"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Venial Sin from Steve's Evil Kitchen

Last time, I wrote about cruciferous vegetables, which can be difficult to enjoy; this time it's a family of berries, which is much easier.

There's a large group of compounds found in red/purple/blue/black plants called anthocyanins and there's considerable evidence that each of these has some health benefit. It's not difficult to add one of these to your diet: blackberry, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, mulberry, eggplant, plum, red/purple grapes, red apple, red pear, red peppers, purple potatoes, black currants, black beans, red beans, black rice, beets, blueberry (and related huckleberry), cranberry, lingonberry.

The last three of those are from a family of plants that grow in northern climates. Blueberries are abundant in the woods here in Minnesota (actually, north of where I am at the moment) and cranberries grow in the bogs. Lingonberries are related to cranberries and grow in mountains; common in Scandinavia, they are available here in some grocery stores as preserves, undoubtedly due to the large population here of Scandinavian descent.

All these berries contain compounds called catechins. Blueberries contain resveratrol, chlorogenic acid, pterostilbene and luteolin. Cranberries contain ellagic acid and quercetin. Do a search for any of those and you'll soon be convinced you should be eating them.

I like blueberries fresh off the plant, but raw cranberries are too hard to eat raw and so sour that they are usually prepared with large amounts of sugar, so it seems natural to make them into a dessert.

Blueberry tart

Heat 2 cups of half-and half with 1/2 c. dried cranberries. Strain before using in later steps.

Crust: Combine 1.5 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/4 sticks of cold butter until the consistent is gravelly (about like coarse cornmeal). Add 2 egg yolks and combine again. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the surface and form into a ball by hand. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten and freeze 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and spread by rolling pin to fit tart pan. Freeze 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick crust with a fork, then line with aluminum foil and fill with weights. Bake 12 minutes, remove from oven, remove weights and foil. Lower oven to 350 and bake another 10-15 minutes until golden. Remove and let come to room temperature. Melt a 1 oz. square of white chocolate and spread over the surface of the cooked shell.

Filling: Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons flour and a pinch of salt.
Mix the strained half-and-half with 2 eggs and whisk briefly. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and heat over medium heat, stirring continuously, until boiling and thick enough that it coats the back of a spoon (test: dragging a finger across the back of the spoon should leave a track that does not go away). Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered directly by plastic wrap to avoid a skin from forming.

Assembly: Spread the pastry cream filling on the shell (it will not require all the filling made). Arrange 3 cups of blueberries on top of it (having the "stars" pointing up is a nice touch). Warm 1/2 cup of lingonberry preserves with 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Brush the top of the tart with the preserves and refrigerate until serving.


wildknits said...


BTW - watched Helen Lavin and Chris Scotchcsnack on raw cranberries a few weeks ago. Being a cranberry fan, I joined in.

Diana said...

The blueberries are awful here at the moment. They're coming from South America, so I'm not surprised they don't make the journey unscathed. Once we start getting some good ones again, I'll have to try the tart. Mmm.

@wildknits--Ugh, raw cranberries? I love cranberries, but even thinking of snacking on them like that makes my mouth pucker.

Robyn said...

Wait, something from Steve's Evil Kitchen that (a) sounds delicious, and (b) isn't ridiculous? A venial sin indeed.

wildknits said...

My goal is to remember this recipe exists in July/August when I have fresh, handpicked blueberries on hand.

@Diana - I was not able to eat them with the same abandon as Helen, but maybe if I could I would be as fast as she is?

Jean said...

This recipe sounds absolutely delicious. I am with Wildknits - hoping my folks can score some wild blueberries this summer! I am copying down the recipe. Thanks, Steve! Love the posts from the Evil Kitchen!