Picking Blueberries & Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese

blueberriesLast week, in praise of August and the start of blueberry season, I gave everyone a yummy recipe for Blueberry Clafouti . That’s when I started to think, can you get too much of a good thing? Not when it comes to blueberries. Not only are they delicious, blueberries are one of nature’s super foods. Why not head to a pick-your-own farm and, well, pick some of your own? Don’t worry about picking too many. Any extra will freeze beautifully. When it’s cold and snowy, toss the frozen berries in smoothies, muffins and pies for a taste of summer.

Picking blueberries is a great way to spend a morning, especially now when the days start out a little cooler. If it’s your first blueberry picking adventure, there are a few things you might like to know:

Before heading out: Always give the farm a call before heading out. Your favorite pick-your-own blueberry farm may not open every day. Changes in weather effect how fast or slow the berries ripen. Farmers open their fields to pickers when fruit is bountiful. If it’s cool or rainy for a few days, some fields may close for a while. Many fields close at mid-day so get there early!

Bring your own bucket. Not all growers provide containers.

Lather on the sunscreen, wear a hat and bring plenty of water and a snack.

In the field: Select plump blueberries with a light gray-blue color. If there is a hint of red, the berry isn’t ripe. If you pick one by mistake and leave it at room temperature there is a good chance it will ripen. Blueberries which are still white or green will not ripen after they are picked.

To pick, hold your bucket under a bunch of blueberries with one hand. Use the other hand to cup a ripe bunch and gently rub the berries. The ripe berries will drop into the bucket. The unripe ones remain attached to the bush, waiting for you to return in a few days.

Most pick-your-own farms sell berries by the pound. You’ll need to pick about three cups for one pound of fresh berries. A pie takes about one quart of blueberries.

Once picked, keep the berries in an open container and out of the sun.

In the kitchen: As soon after picking as possible, get the blueberries into the refrigerator. Store the berries in shallow containers, lightly covered, in the refrigerator. Don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Dampness makes them susceptible to spoiling. If you can’t use the berries within a week or so, freeze them.

Freezing berries: Rinse the berries in a large colander, remove any stems or stray leaves and drain. Place a clean, dry dish towel on the bottom of a rimmed nonstick baking sheet, add the berries in a single layer and gently roll around to dry. Remove the towel and again arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen solid, place them in plastic, re-sealable freezer bags or air tight plastic containers and return to the freezer. They’ll be ready and waiting for blueberry pancakes and taste of summer on a cold winter morning.

Have fun and bon appétit!

Blueberry Salad
blueberry_salad_01A delicious way to use some of those berries. Top with grilled chicken or shrimp and it’s a one dish supper. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/4-1/2 pound green beans – use haricot verts or thin green beans if you can find them
About 8 ounces mixed baby greens or spinach
About 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Blanch the beans in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain well.

Toss the beans and greens with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Put the salad on individual plates or a large platter, sprinkle with goat cheese, blueberries and pecans and serve.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 orange
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil to taste

Put the orange juice, vinegar, shallot, garlic and mustard into a blender, season with salt and pepper and process until smooth. With the motor running, add olive oil to taste and process until smooth and emulsified.
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One Year Ago – Shrimp Salad Niçoise
Two Years Ago – Insalata Caprese
Three Years Ago – Mojito Melons
Four Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Five Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your favorite pick-your-own fruits and vegetables? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

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Ready for My Close-Up

Almond_Joy_Sundae_03I’m back WMUR/Channel 9’s Cook’s Corner today. New London celebrates Chocolate Fest this coming Saturday – March 9th and I’m one of the (illustrious) judges! (Sorry – I don’t take bribes.) To get in the mood, I’ll be making Death by Chocolate Sauce Cook’s Corner today.

This I hope you enjoy the segment and love the chocolate sauce!

Want more? Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Love chocolate? I’m always happy to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button.

© Susan W. Nye, 2013

 

Holiday Special – Christmas Cookies

sugar_cookies_03What’s your favorite holiday treat? Something from your grandmother’s kitchen? Or maybe you have a new favorite from that sweet little pastry shop down the road. Could be you are looking for something new. Shortbread is terrific for the holidays and I promise you will love my Macadamia Nut Shortbread. Or try my holiday favorite – Snowy Pecan Balls. For a hearty treat on a snowy day, bake up a batch of Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies. They’re just what Santa needs to keep going on his round-the world ride. And how about some Snowman Cupcakes? Gingerbread would be a great choice!snowman_cupcake_02

If you are rushed (and who isn’t), Sweet Dream Bars are quick and easy. The chocolate lovers in your family will love my Triple Threat Brownies.

