Cowberry Yoghurt Muffins Parfait Style
Cowberries are also known as Lingonberries, a small tart fruit which is a staple in Northern Scandinavia, picked in the wild and used to accompany a variety of dishes. If you’ve been to the IKEA cafeteria you’ve seen them as a sauce for the Swedish meatballs. They are also grown in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but not seen very often here in California unless in jam or preserves.
Having been an English major in college, I developed a fond relationship with wordplay, so you can imagine my delight at the other common names for the Lingonberry: csejka berry, quailberry, beaverberry, red whortleberry, cougarberry, mountain bilberry, and even partridgeberry!
My best friend from college moved to Sweden 20 + years ago and one of our very closest family friends, Stig the mad genius carpenter, is a “Sami” (formerly known as a “Lapp”; from Lapland, Sweden), and I visited Sweden once many moons ago. I love most things Swede, in homage to my friends and for 2 other reasons: (1) meatballs; and, (2) open faced sandwiches.
This week it’s been cold cold cold, by Southern California standards, so I’ve been feeling downright Nordic. In addition, last Sunday we had a wonderful pie at our favorite cafe that was made with jam and a layer of yogurt, and I’ve been wanting to re-create those flavors and textures since then. So for this Fiesta Friday I dreamt up this cowberry muffin, parfait style. It has a bottom layer of cooked lingonberries (or you can use jam), a layer of drained greek-style yoghurt mixed with an egg yolk and some flour for firmness/bakeability, and a top layer of bacon. The muffin dough uses a combination of rye flour and coarse polenta mixed with a little more yoghurt.
I experimented with more use of natural light in my photos this week and would love your input on the different shots. Believe me, the whole production did not bode well for my husband this morning, who during Lent does not eat until after 5 p.m., so as he calmly did his morning reading/meditation, I was scuttling baked cowberry muffins, halved and whole, around the house pulling up blinds, moving chairs, making all kinds of noise and trouble to snap my shots.
Natural Light, from above
From Above, Instagram enhanced
Side View, Natural Light
Side View, Instagram enhanced
Whole Muffins, Natural Light
I Made a Mess, Instagram enhanced
Here’s the Recipe:
1/2 cup lingonberries or lingonberry jam
1 Tbps cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water
1 1/4 cup greek style (full fat) yoghurt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp rye flour
1 cup coarse polenta
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 cup water
8 slices bacon, cooked to 75% of how crisp you would normally like it
(Makes 4 large muffins)
1. Gently warm 1/2 cup lingonberries, or lingonberry jam. Mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water and add to lingonberries. Stir for 2 minutes then let sit for at least 10 minutes, or to cool.
2. Mix 1 cup greek yoghurt (full fat) with 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbsp flour. Set aside.
3. Mix 1 cup rye flour and 1 cup coarse polenta and 1 Tbsp baking powder. Add 1/4 cup greek yoghurt, 1 egg and mix well, and 1/2 cup water and mix well.
4. Layer large silpat muffin molds or pour into muffin tin as follows: 2 large spoonfuls of lingonberry, 2 spoonfuls of yoghurt mixture, 2 spoonfuls of flour mixture, repeat layers but with 1 spoonful of each mixture. Break bacon slices into pieces. Top with bacon. Cover the tops of the muffins for the first 35 minutes of baking. Uncover for the last 10 minutes of baking. Let cool well before unmolding.
A little more history on this delightfully sour berry:
In Sweden and Norway, reindeer and elk steak is traditionally served with gravy and lingonberry sauce.
A traditional Swedish dessert is lingonpäron (literally lingonberry pears), consisting of fresh pears which are peeled and boiled in lingondricka (lingonberry squash) and then preserved in the pear-infused lingonberry squash and not uncommonly eaten during Christmas. This was very common in old times, because it was an easy and tasty way to preserve pears.
In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, the berries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water. This was also a home remedy against scurvy.
In Russia this preserve had been known as “lingonberry water” (брусничная вода) and is a traditional soft drink. In Russian folk medicine, lingonberry water was used as a mild laxative.
A traditional Finnish dish is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, either cooked or raw with sugar. In Finland, a porridge made from the fruit is also popular.
In Poland, the berries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game.