Blackberry Hand Pies

There's no better symbol of the American Summer than fresh picked blackberries mixed with organic cane sugar, zesty lemon, and a pinch of nutmeg - and folded into a flaky, buttery homemade crust. And better for us when we don't have to share.

I love single-serving presentations. Not only are they easier for picking up in buffet lines, but they're just more fun at any meal of the day. Sea scallops served in clam shells, fried chicken served on miniature waffles, and best of all - for dessert - your very own pie.

Have a try at making your own pie. It's not as daunting as it may seem. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter by Kate Lebo. A short read will give you all the information you need about making perfect crusts - double crust, cheese crust, galette, and more. You can turn a double pie crust recipe into 6 - 6" hand pies, fun for gatherings or on-the-go.

Here's my own recipe for an easy blackberry & goat cheese pie:

Step One: Purchase blackberries from a local farm or farmer's market. You'll also need a lemon, salt, nutmeg, and organic flour and butter.

Step Two:  Follow instructions in Pie School for a double crust. This is basically a double batch of pie crust and can be refrigerated for up to three days.

Step Three: Mix 5 cups of blackberries, 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, with a pinch of each, salt and nutmeg.

Step Four: Roll out your dough. Use a 6" plate or round pastry cutter to cut out 6 rounds. In each round, spread 1 tablespoon of softened goat cheese in the center of your pastry. Add enough pie filling to leave the edges exposed. Fold the pie over, and press with a fork around the adjoining edges.

Step Five: Place your hand pies on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 on the middle rack until the top is golden brown.

 

The Event Planning Timeline

As caterers, we work with a lot of professionals who work entirely in the events industry. Other times, we serve clients who are planning a special, once-in-a-lifetime event. This portion of our guide is meant to help those who aren't so familiar with the event planning process so no one misses out on an opportunity to have the perfect day.

ONE YEAR

BOOK YOUR VENUE
If you've been dreaming of saying your i-do's somewhere special to you, book it asap! You would possibly be amazed at the number of events that happen every year (just think - weddings, birthdays, corporate events, fundraisers, public events and beyond). So if there is anything that is limited to one per day or weekend, book it fast before it's not available. It helps to be flexible with your date, too. 

BOOK YOUR COORDINATOR
There's more than just the "availability" reason to book your coordinator well in advance. Booking them early also means that you'll have their help early in your planning. Coordinators should be organized, creative, and connected to a network of other event professionals that they can recommend to help you realize your vision.

BOOK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Finding the right photographer is usually just a matter of budget and preference. Unless you've already been following your favorite event photographers on Instagram, you'll probably look to the web to find some candidates. Pick photographers whose photos you simply like. Check out their pricing and structure - most photographers charge a single fee for a specific amount of hours and/or images and then give you digital copies to order prints and products from wherever you'd. And, of course, event professionals book up quickly - usually 9 months to a year in advance. Availability will be a factor - so, get right on finding the right person to archive your memory.

BOOK YOUR CATERER
We book weddings and annual events up to a year in advance, and we know other amazing caterers whose calendars fill up quickly also. The caterers that reserve the entire date to focus solely on your event are the ones that you want to have serving your event - the downside being that they won't be able to serve you if the date is already reserved. Catering an event can be complex, so comparing proposals can also be a bit complicated. The way information is presented from caterer to caterer, including the cost of individual items and services included can vary widely.

9 MONTHS

BOOK YOUR FLORIST
Hoping for a florist that uses fresh, local flowers - or maybe one that specializes in decorating gorgeous arbors? Like photographers, the style of the florist matters, and you'll want to reserve the one that's the right fit for you before its too late.

ORDER DESSERT
We work with a local bakery that puts together amazing dessert displays and gorgeous wedding cakes that actually also taste amazing. They're already booking for a year away. While there are a lot of different dessert options (don't feel stuck with a traditional cake!) and also a lot of talented pâtisseries,  you'll want to get on the books with someone great.

