Saturday, August 02, 2008

Meditation, with Blueberries, a Photo Essay

My (then soon to be) father-in-law got me a cookbook called "Cookies: a Cookie Lover's Collection" for Christmas in 1996, 6 months before I got married. The inscription says "To Kathi on Christmas 1996, Just a bit of sweetness from a crusty old man to a great daughter. Hope this will stand you in good stead throughout the years trying to keep that hubby of yours satiated. Love, Dave" I haven't yet cooked through the book in its entirety, but I am slowly progressing and would say I've baked at least half the recipes. I have other ways of keeping Lawnboy satiated, but nobody wants to hear about that. I'm just saying that I haven't applied myself to making all the recipes because we've been...busy.

Um, where was I? Yes, the cookies.

Today, our blueberries needed harvesting. I was trying not to make muffins with them, because a)the blueberries are delicious raw, and b)seriously, who needs another muffin? I'm partial to cupcakes. Then Lawnboy and I had a conversation about cheap desserts, and I thought I should bake some cookies. Lo and behold, a recipe for Blueberry Lemon Drops beckoned me and I was able to check one more recipe off the list! I documented the whole thing in photographs for your viewing pleasure. These cookies are quite delicious, nice and tangy with fresh bursts of berries. You should bake them, I mean it.

Blueberry Lemon Drops

2 c. all-purpose flour, + 1 tablespoon for berries
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 1/2 t. freshly grated lemon peel
1 T. fresh lemon juice (don't cheat here, or you'll regret it)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
Oven: 375 degrees

First, go pick about a cup of blueberries. Alternatively, acquire them from your local organic berry farmer. Then, when you get them into your kitchen, stick them into a small, cereal-sized bowl and cover them with about a tablespoon of flour.

Now, go zest your lemon, like this.

And juice it. You can strain the seeds later.

Now you can stick your butter, the sugar, the egg, the lemon peel and juice into your mixing bowl. See?

Beat all that on medium speed for a few minutes, until everything is smooth, light and fluffy.
Not there yet:

Ahhh, here we are!

Now you're ready to add your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Just dump it right in, like so.

At this piont, stir it all together on low JUST until the flour is all mixed in, and it forms a little ball in the middle. Not too much, now, or you'll make them tough. We wouldn't want that.

Now you can take a rubber spatula and very gently fold in your blueberries, trying very hard not to break them up, but also trying to distribute them evenly throughout the dough. It's a delicate balance, but you can do it.

It should end up looking like this. Can you tell that most of the berries are still whole, and they're pretty evenly spaced in the dough?

Now you're ready to plop them onto your greased baking sheet or your preheated baking stone. I used both, but I like how they turned out on the stone. The well loved, messy-looking stone.

You might be wondering how I was able to get to this point uninterrupted. I cheated. Yogurt, pretzels and a high chair.

All that's left is to put them into your hot oven for 12 minutes, take them out, and let them cool down on the racks. I highly recommend cooking each batch a slightly different length of time, because sometimes it's nice to have a darker, well-done cookie, and sometimes you want a squishy, light one. Note we have both. Also note how much effort it took to keep our dirty mitts off these cookies until I could get a picture of the full racks. Man, the willpower in this house is amazing. Especially when I'm standing by the rack with a hot spatula in my hand.

The cookbook said this would make 2 dozen cookies. I'm stingy and make small cookies, I guess, because I got 6 extra cookies out of this batch.

See how easy that was? For goodness sake, what are you waiting for? Go eat!

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