The festival of Lughnasadh or Lughnasa (pronounced LOO-na-se) marks the beginning of the harvest season that was historically observed throughout Ireland and other Celtic nations. Originally held July 31-August 1, or approximately halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, it’s also called “Lammas Sunday” and “Fraughan Sunday” and is now observed on the Sunday closest to August 1. Fraughans, also known as bilberries (members of the same family as the blackberry and wild blueberry), are traditionally picked during Lughnasa (the Irish word for “August”) and eaten in pies, jams, and puddings. You might want to celebrate yourself with these two blueberry recipes from my newest cookbook, Favorite Flavors of Ireland. To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com
BLUEBERRY-WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
Makes 1 dozen muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter
4 ounces white chocolate
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a standard muffin pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and white chocolate. Microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until melted. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Stir in flour mixture and then stir in melted chocolate, lemon zest, and blueberries.
5. Divide batter into prepared pan and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Photo courtesy of Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal.
A fruit “fool” – the word supposedly derives from the French fouler, meaning “to crush”— calls for combining puréed fruit with beaten eggs and sugar, whipped cream, sour cream, or yogurt for a virtually “foolproof” dessert. This recipe, which pays homage to the fraughan (also known as bilberry and wild blueberry), combines the berries with layers of whipped cream and crushed biscuits.
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3 to 4 drops almond extract
2 cups blueberries (reserve a few for topping)
6 digestive biscuits, such as McVities or Carr’s brand
1/4 cup ground almonds
1. Chill 6 stemmed glasses. Whip cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold in sour cream, sugar, and almond extract.
2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, cook berries until they begin to break up. Remove from heat and let cool. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of berries into each glass. Combine remaining berries with cream mixture and spoon over berries.
3. Crumble 1 cookie over top of each and garnish with reserved berries and ground almonds. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour or more.