Aaaaand, the dreary weather is back. Those couple of springtime days we had earlier this week were a lovely break, though. Today, in honor of our efforts to stay warm and dry, we have a recipe that qualifies as the perfect comfort food.I created a vegetarian version of our favorite Beef Stroganoff using Crimini mushrooms. (So, it’s “Not Beef” Stroganoff. Haha!) You can easily make this a true stroganoff by following the directions in the note at the end of the recipe.What I love about this recipe is how full and rich the flavor is without needing the meat. The addition of cooking sherry and a touch of butter really kicked everything up a notch. I served it over wide egg noodles and it warmed us right up!
“Not Beef” Stroganoff
24 oz Crimini mushrooms, sliced1 medium onion, chopped3 cloves garlic, chopped3 c vegetable broth (I pulled out my Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base.)2 T cooking sherry1 T potato starch2/3 c sour cream2 t juice from 1 lemon (Yes, use the real stuff. Remember the discussion from last week? You can always use fresh lemon juice in something, but the stuff in the little plastic containers is only for souring milk for baking.)2 T (approximately) EVOO for sautéing (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for the uninitiated)Dash of white pepper (Be careful with this. White pepper is a wonderful spice and very strong. Just a little dash will do.)Salt and black pepper to taste1 T butter (optional)16 oz wide egg noodles, cooked according to directions
Using a large skillet on medium-high heat, saute mushrooms, onions, garlic, and salt in about 2 T EVOO until all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add broth, then cooking sherry. Remove from heat.
In a small dish, put potato starch and a couple tablespoons of water, stirring to combine. Add to pan while stirring vigorously. The potato starch will thicken quickly when the pan is returned to the heat. Place pan back on heat and simmer until thickened.
With the pan off the heat, stir in butter, sour cream and lemon juice. Add noodles and stir. Season with salt and peppers and serve.
NOTE: To add beef to the recipe, use 1 ½ pounds sirloin tips pounded to ½-inch thickness and sliced into 2-inch strips. Cook in 1T EVOO until well browned. Add beef at the end of step 1 and cook for about 30 minutes or until beef is tender. Then continue with step 2.
So this week was Valentine’s Day week. I hope everyone had a lovely Wednesday. We celebrated with a nice Shrimp Scampi dinner accompanied by a fresh loaf of our crusty Country French bread. It did make me think, though, that not everyone would have had time to make a meal or go out for dinner. What about a nice brunch this weekend instead? We enjoy doing brunch periodically when we’re all home. Our favorite brunch meal is Eggs Benedict. I like to use Gouda in place of the bacon and Country French in place of the English muffin. (Of course, this is Sandi-fied…would you expect anything different?) This is really pretty easy. If you use a prepared Hollandaise sauce, or even one that you make from the packet you pick up at the grocery, it’s easy and quick. (I do make my own Hollandaise sometimes, but we always have the packets in the cupboard for just in case we want to whip this up quickly.) The toughest part might be poaching the eggs into nice round shapes, but that doesn’t have to be difficult, either. All you need are a few helpful tips. Here they are:Tips for poaching eggs:
Always put vinegar in the water. It helps hold the eggs together so they don’t get that jellyfish look about them. (The technical term is “feathering”.)
Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the eggs all at once, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
Use a tea cup to gently ease the eggs into the water. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out onto a paper-towel-covered plate.
Tips for making your own Hollandaise sauce:
Don’t forget or overlook the pepper or cayenne. It adds a lovely, subtle kick that makes the sauce more than just some goop you drizzle over your eggs.
Use fresh lemon juice. I know that stuff in the bottle is convenient, but it has a bitterness to it. The only time to use it is to sour milk for baking. Otherwise, just keep a couple of fresh lemons in the fridge. If you’re not cooking with them, put them in your glass of water. Fresh lemon juice has vitamins and lowers your blood glucose levels. It’s all good, so there’s not reason not to have them on-hand. (Plus, Masser’s has been carrying Meyer lemons. If you’ve never had one, try them. They are amazing, with a floral quality and almost a sweetness that you don’t find in the more common lemons.)
Don’t rush this. Good Hollandaise requires a little time and patient stirring. Don’t walk away. It’s worth the few minutes of attention.
Use a double boiler and don’t let the bowl sit in the water. You’ll risk overheating the sauce which will “break” it and make the eggs curdle.
Use an instant read thermometer. See tip 4.
