Mar 152017
 

I don’t eat peanut butter because it’s good for me. Nor do I eat peanut butter because one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%. Every single 2-TBS serving has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. (1)

Nice, but I eat peanut butter because I love the taste. I love it as a salad dressing for gado-gado or as a dipping sauce for sate. I love it on bread toasted in the broiler until it just begins to char. I love it licked off a spoon. And it makes Jamaican Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew something to yearn for.

What I don’t love is the price of good peanut butter today. Peanut butter, like any other food product in the market place can be good, bad and a whole lot of places in between. It comes down to your goal, greed, profit margin, quality of raw materials, manufacturing methods, organic – yes, no, etc.

Just seek out a good tasting organic, non-hydrogenated, low salt peanut butter. I find that exactly in Santa Cruz Dark Roasted Peanut Butter. I think this is one of the best tasting peanut butters on the commercial market. I‘ve been a fan for many years and over those years, the price for peanut butter, like everything else, has gone up and up and up.

Today, Santa Cruz, Organic, Dark Roasted is just shy $6.00 a jar. Raw peanuts are wholesaling for $1.44 lb. but where would I put 30 lbs. of peanuts? My neighborhood Trader Joe’s sells raw and roasted, salted and unsalted peanuts in the 1 lb. bag for $2.29 and that’s what I generally buy unless I run across some organics somewhere.

And, since I have food processor I turn that $2.29 bag of peanuts into the best tasting peanut butter you’ve ever eaten. The processor makes quick work of it and we’re able to control the salt level, make it smooth or crunchy and, because we made it ourselves saved $3.70 a pound. Best of all, the peanut butter tastes really great, better than anything you can buy at the market.

Give it a try. Get yourselves some good peanuts and drag out the food processor.

You’ll never buy store bought again.

Enjoy

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Prep Time: About 8 minutes

 

What you need:

A Food Processor or blender if you have something like a VitaMix

 

Ingredients:

A 1 lb. bag of Peanuts (we use roasted and lightly salted)

 

Instructions:

Empty the bag of peanuts into the food processor.

Process for about 8 minutes.

Time will probably vary with different processors.  Pour up and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

(1) / http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/healthy-eating-why-peanut-butter-good-you
Jan 252017
 

Let’s talk yogurt. Why? Because I don’t get it. I mean, I get it a little. A cold mango lassi on a hot day, sure. Artichokes with Parmesan served under a black pepper yogurt dipping sauce, of course. Adding a pint of plain yogurt (sure, try finding a “pint” of plain full fat yogurt) to my tofu curry rather than sour cream, I get that too.

But in every case I just mentioned, that’s full-fat, plain yogurt I’m talking about. Yogurt is an ingredient to me, not a featured item. I had no clue the extent to which the US yogurt market had been infiltrated by Icelandic, Australian, Greek, French and Japanese yogurt brands. I gotta get out more.

Last week I’m off to the store and Stella (so not her real name) said, “Hey, while you’re at the store, would you pick up some Blackberry Serrano yogurt for me.” “Sure”, I say, like the idiot I am. I should have written it down. What do I find when I get to the store? Yogurt-palooza!

Geez. It looks like the beer aisle.   So I admit it, I’m a guy; yogurt doesn’t really fall into my survival list of foods I can’t live without. BBQ potato chips, on the list. Beef summer sausage, absolutely. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels, of course. Blackberry Serrano yogurt? Blackberry Serrano yogurt? AYKM? Really? Really?

Really, it’s true. Look at this picture.

Yogurt! All of it! Looks like the beer aisle right? Wrong. It IS the yogurt aisle and for the record, Stella loves this stuff for breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert.

Now, fast forward to me, ingredient boy, standing in the middle of the aisle, looking for something called Blackberry Serrano yogurt. I’m calling home, begging, “Stella, what is the brand name of that darn yogurt and, why didn’t you warn me?”

“Noosa, the brand is Noosa,” she tells me, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Then, nonchalantly, just happens to mention that maybe I should’ve written it down. “But baby,” I say, “I can’t help being born a man and geez, let’s be honest, do you really want me to start multi-tasking at this stage of the game? Me? Hmm? I don’t think so.”

Finally, there it is, Blackberry Serrano yogurt, well, yippee-ki-yay, you can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. Stella and the Hot Stuff, you’d think I was talking about a band but No! My girl eats Serrano peppers in her breakfast yogurt, the kid’s tough.

