One of my all-time favorite recipes.
From one of my all-time favorite cookbook authors, Bert Greene. When I acquired his book, Greene on Grains, it was the first time I started reading a cookbook as a bedtime book. Goodbye novel, hello cookbook. Each chapter was a different grain, and each chapter begins with a history about the grain. But, the way Greene tells a grain’s history is always interesting. But my favorite recipe from this cookbook is his Blueberry Crisp. When I was in college, I majored in Restaurant Management. The chef’s on the Culinary Olympic team (the Pastry team) were visiting, to be judges for the local ACF food competition. Our teacher, and the food competition coordinator (who also happened to be my boss) asked a few students to bring some dishes to a welcome reception for the judges. Preferably, Cajun dishes. At the time, I couldn’t cook any Cajun dishes (not even rice!), but I could cook some pretty awesome vegetarian dishes, and even better desserts. So, this is what I brought. Best foot forward!
Just as peaches grow extremely well in northern Louisiana, blueberries grow very, very well down here in the southeastern corner of Louisiana. I did not know this fact until we bought our property, and my husband said, I’m planting blueberries, and I thought he had lost his mind. Well, he proved me wrong!
This year has, so far!, given us quite a bumper crop. If you have any kind of arthritis in your hands, picking a gallon of blueberries at a time, every few days, is not a good idea!!
Enlist help. Having little kids help is a good idea, but, they have to be old enough, and care enough about what they are doing to pick the right berries. I have a little friend who helps sometimes; she picks the low ones, I pick the high ones! It is a good working relationship. But, now her family is growing their own blueberries, so, the novelty of my blueberries has worn off slightly. My own sweet child is not quite as interested in picking just the right berry. Oh well.
FOR THE TOPPING:
- ½ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
- OPTIONAL: ½ cup nuts, your choice (pecans with blueberries, almonds with cherries, etc)
- OPTIONAL: ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, for that extra oomph!
FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 pint ( or a little more) blueberries (and blackberries or dewberries, if available), or any combination thereof
- ½ cup granulated sugar (or ¼ cup baking splenda)
- Finely slivered zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (or ¼ cup fresh orange juice)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate, or a similarly sized pan. Do not use a smaller pan, as you will not end up with a “crisp”, but more of a cobbler. Still good!
- Make the topping: Combine the sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and salt in a medium-size bowl, and mix well. (Sprinkle vanilla or almond extract over mix at this point, if adding). Cut in the butter with a knife, and mix with your fingers until it has the texture of coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts at this point. Set aside.
- Prepare the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Pour into the prepared pie plate.
- Spread the crumb topping evenly over the berry filling. Bake 30 to 40 minutes. Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just plain heavy cream or half-n-half (my favorite).
- In my version, I used half blueberries and half dewberries from the freezer, to make room for the fresh berries from the yard right now. My dinner guests ate fresh berries all night long while playing board games, so they did get to enjoy the best of the fresh berries.
Note: Blueberries freeze extremely, extremely well. Purchase the best quality freezer bags available, or even the sealable ones. Freeze the berries on a cookie sheet first, then transfer to the bag. This is especially important if using the sealable bags, as the sealing process can literally squish the delicate berries. Enjoy!