Friday, July 4, 2014

Baked Beets with Vinaigrette Dressing

Lovely golden and red beets from Big Lick Farm

Baked Beets with Vinaigrette and Chives
Serves 4 to 6

This is how I serve beets most often. They're delicious warm, at room temperature, or cold. Leftovers, straight from the refrigerator, make a nice addition to a green salad. Golden beets and red beets are lovely served side by side, but you must bake and dress them separately to keep the colors from mingling. This recipe was inspired by one in the fabulous little cookbook Fresh From the Farmers' Market by Janet Fletcher.

1 1/2 pounds beets
1 recipe Basic Vinaigrette, omitting pepper
fresh chives for garnishing, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the beets well and trim off all but ½ inch of the stems. Place in a shallow baking dish, add ¼ cup of water, cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes (longer if beets are large) until just tender when pierced with a cake tester or sharp knife. Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered, until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette.

Slip the skins off the beets under warm, running water. Small beets can be quartered. Larger beets should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a medium bowl, add the dressing, and toss gently. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with snipped chives.

A Basic Vinaigrette

A Basic Vinaigrette
Makes about ½ cup

The simplest vinaigrette is made with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It can be varied by using different types of oil (walnut or hazelnut, for example) or vinegar (white wine, red wine, sherry, berry, balsamic, herb, etc.), by substituting lemon juice for the vinegar, or by adding Dijon mustard, garlic, shallots and/or herbs. Classic proportions are three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice, but you can adjust this, along with the salt and pepper, to suit your taste.

2 tablespoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Measure the vinegar and salt into a small bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid. Whisk in the oil until thoroughly combined or shake vigorously in the jar. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and additional salt, if needed. Use immediately. Any leftover vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and brought to room temperature before whisking or shaking to recombine.

Potato Salad Vinaigrette


Potato Salad Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6.

This recipe is adapted from one in my well-worn copy of Martha Stewart's classic first book, Entertaining. My brother, Dave, (the one I used to bake pies for) gave it to me as a college graduation gift. I love this potato salad served warm on a bed of lettuce. Always a hit, it's an easy do-ahead dish for potlucks and picnics. Make it the night before and chill. The next day, let it come to room temperature on the way to your event. Give it a gentle stir to redistribute the dressing before serving. Be sure to eat it within a couple hours.

2 pounds small new potatoes, preferably about 1-inch in diameter
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Country Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch finely minced green onion
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

Scrub the potatoes well, but do not peel. Cover with 1 inch of water and boil gently, just until tender when pierced with a cake tester or sharp knife. Small potatoes will take about 8-10 minutes, larger ones 12-15. Drain, let cool slightly, then cut into quarters or halves if they are very small. Pour the white wine (not the vinegar) over the potatoes and toss gently.

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, oil, onion, and dill together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over the potatoes and toss gently. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sweet and Savory Pies



There are still a few spots open in the hands on Sweet and Savory Pies class I will be teaching next month. Click here to print off a registration form.

Note: I am the volunteer instructor. Money from the registration fee goes to Umpqua Community College and the OSU Extension/Douglas County Master Food Preservers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake


(This recipe was previously published in the June 3, 2014 Tasty Tuesday section of The News Review)

Strawberry shortcake is a classic, but other berries and peaches can be used for variety. Plan on 5 - 6 ounces of fruit per person.

For six servings:

About 2 pounds fresh strawberries
sugar or other sweetener, to taste
1 recipe shortcake biscuits
1 cup heavy whipping cream, preferably not ultra-pasteurized
1 – 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Rinse the berries and drain well. Reserve some of the prettiest whole berries for garnishing. Remove hulls from the remaining berries and slice into a large bowl. Use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to crush some of the sliced berries. Sweeten to taste with granulated sugar or sweetener of your choice. Set aside while you prepare the biscuits and whipped cream.