I blame Australia! I know this isn’t true but if we’d never gone to Sydney, Australia and never gone into the market down the street from our hotel, I tell myself she never would’ve discovered this whole new world of yogurt.

I lie to myself. I do it all the time because it comforts me. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes, may you live in interesting times. Well thanks, I do. Truth is, these days I’m a little stressed and no joke, I’m looking for the guy that proverb belongs to. I guess I’m in need of more wisdom.

For two or three years after returning from Australia, Stella would wax nostalgic about how she’d love some more Australian yogurt. She tried lots of different brands but nothing lived up to her Australian experience. Well, it turns out she wasn’t alone.

Enter Koel Thomae, an Aussie ex-pat now living in Colorado and co-founder of the Noosa Yoghurt Company. It happened that Koel was doing her own “jonesing” for the creamy hometown taste of the passion fruit yogurt she so loved from Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

She seeks out Rob Graves, a fourth-generation dairy farmer with some serious milk credentials and together they decide to make yogurt and this was the beginning of Noosa Yoghurt, a company born out of an itch that needed a good scratch.

Now, Stella can have her thick creamy fix whenever she wants it. Her favorite flavors are Blackberry Serrano, Pineapple Jalapeno, Honey, and Orange and Ginger.

Don’t worry. If you’re not into heat, these guys have gone major creative with lots of other flavors. How about Salted Caramel or Mexican Chocolate or Coconut, maybe Key Lime or Blood Orange? Not enough? Try the Bhakti Chia or Strawberry Rhubarb or Pumpkin; better yet go with the Pear and Cardamom yogurt – one of Stella’s new favorites. Cue the “swooning girls” sound effect.

Ok, I admit that I kind of like it too. I’m sure a lot of guys like yogurt, wink, wink.

Noosa is a big hit around here and is produced in Bellvue, Colorado right down the road from the Howling Cow Café. I realize you probably don’t know where that is but I love saying Howling Cow Café and if you do go there, I suggest the bagel sandwiches.

As for yogurt and me, I’ll do my part but truth is, I’m holding out for Pina Colada. I know, it sounds a little fussy but I eat quiche too.

You can check Noosa out at www.noosayoghurt.com.

Jan 162017
 

Recently we enjoyed a fine evening with some dear friends that featured a really great family style meal. Our friend Peg prepared baked salmon, salad and a rice side dish that I could have eaten single handedly. My wife, Stella (so not her real name) managed to maintain the appearance of propriety and limited herself to a single portion of this amazing rice dish.

I did not even try to resist. I’d never eaten anything like this rice casserole before, said so, and saw Peg’s husband, Terry, look at me with pity and sad eyes. He could see that I sadly had a rice-less casserole upbringing, so he explained to me rice dishes of this type are numerous and wonderful. Wow, what culinary rock had I been living under for decades?

I did help myself to seconds, I used a smallish serving spoon in an effort to minimize Stella’s embarrassment but as it turned out Stella was wishing she had helped herself to seconds too.

On our short drive back home that evening we talked mostly of this rice casserole dish and how we would make it. Two days later we were in the kitchen re-creating “Peg’s” Rice Casserole. We made half the recipe then convinced ourselves it was okay to eat it all because we were only each eating half of the half. (I know that’s disturbing.)

As the recipe evolved, we started imagining ways to turn it into a main course and that’s just what we did. We have no idea where the original recipe comes from but here’s Peg’s perfect side-dish recipe:

Cheese Baked Rice Side Dish

3 cups cooked rice

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

A Can Opener

1-cup cheddar cheese

Mix it all together and pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  The above recipe is delicious but here’s how we modified it, made it even easier to prepare for the out-of-time-cook and turned it into a main-dish.

 

Cheesy Green Chili Rice Casserole with Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst

Serves:
Four

You Will Need:

Large Mixing Bowl

Large Spoon for Mixing

9” x 13” Casserole Dish

Cheese Grater

Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:

2 pkgs. Pre-cooked rice (see note below)

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

1 cup cheddar cheese – or more if you want it super cheesy

2 cups diced ham, sausage, turkey, chicken, fried tofu – your choice

(For the record we used Teton Waters 100% Grass-Fed Beef, Uncured Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and it was great!)


Instructions:

Cook the rice per the instructions on the package and pour the steamed rice into your mixing bowl.

