You might say I’m in my blue period.

After all, it is late July, the season for plump, sweet, sun-ripened blueberries: in yogurt, pancakes, smoothies, popsicles, on their own, in a cobbler, crumble, or pie. Heck there’s a farm-vineyard in Vermont that makes dry blueberry wines.

So what to do with three pounds of just-picked blueberries?

What I usually do when I need kitchen advice: turn to Bittman.

How to Cook Everything has a crowd-pleaser of a cobbler. Bitty credits it to his friend, food writer and former Gourmet and Cooks Illustrated editor John Willoughby, who came across the recipe in the south years ago. It’s the perfect dessert to tuck into with vanilla ice cream after some barbecue, corn-on-the-cob, burgers, or some other summer, picnicky food.

But I wanted to see what another trusted friend in the kitchen had to say about the blues: Joy of Cooking. First printed in 1931, some 60 years before Bittman’s tome, I wondered if Joy might offer different wisdom on the blueberry. Well Joy covers the basics: freezing, canning, how to pick, and jam, muffins, and pie. Nothing fancy. This was after all, a time when fruit was fruit and not yet appearing in cocktails, reductions, or panna cotta gelée.

So my next challenge: the Blueberry Custard Tarts from Joy, made with a pâte sucrée. I’ve got the blues, now all I’ll need are 3-inch tart shells.

Blueberry Cobbler, from How to Cook Everything

4 to 6 c blueberries
1 c sugar, or to taste
8 tbsp (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits, plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 c all-purpouse flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the fruit with half the sugar, and spread it in a lightly buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 c sugar in the container of a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process for 10 seconds, until the mixture is well blended. By hand, beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Drop the mixture onto the fruit by the spoonful; do not spread it out. Bake until golden yellow and just starting to brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Custard Tarts, from Joy of Cooking

For the pâte sucrée:

Six 3-inch tart shells
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Work into it as you would for pastry, using a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers:
6 tbsp softened butter
Make a well, and add:
1 egg yolk 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon juice or water

Stir with your fingers until the mixture forms one blended ball and no longer adheres to your hands. Cover it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness as for pie dough. Line the tart pans with this dough. Prick and weight down with beans or pebbles. Bake in a 400F oven 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Unmold the pastry shells and cool on a rack.

For the filling:

Fill tarts with a mixture of:
1 quart blueberrires
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Cook and stir over—not in—boiling water until thickened:
1/2 c cream
3 beaten egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Cool the custard and pour it over the slightly cooled tarts. Continue to cool and top with whipped cream.


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