Hooking up with Cherie Dorfman

Occasionally I hit a recipe goldmine! When Julia Peterson approached me at World Gym regarding highlighting her Beach Chix with Stix knitting group that meets monthly at South Coastal Library, I had no idea that saying “yes” would result in 23 recipes from 14 women. I love a good challenge, so in the next three columns you’ll be meeting a delightful group of women with an eclectic mix of recipes.

Julia volunteers at the library and was eager to begin a knitting group that meets between September and May.

“My initial plan was to bring people together to knit, crochet and chat, but then I realized that we needed a bit more focus. We now have an informal short program or discussion for the first 20 to 30 minutes, followed by moving our sticks.

“A recent highlight was a phone chat with author Debbie Macomber. Last year we talked about hats and scarves, knitting for charity and afghans. We have show-and-tell and often have a yarn and book exchange. We encourage each other to try something new, help each other with ongoing projects and offer ideas for starting new ones.”

Until Julia approached me, I didn’t know about Chix with Stix. My own crochet project hides in a closet, because it’s been so long since I crocheted that I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’m joining the Chix, knowing that others will show me what to do and how to do it. The group is currently all women, but Julia extends a warm welcome to men to join the circle.

Beach Chix with Stix meets the third Thursday of each month, beginning Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the library.

I’ll print more of Julia’s information in the next two columns about upcoming programs. Today, I’m highlighting Chix-with-Stix member Cherie Dorfman, who generously provided six recipes when Julia asked for them; that’s a column in itself.

Cherie said that she came to the knitting group because, “I hadn’t knitted for some time and I wanted to start again. I really like Julia, so I popped in to the group and enjoyed learning from others, teaching others and trading instructions. One of the women taught me a new way to cast on, and I taught another how to finish her project.”

When Cherie was living in Virginia with her husband, Jerry, she annually traveled to Sea Colony with a female friend for a week’s vacation. She grew to love this area and asked Jerry to accompany her. He, too, decided this was the place to live. They’ve been residents of Bethany West now for 10 years.

Cherie has many talents that she shares with the community. She’s a past president of the Sussex County Master Gardeners (the library garden is a lovely testament to her talents). She’s on the board of and volunteers for the library, is on the board of and also past president of the Bethany West Association, and is also a past president and member of the Women’s Civic Club of Bethany Beach.

Cherie is most proud of her role in bringing the third totem pole to Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach. The first totem died from an onslaught of termites and the second from dry rot from the bottom up.

“I was on the Bethany Beach Beautification Committee,” she recalled, “when Jerry and I took a cruise to Alaska. While we were in Vancouver and saw beautiful totem poles, I decided to locate Peter Toth, the artist who created the first Bethany totem, to see if he would create another.”

Cherie obtained Toth’s phone number, but apparently he’s a private man and never answered the phone. She was not discouraged. She wrote to the artist, and he agreed to take the commission. The committee paid to fly him to the Pacific Northwest, where he searched until he found the perfect red cedar log.

The log was shipped to his home in Florida, where he carved the current masterpiece. When it was completed, it was shipped to Bethany Beach and mounted following instructions shared by the experts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. If you take a close look at the totem pole, you’ll see that a space exists between the bottom of the totem and the base, which precludes demise by rotting.

Cherie learned to cook in early childhood, taught by her mother and Gourmet magazine. Her favorite cookbook, “Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook” by Louis Diat, shows signs of loving wear and tear. It taught her everything she needed to know and continues to be her favorite today. In fact, her signature dish, French Potato Salad, is a recipe from the book. Now, sit back and enjoy Cherie’s recipes.

French Potato Salad is Cherie’s signature dish, the one she’s always asked to bring for pot luck suppers and also to make at home when she’s entertaining.
“If you order potato salad in France, it will be served at room temperature – never chilled and clammy cold,” Cherie said. “I think that once you have tasted potato salad French-style, you will prefer it, too. In any case, you must season and dress the potatoes while they are still hot and can readily absorb the dressing. Use small, firm-fleshed potatoes for the salad rather than the large mealy baking potatoes, which tend to break more easily. While the potatoes are cooking, I prepare the dressing so that I can add it to the potatoes while they are still hot.”

French Potato Salad

? 5 to 6 medium potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds),
unpeeled – Cherie suggests red-skinned potatoes or
Yukon Gold
? 1 teaspoon salt
Dressing ingredients:
? A little black pepper
? 2 or 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
? 6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil
? 4 tablespoons stock or hot water
? 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
? Fresh chives, chervil and tarragon to taste
? 1 bunch green onions, chopped

Method for French Potato Salad:
Boil unpeeled potatoes in salted water (to cover) until they are just tender. Meanwhile, combine all dressing ingredients. When potatoes are tender, drain, peel and cut them into thin slices. While the potatoes are still hot, season them with the dressing. Let the salad stand at room temperature until most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve without chilling. Yield: 8 servings or more.

