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Sandi's Breads
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The last few weeks, we’ve talked about the various sides that go with our Thanksgiving meal. And, earlier this week, I even sent you our favorite pumpkin stuffing balls recipe. However, all those sides just aren’t the same without the gravy. Now, if you’re like me and you’re working almost up to the moment the dinner hits the table, it’s tough to get all that cooking done for a mid-day Thanksgiving meal. Enter the best do-ahead gravy you’ve ever tasted. Scratch that. Enter the best gravy you’ve ever tasted that happens to be a do-ahead recipe. (Do it ahead so you’re not hurrying around the kitchen while everyone is sitting at the table waiting for you!)I found this recipe a couple of years ago when I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time. We had a crew of folks coming over (about 17 of us, total, if I remember correctly) and I was in a panic about getting everything done. I discovered that you can make almost the entire meal ahead and it still tastes great. (The turkey roasts beautifully in a big, commercial convection oven…Yes, I did the bird ahead at the bakery while we were waiting on customers. It worked!)Another recipe that we’ve had (and I’ve written about) for years, is Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish. It is a must-have at our holiday meals – both Thanksgiving and Christmas. (We even eat it on latkes on the rare occasion that we get to make them for Chanukah.) Picture this: a beautiful plate of Thanksgiving fare with slices of turkey topped with shocking pink cranberry relish and a spoonful of gravy. Then, on the side, a serving of Sandi’s Breads stuffing, also topped with that gravy. Yum. That’s what we’re having for dinner. (Yes, there will be green foods as well, but they are soooo not the point on this day. Am I right?)Don’t forget dessert – Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Roll, Apple Crumb Pie, Rustic Fruit Tart – we have them made and ready for you. (If you haven’t yet placed an order, never fear. Let me know this weekend what you need and we’ll have it for you to pick up on Wednesday, November 22 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.!Now, without further ado, here are the recipes!From Susan Stamberg:  Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish This relish has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It's also good on next-day turkey sandwiches and with roast beef.2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed 1 small onion 3/4 cup sour cream 1/2 cup sugar 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white") DirectionsGrind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," Stamberg says. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.")Add everything else and mix.Put in a plastic container and freeze.Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink.  Make Ahead Gravy 6 turkey wings (or thighs for deeper flavor)1 medium onion, peeled and quartered1 cup white wine2 quarts chicken broth (I use Better Than Boullion to save time.)3/4 cup chopped carrot1/2 teaspoon dried thyme3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/4 teaspoon ground black pepperDirections Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Arrange turkey roasting pan. Add the onions. Roast in the preheated oven for 1-1/4 hours or until browned. Place browned turkey parts and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add wine to roasting pan to deglaze. (Stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.) Pour into the stockpot. Stir in 6 cups broth, carrot, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours. Remove turkey parts from the pot. Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid. Discard the vegetables and skim the fat off the liquid. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil. Place the skimmed fat into a small sauce pan and heat. Add flour slowly while whisking vigorously until you have a golden brown thickened mass. Using a ladle, slowly add heated gravy to the sauce pan, while stirring. After about 3 ladles full, pour the thickener into the larger pot and simmer to thicken. Season with pepper as needed. Serve immediately or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Those of you who listen to National Public Radio know that each year we hear the traditional recipe from Susan Stamberg – Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish. For us at Sandi’s Breads, the recipe we find ourselves sharing each year is for Pumpkin Filling Balls. These are (depending where you are from) a stuffing- or filling-type side. If you prefer, you can just bake this in a dish, but these are so much fun to eat and look lovely on the platter with the turkey. They also make a great snack or a side for a bowl of chicken (turkey?!) or pumpkin soup.News Flash! If you don’t want to bother with cutting up a loaf of bread, we have Pumpkin Bread cubes already cut and packaged for you! Because they are dried, you will have to adjust the rest of the ingredients by multiplying by at least 2 and increasing the broth to at least 3 ½ cups.  If you prefer a more traditional stuffing, we also have our regular stuffing cubes.Finally, if you don’t want to bother making your own stuffing, try our stuffing mix. We’ve been offering samples these last few weeks and selling out every week. So, if you would like us to put some aside for you, just let us know ahead of the holiday.  Pumpkin Filling Balls 1 Loaf of Sandi's Pumpkin Bread2 large eggsfresh parsley to taste1/2 onion1-2 stalks of celery1 stick of butterSalt and Pepper to taste1/4 c. of chicken brothSlice the bread into filling cubes and place in large bowl.  Melt the butter and set aside.  Chop celery, onion and parsley and add to the butter.  Add chicken broth and eggs to this mixture and blend well. Pour the butter mixture over bread cubes and distribute evenly until all the bread is moist.  Form into medium size balls and place in greased 9X13 pan. (Don't make the balls too small or they will dry out in the oven). Bake at 350 for 25 minutes COVERED and then uncover for 5-6minutes until golden brown. P.S. If you want Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish recipe, e-mail me and I'll send you a copy. It's a "must have" at every Smith family Thanksgiving!