Use real butter. Do I really have to say this? You simply can’t replace real butter. We have migrated to using European butters and I must say there is a difference that you must experience yourself.
2 T distilled white vinegar1 t salt12 large eggsBoiling water to fill a 12-inch skilletCrack 3 large eggs into each of 4 teacups. Fill skillet nearly to rim with boiling water. (Don't forget to leave room for all the eggs! The last thing you want is an overflow of boiling, egg-y water.) Taking two cups in each hand, add eggs to water all at once. Cover the skillet and remove from heat. Allow to cook until whites are set and yolks still runny. About 6 minutes. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon, allowing it to drain briefly. Set aside on a plate covered with paper towel.
12 T unsalted butter, softened to room temp, but not melted6 large egg yolks½ c boiling water (Boil this in a tea kettle, as you’ll be adding it to the sauce.)2 t fresh lemon juice1/8 t cayenne pepperSalt to tasteFill medium sauce pan with about ½ inch water and bring to simmer. Place softened butter and egg yolks in heat-proof bowl and set bowl over barely simmering water. Whisk yolks and butter together. Add boiling water to egg and butter mixture while continuing to whisk. Continue to cook and whisk for about 7 to 10 minutes, until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Carefully remove bowl from heat and stir in lemon juice and cayenne. Salt to taste. Transfer sauce to liquid measuring cup and cover with plastic until ready to serve. Sauce can be held at room temperature for an hour and reheated in microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 10 seconds for about a minute.Note: This Hollandaise will be a little foamier than other sauces but will hold well. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and is easily reheated in the microwave.
12 slices Country French bread12 large poached eggs12 round slices smoked Gouda cheese or Canadian baconHollandaise saucePlace slices of bread on a baking sheet and cover each with a slice of cheese (or bacon). Place under broiler until just toasted and cheese is soft or bacon is beginning to brown. Turn off broiler and transfer pan to lower rack to keep warm until eggs and sauce are ready. Place two slices of bread and cheese on each plate. Cover each with an egg and spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons sauce over each. Serve immediately.
Who doesn’t want a blast of summer in the midst of all this winter dreariness? That’s what we got this week when our son surprised us with leftovers from a summer crab feast transformed into a homemade crab cake dinner. He paired the crab cakes with fresh steamed asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Have I mentioned how lucky we are to have young adult children who cook? We are so lucky! Not to mention, he provides me the recipes to share with you. It’s a win-win for us all.The crab meat was from Maryland blue crabs. Our own breadcrumbs (which are available for you…just ask), combined with a bit of mayo and an egg acted to bind the meat together without creating that “filler” taste. The Dijon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and paprika give it just a little kick with a lot of flavor. This was truly the best crab cake I’ve ever eaten. He fried them in a combination of coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). They came out with a lovely crisp crust and tender inside. Tom whipped up some homemade tartar sauce to go with them and we were all set.If you don’t have your own supply of leftover crab meat, you can check in with Vicki at Crab Crazy. Masser’s can supply the veggies and potatoes and you’ve got your whole meal planned and purchased right there at the market. Ready, set, shop!And while you're shopping, don't forget the dessert. Our Valentine's Day featured desserts are our Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Peanut Butter cake rolls, as well as our Cherry Upside Down Cheesecakes. The perfect end to your Valentine's Day meal! If you're a "celebrate-all-day" kind of person, we have the ultimate muffin choices for your day: Chocolate Covered Strawberry and Cherry Cordial muffins. Both feature chunks of fruit. Cherry Cordial is studded with cherries and dark chocolate chips. Chocolate Covered Strawberry has berries surrounded by a rich chocolate muffin. What better way to get your chocolate (Vitamin C?) fix first thing in the morning?
Best Ever Crab Cakes
1 pound lump blue crab meat, picked over for shells1/3 cup mayonnaise1/2 cup bread crumbs1 large egg, beaten2 tablespoons Dijon mustard2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce4 dashes Tabasco1/2 teaspoon paprikasalt and freshly ground black pepper2 tablespoons coconut oil2 tablespoons EVOO(Enough of the two oils to cover the bottom of the pan)In a large mixing bowl, combine half of crabmeat with mayonnaise, bread crumbs, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined.Gently fold in remaining half of crabmeat until just combined; try not to break apart the lumps of meat any more than necessary as you stir.Form into patties and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add patties and cook, rotating and flipping occasionally for even browning, until browned and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes. Lower heat at any point to prevent burning, and add more oil as needed if pan goes dry.
