Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blueberries Two Ways

Continuing with my current berry obsession I bought 5 pints of blueberries from HEB the other day because they cost $1.67 each. 5 pints of blueberries - local blueberries - for less than $10! I am only surprised that I didn't go and buy 20. Nevertheless, I was left with 8 cups of blueberries sitting in my fridge, twice as much as I needed for my open-face blueberry - my concession to patriotic desserts. Also, one of my favorite pies to make if only because it is so simple. You prebake a pie shell - homemade or store-bought, I don't judge - then add your slightly cooked blueberry filling. Chill for a couple of hours and slice into berry heaven. The filling takes less than 15 minutes to make and once you've tasted you'll wonder why anyone would bother buying canned blueberry pie filling, anyway.

 The remaining blueberries left me in a bind. Sure, I could leave them to be eaten as snacks or with yogurt, though I had no yogurt, but without fail some of them (most of them, likely) would go moldy before I (or Seth) had a chance to finish them. I hate to let food spoil. And yet I'm not much of a breakfast person in that I don't care for breakfast, at all (I'd rather wait for lunch) so blueberry pancakes were out. I could only see one way out: I had to make another dessert. Le sigh, my life is so very difficult.

Fortunately, Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for blueberry crumb bars which looked moist, delicious and, according to Deb's write-up and the gazillion comments, were something to make "OMG, right now, because they are amazing!!!" I was a sucker and made them, OMG, right now!!! but I don't think they're amazing; I think they're kind of bland. Sure, they taste like blueberries - yummy, lightly-flavored-with-lemon blueberries - but the cookie part tastes like cooked nothing. I double-checked to be sure I didn't accidentally leave out some vanilla or cinnamon or something - nope, just sugar, flour and butter. OMG, no wonder they're bland!!! I should have checked the original recipe, where cinnamon is listed as a optional ingredient (1/4 teaspoon added to the cookie mixture.) Needless to say, these bars are not overly sweet, which I consider a nod in their favor. In retrospect, however, I would have rather saved my berries for some yogurt.

Open-Face Blueberry Pie
Amanda Foran

1 9-inch pie shell, homemade or store-bought
large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2cup + 2 tablespoons water
4 cups (1 1/4lb) blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice + zest of one lemon
pinch salt

1. Bake your pie shell: Heat oven to 425F and bake, with pie weights or beans in the middle, for 20 minutes. Remove beans/ weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes, until golden. Allow crust to cool slightly, then brush bottom and sides with egg white. Set aside while you prepare filling.

2. In a small ball, whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; set aside. Add 1 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup water to a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until berries begin to burst, about 5 minutes.

3. While stirring the blueberries, to the saucepan add the cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice and zest and pinch of salt. Simmer for one minute until mixture becomes translucent and glossy.

4. Remove pan from heat and gently stir in remaining blueberries. Spoon in prepared pie shell and chill for at least 2 hours before serving, Serve with whipped cream or topping of your choice.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Smitten Kitchen, as adapted from

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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