January 23, 2011

Blueberry Pink!

As The Maine House continues to plan our spring garden, we wanted to accent our Peony plants with a deeper shade of pink. We have discovered a relatively new plant being featured and what a perfect idea, especially for Maine!

Have you ever tasted a pink blueberry? From May through October, Pink Lemonade blueberry plants produce firm, delicious berries that are perfect fresh, baked in pies, or stirred into lemonade. Besides the berries, the plants also bring four-season interest to your garden with orangey-red foliage in fall, reddish-brown twigs in winter, and pinkish-white blossoms in spring.

•Plant 3' to 4' apart
•Place in full to part-day sun
•Water 1" or more per week; keep soil moist the first year
•Fertilize bi-weekly during growing season; discontinue after September 1
•Blooms early summer; produces fruit mid- to late summer
•Winter hardy; potted plants should be moved into a protected unheated area over winter in northern zones
•Grows to 3'H to 4H' the first year and to 5'H the second year, with a 4'W to 5'W spread; fuller growth by end of the third year
•USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9

Estelle's Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Lemon Sponge Cake
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice plus enough water to make 1/2 cup liquid
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Separate the eggs from the yolks. Mix egg yolks on high speed for about 5 minutes. They should appear thicker and lemon yellow colored. Add zest, juice, and vanilla. Beat on low just until combined. Gradually add in 1 cup of sugar on low. Turn speed up to medium and mix for about 4 more minutes. Mixture should nearly double in volume. A quarter cup at a time, sprinkle flour over the mixture and gently fold it in after each addition. You should just be getting the flour moist here. Set this mixture aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the 1/2 cup sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold 1 cup of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Bake until golden brown on top (about 30 -35 min.). Cake should spring back when touch in the center. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Poke a hole in the middle of the cake. Pipe some strawberry jam into the center. Top cake with Lemon Buttercream from below.

Lemon Buttercream Icing
1/3 cup butter
5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered pink coloring

Beat butter in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups of the sugar gradually while mixing. Mix well.
On low speed mix in 1/3 cup lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and powdered coloring. Slowly add remaining sugar and beat well. Add small amount of water, if necessary, to reach desired spreadable consistency

These are perfect for a spring or summer bridal shower!

Estelle's Pink Lemonade Cocktail
1 (12-oz.) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 (12-oz.) bottles beer (not dark), chilled
3/4 cup vodka, chilled
Crushed or cubed Ice
Garnishes: fresh cranberries, citrus slices

Stir together first 3 ingredients. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.

"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair!"
 ~Susan Polis Shutz

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