July 19, 2007

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Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
Blueberries take over the farmstands & pie fillings
By Susan Manley news@hippopress.com

When presidential candidate Barack Obama stopped at the Peterborough Diner recently, he added a slice of blueberry pie to his photo op.

The Live Free or Die state is known for its blueberries — and luckily for those of us who live here, while the season is short, it certainly is sweet. Locally, there are more than a dozen pick-your-own farms that let you get down and dirty with the berry bushes. Or visit your local farmers’ market and be sure to check specials at local restaurants and bakeries, where over the next few weeks, blueberries are likely to be the focus of many dishes, sweet and savory.

Jeff Paige, chef and co-owner of Cotton in Manchester, serves up a salad special of organic greens from Nesenkeag Farm of Litchfield, toasted almonds, Great Hill Bleu cheese, fresh, local blueberries and maple balsamic vinaigrette ($7).

“The blueberries add a unique quality to this salad, they really are something special,” Paige said.

At Julien’s Corner Kitchen in Manchester, chef and owner Julien Pepin said that during blueberry season, everyone wants fresh blueberries on their pancakes and waffles.

“It’s just crazy, but the blueberries really do make everything feel like summer,” Pepin said. Julien’s Corner Kitchen also offers a fresh fruit cup that is heavy on the local blueberries.

At Michael Timothy’s in Nashua, chef Steve Narducci said that one of his cooks just approached him about making a blueberry sauce for a meat or fish dish.

“I’m not sold on the idea. You have to be careful to strike the right notes with blueberries and protein. Around here people really don’t seem to go for fruit with their meats,” he said.

Michael Timothy’s is looking for other creative ways to capitalize on the short local blueberry season.

“I’m sure we’ll come up with something fantastic,” Narducci said.

Pie-wise, blueberry pies seem to be a treat that you need to order ahead. At Kay’s Bakery in Manchester, blueberry pie ($11.95) requires 24 hours’ notice, and at Michelle’s Gourmet Pastries, Manchester, a blueberry pie ($9.25) requires 48 hours’ notice.

Patisserie Bleu, Nashua, will have blueberry pies ($13) hit or miss, so best to call ahead and check or place an order. Lala’s Hungarian Pastry, Manchester, offers a fresh blueberry crossover ($1.50) that is a true summer treat.

Picking your own
When picking your own, go early in the morning or in late afternoon; otherwise the sun is too hot. Call the farm ahead of time to be sure they still have a crop.

Blueberries grow in grape-like clusters on a bush and the easiest way to pick blueberries is to hold your bucket under the berry cluster and, with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers. The ripe berries will drop into your bucket, while the unripe ones (the berries with a reddish tint) will remain attached to the bush.

Chill berries soon after picking to increase shelf life. If refrigerated, fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10 to 14 days, but don’t wash until just before eating or they can become mushy.

To freeze blueberries, place in freezer containers without washing. Place berries one layer deep and when frozen, pour the frozen berries into freezer containers.

Because the unwashed blueberries freeze individually, they can be easily poured from containers in desired amounts. Just before using, wash the blueberries in cold water; they will defrost quickly.


The perfect blueberry
Here are a few of the places offering you the opportunity to pick your own pie filling, er, blueberries.
• Apple Hill Farm, 580 Mountain Road, Concord, 224-8862
• Berry Good Farm, 234 Parker Road, Goffstown 497-8138
• Brookdale Fruit Farm Inc., 38 Broad St., Hollis, 465-2240/2241/2242
• Durocher Farm, 448 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, 429-0999
• Northway Farm, 216 North Road, Candia, 483-2130
• Sunnycrest Farm, Inc., 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-9652/7753
• Zahn’s Berry Farm, 211 Jennison Road, Milford, 673-1908.


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A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch