold when you mix with the flour so it will stay in little pieces and make your crust flakier instead of just melting together.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cold water and pulse until it just starts to come together.  It took me about 8 pulses.  Be careful not to overprocess.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and with your fingers shape into a rectangle that is about 8 x 12 inches.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Make filling:
In a bowl, toss together  berries, salt, sugar, cornstarch, orange juice, and orange zest.  Set aside.

Assemble and bake pie:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Retrieve the dough from the refrigerator and turn out on t0 a lightly floured work surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thick rectangle.  You can probably get as large as 12 x 18 inches, but it is okay if it is smaller.  You may need to add a bit more flour as you roll, so it doesn’t stick.  If you want it pretty, you should trim the dough and make the sides straight.  If you don’t care how it looks, just how it tastes, leave it alone.

Transfer the dough to your prepared baking sheet and turn it so the long side if facing you.  Spoon/spread the berry filling along the bottom half, leaving about a 1/2-inch border.  Because my berries were so juicy, I used a slotted spoon to move the berries onto the pie crust.

Fold the top half down to cover the filling.  I lifted the exposed bottom layer on top of the top layer to seal the pie, but you can line up the edges, if you prefer.

To seal the filled pie, press a fork along the seam or edges to secure the sides.  Press the fork down gently, just enough to create a good bond, but not so hard that you push through to the second layer of dough and pierce it, which could cause the filling to leak. (Like what I did.)

In a small bowl, beat an egg with about 2 tsp of water to create an egg wash.  Brush this mixture over the top of the sealed pie.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut 5 or 6 steam vents into the top of the dough.

Bake until the pie is golden brown, about 50 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut into slices.  It is best eaten within 24 hours, but it will keep for a couple of days, well-wrapped in the refrigerator.

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Berrylicious Jam

I finally went to pick strawberries this weekend with my friend, Virginia.  We had a compressed strawberry harvest this year with smaller and fewer berries, but I still managed to bring home almost 15 pounds.  Some might say I have a problem.  I say be prepared for several more posts on strawberries on this blog.

I must admit, though, that I was a bit daunted by the 15 pounds of strawberries last night.  You see to take advantage of the wonderful just-picked flavor of the berries, I need to start processing and preparing them quickly after getting home.  Well, washing and coring that many strawberries takes a while.  It seems to take even longer when you’re tired and sore from home renovation.  Oh, but the smell of my kitchen when I’m making jam makes it so worth it.

Of course I made a batch of strawberry preserves again, but I also decided to experiment and make a small batch of strawberry blueberry jam.  I’m very glad I did.

This is an easy recipe to get started with making preserves and it isn’t a big commitment of time and resources since it makes 2 small jars.  You can also use this as a guide for your own kitchen experiments and vary the fruit and the amounts staying to the 2:1 ratio for fruit to sugar.  You can also use an orange or lime instead of lemon.

Strawberry Blueberry Jam
Makes 2 1/2 pint (8 oz) jars

1 pint (2 cups) strawberries – washed, cored, and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries – washed with stems removed
2 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Combine fruit and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium-high heat.

The sugar will melt and it will start to bubble.  Stir frequently and let it cook until the juices are no longer cloudy-looking.  Probably around 5 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat.  Let it sit for about an hour to macerate some more and get really juicy.  Then, turn the heat back to medium and cook the mixture.  The amount of cooking time will vary slightly depending on the type of fruit, the amount, and the pot you are using.  But, you cook it until it is the right consistency.  How do you know it is the right consistency?  Well, I use a couple of different methods…

One is the “freezer test.”  I put a small plate/saucer in the freezer when I start to cook the fruit.  When the mixture has thickened and I think it is ready, I dribble a bit of the jam (like a 1/4 tsp) on the cold plate and then put it back in the freezer.  Thirty seconds later, I remove the plate and run my finger through the blob of jam.  If my finger has created a clear path through the jam, and it does not run back together, it is ready to jar.  If the path disappears in a puddle of jam, I know I need to cook it longer.

The other method is to use a candy thermometer.  The temperature to strive for will vary slightly with the fruit  you use, but 220 degrees F, is a safe bet for this particular recipe.

This batch was ready to jar after about 15 minutes of cooking and stirring.

I use glass jars with a vacuum seal for my jams and preserves, and I provide directions on that process on the post on strawberry preserves.

