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.
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.
Sunday Night Musings
1 week ago