Blueberries are prolific on most highland moors and hillsides. Yet finding ready-to-eat berries is rare – over the years I have regularly charted the ripening progress of this most delicious of fruits. They plump up, redden, then vanish.
They provide feasting for birds. But the most luscious blueberries I have ever eaten, and the sweetest by far, are grown in Angus. This time last year I was demonstrating at the Lands of Loyal Hotel near Blairgowrie for the local fruit growers’ association, and this is where I ate these superlative blueberries. It all goes to underline the importance of shopping in local farm and food shops, to seek out top quality Scottish produce.
Blueberries are packed with nutrition. They are almost two fruit – raw, they are sweet and delicious; cooked, their flavour sharpens, their colour darkens, and while equally delicious they do need sweetening, either with sugar, honey or maple syrup. And whether raw or cooked, they taste even better when combined with lemon.
Blueberries with white chocolate and lemon parfait
For the parfait
8oz/225g white chocolate, preferably Lindt
½ pint/285ml single cream, heated till steaming hot but NOT boiling
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated rind of 1 lemon and its juice
¼ pint/140ml double cream, whipped but not stiffly
2 egg whites
2 just rounded tablespoons sieved icing sugar
Divide the blueberries between 6 glasses. Break up the chocolate into small bits and put them into a bowl. Pour the hot single cream into the bowl, and stir until the white chocolate melts in the hot cream. Stir in the vanilla extract, then leave the white chocolate cream to cool. When cooled, stir the finely grated lemon rind and the lemon juice into the white chocolate cream. Fold the whipped double cream into the lemon/ chocolate cream.
Whisk up the 2 egg whites with a pinch of salt. When fairly stiff, whisk in the sieved icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, and then fold the meringue-like mixture thoroughly through the white chocolate cream. Divide this cream evenly between the 6 glasses, spooning it over the blueberries.
Garnish, if you like, with 4-5 blueberries on top, or with toasted flaked almonds - but do try to avoid using the ubiquitous mint sprig as a garnish.
Blueberry and lemon sorbet
You do not need an ice cream machine to make this smooth sorbet, but you do need a food processor.
1 pint/570ml cold water
6oz/170g granulated sugar pared rind of 2 lemons, juice of 1
Put the water, granulated sugar and pared lemon rinds into a saucepan over moderate heat. Stir until every grain of sugar is dissolved, and only then boil the syrup fast, for 3-4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the blueberries to the nearly boiling syrup. Cool completely.
When cold, carefully fish out all the strips of lemon peel. Add the lemon juice, and purée the syrup and blueberries till smooth - if your blender has blunt blades, sieve the purée. Freeze.
When icy, chip the frozen blueberry sorbet into a processor and whiz till smooth. Refreeze. It doesn’t matter about refreezing this mixture, because it contains no dairy products.
Repeat the process 3 times more. With each whizzing, the sorbet becomes increased in volume, paler in colour, and gradually more spoon-able from its frozen state. After 4 cycles, the sorbet should be spoonable straight from the freezer. Serve with crisp lemon biscuits, or with shortbread.
This is delicious for any age at any time of day, but for children who don’t eat much fruit, it is a way of getting 2-3 of their daily 5 into them with a minimum of fuss. Children love a smoothie, but then, so do I.
2 bananas, cut into chunks
1 orange, its skin and white pith sliced off with a serrated knife and the orange cut into chunks
1 tablespoon runny honey, or 1 scoop vanilla ice cream instead
¾ pint/430ml milk
Put the bits of banana, the blueberries and chunks of orange and the honey into a processor or blender. Whiz, gradually adding the milk. When smooth, pour the contents of the blender into 2 large glasses and serve.
TOP TIP: With vitamins, fibre and antioxidant free radical fighting properties, blueberries are regarded as a superfood. And research suggests they may also help in the fight against memory loss in old age
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Friday 24 May 2013
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