Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blueberry Picking in Amereica..

 Blueberry Picking in America.

Not quite trout fishing in America, but i’ll take it... I was invited for a crap of dawn early morning blueberry picking adventure. Without fail, any time I have to wake up stupid early, I will 9 times out of 10 stay out far too late the night before and feel like I am going to die when my alarm goes off in the morning... It’s like an early morning flight, there seems to be no other option than to stay out until 2:30 or if it’s a  nut-so hardcore ballerina house party sometimes 5 or 6am... Who ever told you ballet dancers weren’t party animals was lying to you. Anywho, back to the story. We had a lovely little drive up to the blueberry farm that was one exit passed the woodlands, so about an hour outside of town. Made you feel like you were going on a little mini vacation. We arrived early for two reasons. One, so that we didn’t have to sweat BALLS in the Texas heat that was just beginning to blast. And two, so we didn’t have to compete for our buckets or our secret fruity pebbles blueberry bush.... We got there, I felt absolutely in-human but I managed to put my big girl panties on and my game face to match... Next up is the bucket. Small or large? LARGE. DUH. If I am coming all the way up here at 5:45 am, I’m not going to mess around. We began walking and snatching blueberries off the bushes straight away.. Oh, P.S..... those weren’t going in my bucket. They were going straight into my mouth. By the end of it, I definitely had consumed close to 2 pounds of blueberries. That’s 4 dollars in blueberries. And all the antioxidants I need for a year. I don’t know how my toxic waste wasn’t smelling of blueberries... or my pee wasn’t a purple tint.... Because I dominated them blueberry bushes with my mouth. It was unreal how different every bush tasted (that’s what he said?) Some were large fat plump texas blueberries (hmmm a texas theme?) and some were tiny little gems that packed major flavor. I’m a huge fan of the little guys. Bigger is definitely not better in this case (among others...) I hit a jackpot bush that literally tasted like fruity pebbles. One for the bucket, one for me, one for the bucket, one for me. At this point, as I am sure you can tell, I wasn’t making much progress on my bucket filling but I was doing some serious damage on my belly and the rawness level of my mouth.... I started getting burned out and turned the engine to full throttle. I had a hard time picking blueberries off a bush that I hadn’t eaten off of! WHAT IF IT WAS BAD TASTING??! I eventually gave up and came to the conclusion that once they were all a lovely mixing pot of tiny, fat, tart, and sweet that I wouldn’t give a shit what the one tasted like on it’s own.. I bailed out with the 12 gallon bucket over 3/4’s full. I got home with 6 pounds of blueberries. That’s a shitload of blueberries. And now the REAL torture began because with my brain, I can’t just leave them in their natural state.. I mean I ate about 3-4 cups in their natural glorious beauty, but the rest I had to bake and preserve into delicious little masterpieces. I made a lemon blueberry preserve that was pretty delicious to bake with. I am still on the hunt for a preserves recipe that I LOVE. This one was still too sweet for my taste buds and wasn’t balanced enough... I thought the lemon would aid with that. I love a little tart with my sweet. Makes groovy flavors. I also dehydrated some in the oven and then processed them into my lemon-blueberry macaron shells. Ms. Karen from Oxheart Houston told me to take some egg whites off her hands, so of course I did with ultimate excitement! I GET OXHEARTS EGGWHITES?! Kid in a candy store people. Kid in a candy store. So of course I had to find ways to use up the two huge cartons of egg whites. I ended making two huge batches of angel food cake (as a test for one of the cakes I am going to be making for my brothers wedding).. Like 13 egg whites each huge. That’s 26 egg whites already used... and then THREE batches of different macarons, two with 3 egg whites and one with a different macaron recipe to experiment with that used 5 egg whites. I LOVED the texture of this new macaron recipe. They came out a little taller than mine normally do and they had the BEST texture. The flavor wasn’t half bad either.. Texas Pecan with Montana Whiskey Pastry cream and Malt Whiskey glazed pecans..... TO DIE FOR... The blueberry-lemon macarons were filled with a heavenly salted cream cheese blueberry buttercream and a little dollop of preserves smashed between two pretty little purple macaron shells. I thought they were pretty groovy. As for the angel food cake. I really think I have a winner winner chicken dinner recipe. I made Martha Stewart’s original angel food cake recipe and of course put a little twist or 5 on.... I decided to swirl in some of the blueberry preserves into the little angel food cake cupcake batter before baking along with some lemon oil... When they came out of the oven and straight into my mouth, they had the potential to burn me with third degree burns but honey badger doesn’t give a shit about a hot cupcake... it needs to be tested IMMEDIATELY. THEY WERE DEFINITELY WORTHY OF CONSUMPTION BY ANGELS, just saying. SO SO SO SO GOOD. And do you know what really blasted them out of the universe and into heaven? The salted cream cheese blueberry buttercream that was piped on top. Yummmmmm.

