Nectarine & Aronia Berry Tart

There are tons of unlikely duos out there when it comes to food. Such as cheese & jelly, chocolate & salt, broccoli & Cheetos, Mango & chili, goat milk & caramel, sriracha & peanut butter. A personal favorite of mine is peanut butter and pickle sandwiches-it’s an acquired taste, I’ll admit, but so good! Well, I seem to have stumbled upon another unlikely duo; Nectarines and Aronia berries! They are delicious together.

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Fresh Blackberry Cake

Summer is winding down in Oregon, and most of the harvest is over. We just have aronia berries left. This summer went so fast, but the weather was also so weird and caused all of the crops to be much later than expected. The only crop that was “on time” was raspberries. This past week we wrapped up harvesting on the blackberries, and with the few last fresh ones I made this delicious cake to celebrate a harvest well done.

I used a white sponge as a base for the cake, with layers of buttercream and fresh blackberries bursting with sweetness in the middle.

What You’ll Need: IMG_4644

For the Cake

  • 1 C Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 TSP Almond Extract
  • 3 1/2 C Flour
  • 4 TSP Baking Powder
  • 1/2 TSP Salt
  • 6 Large Eggs,  Room Temp
  • 1 1/2 C Milk, Room Temp

For the Frosting

  • 1 1/2 C Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/2 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 6  C Powdered Sugar
  • 6 TBSP Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Extract for Flavor (optional)

I used about 2 cups of fresh Blackberries, our cake is 9 inches in dimeter. You can use more or less depending on your cake size and shape.

What You’ll Do: 

    1. Grease three 9-inch pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in almond extract.
    3. Use a fork to combine the eggs and milk together in a bowl or 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
    4. In another mixing bowl stir together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
    5. Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix in until just combined. Add in half of the milk mixture and combine. Add in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients until combined followed by the remainder of the milk mixture. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix with the hand mixer until just combined, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom to make sure everything is mixed in.
    6. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit in pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before layering and frosting.
    7. To make the frosting: Use mixer (hand or stand) to whip softened butter and vanilla extract together. Slowly add in powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time. Thin out with milk if it gets too thick.

Blueberry Peach Scones

IMG_4395  This is a short little post on some delicious scones I just had to share! This summer is so weird for where I live. Usually blueberries are in season from late June to mid July, then peaches come in to season with blackberries in August. Not this year though, all three are over lapping this year which is so exciting! I got to use fresh blueberries, and fresh peaches in these scones. I usually used dried blueberries, and dried fruit, so it’s a bit of treat to use fresh fruit. I like using local produce, usually organic, or I get produce from farmers I trust.  The blueberries are from my parents farm, Sunset Valley Organics, and the peaches are Aspenwall’s fruit stand in Salem, OR. It’s really hard to find certified organic peaches, so these are conventional. Work has been so busy with harvest that this is really the first time I’ve had a chance to bake in what feels like forever.

There are a few reasons I choose to go out of my way to buy from local farmers (mainly certified organic farmers):

  • I love supporting my local community, and encouraging the farmers that are here to keep doing what they’re doing. It’s hard work, and not a lot of people would  choose farming as their profession. But without the Farmers, we would all starve, or become dependent upon other countries to supply us with food, which sounds terrifying to me.
  • The United States imports an absurd amount of low quality food at dirt cheap prices which hurts the American farmer. We have plenty of food to support our own country, so we should. We should also reward farmers that are doing more, and producing high quality food, and taking care of their land. (By this I mean putting minerals back into their soil, and taking care of land not because the government, or a certifier tells them to, but because it’s the right thing to do.)
  • This is a universal one; there is something in the taste of locally grown food. I think this is most noticeable in veggies from backyard gardens. A tomato from your garden is going to taste different from a tomato from the store.  It’s just better. It hasn’t been sitting in a container for 2+ weeks making it’s way to the grocery store.

