Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blueberry balsamic sauce, many ways

Whenever I hear someone say, "I'm blue," I think of my 7th grade German class.  It was my first year taking a foreign language.  After the first weeks of instruction, we'd learned basic conversation skills like greetings, introductions, and questions about the weather and one's well-being.  We'd also learned how to ask to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, and sharpen one's pencil.  (Our teacher was all about total immersion in the language.  I may not remember cardinal directions, but I can surely inquire about a water fountain.) 

Our teacher paired up students and asked us to create a 2 minute dialogue using stuffed animals, action figures, or props of some kind.  I want to remind you that, in 7th grade, I was desperately trying to embrace being a teenager and seem older and more mature to anyone and everyone.  I was already smaller than most of my friends and therefore looked even younger.  So, the thought of revealing to my peers and teachers one of my childhood toys didn't exactly scream cool junior highschooler.

My partner and I agreed to go home, pick a few candidates, and call one another to conference.  A quick survey of my one remaining  basket of plush toys, and I realized my best options were a ladybug, frog, and blue M&M man.  The not-so-chocolate candy easily won.

As the class assembled the next day, each of us nervously displayed our props.  I don't remember what anyone else brought, but I do remember that my blue M&M didn't seem like he (or she) was going to cause any irreversible teenage trauma.  Whew.

If I could tell my 7th grade self anything right now, it'd simply be, "Not so fast, Katy."

Our teacher roamed the room, reviewing our drafts and making corrections here and there.  She read ours through and said, "Katy, you have one mistake here where you say (translated) 'I am blue.'  That's incorrect."  "It is?  Oh... um... what did I do wrong?"  "Well, nothing, technically.  But, in slang, saying you are blue is actually saying you are drunk."

Cue the pink cheeks, face of shame, and all of a sudden silent classroom.  If there's a surefire way to get the undivided attention of a bunch of 13-year-olds, it's to talk about alcohol and/or, ahem, intimate relations between two people.

I know what you're thinking.  "But, Katy, you said she only mentioned being drunk."  At first, yes.  But eventually, we started asking if there were other examples of similar slang and, well, she gave other examples!  I won't go into specifics, but if you're curious, here's a hint.  Let's just say that our teacher totally guaranteed that we'd 1) remember that exception to verb conjugation rules, 2) giggle endlessly for the remainder of the class period, and 3) be emotionally scarred by a smiling plush blue M&M.

So, what does German slang have to do with blueberry sauce?  Truth be told, not very much, except that both can have more than one meaning/use!  (See?  I told you I'd get there.)

Though I initially made this sauce to serve atop fish at dinner, I realized halfway through cooking that the ways to enjoy it were endless.  The bit of onion simply adds depth to the sweetness of the blueberries and brown sugar, while the ginger and lemon add warmth and freshness.  It's almost a sin how easily this comes together.  One pot wonder, FTW!
  • As a sauce over grilled salmon, chicken, or pork chops
  • Spread on a toasted bagel or English muffin
  • Spread on bread with slices of Brie cheese for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich
  • Cooled and spooned over Greek yogurt or ice cream for a sweet treat
  • Served over angel food cake with whipped cream
  • Spooned over grilled pineapple, peaches, or other fruit
  • As a dip for Nilla wafers or graham crackers
  • Mixed with champagne or Prosecco for a refreshing summer cocktail
And whatever else you can imagine.  Your appetite is the only limit!  No need to worry about foreign language grammar or judgmental adolescents ;)

Two years ago: Deconstructed cannoli

Blueberry Balsamic Sauce
(adapted from this recipe)
-makes about 1 cup of sauce, or 4-5 servings

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (apple cider vinegar will do in a pinch)
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a small saucepan, cook and stir onion and garlic in hot oil, about 3 minutes or until softened.  Add blueberries, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and zest.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and reduced to about 1 cup.  Remove from heat.  Serve over grilled salmon or chicken immediately.  Or cool in sealed container in refrigerator for up to one week, reheating as necessary.

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