Lovin’ the partridgeberries

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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While blueberries are elegant, sweet and mild, partridgeberries are in-your-face tart and tasty. Recipes don’t even translate from one berry to the other because you need twice the sugar to make partridgeberries edible.

And raw? I don’t think anybody could get them down that way. But they’re worth the cooking when the result is wildly delicious.

Partridgeberry Slump

This recipe is really only scones cooked in jam, but doesn’t that sound good? Serve warm with lightly sweetened whipping cream or, better yet, chilled canned cream.

4 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) partridgeberries

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Biscuit Topping:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup buttermilk or soured milk (1 tbsp. vinegar with milk added to make 3/4 cup)

2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine

Toss berries with white and brown sugar and spread in a greased deep-dish pie plate. For the biscuit topping, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in buttermilk and butter lightly, stirring just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Pour over partridgeberries — don’t worry about covering the berries completely. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until berries are bubbling up around the golden brown topping.

Partridgeberry Tea Bread

Here’s one of those old-fashioned breads that’s fabulous served warm with soft butter and a pot of tea. The allspice and orange flavours complement partridgeberries very well, but are not overpowering. This method is classic for quick breads and muffins, relying on your ability to stir the wet ingredients gently and quickly into the dry, without working the dough enough to develop too much gluten, which toughens the final product.

1-3/4 cups flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 generous cup partridgeberries

Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and allspice; set aside. Whisk together sugar, egg, juice and oil and stir quickly and lightly into dry ingredients. Fold in partridgeberries and bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.

Partridgeberry Pear Pie

Everybody has tasted partridgeberry apple jam, so you know pears will work, too.

You can substitute vegetable shortening for the lard if you prefer, although there’s no question in my mind that lard makes a better pastry.

If you are not confident enough to try your own pastry, of course you can buy the boxed prepared crusts in the grocery store.

They’re not bad but homemade is always superior. The tricks to good pastry are simple — don’t overwork the dough and keep everything really cold. If you’re having any trouble whatsoever rolling it out, put it back in the fridge to chill out.

If using a food processor, always pulse the mixture to prevent overmixing. Never try to stretch the crust to fit the pan. If it’s not rolled out enough, put it back in the fridge for another rest and roll it bigger.

If you have too much overhang of dough you’ll get that heavy, doughy edge instead of the crispy bits that everyone likes.

Just trim some away, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for a cook’s treat.

Crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 cups each cold unsalted butter and cold lard

1/2 cup ice water

1 egg, separated

Filling:

2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed partridgeberries

4 large ripe pears, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. butter

For the Egg Wash:

2 tbsp. milk

Cut butter and lard into flour using a pastry cutter or food processor. Lightly stir in water to create a loosely-formed ball. Cut into two pieces, one a little larger than the other.

Form into disks, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit a few minutes. Roll out larger disk to fit into a deep 9-inch pie plate with about 1 inch hanging over the edge. Roll out the smaller disk to slightly larger than the diameter of the top of the pie plate; transfer to a baking sheet.

Chill both the half in the pie plate and the top on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes or so.

Brush the bottom with egg white. For the filling, toss together berries, pears, sugars, flour and cinnamon and tumble into prepared crust. Dot with butter.

Lay top crust on top and fold the top edge over and around the bottom edge, tucking in the jagged bits.

Crimp with floured fingers or press the floured tines of a fork into the edges to seal all the way around.

Whisk egg yolk with milk and brush generously all over the top crust. Cut a couple of vent holes in the top and place pie on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to rest until at least lukewarm and serve with lightly sweetened cream or ice cream.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, N.L., A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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