Living in the Midwest, you appreciate the lush rush of color that summer brings. Greens of every shade imaginable painting every surface that was a dark grey forbidding twig not four months before, explosions of almost every color imaginable bursting out of flower beds, even weeds get into the game, dandelions swaggering about with their bright yellow heads, daring you to pluck them from the ground. And then there is the food. Farmer’s market eggs appear, their yolks positively orange, tinting everything you make with them a hue you thought only possible with chemical additives and causing you to look up city laws on poultry ownership, despite the frozen cold urban fact that window boxes of herbs are about the best you can hope for in raising your own food. Fruit abounds, practically bursting with the sweet summery juices held within, lasciviously eying you from their vivid and naked piles as you slowly stroll by, mouth ever so slightly agape as you drift into a reverie thinking about what it would be like to sink your teeth into one of those. Who are you to resist the call of these lush colors, these temptations of freshness that seemed so remote as you stood in the frozen food aisle in January? You are nothing in the face of a perfect pint of blueberries.
An egg is cracked into the bowl, glowing with the beta carotene locked therein. A quick whisking, just until the yolk has broken and swirled through the whole mass of eggy goodness. A scant bit of flour, a matched bit of tart, fresh buttermilk, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, whisked until smooth and set to wait. Two ramekins are generously buttered, the oven heated. And now for the blueberries. They still have the delicate pale dust of their bloom clinging to their dark indigo skins. Generous handfuls are scooped into a sieve and gently washed. A couple of them are popped into the mouth, for the cook must always be testing. A few more. A few more. A few more are grabbed from the pint and washed to make up for the deficit. The oven softly dings, bringing you back to the task at hand before all the blueberries disappear. A small bit of the golden batter is poured into the ramekins. The blueberries are summarily dispersed between the two, and it is not long before it hits critical mass… you can barely see the batter below. The rest of the smooth batter is poured over the masses of blueberries. It manages to cover them, but barely. Everything is slid into the hot oven, where natural chemistry takes over, and the popover base manages to loft in the heat, despite the heavy mass of berries. One by one, the blueberries succumb to the heat, their pale insides swiftly colored a vivid magenta hue as they explode through their skins. They themselves try to escape the popover mass, the juices mixing with the already damp batter, bubbling and roiling over the edges, but ultimately… they are defeated. The popover never rises high, but it contains the blueberries. The baked popovers are swiftly flipped out of their ramekins, a small cloud of steam expelling forth as they collapse. These are not items of beauty. A swift fork into the middle reveals that the mass of blueberries merged with the batter to create a sort of brilliant pudding in the center of a delicately crisp shell. A pat of salted butter is added and immediately melts into the pudding. With every bite, summer bursts forth, all sweet and hot, lightly crisp on the edges, sweaty with juice. In four months this will be a memory brought out as the pale snow falls outside. But for now, it is still summer, in all its brilliant juicy glory.
Blueberry Popover Overload
(this isn’t actually new, I make popovers all the time, this was just striking due to the large amounts of blueberries and the surprising little mass they made inside)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup buttermilk
generous pinch salt
generous pinch sugar
1/2 – 3/4 c. blueberries (I didn’t measure, I just kept adding them…)
2 small ramekins, generously buttered.
Preheat oven to 425º. Whisk together the egg, flour, buttermilk, salt, and sugar until smooth. Set aside. Wash the blueberries and shake off as much water as you can. Pour a small amount of the popover batter into the bottom of each ramekin. Start adding in the blueberries. Don’t completely cover the bottom, but add more than you think you should. Pour the rest of the batter evenly over the blueberries. This likely will not actually cover the blueberries entirely, but try to at least splash some on the top of them. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet for easy handling and slide the whole thing into the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. The vast quantities of blueberries, due to their sheer volume and liquid exuded, will not let these loft up through the air like a normal straight up popover, but it will still be tasty. These are not show popovers, they are just eatin’ popovers. After 25 minutes, slide them out of the oven, run a knife around the edge and invert them onto a plate, then flip them over again so the top is facing up. Be careful, these let out a lot of steam when you open them up, and they can burn your fingertips if you are impatient. Add a pat of butter if you wish, or they are plenty good straight up. If you added enough blueberries, it makes this bizarre almost pudding like mass in the middle that just smacks of summer. It is, in a word, delightful.