August 1, 2012

Soup to Nuts: Bounteous blueberries

Growers report an abundance of blueberries this year, so here are some ideas for how to put them to delicious use.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Pastry chef Emily DeLois created this Wild Maine Blueberry and Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake, one of the recipes for this summer’s healthy crop of Maine blueberries that local chefs share here.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Spice-rubbed pan-seared duck breast with organic farmed vegetables, quinoa and blueberry-red wine sauce is offered by Mitchell Kaldrovich, chef at the Sea Glass Restaurant at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

Courtesy photo

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IN CHEFS' HANDS

HERE'S a taste of what Maine restaurants are doing with blueberries this year:

Damariscotta River Grill, 155 Main St., Damariscotta: Blueberry cobbler with ginger scone

50 Local, 50 Main St., Kennebunk: Fermented blueberry mignonette with oysters.

Five Fifty-Five, 555 Congress St., Portland: Blueberry salad made with Maine highbush and wild blueberries, bibb lettuce, garnished with a ginger granola, aerated vanilla lemon yogurt, Maine honeycomb, local lavender and herb de provence vinaigrette. (Look on the menu for "blueberries for sal ad")

Earth at Hidden Pond, 354 Goose Rocks Road, Kennebunkport: Cheesecake mousse with blueberry compote, Sicilian pistacio and white chocolate

Seagrass Bistro, 305 U.S. Route 1, Yarmouth: Yogurt panna cotta with house-made blueberry lavender honey glaze. The yogurt is from Winter Hill Farm in Maine and the blueberries are from one of the islands out in Casco Bay.

On the Marsh Bistro, 46 Western Ave., Kennebunk: Blueberry kuchen

Black Point Inn, 510 Black Point Rd., Scarborough: Blueberry ganache served with Maine-made ice cream

East Ender, 47 Middle St., Portland: North Star Farm lamb with caramelized potatoes and blueberry gastrique

Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth: Blueberry shortcake and a Maine blueberry martini.

– Meredith Goad, staff writer

FERMENTED BERRIES

LOOKING for something a little different? David Ross, chef at 50 Local in Kennebunk, shares his technique for fermenting blueberries at

pressherald.com/blogs/mainealacarte

"I think we're going to have a very healthy season and probably a very long season," Crabtree said. "We normally pick with late varieties well into September and into early October when the first frost comes, and I think we'll be doing that again this year."

Frank Card, owner of Card's Fruit Farm in Bowdoin, said his early berries were right on time, and with 7,000 plants and 53 varieties, he expects a continuous supply right through early September.

"Our quality usually is always good. We've never sprayed," Card said. "The insect counts are way down because the plants are so healthy. And the quantity is superb. This is probably one of our best years for quantity, and it's mostly based on having a mild winter."

Card's farm, on one of the highest points in Sagadahoc County and just seven miles from the ocean, has its own microclimate that's good for growing peaches, plums, wild blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

He expects peaches to be ripe enough for picking beginning this week.

"You can look at the whole Presidential Range while you're picking your blueberries," Card said. "A lot of people come up and enjoy it. Some of them bring a picnic."

John Bozak tends more than 3,000 blueberry bushes on a 75-acre hilltop farm in Lebanon. He said Berry Best Farm's 10 varieties of berries typically start ripening around July 15, but this year "we started at least 10 days earlier."

Bozak said blueberry season at his farm usually goes until Labor Day. But this year, who knows?

"It's very possible we may wind up a week or so earlier, depending on the rest of the summer," Bozak said. "Mother Nature is in control, not us."

Following are some chefs' suggestions for using those blues in a full-course meal:

 

THIS SALAD comes from Kevin Cunningham, executive chef at The Inn at Brunswick Station, at 4 Noble St. in Brunswick.

"This salad is a great blend of savory and sweet," he says. "The goat cheese plays well with fruits and vinaigrettes, so the whole salad comes together in each bite. One of my favorites."

MIXED GREENS AND BERRIES SALAD

Fresh, washed local spring mix

1/3 cup candied pecans

1/3 cup fresh local blueberries

2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

In a medium bowl, place a large handful of spring mix, the candied pecans and the blueberries.

Add 2 ounces honey balsamic dressing (recipe below). Make sure you shake well if separated.

Toss all ingredients to coat.

Plate by first putting coated greens on large plate. Cover with coated berries and nuts.

Finish with 2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese and serve.

You can also use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette. Just add a little honey to play with the goat cheese.

They really are good friends – honey and goat cheese, that is.

The salad can also be made with other fruit, such as grilled peaches or strawberries.

HONEY BALSAMIC DRESSING:

Yield: 1 quart

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons clover honey

2 tablespoons shallots, minced extra fine

10 ounces balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 ounces blended oil

Mise en place all ingredients and equipment. Place minced shallots in food processor and process for one minute with mustard and honey. Add balsamic vinegar and turn on food processor.

While the food processor is running, drizzle in first the extra virgin olive oil and then the blended oil.

Transfer into storage vessel and refrigerate. Keeps for 30 days.

If the emulsion breaks, you can reprocess to combine, or just shake well.

 

BLUEBERRIES AREN'T just for pies and cobblers anymore. Try them in savory entrees as well, such as this duck preparation from Mitchell Kaldrovich, chef at the Sea Glass Restaurant at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

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