Jul 192017
 

Without doubt tomatoes are the leading reason folks get up off the couch in America and out into the garden. After you’ve tasted a store bought tomato and then compared it to a home grown tomato, you will become an avid gardener and you will do so because home grown tomatoes taste so much sweeter, so much juicer and so much better than store bought.

We love tomato season and these days there are many varieties to choose from at the farmer’s market or your local grocery store and that’s fine but we also enjoy growing our own tomatoes and hands-down prefer the taste of homegrown to store bought.

We’ve had all kinds of gardens –from a tilled up spot in our backyard, to the more sophisticated raised garden beds (less weeds), to patio gardens. We’ve grown tomatoes wherever we could and in all kinds of containers. This year we’re growing several tomato plants in 3 and 6-gallon plastic pots on the front deck in full sun.

Nothing fancy about it. Our good friend, Martin, wired up some pretty neat tomato cages from a roll of rabbit wire that works well around the outside of a 3-gallon pot and fits perfectly inside a 6-gallon size pot. Both support heavy summer growth and effectively support the tomatoes while they ripen.

Now when it comes to eating tomatoes we enjoy them every way imaginable. We slice `um and dice `um for sandwiches and soups, skillet caramelizing other tomatoes to adorn rosemary focaccia, we bake them slow in the oven mixed with herbs, cheese and garlic, (http://onepotcookingformen.com/cooking/roasted-tomatoes-with-garlic-and-herbs/) but when it comes to simple, health satisfying meals nothing in our book comes close to Panzanella salad.

When we think of Panzanella Salad, we think of the perfect summer lunch or dinner.  If you search the web for Panzanella Salad you will find many versions. Most have a vinaigrette dressing, ours does not. Our version is simple and fresh – bread, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and Burrata cheese.

If you haven’t discovered Burrata cheese then you must look for it. It’s fresh mozzarella on the outside with a creamy texture on the inside. It’s truly delicious but if you can’t find Burrata, then fresh mozzarella works well too. We buy Burrata at Trader Joe’s in the dairy section in 8 oz. containers. Each container has two 4 oz. rounds and is really worth the effort if you can fine it.

 

Panzanella Salad
Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10:00 minutes
Serves 4

Tools you’ll need:

A Large Bowl for Mixing
A Screen Strainer (for rinsing the tomatoes)
A Spoon for Stirring
A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:
Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Demi Baguette – we enjoy Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat baguette, day old is best
Olive Oil (to taste)
Burrata Cheese or fresh mozzarella
Lemon Juice (to taste)
Fresh basil (to taste)

Recipe:
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. 

 First, slice your baguette in bite size pieces.

Season with olive oil.

Toast in the Oven for 10:00 or until lightly toasted

As your bread toasts, wash and slice your tomatoes into half and quarters.

Add the lemon juice.

Add the olive oil.

Add the toasted bread and combine.

Add the Burrata cheese breaking into pieces with your fingers.

Add the fresh basil, stir to combine.

Enjoy!

FYI / If you love tomatoes and have yet to try growing your own, either in your backyard or in pots on the balcony or patio, we’ve provided you with links below that will answer all your growing questions, just click and we’ll do the rest.

 

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!

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!

May 262016
 

In my LA play the game days I found myself in Rosarito Beach, Mexico one weekend with an insanely clever West Coast oil trader who was really quite unhinged when it came to having a good time. Our wives were with us, and much to my surprise, everyone seemed to have an itch to scratch.

We drove south from LA into the San Ysidor district of San Diego, which is immediately north of the US-Mexico border. After crossing the border we drove south on the Carretera Ensenada Tijuana twenty-three miles to the city of Rosarito Beach, Mex. Here, life is as good as the lobster and the lobster is great.

We told everybody and ourselves we were going down to run a 10K, and we did, and we wore the hell out of the freebie t-shirt they gave us for crossing the finish line to prove it. But as it turned out what we really went to Mexico for was to go absolutely nuts, I didn’t know this at the time, but while there I did witness a whole new level of nuts. The kind of nuts that have built great Mexican fortunes off the entertainment dollars gringos eagerly spend for a few hours of distraction.

My wife and I were probably among a very small percentage of race participants not hung-over the morning of the race, we really did go down to run the race but, while there, we noticed most folks’ perceptions were altered to include a let it all hang out point of view. Whatever floats your boat is my motto but I know for a fact our early morning sobriety afforded us a much easier run than the guy next to us who barfed on his Nikes that morning.

During the race we dodged cars and huffed lead fumes because for some reason autos were allowed on the road at the same time as the foot racers. It made for quick reflexes and chances taken but all in all it was a fine day. Of course, we still managed to come in at the back of the pack but that was our plan all along.

After the race we discovered numerous street tacos stands – grills made out of 55-gallon drums, turned on their side, split down the middle supported with make shift legs holding a belly full of white-hot hardwood coals grilling up the best pork tacos any of us had ever eaten.

Remember the old Lay’s Potato Chip ad that bets you can’t eat just one? Well that ad campaign applies to Rosarito Beach street tacos, which are equally addictive. Grilled to perfection, served small, wrapped in fresh handmade corn tortillas cooked on the grill until chewy and hearty.

We washed these wonderful tacos down with cold beer, which was served in paper cups because the Rosarito Beach Police Department will write you a citation muy pronto for drinking beer or anything else with alcohol on public streets.

