Oregon: Blessed with berries

We are in the height of berry season and our berries are full of antioxidants, fiber and plenty of good taste

I've looked high and I've looked low and I can't find my berry recipe book. It was a favorite - had my 'go to' berry crisp recipe, and the basic berry barbecue sauce I tweaked to create my own killer sauce. I know the shelf it should be on; it probably just fell behind the others and will show up sooner or later.

But in the meantime we are in the height of berry season and I don't want to miss out! It's a good thing the first-ever Oregon Berry Festival is this weekend - hopefully I'll pick up some new recipes for preparing these tasty morsels.

The event is Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23, at Ecotrust in Northwest Portland. Attendees will get to taste and buy berries and sample amazing products made with Oregon's beautiful berries. The organizers promise there will be ice creams, pies, cobblers, jams, strawberry shortcake and unexpected taste treats like Marionberry barbecue sauce, red raspberry beer, cranberry chocolates, natural blueberry soda to name a few.

It's a regular festival, complete with music, entertainment and berry related demonstrations throughout the weekend.

On Friday evening you can watch the Berry Cook Off where six Portland chefs will compete. Chefs Katherine Whitehead, Aviary Restau-rant, Gregory Denton, Metro-vino's Restaurant, Michael Stanton, Heathman Restau-rant, Phil Oswalt, Multnomah Athletic Club, Bryn Robson, Bluehour and Michael Willkinson of Trebol Restau-rant will compete. Admission is free with a donation of canned food for the Oregon Food Bank. You get the sample the chef's creations while sipping Oregon wines and handcrafted beers and then cast your vote for the top Oregon Berry Chef of the Year.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday there will be an agribusiness tour of Kruger's Farm Market. The tour is free, but space is limited to the first 15 who sign up beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The capstone event of the festival is the Gala Berry Dinner, prepared by Chef Philippe Boulot and the staff of the Heathman Restaurant. This sold-out Saturday night event will showcase all of Oregon's premium berries in a six-course gourmet dinner paired with fine Oregon wines.

Our friends at In Good Taste are planning an Oregon Berry Cooking Class on July 24. Chef Amy Jermain has created a meal that utilizes a variety of local berries. She will serve Marionberry Lemonade Spritzer, Baked Brie with Oregon Strawberries and Honey, Raspberry, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad, Duck a La Baie, Sweet Corn Pudding, Herbed Butter Green Beans and Lemon Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Compote. Cost is $95 per seat and registration can be made through the class link at www.oregonberryfestival.com .

Oregon's berries are amazing. They are full of antioxidants, fiber and just plain good tasting.

Frankly, eating them unadorned is perfect satisfying and delicious, so I needn't have worried about losing my recipe book.

This recipe for Summer Berry Crisp is pretty close to my original beloved recipe though the quantity is pretty small. I'll be doubling it and baking it in a 9x13 inch pan. A 9-inch pie plate just won't be enough for my crowd.

Tri-County Farm sent an alert that Marionberries were ready for picking this week, and that the season would be unusually short. Heed the warning, friends and get yours this weekend.

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Summer Berry Crisp

Use your favorite mixture of berries!

2 cups blueberries

2 cups blackberries

2 cups raspberries

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of half a lemon

Crisp topping

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup all purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Gently combine the berries with the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Place fruit in prepared pan.

Prepare the topping: Combine the oats, flour, both sugars, and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry blender or 2 forks to work in the butter until topping resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over the berries.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven to bake until fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove the crisp to a rack to cool slightly. Serve in dessert bowls with ice cream.

Adapted from recipe by Sheila Lutkins for Parade, July 2007.

This raspberry sauce should be a staple in your refrigerator during the season. Use it on ice cream or try these grilled peaches for another summer taste treat.

Grilled Peaches with Fresh Raspberry Sauce

Serves 6

Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream if you like!

2 ¼ cups fresh raspberries (about 13 ounces)

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon mild flavored oil, such as canola

6 medium-sized ripe but firm peaches, halved and pitted

Puree raspberries along with the 3 tablespoons water in food processor until puree is smooth. If you wish to remove the seeds, strain raspberry puree through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Stir in 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until blended. The sauce can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue to medium heat. Brush peach halves all over with canola oil. Grill until tender, about 8 minutes, turning once. Serve with sauce. Add ice cream, if you wish.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, Aug. 2007

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..