Whip the cream on low speed with an electric mixer just until it begins to thicken. Sweeten to taste with powdered sugar and add the vanilla. Continue beating until soft, billowy peaks form. Do not overbeat or you risk turning it to butter! Tip: To keep the cream from splattering your counter and cupboards, tear off a sheet of waxed paper large enough to cover the bowl and poke the ends of the beaters right through the paper when attaching to the mixer. This provides a great splash guard, but you have to peek underneath the paper frequently to make sure you're not overbeating the cream.

Split each shortcake in half with two forks or a serrated knife. Place bottom half on a serving plate. Spoon on some of the berry mixture, letting the juices soak in. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the remaining half, more berries and another dollop of cream. Garnish with one of the reserved whole berries, plain or chocolate-dipped. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Find Flavors of the Umpqua on Facebook

Just an FYI here.

I am posting frequent, short updates and photos about what's in season and what I'm cooking on my Flavors of the Umpqua Facebook page. (This is separate from my personal Facebook account.) You DO NOT have to join Facebook to view the page, only if you want to leave a comment. If you are already on Facebook and you "Like" my page, anything I post will show up in your news feed.

Click here or the blue Facebook button on the right sidebar to see the page.

I will continue to post recipes and longer pieces on this blog and link to them from my Facebook page.

I'm just finding it much easier to post short bits of relevant information and inspiration through Facebook, usually from my iphone.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Old Soul Pizza in Roseburg


These thin crust pizzas bake in about three minutes.

Looking for a new place to eat on Saturdays? Check out Old Soul Pizza. When they leave the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market, these pizza makers haul their wood-fired oven over to the old Gerretson's building (1640 NE Odell St.), next to Backside Brewing Co. Even if it's raining, the outdoor seating is covered and they've got propane heaters to keep you warm.

Four classic pizzas to choose from or make up your own combination.
Late afternoon or early evening is the best time to go. They are set up by 2:00 pm and start closing down about 7:00 pm. Perfect for refueling after a hike or grabbing a bite before a movie.
They've done a great job re-purposing materials and the artwork will make you smile. Great site for a private block party. I'm thinking there will be dancing in the parking lot when summer comes!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Adding a Professional Touch

These two photos show the difference a professional touch can make. I had Debbie DeNino at Dino's Ristorante Italiano in Roseburg prepare a special luncheon and tea for my mom and her friends to celebrate her 80th birthday last week. I baked this chocolate layer cake and asked Debbie to slice and serve it at the end of the meal.

The first photo shows how I would normally serve it at home. I used a small dessert plate and plopped a chocolate-dipped strawberry on the side.


The photo below shows how Debbie did it (which I copied with the leftovers). First, she used a large plate. Next, she made a zigzag of chocolate syrup and dusted the syrup and plate with powdered sugar. Finally, she carefully placed the cake slice on top and added the strawberry. Such quick and simple additions, but look at the difference it makes!


The trick for me will be hiding the Hershey's syrup from my son, so he doesn't use it all up for chocolate milk.

That's My Farmer Event


 Don't forget about the That's My Farmer event tomorrow night!
They'll be showing a fabulous film called "Ingredients" that features interviews with several Oregon chefs.
 
Photo: If you are a Farmer/Producer/Rancher in Douglas County..... don't miss this event! You will have an opportunity to meet your customers/consumers! And if you are a customer/consumer of local products...this is equally important! Support Your Local Food Connections!!!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Perfect Pies for Pi Day

(Previously published in my News Review column on 3-4-14)


Today, March 14 (3.14) math geeks everywhere are honoring this mathematical constant (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter) by making and eating pie.

Math was never my strong suit. I do, however, make excellent pies. As a teenager, my family would lavish praise on anything I cooked or baked, but when I learned to make a pie from scratch, I hit pay dirt. My older brother would let me and my best friend come spend the weekend with him at UC Irvine if I would bring him an apple pie.

