Monday, October 20, 2014

Umpqua Valley Food Day


The event is next Saturday, Oct. 25 from 4-7 at Phoenix Charter School. It is the Third Annual Umpqua Valley Food Day Celebration, which is in honor of the National Food Day that is going on all around the country. The goal is to encourage people to eat more healthy, local, and sustainable foods.

From 4-5 there will be a community seed swap, booths with groups such as Big Lick Farm, and a short seminar on gardening from school horticulturist Mary Ellis.

From 5-7 we will be screening the documentary Food Matters.

The event is free to the public. Bring your kids, seed packets and healthy snacks!

Here is more info on Food Day: foodday.org

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake!/Tasty Tuesday

Originally published in The News Review, October 7, 2014
Recipes in this post: Mamie's Chocolate Cake, two versions

That's me with the first cake I baked all by myself.

In our family, we have a birthday each month from August through December. I've baked and decorated many a cake over the years in various themes and shapes. Certainly no competition for the Cake Boss, but they have made the kids laugh and smile. The most memorable: a pirate ship with rootbeer candy barrels on deck, a deserted island with a pretzel shack, sugar-sand beach and Swedish fish swimming in a blue jello ocean, a great pyramid filled with ice cream, a volcano erupting with raspberry jam lava, and a wave pool with Teddy Grahams floating in gummy ring inner tubes. The biggest hit by far was the medieval castle with sugar-cone turrets, and a Kit Kat “wooden” beam door surrounded by a foggy (dry ice) fruit punch moat.

I baked my first full-sized cake from a Betty Crocker mix when I was about eight years old. I remember the red spoon on the box and the suggestion to make frosting curls on top with the back of a teaspoon. My family was so impressed! When it's all about the frosting and the decorations, as in the kid's party cakes above, I'm happy to save time by starting with a mix. I do, however, enjoy making a cake from scratch a few times a year.

My mother has been baking Mamie's Chocolate Cake for over forty years. It's named for Mamie Eisenhower and is said to have been created for her by the chef at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. I've never been able to verify that and I don't know who to thank for the recipe, but this is the richest, fudgiest, most unbelievably moist chocolate cake I have ever eaten. Every slice of chocolate cake I taste is measured against this standard. Mamie's Cake beats them all.

I offer two versions of this decadent cake. The first, baked in a 9 x 13 pan and covered with a smooth chocolate glaze, is our family classic. It's simple to make. It can be frosted while the cake is still warm. It can be stored at room temperature. It's easy to transport. This is the perfect cake to take to a picnic or potluck dinner.


I wanted to make a fancier cake for grown up birthday parties and other special occasions, so some years back I began baking Mamie's Cake in two round cake pans. I replaced the glaze with a buttercream frosting and turned it into a layer cake. Now, my mom and I take turns baking this for each other. Two 9-inch round cakes with a layer of frosting in the middle make a delicious, lovely cake. For true chocolate aficionados, you can split the layers horizontally for an impressive and extremely rich four-layer cake. Serve it in thin slices and savor it with an ice cold glass of milk!
 
Mamie's Chocolate Cake
(The original version)

Makes one 9 x 13 pan, 12 to 15 servings

There is no salt added to this batter, so be sure to use salted butter.

1 cup (8 ounces) butter
1 bar (4 ounces) Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 recipe Sweet Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the very center. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 pan, preferably metal.

Combine the milk, butter and unsweetened chocolate in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil and stir until mixture thickens a little, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate until lukewarm, 20 to 30 minutes. Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer. Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl and add to batter along with the vanilla extract. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until blended, then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from oven to a wire rack and let cool slightly while you prepare the Sweet Chocolate Glaze. Using a fork or wooden skewer, poke the top of the cake all over to allow the glaze to seep in. Pour the glaze over top and spread to the edges of the pan while both the cake and the glaze are still warm. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Because there is no milk or cream in the glaze, this cake can be safely stored at room temperature for several days.

Sweet Chocolate Glaze

1 bar (4 ounces) Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups (6.5 ounces) powdered sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate, butter and water together over low heat. Beat in the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour over warm cake.

Mamie's Chocolate Cake
(My fancy version)

Makes two 9-inch round layers which can be split for a 4-layer cake. Makes 16 to 20 servings.

There is no salt added to this batter, so be sure to use salted butter

1 cup (8 ounces) butter
1 bar (4 ounces) Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 recipe Cocoa Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the very center. Because these cake layers will be turned out of the pans, you need to take extra care so they don't stick. Trace the bottom of the pans onto a sheet of baking parchment and cut two 9-inch circles. Grease the bottom and sides of the pans, place the parchment against the bottom, then grease the parchment. Dust lightly with flour and shake out the excess.

