HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - National Blueberry Month is well underway! Chef Patrick Evans-Hylton shows a "berry" nice way to enjoy blueberries.
CHEERS TO BLUEBERRIES !
WITH OUR BERRY DELICIOUS WILD BLUE HIGHBALL
July is National Blueberry Month. At farmers markets, at farm stands, and at u-pick farms across Coastal Virginia, this delicious berry is available and sweet. Blueberries are just around 80 calories for a one cup serving, and high in Vitamin C and other good things.
Celebrate with our Wild Blue Martini, which pairs freshly macerated berries with local vodka from our friend Karl Dornemann at Reverend Spirits.
We start with macerating fresh blueberries - we love to get them from Wild Blue Acres - in a slurry of Grand Marnier, sugar, and lemon zest. Grand Mariner is an orange-flavored liqueur made from a blend of Cognac brandy. July 14 is National Grand Mariner Day.
Here’s how to prepare the blueberries:
In a medium bowl, add 1-1/2 pints fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and flavors have mingled. Refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made up to 1 hour in advance.
We add the prepared blueberries to a highball glass, then pour in vodka and stir. Add whole blueberries. Ice is thrown in and the drink is topped off with seltzer. Garnish the cocktail with a lemon or orange wedge, fresh blueberries on a skewer, or a fresh mint sprig.
Blueberries come from Wild Blue Acres, www.facebook.com/WildBlueAcresNC [facebook.com]
Vodka comes from Reverend Spirits, www.DrinkReverend.com [drinkreverend.com]
BON APPETIT TO BASTILLE DAY
WITH OUR HAM + BRIE BAGUETTE WITH SPICY APRICOT SAUCE
July 14 is Bastille Day, which is the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution. In honor, it’s also Eat Something French Day.
If escargots aren’t your thing, we offer our Ham + Brie Baguette with Spicy Apricot Sauce.
A store-bought baguette is cut into four equal pieces, then slice each piece in half. On the bottom half of the bread, spoon on our Spicy Apricot Sauce made of apricot preserves, brown sugar, and horseradish Then add thin slices of baked or country ham, and thin slices of brie. Optionally, add arugula or watercress before adding the brie. Place on top half of bread.
Of note on the country ham: we love the offerings from Darden’s Country Store (www.DardensCountryStore.com [dardenscountrystore.com]) in Smithfield, but other country ham or even an Italian prosciutto will do.
Here’s how to make our Spicy Apricot Sauce:
In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves, 2 teaspoons brown or Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon horseradish. Stir to incorporate. Refrigerate any leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days.
Enjoy our Ham + Brie Baguette with Spicy Apricot Sauce with a crisp white wine, perhaps a chablis.
FOOD FIND: BLUEBERRIES FROM WILD BLUE ACRES
Enjoy the freshness of blueberries this season from one of the area’s newest farms.
Wild Blue is a 20-acre property located on the Albemarle Sound between Hertford and Elizabeth City, N.C. It’s owned by our friend Lindsay Bennett, owner of Press 626 restaurant in Norfolk.
On site: a three-acre blueberry farm, along with a guest house and main house available for vacation rental and small events. The blueberry field has around 2,000 bushes started about 18 years ago. They are rarely pruned and now stand 10-12 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. The berries are grown naturally with no spraying.
You don’t have to drive to North Carolina to enjoy Wild Blue Acres blueberries; pints are also sold at B&L Farm Market in Virginia Beach and at Press 626 in Norfolk.
Here are some blueberry tips and tricks:
— Look for plump, ripe blueberries. They should have a good color and be firm, but not mushy.
— When you get the blueberries home, gently sort through berries, removing stems as well as soft berries, or berries that have a cut or pierced skin.
— Handle blueberries very gently; they are fragile.
— Do not wash blueberries until immediately before use.
— If you are going to use blueberries the same day, or before the second day, keep them on the counter. If you are going to use them later, refrigerate.
— Use blueberries within 3-5 days of bringing them home.
— To wash, rinse gently under cold running water, and pat dry softly with a paper towel.
— You can easily freeze blueberries. On tops on preserving berries, email PatrickEvansHylton@gmail.com with “Freezing Blueberries” as the subject.
FOR MORE VIRGINIA EATS + DRINKS
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