Baby Blues

Unexpected accents like cardamom and sage heighten the intense pleasure of one of late spring’s most beloved berries. Fall in love with these little orbs as you toss them into salsa, rice, even iced tea.

1. Muffins Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon cinnamon applesauce, 1 egg and ¼ cup finely chopped sage. Add wet mixture to dry and mix well. Fold in 1½ cups blueberries. Spoon batter into greased 12-cup muffin pan. Bake in 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

2. Iced tea Bring 4 cups water to 208 degrees, just below boiling point. Steep 2 orange pekoe tea bags in the water for 5 minutes. Discard bags. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup blueberries, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Add blueberry liquid to tea. Bring to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Strain berries through sieve lined with coffee filter into pitcher. Serve over ice.

3. Red rice with blueberries Rinse 1 cup red rice in cold water. Fill a pot with 2 cups chicken broth. Add red rice, ¾ cup blueberries, ¾ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (pods removed), and a generous pinch each of sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Serve with roasted lamb or curried chicken.

4. Salsa Combine 1 cup coarsely chopped blueberries; ½ cup minced red onion; ½ cup peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumber; chiffonade of 7 mint leaves; 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger; 3 to 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar; and a pinch salt. Mix well. Serve with tortilla chips.

5. Sabayon Try chef Carl McConnell’s recipe from his cookbook, Stone Soup Cottage, for this spring-perfect dessert. Place ¼ cup blueberries in a bowl filled with 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier. Macerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 ounces clarified butter in a saute pan until crackling. Place four, 2-ounce slices pound cake in the pan. Grill the slices on each side until golden. Make sabayon by combining ¼ cup sugar and 5 egg yolks in a bowl. Temper the mixture, then place over a heated water bath and whisk vigorously until it’s pale yellow and thickened. Add a splash chardonnay. Divide sabayon among 4 plates. Add to each a slice of pound cake and a spoonful macerated blueberries, drizzled with lavender honey*.

6. Cocktail Combine 1 cup water and 2 cups Demarera sugar in a medium-sized pot. Stir well. Over medium heat, dissolve sugar, then add 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 cups blueberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until fruit breaks down. Double strain into a clean jar, gently pushing the back of a spoon against berries to release juices. Pour 1 ounce blueberry syrup into a Champagne flute. Top with 3 ounces prosecco (not cava or Champagne). Garnish with 1 blueberry. Reserve remaining syrup to prepare yogurt pops (below) and, for more blueberry cocktail ideas, visit the recipes section of Reserve solids (You should have about ¼ cup.) to prepare duck sauce (below).

7. Yogurt pops Combine 2/3 cup blueberry syrup (see No. 6) and 2 cups plain yogurt. Mix well. Pour into 10-count popsicle mold and add sticks. Freeze until solid.

8. Duck sauce Combine ¼ cup reserved cooked blueberry solids (see No. 6) with ¼ teaspoon ground allspice. Place in small pot on very low heat. Add 1 cinnamon stick and let steep 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve with roasted duck.