6 MONTHS

ORDER RENTAL ITEMS
Reserve your rentals! There is a limited existence of table linens, place settings, and even more so - specialty rentals. There are some awesome rentals companies in our area that carry unique items for table settings, decor, furniture, lighting, and more. Check our Something Borrowed and Vintage Meets Modern.

BOOK ANY REMAINING VENDORS
Have a rule that all of your vendors are booked 6 months before your event. This could include event transportation, music, an officiant, photobooth, etc.

3 MONTHS

GET YOUR DIY ON
If you have any final projects, its time to start completing projects and finalizing arrangements. Since you can accomplish these projects without th exclusive availability of another, they're the perfect to-do to save for the months leading up to your event.

SEND YOUR INVITES
You don't want to send your invites out too far in advance. A lot can change for a person in 3 months. So, send your invited out 8 weeks before your event date - and ask for a response by 4 weeks out. You'll want a couple weeks to finalize your plans, report numbers to vendors, and put your seating charts together.

With all of that said, an event planner is also a valuable asset to have both before and during an event - and even after! We can happily recommend some seriously talented coordinators who can help with logistics as well as brainstorm and execute some beautiful ideas for styling your special event.

 

Homemade Marshmallows

There's nothing better than hot chocolate and peppermint to keep warm when we get a rare snow storm in our area. It's been something like 8 years since the snow last stuck for more than a few hours. It's early in the year, too, so we might expect to see more of it.

We decided to make some homemade marshmallows to give to our friends and neighbors. You can create some awesome varieties using some alternate ingredients. We chose peppermint to pair with our hot cocoa, because 'tis the season, but vanilla makes the most incredible campfire s'more you can enjoy all summer long.

MARSHMALLOWS

Butter for greasing
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon pure extract (use vanilla, peppermint, strawberry, or other pure extract for flavoring)
Food coloring (if desired)

Line an 11x8-ish glass or metal baking dish with parchment paper and grease liberally with butter. You can make larger marshmallows by using a smaller square or rectangular dish. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add the gelatin powder to 1/3 cup of cold water and let it sit while heating granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and water over low heat, stirring constantly. Increase the heat a bit to boil. Then, simmer without stirring about 25 minutes. Slowly pour syrup into softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Increase speed to med-high for about 10 minutes. Add extract of choice. Beat a few more minutes. Pour evenly into baking dish.

Optional:
Drop food color randomly onto top of marshmallow mixture. Pull a butter knife through to create a swirl pattern.

Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours.

Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. Place remaining powdered sugar in small bowl. Loosen sides from dish and lift onto the cutting board. Using a sharp knife greased with butter, cut into small squares. Dust the sides of each marshmallow with powdered sugar. 

 

Harper's Playground Community Play Day

We joined the team from Harper's Playground to serve up some tasty chef made tacos for Community Play Day. A friend introduced us to this important organization that is building playgrounds accessible for alter-abled children. 

Oh, and there was a horse there. In a park. In the middle of North Portland!

Joe gave away a few tacos throughout the day to any and all rabbit taco naysayers. If you're unfamiliar with our gourmet taco menu or our catering menu, Joe doesn't shy away from using game. Of course, we offer the more familiar choices, too. What makes our tacos special is the unique integration of authentic methods and recipes and Pacific Northwest ingredients.

Borscht

Roasted Beet Borscht

  • 3 medium red beets
  • 2 dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt & freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
  • 2 small red onions, diced small
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3⁄4 cup shredded or thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 14.5 oz can tomato puree
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the beets and place them in a roasting dish with the apricots, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour enough water into the pan so that it comes 1/3 of the way up the beets. Turn the beets once so they are coated, cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven. Turn the beets over then cook for another 20-35 minutes, until a chef’s knife easily slides through the middle of the beets. Remove from the oven and let cool, then peel and finely dice the beets and chop the apricots and set aside in a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens. Add the coriander, fenugreek and cabbage and stir for a minute, until the spices become fragrant. Add the tomato, stock, beets and apricots and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.