Cherie likes the convenience of using refrigerated Pillsbury pie crusts to make her Wisconsin Double-Good Blueberry Pie. You can follow the recipe as is, or use one of her variations: (1) When the pie shell is fresh out of the oven, put some chocolate chips into the crust and wait until they are soft; spread over the bottom of the pie shell before proceeding with the rest of the recipe; or (2) before adding blueberry filling, add a layer of vanilla or lemon pudding with or without the chocolate layer.

Wisconsin Double-Good Blueberry Pie
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
? 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
? 3/4 cup granulated sugar
? 3 tablespoons corn starch
? 1/8 teaspoon salt
? 1/4 cup water
? 2 pints blueberries divided in half
? 1 tablespoon lemon juice
? 1 tablespoon butter

Method for Blueberry Pie:
Bake pie crust at 450 degrees until lightly browned, approximately 12 to 15 minutes; cool.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn starch and salt; add 1/4 cup water and 1 pint blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and glossy. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and butter; stir. Cool. When cool, stir in the other pint of blueberries; pour into the pie shell and chill.

Cherie serves her Eggplant Spread with different types of crackers or thinly sliced French bread, sometimes toasted. “This spread also freezes well,” she said. “If frozen, it will be a bit watery when it’s thawed, so warm it in the microwave before serving.”

Eggplant Spread
? 3 cups eggplant, peeled and cut into small dice
? 1/2 cup chopped onion
? 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
? 2 cloves garlic, minced
? 1/3 cup olive oil
? 6 ounces tomato paste
? 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
? 1/2 cup olives, chopped (Spanish green with
pimentos or, for less salt, black olives work well, too.)
? 1-1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
? 1 teaspoon salt
? 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
? 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Method for Eggplant Spread:
Sauté eggplant, onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix tomato paste, vinegar, olives, brown sugar, salt, oregano and pepper; stir into the eggplant mixture and simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature; it’s delicious all ways.

Cherie uses tapioca starch/flour in her Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie recipe. She buys this product at G&E supermarket. Buyer beware: This product differs from regular tapioca used to make puddings.

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
? 1 deep-dish unbaked pie crust
? 1 cup sugar
? 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
? 1 teaspoon cinnamon
? 1/8 teaspoon salt
? 6 cups thinly sliced Fuji apples, peeled
(Other baking apples may be substituted.)
? 1 cup dark brown sugar
? 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
? 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
? 1/2 cup butter
? 1/2 cup caramel topping
? 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Method for Apple Pie:
Combine sugar, tapioca starch, cinnamon, salt and apple slices; place into pie crust.
For topping, mix together until crumbly: brown sugar, flour, oats and butter; top pie with this mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Top pie with caramel topping and chopped pecans.

The recipe for Cherie’s Coffee Cake was given to her by her mother.

Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
? 3/4 cup butter
? 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
? 3 eggs
? 3 cups all-purpose flour
? 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
? 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
? 1 teaspoon almond extract
? 1-1/2 cups sour cream
? 1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
? 1/2 cup brown sugar
? 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
? 1/3 cup additional granulated sugar
? 1/3 cup additional all-purpose flour
? 1/4 cup additional butter

Method for Coffee Cake:
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, add almond extract to sour cream. Alternately add the flour and sour cream mixtures to the butter mixture. Grease well a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan. Pour in one-half of the batter. Combine the walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter. Add the rest of the batter; sprinkle the rest of the walnut mixture over the top. Mix 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup butter until crumbly; sprinkle this mixture over all. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

The final recipe that Cherie shares is aptly titled, “Jerry’s Favorite Fish,” because duh, it’s Jerry’s favorite fish. Sometimes she uses white wine, but if none is open, she’ll use vermouth. Jerry likes scallops, but Cherie isn’t a big fan, so this recipe works well for both of them. She’ll prepare it using sea scallops for him and soft shells or other fish for herself. This dish serves two people.

Jerry’s Favorite Fish
? 12 ounces sea scallops
(that’s the larger scallop), soft shells or other fish
? Seasoned all-purpose flour
? 1/4 cup olive oil
? 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
? 3/4 cup white wine
? 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
? 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
? 1 teaspoon dried oregano
? 1/4 teaspoon salt
? 1/8 teaspoon pepper
? 1 tablespoon butter

Method for Jerry’s Favorite Fish:
Dredge fish in seasoned flour. Heat large frying pan on high heat. Add olive oil and when it shimmers, add fish; turn once during cooking. Cook until almost done and remove to plate. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add wine and cook until it is almost syrup. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook on high heat mashing the tomatoes until most of the liquid is gone and it is saucy. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter. Serve sauce over fish and serve with rice or orzo.

Yield: 2 servings.

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by e-mail at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)