It’s cold! It’s cold! Finally, genuine soup weather is here, and I got in the kitchen this week to celebrate.Let me preface this with the real reason I was celebrating by cooking this week. Tom and I went on a “field trip” to Lititz. Yes, I’ve lived in Central PA for almost 30 years and have never explored this delightful small town. It was such fun!Our visit began with a stop in the Olio shop. The owner is a wealth of information about everything Lititz and we had a terrific visit with him. While there, we sampled wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I bought an amazing blood orange balsamic that goes beautifully with a good EVOO on kale salad. They had white truffle oil, too. So, naturally I picked up some of that as well. Finally, I found a new cookbook that I just had to have – all 1000+ pages of it. I’m SO EXCITED!!The first night, I didn’t even get through half of the soup section, but I found a couple of recipes I had to try right away.If you’ve never had a really outstanding mushroom soup, it’s probably because you’ve never had homemade mushroom soup. Nothing from a can will ever live up to the earthy richness of a creamy soup made with the freshest mushrooms and shallots and finished with a splash of Madeira or dry sherry.This soup works because the mushrooms are hand-sliced so they are not bruised or crushed. Then, they are sweated in a covered pot with butter and shallots. Finally, using an excellent quality stock (chicken or vegetable) with the addition of dried porcini mushrooms, tips the soup from just good to outstanding in the “richness of flavor” department. A good immersion blender is key to success here, too.Reading through the recipe directions, you’ll see “about 20 minutes” here and there. Keep in mind that the most time-consuming part of this recipe is the mincing and slicing. The rest is just letting things cook with the occasional stir of a spoon. Have patience and you will be rewarded with a bowl of sublime sustenance.A big bowl of this soup with a thick slice of our (newly redeveloped!) Bierbrot makes the perfect meal for a chilly night. The Bierbrot has a deep flavor, courtesy of a dark, hoppy beer, that is perfect with the earthiness of the mushrooms and the aromatics of the Madeira. Don’t forget we also have bread soup bowls, too! Another great pairing! Finish the culinary ensemble with a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy!  Creamy Mushroom Soup  6 T butter3 large shallots, minced (about ¾ c)1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed (about 1 tsp)¾ t nutmeg (possibly another ¼ t, depending on your taste – I added it and thought it was wonderful, but I like nutmeg)2 pounds fresh white mushrooms, wiped clean (NOT washed!) and hand-sliced to about ¼ inch thickness (alternatively, you can use ½ white and ½ crimini or baby bella mushrooms for an even more distinct mushroom flavor)7 cups stock, either chicken or vegetable1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed well½ c Madeira or dry sherry1 c heavy cream2 t fresh lemon juiceFresh ground sea salt and black pepper  Prep all vegetables. Slicing and mincing ahead makes the whole process move more quickly. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add shallots and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium, add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release some liquid, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released all their liquid, about 20 minutes. Add stock and porcini mushrooms. Cover, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are fully tender, about 20 minutes. Make sure they are tender by poking with a fork. Check the porcinis, too, to be certain they will break down with the immersion blender. Blend until all the mushrooms are pulverized and you have a thick soup with few or no pieces of mushroom. Stir in Madeira and cream. Bring to simmer over low heat. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. To reheat, warm over low heat. Do not boil. P.S.  If you happen to have on-hand a bottle of truffle oil, a little drizzle of the oil just before serving brings out every beautiful “mushroomy” note of the soup.
