July is a fantastic month to eat in Ohio. You'll find fresh beans, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, summer squash, sweet corn and tomatoes. July also is berry season: blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Fresh, raw blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese, and they are packed with antioxidants, which, of course, is a good thing.
To purchase the best blueberries, look for plump, ripe ones with bold color and a whitish sheen. Avoid the containers that look juice-stained or hold berries with white or black spots (mold). You can store blueberries in the refrigerator, but for the best taste, use them as soon as you can. Don't wash the berries until you are ready to start cooking because washing causes them to soften and become less flavorful.
Blueberries are extremely versatile. They can be eaten raw on top of cereal or alongside ice cream. They can be baked in breads or made into tarts, pies, cobblers, compotes or jams. To prepare for cooking, rinse them off and discard any remaining twigs attached to the tops.
Spencer Budros of Pistacia Vera, 541 S. Third St. in German Village, has contributed his recipe for lemon blueberry financiers-toasted brown butter almond French tea cakes with summer blueberries and lemon zest. Simple to make, these cakes are perfect with vanilla bean ice cream.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
The zest of one lemon
1-1/3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup cake flour
4 large egg whites (approximately 1⁄2 cup)
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Cook until the white milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan and turn a rich, hazelnut-brown color. Strain the brown butter into a clean container. Zest one lemon directly into the brown butter. Do not use juice.
Combine and sift the confectioners sugar, almond flour and cake flour. On the lowest speed of your mixer, add in the egg whites and mix until all the dry ingredients are moist. Increase speed slightly and add the warm brown butter. Increase speed to medium and mix until smooth. Place batter in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the surface of the batter). Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour desired molds. Spoon or pipe the batter into the molds until half full. Top with desired amount of fresh blueberries. Batter will slightly rise and crown in the oven.
Bake cakes for approximately 15 minutes-until they are brown around the edges. Let sit at room temperature for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Financiers are best enjoyed the same day they are made, but the batter will keep in the fridge for a few days.