Monday, August 23, 2010

Ritual of Summer

Blueberry picking has been one of the rituals of summer since childhood. Every summer we would travel to the family farm in New Hampshire. On any farm summer time is filled with work from dawn to dusk. Many of our days were spent bringing in the hay, but in between haying and the regular barn chores there were often more pleasant tasks to be attended to. On sunny days during blueberry season my grandmother would send my aunts to pick wild blueberries. I have pleasant memories of picking wild blueberries on rocky mountain outcroppings with my mother and her sisters.

At home we picked blueberries at Oscar & Lolita’s. Mom would always make a pie for dinner and several more for the freezer. When my folks moved to Vermont Oscar gave them fifteen blueberry bushes. Dad planted them in the backyard where they thrived. Mom froze quarts of blueberries and made dozens of jars of jam. When my parent’s freezer was full the neighbors were invited to pick. As my folks aged and we needed additional help with their various gardens, the neighbors pitched in. When my folks passed on, DH and I transplanted some shoots from their blueberry bushes to our farm. But, what to do for blueberries while we waited for the shoots mature?
One night over a glass of wine with our friends CC and Ned, DH & I mentioned our blueberry dilemma. CC and Ned looked at each other and said, “We have blueberry bushes. Come and pick all you want!” For the past few years that is exactly what we’ve done. In exchange for their generosity, we give CC and Ned a case of jam and a blueberry dessert or two during the season.
One of the blueberry desserts I like to make is Carole’s Fresh Blueberry Tart. This recipe comes from my friend Carole, another blueberry picker. The dessert looks and tastes fabulous, but isn’t complicated or difficult to make. This year my cousin Cole was visiting and helped make the Tart for CC and Ned. CC asked if I could teach her to make the Tart. So, here’s Carole’s Fresh Blueberry Tart via Cole and CC’s cooking lessons. Enjoy!
Notes for this recipe: The tart crust is blind baked—a technique used to bake empty crusts, which are later filled. There are several ways to blind bake a crust, the one used in this recipe is the technique I prefer and requires parchment paper and dried beans. The beans may be saved and reused. The lemon zest must be very finely grated--a micro-grater produces the best results. Use only fresh lemon juice and unsalted butter. If you don’t have a tart pan, a deep dish pie plate is an adequate substitute.
Carole's Fresh Blueberry Tart
l-l/4 cups flour
3 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
l/4 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Parchment paper
Dried beans or rice
3/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
6 cups fresh blueberries
For Crust: Preheat oven to 425. Select 10” false-bottomed tart pan or a 9” deep false-bottomed tart pan.

Measure the flour, powdered sugar and salt into the work bowl of a food processor. Blend for 5 seconds.

Add butter, and pulse until it is cut in. Then blend until the dough forms a ball.

Gather the dough and form into a palm-sized disc. Place the disc of dough into the bottom of the tart pan.

Gently push the dough evenly over the bottom, and into the corner of the tart pan.

Use your thumb to push the dough from the corner and up the side of the tart pan. If using a deep tart pan, the dough should go up the sides 1 inch.

Line the crust with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the paper with the beans or rice.

Place the tart pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is set and lightly golden brown. Carefully remove parchment and beans and bake for another 5 minutes or until the crust is dry to the touch. Remove tart pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For Filling: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt in medium saucepan to blend. Gradually add 2 TBSP cold water and lemon juice, whisking until smooth. Add butter and lemon peel. Add 2 cups berries and mash with potato masher. Cook over med. heat until mixture thickens and boils, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Fold in remaining 4 cups of berries. Scrape the filling into cooled crust.

With a rubber spatula spread the filling to the edges and smooth. Refrigerate till cold, at least l hour. Can be prepared l day ahead. Cover loosely with foil, refrigerate.

To remove the tart from the pan for serving: Select a flat serving plate or platter and have it close to your work surface. Hold the pan in one hand and with your other gently push up on the false bottom. When you feel the tart give way, continue gently pushing up allowing the rim of the pan to fall down around your arm. Place the tart on your work surface. Slip a long thin angled spatula between the false bottom and the crust. Gently slide the spatula around to separate the crust from the bottom. Very gently slide the tart onto the selected serving plate or platter. Allow the tart to sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.


  1. Mmm. I'm going to miss New England blueberries. They're not a terribly popular crop in Australia, unfortunately.

  2. I was thinking about Labor Day and realized you won't be here this year to make Zucchini Fritters or pick blueberries. Something not quite right about that! There is so much to miss about New England. No matter where I've lived, New England has called my name, and I've come running.

  3. This is the best blueberry dish that I have ever tasted. I can't wait to try to duplicate this recipe in my own kitchen!

  4. Anonymous--Please do make it! When you do, let me know how it goes.