Then there are lovely homemade chocolates and candies! My Chocolate Almond Brittle is positively addictive. And my Chocolate Dipped Orange Caramels are no less delicious. For a luxurious treat, try my Chocolate Truffles. Christmas candies are great on your holiday buffet table and make great gifts.

If you are thinking of something sweet as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer, don’t forget my Death by Chocolate Sauce. (But save some for yourself!)

Enjoy everything the holiday season has to offer and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What sweet treats will you be making during the holidays? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

On Cook’s Corner Today – Making a Special Happy Thanksgiving Salad

Many thanks for tuning in to watch me on Cook’s Corner today. I hope you enjoyed the segment and will love my Mixed Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash.

The segment was taped last week … which is a very good thing since I’m busy in my kitchen today.

Wishing your and yours a happy Thanksgving! Bon appétit!

Want more? Click Here! for seasonal menus or Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on tap for you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button.

And if you’ve got a minute … many thanks for taking a look at my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. Why not join me at the next Eat Well-Do Good dinner?

© Susan W. Nye, 2012

In the Kitchen with Fresh Pumpkin Purée

With Thanksgiving next week maybe you are thinking about making homemade pumpkin purée for your pie. Or maybe not. Anyway, don’t do what I did the first time I attempted to make some.

I was in Switzerland and canned pumpkin purée was nowhere to be found. I simply steamed it until tender in the microwave and threw it in the food processor. Then, I thought it would be interesting to skip the traditional pie and made a pumpkin mousse. I soon discovered that the purée was much too watery. Instead of setting up nicely, it both seperated and was more soup than mousse.

Now I know better and share the recipe for a nice thick pumpkin purée! But don’t worry, I won’t tell if you decide to pick up a can of Libby’s at the supermarket. Enjoy!

Fresh Pumpkin Purée
Fresh pumpkin purée is very easy but you must plan ahead. Unless you want soupy purée it needs to drain overnight!
Makes about 3 cups

2 lb fresh sugar pumpkin
Melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a colander with overlapping coffee filters or cheese cloth and set it over a large bowl.

Cut the pumpkin in half; scrape out the seeds and membrane. Cut the pumpkin into wedges and brush the flesh side of the pumpkins with melted butter.

Arrange, flesh side down, in a large roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the pieces, cover and return to the oven. Cook for 1 more hour or until the pumpkin is very tender. Remove the foil and cool the pumpkin in the pan.

When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the pumpkin and discard the skin. Purée the pulp in batches in a food processor. Transfer the purée to the colander and cover the pumpkin. Set it in the refrigerator and let drain overnight.

If you use a lot of pumpkin during the fall and winter months, particularly over the holidays, double or even triple this recipe. Divide the purée into 1 cup portions and freeze.

Happy Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

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©Susan W. Nye, 2012

In the Kitchen with My Food Mill

With cooler weather, cooking comes off the grill and into the kitchen. It’s a good time to make soup, soup and more soup. Soups loaded with veggies, packed with lentils or beans or filled with noodles and spice – I love them all. Many of my favorite soups are puréed to a chunky or smooth perfection. Two soups,Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom, stand out. Enjoy either in a mug with a good book for lunch, serve them in your finest china at an elegant dinner or invite your guests to sip them from espresso cups at a cocktail party.

You can whip up a puréed soup in the food processor (chunky) or blender (smooth) or use a food mill. I discovered food mills when I lived in Switzerland. An old boyfriend who was particularly fond of smooth and creamy soups inspired me to buy my first moulinette. Widely used in Europe, I found mine in the supermarket. In the US, you can find them in specialty kitchen stores or on-line.

Unlike a food processor or blender, a food mill purées vegetables while it separates out the seeds, peels and fibrous bits. If you don’t feel like seeding and peeling the tomatoes and want a very smooth base, you can use it to purée the tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions in my Roasted Tomato Soup with Corn. It is also handy for making mashed potatoes, marmalade and apple sauce.

Bon appétit!

More Tips, Tricks & Tools

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2012