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Fresh Blueberry and Lemon Crepes. Steve Kuchera, skuchera@duluthnews.com

Bruce Wallis column: Brunch with blueberries

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Bruce Wallis column: Brunch with blueberries
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

As we approach the end of July, I tend to get a little nostalgic.

I think back to a simpler time when my parents would pack the family station wagon with a picnic lunch, sunscreen and bug dope, five children and a seemingly endless supply of buckets. We were bound for Whitefish Point or Raco or Pendill’s Creek, wherever blueberries were to be picked. Sounds like an idyllic family getaway — and it was, except for the pouty kid in the backseat.

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About the only thing I hated more than picking blueberries was weeding the garden.

Blueberry picking was so tedious. The berries were small, the sun was hot, the sandy soil was dry and the mosquitoes were swarming. It was worse when we were picking a patch near Lake Superior. The water called to me, there were stones to be skipped and, if it was warm enough, waves to be jumped into. Sometimes, I secretly hoped we’d see a bear so we could all scramble back to the car, find a beach and swim already.

I loved eating blueberries as a kid more, and still love them today. It may have been my love of the sweet little flavor bombs that made my mom ease up on one of her tenets of child-rearing: Never bargain with a child. As kids, we all had a quota, usually about half a bucket of berries. With my whining and pleading interspersed with compliments for her pancakes, muffins and pies, I could usually get mine down to, “OK, just fill the bottom of the bucket,” which usually took me as long to finish as my siblings took to fill their half-buckets. (Sullen boys are typically not efficient workers.)

Now that I’m grown and have discovered high-bush blueberry farms, I actually enjoy the picking as much as the eating (OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration). In honor of my berry picking maturity, I’m including recipes perfect for that most civilized, genteel and adult meal: Brunch.

Add a cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee and a freshly-squeezed orange mimosa to either of these dishes, and you’ve got a winner. Now, while you’re enjoying your leisurely mid-day breakfast, I’m going to call my mom and apologize for years of high summer anguish.

Fresh Blueberry and Lemon Crepes

Crepes make wonderful camping food. The components can be made ahead of time, assembled onto a tin plate, covered in foil and gently heated over your morning campfire. The smokiness from the fire adds something special to this dish.

CREPES:

¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1½ tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon lemon zest

FILLING:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup honey

1½ tablespoons powdered sugar

2-3 cups blueberries

Powdered sugar and lemon zest for garnish

FOR CREPES: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, brown sugar and melted butter, stirring well. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and whisk quickly until smooth and free of lumps. Let rest for 30 minutes. Strain batter through a fine mesh strainer and add lemon extract and zest. Let batter rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Heat a 6- to 7-inch nonstick saute pan over medium high heat. When pan is hot, spray with pan-release spray and ladle or pour 2½ tablespoons of batter into center of pan. Quickly swirl pan to coat evenly with batter. When edges of crepe begin to brown (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), loosen the edges with a heatproof rubber spatula and gently flip. Cook for another 15-20 seconds and remove from pan. Continue for remainder of batter and reserve crepes for filling

FOR FILLING: Beat all filling ingredients with an electric mixer until fully incorporated. Spread a ¼-inch thick layer of filling onto a crepe. Cover ½ of the crepe with a single layer of blueberries. Beginning with the blueberry side, roll the crepe up fairly tightly and press to seal. Continue until all crepes have been rolled. Place two or three crepes on each plate and microwave on high for 15-25 seconds until crepes are warm to the touch. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, garnish with lemon zest, mint leaves and blueberries and serve.

Chicken, Cornmeal Waffles with Blueberry Sage Sauce and Lime Crema

Several years ago, I had a blueberry sage muffin that was so delicious, the flavor still haunts me. I took those flavors, added a southwestern twist, and created this fun little brunch dish.

WAFFLES

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1½ tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid ingredients and whisk until smooth. Let batter rest while making remaining components.

LIME CREMA

1 cup Greek yogurt

¼ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup lime juice

⅓ cup milk

1 tablespoon lime zest

¼ cup powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Consistency should be like ranch dressing. Refrigerate until time to assemble dish.

CHICKEN

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced cooked chicken,

1 cup sliced chicken sausage

½ cup diced onion

½ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon rubbed sage

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ Cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour olive oil into a medium saute pan and heat over medium high heat until oil thins and runs freely in the pan. Add cooked chicken and sausage and saute, stirring or shaking pan frequently, until chicken begins to brown, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and continue to saute until onions soften and become translucent, another 5 minutes. Add sage and cumin and stir to spread evenly. Pour in chicken broth, return heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer for 7 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until assembly.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE

½ cup lime juice

¼ cup water

4 cups blueberries

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon rubbed sage

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup granulated sugar

Fresh sage leaves and lime zest for garnish.

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring gently. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until liquid reduces and thickens to the consistency of syrup.

ASSEMBLY

Make waffles according to your waffle iron’s instructions. If desired, trim waffles into 4-by-4-inch squares. Stack two squares, offset, in the center of a plate. Using a squeeze bottle or spoon, drizzle yogurt crema over waffle stack. Spoon chicken with a little broth onto waffle stack, top with blueberry sauce and garnish with sage leaves and lime zest.

Contact Wallis at brucewallis16@gmail.com

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