Add the green chilies to rice and stir to combine.

Add your protein choice, in this case the jalapeno bratwurst…

…and stir to combine.

Next fold in the sour cream.

When combined add the cheddar cheese.

Turn into the greased casserole dish.

Smooth out with a spoon and and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the rice is bubbling around the edges and lightly browned.

This is so easy and so tasty and a great dish to make after the holidays when you have leftover turkey or ham. And now Stella and I are imagining other creations using this recipe idea. Watch this blog for more to come.

Enjoy!

NOTE: You will find pre-cooked rice in packages in the rice section in the grocery store. There are so many varieties these days and all you have to do is pop the bag in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We used Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic, which we buy economically at Costco. Of course it is much cheaper to cook rice but using the pre-cooked rice makes this an easy dish to prepare in a hurry.

Dec 192016
 

One of our favorite places to eat in Austin, Texas is Mandola’s Italian Market. We’ve enjoyed many delicious meals there with our good friends Susan and Joe (we miss you guys). The other day my wife was longing for her favorite Mandola’s dish “Spaghettini Ortolano” so she decided to make her own version. And it was delicious. There’s a bit of chopping but this is a simple recipe. And you can vary the veggies to your own preferences.

Serves:  Two

What you’ll need:

Spaghetti Pot

Sauté Pan

Tongs

Ingredients:

6 oz brown rice spaghetti

Olive oil

½ onion – chopped

1 large garlic clove – chopped

7 Asparagus spears – cut in pieces

3 Mushrooms cut in pieces

¼ Zucchini cut into pieces

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into pieces

¼ cup frozen peas

¼ cup chicken broth

Baby spinach – a handful or as much as you want

Salt (optional)

Pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

You can prepare the veggies while waiting for the pasta water to come to a boil.

After you’ve put the pasta into the boiling water, begin sautéing veggies in the order listed above,

adding each next veggie after about one minute of cooking time.

After adding the peas cover and cook about 3 minutes,

then add broth and continue to cook while you are waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. If you are using brown rice pasta, it will take about 18 minutes for the pasta to cook. If you are using regular pasta, then you might need to keep the pasta warm until the veggies are cooked. You want your veggies and the pasta to be al dente.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the veggies and then stir in the fresh spinach.

Top each serving with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Dec 012016
 

turning-filet

Deep in the heart of Texas you’ll find a cool print graphic and web design company called GRAFIX togo (http://grafixtogo.com) run by Diana Stokely who is so tech savvy I’ve driven from Colorado to Texas, twice, just to bask in the luminosity of her brain.

Diana shepherds our One Pot Cooking for Men website and does her best to keep me out of trouble. Her tech-net-guru understanding appears to come naturally; she served the University of Virginia’s High Energy Physics grad students as a technical administrator for many years. The girl has a brain.

As it turns out, the international diversity of the student body made for some fab dinner parties. This recipe is from one of those dinner parties held by Russian physics students. It should be noted this is the single strangest sounding recipe to ever grace a kitchen table. I simply couldn’t imagine it being a cold weather comfort food staple.

When Diana first told me about this dish I thought, oh the poor dear, she’s one of those high functioning types that doesn’t know the difference between dining and eating.

That was wrong. Not only has Diana forgotten more about high energy physics and website design than I will ever know, she knows good comfort food.

I know this combination of ingredients sounds strange but it only sounds strange. It tastes wonderful, is easy to prepare and is perfect for the budget minded foodie looking to try something uniquely different.

So if you’re looking for a healthy, wonderful comfort meal for dinner or one of those “never eaten that” type of recipe to spring on your friends at your next dinner party, this is one they’ll not see coming.

Serve alongside something green, with rice or pasta and hearty bread for sopping up the sauce. Wonderful!

 

Russian Fish

beauty-shotserve-shot

Serves:
Two

You Will Need:
Skillet
Dutch Oven
Knife

Ingredients:
1 fillet of white fish (about 4oz), per person, cut into fourths (we used frozen Cod)
Flour for dredging
1 T Oil for browning / more if needed (we used Olive)
Onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
Milk (we used whole)
Salt and Pepper

ingrediant-set-up

 

Cooking Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and dredge the cut fish pieces in the flour mixture.

breading-filet
Add the oil to the skillet and when hot, lightly brown both sides of the fish pieces until they color, about one-minute per side.

filets-in-pan-cu
Layer the browned fish in the Dutch oven alternating with onion-strings, adding salt and pepper to each layer to taste.

