In the 1950’s a good wife was always an hour away from having a delicious roast beef dinner on the table in case the husband invited the boss and his wife over for dinner. At least, that’s what the movies tell me.
Unfortunately for my husband and his boss, it’s 2013 and I don’t do roast beef. [Especially on Meatless Monday!] The best I can do on short notice is dessert and drinks. And by drinks I mean a bottle of wine. But the dessert–I can do some damage there.
Scene: The husband had some colleagues in from overseas and wanted to take them out to dinner and invite them over for dessert after. So I first considered all of the successful delicious desserts I have made recently. Cookies didn’t seem fancy enough. And as much as I love my peanut butter banana ice cream, that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially on a cold November evening.
I immediately turned to my bookmarked list of blogs I like. If I’m going to take a chance on a recipe I haven’t made before, it needs to be recommended by a blogger I trust. Smittenkitchen came through for me with her Blueberry Crumb Bars. I had almost everything I needed on hand, which was necessary given the turnaround time I was dealing with. I had a couple hours to pull this together and have the house company-ready.
It all starts with the crust and crumble part. Conveniently, the delicious crust and topping are one in the same, saving another dirty bowl, time, and energy. Smitten Kitchen flavored her dough with lemon zest. I didn’t have a lemon, and I love the combination of lavender and blueberry, so I used dried lavender instead of lemon zest. The dry ingredients are brought together with cold butter and an egg. The blueberries get a sugar-cornstarch-lemon juice sauce to keep them juicy yet solid.
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried lavender
- 4 cups frozen (or fresh) blueberries
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 tsp cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter/spray a 9×13 baking dish. If using frozen blueberries, put them in a colander in the sink to begin to thaw.
2. Stir together 1 cup sugar, the flour, baking powder, salt, and dried lavender. Use a pastry cutter or fork to blend in the butter and the egg. The dough should be crumbly. Dump half of the dough mixture in the pan and pat it down to make a crust.
3. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. If using frozen blueberries, run lukewarm water over the berries in the colander to break up any broken clumps. Shake off as much water as you can. Add the blueberries to the lemon juice mixture and mix gently. Dump the blueberry mixture over the crust and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top over the berry mixture.
4. Bake the crumble for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting. (If you can stand it)
Unfortunately for the colleagues, they were exhausted after flying in, a long day of work, and a late dinner and they declined the invitation for dessert and drinks. That meant I didn’t have to wait long before I could dig in and steal the first (and second) piece. Lucky for them, the bars were so damn good that if I kept them all at home, I would eat them all and then hate myself as I drooled on the couch. So instead I cut them up, put them in a plastic container and sent them with the husband to work the next day. The bars got rave reviews including a photo of the overseas colleague giving them a thumbs up texted to my phone. All in a day’s work.