Ripening partridgeberries signal the final days of berry season. Rather than dwell on the coming winter, however, I think today we’ll celebrate our tartest crop.
Since we have the good fortune to produce this wonderfully rare fruit, we owe it to the world to come up with different — and delicious — dishes to showcase it.
Today’s recipes all start with partridgeberry jam, so that’s where I’ll start, too.
I can’t think of a more satisfying breakfast than a slice of whole wheat toast, lightly buttered, and a bowl of warm partridgeberry jam. Sweetness among the berries varies widely, so you’ll just have to taste about halfway through the cooking and add sugar as you see fit. I don’t think you’ll want much less than this amount, however, because I like it very tart. If you don’t plan to bottle the jam, you can replace some or all of the sugar with artificial sweetener — make sure it is labelled suitable for cooking. I like the orange flavour with the jam, but feel free to substitute water for the juice. These quantities will make 2 pint bottles with a bit extra for the cook.
4 cups partridgeberries
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
Combine partridgeberries, sugar and orange juice in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, taste the jam and add sugar as you like. Seal in sterile bottles or refrigerate up to several weeks.
Stuffed crepes with partridgeberry maple sauce
Serve these tender and tasty morsels for dessert after a special meal. If you have no dinner parties in the works, then make them tomorrow for brunch, or take full licence and serve the sauce over regular pancakes. This recipe makes 16 small crepes. By the way, they keep very well in the freezer, just separate them with waxed paper and wrap tightly in plastic. Thaw in the microwave, stuff with this or any filling you like, and away you go.
1-1/3 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine, cooled
3 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
Partridgeberry Maple Sauce:
1 cup partridgeberry jam
1/2 cup maple syrup
For the crepes, whisk together flour, sugar, milk and eggs until smooth. Whisk in butter and refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Lightly butter a small non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high until the butter is sizzling. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the middle and tilt and rotate the pan so that it completely covers the bottom — don’t worry about a couple of ragged edges or a small gap. You will probably ruin the first one or two while you figure out exactly how much batter it takes to make a perfectly thin crepe. In about 1 minute the edges will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Using a spatula (or your fingers) lift one edge and, if it’s barely starting to colour on the bottom, flip it over. About 20 seconds on the other side and turn the pan upside down onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Keep them warm until they are all done. For the filling, put all ingredients into a mixer or food processor and beat until smooth. Divide the filling among the crepes, spreading it in a line down the middle of each one, almost to the edge. Roll up loosely. For the sauce, warm together the jam and syrup in a small pot or in the microwave. Pour over crepes and serve. A dollop of whipped cream is the ultimate finishing touch.
Partridgeberry jam almond streusel muffins
Don’t confuse these with healthy, fibre-filled breakfast muffins. Get everything ready tonight, then get up tomorrow morning, put on a pot of coffee and pop these in the oven. They are so rich and delicious it won’t occur to you to add any butter. If that seems like too much work for a Sunday morning, then save them for dessert — they are certainly sweet enough. This recipe makes 8 largish or 12 medium muffins.
1/4 cup large-cut old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom (optional)
1/4 cup soft butter or margarine
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled slightly (preferably unsalted)
1/2 cup partridgeberry jam
Make the streusel topping first and set it aside. Combine rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Cut in butter, or work it in with your fingertips until mixture is crumbly. Stir in almonds.
For the muffins, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, almond extract and melted butter. Add wet ingredients all at once to dry, stirring only until combined — don’t overmix. Place a large spoonful of batter into the bottom of greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
Add a spoonful of partridgeberry jam. Top with remaining batter. Divide streusel mixture among the muffins and sprinkle all over the tops. With a very light touch, press gently on the top of each muffin to help the streusel adhere. Bake at 375 F for 18 minutes or until golden brown on top and a tester in the middle comes out clean.
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, NL, A1E 4N1.