I have a few more weeks to go back up before they all burn up and turn into fruit leather on the bushes.. But do I really want to put myself through this cycle again?!?!?!?! I’m on the fence....

And now I am going to attempt to teach you how to make a macaron..... Here goes nothing....

Texas Pecan Macarons with Malt Whiskey Pastry Cream

      Texas Pecan Macarons with Whiskey Pastry Cream and Malt Whiskey Glazed Pecans:

1/2 cup egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups pecan flour (processed pecans)

Begin with sifting pecan flour with powdered sugar in a large bowl. Set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Slowly and gradually add the white sugar to egg whites while beating on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Fold half of the egg whites into the pecan and powdered sugar until somewhat incorporated. Then “macaronage” the rest of the egg whites into the mixture. At this point the mixture should resemble lava... Once you get to this point, it is time to transfer to a zip lock or piping bag. (A helpful little trick I LOVE is put the bag into a tall glass and scoop your batter into the bag... It helps hold everything together and prevents a macaron batter mess.... that lava like to spread and have a mind of its own..) Now it is time to set up your parchment. Cut 4 squares of parchment that are the same size as your baking sheets. DO NOT GREASE THE PARCHMENT. Cut a 1/4 inch hole into the corner of the baggie. Now you are ready to pipe that shells. Once you have tried making macarons a couple times, you’ll start to get what works for you and what you need to do to get your shells perfectly circular. If you have the right consistency of the batter they should pool into circles themselves. It’s usually when you can tell if your macarons are going to bake properly or not... Once you have piped all the circle shells on your parchment let them sit out for about a half hour before baking them. This allows the shells to harden a bit so they form the proper top in the oven and get the classic macaron “feet”. Bake the macarons at 325 for 14 mins. Take out of the oven and cool COMPLETELY on the parchment. Before you put the next batch of macarons in the oven, our baking sheet must be completely cool or else your macaron shells will crack....

Whiskey Pastry Cream:

The Sweet Art

For the filling:

3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small chunks
2 to 3 Tbsp. GOOD QUALITY Malt Whiskey

• Make the filling: Whisk the egg yolks gently in a bowl.

• In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to 230 degrees, using a candy thermometer.
• Slowly add this hot syrup to the egg yolks, whisking briskly until combined. Whisk well until the yolk mixture has cooled.
• Using a whisk or hand mixer, beat in the butter and then the bourbon. Once combined, chill in the fridge until firm and ready to use.
• Now, assemble the macarons: Using a small spoon, scoop some of the filling into the center of 1 shell and then top with another shell, gently pushing down and twisting to spread the filling out.

Malt Whiskey Glazed Pecans: AKA CRACK...

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon molasses
fleur de sel
1/4 cup Good Quality Malt Whiskey
1 cup pecans

Melt butter, brown sugar and molasses in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to medium and add whiskey and continue to cook for several minutes to cook off some of the alcohol. Take off heat and stir in pecans and pinch of fluer de sel. Arrange on a baking sheet and toast for 8 mins at 400.. Be sure not to burn them!


Martha Stewart’s Angel Food Cake: AMPED UP WITH BLUEBERRY PRESERVES!
adapted from Martha's Recipe

For the Cake

For the Cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
14 large egg whites (1 3/4 cups), room temperature
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Lemon oil
Blueberry Preserves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a fine sieve, sift together flour and 3/4 cups sugar four times.

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat together egg whites and water until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla; beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high and sprinkle in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff but not dry.
Transfer to a large bowl. In six additions, sift dry ingredients over meringue, folding in quickly but gently.
Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom. Dollop large spoonfulls of blueberry preserves around the pan. Swirl through with a spatula to make ribbons through the batter. Smooth top with an offset spatula. Run a knife through batter to release air bubbles. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.
Invert pan on its legs or over the neck of a glass bottle and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Carefully run a long offset spatula or knife around the inner and outer perimeter of the pan to release cake. Place on a plate, bottom side up; cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

(Alternatively, bake as cupcakes for 18 mins!)

Blueberry Angel Food Cake

Homemade Blueberry

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