The Practical Pantry began in 1998 as a weekly newspaper column. After 10 years, The Practical Pantry's first cookbook was published. The food column continues to be published weekly, and many of the newspaper columns appear below.

Try something new with raspberries

Published the week of July 11,2016raspberries

While raspberries are available all year long, the really fresh ones are those in season locally. While eating them straight out of a berry basket is a treat all on its own, they also work as an ingredient in something new and tasty.

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Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix raspberries and sugar together in a bowl; set aside until mixture is juicy, about 10 minutes. Mash berries using a fork until liquefied. Pour berry mixture into a jar with a lid; add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt. Cover jar with lid and shake until dressing is mixed well. Store in refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

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Raspberry Salsa

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chile peppers
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a medium bowl, mix together raspberries, sweet onion, jalapeno chile peppers, garlic, cilantro, granulated sugar, and lime juice. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 20 servings.

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Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Combine raspberries and brown sugar in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Pantry Pointers

Raspberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so when selecting berries, choose ones that already ripe.

Enjoy the taste of French onion

Published the week of July 4, 2016

Few things are as decadent as slow-cooked French onion soup served with large croutons and melted cheese. While the soup itself can take a long time to prepare, the flavor of it is much easier to get—and it works in a variety of dishes.

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French Onion Bake

1 loaf French bread or baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 3/4-ounce envelope onion soup mix, prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bread slices on baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 5 minutes per side. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half the bread slices in a single layer over bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and top with remaining bread slices. Pour prepared onion soup over bread and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake until bread has absorbed most of the soup and cheese is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprout
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons French onion soup mix ( 1 packet)
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the root end off the sprouts; peel off the first layer of leaves and cut each one on half. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan until the butter just starts to brown. Add the sprouts while being careful not to get splattered with hot oil. Stir or toss frequently until the sprouts are nicely browned. Add the water and soup mix and simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Burgers

1 2-7/8 ounce cans French-fried onions
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1 4ounce cans mushrooms, drained and diced
4 hamburger buns

In a bowl, combine the onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt and mushrooms if using. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 4 patties. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 6 to 9 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Serve on buns with any condiments and toppings of your choice. Makes 4 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Sometimes the easiest way to enjoy the taste of French onion is in dip. Try serving with veggies, crackers, corn chips, or pretzels.