: NOT Grandma’s Blueberry Grunt

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Blueberry Grunt has a funny name and a long history here in Nova Scotia.

It’s several generations old and one of the simplest desserts to make. The “grunt” in its title, is believed to come from the sound produced while the sauce bubbles and the dumplings give off an almost..um… rude noise.  They may have called it Blueberry Toot. But Blueberry Grunt it is.

When we were kids, on summer weekends we’d head to the family cottage in Blue Mountain, named for it’s blueberry fields. Here in the Annapolis Valley, we get high bush blueberries. But my favorite will always be the wild field blueberries that grew in back of our cottage.

I have very fond memories of my dad making homemade tin rakes and taking us kids out to the fields to rake the blueberries. We would come back looking like smurfs and it would take days to get the berry stain out from under our nails. We ate them by the handfuls. We ate them on cereal. We ate them with cream. And we ate them stewed with dumplings, better known as grunt.

My favorite picture from childhood is one with the whole gang of us, back from the field, with buckets and buckets of berries. I was about 8 years old and wearing a Donny and Marie Osmond hoodie (that might give away my age). My baby sister who was supposed to be saying “cheese” for the camera couldn’t stand the temptation. Just as the shutter clicked, she was caught, buried up to her elbows, with a big blue-stained-teeth grin.

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My blueberry grunt follows the traditional recipe with the exception of adding cinnamon and custard to the mix. You don’t need either, they are not a requirement. But I find the custard gives the sauce a velvety texture and helps cut a bit of the acidity in the berries. The cinnamon just adds a subtle spice flavour.

Some would rather stick to the bare-berry recipe. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. As far as simple dessert recipes go, this is my favorite.

Adding the blueberries to the water and custard mixture.

Adding the blueberries to the water and custard mixture.

Sauce is bubbling and dumplings are cooking

Sauce is bubbling and dumplings are cooking

Sauce Ingredients:

2 pints blueberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp custard powder

Dumpling Ingredients:

2 ½  cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp cold butter

About ½ cup milk (or enough to achieve a soft dough)

Method:

Make dough for dumplings: sift flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Slowly add milk and mix in just until a soft dough forms. Don’t over work it. Set aside.

Make sauce: In a large pot, whisk custard with water over medium heat until powder dissolves. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and berries and continue to stir frequently until it just starts to bubble. With a spoon, drop in big clumps of dough all around the pot and in the center. Turn heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes until dumplings look cooked.

Serve warm by placing a piece of dumpling on plate. Spoon on the sauce. Eat just like this or, as I would suggest, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Or, you could serve on top of a dollop of warm custard and top with ice cream (my personal favorite).

A word of caution… My dad loved to tell about the time a relative (whom I will not name) came to visit. My mom made a huge pot of blueberry grunt. My mystery relative had a few helpings before they proceeded on their long trip home. Let’s just say they had to make several stops!

I would suggest that copious amounts of berries and long road trips don’t go well together. My dad always laughed when he told that story and ended it “…and that’s why they (really) call it blueberry grunt”.

I can still hear my dad’s laugh. Good times.

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: Banana Burritos

DSC_0557This lovely decadence was adapted from an Asmah Laili recipe. Asmah is well-known as a Singaporean radio personality turned gourmet. She has produced several beautiful cook books. I am happy to own a few.

Her recipes are a mix of traditional and fusion dishes, at times with a nod to Western tastes. Like this delightful dessert; ooey-gooey, mildly spiced, mashed banana inside a fried burrito. That sounds awesome but that’s not all. It’s served warm with sides of custard, ice cream, and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Tone down the sweetness and add texture with crunchy toasted almonds.

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The silky to-die-for caramel sauce is from Ree Drummond’s easy caramel sauce recipe. The custard was not from scratch. I used Bird’s instant custard powder. Any instant custard will do the trick.

…Oh baby, is it rich!

In fact, SO rich, this is a dessert better served in smaller portions. At least until you can recover enough for another round.

And a date with a treadmill to follow!

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Ingredients:

5 ripe bananas (3 mashed smooth, 2 coarsely mashed)

12 soft tortillas ( *soft taco size, not the large size for making quesadillas )

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp butter

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

+ custard thickener for banana filling: 3 tbsp custard powder mixed with 6 tbsp water.

+ small amount of flour and water mixed to a paste for sealing tortilla ends.

+ vegetable oil for frying

+ Toasted almonds for garnish

+ Prepared custard and caramel sauce for drizzling

Method:

No need for mixing bowls, you can do all this in the skillet if you want.

DSC_0508 In skillet, over medium heat, melt butter.. Add brown sugar followed by 3 smoothly mashed bananas, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook until just bubbly. Lower heat and coarsely mash in the remaining 2 bananas followed by the custard thickener.

DSC_0520 Mix well and cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally .Turn off and allow to cool.

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Prepare caramel sauce and custard. Toast almonds, if using.

DSC_0529Lay out each tortilla and dollop on the banana filling. Then, taking some flour-water paste with your finger, moistened all around the inside perimeter of the tortilla. and roll as you would a burrito. Seal the ends using extra paste if needed. Do this until all burritos are rolled. If you aren’t sure how to roll a burrito, here is a video showing how:

DSC_0546Heat a wok with about an inch deep of oil. Fry burritos, a couple at a time just until golden (about 3-4 minutes), flipping half way through. Remove to paper towels. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled custard and caramel, and a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Makes about 1 dozen burritos.

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