Woohoo! It’s Super Bowl time and I have so many ideas for entertaining!First, I want to point out we have so many products perfect for Super Bowl snacking that look great on the sideboard and taste great, too.Our Boli rolls and Pepperoni Sticks make great hors d'oeuvres. To serve, just cut the warm bolis in 4 pieces (like you would a pie), arrange on a platter with cherry tomatoes, a little celery, and some parsley for color. Have a small dish of marinara and another of Dijon mustard (we like coarse grind) on the side for dipping. The marinara will work for the Parm ‘n Pesto and Classic Boli rolls, and the Pepperoni Sticks. The Pepperoni Sticks can be sliced and toasted – like Pepperoni Stick chips. Dijon will be perfect for Ham 'n Cheese Bolis.Our crostini are the perfect accompaniment for your cheese board, as well as great vehicles for hummus and spinach dip. We will also have our small bread bowls for dips and soup. If you want a larger dip bowl, try our Bavarian Rye, Marble Rye, or Pumpernickel. If you’re feeling daring, a Cheese Volcano or Inferno would be a great addition, too! In fact, Cheese Volcano and Inferno loaves are the best accompaniment for your spicy chili or chili dip. Heat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and cut into chunks. Serve in a basket next to the chili pot.For dessert, our brownies (warmed and served with ice cream!) are a great finish. Or, try our Chocolate Raspberry Cake Roll or Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Roll. Both look gorgeous on a plate and have an over-the-top chocolate cake with delectable fillings.(If you need something for the morning after the Super Bowl, plan on bringing home some of our scones. They are so flavorful and are not the dry, crumbly scones of your memory. The White Cheddar and Onion are savory and taste like the best cheddar biscuit you've ever had...even if I do say so myself.)Also this week, we're bringing back an old recipe for Four-Seed bread, a soft-crust whole grain bread with pumpkin, poppy, sunflower, and flax seeds. And, we're introducing a new crusty loaf of Tomato Basil bread. Taste and let us know what you think.This week’s recipe is best served on our New England Style Hot Dog Buns. Many of the other ingredients are also here at the market, so bring this recipe with you as your shopping list.Finally, if you want something specific for your Super Bowl entertaining, please e-mail and let us know so we can put it aside for you right away!
Spicy Buffalo Meatballs
1 c sour cream¾ cup Sandi’s Breads bread crumbs (available this weekend!)1 large egg, beaten3 carrots3 stalks celery plus 1 TBSP chopped celery leaves1 pound ground beef4 scallions, finely chopped1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley1 clove garlic, grated¼ tsp cayenne pepperKosher salt1 TBSP unsalted butter1 c low sodium chicken broth¾ c Buffalo hot sauce (our favorite is Texas Pete)½ c Ketchup½ c crumbled Bleu Cheese1 8-pack Sandi’s Breads New England Style Hot Dog Buns
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly brush baking sheet with oil. Mix 2 TBSP sour cream, break crumbs and egg in large bowl; let sit 4 minutes.
Grate 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk into bowl with bread crumb mix. Add meat, celery leaves, half of the scallions, parsley, garlic, cayenne and ½ tsp salt and mix with hands until combined.
With dampened hands, shape mixture into about 36 mini meatballs (approx 1 inch each); arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake until browned and cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add remaining scallions, cook until wilted (1 minute). Add chicken broth, hot sauce and ketchup; bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 minutes. Add the meatballs; simmer until tender, about 8 more minutes.
Mix bleu cheese and remaining ¾ cup plus 2 TBSP sour cream in a medium bowl. Cut remaining carrots and celery stalks into sticks. Transfer meatballs to small crock pot to keep warm.
Cut hot dog buns into three mini rolls each. Toast lightly in oven and serve with meatballs
Frequently, customers walk up to the counter and regale us with a stories of meals they prepared the previous week and how they were able to feature a loaf of our bread with it. Almost all the time the story begins with, “Last week I picked up (name of one of our artisan loaves) and had it with (a great meal). It was so good!” (Folks never stop to think about how hungry this makes us.) We love these moments because it reinforces the fact that you really do see us as part of your menu planning and value the products and the quality that we produce.Last week, a friend of ours did this and I asked for the recipe. I’m so glad she sent it because it looks incredible. Since we were away last weekend (on vacation!), I didn’t get to prepare it myself. However, I’m certain it is fantastic because Tom and I have been fortunate to have shared meals with these friends many times over the years and food at their house is always exceptional.JoAnn has Cuban ancestry, so this recipe comes from that influence. I’ve included both the recipe for the roast, as well as the black beans to accompany it. I encourage you to try this with a loaf of our Country French bread, as it most closely resembles the loaves one would eat in Cuba with this dish.For those of you who would be interested in eating at a Cuban restaurant, JoAnn recommends Los Tres Cubanos in Harrisburg.