First off, I want to thank all of you who asked how our daughter’s wedding went. It was a beautiful occasion. The weather cooperated and the outdoor ceremony, under a canopy of trees just downhill from the Appalachian Trail, was breathtaking. It was a wonderful time and now it’s a blessing to share our own anniversary with our daughter and son-in-law.Fall weddings notwithstanding, it’s a celebratory time of year and Thanksgiving is coming fast. So, I decided to feature a few side recipes in the newsletter.You all know how to roast a turkey, but have you ever made your own cranberry sauce? I grew up on the canned whole berries and thought that’s what everyone ate. (Can you imagine?! I grew up in a house where everything was homemade – breads, cookies, tomato sauce – everything but cranberry sauce.)For the past few years, we’ve been making a Holiday Fruit Tart using our own apple filling recipe combined with a homemade cranberry sauce. It’s a fantastic, mouth-wateringly good combination. It wasn’t until I started making this that I realized how different real, homemade cranberry sauce is. Now, I can’t imagine having anything else on the holiday table. Here’s the recipe.  Homemade Cranberry Sauce 12 oz cranberries1/2 c water1/4 c dry red wine7.5 oz sugar2 ½ T flour1 ½ T butterCombine cranberries, water, and wine in a pot over medium-high heat. Stir (!) till berries start to pop.In a bowl, mix sugar and flour. Add to hot cranberry mixture. Cook, stirring until sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, stir in butter.And, what about the mashed potatoes. Are there any tricks of the trade that would be helpful to know before getting that 5 or 10 pounds of potatoes in the pot? Here are some ideas you might want to consider. Use russet potatoes because they’re high in starch and low in moisture resulting in a fluffy, not gummy, mashed potato that will incorporate the milk and butter easily. Cook the whole potato, skins and all, in a pot of water. This keeps the flavor from washing away with the water. It also results in a deep-flavored mashed potato, rather than one that just gets its flavor from the butter. Bring the water to a boil, then turn it to a simmer so the potatoes don’t overcook. They should be just fork tender. Overcooked potatoes will become sticky, rather than fluffy. Peel potatoes by holding with a folded towel to keep from burning your hand. Peel with a paring knife. Use a potato ricer if you have one. After peeling cut the potatoes into large chunks, then rice them or mash them with a traditional potato masher. (You can also use a food mill.) Add melted butter to the mashed potatoes before adding any milk or half and half. The butter coats the starch molecules and keeps them from becoming gummy. The result? Silky mashed potatoes. Heat the half and half or milk before adding to the potatoes. This will maintain the temperature of the potatoes so you won’t have to reheat them and risk drying them out or, worse, burning them to the bottom of the pot. P.S. You can make these ahead of time and keep them in your slow cooker for up to 2 hours! Finally, what would the meal be without dessert? We make those for you, but wouldn’t a nice dollop of whipped cream go well on the side of your Rustic Fruit Tart, Apple Crumb Pie, or (the ultimate tradition!) Pumpkin Custard Pie? (In the vein of shameful self-promotion, don't forget to order your Thanksgiving Day desserts! Whole Pumpkin Custard and Apple Crumb pies, Pumpkin Roll, Rustic Fruit Tarts - we're making them all so you don't have to!)  Homemade Whipped Cream  1 c heavy cream, chilled½ c sour cream½ c packed light brown sugar1/8 t salt Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that sugar dissolves. Before serving, using stand mixer with whisk, whip mixture on medium low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. (For a little more zip, add 2 teaspoons bourbon to cream mixture before whipping.)There. That should keep us all busy and eating well on Thanksgiving Day. Next week – how to cook those sweet potatoes so they’re at their best.Oh! P.S.!!! We are now on Instagram and you can follow us @sandisbreads!! We’ll be posting photos of yumminess on a regular basis!