3rd-filet-to-dutch-oven
Pour the milk over the top of the layered fish and onions until nearly covered.

top-wonion-add-milk
Place the lid on the pot and pop into a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 20:00 to 25:00 minutes.

add-salt-2

Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

Oct 262016
 

Way back in the 1960’s, when people still thought science was a pretty good idea, the Russelmann family of New York, enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon reading the Schenectady Gazette, happened upon a recipe for Choucroute Garnie. Choucroute Garnie means sauerkraut topped with sausages and layered with lots of salty meats. However in this version a layer of lean bacon is used to line a 9” x 9” casserole dish. Sauerkraut tops the bacon and is in turn topped with pancetta and sausages. Then, a couple of bottles of fine German Pils gets poured over the top for good measure and slow roasted to perfection. Sounds good.

Anita, from Texas, sent us this recipe and a photograph of her Choucroute Garnie, and we immediately gave this recipe a try. We did however get tired of mispronouncing Choucroute Garnie so we renamed the recipe, Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer.

anitas-original-color-corrected

Anita’s Photo of her Choucroute Garnie

This recipe is pure comfort food. It takes very little prep time but does require a smattering of your attention from time to time. It does take hours in the oven to cook but do not be dissuaded, this recipe is one of the best one-pot meals we’ve ever eaten and is well worth the effort. Most of the cooking time you’re free to pursue other activities.

This recipe is a modified version of the original published in the Schenectady Gazette. That recipe had you lining the bottom of your casserole dish with pork rinds rather than lean bacon, and then layering with sauerkraut, salt pork, smoked pork loin, knockwurst and pork sausage links. Yikes that’s a lot of meat. Thankfully, Anita’s version is much simpler.

Anita tells us she often uses bratwurst or a hearty German or Polish sausage ring, as they’re really good and a lot easier to find at any grocery. She made her version with Wenzel’s German sausage rings. If you’re ever in Hamilton, Texas be sure to check out Wenzel’s. Pork butt Fridays are the best.

 

Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer

Serves 4

Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 4:00 hours

 

Tools you’ll need:

A 9” x 9” Casserole Dish

 

Ingredients:

Lean Bacon

2.5 lb. Sauerkraut (Anita says the jar variety is best)

3-4 Garlic cloves, Diced

Pancetta (note this is our addition to the recipe and is optional)

4 Brats or German Sausages or Polish sausage rings (enough for 4)

2-3 cans or bottles of beer – your choice

Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

spek

Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 casserole dish with bacon.

kraut

Drain the sauerkraut. Using half, arrange the kraut in a layer in the bottom of your casserole dish.

knokflook

Sprinkle with half the chopped garlic and add pepper to taste.

pfeffer

Add second layer sauerkraut, top with remainder of chopped garlic and season with pepper to taste.

bier

Pour two bottles of beer over the casserole and cook in your oven for two-hours.

pancette

Remove and add the pancetta, returning the casserole to the oven and baking for an additional hour at 275 degrees.

wurst

Remove and add your sausage, returning the casserole to the oven for an additional hour.

sausage-title-card2

Serve with roasted rosemary potatoes, hearty homemade rye, some good spicy mustard and beer.

Note:  Be prepared to add additional beer if it begins to dry out too much. This is a great dish to make, as the weather turns cooler. Enjoy!

Jul 112016
 

A good road dog can tell you the best places to grab a meal when you’re marking a lot of time on the highways of this continent. We’re talking everything from fondue at Banff’s legendary Grizzly House in the province of Alberta, Canada to JD’s Burger Barn in Mesquite, Texas. Both delivered a satisfied smile.

Some years ago we drove to Key West to spend a few days. We’d arranged our drive to take us through New Orleans where we’d spend the night, then the next morning head over to Brennan’s for a rare breakfast of Eggs Hussarde.

We arrived in New Orleans that night late and hungry. It was close to ten o’clock in the evening, closing time was just around the corner. As it happened, so was K-Paul’s Restaurant and we decided to take a chance and see if we could manage a seat. We had our doubts but hunger herded us across the street and it was a shade before ten-o’clock when we joined the small line out front.

