I realise that over the last couple of months I’ve been a bit remiss with my recipes, let’s face it savoury is great but it’s always nice to be sweet. So here goes with one of those fruits that is bang in season at the moment and if you pop along to the farmers markets this weekend I’m sure you’ll find some, probably from Mamaku Blue (the same wonderful people who do the gooseberries).

The blueberry is one of the few fruits native to North America. For centuries, blueberries were gathered from the forests and the bogs by Native Americans and consumed fresh or preserved. Revered by Northeast Native American tribes, blueberries, leaves and roots were used for medicinal purposes while the juice made an excellent dye for baskets and cloth. In food preparation, dried blueberries were added to stews, soups and meats.

In New Zealand, blueberries are prospering due to interest in the health attributes associated with the blue pigments. Studies from Tufts University USA claim blueberries as the ‘miracle berry’. Research shows half a cup per person per day has enough antioxidants to reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce or reverse arthritis, skin ageing and has some positive effect on cancers. Blueberries may also be effective at lowering cholesterol and have fewer side effects than commercial drugs.

Blueberry Frangipane Tart with Vanilla Sauce

This dish brings back memories of walking past pâtisseries in Paris and drooling over a window full of glossy frangipane tarts just begging to be eaten! The tart works well with any berry fruit, stone fruit or pip fruit, but what tastes better than New Zealand blueberries fresh off the bush?

Serves 8

1 Sweet Pastry case

175g plain flour

40g icing sugar

75g softened unsalted butter

pinch salt

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp water or milk

seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod and grated zest of 1/2 a lemon

Almond Paste or Frangipane

225g cold unsalted butter

225g caster sugar

175g ground almonds

50g plain flour

4 eggs

150g blueberries

2 tbsp apricot jam

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp water

1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until it forms a firm dough.

2. Turn out and knead lightly before placing in a polythene bag and leaving in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

3. Preheat oven to 200˚C and place a solid baking sheet inside as well to preheat.

4. Roll out pastry as thinly as possible and carefully line a 24cm flan tin. Prick the base with a fork (or use baking beans) and brush all over with beaten egg white. Bake on the baking sheet on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.

5. Once cooled, the pastry case can be brushed with melted chocolate to stop it going soggy from the filling.

6. Cream butter and sugar until almost white.

7. Mix together flour and ground almonds.

8. Add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar mix, sprinkling in a handful of ground almonds and flour at the same time to help the butter and sugar accept the eggs.

9. Once all the eggs have been added, continue to fold in the remaining almond and flour mixture.

10. Place half blueberries on base of pastry case. Pour over frangipane mixture. Place remaining blueberries on top of mixture in an attractive pattern.

11. Bake at 200˚C for approximately 40 minutes, but check after 30 minutes to see if cooked. For smaller tarts, adjust time accordingly.

12. Heat apricot jam with lemon juice and water. Sieve out seeds.

13. Once cooled, turn tart out of tin, glaze with apricot jam.

14. Serve with vanilla sauce.

Vanilla Sauce

Serves 10

6 egg yolks

120g caster sugar

500ml cream

2 vanilla pods, split

1. Boil cream with vanilla in a saucepan.

2. Meanwhile boil a second pan half filled with water.

3. Mix eggs and sugar until pale and then add boiled cream very slowly.

4. Mix well and place over a pan of boiling water, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.

Wine Match

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