What an exciting week at the bakery! We spent most of Wednesday baking pies – Apple Crumb and Pumpkin Custard, to be specific. And tasting them. Have I mentioned recently what a tough job it is owning a bakery? That we’re suffering so much while testing the quality of our new products? That we’re…Oh, never mind I’m not getting any sympathy, am I? We’re getting ready for the holidays and tasting pies seems like a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit. Don’t you agree?We were already working on holiday baking, doing every pumpkin thing we could think of – Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, Pumpkin Biscotti, Pumpkin Upside-Down Cheesecake, and Pumpkin Bread (the sandwich kind, not the cake kind) to name a few things. This week, we’re offering our Pumpkin Custard Pie for the first time, but we’re also beginning to bake with cranberries. Cranberry muffins will be on the menu. It’s still early for Cranberry Ecstasy Bars. They will make their appearance right after Thanksgiving. But, it’s not too early for one of my favorite chicken dishes.Cran-Raspberry Chicken is one of those recipes that’s so easy you wonder why you don’t make it more often. I don’t typically use canned berries, but this is one place where they are a perfect fit for a very simple, delicious meal. Serve it up with sides of Country French bread, rice pilaf, sautéed zucchini, roasted brussels sprouts, or some combination of the above, and you have a delightful, seasonal meal whipped up in no time at all.  Cran-Raspberry Chicken 6 chicken thighs1 can whole cranberries1 ½ c raspberry vinaigrettePreheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cranberries and vinaigrette together. Place chicken in baking dish. Pour cranberry mixture over chicken. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until meat registers 165 degrees.Eat, enjoy, then serve dessert! Rustic fruit tarts, pumpkin roll, apple pie, or pumpkin pie would all work with this meal!Oh, and a PS: If you haven't already, check out the video of our Good Day PA segment that is posted in Facebook!
Sandi's Breads
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This week has been a bit more hectic than usual, as I feel I’m working two jobs – baker and wedding coordinator. (I’m not complaining…it’s such a joy!) I did discover something important, though. Even though it’s a very busy time, we still have to eat.As I write this, we’re at three days and counting. I have a lovely G&T sitting next to me for sipping, and I’m happily full of tasty lo mein that I was able to whip up quickly thanks to the suggestion of Cris, our muffin maven.  (I never think to add noodles to my stir fry and yet we always get lo mein when we order Chinese. Go figure.)Lo Mein is basically a stir fry with noodles added. The noodles make it a heartier meal with a smoother texture. The sauce clings to the noodles and gives the vegetables a lovely aromatic dimension, while the veggies themselves add a delightful crunch. Tonight, I chose to skip the protein and keep this a vegetarian meal, mostly because I’m so distracted that I forgot to bother with finding chicken or shrimp before making dinner. Oh, well. We really didn’t miss it.A few things became clear as I put this together. Fresh ginger is a must. I know it’s odd-looking and can seem a bit mysterious, but it is very easy to cook with and it makes all the difference. It adds a freshness to the dish, a spark of flavor that ground ginger can’t even imagine. Sesame oil is another necessity. You can stir fry the vegetables in oil, but you need to dress them when they’re finished. Sesame oil is that finishing touch that adds a bit of smokiness and depth to the flavor.  Finally, don’t skip the scallions. They’re not just for show. They also add freshness, crunch, and a little zip to the dish. The nice bright green color is a plus, too, as we tend to eat with our eyes as much as with our mouths.Now, to the recipe. As I always tell you, don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients. Just remember that most of them are already in your fridge or pantry. A quick run to the grocery for the fresh ingredients and you’re ready to go. (Better yet, plan ahead and pick up what you need at the market!)  Easy Vegetarian Lo Mein Ingredients:1 lb spaghetti, cooked to al dente3 T soy sauce3 T oyster sauce4 T teriyaki sauce2 T sesame oil2 T honey1 T fresh minced ginger (Peel the root using a teaspoon, then slice and mince with a sharp knife. Easy.)1 T minced garlic (about 4 cloves)2 T EVOO3 stalks celery, sliced2 large carrots, sliced on the bias (Or, cheat and buy the crinkle cut carrots in the 1-lb bag. Use some for the lo mein and eat the rest with your favorite dip.)1 sweet onion, thinly sliced1 small bunch green onions, sliced on the bias – both green and white parts8 oz sliced mushrooms (Anymore, I cheat and get the already-sliced package of baby bella mushrooms. I’m all for saving time at this point.)Directions:Boil noodles according to directions. Rinse and set aside. Whisk next 7 ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over noodles and mix well.Heat oil in large skillet. Beginning with the carrots, stir fry all veggies until just cooked but still crisp. So, carrots first, then celery, onion, and mushrooms. Toss all cooked vegetables with dressed noodles, then add scallions and toss again.Now all that’s left is to grab a glass of wine and your chop sticks and go to it. Enjoy! (We certainly did!)