Combine the milk, butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil and stir until mixture thickens a little, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate until lukewarm, 20 to 30 minutes. Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer. Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl and add to batter along with the vanilla extract. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until blended, then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges by running a knife all the way around the inside edge of each pan. Place a round wire cake rack on top and, using pot holders or oven mitts, quickly invert the cake and carefully remove the pan. Allow the cakes to cool completely before splitting or frosting.

If desired, split each layer in half horizontally for a 4-layer cake as follows. Using a ruler and a few toothpicks, mark the line exactly halfway up from the bottom. (Trust me on this. It's important to be accurate here or you'll end up with a cake resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa!) Cut a piece of thread or dental floss a yard long. Holding the ends, wrap it around the center line, cross the ends over each other in front. Pull until the thread cuts all the way through the cake. Repeat with the second cake.
(At this point, you can place the layers on waxed paper-lined baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm. This makes assembling and frosting the cake much easier.)

When you're ready to assemble the cake, prepare the buttercream frosting. Tear off four strips of foil or waxed paper 2 inches wide. Arrange these strips overlapping each other around the edges of the cake plate you are going to use. This keeps the frosting off of the plate while you work. Place the first cake layer in the center of the plate covering the inside edges of the strips. Frost the top of the layer with about 1 cup of the frosting spreading it all the way to the edge. An offset icing spatula works best, but a butter knife will do. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Add the third layer and frost. Add the last layer but frost the sides of the cake before frosting the top. Carefully remove the foil or paper strips.

Because the buttercream frosting contains milk, this cake should be stored in the refrigerator if it won't be eaten the same day. Bring to room temperature before serving. Once the cake has been cut, I fold a piece of waxed paper in half, trim it to match the height of the cake and press it against the cut interior surface to keep it from drying out, then cover with a cake dome.

Cocoa Buttercream Frosting
(fills and frosts 4 layers)

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 cups (2 pounds) powdered sugar
2/3 cup (2 ounces) good quality cocoa powder
2/3 cup whole milk
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Any leftover frosting can be frozen. It's great on graham crackers when there's no cake in the house.






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Taming the Tomato Jungle

(Originally published in The News Review on September 2, 2014) Recipe links:  Gazpacho, Bruschetta

It's a jungle out there! In my garden, that is. The tomatoes have taken over, toppling the flimsy wire cages that were supposed to contain and support them. I got a late start getting my tomatoes planted this year, but I've got a bumper crop now. I'm drying tomatoes to use in soups and stews, roasting tomatoes and packing them in jars of olive oil (stored in the freezer) for dipping bread into or adding to winter salads. I'll soon be canning tomatoes and tomato juice and freezing purée.

We grow our own because tomatoes ripened on the vine taste the very best. You can find excellent locally grown tomatoes with exquisite flavor in all shapes, sizes and colors at markets throughout the county. There are heirloom varieties in shades of rosy pink and purple to almost black. Look for green striped tomatoes, yellow and orange tomatoes, pear-shaped tomatoes and tiny cherry and grape tomatoes. And don't overlook the Roma or Italian plum tomatoes. Bright red and oblong, they are meatier than the juicy “slicing” tomatoes. Roma types, and San Marzanos in particular, make especially good tomato sauce.

My husband eats tomatoes the way some folks eat apples; he just picks one out of the basket and bites right into it. My son loves a great bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. My favorite way to eat tomatoes? Dress them with basil, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pile them high on a crusty baguette slice. Bruschetta is meant to be an appetizer, but to my mind, if it's made with good bread and tomatoes at their peak, I can make a meal of it.

How about some soup? Everything you need for gazpacho, a cold tomato and vegetable soup, is in season right now. Cucumbers, peppers, garlic, and onions blended with your perfectly ripe tomatoes become a refreshing first course for these hot summer nights.

Both of the following recipes include vinegar. Bruschetta is traditionally made with dark, slightly sweet balsamic vinegar. I like to use apple cider vinegar in gazpacho, but I've also use rice vinegar. Just the other day I was picking up a gallon of apple cider vinegar and noticed that the store brand was more expensive than the famous name brand vinegar. 

Thinking that was odd, I took a moment to compare the labels. Turns out, the name brand vinegar is “apple-flavored” vinegar distilled from grain. (I'm not sure if that would affect someone who is gluten-sensitive.) It also contains natural flavor with caramel color. The store brand's only ingredients are apple cider vinegar diluted with water to 5% acidity. 

