Monday, September 6, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Every summer, I swear I am going to take full advantage of all the opportunities of the season. The days are long, and despite the heat I love the idea of carefree evenings filled with outdoor movies, drinks outside, and the impromptu sidewalk jazz concerts (ok, that last one only happened once, but it was still awesome). The key phrase there was "despite the heat." Although secretly I want to be that person with just a dewy glow while carrying out various activities in all the humidity, I am really a crazy sweat ball and often forgo events because it is just too darned hot in this city. I usually manage to attend several carefully selected summertime-only events: symphony/opera in the park, Bastille day, and perhaps a movie outside. The rest of the time I prefer a more air conditioned existence, choosing indoor seating over the patio and madly fanning myself until my sweat beads evaporate. Inevitably, when fall rolls around I look back on the summer with rose colored glasses and berate myself for not making just a little bit more effort. I wax nostalgic about the still summer nights, the air heavy and full of potential.

Inevitably the air turns cooler, and I become more motivated. And my only remaining regrets have to do with produce. Summer is so abundant in this area that I can't possibly use it all. I walk the aisles with eyes wide open, breath slightly held, packing as much produce into my tiny cart as I think I can possibly eat in one week. As much as I try, I always miss something. This year it was garlic scapes. I love those things! I saw them in passing a few times at the store, but not when I was in the experimenting mood. By the time I was ready to buy they were long gone. I also missed fresh garlic, spring onions, and blueberries.

I actually ate a lot of blueberries this summer, but all in the "enjoy these beautiful orbs in their most natural form" way. Prior to the summer start I thought we might make our way to a "U Pick" blueberry patch and purchase enough to make jam, bake endless muffins, and perhaps freeze some for the winter. Sadly, we never made it. Plus, by the time I located the recipe I clipped three years ago to make for DP, local blueberries were no longer in stock at my grocery store.

Not to be deterred, I grabbed some frozen blueberries and headed home. And I made what is easily the best summer desert I have ever made. First, I've never made a shortbread from scratch and was pleased to discover that it's actually easy. Second, the little bits of ginger made the whole thing sing. And third, the frozen blueberries worked just fine. They reminded me that even in winter, when I am looking back on all of summer's missed opportunities, I'll be able to whip up a little bit of summer (before I head out with my sled to take advantage of the snow!).

Gingered Blueberry Shortcake
from Cooking Light

4 cups blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
3/4 cups 2% milk
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat, cook 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Place flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse 3 times to combine. Add butter and ginger; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Place mixture in a large bowl, add milk and stir until just moist. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured surface, press into 7-inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place each 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Combined egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush wedges with egg mixture, sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Place cream and sugar in a medium bowl. Use an electronic or wire whisk to beat cream until you get to your desired consistency. Split shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon 1/3 cup blueberries over bottom half, top with 1 1/2 tablespoon whipped cream and top half of shortcake. Eat. Yum.