It might be strawberry season, but I’ve already had more than my fair share of these red berries during the past couple of months, and in efforts to avoid my yearly summer habit of over-consuming a certain type of food and then not being able to ever eat it again, I’m pushing this fruit to the side until the next time they come into season. Last summer my mom went though an apricot-obsession phase, so we were eating some sort of apricot-based dessert every night. While she did get creative, too much is too much. Countless apricot tarts and cobblers later, I’m through with that fruit under its every form. I can still enjoy strawberries, but it won’t be long until I lose them to anther unfortunate case of fruit-aversion. I won’t take the risk.
In my effort to find different summer food options, I encountered Bon Appétit magazine’s buttermilk biscuit recipe (you can find it here) as well as Trader Joe’s big box of organic blueberries. Since then, a happy combination of two great things has been found: blueberry buttermilk biscuits. The combo isn’t anything new, but these little cakes are a satisfying breakfast, snack, or dessert and a versatile base for many other dishes—they can be toasted and topped with butter and jam for breakfast, served with cream, mixed berries, and chopped mint as a light dessert, or eaten by themselves. Seeing as how simple these little treats are to make, there’s no reason not to try some other variations (maybe with chocolate chips? nuts?).
Of course, the addition of strawberries would probably make for a wonderful version of this baked treat, but I’ll be waiting ’till next summer for that one. Until then, blueberries it is.
I’ve been trying to make red wine jelly for quite some time now, and I am happy to say that after three failed attempts, I’ve finally reached success. After several batches of viscous wine syrup that was sometimes filled with crystallized sugar or had a weird, lumpy texture, I’ve made a real, sweet but still acidic red wine jelly that is indeed gelatinous. It feels good to finally be able to enjoy the fruits of that labor and not throw yet another bottle’s worth of ungodly syrup down the drain.
I’m not sure why wine jelly has become such an obsession. Maybe it started when I saw goat cheese toasts topped with a dollop of fig jam? While fig jam is now pretty trendy (and, when you think about, not all that exotic) I hadn’t ever really seen it before, and I loved the idea of serving something sweet with something classically savory. Add on the idea of moving to Mendoza, South America’s “International Wine Capital,” for Spring 2013 study abroad and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged obsession with wine under its unconventional forms.
Now that I’ve tasted the successful version of red wine jelly on top of a blue-cheese toast, I realize that the struggle in making it was all worth the effort. The flavor is pretty subtle, but with a proper cheese-to-jelly ratio, this red wine jelly makes for a delicious and elegant appetizer. And it isn’t that bad spread onto a buttered blueberry or herb biscuit or simple slice of baguette either.
Red Wine Jelly
1 bottle red wine (I used a Malbec, but I think a Merlot would be good too)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons agar-agar
In a large pot, bring the wine and sugar to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Five minutes before the jelly is ready, add the agar-agar and stir. Pour into clean jars and close lids tightly. Flip each jar upside down to sterilize, and about 5 minutes later flip them right side up. Allow to cool completely before serving.