Baked Blueberry Oatmeal, I Know a Guy

I have a blueberry guy.  I have a stone fruit guy and a bean and beet and bacon guy too.  I hang loose when it comes to sugar snap peas, because, really, it’s hard to find a snap pea that will do you wrong. But about this blueberry guy.

He has the sweetest, most summery blueberries at the farmers’ market.  It’s hard to find a bad berry in July—I understand that—but his stand has had the best ones three years running; he’s yet to burn me.  He tries desperately to hawk beans and tomatoes while forking over his pints (I wouldn’t know how the vegetables are, I already have guys for those).  But his berries are where it’s at.

My boyfriend has even commented on them.  Which is really saying something, because Dave gives out compliments like they’re ration stamps.  Like it’s wartime.  Like he’s about to run out.

Well, these blueberries got one.

Now, this next step may not surprise you.  I am certainly not the first one to mention baked oatmeal.  It’s a recipe from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.  Molly posted about it in March.  And then Jess posted about her version, made with apricots, just last week. Heck, there could be women all over the country having come-to-Jesus-moments with this oatmeal, for all I know.

I do understand that not everyone loves oatmeal.  But this is a berried whole grain breakfast you can slice, which should help anyone who’s written off oatmeal because of textural issues. The nuts add a rich, buttery note (as does some actual butter that gets melted in, as well).   It’s also sweet—but not too sweet—and good eaten both cold and warm.

It’s the kind of dish that you could use as a dumping ground for all sorts of stray seeds, nuts, and summer fruits.  Most recently, I’ve been entertaining a plum and hazelnut version.  I will keep you posted. But—in the meantime—nearly everyone loves blueberries.  So I suggest you give it a whirl.

Also—it should be noted—while Dave didn’t say anything, there were two fairly large pieces of oatmeal missing the day after I baked it.

Sometimes, he’s a man of few words.  But, hot damn, the guy knows food.  And his fork speaks volumes.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson by way of Orangette


2 cups oats
½ cup choice nuts, or seeds (I used pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts), toasted
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
1½ cups blueberries
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract


Set the oven at 375 degrees. In an 8 x 8 or 10 x 7 inch casserole dish, mix together the oats, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Scatter the blueberries evenly over the oats mixture.  In a medium bowl, combine the milk, syrup, egg, butter, and vanilla extract.  Pour the liquid over the oats; be sure it fully seeps down into the oats (you may need to use a spoon to help coax it).

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Makes about 6 servings

-You can use fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw, the frozen ones might increase the baking time a bit).  (These berries come from the City Hall farmers' market.  Stand #3.)

-This is good warm, perhaps with another drizzle of maple syrup, but my favorite way to eat it is cold, with a fork, or out of hand if no one is watching. (Please note the recipe—as dictated by the ladies—has another 1½ tablespoon of butter drizzled on top.  I can’t argue with that, either.)
-I like to give Dave a hard time, but he’s really pretty lovely. 


Early Plum Frozen Yogurt, This is Just to Say

One of my favorite poems is by William Carlos Williams.  It’s about plums (!).  But it’s also about apologizing without actually apologizing.  It’s about seduction.  And it's called "This is Just to Say."

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

A role the plum was born to play.  I only wish prunes could get that level of respect.  Prunes get nose wrinkling and Senokot®.  I hate that.  And—while we’re at it—the rebranding of prunes as “dried plums” a few years back was really offensive.  Makes me feel like a stone fruit evangelist.  (It’s also what inspired the title of this very blog.)

Anyway, these stains have only deepened my love.  I am a champion for plums.  Even the wrinkly ones.

They possess a poetic balance of sweetness and acid, delivered in an array of shades and shapes. Which makes them perfect for dessert.  Take Ina Garten’s plum tart.  It partners with rosemary or thyme like a dream.  It’s easy and delivers, every time.  I still have my sights set on Jess’s yeasted plum cake, too.  And if you are looking to stray in a savory direction, I strongly suggest the caramel duck fat potatoes with prunes, from Jerusalem.  It operates on another plane altogether.  A crispy, salty, sweet one.

But now, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce early plum frozen yogurt.

It pushes all the buttons you want a summer dessert to push.  It's refreshing, freckled with vanilla beans, layered with tart plum bits, and delicately sweetened.  I used deep purple plums with canary yellow flesh, which birthed a ballet slipper-colored base dissected with bright pink fleshy swirls.

You could call it an imitation of the actual fruit, whose sweet skin plus tart pulp offers much more than its separated parts.  The yogurt rejoins these parts with its plum ribbon running through it. It also has that gutsy chew that is so wonderfully characteristic of Jeni’s Splendid recipes.

