Thursday, August 18, 2011

Berry Berry Not Contrary

Witamy!  You may be surprised to learn that Poland is one of the leading suppliers of blueberries to all of Europe.  I did a Google search for “blueberries in Poland” came up with a lot of Polish websites for farms promoting their berry crops.  I guess the internet has even reached berry farms in the Polish country side.  Sounds like a field trip is in order! 
Here in Virginia we’re still seeing blueberries at local farmers markets and on the grocery store shelves.  Soon they’ll be getting scarcer and more expensive because they’ll be flying in from other regions.  So now is a “berry good time” to “get blued” (yuk!) and satisfy those cravings while you can.  Serious fans of blueberries could try making blueberry pierogi.  The recipe in our book for fruit fillings, on page 71, is a delicious and easy winner.  But my favorite way to enjoy berries is with just a little cream poured over the top.  My cardiologist would remind me that this is not the healthiest way to eat fruit, but once in a while is acceptable.  My Mom believed that as we get older it’s OK to be a bit self indulgent, otherwise how else will we get pleasure from life that we deserve.  And in the same vein, both Julia Child and Paula Deen’s recipes are full of butter.  Moderation is the operative word.
Speaking of sweets, have you seen this curious behavior pattern about desserts that we’ve been  seeing lately?   It’s about how some folks react when offered a dessert in a restaurant...they throw up their hands with a loud self-righteous declaration that they’re off all desserts.  Then they sit back and enviously stare while their dining companions are enjoying a bite or two of something sweet.  But then some have the gall to steal a bite of someone else’s treat.  In my humble view, a little dessert once in a while is perfectly OK.  In fact exposing your palate periodically to something sweet and wonderful goes a long way to re-balancing your taste buds and increasing life’s simple enjoyments.  It’s OK to share...we and a lot of our friends do.  It’s OK to taste a couple of bites and push the rest away (that’s not one of my skills), and it’s OK to choose a dessert that’s not way over the top (have you ever seen those “molten lava chocolate cakes” in some restaurants...there’s enough sweetness there to drive your blood sugars through the stratosphere!)  But yes, dessert can be OK.
Here is an easy summer delight that is “reasonable” yet quite tasty.
Polish Blueberry Cake
½ pound butter (or margarine if you must)
1¼ cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
Plain breadcrumbs
1½ pints blueberries (3 cups)
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat the butter and sugar very well.  Add the eggs alternately with the flour.  Beat 5 more minutes.  Add vanilla and baking powder.

Fold batter into a 9 x 12 inch pan which has been buttered and sprinkled evenly with breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle the top with all the blueberries.  Bake in a hot 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes.   Hint: test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the pan.  The cake will be done when the toothpick comes out fairly dry but with a few crumbs attached.  A wet toothpick means the batter is not yet done.  But if the pick comes out completely clean, the cake may be too dry and over done.

Remove pan from the oven.  Cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar through a sieve.  Cut into 2-inch squares in the pan before plating.  Serve with your favorite after-dinner beverage such as Port or a chilled, sweet dessert wine.  Smacznego!
Yields 15 to 20 portions, depending on size. 

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