LECHÓN ASADO (Cuban Pork Roast)
1 large pork roast or fresh ham (4-5 lbs)2 onions – chopped4-5 garlic cloves – choppedjuice of two lemons with pulpsalt and coarse pepperCut deep holes all over meat. Rub with salt and pepper. Mix together juice, onions, garlic. Rub mixture over meat pressing garlic and onions into holes.Seal in plastic roasting bag and refrigerate overnight.Roast in roasting bag (don’t forget to punch a few holes in top of bag to let out steam), or in covered roasting pan until done. Use cookbook table by weight to determine time - usually about 25 minutes per pound. When done, allow to rest, slice thinly and serve with black beans and rice.
2 lbs dried black beans1 t saltpork bones or pieces of meat2-3 T olive oil2 medium onions – chopped1 large green pepper – chopped3-4 cloves garlic- choppedhandful of fresh cilantrojuice of two lemonsSort and wash beans. Cover with water and soak overnight.Add salt and pork bones and boil until beans are firm but tender.Prepare sofrito (flavoring): Saute onion, pepper and garlic in olive oil until onions are transparent and tender. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Mix into beans and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serve with white rice and Cuban pork roast (Lechón Asado).
One of the wonderful things about having young adult children is they are old enough to cook. Another? They have friends who can cook, too! This week, one of our daughters’ friends made us dinner and he did a bang-up job of what could have been an intimidating recipe for a novice – Chicken Kiev. What a treat!What is it about chicken Kiev that makes it special? It takes something rather bland and boring – a boneless, skinless chicken breast – and elevates it to an exceptionally-textured, flavor-filled experience.The breading used here is easy if you pick up some bread crumbs at the bakery. (Just ask and we’ll get some packaged for you.) Using a high-quality butter will make a difference as well. A European butter with a lower moisture content will yield a richer filling. Finally, treat yourself with some fresh herbs for the butter filling, too. Fresh herbs are so easy to find in the produce section and are packaged in just the right amounts.You might think the toughest part of this recipe is butterflying the chicken breasts. My recommendation? Google it. Watch a you tube video. It’s not that difficult, just a challenge to explain on the written page. One tip: freeze the chicken for about 15 minutes to make it easier to slice. Next, making and shaping the herb butter is not difficult, but should be done with some attention to detail to make sure it fits in the Kiev so the pouch can seal properly.These delectable chicken and herb-butter pouches surrounded by a toasty breadcrumb crust can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, or frozen and baked right from the freezer. This recipe does not use the traditional frying method, so it’s a lighter, healthier version that is just as tasty. If you’re taking them from the freezer, bake without thawing and increase baking time to 50-55 minutes.Serve your Kievs with sides of sautéed spinach or broccoli rabe and baby potatoes. Have a loaf of Country French bread warm from the oven to take advantage of the wonderful herb butter that will grace the plate once the Kiev is cut.I’ve realized that I seldom talk about the special items we feature each week. I usually just list them in the menu section. Well, this week I’m going to let you know just how mouthwatering they are. First the breads. Dill ‘n Veggie is a soft-crust, whole wheat bread that makes the best sandwiches. I created it for tomato season. All you really need for the perfect summer lunch is a garden-fresh tomato and a slice of this bread. In the winter, I find it brings the summer ambiance back when used for something as simple as a chicken salad sandwich. Kalamata Olive bread is making its comeback this week. It’s been a long time since it adorned our shelves, so we’re kicking it up a notch by offering not just the regular loaf, but also a focaccia-style loaf with Asiago cheese. The combination of plump, salty olives and the very aromatic cheese is something to be savored. Is your mouth watering yet?As for sweet options, the cake this week is our Pear and Oat Snack Cake with Browned Butter Glaze. (Say that three times fast.) It is the best spice cake I’ve ever eaten, studded with chunks of sweet red Bartlet pears. The glaze sends the flavor over the top. We will also have slices of our pecan pie. It’s not just your ordinary pecan pie. You’ll just have to taste it for yourself to see why.Now, are you ready for the recipe? Here goes.
