Blueberries Archive

Thursday, July 31, 2014

blueberry crumb cake

blueberry crumb cake

Theoretically, we are supposed to move this Saturday, but evidence is mounting — in the form of a kitchen without countertops or appliances, a toilet in the middle of the living room, and a peeling, black bathtub that looks like the kind place you’d find a horror movie victim — that it might not happen. Did I mention the great plume of drywall dust from the doorway they’re sawing out of a wall today? Nothing that 48 hours can’t sort out, right?

new york's finest blueberries
what you'll need

It’s a good thing, in Opposite Land, that we are not the kind of people who plan every element of a big event like a move up to a month out, with each detail, from sending the kid to his grandparents for a couple nights so he doesn’t have to watch all shh, most of his toys get boxed up, or ordering furniture to be delivered that morning, furniture we have exactly no space for in our current overfilled apartment. I realize that I sound like we’re at Stress Level: Hip Flask this week, but it’s not so bad, mostly because I’ve chosen instead to focus my energies this month on blueberry crumb cake studies.

lemon zest

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

blue and red berry ricotta galette

blue and red berry star galettes

Were you about to make a pie for this weekend? Stop. I think you should join me in abandoning Team Pie for Team Galette; you won’t regret it. It’s not like we haven’t had our share of exceptional vegetable galettes, but save a nectarine version in the archives and a cherry-almond riff in the book, I usually defaulted to pie when it came to fruit, round, slabbed or cookie-ed. But last week, when we had an excess of blueberries on our hand because someone (cough) cannot control herself when anything first graces the Greenmarkets, it all felt like so much work — all of that dough, sugar, crimping and weaving and trimming, baking time, plus I have no idea where my pie dishes are, they’re probably being used as a play-doh receptacle somewhere. A galette would never do this to you.

blueberries, cherries

Galettes are your friend. Requiring less of everything, they come together in all of 15 minutes and take 30 to bake, which means you can totally wait until the last minute to make one, as you were going to anyway. They don’t care if you make them round or square — whatever shape the dough stretches out into will do. But that doesn’t mean someone (cough) didn’t get carried away trying to put a July 4th spin on hers.

threading the dough with lemon zestwork butter into flour mixture
add ricotta and waterknead into a craggy ball

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 30, 2012

vanilla custards with roasted blueberries

custards with roasted blueberries

Today is my sister’s birthday. Every year, I ask her what kind of cake I can make her and do you know what she says? “I don’t want a cake. I just want a big bowl of vanilla bean custard.” I hope you understand how hard this is for me (and please read that back in your brattiest little sister voice; it is, after all, all about me, right?) Making elaborate birthday cakes for family and friends is my thing. It has launched an entire section of this site, and portion of my cookbook (which includes my son’s 2nd, my husband’s 37th and 38th, and maybe even your next birthday cakes, too). I delight in trying to find a layered summary of everyone’s favorite things that fits in a cake carrier, and I think it’s awfully mean of my sister to deny me this outlet every August 30th. (Huff. Puff.) A bowl of custard? There’s not much to say about it.

getting ready to make custards
to begin

Or, there might not be if your narrator wasn’t such a blabbermouth. To wit: Custard, or pastry cream, is a pretty big deal in my family. My mother and sister especially consider it among the dessert greats, whereas others mostly look at it as just an element of grander things. It’s the filling of cream puffs and eclairs; it forms a delightful layer underneath freshly sliced strawberries or an artful arrangement of stunning fruit. Sometimes, it separates cake layers, fills the hollows of doughnuts and Boston Cream Pies, too. But it rarely gets its own day in the sun — or you know, single serving bowl with a spoon — and my sister thinks that it should.

whisk, whisk, whisk

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

flag cake

berry flag cake

Last year, I brought a flag cake to a 4th of July rooftop barbecue. Earlier in the week, I’d harbored fantasies about making an elaborate ice cream cake or layered berry yogurt popsicles or salads teetering on the edge of food safety standards but New York City, as it always seems to be in the first week of July, was at the crest of a week-plus of ever-increasing temperatures and stickiness, a summit where it tends to linger for a few even more airless days before finally releasing the thunder and lightening, sinking the mercury back to a brief day or two of something resembling temperate before it starts the climb again. What, me? No fan of NYC summers? Where would you get such an idea?

cake batter
buttery sheet cake

(This is also the time of year, every year, where I break my please-don’t-be-so-dull-as-to-complain-about-the-weather-Deb rule. Forgive me) Anyway, the heat got the better of my ambitions and I decided to make a simple yellow sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and an arrangement of patriotic berries that had, in fact, been imported from Baja. To me, it was good, cute even, but nothing crazy, just something I’d seen kicked around magazines and TV shows for two decades, hardly a revolutionary idea. My friends, however — many of whom use their ovens for sweater storage and gasp! do not spend their days ingesting various formats of food media — went absolutely ballistic over it. When strangers from other parties on the roof started taking some, they became possessive of their cake and shooed them away. The told me in no uncertain terms would I ever be welcome at a July 4th party again without it.

cream cheese frosting

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 25, 2012

triple berry summer buttermilk bundt

summer berry buttermilk bundt

Our toddler left us. Or, at least until Friday. Over the last 2 3/4 years, we’ve occasionally been blessed with the chance to go away for a few days sans bébé. We return well-rested and smiling, sandy grit in the bottom of our suitcases, traces of whatever had vexed us before we left deliciously eviscerated from memory, and almost giddy with excitement to start scraping spaghetti from the underside of the high chair again. But this is the first time — with barely a “Sayonara!” as he ran out the door or a single “Wish you were here!” postcard from the road — that Jacob has headed out for lazier climes without us. He’s spending a week at the mountain retreat of Camp Grandparents, where he’s forced to endure petting zoos, baby pools, wide expanses of fresh air, nonstop adoration, and, no doubt, all of the ice cream he can talk them into.

three berries
light and so very fluffy batter

Meanwhile, Alex and I have been left behind to attend to our assigned daily grinds and realize how totally dull this place is in the morning without a toddler buzzing from room to room at the crack of dawn, pulling on our earlobes to announce, “I’m awake! Wake UP!” and serenading us with ABCs on his guitar. We’ve also learned that we share differing interpretations of a week’s Vacation From Parenting. For example, I was thinking that, freed from the daily whirlwind of tight schedules, tantrums, irregular sleep patterns and spontaneous song-and-dance-and-marching! parties that life with a toddler demands, we could finally get caught up on things that have been neglected for the last 2 3/4 years. My to-do list for this week involves such enticing tasks as “Get the apartment painted!” “Rearrange furniture and pictures!” “Clean out closets!” “Meet at gym every day after work,” and “Back-up and replace laptops.” I was also thinking we could read and discuss “War and Peace” every night before we hit the pillow, but didn’t want to be overly ambitious. Alex’s comparatively modest list includes such audacious suggestions as “Get lots of sleep, get drinks with friends, watch TV with the sound on and the Closed Captioning off, and very little else.” Yeah, so who would you rather party with? It’s okay, I won’t take it personally.

folding in the floured berries

Continued after the jump »