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Before I get started on the news part of the newsletter, let me just say that I love that you actually read what I write! I love getting feedback when you’ve made the recipes, or when you read the menu and e-mail us with your order at 3 a.m. (Some of our favorite customers keep some pretty late hours. You know who you are and we love you!) That said, I’m keeping this short this week to talk about the great baked goods we’re featuring this week and during the upcoming holiday season. (I’m also overwhelmed with the last throws of wedding planning going on. We’re at day 9 and counting down even as I write this.) Now, without further ado, here’s this week’s recipe.You might have noticed these past few months that we’ve added Maple-iced Cinnamon Buns to our roster. Maple seems to be very popular around these parts. Our Maple Pecan Shortbread cookies (which will be on the menu in a few short weeks!) are a favorite. Our Maple Walnut muffins also have a following. So, when I came across this recipe for a maple glazed pork tenderloin, I figured I was on to something. Serve this up with rice and sautéed asparagus spears. A nice loaf of Country French is the perfect bread to go with it and sop up the marinade.  Maple Glazed Pork Loin 1 teaspoon sesame oil2 tablespoons stone ground Dijon mustard4 cloves garlic, minced1 teaspoon soy sauce fresh ground black pepper to taste1 cup maple syrup1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloinDirectionsCombine mustard, sesame oil, garlic, pepper, and maple syrup. (Measure oil, then mustard to make measuring easier.) Place pork in a and marinade in a Ziploc bag, squeeze all the air out, zip, and refrigerate overnight.Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Remove pork from marinade, and set aside. Transfer remaining marinade to a small saucepan, and cook on the stove, bring to a boil and set aside.Roast in oven for 40 minutes, then check internal temperature. Roast until temp registers 145 degrees.Featured treats this week are our amazing Pumpkin Roll and fantastic Rustic Fruit Tarts. Did I mention our Pumpkin Upside-Down Cheesecake? That’s on the menu, as well. And, if you haven’t tried our Pumpkin Snickerdoodles yet, have at it – ask for a sample! For those of you who love molasses, our Molasses Ginger Cookies are back for the chilly weather. (Warm up with one of them and a mug of hot cider.) Before you know it, Cranberry Ecstasy bars will be here (after Thanksgiving!).As for breads, we have been featuring our Pumpkin bread recently and folks are loving it. If you’ve never made a turkey sandwich on our pumpkin bread, you really must try it. Whip up  a little cranberry mayo by combining some prepared cranberry sauce with a good quality olive oil mayo. Pile on the turkey with a little sharp cheddar and some of that great mayo and have a fall-flavored feast. If you’re not up for making it yourself, just pick up one of our Fall Flavors boli rolls – pumpkin bread, turkey, sharp cheddar, and craisins. Delish!Well, enough of the shameless promotion. Read below for this week’s menus. We’ll see you at the bakery!
