Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's National Blueberry Month!

In honor of National Blueberry month I'm sharing my absolute to-die-for favorite recipe for Blueberry Strudels. The recipe comes from Betty Rosbottom's Cooking School Cookbook. The book was a Christmas gift from my aunt in 1988 so I have been making this for (EEK!) 23 years! Consider it tried and true!! I have made it so many times the 416 page book literally falls open to that page when I lay the book on my kitchen counter. I even have notes scrawled in the margin: "Very (underlined twice) good", "fold long edges in to keep juices from escaping", "good without sauce", etc. I must confess here...I have never made the sauce, the strudel is that good, who knows, maybe it's even more heavenly with the Blueberry Cassis Sauce!

Ms. Rosbottom owned and ran La Belle Pomme teaching kitchen located within the Lazarus Department Store in downtown Columbus, Ohio. My aunt worked at the interior design studio within Lazarus...a weird bridge but the connection has been serendipitous for me and my family's love of blueberries! (Then again, wrap ANYTHING in crispy layers of buttered phyllo dough and how could anyone NOT love it?) Hope you find as many years of enjoyment out of this as we have! Here's to that fabulous blue fruit!

Blueberry Strudels
4 cups fresh blueberries rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 phyllo sheets, 18x14 inches
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Confectioner' sugar, for garnish
Mint sprigs, for garnish
Blueberry Cassis Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Combine the blueberries and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and toss together. In another bowl mix the sugar and cornstarch well. Then add the sugar mixture to the blueberries and mix well. Set aside.

2. Place a phyllo sheet on a clean kitchen towel on a work surface, with a short end facing you.(Cover the remaining sheets with a lightly dampened kitchen towel so they do not dry out.) Brush the sheet generously with melted butter and sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs. Repeat the process with a second sheet, then place a third sheet on top and butter, but do not sprinkle the third sheet with bread crumbs.

3. Place half the blueberry mixture on the end of the phyllo sheet nearest you, and spread the filling horizontally to form a 3-inch wide strip going almost to the edges. Fold the two long sides of the dough over about 1.5 inches to enclose some of the filling, and then, starting at the end of the filling, roll the dough into a log shape. Use the kitchen towel as an aid to help turn the strudel over.

4. Butter a jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet . Use two spatulas to transfer the strudel to the pan. Brush the strudel with melted butter.

5. Repeat the process to make the second strudel. (The strudels may be made one day in advance to this point. Keep covered with a lightly dampened kitchen towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

6. When you are ready to bake the strudels, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375.

7. Bake the strudels until golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool 5 to 10 minutes.

8. Whip the cream until it is firm but not stiff.

9. To serve, cut each strudel into 5 pieces with a serrated knife. Serve each piece sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and garnished with a sprig of mint and a dollop of whipped cream. Pass the Blueberry Cassis Sauce separately. 

Serves 10

Blueberry Cassis Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup creme de Cassis
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

1. Combine the water, cassis, lemon juice and cornstarch in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Stir over low heat until the cornstarch dissolves. Then add the blueberries and raqise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and coats a spoon, about 5 minutes. Let the sauce cool 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Puree the sauce in a food processor, blender or food mill until smooth. Strain the pureed sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add sugar if desired. Reserve in a covered bowl in the refrigerator (sauce may be made 1 to 2 days in advance and kept refrigerated). Reheat the sauce until warm, not hot, before serving.

Makes about 2 cups

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