Berry staples, and surprises


July 27, 2005|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Sometimes the best cooking happens when you think something will never work -- but you take the leap anyway.

That's what my husband and I found when we tested Linda Dannenberg's True Blueberry: Recipes for Soups, Salads, Desserts and More (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005, $22.50). Along with the expected tarts, muffins and jam, the 80 recipes include salads, main dishes and drinks that star this pretty, healthful summer fruit.

There are also tips on how to keep blueberries from turning batter blue (toss them with a little flour first) and on how to remove a blueberry stain from washable clothes (dab, pour boiling water over the stain, then treat with stain remover).

FOR THE RECORD - A recipe for Juicy Blue-Burger that ran in Bookmark on July 27 contained inaccurate nutritional information. Each burger, excluding the bun, contains 268 calories; 18 grams protein; 14 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber; 66 milligrams cholesterol and 345 milligrams sodium. The Sun regrets the error.

But the notion of blueberries in hamburgers was so repellent that we just had to try it.

We couldn't find freeze-dried blueberries, so we settled for dried -- Dannenberg's suggested substitution. True to Dannenberg's word, the burgers turned out to be among the best we'd ever had. The blueberries didn't advertise themselves; they just created a juicier, more flavorful burger with a hint of sweetness.

The crowning endorsement came from our picky 4-year-old, who actually pronounced her burger "very good."

Savory Blueberry Steak Sauce worked similar magic on New York strip steaks. Again, you wouldn't have known there was blueberry in the sauce. It added zing and looked pretty on the plate.

Blueberry Gingerbread didn't sound like a winner, either, but also turned out to be one. The blueberries provided a nice counterpoint to the taste of molasses and ginger. It makes a strange kind of sense that the one traditional blueberry recipe we tried, Lemon-Ricotta Scones With Blueberries, was a letdown. These eggless scones turned out more like spongy muffin tops, and the flavor was surprisingly tepid.

Juicy Blue-Burger

Serves 4

1/2 cup freeze-dried or dried blueberries

1 pound ground beef (preferably Black Angus chuck)

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 slices sharp cheddar cheese, optional, for cheeseburgers

Place the blueberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until powdered. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries with the beef, salt and several turns of the pepper mill. With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix and knead the beef until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Form into 4 burgers. Pan-fry or grill according to your taste. If you're making cheeseburgers, add the cheese about 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Place the burgers on buns and serve with ketchup or chili sauce.

Per serving (excluding buns): 1,073 calories; 71 grams protein; 55 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 66 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fiber; 264 milligrams cholesterol; 1,379 milligrams sodium

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