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Sandi's Breads
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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.
It’s Labor Day! At long last, the picnic weekend has arrived! As we’re getting ready for those picnics, I’m staring at our garden full of tomato vines … still overloaded with the red, ripe fruits. As the vines start to fade, we need to have a plan for what to do with the rest of the tomatoes still hanging there. Enter my favorite magazine and recipe reference – Cook’s Illustrated – with the perfect seasonal recipe: Tomato Gratin.By definition, a gratin is a cooked dish covered with a crispy layer of cheese or bread crumbs. This recipe, however, is not like the bland, mushy gratins I’ve experienced before. Its rich flavor and beautiful texture make it a perfect dish for this weekend’s picnics, or for a warm end-of-the-day-with-a-glass-of-wine treat.Our own fruits come from a tomato and pepper garden that Tom planted in raised beds this summer. It has produced some of the best-tasting tomatoes and fantastic salsa that we’ve had in a long time. The abundance of great tomatoes had me looking for something to do with them -  other than salsa and open-faced tomato-bacon-cheese sandwiches. And, I found something wonderful…Tomato Gratin. It’s a creation that uses fresh, local tomatoes and a crusty loaf of bread to make a dish rich in tomato flavor with a tender inside and crunchy crust.Great things about this recipe:  1. Using locally-grown tomatoes gives it amazing flavor. You don’t want the store-bought tomatoes with the perfectly symmetrical shape. You want the heirloom or oddly-shaped tomatoes with plenty of jelly inside. (The jelly is what surrounds the seeds.)  One article I read said the jelly contains three times more savory glutamates than the flesh of the tomato. So, it’s the jelly that really gives the tomato its flavor. (Plum tomatoes are great for sauce because they have more flesh and less of the jelly, but they don’t work for this dish, as they are too dry.) 2. You make it in a skillet then finish it in the oven. That’s it. One pan, one delicious dish. 3. You get to use a lovely, crusty loaf of bread - such as our San Francisco Style Sourdough – that will give the dish that tender inside with the crunch of toasted bread on the top.  Tomato Gratin Ingredients:6 T EVOO4 cups cubed bread – Use our sourdough bread, as you’re looking for a nice crusty loaf. Cube it in ¾-inch chunks. (About ½ of the loaf.)3 cloves garlic, sliced thin3 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into ¾-inch pieces2 t sugar (Yes, sugar, but it’s not that much and will heighten the flavor of the tomatoes.)1 t salt (Or, salt and pepper to taste)1 t pepper¾ c grated parmesan2 T chopped fresh basil. (Remember our lesson on using the chiffonade technique to slice basil? Here’s a great place to use what you learned!)Directions: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Heat ¼ c oil in 12-inch, oven-safe skillet until shimmering. Add bread, stir to coat, and cook until bread is brown – about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add remaining oil to skillet and cook garlic, stirring constantly, over low heat until golden at the edges – about 30-60 seconds. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have started to break down and have released enough juice to be mostly submerged - 8 to 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir in 3 cups bread cubes until completely moistened and evenly distributed. Using spatula, press down on bread until completely submerged. Arrange remaining 1 c bread evenly over surface, pressing to partially submerge. Sprinkle evenly with parmesan. Bake until top of gratin is deeply browned, tomatoes are bubbling, and juice has reduced – 40 to 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, run spatula around edge of skillet to loosen crust and release any juice underneath. (Gratin will appear loose and juggle around outer edges, but will thicken as it cools.) Remove skillet from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.
