Greg Cole

Greg Cole

If you have seen the movie “Forrest Gump,” you probably remember the scene where Bubba tells Forrest about all the ways you can prepare and serve shrimp—shrimp creole, shrimp and grits, shrimp salad, shrimp gumbo and a host of others.

I think the same line of thinking applies to blueberries. You can make blueberry pancakes, blueberry buckle, blueberry jam, blueberry cobbler, blueberry crisp and—one of my favorites—blueberry muffins.

Whether eaten out of hand or in a dish, blueberries are delicious and nutritious. When I was growing up, my frugal Norwegian mother sometimes allowed us to have the best cereal in the world: cornflakes and blueberries. It really was just packaged cornflakes with dried blueberries but I loved that cereal.

Fresh blueberries should be arriving at the Napa Farmers’ Market any day now. I have not seen them yet, but I am sure that they are just behind the beautiful cherries and apricots available now. At the last market, I saw some early peaches and nectarines, too.

Several years ago, I planted three blueberry bushes in containers in my yard. Without much attention, the bushes produce a nice crop every year. Currently, the berries are at various stages of ripeness from pale green to almost purple. Up close, they look like tiny pomegranates.

I have forgotten which variety I planted, but the folks at local garden centers can suggest varieties that do well in Napa Valley. You can visit the Master Gardeners’ booth at the Napa Farmers’ Market for advice, too.

In terms of per-capita consumption, blueberries rank right behind strawberries in the U.S. California ranks sixth in production. Aren’t we lucky? In 2014, our state harvested 53 million pounds. Washington, the top producer, hauled in 96 million pounds that year.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, the compounds that combat free radicals, which can damage cellular structures and DNA. One cup of blueberries contains only 84 calories and no cholesterol while supplying 14 percent of the daily recommendation of dietary fiber and 24 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin C. Blueberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin K, manganese and copper.

I hope you enjoy the following recipe, which is the blueberry muffin recipe I make at home.

Chef demo: On Saturday, June 3, please join us at 11 a.m. at the chef’s demonstration stage at the south end of the market as Sandra Richardson, owner of The Constrained Gourmet, demonstrates a recipe using fresh market produce. Recipes will be provided.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, softened

1¼ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

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½ cup milk

2 cups blueberries

3 teaspoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.

With a fork, crush ½ cup of the blueberries and add to the batter; fold in the remaining blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with ¼ teaspoon sugar. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and cool on a rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 dozen muffins

Greg Cole is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and the founder of Cole’s Chop House and Celadon restaurants in Napa. He is on the board of directors of the Napa Farmers’ Market.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May through October, in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The third Tuesday of every month is Seniors’ Day at the market, with some vendors offering discounts to shoppers 65 and older. Ask about participating vendors at the information booth. For more market information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit NapaFarmersMarket.org or visit the market on Facebook.

The Farmers Market accepts WIC, CalFresh EBT cards and the Senior Nutrition Program (available through WIC). CalFresh EBT users can receive double the value of the withdrawal from their EBT account at the market’s information booth.

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