All this just to say the yogurt was delicious.  So sweet.  And so cold.

Early Plum Frozen Yogurt
Inspired by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer


for the frozen yogurt base

1 quart plain low fat yogurt
1½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tbsp) cream cheese, softened
½ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean pod, split, seeds and pod reserved

for the plum swirl and plum syrup

2 limes, 1 zested and both juiced
4 black plums, each sliced into 6 wedges
1/3 cup demerara sugar
pinch of salt
splash of rosewater


Day 1:

Over a large bowl, fit a sieve or colander double-lined with cheesecloth.  Pour yogurt into the lined bowl to drain; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (6 to 8 hours).

In a medium saucepan, place lime juice, zest, plums, demerara sugar, and pinch of salt and heat on medium, stirring occasionally, and gently. 

Once the plums’ skins start to separate from the flesh, remove enough slices from pan to make 1 heaping cup and place in a small bowl.  (The plums should be slightly softened, but not falling apart; it is okay to do this a few pieces at a time, as not all the plums will lose their skins at once. The plums yellow flesh should turn bright pink from being cooked with their skins.)

Cook the remaining plums and their liquid down until thick (about 20 minutes); using a small sieve, strain out the skins, pressing down to extract all the juice.  You should have just over ½ cup plum liquid; add in the rosewater.  Place in a small container.  Cover and refrigerate both the plum halves and plum liquid.

Day 2:

Discard the liquid from the strained yogurt; measure out 1¼ cups of yogurt and set aside. (Use the small amount of leftover yogurt for another use.)  In a small bowl, whisk 3 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese in a separate small bowl until smooth.  In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean (pod and seeds) over medium heat; boil 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Remove the milk mixture from the heat, discard the vanilla bean pod, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, and return the liquid to medium heat until it thickens slightly, about a minute or two.  Whisk a little of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, enough so that it becomes smooth, then whisk into the saucepan with the remaining milk.  Remove from heat; whisk in the yogurt and reserved plum liquid. 

Set a medium-sized metal bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice.  Set a strainer on top and pour the liquid through to remove any unseemly bits.  Let cool; cover and refrigerate the base overnight.

Day 3:

Churn the base in a frozen ice cream canister for 20 to 25 minutes, until the base pulls away from the sides of the canister, forming ribbons.  While the yogurt is churning, cut up the reserved plum halves into bite-sized pieces.  Spoon a little of the base into a freezer safe-container and then layer with plum bits; repeat layering until both the plums and base are all used up, ending with the base. 

Place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the container, over the top of the yogurt; seal and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

Makes about a quart

-This is a hard frozen yogurt; you’ll want to take it out a few minutes to soften before scooping.

-I suspect if you use plums with dark flesh, the result will be a darker shade.  

-We are a tad premature for plum season right now in Massachusetts.  I had very good luck with some local supermarket fruit.  I think nectarines would be lovely here too.

-I can never get my act together enough to let the cream cheese soften ahead of time, so I usually stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.  It does wonders.


Buttermilk Basil Ranch Dressing, It’s No Longer Cute

I will spare you the heat groans.  We all know it’s hot in Boston.  I’ve been calling it spicy, but on Day Four of scorching, it’s no longer cute. 

I haven’t turned on my stove in days and despite subsisting on salads and frozen fruit, I still feel puffy.  Until this business improves, I will be relying mostly on the aforementioned.

Impeccably timed really, I made a couple mason jars worth of ranch dressing earlier this week.  You know, before hell rose to the surface of the earth.  Never fear.  No heat necessary for this one.

Here’s what you do.  Secure a few fistfuls of basil, plus two shafts of scallions.  Mix in some chilled buttermilk, yogurt, vinegar, a neutral oil, plus some seasoning.  Toss with vegetables that can sustain their crunch.

The preferred combination I’m working with includes sugar snap peas, sliced Easter egg radishes, a mix of raw Royal Burgundy and chartreuse green beans, and romaine.  Add in some cubes of sourdough and parmesan shards.  Plus a few mint leaves and a flick of fleur de sel.  The bread sops up any dressing that pools at the bottom of the bowl.  The result is a refreshing, creamy salad that straddles the line somewhere between Caesar and panzanella. 

If you get up the guts to actually cook something, some red potatoes would be very welcome, as well.  As for the big yellow bowl?  Yeah, I ate lunch out of it today.  Dainty went out the window six degrees ago.

Buttermilk Basil Ranch Dressing


2 fistfuls of basil (about 1-1½ cups)
2 scallions, the white and green parts
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayo
¼ cup cider or wine-based vinegar
1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
½-2/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil


Blend the first nine ingredients in a food processor.  Blend or whisk in oil.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, Dijon, mayo, and/or oil if it seems too wimpy.  Refrigerate.  The flavor gets better the longer it sits, ideally overnight.