Moments after we took our place in line a staff member came out, ushered us all inside and placed a closed sign on the door. We’d squeaked into K-Paul’s by the skin of our teeth. It was a chance taken that really paid-off. Chef Paul Prudhomme even stuck his head out of the kitchen and greeted the crowd while smoking a cigarette.

The Classic Crawfish Étouffée served that evening was exceptional (I started to say sublime but the word just sounds so pretentious I can’t use it). So, for the record, the étouffée was good, really good.

A road weary day of driving closed out with an amazing meal at K-Paul’s. Everything seemed right with the world and hand in hand we strolled back toward the hotel to pick up our car with very happy tummies.

Sounds romantic, right? Hand in hand, strolling New Orleans at midnight after a late night dinner. Well, what you don’t know is that the valet at the Royal Hotel, where we decided to park in an effort to be safe off the street, kamikazed Stella’s (no, not her real name) new shiny red Honda into a support post in the garage, tearing off the side molding and creating a large crease in the front side panel and door.   Then in an effort to hide the damage, the valet ran around and opened the banged up door with the hope my wife would find his gallantry charming and mindlessly sit down inside the car. Stella (totally not her real name) decided to just take a look around the car to ensure all was well. As you know it was not and the events that followed, as they say, is another story.

As time passed Stella prepared, changed, modified and tested many easy étouffée recipes – an “easy-fix” version that does not require a lifetime of sacrifice creating the “perfect” roux. Then her sister shared a recipe that was too easy to pass up. Stella calls it “the canned soup étouffée recipe.” She’s made a few modifications to the original recipe to keep it lower in fat but this recipe produces an étouffée that is hearty and comforting, really quite good and best of all quick and easy to prepare.

In the accompanying video we use langostino “little lobster tails”. Fortunately our local Trader Joe’s market sells one-pound bags of langostino, which are a great substitute.

 

Langostino Étouffée

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 30:00 minutes

Serves 4-6

 

Tools you’ll need:

A Dutch Oven

A Spoon for Stirring

A Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

1 med. onion

2T flour

1T butter

1 can chopped ROTEL

1 can diced Italian tomatoes

1 can Light Cream of Celery soup

1 package (1lb.) frozen, cleaned cooked crawfish or langostino

1t cumin

1t garlic salt

Pinch of thyme

Instructions:

title card

Sauté onion in PAM or other oil spray until clear.

saute onion

Add butter and melt.

1 tbs butter

Add the flour to brown for roux.

add flour

Stir in ROTEL,tomatoes, celery soup, crawfish or langostino, cumin, salt and thyme.

seasoning

Simmer 30 minutes.

serve

Enjoy!

Mar 222016
 

I forget why, but back when my sister and I were kids we’d head over to our grandparent’s house many days after school and on Thursdays my grandmother would always be baking bread.

I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday, the squeak of the hinge from the door in the garage that lead into the kitchen, the way the wood louvered window shutters rattled when the door closed and most of all, the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven when you entered her kitchen.

I never really thought a thing about it. It never occurred to me this wonderfully comforting routine of years could be different. It is simply the way things were until they weren’t.

As I was to learn, arthritis plagued my grandmother’s hands, had for sometime, and finally it forced her to the realization that the strenuous ritual of hand kneading bread wasn’t doing her arthritis any good. Her days of bread baking were over. No such thing as a stand mixer with a dough hook in those days.

At that time I was sixteen or seventeen years old and my hands were just fine. So I asked my grandmother to teach me to bake bread. And she did. That started a ritual for me that has continued to this day and ranks high on my list of the most comforting, life-reaffirming things I do. Not to mention tasty.

Today I bake the weekly bread and work far less at it than my grandmother ever did. I have a big stand mixer with a dough hook that changed my life. I love it and I’ll probably take it with me when I go. Occasionally, I still hand knead a single loaf of yeast bread but mostly I leave the mixer in the corner because I’ve started allowing my bread to rise overnight, very slowly, and it needs no kneading.

Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the section on baking French baguettes in particular, aided my understanding of the value of a) the simplest and purest of ingredients and b) how a slow rise in bread baking is needed to develop truly exceptional flavor. So now, rather than starting a loaf in the morning and enjoying it for lunch, I allow our daily bread to rise overnight and enjoy if for breakfast.

Also, I suggest you switch out your traditional loaf pan for a Dutch oven with a heavy lid to capture the steam released from the dough during baking. By making this change you’ll create the kind of crispy crust loaf you only get from professional bakers with steam-injected ovens. Add in an overnight rise for taste and suddenly you’re on the road to baking some mighty fine artesian bread.

