Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Apricot-Cherry Tart

I've have another easy dessert recipe to post this week. I was going to share something more substantial, but I'm lazy in the heat of summer and I've been spending a lot of time in the garden.  I got these petunias early in the season and  but they are not bee magnets, but they're pretty and add color to the garden.  There are actually two little skulls on the bench, but the flowers have totally covered the other skull.

Everyone has got to have a few skulls in the garden, right?

Apricot-Cherry Tart sounds so fancy, and it is, but you don't need to tell anyone how easy it is to make.  

You can use peaches or nectarines and blueberries instead, if you want. And sure you can make your own pie crust, but why really? Unless you love to make pie crust.  I've used my grandmother's recipe.  I've used friends' recipes, and cheaper of course.  So if you're on a budget, get out the cookbook.

 Here's one by Alton Brown, but the lard . . . that's what my grandmother used but it just won't do in my kitchen.  Here is another one by Savvy Vegan.  But the lazy cook "cheats" frequently and it's easy to do with this  pie shell.

North Star cherries were available again this past week.

And the apricots.  I love R & R Farms.  These farmers only come to the market for a few weeks in the summer.  I can't miss their wild-crafted apricots. 

You can find flour locally too, if you want, but it's harder to find in the summer because more farmers have fruits and vegetables. It keeps frozen for about 6 months in the freezer. Get it at Nash's in the winter. The whole wheat pastry flour is my favorite.  The flavor is so sweet and it really adds to this dessert

The aroma of apricots is enticing. 

I think I better guard my supply.

Cut the Earth Balance or butter in until it resembles crumbles.  Finn is in tune with the zen of baking.

Apricot-Cherry Tart
(Serves 6)

Crust for a 9-inch pie
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or Earth Balance
3 cups apricots, pits removed and sliced in thick slices
2 cups pitted pie cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 to 3/4 cup cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake pie crust for 10 minutes, or until just done but not browned.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.   Blend well.  Cut in butter or Earth Balance until mixture resembles moist crumbles.  Set aside.

Combine apricots, cherries, lemon juice, zest and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Pour into the pie shell.  Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is bubbling.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cherry Cobbler

Okay, the picture seriously does not capture the essence of this fabulously easy summer dessert.  It doesn't really matter how neat you can get the crust on, what matters is the taste, which by the way is fantastic.

We take our fruit seriously in the summer.  When it comes to pie cherries, I go for the best at the market.  You can use another tart cherry if you can't find North Star.  You could even use sweet pie cherries like Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks.  I prefer sour cherries in a cobbler and I'm not alone.

These tart cherries from Ayers Creek farm are another favorite.

Pie cherres have the shortest of all seasons for fruit.  Blink and you might miss it.  FYI: this could be the week for North Star cherries from Grouse Mountain.  They may seem costly but think of it this way, it's a once a year experience.  Enjoy while you can.  Give thanks to the bees for minding the pollination duties. 

Pitting pie cherries is messy.  They squirt sticky red juice all over. I've actually made pie cherry smoothies.   Pie cherries, pomegranate juice, banana, and almond butter. WOW!

This cobbler went fast.  Way too fast.

Everybody has a recipe for cherry cobbler.  Most add too much sugar.  You don't need so much sugar when you have the best cherries.   I love the ones from Grouse Mountain.  I'm also crazy about Ayer's Creek cherries, in Gaston, Oregon.  I could be a cherry snob.  I'd probably take out a loan to buy the cherries I love.

I love summer and so does my trusty Cooking Assistant.

Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler
(Serves 4)
I used a frozen pie crust for this cobbler.  Keep it on hand with seasonal fruit and you'll always have the ingredients needed for a cobbler. 

3 cups fresh pitted pie cherries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup blueberries
Pie crust for one 9inch pie
1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine cherries, sugar, arrowroot, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Place in the bottom of a smal casserole dish.  Layer blueberries on top, then lay crust over berries.  Spread with Earth Balance and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cut slits in crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F. and bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned and juices are clear.  Juice thickens as it cools.

Such laziness with the pie crust is not to be excused so lightly.  Who needs more work in the kitchen?   

I scandalously made pie crust cookies with the leftover dough.  

My Cooking Assistant is still thanking me for the cobbler and sorbet samples.

