I get a nice satisfied feeling whenever I taste the transformation of blueberries that have been cooked. They are one of those fruits that intensify in such a wonderful way when cooked that the sum is greater than the parts indeed.
Although it is just now Spring, we are lucky to see organic blueberries available, often from not too far away, usually from the West Coast, nearly year-round. That they have a good reputation nutritionally and may have superb anti-oxidant properties, well, that is just icing on the cake.
They go beautifully with so many other fruits. You can go red, combined with raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, currants, cherries or watermelon. You can go all sunset sky golden, with apricots, mango, peaches. They can liven up a massaged kale salad with some sliced almonds and feta. Added to your favourite muffin recipe (I add them to the oatmeal muffin recipe from Margaret Fox and Cafe Beaujolais, a recipe I play with constantly). I like to play with them topping a yeasted waffle from Marion Cunningham’s wonderful breakfast book. Simply add little pieces of candied ginger, and they improve almost any nut or quick-bread (amazing in banana bread, with chopped dry apricots or cranberries).
Fresh blueberries make a frequent appearance in our household, often simply scarfed down with yogurt and nuts for breakfast. This visual artist can’t resist adding some contrast – usually the silky Ataúlfo or Champagne mangos are my favourite, but lately the rounder, Haden or Tommy Atkins variety are showing up more often. I don’t claim to strictly eat the rainbow, but I do love variety in colour, flavour contrasts and texture.
In search of a pie for Pi Day this past weekend, I used my blueberries with some very ripe mango and candied ginger to make a simple pie. I always reduce the sugar in cobblers and crumbles as much as I can, and if I use the candied ginger, that is included as part of the sugar measurement. I liked the result so well that I am making another one, this time with firmer mangos because when I sent off the intrepid grocery shopper with my list, he decided a box of mangos was a really good idea. They are quite a bit firmer, so I have approached them a little differently. I like the crunchiness (maybe better than some apples), and have been shamelessly munching on cut up pieces.
This morning, I peeled one of the large red, round mangos and sliced the firm flesh into little mango steaks, grilling them brushed with a bit of walnut oil, serving with daikon micro-greens and a poached egg, drizzled with a chimmichurri-yogurt sauce. The savoury use of fruit always makes a meal more interesting for me.
Credit for the poaching of eggs – as for so many things, I must thank Mark Bittman for this tutorial. I have tried every conceivable method (and gadget – just ask the local thrift shop what oddities I have donated). Swirling vortex with vinegar. silicone molds oiled. various poaching inserts. Turns out you just need to be calm, watchful, and bring a pan of water 1” deep to a simmer….and be grateful for still having a stack of your Grandmother’s pyrex custard cups for staging eggs and mise en place.
eggs over grilled mango steaks, serves 2
1 tablespoon chimmichurri sauce
2 tablespoons low fat yogurt
2 eggs, each cracked into a custard cup
small handful of washed and dry micro greens (daikon are my current favourite)
1 large mango (I used firm, red, round Haden or Freska variety)
Peel and carefully slice the mango into 3/8-1/2 inch slices. You should be able to safely get three slices from each side of the large flat seed. You can come back later with a paring knife and cut smaller pieces off the sides for later use.
Stir yogurt and chimmichurri together in a small ramekin and set aside.
Warm up the grilling pan while you bring the water to a boil for poaching eggs.
Bring water to boil, then reduce to simmer. When you start the eggs, do not stir the water, but gently lower the custard cup into the water and pour out the egg. repeat.
my current poaching strategy is to use simmering water about an 1-1½” deep, 5-6 minutes undisturbed. no fuss.
Brush the pan with a little walnut oil, then put the sliced pieces of mango in the grill pan on medium heat. brush the top side with walnut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Give the mango 2-3 minutes head-start on the eggs, then when the eggs go in (set a timer) check if there are marks on the underside of the mango. If so, turn them over and sprinkle the other side with salt and pepper, continuing to kizzen them a little. watch your timer on the eggs so the yolks don’t get over done. turn over the mango one more time to get even browning but not overcook.
Place two of the larger slices on the bottom of the serving bowl or plate, place the egg, spoon the sauce over the egg, and add a handful of the washed micro greens, then set the last, smaller piece of mango at a jaunty angle and serve.
blueberry single crust pie with ginger and mango, serves 6-8
3-4 cups washed, dry blueberries
1 cup diced mango
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped crystalized or candied ginger
I used the dry kind, tho stem ginger could be used in a pinch, reducing sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
milk or egg-wash for top of pastry and decorators sugar
(large crystals, sprinkled sparsely)
9-inch deep-dish ceramic pie dish, or 9 inch square baking dish
crust for single layer pie*
*I used an unsweetened, buttery pastry for my Pi Day pie, and spare puff pastry for another one. Feel free to use your favourite recipe but I prefer an unsweetened one, and you can add just a bit of sprinkled sugar on top with a milk or egg wash as you like.
mix your berries and mango in a large bowl, gently tossing with the cornstarch, flour, sugar+ginger just until combined. tip into pie dish and gently shake to level the fruit.
Roll out your prepared pie crust or pastry and either trim before placing on pie (if you want to cut any designs into it, I do them while it is on parchment on a flat surface), or trim and dress the edges in the baking dish.
brush with milk wash or egg wash, sprinkle with decorators sugar and bake 30 to 40 minutes at 375 °F, until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown. If your pastry is getting dark but the filling needs more cooking, cover the top loosely with foil.
Let set for 15 minutes before serving.
note: It thickens a bit the second day, after refrigeration. I like to bring the pie back to room temp before serving. A small drizzle of Crème fraîche isn’t too decadent!
Cheers, and welcome to Spring ♥