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This week I’ve spoken to a bunch of parents getting their kids ready for school. Most of them are not saying, “Yay! Labor Day is almost here and the kids will be back in school!” Nope. They are saying, “Ahhh! The start of school is coming and we have all this school shopping to do and errands to run before they start!” While my kids are older and are getting themselves ready for the start of their college year (all three girls start on the same day this year!), I’m still having a bit of that “Aaah! The fall is all but here and we have so much going on and so much to do!”To tell the truth, this fall’s busy-ness comes more from the upcoming wedding of our eldest daughter than anything else. (It does mean the start of pumpkin roll season at the bakery, too!) This weekend is the bridal shower and accompanying house guests, then we’re headed into planning for the production of baked goods for the wedding itself. (Oh, and plans for getting away from the bakery on the actual wedding day.)All this to say that I’m a bit distracted and feeling stretched for time right now. So, when I planned this week’s recipe and did the shopping, I completely forgot to purchase the white wine for the recipe and, once again, found myself “Sandi-fying” another recipe. (Also, once I realized what it had done, I was not going to take the time to run back out to the state store… Can I just say that I can’t wait to be able to purchase my cooking and drinking wine where I’m purchasing my food for dinner?)The meal did turn out quite well, in spite of my change-it-on-the-fly approach. (When I mentioned to Tom what I had done, he just laughed. He’s so used to it that he’s quite frankly amazed when I manage to follow a recipe.)The recipe was entitled Chicken Saltimbocca and is a poultry version of an Italian dish that is typically made with veal, sage and prosciutto. I love the name and the fact that it translates to “jumps in the mouth”, meaning it is so flavorful that it actually takes your mouth by surprise. The substitution I made – using dry vermouth rather than dry white wine - worked and the dish was delicious, but to make it again I would make sure to have the wine. Sage is a strong flavor, so I limited the use of it to one leaf per piece of chicken. This way it didn’t overwhelm the dish.If you don’t like the flavor that much, may I suggest that you use just a few leaves in the sauce while it simmers, then remove them before serving. That said, I recommend you try it with the sage before removing it altogether from the recipe because it really does add a complexity you’ll appreciate to the flavor of the dish.Finally, the prosciutto is what really wakes up your taste buds. We loved this. Serve it up with a loaf of Italian (turned to garlic bread…yum!) or Focaccia (which already has the garlic in it!).Well, that’s enough prose about my life and the background of the recipe. Let’s get to work.Chicken Saltimbocca (Or, Chicken with Sage and Prosciutto)1 package (about 1 ¼ pounds) chicken tenderloin strips½ t black pepper1 package sage (about 10 or so leaves ranging in size)6 slices prosciutto, sliced lengthwise3 T EVOO1 c dry white wine (If using vermouth, use ½ c)1 c chicken broth1 T corn starch½ stick  butter (Yes, butter. I know that this makes it a little higher in fat, but it’s worth it for both texture and flavor. There’s really nothing like real butter…)If the tenderloin strips are thick, you can pound them to ½-inch thickness (Or, do what I did and make adjustments in the cooking time instead.)Sprinkle each piece with black pepper, top with a medium-sized sage leaf and wrap a piece of prosciutto around the chicken and sage to hold the sage in place.Heat oil in skillet and cook chicken until no pink is showing. I just rotated them in the pan until I had cooked each side. Remove them from the pan to a platter and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.To the pan, add your wine and broth (and sage leaves if you didn’t put them on the chicken) and bring to a simmer. At this point you can let it simmer until the sauce reduces to about half, or you can speed the process of thickening by mixing the corn starch with a couple of tablespoons of water, then adding the mixture to the simmering liquid. I realize that you will sacrifice some element of flavor, but this is a time-sensitive issue for me. That is, I didn’t have time to let it reduce. While it is simmering, return the chicken to the pan to finish cooking. An instant read thermometer should show 165 degrees F when it is done.So, what this really is, is a great easy dinner with a fun, fancy name. I served it with a side of orzo, and sautéed zucchini with tomatoes. Very Italian. Just don't forget the bread
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As I gear back up from a short summer writing recess, I decided to look through some of the archives. This one seemed so appropriate for the season. While you read and enjoy the recipe, I'll be helping one of our three daughters get ready to go back to college. (Here's to all the parents getting ready for school to start again!)If you grow a garden in the summer, by this time you are undoubtedly inundated with those yummy green summer-time squash, those delightful Italian delicacies, the irrepressible zucchini. I say this because we, here at the bakery, have been the beneficiaries of many gardeners’ overabundance of the green garden fruit. If you purchase them at the store, these squash are typically about 6-8 inches long. However, if you miss picking them in your garden and find them a few days later, you may be gifted with a squash closer in size to a baseball bat. While they might not be the tender vegetable that you would want to sauté with onions and serve beside your pasta, they will make a great basis for a main dish such as the one below. (They are also perfect for baking, as long as you remember to remove the seeds before grating for adding to your muffins or cakes.)  Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Ingredients:2 zucchini, ends trimmed (or, one baseball bat, cut into 4- to 5-inch chunks)3 tablespoons olive oil2 links Italian-style chicken sausage, casings removed (Get sweet Italian sausage from Dutch Country Poultry!)1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, more if you like it spicy)salt and ground black pepper to taste1/2 sweet onion, chopped3 cloves garlic, chopped2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (We have these available! Check the red shelf below the Grab-A-Nola.)1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (We ALWAYS prefer fresh-grated!)1 tablespoon chopped fresh basilDirections:Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Cut a lengthwise 3/4-inch thick slice from each zucchini or zucchini chunk. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and part of the flesh, leaving a shell intact all around the zucchini. Discard or save the flesh for another use. Chop up the slices of zucchini.Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the chicken sausage, breaking the meat up as it cooks, until the sausage has begun to brown, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes, and season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the chopped zucchini, onion, and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sausage mixture into a bowl, and stir in the tomatoes, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and basil until the stuffing is thoroughly combined.Lightly stuff the zucchini boats, place the into a baking dish with ¼ - ½ inch water in the bottom, cover, bake about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned on top. Zucchini should be fork tender before removing from oven.
