Summer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania means you’ll find us at our local orchards and farm markets loading up on the irresistable seasonal fruits and vegetables we’ve been craving all year. In July we get especially excited about blueberries and just can’t stop eating them right out of the cartons, which is a problem since we’d ideally like to have enough left for smoothies, desserts and cocktail recipes.
Solebury Orchards in New Hope has a wonderful pick-your-own blueberry field and we’ve found no better relaxation therapy than spending an hour or two getting lost in the rows of bushes, focused on nothing but the task at hand. Also there is the added and unexpected entertainment of listening to other people’s hilarious or inappropriate conversations. Cracking up every time we hear the same kid call out again, “Dad, look at this blueberry I found!” Listening to two siblings reviewing each other’s baskets to decide who picked more. Overhearing another couple’s spat about who’s not picking the ripest berries, and do they really have to go to that party tonight at what’s-her-face’s house? I may already have enough material for a short story compilation called Conversations Overheard While Blueberry Picking which, once it’s published, you will want to read while enjoying one of Paul’s blueberry cocktails currently in development.
This past weekend was hot. Heavy, humid and 90-degrees-in-the-shade hot. But we stuck with it until we netted over eight pounds of juicy blue gems, and presented them to the cashier who was truly impressed with our bounty. Much of the berries are frozen now, in suspended animation for future recipes not yet written, but two whole pounds ended up in a crazy-easy Blueberry Crisp, which was so pretty of course we had to photograph it. Natural light through a large diffuser, and two black fill cards on either side gave this setting the look we wanted without any hot spots from the direct afternoon sunlight that was pouring through the window.
Crisps are great recipes for berries and other fruits because number one, they are very easy to make and, number two, they allow the fruit’s fresh flavor to take center stage while adding just a bit of cookie-like crunch on top. We especially like ours with an oatmeal cookie like crunch.
Adding candied lemon rind as a garnish adds a fun tart flair to this dessert and a complementary, almost necessary, splash of yellow that looks great with the purple berry juices. You can skip the ice cream if you want but really, you shouldn’t. The recipes for all are below, except for the ice cream – that’s for another post.
- 2 lbs fresh blueberries
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- Peels of 2 lemons, sliced into strips, pith removed
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- In a large bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients until evenly coated, and then pour into a 9"x9" baking pan. Set aside and prepare topping.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients, until well incorporated, using your hands to break up any brown sugar clumps if needed.
- Drop the topping mixture onto blueberry filling in the pan, evenly covering the top.
- Place pan into the preheated oven, and cook for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving, and top with ice cream or whipped cream and candied lemon peel (recipe below).
- Fill a medium sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Add sliced lemon peels and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove lemon peels from water with tongs, and place on a paper towl temporarily.
- In another saucepan (or the original saucepan you just used, with the water removed), add one cup of water and one cup of sugar, and bring to a boil. Then, add the lemon peels into this boiling mixture, and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove peels from the pan and lay out onto a cooling rack for about 45 minutes to an hour cool, and get nice and sticky.
- Pour the other cup of sugar into a bowl or a wide plate, and then sprinkle the cooled lemon peels over top. Using your hands or a fork, gently coat all the peels with sugar, and place on a separate plate to set up. Use as a garnish, or just eat straight up as a candy.