My Cooking Assistant's pie-in-the-sky dream is so close.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon-Cashew Dressing

The heat of summer can drive me away from using the oven and stove.  

I always appreciate this kitchen vacation. It frees up time for more reading.  And writing.  That's why I'm late posting again this week.  

I'm working on an article about honeybees.  The subject fascinates me.  Here are a couple things I found: this movie, this Australian honey beekeepers blog, this leaked document from the EPA, and this article about pesticides killing Canadian bees.  The pesticide industry and its supporters (see Forbes magazine)  seem to continually point to Canada and Australia, saying these countries didn't have colony collapse disorder and their bees are healthy.

Somebody didn't check the Canadians about the health of their bees.   I digress.   Back to the recipe.  It's all about the salad when it's too hot in the kitchen to cook. 

My Cooking Assistant has loved lettuce since he was a puppy.

Add anything in season.

My favorite English shelling peas.

Add a few edible flowers.  Yikes, it looks like someone was already eating them.  You can tell we never spray anything in our garden.  It's a feast for all.

This is the farm store at Gathering Together Farm in Corvallis, Oregon

A shameless plug.  I included lots of salad tips in my book.

This is what you need for this versatile dressing.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Cashew Dressing
(Makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup apple cider

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon chia seeds

1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon minced sweet onions

1 teaspoon fresh dill

Sea salt and pepper

Water as needed to thin

Soak cashews in apple cider for a few hours or overnight.  Place cashews, cider, lemon juice, chia seeds, pressed garlic, onions and dill in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Refrigerate for a few hours.  Add water to thin.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3-Bean Salad

It's bean season, and at the market the lines might not be as long for beans as they are for berries or even Japanese cucumbers, but seriously, who doesn't love green beans?

I can always think of something to do with a handful of them.

As market shoppers loaded up big bags of beans, I was tempted to ask what other shoppers were making, but as I filled my my bag, a simple 3-bean salad came to mind. In a soup, tbe mild tones of green beans could get lost. In a stir fry, another vegetable like peppers would grab the lead role, but a 3 bean salad is a harmony of textures and flavors, with each bean a supporting actor.

3-Bean Salad is just one of those dishes, I've just got to have at least once during green bean season season.

Those green beans salads with the dull-colored canned green beans may be okay for some people, but at our house, canned just won't do. The green beans have to be fresh. Try fresh yellow beans or romano beans, but fresh is the key. 

At the market, green beans seem to come all at once.  Romano beans might last a little longer, but the season seems fleeting, so get them while farmers have big baskets of them. 

How can you resist the names of some beans?

Rockridge Orchards cider vinegar needs no introduction.  This past weekend farmer Wade Bennett was selling marionberry apple cider vinegar.

I got green beans at Willie Green's Organic Farm.   In case you don't know by now, I love this Seattle farmers market in the summer!

This is the easiest main dish salad ever! 

Cut the green beans into one-inch pieces and blanch the beans for a few minutes.  Run them under icy cold water to set the color.

You can use any fresh beans you like.  You don't need to get fancy, just go for tender varieites.  Younger means more tender. These purple beans are pretty but when cooked, they lose their color.

It's hard to keep green beans from the market a secret around here.

The berry vinegar gives this salad a tangy berry flavor.  After I made it, I contemplated using cashew cream instead of aioli spread.  Maybe next week.    

Who doesn't love all the great salad experiments of summer!

I'm sharing this one at Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday.  Also check out this recipe that Miz Helen Shared.

3-Bean Salad with Sweet Onions
(Serves 4)

3/4  pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 15-ounce can  kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans or chick peas, draned
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Wildwood aioli or vegan mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons berry or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest 
1/2 cup small dice fresh sweet onion
1/2 cup small dice fresh red pepper
Smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Blanch green beans for 2 minutes. They should be tender-crisp, slightly underdone.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Combine with kidney and garbanzo beans.

Combine mustard, aioli, agave nectar, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and lemon zest.  Mix well.  Gently stir into green beans.  Mix in onions and red peppers.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with crusty bread or bagels. 

Vinegar saps the color of green beans, so if you want them really green, eat this salad right away.  I don't mind a bit of color missing.  I like to save some for the next day.

My Cooking Assistant doesn't appreciate being left out of the final photo shoot.