Monday, July 28, 2008

Black & Blue Pie a la mode

My oldest daughter was visiting from North Carolina this past week. On Saturday we had a family farewell dinner and she requested pie for dessert. Made with half fresh blueberries/half wild blackberries and topped with a scoop of Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, this was a perfect way to end the meal.

Black & Blue Pie

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat and when you're ready to bake, place the pie pan directly on the hot stone.

For the filling:
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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.

Perfect Pastry for the crust:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold
6 – 8 tablespoons ice water

Stir the salt into the flour in a large bowl. Cut a 2-tablespoon piece off of one stick of the butter and set aside. Using a pastry blender, cut the remaining cold butter into the flour until well-distributed and no large chunks remain. Add 6 tablespoons ice water while tossing the mixture with a fork. Add additional water as necessary and continue tossing gently just until all of the flour is moistened. 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 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 use the reserved 2 tablespoons butter to dot the top of the fruit. 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 you can 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 to the bottom crust. Brush or spray the top lightly with water and sprinkle evenly with sugar. I like to use coarse, light-brown demerara sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes until the crust is golden and you can see the juices are bubbling through the hole in the center of the pie. Cool on a wire rack.

Local Harvest

Just a sampling of what's available right now at our local farmers markets and fruit stands: Peaches from Brosi's SugarTree Farms, corn from Kruse Farms, rainbow carrots, beets and Romano beans from Norm Lehne Garden and Orchard, red potatoes, green beans and shallots from Linnea Marie Farms and yellow wax beans from Lighthouse Center Organics.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blueberry Sorbet

I tasted my first sorbet on a trip to France in 1994. (It's fitting that I should be posting this on Bastille Day!) The tiny, sailboat-filled harbor of Honfleur in Normandy is lined with restaurants and art galleries. We had dinner at La Chaloupe. I don't remember what the main course was, but for dessert I had two small scoops of sorbet; one pear, the other chocolate-mint. I've been hooked ever since.

Sorbets are incredibly easy to make and any type of fruit can be substituted in this recipe. It helps to have an ice cream maker, but you can also freeze the puree in ice cube trays and blend in a food processor or blender just before serving.

You will need:

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Puree the berries in a food processor. Add the lemon juice and mix well with the cold sugar syrup. Pour in to canister and freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker. It takes about 30 minutes in mine.

Serve immediately or pack in a plastic container and store in the freezer. Let stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before scooping. Makes about 5 cups.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Eat Your Colors: 5 A Day the Farmers Market Way!

This is what I came home with from the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market this morning. Clockwise from top left: gorgeous sunflowers from Rosewood Gardens & Nursery, purple cauliflower and a bouquet of lavender from Lehne's Garden & Orchard, baby zucchini from Riggs Family Gardens, Butterstick squash and red potatoes from Linnea Marie Farms. A basket like this sitting on the kitchen table always puts me in the mood to cook. I also bought three tyropita (phyllo pastry with a feta cheese and sun-dried tomato filling) and a bite-sized spanikopita from The Baklava Lady, but they were gobbled up before I thought to take a picture.

Green cabbage and three varieties of cauliflower: cheddar, purple and white.
I haven't tried this type of broccoli yet, but I will soon.

Marionberries, blueberries and raspberries from Dillard Farm Market.

Blueberry Bonanza

Luscious, ripe Patriot blueberries at
Big Bend Berries in Garden Valley
One day, Little Sal went with her mother to Blueberry Hill to pick
blueberries..."We will take our berries home and can them," said her mother.
"Then we will have food for the winter.
from Blueberries for Sal
by Robert McCloskey

Like Little Sal and her mother, I have been busy picking and storing up blueberries for the winter. Three trips to Big Bend Berries (673-8767 for more information) have yielded 30 pounds of berries. Those we haven't eaten fresh have been packed in plastic bags and frozen to be used throughout the year.

Blueberries are a superfood--full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals--and so easy to pick and to store. They don't even need to be washed before freezing; it actually toughens the skins. Just fill the bags, seal, label and freeze. When you're ready to use them, just put the frozen berries in a colander and give them a quick rinse.

If you've never picked your own fruit before, blueberries are a great place to start. No bending, no thorns, no ladders! I use the bucket-on-a-belt method for the fastest picking. Just thread an old belt through the handle of a small, sturdy bucket and fasten around your waist or over one shoulder. That way you have both hands free to pick. I like the 10 lb. detergent buckets with the metal handle. The small, plastic ice cream tubs are fine for children (who rarely get them full), but I have had the plastic handle break and then had to re-pick all of my berries out of the grass! I take along plastic dishpans to empty the berries into when the bucket gets full.