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One of our great employees, Leah, modeling our market bag. It could be yours! Check them out at the bakery! Remember a couple of weeks ago I said I was taking a break from writing the newsletter? Well, it probably wasn’t the best time to take that break, as we’ve been celebrating the market’s 10th Anniversary for the past few weeks. It’s been a very busy time! We have been demonstrating how our stone mills work by taking one out to the patio each Saturday (along with lots of bread samples for folks to enjoy!). And, we had a tv spot on ABC27’s Good Day PA!, which you can check out here:https://goo.gl/BQtZaG. Or, go to the Good Day PA! website and scroll down to the Farmstead 10th Anniversary – Sandi’s Breads spot.This weekend, I’m writing to let you know about more big happenings. First of all, this Friday and Saturday we will be offering everyone 10% off your purchase. For purchases over $50 we will be thanking you with one of our Sandi’s Breads organic cotton, washable market bags.Notable activities here at the market will include visits from a variety of local dignitaries on Friday at noon, including our friend, Katie Schreckengast, who is the current Miss Pennsylvania and will be representing PA in the Miss America pageant next month. From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., (rain or shine!) we’ll have a concert by the Luv Gods (an '80's and 90’s pop cover band – check out their youtube videos). We will be open until 7 p.m. Friday. On Saturday (weather permitting), we’ll be out with our stone mill on the patio again.Even more activities are planned for the rest of the month: August 12 (Saturday) the market will host a petting zoo and free pony rides and face painting. On Saturday, August 26 the market will have our own antiques road show-style event with a local auction house doing appraisals of your antiques. (Limit 1-2 per person.)Finally, those of you who haven’t made it to the bakery recently might not be aware of the new products we’ve introduced. A couple of weeks ago we realized we’ve never offered a classic boli made with our own pizza dough. Enter the Classic Boli made with our Garlic Herb Pizza Dough and filled with ham, pepperoni, and mozzarella. The next two newbies are in the sweet treat category: “Not Your Mamma’s” Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, and “Boozy” Blondies. The first are the most intensely chocolate cookie I’ve ever eaten. You have to taste it to believe. The blondies, in spite of their name, are completely hang-over free. They are a browned-butter, bourbon blondie and are, in a word, sublime. Come by and taste the new stuff! You know you want to!In all seriousness, Tom and I sincerely hope you will come out to help us celebrate this weekend to recognize this important milestone in our experience here at the market. Our own Vanilla Extract (with two vanilla beans in the bottle!) and our Vanilla Bean Sugar are both in stock and will be here through the holidays. They make great additions to your baking cupboard, and even better gifts!
