CATHI LITZENBERGER: Nature’s super food

Blueberry recipes

B.C. is the largest producer of blueberries in Canada and is rated third highest producer in the world so we have no excuses when it comes to a good supply of this amazing fruit.

Blueberries are called the “super fruit” for a reason and adding blueberries to our diet is one of the best things we can do to improve our health, as they are ranked one of the highest antioxidants in existence. Antioxidants help slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancers, cardiovascular disease, and loss of brain function.

Blueberries also have a good supply of condensed tannins that help prevent urinary tract infections and anthyocyanin, a natural compound linked to reducing eyestrain. Best of all, this berry is so versatile and tasty it can be incorporated into any part of a meal, not only desserts.

We’ll expand on this fruit later this month in a special, but for today I offer recipes for a blueberry pavlova and a blueberry parfait.

Blueberry Pavlova

Meringue:

6 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce:

2 pints of blueberries

3-4 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

Zest of 1 lemon

Whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream, cold

3-4 tbsp. icing sugar, to taste

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Meringue:

For the meringue, lay parchment paper on a baking sheet. Using a round bowl turned upside down, draw circles to use as a template(s) for your meringue. Draw six  small individual circles or one large circle.

Add the cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch. Beat the egg whites, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer for a few minutes until frothy (2-3 minutes,) on medium-low speed. Add sugar a spoonful at a time while beating the egg whites, until incorporated, beating mixture on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and continue beating on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are formed (four to five minutes).

Using a rubber spatula (or a spoon), spread the egg whites onto your circular template(s). The meringue layer should not be too thin since you want some body to the meringue. Bake for 60 minutes at 250F. Add 10-15 minutes baking time for the larger meringue. Allow the meringue to sit in the turned off oven for two hours to dry out, if you have time. Meringues can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Blueberry Sauce:

In a small pot, add 1 -1/2 pints of the blueberries, sugar and cornstarch; stir to mix and heat on medium-low.

Crush the berries with the back of a spatula or a potato masher and let simmer for 10 minutes, until blueberries are cooked and slightly thickened. Add lemon zest. Taste and add sugar/zest as required and turn off the heat; this also can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Whipped cream:

Whip the cream until soft peaks form; add icing sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiffer peaks form.

To assemble your pavlova, place the meringue on a plate. Spoon the blueberry sauce on top. Layer the whipped cream with an icing spreader and add remaining fresh blueberries on top. Slice into wedges and serve. Enjoy! If making individual meringues, assemble in the same manner.

Blueberry

& Lemon Parfait

1 pkg. (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding

1-1/2 cups milk

1 cup whipping cream

12 gingersnap cookies, coarsely crushed (about 1 cup)

1 pint fresh blueberries (2 to 2-1/2 cups)

Prepare instant lemon pudding using the milk. In a medium-sized bowl, with an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into prepared lemon pudding.

To assemble: In four or six individual serving glasses, or a 1-quart bowl, spoon a layer of the pudding mixture; sprinkle lightly with crushed cookies and a layer of blueberries. Repeat layers one more time, ending with the pudding.

Refrigerate, covered, for about 30 minutes. Garnish with mint sprigs and blueberries, if desired. Easy but delicious.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.