I’m sure everyone can relate to the sensation of looking at a picture and having the smell and taste of it fill your senses. It’s like walking into a room, smelling someone’s perfume and being transported to Grandma’s house. Or, in my case, seeing a recipe and picture of barbecued chicken and being transported back to my childhood home in Southern California. The photo that evoked this memory was one of perfectly-charred barbecued chicken just like Mom used to make - the coating of red sauce highlighted with dark areas of crisp caramelization - every barbecue master’s dream.Way back then, my mom would bake the chicken in the oven for a brief time, then cover it with barbecue sauce and finish it on the grill. At that time, we lived in an area of the state where we could watch the sun sink into the Pacific each evening. Mom would be grilling on the back patio and the smell of the chicken would waft over while we all watched the sun set over Catalina Island. Good times. Now, I know that the weather has been very summery, so we are all still able to grill outside, but once the weather gets bad, not everyone wants to deal with the great outdoors while preparing dinner. This recipe is perfect for those times, as it uses the oven to create that wonderful charred effect on the chicken.One of the tricks of the recipe is a homemade sauce that has a bit of liquid smoke added to it. If you don’t have this in your pantry, you might want to add it. I have found it comes in handy. (For example, when you want to whip up a smoky cream cheese spread for an appetizer, or some smoked salmon spread for your bagel.) Another important detail is to stick with either all-white or all-dark meat – bone-in chicken breasts or thighs – to keep the cooking time the same for all pieces. Finally, don’t be alarmed by the number of ingredients in the recipe. Most of them are already in your pantry and half of them go into the rub that coats the chicken for a quick sear in the pan. Now, grab your grilling tongs and an oven-safe pan and let’s get started.  Indoor Barbecued Chicken 2 ½ t chili powder1 ½ t packed brown sugar1 t garlic powder1 t salt1 t pepper½ t ground cumin3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces (either split breasts or thighs)2 T EVOO½ c finely chopped onion¼ c water2/3 c ketchup3 T molasses1 T Worcestershire sauce1 T Dijon mustard2 t cider vinegar½ t liquid smoke (Get the good stuff- the one with only water and concentrated hickory smoke. It should not have any artificial flavors in it.)  Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cumin in bowl. Sprinkle liberally over all surfaces of chicken. Heat oil in oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken, skin side down and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until browned on second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate. Pour off all but 1 T fat from skillet and return to medium heat. Add onion and 2 T water and cook until onion is softened, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in ketchup, molasses, Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, liquid smoke, and remaining 2 T water and bring to simmer. Return chicken to skillet and turn to coat with sauce. Flip chicken skin side up. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until breasts register 155 degrees or thighs register 170 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes for breasts or 20 to 25 minutes for thighs. Remove skillet from oven and heat broiler. Broil until chicken is charred in spots and breasts register 160 degrees or thighs register 175 degrees, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Whisk sauce in skillet to recombine. Serve with sauce on the side.
This week is the start of Fall! Yahoo! Not that the weather knows this…what’s with the 80-degree temperatures, anyway? Weather notwithstanding, we are rolling out the fall flavors in the bakery this week with LOTS of pumpkin – Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Biscotti (with craisins and pumpkin seeds), and Pumpkin Bread. Also, since Fall is apple season, we have our scrumptious Spiced Apple Cakes with Cinnamon Drizzle.Seeing as how we’ve been working so hard to get ready for the Fall flavors (and a fall wedding), I’m bringing back a newsletter from the past that features one of my favorite soups – a Curried Squash Soup – that is perfect for a laid-back family meal, or a starter for a nice dinner party. Serve it up with a loaf of our San Francisco Sourdough or a couple of French Cheese Volcanos. Then, for dessert, bring out the pumpkin and apple pastries.Now, here’s a blast from the past – Fall of 2014 – and the recipe. When you are an artist, you travel to great museums. When you are a foodie, you travel to (wait for it…) Wegman's. Yes, that's right! Tom and I got away to visit friends and went on a field trip to the local Wegman's. (This, only after a morning of other sight seeing - we are not THAT boring.) For the uninitiated, Wegman's is a super-sized grocery store with a huge assortment of everything you might want to eat, including arrays of international buffets, a full-service restaurant, and an in-store beer stop. (I didn't check to see if they sold wine, too.)In my defense, we have been toying with a number of ideas for new products and where better to find lots of choices and ideas than a giant grocery store with excellent international foods? We had a list of curiosities: English, German, and Italian seasonal baked goods, cheeses to feature on our focaccia, and spices that might inspire new breads. Our first stop? The international cheese section. We enjoyed cheeses from Denmark, Holland, Italy, France, Germany, and I'm not even certain of the others. After consuming them with a variety of fruit, crostini, and breads, we discovered a few things: Danish Bleu is perfect when paired with Cranberry-Pecan crostini and drizzled with honey, Jarlsburg is fantastic on anything, Fontina and Havarti are both good for use in our focaccia, and Asiago is still one of the best cheeses to put in a bread or cracker.  