Friday, August 1

Bountiful Blueberries

This is, by far, the very best year for wild blueberries we've seen since moving here. The bushes that grow in the scrubby, open sections along the Seguin Trail are bushier, taller, lusher than they've ever been, and laden with beautiful powder-blue berries. I guess the mixed-bag of weather we've had so far this summer—about an even mix of sun and rain, hot and cool—is perfect for them.

I biked down the trail yesterday and filled a little tub of them in no time and barely made a dent in the patches. There are still plenty of little white berries on their way to ripening, so the picking isn't over yet.

Guests at Fern Glen Inn will get to sample some of the bounty in their breakfasts, or I'll direct them to the patches on the trail and they can pick their own little treasures to take home.

Wild blueberries are smaller than the ones you'll find fresh in the store, and a bit more tart and complex in flavour. Blueberries are great on their own, but they're also quite versatile, complementing a broad range of other flavours. Pair them beautifully (but not all at once!) with any of these partners: lemon, cinnamon, nuts (pecan, almond, hazelnut), white chocolate, maple, cream, fresh cheese, or vanilla.

Blueberries are at home at the breakfast table. Add them to your favourite muffin, pancake, waffle, or scone recipe. Stir them into sweetened yogurt or sprinkle over cereal. My favourite breakfast as a kid was equal parts Bran Flakes cereal and blueberries (strange kid, I know).

For a special breakfast, though, try them in these fluffy, tender pancakes. The blueberries shine on the bright lemon-ricotta backdrop!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberries

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
butter or oil for the griddle

Preheat griddle or non-stick frying pan to medium-high. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, ricotta cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. Gently stir in flour mixture until just combined.

In a clean bowl with a clean whisk or electric beater, whip the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form and just hold their shape (better to under-whip than over-whip). Fold the whipped egg whites into the ricotta-flour mixture just until no streaks remain. Gently fold in blueberries.

Butter or oil the griddle. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until golden on each side, flipping once. Top with more berries or a spoonful of warm blueberry jam. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3 people. Recipe can be doubled.

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