The flavored type would be fine for filling my homemade fruit fly trap. When it comes to what I eat, I always go for the real thing.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho
makes about 6 cups


Gazpacho is basically a liquid salad. It takes only minutes to prepare, but the soup needs to be chilled for several hours or overnight, so plan ahead. You can adapt the texture from chunky to smooth to suit your personal preference. Any variety of tomato or a combination works well.

2 pounds tomatoes, about 8 medium, cored and quartered

1 medium cucumber, ends removed, cut into large chunks*

1 red or green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 small red or yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1 clove garlic, peeled

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt or to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

croutons and fresh basil for garnishing

Combine all ingredients except the croutons and basil in a blender or food processor and process to desired consistency. Chill several hours or overnight. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve in chilled bowls garnished with croutons and fresh basil ribbons.



*If the cucumber is organic, I don't bother to peel it.

Basil Ribbons

To create basil ribbons (to “chiffonade” the basil) for garnishing the gazpacho or bruschetta, rinse fresh basil leaves and gently pat dry. Stack the leaves on top of each other on a cutting board. Beginning at one of the pointy ends, roll the stack into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the roll into thin slices.
Homemade Croutons

Don't let those heels no one likes go to waste. Turn them into crunchy croutons for garnishing soups, salads and casseroles.


Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste and toss very well. (You can also add a fresh-pressed clove of garlic, but it really smells up the house when the croutons are toasting.) Could also use seasoning salt, onion powder, etc. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Use immediately or let cool and then store in an airtight container.



Note: If I were doing a very small amount, I would just sauté the bread cubes in a little olive oil in a pan on the stove.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta
makes four servings of two slices each

5 – 6 Roma tomatoes, (about 1 ½ cups, diced)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 slices crusty French or Italian bread
optional: freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese

Core and quarter the tomatoes. Remove seeds if desired. Drain in a colander for a few minutes to remove excess juice. Place in serving bowl and add 1 of the garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed, the olive oil, vinegar and salt. Add drained tomatoes and mix well. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the bread slices.

Cut the bread on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Toast on both sides on the grill, stove or under the broiler until the surface is crispy but the center is still a bit soft. Cut the remaining clove of garlic in half and rub across one side of each slice of toasted bread.

Just before serving, snip the basil into pieces with kitchen shears or cut into ribbons. Arrange bread slices on a platter and divide the tomato mixture evenly on top. Garnish with the fresh basil. Add grated cheese if desired. Serve immediately. 

Basil Ribbons

To create basil ribbons (to “chiffonade” the basil) for garnishing the gazpacho or bruschetta, rinse fresh basil leaves and gently pat dry. Stack the leaves on top of each other on a cutting board. Beginning at one of the pointy ends, roll the stack into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the roll into thin slices.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Keen for Peaches and Nectarines

(Originally published in The News Review on Tuesday, August 5, 2014) Recipe link: Peach Cobbler with Lemon-Ginger Scone Topping

Red Haven peaches from Norm Lehne Garden and Orchard

I have a peach-picking ritual. As midsummer approaches, I check the newspaper nightly, along with my email and Facebook feed, eagerly awaiting word that our local crops are ready. On opening day for my favorite varieties, I am often first in line. I drive into the orchard, park between the rows, and scout out the best trees. I want peaches that are mature with a lovely golden blush, but not too ripe or soft to travel home. I pick carefully, lifting and twisting each beautiful peach so I don't damage the trees that provide me with such delicious fruit. I gently place each sun-kissed peach into baskets and dishpans, stacking the fruit only two high to keep from bruising the delicate, juicy flesh.

Picking peaches is so easy that I often get carried away. When I run out of containers, I am forced to stop. With my precious cargo weighed and purchased (60, 70, 80 lbs!), I rush home to lay the peaches out in a single layer on newspapers that cover our dining room table. Each morning for the next few weeks I'll select two or three perfectly ripe peaches to peel and slice for my breakfast. To me it's sunshine in a bowl!

 Breakfast in a bowl from Brosi's Sugartree Farms


Everyone in my family loves peaches so most will be eaten fresh and unadorned. Some will be made into a perfect peach pie or a luscious peach cobbler. When they start to ripen faster than we can keep up, I'll begin freezing them for the winter.

Nectarines are just as delicious as peaches and their seasons overlap. I pick and ripen nectarines just as I do peaches. Because they don't need to be peeled, nectarines are a snap to freeze or dehydrate.