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One of the best kept secrets we seem to have at the bakery involves our frozen pizza dough. We have been making pizza dough (and pre-baked crusts!) for quite a few years and slowly folks have been catching on. Of course, it’s my fault for not telling you all about it! So, here goes…We have two varieties of pizza dough: Plain (a whole wheat and semolina dough), and Garlic Herb (whole wheat, semolina, garlic and Italian herbs). Both are great in the oven or on the grill, but it’s grilling season so I looked online for great grilling ideas. What follows is a combination of customer suggestions and my own research.Step one for a great grilled pizza is to gather all your ingredients before you get to the grilling part. The pizza dough will cook quickly and you’re going to want all your toppings at your fingertips.Suggestions for toppings:Sauces – keep it simple. You don’t want too much sauce because you want to avoid soggy pizza. (When grilling a pizza, the crust (in all its smoky goodness) is the main feature.) Try some flavored olive oils, barbeque sauce, marinara, or a fresh salsa verde.Toppings – fresh veggies are great for this. Just lightly grill your veggies, then toss them on the pizza! Other ideas: bite-sized chicken, prosciutto, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, olives or capers, fresh tomatoes and basil. (Honestly, the possibilities are endless.)Cheeses – fresh mozzarella, grated mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, and gorgonzola are all great for this, as well as a good parmesan or Reggiano.Depending on the toppings you plan to use, you’ll need to decide if you’re going for the plain or garlic herb dough. I would suggest trying one of each.Now for the dough details. You can defrost the dough in the fridge or on the counter, just make certain it’s in a bowl, as some of the olive oil in the bag will probably leak out. Divide it into two to four pieces, depending on the thickness and size of the pizzas you want to grill. Four pieces will make nice individual little pies. Roll or stretch the dough into rounds. You can stack them with plastic wrap between for transport from the kitchen to the grill.Heat the grill on high and oil the grates well. When the grill is good and hot, place the dough rounds on the grate. Don’t worry about the dough dipping a bit between the spaces of the grate, it will firm up quickly. Grill it until it firms up then remove it from the heat to apply the toppings. Return to the grill just to melt the cheeses and get the crust good and brown.Tada! A great family favorite prepared outside so it doesn’t heat up the kitchen! The added plus is the great smoky-grilled flavor.  I can’t wait to hear how you all like your pizza!Now, if I can keep your attention for a few “housekeeping” details, I would like to tell you about all the excitement at the market this month. We have a great variety of activities happening every Saturday during July and into the first week of August to help us celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Farmstead Farmer’s Market! Can you believe it’s already been ten years?! We will be demonstrating our stone mills during most Saturdays. Check out the Farmstead Facebook page for details about each weekend’s activities.Additionally, we thought it would be fun to feature a Christmas favorite as part of our July festivities by bringing back Cranberry Ecstasy Bars for this month. So, for the next couple of weeks, you can indulge your sweet tooth!Finally, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking a bit of a break over the next few weeks, so don’t be alarmed if the newsletter doesn’t arrive in your inbox for a little while. I’ll be back at it soon. I’ll be collecting ideas for upcoming newsletters and working on new recipes and photos. In the meantime, you can check the Facebook page for menus and you can always give us a call or e-mail with any questions. Enjoy your summer!
I have so many stories about this week’s recipe that I don’t know where to begin. I was introduced to it by a friend whose family grows a tremendous (like, HUGE) garden every year. She always has an abundance of fresh tomatoes, along with home grown basil and other veggies. Many times, she also has extra bread or heels of bread (our breads, of course!) and is looking for a way to use them. In the winter, she makes a traditional Italian bread soup. In the summer, it’s an Italian bread salad.Known as Panzanella, this salad is a light but filling meal for a summer day. It’s an effortless way to use up the bits and pieces of breads you might have been saving. One of the keys to a great panzanella is fresh, juicy tomatoes. I know that not all the local tomatoes are in yet, but they’re around here somewhere. I know this because last weekend I had a sandwich here at the market with the best tomato I’ve eaten in many months. (That’s what has inspired me to look for this recipe. Well, that and an abundance of bread ends, but that’s another story!)Ok. Since you’re asking what the deal is with the bread ends…We supply a local restaurant with our French bread. A lot of it. And, they prefer to receive it sliced but don’t want the ends. So, each week we have a