Herb Butter1 stick unsalted butter, softened1 T juice from 1 lemon1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)1 T minced fresh parsley leaves1 t minced fresh tarragon leaves1/8 t ground black pepperChicken1 ½ c bread crumbsSaltPepper4 (7- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed, and breasts trimmed¾ c all-purpose flour2 large eggs, beaten1 t Dijon mustard
Herb Butter: Mix ingredients in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. Form into a 2x3-inch rectangle on a sheet of plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Chicken: Butterfly each chicken breast and pound between two sheets of plastic wrap to a uniform ¼-inch thickness. Pound the outer perimeter to 1/8-inch. Unwrap the herb butter and cut into four rectangular pieces. Place a chicken breast, cut side up, on a work surface; season both sides with salt and pepper. Place one piece of butter in the center of the bottom half of the breast. Roll the bottom edge of the chicken over the butter, then fold in the sides and continue rolling to form a neat, tight package, pressing on the seam to seal. Repeat with the remaining butter and chicken. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, to allow the edges to seal, about 1 hour. (It might be helpful to use a toothpick to hold it while refrigerating.)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate pie plates or shallow dishes. Season flour with ¼ t salt and 1/8 t pepper; season bread crumbs with ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper. Add mustard to eggs and whisk to combine. Dredge 1 chicken roll in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken roll with bread crumbs, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere. Place on the wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat the flouring and breading with the remaining chicken rolls.
Bake until center of chicken registers 160 degrees on instant read thermometer, 40-45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Is everyone staying warm and planning well for the weekend to come? This weather is bringing back memories for me. When I was grade-school age, we lived in New York. It got cold and snowy during the winters and I remember lots of soup days. In those days, we walked home for lunch so schlepping myself home through the cold was well rewarded with the wonderful feeling of warm soup filling my belly. (Heading back to school was a different matter.) I think that’s when I developed my love of soups.As a stay-at-home mom, the best days were ones when we didn’t have to go anywhere - like snowy or freezing days. I would get bread going, then put soup on. The kind of soup just depended on what I had on-hand. (Fun times!)Now, I have to plan a little more, but we still love soup days. (We usually keep some loaves of bread in the freezer, too. So, no smell of fresh baking bread until we warm them in the oven.)This week’s recipe is one that my mom would have made as a hearty winter soup and she, too, would have had fresh bread to go with it. She called it by its French name and served it warm, but it’s really just potato and leek soup.There are a few salient points about this recipe: Use a low-starch potato, such as a red potato – not Yukon golds or russets. Use the white and light green parts of the leeks and rinse them well. I like to chop them then float them in a bowl of water, swishing vigorously to get all the sand out of them. The more leeks, the more flavorful the soup, so don’t skimp. And, yes, we’re sautéing them in butter. No excuses here. Also, adding some flour to the cooking leeks helps thicken the soup – essentially making a roux. As for the cooking, we don’t want the potatoes to become mushy, so we’ll pull the pot off the heat and let them continue cooking in the hot broth. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but you can easily substitute vegetable broth to make a vegetarian option that will be just as filling. Finally, our family is all about dairy, so we would serve this soup topped with a dollop of sour cream, a couple of crostini and a drizzle of EVOO or white truffle oil. (Yes, I just happen to keep that on-hand, too.)This weekend, in honor of the New Year, and in preparation for the weather, we’re running our Big Bread Sale all weekend. So, come by the bakery for a “get the second loaf for only $3” deal! We will also have our bread soup bowls available for your potato leek soup meal.