The below recipe for our Rustic Oatmeal Overnight Artisan Bread is substantial, filled with flavor and texture sporting a crispy, crunchy crust that will make every bite something special. Plus, it is simple and easy to make.

The day we filmed this episode, we had about a cup of left over steel-cut oatmeal in the fridge from the previous morning’s breakfast, so we tossed it into the dough. It adds that wonderful oatmeal taste but feel free to omit it or better yet, add your own favorite ingredients.

Rustic Overnight Oatmeal Artisan Bread

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Rise Time: Overnight
Cooking Time: About 55 minutes

Tools you’ll need:
A Dutch oven (we recommend Le Creuset)
A Sturdy Wooden Spoon
A Large Bowl for Rising

Ingredients:
4 Cups of Spelt (flour is fine)
1 cup Oatmeal (made from steel cut oatmeal)
1.5 tsp. Salt
1.0 tsp. Yeast
1.0 tsp. Sugar
1.5 cups of Water

Instructions:

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.12.47 PM

To your mixing bowl add four cups of spelt.

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To your flour add the cooked oatmeal and mix to combine.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.15.55 PM

Add the salt, yeast and sugar and mix to combine.

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Add the water and combine to make dough. The dough will be sticky.

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Allow your dough to rise overnight in a warm place

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In the morning, preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your Dutch oven inside. While your oven is pre-heating,

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.22.06 PM

turn out your risen dough onto a heavily floured work surface and shape into a ball.  Allow your dough to rest until your oven is ready or if you’ve got the time let it continue to rise for another hour or two before baking.

When your oven is pre-heated, carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven, drop your dough into the pot seam side up, return the lid and return it to the oven. Immediately turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, removing the lid half way through the cooking time.

Pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees encourages what is called “yeast bloom” when the dough is placed into a hot oven. Accelerating the yeast with heat results in the creation of a higher rising dough.

Now, there are two different points of view on covered cooking time. Some bakers will tell you to cook your bread in the oven covered with the lid for the first half-hour then remove the lid to finish it off as we’ve done in our production. On the other hand, others believe it best to keep your bread covered the entire time.

I’ve done it both ways and will tell you keeping your bread covered the entire time will create a crisper crust but either way you go, the inside is creamy soft and tastes better than virtually any commercially available bread on the market. Keep in mind, depending upon your oven, cooking time should be reduced to 45 to 50 minutes to keep it from burning or becoming over crisp if you decide to keep your loaf covered the entire cooking time.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.22.51 PM

This is literally our daily bread, we bake it every week and hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Tell us how your loaf turns out.

Enjoy!

Feb 162016
 

I like eating seasonally. And every season change serves up something special. Spring artichokes pave the way for Summer tomatoes, field peas and cornbread to punctuate hot summer days. Fall greens lead the way toward winter squashes, roasted to perfection to create wonderfully complex flavors in dishes like this curry with squash.

One of our favorite winter squashes is the kabocha, an Asian variety revered in some cultures as an aphrodisiac. While I can add nothing to this claim I do welcome anything and everything capable of introducing a little more love into the scheme of things.

kabocha hand

If you don’t have access to kabocha squash, try butternut or acorn squash, both will substitute just fine, although the roasting time in the oven should be adjusted to accommodate the squash you’re using.

We generally buy several pounds of kabocha when they become available at our local farmers market and have a squash-roasting day. SRD as we like to call it usually happens on a Saturday. We cut, seed and oven roast squash all afternoon. It can feel like a never-ending ordeal if you’re pressed for time.

kabocha tight

I suggest you look at SRD the way we do and turn it into a bit of a party. On squash-roasting-day the cork gets jerked out of a nice bottle of red wine way before it’s five o’clock anywhere. By late afternoon the squash is finished roasting, some set aside for immediate use and the rest frozen for later.

At this point we generally disintegrate into another bottle of red, which of course prefers the company of good cheese, fresh fruit and French bread which gets torn, pulled and fragmented into oblivion.

Roasting a kabocha squash is easy but as you have now guessed it takes a while in the oven. However, armed with that knowledge you can enjoy an almost perfect screw-off day and get a freezer full of roasted squash out of the deal.