Makes about 1 pint

-This can very easily adapt to other herbs.  Mint, cilantro, and chives would be winning.  It’s a wonderful, loosey goosey recipe.

-I seem to remember scribbling down the bones of this ranch recipe while listening to The Spendid Table a few years ago.  Though a quick recipe google search revealed nothing that Lynne Rossetto Kasper would now recognize.  I suspect it was adapted to the contents of my fridge at the time; the rest is history.


A Beet Greens Quiche Comes Home

I’ve held associations of quiche with sweet chilled tea and triangle-cut cucumber cream cheese sandwiches.  A vibe of lacquered perfection.  I have no idea where this came from.  But I was wrong. 

Instead picture eight friends sitting around two uneven tables covered by mismatched tablecloths, surrounded by an unusual collection of dishes.  

Vegetables with edamame dip.  An oozy Canadian chèvre called Grey Owl, with a fuzzy slate-colored rind.  Lasagna.  Foie gras with morels.  Quiche.  And a layered chocolate cake. 

Or picture eating quiche for a solid week for breakfast.  Both happened. 

Tartine’s quiche recipe, of the famed San Francisco bakery, feels like home.  The crust—its gently slumping sides shown here resemble a craggy coastal line—is buttery, flaky, and rich.  Ribbons of beet greens appear when it’s sliced into wedges, revealing an eggy filling so light and smooth, it’s almost custardy.  Adding in a tub of crème fraîche might have helped with that.

Anyway, this quiche connected a memory of my mother’s soft-boiled eggs.  A few weeks ago I saw her lightly boil an egg, set it in an egg cup, tap-tap-tap the top of its shell, and gently peel off just enough to create jagged eggshell edges.

I’ve eaten many boiled eggs from this woman.  I remember them being soft and delicate.  I remember dunking narrow strips of buttered toast deep into the yolk.  I remember feeling cared for.  I do not remember ever noticing the uneven lines that came from unhinging the tiptop of the eggshell.  Those rough edges were always there though.

This intensely fragile custard and its rich, buttery shell cause a similar hypnotization.  When simple things are very good, craggy edges and slightly sloping crusts don’t matter much.

Beet Greens Quiche
Adapted from Tartine, by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson


for the crust
(this makes 2 crusts, save one for another use)

1 tsp salt
2/3 cup ice water (measured after the ice is removed)
3 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1 inch pieces

for the custard

5 eggs
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 ounces) crème fraîche
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
8-10 grinds of black pepper
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped (or other soft herb)
1 cup raw beet greens, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)


In a small bowl, combine the salt and water and stir.  Place the flour in a food processor and scatter the butter on top; pulse until crumbs the size of walnuts and peas form.  Add in the water and pulse for a few seconds more (the dough should come together, but it will be shaggy).

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in two.  Shape each ball into a 1-inch thick disk; wrap in plastic wrap and chill 2-24 hours.

To roll out the dough, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a circle 1/8 inch thick (do not roll back and forth, instead roll from the center out, turning the dough as you go).  Dust with extra flour, as needed, to prevent sticking.  Gently roll the dough up on your rolling pin and over a 9 or 10-inch pie or tart pan (it should hang over 1-2 inches).  Gently ease the dough into the pan.  Trim it to a ½ inch overhang and crimp it, or trim the dough even with a tart pan. (Repeat with the remaining dough and reserve for another use.)

Chill the dough 30-60 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the shell looks light brown (lift up the parchment paper).  Remove the parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes more.  Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl make the custard by whisking 1 egg and the flour together until smooth.  Whisk in the remaining eggs.  In a large bowl, beat the crème fraîche until smooth; add in the milk and whisk until well combined. 

Through a strainer or mesh sieve, pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture.  Whisk in the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Add the beet greens into the custard and pour it into the prepared pastry shell.  Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes longer, until the center of the quiche is set up (it should not jiggle if jostled); it should feel fairly firm to the touch.

Let cool on a wire rack and serve slightly warm, or at room temperature, or slightly chilled.  To rewarm the quiche, cover with foil and reheat at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 reasonable slices

-Any kind of dark greens would be lovely here, kale, swiss chard, etc.  I had approximately 1 million pounds of beet greens from canning a few weeks ago that needed a home.

-My crusts tend to slump a bit.  I’m pretty sure it’s my oven (let’s blame it anyway).  It’s not the recipe.  Either way, it didn't matter.

-You can refrigerate the shell overnight, before it is baked, if tightly wrapped.

-The unfilled baked pie shell will keep at room temperature tightly wrapped for a day or two or in the freezer for up to two weeks.