Since that race we’ve grilled flank steak, stewed pork shoulder, smoked chicken, stir-fried red snapper and baked everything from tofu to turkey in an effort to re-create just a hint of these wonderful flavors at home. Of course at no time did we ever run across ground turkey tacos in Rosarito Beach. The below recipe is our healthy version of those wonderful street tacos and will appeal to the healthy kitchen foodie.

Our Rosarito Beach Street Tacos are made with fresh ground turkey, our own homemade low-salt taco seasoning and oven-roasted corn tortillas. For this video we used 99% lean turkey breast in the recipe but feel free to substitute your favorite meatless alternative. Our favorite is Helen’s Kitchen Organic Veggie Ground. It takes to the below recipe beautifully.

 

turkey spoon

 

Rosarito Beach Street Tacos

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 20:00 minutes

Serves 4-6

 

Tools you’ll need:

Skillet

A Sheet Pan

A Spoon for Stirring

A Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

16 oz. Lean Ground Turkey (such as Jennie-O Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast)

1 TBS Olive Oil (additional for the tortillas)

3 TBS Low-Salt Taco Seasoning (recipe below)

½ Cup Water

Corn Tortillas  (Get extra so you can have leftovers for breakfast – stir in several eggs for a good scramble and you’ve got a quick and delish breakfast taco.)

 

Toppings:

Real street tacos are usually served with chopped onion, cilantro, grated cheese and lime slice but add any toppings of your choice:

Grated cheddar cheese

Chopped tomatoes

Shredded lettuce

Fresh Salsa (Click Here for our Roast Tomato Salsa Recipe)

garlic spoon

Taco Seasoning Recipe

2 TBS Chili Powder

2 tsp Onion Powder

2 tsp Cumin, Ground

2 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Pepper

Stir to combine.

 

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil and sauté the ground turkey 5 or 6 minutes until the pink of the meat is gone.

turkey white

Sprinkle the turkey with the taco seasoning and continue to stir-fry until the herbs are fragrant, be careful not to burn the herbs.

add season

Add the water, stir and cover to simmer for twenty-minutes.

simmer

While the tacos simmer, grab a sheet pan, oil up your tortillas and pop them into a 300-degree oven.
sheet pan tortilla

We enjoy roasting our tortillas until they have an almost brittle on the outside yet chewy on the inside texture but that’s us, we know you’ll do what’s right for you.

A lot of people enjoy masa or wheat tortillas and they do have a place in every lover of southwest cooking’s larder but, for authentic street tacos you’ll want to serve yours with corn tortillas.

Good Eating!

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.15.04 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.17.58 PM

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.

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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 042016
 

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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.

 

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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!

Jan 172016
 

Migas has traditionally been a central and south Texas breakfast tradition. I was born in Dallas, which is located in north-central Texas and I’d never heard of migas until I started spending time in Austin and San Antonio and I can assure you, every mother’s kitchen creates migas as tasty, unique, and reflective as that person’s cultural experiences.

Basically, we’re talking eggs, onions, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, crisp tortilla chips or soft-diced corn tortillas and spices of oregano, cumin and chili powder. There is no right way or wrong way to cook up a skillet of migas, use what you love or have on hand. I’ve scrambled up dinner migas with sliced avocado, diced tomato, roast garlic and goat cheese served over homemade tortillas de maiz, and topped with fresh salsa, diced onions, and chopped cilantro. Migas can be a humble meal (like its beginnings) or an elegant brunch with friends.

Today, we’re going to prepare a basic breakfast migas of eggs, shallots, green onions, cheese, tortillas and spices. This is a hearty breakfast and is traditionally served without a meat side dish. Restaurants famous for their migas such as, Cisco’s Restaurant and Bakery on 6th street in Austin (our fave stop when we’re in Texas) continues to serve this dish in the traditional meat free style. Of course you’re free to add a side of anything you enjoy, the point I’m trying to make is that you won’t miss the sausage. Migas are plenty savory, hearty and fulfilling all on their own.

Texas Migas
Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10:00 minutes

Tools you’ll need:
Skillet
Spoon for Stirring
Knife or Cleaver
Whisk

Ingredients:
1 Large Shallot, Diced
3 or 4 Green Onions, Diced
Corn Tortillas, 1 Diced and More for Rolling Migas Breakfast Tacos
4 large eggs
Cheddar Cheese, Grated for Sprinkling
.5 tsp. Oregano
.5 tsp. Ground Cumin
.5 tsp. Chili Powder
Butter or Olive Oil
Fresh Salsa for Topping (Check out our homemade salsa recipe.)

 

Instructions:

Sauté the diced shallots and green onions in your skillet with a small amount of butter or olive oil until tender.

shallot skillet

While your shallots and onions are cooking, whisk your eggs until well blended and add the oregano, chili powder, and cumin.

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When your shallots and onion are soft, add the diced tortilla or a small hand full of tortilla chips and give a stir until they are coated with oil and warm.

tortilla skillet

Pour in your egg mixture and scramble to your desired consistency.

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Top with cheese and/or salsa and serve with warm fresh corn tortillas.

migas beauty

We know a lot of people enjoy masa or white wheat tortillas and they do have a place in every lover of southwest cooking’s larder but, for the authentic Texas taste of migas, you’ll want to serve your migas with fresh corn tortillas.

Click the link for our Homemade Fire Roasted Salsa recipe.  It’s the perfect topping for Texas Migas.

Enjoy!