For a small batch recipe like this, however, you may not want to go to that much of effort.  You can put the cooked jam in a sealable container with a lid and keep in your refrigerator for a couple of  months or in your freezer for close to 12 months.  But, because it hasn’t been processed, you cannot store it on a shelf in your pantry or cabinets.

Happy preserving this summer!

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Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Now that we have a working oven again, I’m back to my usual baking antics.  This was inspired by a pint of fresh blueberries and a partial container of light sour cream in our refrigerator.  I turned it into a coffee cake because I don’t have any muffin tins in my rented kitchen.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar.

Add egg.

Stir in sour cream and vanilla.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients of baking powder, salt, and flour.

Gently fold in blueberries.  Poured into a greased and floured baking dish.  I used a 9×9 square dish.  The batter will be thick.

Blend together brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon.

Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the baking dish.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  This is great warm out of the oven or at room temperature.

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Peachy Keen for Pie

I’ve been feeling a bit homesick lately.  I find that I usually turn to cooking dishes from home to help me through those feelings.  The brisket we smoked this weekend definitely helped, but so did the peach blueberry pie.

July is usually the sweetest month for peaches in the Hill Country of Texas.  If I were back in Texas now, I would have already gone peach picking and made a ridiculous number of peach dishes.  And, I would have made myself sticky with all the sweet peachy juice.  Mmmm.

According to Texas media sources, the area’s favorable fall and winter conditions, paired with no late killing frosts or harsh thunderstorms, have resulted in the best peach crop in years in the Texas Hill Country.  The peaches harvested in the Hill Country are known for truly exceptional taste and quality. The perfect combination of sandy soil, optimal moisture, warm days, and cool nights create a special flavor that folks travel from far and wide to experience.  There is nothing like a fresh-picked Hill Country peach!  I hope you can try one someday, but in the meantime, enjoy the fresh-picked peaches in your area.

Peach Blueberry Pie
Makes one 9 1/2 inch deep dish, double-crust pie

For crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup Crisco
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice water
I cube the butter right out of the refrigerator and place in a bowl with Crisco and flour. I then place this bowl in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to keep the ingredients and dough cold.  Then, I use my pastry cutter to blend until it is consistency of pea-sized crumbs.
Drizzle on the ice water and stir with a fork until crumbs are moistened and it is starting to clump together.
Press the dough into a ball and divide into two pieces, one slightly smaller than the other (that will be top pie crust). Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

For filling:
4 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix peaches and blueberries with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Taste.  You may want to add more sugar, if it is too tart for you.  I usually err on the side of less sugar so as to allow the fresh fruit taste to come through.  Plus, I usually serve pie with ice cream that adds some sweet. You may also want to add more cornstarch if your peaches are particularly juicy.  Let it sit while you make the crust and you can judge before putting it in the crust.

When ready to create your pie, roll out the larger circle of dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch in thickness and around 13 inches in diameter.  This is the bottom pie crust for your 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie pan.

Pour the fruit filling into the crust.  Roll out the second round of pie dough now.  You can roll it into a circle a little smaller in diameter that the last one to cover the pie completely.  Or, you can roll it out into a rectangle and cut strips to weave into a lattice.  Or, you can roll it out into a rough shape and use cookie cutters to cut shapes and lay on top of the fruit.  Be creative.  This time I rolled the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter and used two sized star-shaped cookie cutters to cut designs into it.  Then, lay it on top of the filling and seal edges.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/4 hours until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

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Granita for Grown-ups

I often get a little carried away at the farmer’s market and it can be a struggle not to purchase more produce than we can use in a timely fashion.  Case in point – I picked up some locally-grown blueberries recently without a clear idea of what I would make with them.  They just looked yummy.  I started planning to make some more popsicles, but decided that I would rather have something with a bit more adult sophistication, instead.  Enter the blueberry basil granita.

With a recipe from Epicurious as my guide, I picked basil from our backyard to provide an herbal element that pairs well with fruit.  And with a nod to my dark side, I added a splash (or three) of citrus vodka.

Blueberry Basil Granita
Makes 4 servings

1 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
8 fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp lime zest
4 tsp honey
2 1/2 Tbsp citrus vodka (optional)

Wash the blueberries and pick out any stems.

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Pour into an airtight container and freeze until slushy.  My batch took about 3 hours to reach the right consistency.

Scoop out into individual servings.

If you are feeling sophisticated, too, you can garnish each serving with a sprig of basil or a couple more blueberries.  If you are not feeling sophisticated, stick out your tongue stained blue with berry juice.

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