Local blueberries are available at Big Bend Berries, Norris Farms and Haven Farms. Check the listings under Food in the classified section of the News-Review for details. If you don't have time to pick your own, Dillard Farm Market has pints and flats for sale at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market on Saturday mornings or at their produce stand in Dillard. Kruse Farms also has picked, local blueberries for sale.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

I picked pie cherries and Bing cherries at Shady Lane Orchard the morning of the 4th of July. I had never tried a lattice crust before, but it's really not difficult. This is one of four tartlets I made. I used a standard Cherry Pie Filling recipe from my old Betty Crocker cookbook, but I always make an all-butter crust. You can find that recipe in the post for Perfect Peach Pie .

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Raspberry Lemonade

I first tasted Raspberry Lemonade way back in the summer of 1980 in Eugene. My future mother-in-law had packed an ice-cold pitcherful for a picnic lunch after canoeing at Fern Ridge. My tastebuds were in shock; the flavor was so intense and refreshing. And when I discovered she had made the raspberry juice herself from berries she had grown in her backyard, I was awestruck.

I still don't have any raspberries growing in my own yard, but when the u-pick berries are plentiful, I put up a batch of juice to be reserved for special occasions. And every time I make Raspberry Lemonade I think of Rosemary.

You will need:

1 cup of fresh lemon juice (okay, you can use the frozen kind if you must, but not the bottled stuff!)
3 cups of cold water
1 pint of raspberry juice
3/4 cup sugar

Stir everything together well until sugar is dissolved. Add additional sugar if desired, but it's not supposed to be too sweet. Serve over ice. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon, if you like. Makes a little over 6 cups.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kitchen Sink Frittata

I rarely serve eggs for breakfast, but since we have access to such wonderful local eggs at the farmers market, I like to serve them as the main dish for dinner on occasion. I bought two dozen eggs from Kerry Olson of B & K Natural Farm (located in Sutherlin) last Saturday. Tonight I needed to clean out the refrigerator, so I thought I'd use up as many odds and ends as I could in a frittata.

This recipe can be adapted to whatever you have on hand. Here's what I had to work with...

1 small zucchini
half a small jar of candied tomatoes in olive oil
a few kalamata olives and slices of fresh mozzarella
a small red onion
half an avocado
8 farm fresh eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the eggs together with about 2 tablespoons water. I used half an eggshell filled twice--why get a spoon dirty when you don't have to?

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof saute pan on medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil (I used about 2 tablespoons drained from the candied tomatoes). Slice the onion very finely and saute in the oil until transparent and a bit browned.

Meanwhile, dice the zucchini. When the onion is done, add the zucchini to the pan and cook for a minute or two. Don't overcook it! It's going to finish cooking in the oven.

Pour the eggs into the pan and turn off the heat. Sprinkle the top with the olives (halved), the mozzarella, and bite-sized pieces of the tomatoes.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are set. Garnish with avocado slices and one tomato in the center. Cut into wedges to serve. Serves 4.

Berry Vinegar

Grape, Bing Cherry and Marionberry Vinegars

Berry Vinegars are simple to make. Just fill a sterilized (boil for 10 minutes) glass container with fresh or frozen berries (a pint or quart jar works well). Pour in enough white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar to cover the berries. You do not need to add sugar. Put the lid on and set it on a cool, dark shelf for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain out the berries and transfer to a sterilized glass bottle. I save pretty olive oil bottles for this and the little San Pellegrino Aranciata bottles. Cap tightly with a cork and be sure to label the bottom with the date, the type of fruit you used, and the kind of vinegar you used as the base (regular, white wine, apple cider, etc)

The best place to buy your base vinegar is in the restaurant supply section at Sherm's. It's only $6 to $8 per gallon.

Raspberries are Ready

Raspberries are ripe and ready this week. Jim Leet of Linnea Marie Farm (tan canopy) at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market has a good supply, but get there early on Saturday morning. I picked 10 pounds at The Berry Patch ($1.00/lb. u-pick or $13.50 for a 5 lb. flat, picked). Kruse Farms also has raspberries.

I canned 7 pints of jewel-colored juice to make Raspberry Lemonade. I only break it out on special occasions--4th of July, family celebrations, Labor Day picnic--and if we're lucky there will be one jar left for Memorial Day next year. Then it's time to make a new batch!

I'll pick more next week to make Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam, Raspberry Vinegar, and of course to freeze some for smoothies and pancake topping all year long. I use the vinegar in a delicious Berry Vinaigrette salad dressing and in another refreshing, hot-weather drink, Raspberry Shrub.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shady Lane Cherries

Cherry season has arrived! Shady Lane Orchards opened on Saturday with Bing, Rainier and pie cherries either picked at $1.50/lb or u-pick for $1.00/lb. In spite of our April snow and unusually cold spring weather, Shady Lane has a good crop. I bought a 12 lb. box for fresh eating, but I plan to pick some in the next day or two for dehydrating. Dried Bing cherries are a favorite winter snack at our house.