substantial supply of bread ends left after slicing their loaves. I’m always on the lookout for ways to maximize what we have on hand. (“Waste not, want not” was a concept I learned from my grandmother who was raised during The Great Depression.) Croutons, bread soup, and bread salad are all part of that. For this recipe, you can use any number of our breads: French, Focaccia, Rosemary, Italian, Pesto, Garlic Feta, and Asiago all come to mind!Options that I like to add include any combination of the following: artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella balls (halved or quartered), capers (Just a ¼ cup of these from that jar you bought for the chicken marsala recipe), green olives (sliced, also from that same chicken marsala recipe), cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped, or I get the English cucumbers so I don’t have to peel and seed them), leftover grilled steak or chicken and sometimes rosemary from my herb garden.Also, if you’re not up to dealing with breads, you can always grab a bag of our croutons or crostini. Just let them sit in the salad for a bit to soften.Oh, and here’s something else you might want to try. Rather than just slicing or throwing the basil in whole, try using a chiffonade technique. From Google: “Here's all you need to know about making a chiffonade of basil: stack, roll, slice. Stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll them into a cigar, and then use a sharp knife toslice them into thin ribbons.”Now that you know the story, Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!  Bruschetta In A Bowl IngredientsHalf a loaf or equal amount of leftover bread ends of a crusty variety (Use the rest of the loaf to sop up the juices left on the plate or in the bottom of the bowl!)¼ c EVOO (Use the best you’ve got for this, as this salad will allow the flavor of the EVOO to shine.)2 T balsamic vinegar (Again, here’s a wonderful place to use the best you have.)3 cloves garlic, minced1 clove garlic, whole4 good-sized ripe tomatoes (I like to coarse chop them in about ½-inch cubes.)1 small red onion, thinly-sliced10 basil leaves, shredded (or sliced into a chiffonade)Salt and pepper to taste (I use sea salt and always freshly ground pepper.)DirectionsRub the peeled clove of garlic around a wooden salad bowl.Pull apart or chop the bread into bite-sized pieces. (If you feel the bread is too soft or fresh, toss it with a bit of EVOO and toast briefly in the oven on a sheet pan.)Combine EVOO and vinegar, blend, set aside.Add all ingredients, including bread and dressing, to bowl and toss. You might want to have a bit of extra EVOO and vinegar on hand if anyone wants a little more dressing.This salad is best when the tomatoes have had a chance to release their juices a bit, so you can prepare it 15 – 30 minutes ahead of serving. It also makes a terrific dish for a potluck barbeque. (Think 4th of July picnic!) 
I know it comes as no surprise that our family really enjoys good food. Recently, I realized that our family of 6 good eaters has changed significantly. For one thing, all of the kids are adults now, so we usually need a bit more. For another, we have added a few appetites – son-in-law, boyfriend, assorted other friends – to the regular crew. So, having recipes that can go a bit further is a great thing.With the 4th of July coming up, I’ve been looking into what we can do that is not the same old burgers-in-a-bun with the typical sides. I came across a recipe for Marinated Flank Steak that will fit the bill perfectly.Flank steak is not a cut that I use very often, but I should. It is a leaner cut and has a wonderful beefy flavor. It cooks up fairly quickly both on the grill and under the broiler. (Hence the reason it is also sometimes known as London Broil – a name that really addresses a cooking method more than an actual cut of meat. Also, if your grill is on the fritz, like ours, the broiler is a great alternative!)This recipe yields a flavorful steak that is ready to be sliced thin and served up as fajitas, or (even better!) in our New England Style rolls topped with sautéed onions.  Marinated Flank Steak  Ingredients1/2 cup EVOO1/3 cup soy sauce1/4 cup balsamic vinegar2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce1 tablespoon Dijon mustard2 cloves garlic, minced1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper1 ½ - 2 pounds flank steak1 pack Sandi’s New England Style Buns Directions In a medium bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and ground black pepper. Place meat in a Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over the steak and seal. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Or, if you prefer not to grill (or your grill is on the fritz like ours…) heat up the broiler For grilling: Oil the grill grate. Place steaks on the grill, approximately 5-8 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. For broiler: Place steak on broiler pan, then in oven, leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Broil 5-8 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing thin and on the bias.  NOTE: For medium rare you need an internal temp of 130-135 degrees. A steak cooked to 145 degrees is considered medium. We prefer our steaks on the rare side.