6 T butter (I always have salted butter on hand, so I usually omit salt in recipes until I can taste.)4-5 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick, and rinsed thoroughly (about 11 cups…they cook down)1 T all-purpose flour5 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable broth1 ¾ pounds red potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks1 bay leafSalt and fresh ground pepper to tasteMelt butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add leeks, increase heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not mushy, 15-20 minutes. Do not brown them. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.Increase the heat to high; whisking constantly. Gradually add the broth. Add the potatoes and bay leaf, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Happy New Year! We hope you all had wonderful Hanukkah and Christmas holidays and are ready to launch into the last hurrah of the season. Since this weekend is the last of 2017, we’re gearing up for the parties that will ensue. Special meals and lots of parties are in the plans this week. We are attending no fewer than five events and supplying breads and desserts for three of them. We “get” that whole “gotta bring something to the party” thing. So, we have lots for you to choose from that will help with the holiday entertaining.On the menu at the bakery this week are assorted dinner rolls and lots of dessert options, including the last of this season’s Cranberry Ecstasy Bars and Holiday Fruit Tarts.This week’s recipes (there are two – just so you have options) are both designed to be served on small pieces of bread or crackers. Have you tried our crostini? They are the perfect choice for these little hors d'oeuvres.The first is a classic offering for a warm New Year’s Eve party: Buffalo Chicken Dip. We like it hot, so I put extra wing sauce in it. Then, we serve it on our Salt and Pepper or Garlic Crostini. The second recipe is a favorite of mine from my childhood. Sunday mornings with bagels and lox were a tradition and this Smoked Salmon Spread brings it all back. Served on our Bavarian Rye Crostini and topped with a few pieces of fire-roasted red pepper and a squirt of fresh lemon juice, this is going to be the hit of the party.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (I’m always in a hurry, so I just soften it in the microwave.)1 cup cooked chicken breast, cut in ½ inch dice (Best option is to use a rotisserie chicken, but, again I don’t have those in my pantry, so canned chicken works just fine in a pinch.)1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I’ve been known to substitute a combination of Texas Pete and Tabasco. Are you sensing a theme here? Nothing is sacred when you are making dips or hors d’oeuvres in general. It’s all up to you!)1/2 cup ranch or blue cheese salad dressing (Love that word “or”!)2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese (Shredded cheddar will work just as well.)There are two ways to do this one. First, as a layered dip:
Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of a small (1 quart) baking dish. Broadcast the pieces of chicken over cream cheese. Pour wing sauce over chicken, then add dressing. Top all with shredded cheese.
Place in 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is all melty and delicious.
The second option is to toss it all in a crock pot, give it a stir, and leave it on high while you get ready for the party. Give it another stir in about 30 minutes and it should be ready.
Smoked Salmon Spread
You can use about 10 – 12 ounces of good quality smoked salmon. However, since that’s not usually on-hand in my pantry, I make it with canned salmon and no one is the wiser!8 ounces cream cheese (Again, I just warm in the microwave so it’s spreadable.)1 14-ounce canned salmon, bones and skin removed¼ c mayonnaise2 T capers½ t natural liquid smoke½ t garlic saltFire roasted red peppers1 fresh lemonBlend cream cheese, mayo, liquid smoke, and garlic salt together. Mix in salmon and capers. Serve topped with roasted red peppers and a splash of fresh lemon juice.By the way, for those of you who expressed concern and offered encouragement after the last newsletter, thanks so much. We diagnosed the difficulty we were having with a few of the doughs and all is well again in the bakery!
When the going gets tough, the tough get Chinese take-out. I never realized the truth to this statement until this week when one of my daughters observed, “We can always tell when it’s been a tough day in the bakery because it’s take-out Chinese or pizza night.” So true!So, here I am finishing the leftover Chinese take-out and reflecting on the week. It has been an exceedingly difficult week. We’ve been troubleshooting bread issues and I’ve had my chemist/scientist hat on for most of it. I’ve communicated with experts from New York to Kansas to Montana and we’re still working on things. Rather than bore you with the details, let me just say that the breads on the shelves this week are nothing short of miraculous and for that we are extremely grateful.The pastries, on the other hand, are some of the best we’ve made this season. The tarts and Pecan pies are gorgeous. (Even if I do say so myself.) The muffins are scrumptious, and the Cranberry Ecstasy Bars are, well, you know.Since it was such a difficult and long week, I have had no time (or energy) to work on a recipe. My apologies. But, I felt it only fair to show you the “hard work” side of what we do. You see the beautiful results of newly developed products. What you don’t see are the hundreds of pounds of dough that get tossed in the trash when things go wrong. It’s just a fact of life in the bakery. This week was full of “facts.”Now it’s time for the weekend and we get to greet your smiles and the whole of the challenging week will have been worth it. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and continued business. We really appreciate all of you and the joy you bring to us each weekend.We’ll see you soon!
