They won’t be here for long, our wild, sweet-tart blueberries, along with fragrant strawberries and salmonberries, tomatoes, peaches and more. As we head into August, there’s a frenzy around canning and preserving these ephemeral flavors of summer. And one of my favorite late-summer bakes is fruit cobbler. If you’re used to dense, heavy cobblers, this peach-blueberry version gets a bit of texture from cornmeal or ground almonds and some lift from a bit of extra baking powder. It’s a very quick-and-easy, throw-together dish that’s good warm with vanilla ice cream or room temp as a breakfast treat.
And for a slightly different take on blueberries, here’s a chilled soup that I love, a recipe adapted from my first book. It calls for crème de Cassis, a luscious, blackcurrant liqueur that most good liquor stores carry. A few tablespoons in the chilled soup add depth,and help to balance out the addition of balsamic vinegar. Stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of the chilled blueberry mixture into a glass of champagne for a bright summer cocktail; drizzle over pancakes or waffles; top vanilla ice cream; or for a light dessert, serve in small espresso cups with some cookies, like shortbread or Italian amaretti.
Tipsy chilled blueberry soup
Recipe inspired from “Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home”
5 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries, plus 1 cup for garnish, if desired
1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid honey
1 vanilla bean or 1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons crème de Cassis (optional)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Garnishes: lemon or orange zest, crème fraiche
Place all but one cup blueberries in a large pot. Add cloves and stir in 1/3 cup honey. Split vanilla lengthwise and, using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from inside into the pot and add the scraped bean pods as well. Add pinch of salt. Add one cup water and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer about 10 minutes. Strain, using, back of spoon to crush berries, through a fine sieve into a bowl. Discard solids. Let soup cool slightly. Stir in lemon juice, crème de Cassis and vinegar. Taste and add more lemon juice, honey, or crème de Cassis. Chill in fridge at least 4 hours and up to 2 days, serve in chilled bowls with reserved cup blueberries a garnish.
Peach and berry cobbler
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal or almond flour
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk, whole or 2%
4 cups fresh peach slices (about 6 to 7 medium peaches)
1 cup wild blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg, to taste
Optional: Sliced or slivered almonds
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place butter in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish and place in oven to let butter melt while oven is heating.
Combine flour, cornmeal, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk and stir just to combine ingredients. Remove baking dish from oven and pour batter into the melted butter (no need to stir). Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, peaches, berries and lemon juice together in a bowl (Note: if using frozen, unthawed berries, place mixture in a medium pot set over medium-high heat; stirring constantly, bring to a low boil.) Pour over batter and sprinkle, if desired, with cinnamon. Bake at 375 degrees for 32-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or crème fraîche.
[Some other favorite ways to enjoy our summer berries now include Diane Wiese’s much-loved blueberry-cured red salmon; a tender, almond-forward cake; Maya Wilson’s strawberry-spinach salad; as well as pancakes, waffles, breakfast quinoa, Julia O’Malley’s roadhouse-style blueberry meringue pie, seared halibut with pickled blueberries. And I always make a British-inspired summer berry pudding for both its gorgeous color and flavor.]
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