I understand not everyone has the same community around them, or can afford the same quality of food, but I happen to live in an area that is bountiful with veggies, fruit, wines, cheese, meat, and all kinds of good food. And I am in a stable financial situation,  so I feel an ethical duty to support these men and women.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose Certified Organic flour, plus more for hands and work surface
  • 6 TBSP  Certified Organic Sugar
  • 2 1/2 TSPCertified Organic Baking Powder
  • 1/2 TSP Salt
  • 1/2 C Certified Organic unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 C Certified Organic heavy cream
  • 1 Large Certified Organic Egg
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Certified Organic Fresh Blueberries
  • 3/4 Cup Fresh Peaches, chopped

What You’ll Do: 

IMG_4388

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Grate the frozen butter (a food processor is perfect for this). Mix in the grated butter into the flour mixture and combine it with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk cream, egg, and vanilla together. Slowly pour into the flour mixture and stir the two together with a spatula until everything looks like it’s been moistened. Slowly, and carefully add in blueberries and peaches. At this point the dough will be very wet, and a bit sticky, you’ll want to work the dough into a ball.
  4. Transfer the dough ball onto a floured surface, press into a flat disk and cut into four quarters. Then cut each of those in half so you have a total of 8 equal wedges. Because the dough is overloaded with fruit it’s ok if the dough doesn’t want to stay as a wedge. When baked they will just be a bit more on the round side.
  5. Place wedges onto prepared baking sheet, at least two inches apart from each other. Place in over, bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack.

Make A Head Tip: These scones are awesome to enjoy in the mornings all week long. They be kept at room temperature for 2-5 days. They also are awesome to freeze, and will keep for up to 3 months. Just thaw them out and heat up to your liking!

Aronia Berry Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_3223Aronia berries are a fun ingredient to experiment with. Sunset Valley Organics’ Aronia berries are unique in that they are so packed full of nutrients that the brix (natural sugar content) is actually a lot higher than average (which is around 15-18, while Sunset Valley Organics is averaging 22), and this makes the tannins in the berry not so much at the for front of the taste. Instead a sweetness starts to come through, which is highlighted more through any heating process. Not just baking, but also jams, syrups, or juice. 

Typically this is a good indication of nutrition in our foods across the board; nutrition=more flavor. Have you ever had a strawberry that was really bland? What about a carrot? Or if you’ve ever grown your own garden there is a huge taste difference, that would be from the minerals in your soil compared to the soil of the farmer selling to the supermarket. 

So I’ve been baking, and experimenting with Aronia berries, since they are so foreign to so many. I’ve developed two yummy recipes for Aronia berry oatmeal cookies. One is a super healthy, gluten free version, but today I’m starting off with a twist on a classic. The Oatmeal Rasin Cookie get a little make over! (I’ll post my gluten free recipe next week sometime.)

Ingredients:IMG_3220

  • 1 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temp
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 C Dried Aronia Berries

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined.
  3. Slowly mix in the flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined, then mix in the oats and raisins until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  4. Cover the cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. 
  6. Once the dough is chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and scoop out 2 tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough and dropped onto the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave a little room between each ball of cookie dough as they will spread a little while they bake. 
  7. Bake in separate batches at 350 F. for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden brown and the top is set. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. 
Notes: 

-Prep time includes 30 minutes of chilling time 

-Cookies may be stored on the counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrient Dense Energy Bites

Energy Bites are the perfect afternoon snack for me at work. My job is often so busy that I forget (or don’t have time for) lunch so having these little power balls on hand makes things a lot easier! And, bonus: they are silly easy to make- my secret is I make a double batch then split it into however many add ins I want to make. This week I split my double batch into five.

I did have an extra motive for doing a double batch this week.  At work we got some new products in- berry powders! Berry powders are a great way to get the concentrated nutrition from the berries-and the powders are very versatile. So I wanted to play with them a bit, and I also needed a food “prop” for some product photos that I worked on this week for the shop’s website.

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