On Prince Edward Island, if you get one or two country roads off the highway and go down some dirt lane, chances are you’ll stumble onto a distinctive crimson-hued wild blueberry field. They are a wonderful addition to our agricultural landscape. Unlike their big bland berry-basket brethren (a high-bush blueberry hybrid grown year-round in warm climes), these wild northern plants grow low to the ground and produce smaller fruit with much more intense flavour. And lots of them. So many wild blueberries that Island cooks traditionally had enough to simmer into a delectable stew, often with maple syrup and bright lemon. Dumplings would then be baked or simmered in the stew. Our twist of fresh basil was not traditional, but if you try it once, you’ll discover one of our favourite farm flavours for dessert. Blueberries and basil are delicious together, and cardamom loves basil too. You can reliably find wild blueberries in the frozen fruit section of your favourite supermarket.
Wild Blueberry Grunt With Cardamom Dumpling and Fresh Basil
4 cups (1 L) fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1 cup (250 mL) pure maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil, tightly rolled and thinly sliced
4 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cardamom
¼ cup (60 mL) butter, frozen
¾ cup (175 mL) whole milk
1. For the Blueberry Stew, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Turn on the convection fan if you have one. (Alternatively, to cook on the stovetop, start the stew but instead of reducing it, add the dumplings, cover tightly, and simmer until they’re tender and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a dumpling comes out clean, 15 minutes.)
2. Toss the blueberries, maple syrup, and lemon zest and juice into a large, heavy skillet. Bring to a full boil over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and reduced by half or so. Remove from the heat.
3. For the Cardamom Dumplings, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cardamom. Grate the butter into the mixture through the large holes of a box grater and evenly mix in the shards with your fingers. Pour in the milk and stir the mixture into a smooth dough. Using a spoon or your hands, divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Nestle the dough into the blueberry stew. Bake until the dumplings are tender and lightly browned, 20 minutes. Serve with lots of fresh basil sprinkled on top.
Excerpted from Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune by Michael Smith Copyright © 2021 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin Canada®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune, Amazon, $30.
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