24 September 2014

Fall News + Blueberry Custard Crumble Bars

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Weren't you supposed to be somewhere else by now? That's the phrase I keep hearing from friends and colleagues whenever I see them. Yes, I sigh with an annoyance all too familiar, we were hoping to leave in early October. The good news is that we are moving to Cairo, Egypt shortly! The bad news is that it probably won't be as soon as we would like. However, I am definitely making the best of this situation. More time to visit family? Check. Friends coming to visit us in Chicago? Check, check, check. More time to eat blueberries and broccoli and apples that have actual crunch, none of which are available in the Middle East? YOU BET.

After three years of spending the months of August-September outside of the country, I apparently forgot that fall was a) a season, b) starts a whole lot earlier in Chicago, and c) is cold!! Although, if I'm being totally honest, I did cave and buy a fleece at the Columbia sportswear in Amman three years ago because I was freezing on those cool desert evenings.

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Anyway, back to the blueberries. Do you ever make a giant portion of something, intending to give half of it your nice neighbors and then, "oh, oops, guess they're out of town this week, and we're just going to have to eat ALL these blueberry bars ourselves." So that's what happened here. It was really terrible, Paul was really suffering eating these bars for breakfast and after-dinner dessert.

I don't usually make this type of pastry because I tend to shy away from richer American desserts, but seriously this recipe is awesome. A small slice has just the right amount of crunch, ooze, and sweet-sour-salty tang to be imminently satisfying.

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Blueberry Custard Crumble Bars
This recipe comes together quickly and feeds quite a few. It would be great for a casual dinner party, a picnic, or in your lunchbox. It also freezes very well after it is baked. Inspired by this recipe for a similar blueberry custard pie. (You can also top it with ice cream if you want to go all out.)

12 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
1 tbl lemon zest
1 egg
1 tbl flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 cups blueberries
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups chopped walnut pieces
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Get out a 9x12 inch baking pan.
2. Make the crust: in a large bowl, rub the butter together with the sugar with your finger tips. Add in the salt and the flour and rub everything together until the mixture is crumbly. Press the crumbly mixture into the bottom of the baking pan, trying to cover it evenly.
3. Make the filling: Using the same bowl, place the sour cream, lemon, egg, flour, and brown sugar in the bowl and mix well. Gently fold in the blueberries until coated with the sour cream mixture. Spread the blueberry mixture over the crust.
4. Make the crumble: In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt, walnuts, and flour. Slowly pour in the melted butter, stirring simultaneously, until you've added all the butter. Stir a few more times to make sure all the butter is spread around. Gently spread the crumble topping over the blueberries.
5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the topping is browned and the blueberry juices are bubbling slightly underneath. Remove, let cool completely before slicing.


words to that effect said...

Hi Mercedes,

I don't usually comment, but as I've been enjoying your blog for a while now I thought I'd post to say how great it is and how much I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on Egyptian cooking and your recipes from Cairo. I originally came across your blog while looking for recipes to improve my houmous technique but your fascinating posts about Algerian cooking kept me hooked.

I love Egyptian food and though it's not highly rated compared to other middle eastern cuisines, some of my all time favourite dishes are definitely Egyptian. (A good Egyptian taamiya with broad beans definitely beats a classic levantine falafel IMO!).

Anyway, thanks for keeping such an awesome blog, and good luck with your move. Cairo is a fabulous place to be.

lynn2mary said...


Mercedes said...

words to that effect -- Thank you for your kind words! And yes, I am quite excited about Cairo (although the Syrian in me is not convinced on that felafel vs tamiyya debate, haha). But in all seriousness, I'm really quite excited to learn more about Egyptian fare, and I do love me some molokhiyya. When we went to Algiers I didn't know anything about Maghrebi cooking, and in general the standards for food there are pretty low, but I ended up learning a ton and really enjoying it, so I'm sure it will be even more fun in Cairo!!

Mai Eldib said...

Hi Mercedes,

I think this must be the first time for me to ever comment on a blog.

Really enjoyed learning more about Algerian cuisine.

Super excited to see that you are moving to Cairo, being a fellow Egyptian myself.

Looking forward to seeing you experiment with the local cuisine. There is a lot of great Egyptian food that is undiscovered. A much more that I am sure you are well acquainted with.

Good luck with the move to Cairo, as I am sure you know, its wonderfully chaotic.

- Mai

Mercedes said...

Thanks Mai! If you have any special foods you think I should seek out, outside of the classics like ful and koshari, please do leave it in a comment!