Reports from the field here and there say it was a good year for local blueberries. The ones I got couldn't have been more perfect, Sweet Blues from Hollywood. Now they wait in the freezer for their time to shine.
I never imagined that blueberries would thrive in the Lowcountry. I always assumed they were more suitable to colder climates, like Maine.
We even have a native species, the Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum.
The shrub is very com- mon in the coastal plain and commercial cultivars were derived from it, according to Richard Porcher's book, "Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry."
Agnes Pat Nelson of Moncks Corner wrote to ask for "unusual" recipes for blueberries. She, too, said her blueberry bushes were loaded this summer.
Dorothy Porcher Holland says her family loves this recipe.
"I saw the recent request for blueberry recipes and it reminded me of one from Oprah Magazine several years ago. I tried it one summer when it seemed everyone I knew was bringing me pints, quarts and even gallons of blueberries. This is for a blueberry focaccia bread that makes a great breakfast, goes well for afternoon tea -- British style or with Southern sweet tea -- and I think even makes a lovely dessert, though it is not overly sweet. You could add ice cream though ..."
1 package ( 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, divided use
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Vegetable oil for greasing
2 pints (5 or 6 cups) blueberries
In a small bowl, mix yeast and water; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir egg into yeast; pour into flour mixture and mix on low speed. Add butter, and mix until combined. Knead dough until smooth and pliable but still relatively wet, about 5 minutes on a stand mixer.
Grease a large bowl and 2 baking sheets with oil; set baking sheets aside. Scrape dough into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve dough, and place 1 piece on each baking sheet. Stretch out slightly, until dough forms a 1-inch-thick oval; cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise again about 1 hour.
With greased fingers, dimple surface of each loaf; sprinkle with 1 pint berries and 1/4 cup brown sugar each. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating once. Slice and serve warm.
Judy Reinhard of Sullivan's Island, retired owner of fred kitchen store on King Street, shares this from Southern Living's July issue.
Says Judy, "I do not serve this as a traditional salsa with chips, although that would be fine. I use it as a condiment to fish, chicken, pork, sausages, lamb, whatever. I also made it last week, substituting fresh cherries for the blueberries and it was equally lovely. I am enjoying the basic recipe and can only imagine the possibilities."
2 cups blueberries, chopped
1 cup blueberries, whole
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/3 cup red (or yellow or orange) pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
Toss ingredients. Serve immediately or cover and chill for 8 hours. This will last at least a week in the refrigerator.
Even Pat Nelson replied to her own request, passing along a recipe sent to her by friends.
4 cups blueberries
3 cups vodka
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 cups granulated sugar
Mash berries and add vodka, water and cloves in a glass container. Cover container and let stand at room temperature for 10 days. Strain and discard residue. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let stand for 24 hours and bottle.
Nancy Kruger of the Isle of Palms says this coffee cake is a hit with family and friends. The original recipe called for huckleberries but she always uses blueberries instead.
This recipe was voted by Cooking Light staff members as one of their top five recipes from the magazine's first 10 years.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Makes 10 servings
1/4 stick margarine, softened
1/2 (8-ounce) package nonfat cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, unthawed
Vegetable cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Beat margarine and cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating well. Add egg; beat well.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into margarine mixture. Stir in vanilla; fold in berries. Pour batter into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour; cool on a wire rack.
Per serving: Calories 209 (23 percent from fat), protein 3.7g, fat 5.3g (1g saturated), carbohydrates 36.9g, fiber 1.7g, cholesterol 24mg, sodium 188mg.
I thought to chip in a recipe from the "True Blueberry" cookbook by Linda Dannenberg (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005.) It has traditional blueberry recipes but many unusual ones as well.
Of this recipe, the author writes, "This colorful and delicious squash dish, offered to me by my friend Michael Stinchcomb, makes a festive addition to a holiday table. Michael serves the squash as one of several side dishes to accompany a roast turkey or baked ham."
Baked Acorn Squash With Blueberry Filling
3 acorn squash, halved, seeds and strings removed
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the insides of the squash with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet and spread 1 tablespoon of the butter over it. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes, until the squash is firm-tender.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar and set over medium-high heat. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly thickened. Add a pinch of salt and stir to blend. Set aside in the pan.
Remove the squash from the oven. Using a sharp knife, slice a small disk from the bottom of each piece (taking care not to cut into the bottom of the cavity) so the squash will be able to sit straight on the baking sheet when turned over. Turn the squash over so they're cut side up and spoon the blueberry mixture equally into the cavities. Spoon the remaining fresh blueberries, about 2 tablespoons per squash half, on top of the blueberry mixture. Return to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the squash is tender. Serve immediately.
Ice cream and cobbler aren't unusual recipes, but how can we not include these blueberry treats?
From Leslie Rowell of Andrews:
Blueberry Ice Cream
Yield: about 1 3/4 quarts
4 cups blueberries
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 cups half-and-half
In a large saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until sugar is dissolved and berries are softened. Strain mixture; discard seeds and skins. Stir in cream. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Allow to ripen in ice cream freezer or firm up in the refrigerator freezer for 2 to 4 hours before serving.
Eloise Gatch of Walterboro says she's flush with blueberries and has been busy baking. She bakes this easy cobbler every season.
4 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
1 cup self-rising flour
1 egg, beaten
6 tablespoons butter
Put the blueberries in a casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over blueberries. Mix flour, egg and the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix with a whisk until crumbly or mix it by hand. Spread over blueberries. Melt the butter and pour over the blueberries. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 or 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Who's got the recipe?
--Elsie Clees of James Island wonders if any readers would have the recipe for "Panama Sue" cookie/bar. "A friend of mine attended a garden club gathering and ate these and she said they were the best cookie she had ever eaten."
--Lou Miles of West Ashley remembers a dish called straw and hay pasta that was served by the Med Deli in the late '80s and early '90s. "I think it was prepared with sausage and the fettucine was a mixture of spinach and natural ... I would love to have this recipe if it could be located from someone from the 'old' Med Deli."
--A Summerville reader got a new standup mixer and wants to try her hand at pizza dough.
--A West Ashley reader is still looking for some fresh ideas for cooking for two.
--A colleague is looking for main dishes that freeze well and vegetable sides that don't use heavy creams or sauces.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.