I have a lot of experience making pies. My oldest daughter, Christine, wanted pie instead of cake at her wedding reception a few years ago. I spent the night before the wedding baking blackberry and blueberry pies. My daughter, Laura, needed to raise money to go to El Salvador with HELP International. I made twelve apple pies in one day (with my parents peeling the apples for me) as part of an online bake sale. My son's current dinner of choice for any special occasion is chicken pot pie. He would happily eat it every week, were I willing to make it that often.

In honor of Pi Day, I offer you my best tips and three much-loved recipes to try. Happy baking!

Tips for success:

A pie is only as good as its crust. Making a great crust is not difficult, but it does take practice. I use unsalted butter for all of my pie crusts. It's a little more challenging to work with than shortening or a blend of shortening and butter, but the flavor and texture are unsurpassed. Use just enough water to hold the flour and butter together, but not enough to make the dough sticky.

Getting the consistency of the filling just right is important. For fruit pies, the fruit and sugar/flour mixture must stand for at least fifteen minutes before it's turned into the crust for baking. This allows time for the juices to begin to flow. Those juices will thicken into a syrupy sauce that coats the fruit. Measuring the ingredients accurately is critical. If you start getting generous with the fruit and sugar, you will need to increase the flour also or the filling will be runny. For a meat pie, the filling is cooked and thickened on the stove top, making a gravy to surround the meat and vegetables.

The goal when baking a fruit pie is to get the fruit tender and the juices thickened without burning the crust. I like to start baking my fruit pies at 450 degrees for the first ten minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees to finish baking. This initial high heat quickly creates steam from the tiny pieces of butter in the crust. Those little pockets left behind when the butter melts and the steam evaporates are what makes the crust tender and flaky. It also gives the juices a head start on coming to a boil, which is part of the thickening process.

Slits in the top crust allow steam to escape and help keep the juices or gravy from bubbling over. Let your creativity run wild with the design! Sunbursts, a smiley face, or a freehand Pi symbol all work well. As a finishing touch on fruit pies, I like to spray or brush the top crust with water and sprinkle it with coarse demerara or turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw brand) available in the bulk foods aisle at Sherm's.

Meat pies are served warm, of course, but be sure to cool fruit pies on a wire rack. The air circulation under the rack keeps the bottom crust from becoming soggy.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1976)

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or several grinds of freshly ground)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (homemade or from a base like Better Than Bouillon brand )
2/3 cup milk
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas and carrots (no need to thaw)
1 recipe Perfect Pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line the center rack with a sheet of aluminum foil.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Blend in the flour, onion powder, salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant rubber scraper. Cook until smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in broth and milk until smooth. Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat. Add diced chicken and frozen vegetables and stir to combine. Let stand while you prepare the crust.

Divide the pastry dough, roll out one half into a 10-inch circle and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Fill with the chicken mixture. Using a sharp paring knife, trim the edge of the dough so it comes just past the edge of the pan. Roll the remaining dough into another circle about the same size as the first. Place over the filling and trim so it hangs over the edge of the pan by about 1 inch. Now, tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal well all around the pan. Then make a decorative edge with your thumb or by crimping with the tines of a fork. This keeps the filling from bubbling down under the bottom crust and burning. Cut a small hole, about the size of a Cheerio, in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape, then cut slits or a design in the top, being careful not to accidentally cut through the bottom crust.
Place in the preheated oven and bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.

Serve immediately. Makes six hearty servings. Leftovers are best reheated in a toaster oven, rather than a microwave.


Perfect Pastry for a double-crust pie

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
14 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, very cold
8 tablespoons ice water (add a tiny bit more, if necessary)

Stir the salt into the flour in a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into pieces and add to the flour. Using a pastry blender or two sharp knives, “cut in” the butter until well-distributed and no large chunks remain. (Recipes always say “like peas” but it never looks like peas to me.) Add 8 tablespoons ice water while tossing the mixture with a fork. Add a small amount of additional water if necessary and continue tossing gently just until all of the flour is moistened and holds together when pressed. Do not stir vigorously or the crust will be tough!

