It’s blueberry season! Every year, my sister Helen takes her daughters blueberry picking with a bunch of their school friends and their families. They go to this blueberry farm up in the hills and have an absolute blast while they’re there. Helen’s youngest daughter, Sophie, is a little blueberry-picking speed-demon and can fill up a bucket faster than you can say blueberry pie!
Anyway, whenever they go, they always make sure to bring me back a bagful of the beautiful little blue gems. This year was no exception. The berries are always so sweet and juicy. If you’ve never had blueberries fresh off the bush, you’ve got to find a way to try some. Commercially sold blueberries are good, but they pale in comparison to these ones. I think it’s time for some Blueberry Buttermilk Cake!
BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK CAKE
2 – 2½ cups fresh blueberries
3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup demerara sugar (or white granulated sugar)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9×13-inch baking pan.
Place blueberries in a small bowl.
Take 2 tablespoons of the flour and toss it with the blueberries. Coating the blueberries with flour helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes.
Combine remaining flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and beat in eggs, one at a time.
Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions until completely combined.
Fold in blueberries.
Spread batter in prepared baking pan.
Sprinkle top evenly with demerara sugar.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cake can be served warm or cool completely before serving.
NOTE: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own homemade buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to the cup till it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk with a wire whisk for a few seconds.
Wedge Salad is a typical salad served at classic American steak houses as a starter to your meal. It’s traditionally served with crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, but blue cheese isn’t one of my kids’ favorite cheeses. I love wedge salad, though, so here’s a version I make for them without any blue cheese in it. If you find you’re really missing the blue cheese flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on your salad. It’s all good!
(Makes 4 servings)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 slices sturdy white bread, crusts removed
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
garlic salt, to taste (optional)
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
chives, minced (for garnish)
Cut the lettuce into 4 wedges and place them in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
Fry the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
Dice the white bread into small cubes, a little less than a half-inch big.
Melt butter or margarine in a skillet and fry bread cubes, stirring often, until golden and crispy.
Season bread cubes with garlic salt to taste, if desired.
Assemble the salad by placing one wedge of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates.
Pour some dressing over each wedge.
Top with a little tomato, onion, bacon, and croutons.
Garnish with minced chives, if desired.
BACON BUTTERMILK DRESSING
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Place all ingredients into bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
Chill until ready to serve.
NOTE: Dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge.
American biscuits are very different from English biscuits. American biscuits are more of a bread, whereas the English ones are more like a cookie. In the Southern part of the United States, biscuits are very popular and everyone has a grandma or an aunt who made “the best” biscuits ever.
Making biscuits from scratch is a dying art. The advent of refrigeratedready-made biscuit dough has made it unnecessary (though to my mind, the ready-made ones don’t taste as good as homemade). Then there are all those stories of “Great Aunt Bess” who made amazing biscuits using a certain brand of flour measured in her Grandma Nell’s teacup with the pink roses on it and mixed by hand until the dough “felt” just right. It’s enough to make even just the prospect seem dauntingly intimidating.
But honestly, it’s not that hard. The secret is to handle the dough as little as possible. A food processor makes quick work of this. I’ve given instructions below for making these biscuits using a food processor but remember, you could totally make them by hand, too. Just work quickly, squeezing the dough between your fingers. And don’t worry. If worse comes to worst, you could always use them as hockey pucks!.SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily is a favorite brand down South)
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
1/4 tsp. salt (real Southern biscuits have a faintly salty taste)
about 1 cup buttermilk
1/4 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425º.
Grease a baking sheet with Pam (butter-flavored is good).
In a food processor, pulse the flour, Crisco and salt together.
Pulse in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together and there is no dry flour left. You may have to add a tablespoon or 2 of buttermilk to get all the flour completely moistened.
Sprinkle work surface with a little flour and turn dough out onto it.
Lightly pat into a ball; then with a rolling pin, gently roll out to half an inch thick. Don’t worry about making the top look perfectly smooth.
Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter. You could also use a glass.
Arrange on baking sheet making sure sides of biscuits are touching each other.
Add scraps to empty spaces in baking sheet. Don’t gather and re-roll them because they’ll just turn out tough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Remove from oven and brush tops of biscuits with melted butter, if desired.