With this bit of research under our belts, so to speak, we charged into the bakery to put it all to work. Hence, this week's recipe:(Note: This is a classic 'Sandi' recipe. Meaning, it is a guide. Measurements are flexible and everything is done to taste.)  Curried Pumpkin Soup 1 small butternut squashEVOOButter1 large sweet onion3 stalks celery1-2 cloves garlic4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock2 t curry1 t cuminSea salt (I used smoked sea salt, my new favorite, for a unique, out-of-this-world flavor)Fresh ground pepperSour cream or plain Greek yogurt  Wash and split the squash. Place cut side down in a baking dish and microwave on high for 20 mintues. While the squash is cooking, saute the onion, celery and garlic in a combination of butter and olive oil until onions are translucent and celery has softened. Move to larger stock/sauce pot.) Once squash is fork tender - you can easily poke a fork through the skin - turn it over, scoop out seeds and discard (or toast with salt in oven), scoop squash into pot with other veggies. Add chicken or vegetable stock, simmer 20 minutes. Using immersion blender, process until the soup is thick and smooth. Season with salt, pepper, curry and cumin. (If you have some authentic Spanish saffron, this would be a great place to use it, too. Just a few strands will do the trick and give your soup a depth of flavor and richness that you won't believe.) Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a loaf of Sandi’s Bread!
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This week I had the good fortune to have a friend lend me a food magazine I had never seen before – Cook’s Country. It is well-written and beautifully illustrated. And, since it comes out of the America’s Test Kitchen family of publications, the recipes are well-researched and detailed. Browsing my way through the mouth-watering pages, I came across a recipe that brought back a very fond memory.First, a little back story. Many of you know Tom and me well from chatting across the counter over the years. Some of you have shared recipes, some have come in for consultations on recipes or dinner ideas, and others have brought us samples – baked goods, dips for crostini, sausages (some homemade!), and, of course, breads. It’s been a wonderful experience.Well, these types of things have been happening for quite a while. In fact, about 8 years ago we had a customer who hailed from the Deep South – New Orleans. She would come in to buy multiple loaves of Country French bread every time her family had a big get-together. She would also regale us with stories of her cooking successes and adventures. After one such chat, she showed up with a “sample” – an entire meal of homemade chicken and sausage gumbo and rice. What a treat! We grabbed a loaf of Country French and dug in.With that in mind, you can imagine my delight at coming across an authentic-tasting, slow-cooker version of the same.Traditional gumbo recipes are an all-day affair, starting with the making of the dark roux. In this version, the roux comes together in a little over 10 minutes and the Cajun holy trinity is quickly stirred around the pan to soften. (No, I’m not being disrespectful. This really is a culinary term.) The addition of meats and the traditional okra takes place in the slow cooker. A few hours later, the fragrant, spicy meal is served.Let’s get started!  Chicken and Sausage Gumbo ½ c vegetable oil¾ c all-purpose flour2 onions, chopped1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped1 celery rib, chopped fine4 garlic cloves, minced1 T Creole seasoning4 c chicken broth1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmedSalt and pepper12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced ½ inch thick10 oz frozen cut okra2 bay leaves4 scallions, white and green parts, separated and sliced thin4 cups cooked white riceHot sauce  Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour and cook until mixture is color of peanut butter, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until roux is slightly darker and color of ground cinnamon, 5 – 10 minutes longer. Stir in onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and Creole seasoning and cook until vegetables are softened, 7 – 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups broth and bring to simmer over high heat; transfer to slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and transfer to slow cooker. Stir in andouille, okra, bay leaves, and remaining 2 cups broth. Cook on low until chicken is tender, 4 – 5 hours. Transfer chicken to plate. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Skim any excess fat from surface of gumbo and discard bay leaves. Stir in white parts of scallion and chicken. Serve over rice, sprinkled with scallion greens. Pass the hot sauce.

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