First, cut and seed the squash as you would any pumpkin. Slice the squash into wedges making sure to cut the pieces around the same size so they cook evenly. You do not need to peal the squash, just toss the cut pieces into a bowl and coat with olive oil. Lay the oiled squash out onto a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 30 – 60 minutes at 425 degrees or until the squash is browned and has a soft yet slightly firm texture.  Note: sometimes in the early Fall, you’ll get a “green” squash that may require a little more cooking time.

Once your squash has cooled you can cut off the remaining peel easily, chop it in bite-size pieces or keep as wedges depending on your planned use. Then pop the squash into freezer bags and store in the freezer for future use.

Red Thai Curry is one of our favorite curry recipes and rather than buying the pre-made packaged, salt-laden curry pastes you see in stores we mix our own using a seasoning blend from our favorite spice shop – Savory Spice. Their red Thai curry spice includes a blend of lemongrass, galangal, cumin, coriander, garlic, lime leaves and more. And most importantly, it’s not full of salt. We want to taste the spices, not salt.   If there isn’t a shop near you, don’t worry, you can buy it their website: http://www.savoryspiceshop.com.

To make the curry paste just mix equal portions of spice mix and water or oil together and voilà curry paste! No worries, we show you how to do this in the video. Now, let’s get started.

Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash
Prep Time: About 2-hours
Cooking Time: About 45:00 minutes

Tools You’ll Need:
A Cleaver or a Large Knife
A Dutch oven
Large Mixing Spoon

Ingredient List:
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups of roasted kabocha squash, cut into bite-size pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
.5-cup water
1-tablespoon soy sauce

Instructions:

First, heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven; add the onions and sauté gently until soft.

onions

Add the sliced red and green peppers, garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes more.

add peppers

Mix together your curry paste and when well blended add it to your sauté mixture for two more minutes letting the heat bring out the flavors of the spice blend.

mixing curry paste

add curry paste

Use your nose, you want the most from your spices without burning your spices, so when fully fragrant, pour in the coconut and water mixture stirring to combine.

coconut milk

Add the soy sauce and bring the pot to a simmer, add the diced potatoes and the roasted kabocha squash, bring to an easy simmer and cook for 30-minutes.

potato

add squash

Add the juice of a lime, combine and serve over hearty organic brown rice.

add lime

Enjoy!

Feb 042016
 

salsa w:title

The evolution of this recipe is best described by Joni Mitchell when she sings, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” I figure Joni was reaching a little deeper than salsa with that line but that’s kind of how it was.

We grew up eating Tex-Mex and all the varieties of hot sauce and salsas regionally available, and in our universe we took for granted that these foods would always be available, in some form, everywhere.

When my wife and I left Texas for California we did not miss Salsa for she was there in all her spicy, lime, tomato, and cilantro goodness. What we lost in Tex-Mex we gained in Baja and Oaxaca styles and it was excellent. The fresh tomato and tomatillo salsas we grew up with now happily shared a place with the new fire-roasted and avocado based salsas we discovered in California.

Then we left California for western New York and we wept in the vast salsa wasteland. So desperate were we for Mexican food one evening we went to a Taco Bell. We ordered everything and at one point my wife said to the clerk, “Please, no red sauce on the frijoles.” To which the kid replied, “What’s a frijole?”

We turned to jar salsas but most tasted of stewed tomatoes with too much salt and varying degrees of heat. This tasteless wasteland lead us to the realization that we were going to need to learn to make it ourselves if we wanted to enjoy a good refreshing salsa.

So after many years of experimenting, we finally found the right combination of ingredients. We hope you enjoy this easy recipe as much as we do.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Homemade Fire Roasted Salsa

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Processing Time: About :30 seconds

Tools you’ll need:
A Knife or Cleaver
A Blender
Measuring Spoons

Ingredients:
½ large brown onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes
1 10 oz. can Rotel w/Chiles
1-cup fresh cilantro
1 TBS Oregano
1 TBS Cumin
1 tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
¼ cup Fresh Lime Juice

Instructions:

First, cut the onion into chunks and drop into the blender.

onion in blender

Mince the garlic and add it to the onion in the blender, pulse several times until well combined.

minced garlic

Add the cilantro and the remaining herbs.

cilantro with herbs

Add the lime juice and pulse several times to your desired consistency.

lime juice

Simple, fast and exceptionally tasty.

Enjoy!