Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date!

In 1999, the USDA proclaimed July to be National Blueberry Month, as stated:
  • WHEREAS blueberries are a native North American fruit produced in 35 states;
  • WHEREAS the pioneering work conducted in New Jersey by Elizabeth White and Dr. Fredrick Coville in the early 1900's to domesticate wild highbush blueberries resulted in the development of the hybrid for cultivated highbush blueberries;
  • WHEREAS blueberries are low in calories and sodium and a source of fiber and their consumption contributes to achieving the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation to choose a diet with plenty of fruit;
  • WHEREAS highbush blueberries are harvested from mid-April through early October with the harvest reaching its peak in July;
  • NOW, THEREFORE, to promote the greater appreciation and use of highbush blueberries, I, Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of July 1999 as "National Blueberry Month" and call upon all citizens to recognize and celebrate the highbush blueberry with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Phew! That's a mouthful! So, in honor of National Blueberry Month, I give you "Blueberry Strata," from the Rocky Mountain Lodge and Cabins in Cascade, Colorado. This blissful breakfast strata makes good use of the plethora of blueberries which are inescapable in July. Requiring a bountiful 3 cups of blueberries, further enhanced with cream cheese, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a brilliant blueberry syrup (that can be used as a topping for pancakes, crepes, and blintzes), this is one recipe you should try! The best part is that you make it the night before and bake it in the morning for a refreshing change to your breakfast routine! NOW, GO FORTH and MAKITH!


Blueberry Strata

Serves 12, but can be successfully halved

For the Strata
1 loaf French Bread, cubed
1, 8-ounce package cream cheese, frozen for about 4 hours (I don't bother to freeze it!)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (You better use fresh in July!)
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup maple syrup (use the real stuff!)
Cinnamon, to taste (I recommend at least a teaspoon!)

For the Blueberry Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (You better use fresh in July!)
1 tablespoon butter

For the Strata
Place 2/3 bread cubes in a greased 13" x 9" dish. Cut cream cheese in small pieces and sprinkle over bread, top with blueberries and remaining bread.

In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, maple syrup and cinnamon; pour evenly over bread. Cover the surface flush with plastic wrap, weight down with whatever you have in the pantry (see Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere), and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, uncover the strata and set on counter for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover strata with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until golden brown and center is set. Remove from oven and let set 5-10 minutes.

Cut strata into 12 pieces. Top with blueberry syrup.

For the Blueberry Syrup
Prepare syrup while strata is baking. In a medium saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Add water, bring to a boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Stir in blueberries, reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes more.

Stir in butter until melted, keep warm until serving time. Drizzle over strata.

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