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter and press together into a disc. Cut in half and set one half aside. Roll one half into a circle an inch larger than your pie pan. Place in the pan allowing it to hang over the edge. Turn the filling into the crust. (If using for a fruit pie, don't forget to dot with 2 tablespoons butter.) Using a sharp paring knife, trim the edge of the dough so it comes just past the edge of the pan. Roll the remaining dough into another circle about the same size as the first. Place over the filling and trim so it hangs over the edge of the pan by about 1 inch. Now, tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal well all around the pan. Then make a decorative edge with your thumb or by pressing with fork tines. This keeps the filling from bubbling down under the bottom crust and burning.

Cut a small hole, about the size of a Cheerio in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape, then cut slits or a design in the top, being careful not to accidentally cut through the bottom crust. Bake as directed in the pie recipe.

Forming the dough into a disc.

Rolling out the dough on a lightly floured board. I love my French rolling pin that's tapered on the ends. If you look closely, you can see the pieces of butter in the dough.
(I roll the dough around the rolling pin to transfer it to the pie pan, but I couldn't get a clear picture of that.) Let the dough hang over the edge until you fill the crust.

For a fruit pie, don't forget to dot the fruit with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Trim the top crusts...
then tuck them under and seal well.

Make a fancy edge with your thumb and forefingers and cut slits to let the steam escape.
I like to spray the crust with water and sprinkle with coarse sugar as a finishing touch.


My Best Apple Pie

1 recipe Perfect Pastry for double-crust pie 

5-6 Granny Smith or Newton Pippin apples
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
30 swipes of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line the center rack with a sheet of aluminum foil. Peel and quarter the apples. Remove the core, slice each quarter into 4 or 5 thin slices and measure 6 cups into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir this into the apples and toss to coat well. Allow this mixture to stand for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the pastry for the crust.

Roll out one half of the pastry and use it to line a 9-inch pie pan. Fill with the apple mixture. Dot the top with the 2 tablespoons butter. Trim the edge of the pastry so it comes just past the edge of the pan. Roll out the top crust and cover the filling. Trim the top crust so it hangs over the pan by about one inch. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal well all around the pan. Press with the tines of a fork or make a fluted edge with your thumb and forefinger. Cut a small hole in the center of the top crust and then cut several slits or a design so steam can escape. If desired, brush or spray the top with water and sprinkle with coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Place pie on the center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes, until apples are tender (poke with a fork or cake tester through one of the slits), crust is golden, and juices are bubbling in the center. Cool on a wire rack.

Blackberry Pie

For the filling:

4 cups fresh or frozen* blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons butter
1 recipe Perfect Pastry for double-crust pie 
 
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line the center rack with a sheet of aluminum foil.
 
Stir the flour and sugar together in a medium bowl to mix well. Add the berries and lemon juice and mix until all the berries are coated. Let stand at least 15 minutes while you prepare the dough for the crust.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter and press together into a disc. Cut in half and set one half aside. Roll out the other half into a circle a couple inches larger than your pie pan. Place in the pan allowing it to hang over the edge. Fill with fruit filling and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Using a sharp paring knife, trim the edge of the dough so it comes just past the edge of the pan. Roll out the second disc into another circle about the same size as the first. Place over the fruit filling and trim so it hangs over the edge of the pan by about 1 inch. Now, tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal well all around the pan. Then make a decorative edge with your thumb or by pressing with fork tines. This keeps the juices from bubbling down under the bottom crust and burning. 
 
Cut a small hole, about the size of a Cheerio in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape, then cut slits or a design in the top, being careful not to accidentally cut through the bottom crust. If desired, brush or spray the top lightly with water and sprinkle evenly with sugar.
Place pie in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling through the hole in the center of the pie. Cool on a wire rack.

*If using frozen blackberries, thaw first and drain off any liquid or it will make the filling runny. You can use half blackberries and half blueberries for a “Black & Blue” pie.



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