Do you know that old saw about not going shopping while hungry? Well, this week I lived it (and not for the first time!). I went to the store for a few ingredients, and came home with a turkey, more condiments than I needed, and assorted other unnecessary items. Now, let me be clear here. I have a refrigerator full of various condiments. In fact, all the shelves on the door of the fridge are full of condiments. So, clearly, I didn’t need more. We also just had Thanksgiving, so did I really need another turkey already? Logic had no place in this shopping bonanza. And, after all this, I arrived home with nothing to make for that night’s dinner because my recipe was for the next day. (Good thing Tom had done his shopping for the bakery that same day, and picked up a few things including a rotisserie chicken!)So, what was the recipe that was so important that I traipsed to the store without having eaten lunch? It was another culinary challenge from my new cookbook – Garlic Studded Roast Pork Loin. It is worth every extra condiment I bought, as well as the turkey. It is that good.As usual, there are a few details about the recipe you should know before beginning. First of all, this is a get-it-ready-the-night-before deal. Not a throw-it-together-in-30-minutes one. This recipe requires planning. You will want to have the pork loin defrosted so you can prep it with the garlic and seasoning rub the night before (or at least the morning of) so it has time to marinate. Next, plan to start cooking it two hours before serving. In order to have a tender, juicy pork loin, you will be roasting at a very high temperature for a short time, removing the roast to rest, then returning it to the oven to finish. Things to have on-hand: fresh garlic, kitchen twine, and a roasting pan with a rack.Now, before you give up on this and start cleaning out your inbox, let me tell you it is worth every minute of planning and waiting for this roast to cook. Did I mention the Mustard-Shallot Sauce with Thyme that completely sends your taste buds over the edge? Yup. It’s worth it. Serve with sautéed French beans, boiled or roasted baby potatoes, and a fresh loaf of Bierbrot. This would make a perfect holiday meal. In fact, I think I’m going to use this same recipe, just with lamb, for Christmas. (Oh, and while you’re waiting for the roast to do its thing in the oven, you can make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy one of our new Winter Spice and Berries biscotti. They are like Christmas in a cookie!)So, let’s get started.
Garlic-Studded Roast Pork Loin
2 t dried thyme1 t salt1 t ground black pepper¼ t ground cloves or allspice (Or, coriander, which is what I had, since I didn’t realize we didn’t have cloves or allspice in the house when I took my long trip to the grocery.)2 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers (If you really like garlic, like I do, you can use more that two. I went with five.)1 (2 ¼ pound) boneless center loin pork roast, fat trimmed to about 1/8-inch thick and roast tied at 1 ½-inch intervals (Don’t skip this part if you want a tender, juicy roast. It isn’t hard at all and the kitchen twine is available at the grocery.)1 recipe Mustard-Shallot Sauce with Thyme (For the record, I didn’t read the sauce recipe closely enough so didn’t end up with enough shallots. Don’t follow my example. You should have 4 shallots for the sauce.)
Mix together thyme, salt, pepper, and cloves (or coriander, or allspice). Coat the garlic slivers in the spice mix. Poke slits in the roast with the point of a knife and insert garlic slivers. Rub remaining spice over roast. Tie into tight cylinder with twine, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Take meat directly from refrigerator, remove plastic, and place on rack in roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
Remove meat from oven and immediately reduce oven temp to 325 degrees. Insert instant-read thermometer at one end of roast, going into thickest part at the center. Temp should range from 80 to 110 at this point. Let roast rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Internal temp will range from 115 to 140. After letting roast rest, remove thermometer, return meat to oven for 15 to 30 minutes longer, depending on internal temp when going back into oven. Let roast stand at room temp for 15 minutes to finish cooking. (Internal temp should register about 150.) Remove twine, slice meat thin, and serve with sauce.
Mustard-Shallot Sauce with ThymeNOTE: Make the sauce when you remove the roast from the oven for the second time.2 T unsalted butter ** Have a couple extra tablespoons of butter handy to stir into sauce after it’s done to add richness and body to the sauce.4 medium shallots, minced (about ¾ c)¾ c dry white wine or dry vermouth1 c low-sodium chicken broth¾ t minced fresh thyme or ¼ t dried thyme, crumbled¼ c whole grain mustard (It will be labeled “coarse” or “country” mustard.)Melt butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add wine and boil until nearly evaporated, 8-10 minutes. Add broth and thyme; boil until reduced by one third, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in the mustard (and extra butter, if using). Serve immediately.