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Sometimes Even Berries Get the Blues

June 30, 1996|ABBY MANDEL

Blueberries bring summer to my table more effectively than any other fruit. Perhaps that's because they arrive fairly early in the season and taste best when they are still tart and firm.

Eating the very first berries is almost a ritual in itself. I bring them home from the farmers market, dump them in a bowl along with a dash of cream and indulge myself. From then on, it's open season: a handful into a bowl of cereal or into the hollowed center of a cantaloupe; popped into pancakes, muffins, tarts, cakes and pies; or cooked into an inky blue sauce.

Blueberries are best in simple homey desserts. Consider the recipes that follow for muffins, blueberry crumb bar cookies and razzle-dazzle blueberry ice cream. They will bring the pleasures of summer to your table too.



1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

Grated peel of 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

1 egg yolk

1 1/3 cups unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon salt


Grated peel of 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, chilled, cut into 8 small pieces

1 cup flour


1 egg white

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

4 cups blueberries

A luscious blueberry filling is tucked between two tender crumb layers. Both the crust and the fruit taste lightly of fresh lemon. Other than that, it's pure fruit and good, buttery richness.


Mix sugar, butter, lemon peel, egg yolk, 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in food processor until uniformly granular. Or by hand, cut butter into 1 1/4 cups flour with pastry blender or 2 knives until size of small peas. Add sugar, egg yolk, salt and lemon peel, using use fork to mix until combined.

Press crust evenly into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan, using piece of plastic wrap under your fingers to help spread dough. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/3 tablespoons flour over crust.


Mince lemon peel with sugar in food processor. Add butter to sugar along with flour. Mix in food processor until butter is size of small peas. Or by hand, mince peel. Then cut butter into flour with pastry blender or 2 knives until butter is the size of small peas. Use fork to lightly mix in sugar and lemon peel.


Beat egg white and lemon juice with mixer until foamy. Add sugar and continue to mix until egg white holds soft peaks.

Fold blueberries into egg white mixture, then carefully spread over crust. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over surface.

Bake at 400 degrees until top begins to turn light brown, about 55 minutes. Cut into 2x3-inch pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. These are best served same day they are baked.

Makes 18 bar cookies

Each bar cookie contains about:

235 calories; 143 mg sodium; 43 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.46 gram fiber.


3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

2 cups blueberries

1 (10-ounce) box frozen raspberries in light syrup

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon Framboise or other raspberry liqueur

Raspberries and blueberries, one of the best combinations that summer has to offer, are mixed together and churned into a rich, smooth, sweet ice cream. Since fresh raspberries can be expensive and unpredictable, I've used frozen, which are always available. You can, of course, use fresh.

Mix egg yolks and sugar in food processor or whisk until thick and light colored. Mix in cream.

Cook over medium heat in 1 1/2-quart pan, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Do not allow to boil. Add 1/2 cup blueberries and cook until they burst, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Puree raspberries with remaining blueberries. Strain to remove seeds, then stir puree into custard base along with milk and liqueur. Chill thoroughly.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Makes 2 1/2 pints.

Each 1/2-cup serving contains about:

201 calories; 26 mg sodium; 116 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1 gram fiber.


1 3/4 cups unbleached flour

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups blueberries

1 teaspoon cinnamon

These are best eaten when just baked, but the muffins can be frozen for several months, wrapped airtight. To reheat, thaw while still wrapped. Unwrap, place in cold oven, turn oven to 400 degrees and heat until warm, about 8 minutes. Or, heat thawed muffins in microwave on medium power until just warm.

Mix together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, eggs, milk, butter, baking powder and salt. Fold in berries.

Divide batter equally among 8 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Stir remaining tablespoon sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle scant 1/2 teaspoon of mixture over each muffin.

Place in 425-degree oven and immediately reduce temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 8 large muffins.

Each serving contains about:

311 calories; 377 mg sodium; 85 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 44 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.55 gram fiber.

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