I’m a huge fan of summer berries and going back to my Maine roots, blueberries are by far my favorite of all the berries. And because I am a native Mainer, when it comes to blueberries, in my opinion wild ones are far superior to cultivated ones. Smaller in size and darker in color, wild blueberries are sweeter and yield more of a “summer taste”. Unfortunately, fresh wild blueberries aren’t easy to find in many parts of the world so fresh cultivated ones will do in a pinch–because after all, fresh blueberries are better than no blueberries at all.
When you’ve had your fill of blueberry pies, pancakes and muffins and you’ve canned more jam than you can possibly eat and/or gift (can you tell what I do will all my fresh berries?), it is time to look for alternative uses for these sweet little berries. And when that time comes, look no further than this easy and flavorful tea cake from Williams Sonoma. The cake comes together quickly and with just a hint of spicy cardamom and a generous amount of fresh blueberries, it is the perfect snack or lunchbox treat. Of course, fresh wild blueberries are best but lacking them, feel free to substitute cultivated ones or even frozen berries. If you do use the frozen version, be sure to lightly dust them in flour before adding them to the batter. This will prevent them from “bleeding”.
BLUEBERRY TEA CAKE
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups fresh wild blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Coat an 8 inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until thick and fluffy.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter, rum and lemon zest.
- Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the yogurt, and stir until just smooth.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with the spatula.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.
Yields: 1- 8 inch square cake
Chutney is one of my favorite condiments. Chutneys are simple sauces that combine sweet with savory, a place where a healthy dose of spices combines with fruits and vegetables to create a flavorful sauce that is the perfect accompaniment to just about any meat or poultry. This chutney was inspired by one I found on the Epicurious website. At first glance the combination of ingredients may seem a bit strange. Blueberries and rhubarb are a sweet and sour pairing that makes sense but onion, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger? Absolutely. It is this curious combination of spices and flavors that makes chutney so wonderful. And chutney is so forgiving; you can add or substitute spices as inspiration hits. If your taste buds crave it there isn’t a wrong combination. Because it taste best served at room temperature it travels well and can sit on a dinner or buffet table for hours.
I served this chutney at room temperature alongside grilled ribeye steaks but it would be just as good with grilled chicken.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 cardamom pod
4 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
3/4 cup dried blueberries
3 green onions, chopped
- Combine the sugar, red wine vinegar, cinnamon sticks, ginger, orange peel and cardamom pod in a large sauce pan set over medium heat.
- Cook until the sugar dissolves and just begins to boil.
- Add the rhubarb, dried blueberries, and green onions and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the temperature and continue to cook until the rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes.
- Discard the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pod.
- Cover and refrigerate until the chutney is cold, at least 1 hour.
- Return to room temperature before serving.
Yields: 2 cups