 Paris Orchards nectarines

The only drawback to having all of this fruit ripening indoors is the invasion of fruit flies. They can be such a nuisance! I don't remember where I first saw it, but I've been making a simple homemade trap for many years. It's not pretty, but it keeps the fruit fly population under control. Here's what you do: Put an inch of apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a large jar. (I use a one quart canning jar.) Add a few drops of dish soap and swish it around to mix. With a sheet of paper and some tape, make a cone with a small opening at one end and big enough at the other end to fit against the rim of the jar. The bottom of the cone should be an inch or two above the vinegar. Place the jar near the fruit or anywhere fruit flies are a problem. That's it! The vinegar attracts the flies. The soap coats their wings, making it difficult for them to fly out. Replace the vinegar and soap mixture every day. I keep one of these going, as needed, all the way through pumpkin season. 


Preserving the Harvest
When the peaches and nectarines start ripening faster than we can eat them, it's time to preserve some of that summer sunshine for gray days to come. I'm not a big fan of canned fruit, so freezing and drying are my go-to methods for putting fruit by.

Freezing peaches and nectarines

Freezing is quick and easy. Slice peaches (peeled) and nectarines (unpeeled) onto cookie sheets in a single layer and freeze until firm. Once frozen, pack in plastic freezer bags. The frozen slices can be eaten like mini popsicles or added to smoothies.

Drying Nectarines

Nectarines don't need to be peeled before dehydrating. Slice them about 3/8-inch thick directly onto the drying trays. The color will darken as they dry, but I have never found pre-treating them necessary. Dry at 135 degrees until chewy with no moisture pockets left. Timing will depend on the type of dehydrator you have. It can also be affected by the weather. Start checking the nectarines after 10 to 12 hours. I condition all of my home-dried fruits by placing the whole batch in a large (2-gallon) zip top bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. It should only be two-thirds full. Seal well and allow the dried fruit to sit for several days at room temperature, shaking the bag or container once or twice a day to redistribute the fruit. This allows the drier pieces to absorb some of the moisture from the not-so-dry pieces so they all end up just right. After conditioning, I pack the fruit in smaller bags and store in the freezer, if I have room, though properly dried fruit keeps well at room temperature. Dried nectarines make great trail food for hiking and camping. They can also be snipped into pieces and added to baked goods like muffins.


Lemon-Ginger Scones

These scones melt in your mouth! Perfect for a company breakfast or afternoon tea. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 lemon (reserved above)
1 ½ sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, very cold
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup diced candied or crystallized ginger (I snip it with kitchen shears)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Cut the cold butter into chunks, add to the flour and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles very coarse crumbs. Add the beaten eggs and the cream to the flour mixture and stir gently, just until combined. Fold in the diced ginger pieces.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and, with floured hands, knead quickly 4 or 5 times. Pat the dough into a circle 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and cut into 8 wedges. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 to 18 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead tip: The scone dough can be cut into shapes and frozen on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. When frozen solid, package in plastic bags. No need to thaw, just increase baking time by about 5 minutes.

Peach Cobbler with Lemon-Ginger Scone Topping

Peach Cobbler with Lemon-Ginger Scone Topping


When I was baking for the farmers market, I developed a recipe for lemon-ginger scones. They were a big hit. Peaches and ginger go well together, so why not add a little zing to an ordinary cobbler by swapping these scones for the usual biscuit topping? You can find candied or crystallized ginger (either will work) at stores like Trader Joe's or in the bulk foods aisle of the supermarket.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the filling:

8 cups sliced peaches, about 8 medium peaches
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (you will also use the zest)

Wash the lemon and remove the zest with a fine grater or Microplane zester. Reserve the grated zest to use in the scone topping. Squeeze the juice from the lemon. Peel the peaches and slice about ½ inch thick. In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and spices. Add the sliced peaches and lemon juice, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Transfer filling to an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside while you prepare the topping.

For the scone topping:

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 lemon (reserved above)
1 ½ sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, very cold
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup diced candied or crystallized ginger (I snip it with kitchen shears)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Cut the cold butter into chunks, add to the flour and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles very coarse crumbs. Add the beaten eggs and the cream to the flour mixture and stir gently, just until combined. Fold in the diced ginger pieces.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and, with floured hands, knead quickly 4 or 5 times. Pat into a smooth rectangle about ¾ to 1-inch thick. Cut into into 8 squares and arrange on top of the hot filling. If desired, brush the tops of the scones with additional cream. (Alternatively, you could skip the kneading and just drop the dough all over the warm peach mixture using two spoons.) Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and scones are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To bake the scones by themselves, follow the directions above, but pat the dough into a circle and cut into 8 wedges. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 to 18 minutes.

Do ahead tip: The scone dough can be cut into shapes and frozen on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. When frozen solid, package in plastic bags. No need to thaw, just increase baking time by about 5 minutes.

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.

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