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So, a couple of weeks ago I told you a fish story and I guess I’m just on a roll because this week we’re doing another fish recipe. (I actually had customers tell me how much they loved it. If you haven’t tried the beer battered fish yet, you should. And now, back to the newsletter at hand…) Four of the six of us love fish. In my estimation, that’s enough to plan a meal around it – with another main (usually chicken) for the other two. (In defense of one, she has a mild allergy, so we don’t hassle her about it.)In that last fishy newsletter, I also mentioned making certain you get very fresh fish, don’t forget. That is soooo important. On Monday, Tom and I were doing our weekly ingredient run to an unnamed big box store where we picked up a lovely salmon fillet. We’ve don’t this frequently and I usually bake the salmon with some butter and garlic salt, then sprinkle it with some fresh lemon after it’s done. This time, I tried a new method. It’s a cross between poaching and steaming and was incredibly easy. In short, you’ll love it. I would definitely try this with other fish, although I’d probably stick with a heartier fish like halibut. (Flounder would work but you will have to alter the cooking time significantly.) To top it off, cleanup is a breeze.Serve this with some fresh sautéed zucchini and onions, a nice glass of white wine, and a loaf of French bread. For dessert, try our carrot cakes with spiced cream cheese icing.  Honey Salmon in Foil Ingredients¼ c honey3 cloves garlic, minced1 T EVOO1 T white wine vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar because that’s what I had.)1 T fresh thyme leaves (I just ran outside and cut a few sprigs. I don’t believe there’s too much thyme…LOL)Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste2 lb salmon (Our fillet was about 2 lbs and was plenty for four with leftovers to take for lunch.)DirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil so the foil can completely seal in the fish. This may take a few sheets and careful arranging.In a small bowl, whisk together honey, garlic, EVOO, wine vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper.Place salmon on baking sheet, fold foil upward and spoon the honey mixture over the fish, covering it completely.Crimp all the edges of the foil together to completely seal the packet.Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Check for doneness. The salmon should flake easily when done.
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Last weekend, we took an adventure to Philadelphia. We took the train in and went on a self-guided tour of area bakeries. We call it market research and we do it everywhere we go. It’s always great to see what other bakeries are doing and, perhaps, come home with new ideas. I also have to say that, since I’ve never taken the train into Philly, it was a delightful journey. If you have an opportunity to hop the train, do it. It was relaxing and, especially on the return trip, it allowed us to “digest” our experience. In the city, we were delighted to see so many familiar items, even if they were in a different form. For example, our new Lemon Cloud cake was featured in a bakery where they were selling it by the slice.  (As an aside, if you ever have a suggestion for a product, flavor, or version of a product for us, please let us know!)No matter how relaxing the train ride, though, it’s a workout to hoof it around the city for a few hours. So, I was delighted that our son was on dinner duty and I didn’t have to plan or run to the store.For those who’ve just joined us, a few blogs ago I related how my kids are making some of the regular meals now. They’re doing a great job! This week our son whipped up a 30-minute meal that still has me salivating. Two pots, chicken, pasta, spinach and just a bit of garlic and a pinch of red pepper and deliciousness is on the table.  Have I mentioned how great it is having other cooks in the family?There’s really nothing more to say about this simple recipe. I will say that fresh-grated Parmesan is the best to use, especially here where it can really shine. Also, if you’ve never had the pleasure of eating orzo, you can think of it in the same terms as rice. It fills that place on the plate beautifully.(This meal is a great, light meal - just right for a refreshing dessert of fresh strawberry shortcake. Don't forget to pick a couple up this weekend. Our shortcakes have strawberries in them, too!)  Chicken, Orzo, and Spinach Ingredients1 cup uncooked orzo pasta2 tablespoons EVOO2 cloves garlic (I used a couple of teaspoons of jarred, chopped garlic – not ideal, but it’s what I had on hand)1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size piecessalt to taste1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley2 cups fresh spinach leaves, packed (This recipe can use a bit more spinach, too, if you want to use more.)grated Parmesan cheese for toppingDirections Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo pasta, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the garlic and red pepper 1 minute, until garlic is golden brown. Stir in chicken, season with salt, and cook 2 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned and juices run clear. Reduce heat to medium, and mix in the parsley and cooked orzo. Place spinach in the skillet. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese, accompanied with a crusty loaf of bread!

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