Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bilberries, blaeberries, whortleberries, whinberries, whimberries, fraughns, hurts, hurtleberries or wild BLUEBERRIES!!! Blueberry Curd and a Pavlova...


In North America they are called wild blueberries, in England and Ireland they can be called by any of the title names....whinberries, whimberries, whortleberries, blaeberries, fraughns, hurts, hurtleberries or the most popular, bilberry. Traditionally in Ireland the Sunday nearest to the first of August is 'Fraughn Sunday' when the wild blueberry is celebrated, this year that would have been last Sunday July 26th but things are behind here in Maine where the weather has been overcast and rainy forEVER and that has held up the harvest. Nevertheless some blueberries came into the Belfast Coop in the last couple of days and I couldn't resist buying them and making a little something for James and myself!!
Above is a watercolour painting I did for a Maine company a few years ago celebrating the wild blueberry...it took me a LONG time to paint because capturing the bloom was quite the challenge and there's a lot of blueberries there!!

Here are the ingredients...Maine wild blueberries, organic cane sugar, local eggs from happy chickens, flaked almonds that have been toasted for that divine extra flavour, a little lemon juice for complementary tang and delicious salty butter...organic cream adds more lusciousness!!

...and here are the egg whites whipped to a glossy, marshmallow perfection before being baked into crispy, chewy heavenly meringues...reminds me of making nougat, which I did once and it nearly killed me with the amount of whipping.....which I do all by hand because I am a baking purist fool!!.......plus I have this bogus idea that if you burn all the calories you can whipping and beating by hand it may somewhat ameliorate the amount of calories you consume in the dessert...great idea right????

The final result of my wild blueberry endeavour...a meringue nest with blueberry lemon curd and whipped cream sprinkled with blueberries and toasted almonds...would you like the recipe??
THE RECIPE for my PAVLOVA PALAVER
MERINGUE:
4 egg whites at room temperature
6 ozs white sugar...fine if possible
1 teaspoon of cornflour
1 teaspoon of vinegar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Whip the egg whites 'til stiff
2. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time and whip, whip, whip until all the sugar has been added and the result is glossy and dense and divine as the picture above.
3. Pile dollops of meringue onto parchment and spread out into rough and rustic rounds then pipe the meringue in stars around the edge of the 'circles' so as to form a little well in the centre for the blueberry curd to nestle.
4. Mix cornflour, vinegar and vanilla together in a small bowl and then gently fold into the egg whites
5. Bake in a 250F oven for about an hour then turn oven off and leave meringues in there to cool...I started making the meringues on a blissful sunny day with a slight breeze and by the time I was finished the fog had moved in and the damp arrived so my meringues are, ONCE AGAIN, not perfect...the humidity stops them from drying out as much as you want them to and it makes them get sticky really quickly when they are removed from the oven....oh well what can a girl do about Mother Nature??

BLUEBERRY CURD:
1 cup of wild blueberries
2 tablespoons of sugar

1. Put these two ingredients in a heavy bottom pan and heat gently 'til the blueberries give up their juices and pop open, allow to cool slightly before adding the yolks....

3 tablespoons lemon juice (more or less to taste...you can put this in at the end and see how much you like)
4 more tablespoons of sugar
2 egg yolks
2 ozs butter (I always use salted Amish butter that has a bright flavour)

2. Whisk together the yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, add the blueberry mix and heat over simmering water and stir constantly until the curd gets nice and thick, it will thicken more as it cools.
3. Allow to cool completely

ASSEMBLY: Spoon the blueberry curd into the well in the centre of the cooled meringues, add a dollop or more of lightly whipped, sweetened heavy cream and scatter artfully with flaked, toasted almonds and the odd unadorned blueberry. James christened this dessert my Pavlova Palaver!!

Happy baking in dry weather...IF you can find it!!!

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