As I sit here contemplating this week’s recipe, I realize that I haven’t really cooked this week because we were on the road, and then trying to catch up from being away. Here’s why…For those of you who don’t know, we stone mill our flours for all our breads and pastries. This means we have mill stones that must be “dressed” or “sharpened” about once a year. So, every 12-18 months, we pack up our mills and trek down to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. It’s a great opportunity for both of us to unplug and chat about what’s going on in life and in the bakery. It’s the time when we typically brainstorm about new things we want to try. And, it’s the time we make sure to stop at other bakeries, visit with the owners, and learn from others’ experience. Essentially, it’s a learning vacation…in three days.This year, we stopped at two bakeries in Charlottesville. We ate some great naturally-leavened breads and saw some beautiful desserts. We came away with a couple of ideas that you will see on the shelves this weekend – Everything French Bread and Heart-Shaped Chocolate Cakes.As for the foods we ate, we kept it simple this time and stuck to what we know. Big salads, steak, grilled catfish, and pasta. The big salad was my favorite this time. A beautiful green salad with a steak cooked to perfection, sliced, and arranged on top. It was enough to share and it inspired me to look into making some good steaks at home. Here’s what I found…
Pan Seared Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce
Before I get to the recipe, there are a few tips we have to cover.
Get the pan really hot – smoking hot – before adding the steaks. This is the only way they will get that delicious well-carmelized exterior.
Pat the steaks dry and, once they’re in the pan, don’t move them until it’s time to turn them over.
Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes after removing them from the pan. This will allow the juices to return to the fibers in the meat, ensuring that you have a lovely, juicy steak, rather than a well-cooked dry piece of meat.
Finally, purchase the right cut of meat for your purpose. For this steak salad, the best cut will be a boneless strip steak or rib eye.
Now for the recipe. Steaks 4 (8-ounce) steaks, 1 to 1 ¼ inch thick Kosher salt and pepper 1 T vegetable oilRed Wine Pan Sauce 1 shallot, minced (or a small onion, if you can’t find shallots) ¾ c chicken broth ½ c dry red wine 2 t packed brown sugar 3 T unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled 1 t minced fresh thyme (yes, it’s worth finding it in the produce aisle..dried thyme just isn’t the same) Salt and pepper to taste
Pat steaks dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steaks and cook until browned on first side, 3-4 minutes.
Flip steaks over and continue to cook until meat registers 115 to 120 degrees (for rare) or 120 to 125 degrees (for medium rare), 3-5 minutes. Transfer steaks to large plate, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 -10 minutes.
Pour off all but 2 t fat from skillet. (If there isn’t that much, add some oil to equal 2 t.) Add shallot and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, and brown sugar, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
Stir in any accumulated meat juices. Off heat, whisk in butter, one piece at a time. Stir in thyme and season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.
For a steak salad, I would slice the steak thin, drizzle the sauce over it, then plate on top of a pile of mixed greens with cucumbers, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, and tomatoes (maybe even a little red onion if I’m feeling adventurous). Serve with a balsamic vinaigrette and a loaf of crusty bread.
Is anyone else feeling the weather giving them “weather whiplash”? This week’s weather has been so bizarre all I can think about is something warm and comforting for dinner. (Never mind that the Super Bowl is coming up and I have been experimenting with dips to put in our dip bowls…)So, I compromised and went with a warm dish that will suit beautifully for Super Bowl fare. (I was reminded of this dish last weekend when attending a family gathering where my sister-in-law served the yummiest meat balls on our New England Hot Dog Buns.)Before getting into the recipe, though, I just have to give a plug for a few other items that will make the buffet into an easy, over-the-top affair.Let’s start with our Boli rolls and Pepperoni Sticks that 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 both the Pizza Boli rolls and the Pepperoni Sticks, while the mustard is perfect with the Ham ‘n Cheese bolis. The Pepperoni Sticks can be sliced and toasted – like Pepperoni Stick chips – or cut in quarters for a small-bites plate.Our crostinis are the perfect accompaniment for your cheese board, as well as great vehicles for hummus and spinach dip.Cheese Volcano 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.)And finally, for dessert, our brownies (warmed and served with ice cream!) are a great finish.
Spicy Buffalo Meatballs
1 c sour cream¾ cup Sandi’s Breads bread crumbs (Available all the time – just ask!)1 large egg, beaten3 carrots3 stalks celery plus 1 T chopped celery leaves1 pound ground chicken (Or, if you prefer, beef. My family opts for the beef…)1 small onion, finely chopped1 T chopped fresh parsley1 clove garlic, minced¼ tsp cayenne pepperKosher salt1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)1 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, halved to make 16 small bunsPreheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray baking sheet with oil. Mix 2 T sour cream, bread 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 onion, 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 onion, cook until soft. 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 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 in half. Toast lightly in oven and serve with meatballs.
Yup, folks. It’s that time of year. Snow season. In honor of the fact that snow equals increased sales of milk, eggs, and bread, I’m getting out my famous (?!) French toast recipe.The great thing about this French toast, besides the fact that it’s incredibly easy, is it is so packed with protein it will satisfy you for almost the whole day. Also, the top ends up almost as fluffy as cheesecake – that’s pretty awesome, too.The ingredient list is short, but the bread choice is key (of course!). We like to use our Cinnamon Raisin bread. Country French is also a great choice. And, don’t forget Challah - the quintessential French toast bread. (We have some in the freezer if you’re interested in trying it.)On another note, don’t forget that we also have soup bowls for your thick, nourishing soups, stews, and chilis that you’ll have on the stove or in the slow cooker while you’re shoveling. If you need a recipe or two (other than the one from last week), check my blog posts from November 30, 2017 (chili), January 4, 2018 (potato leek soup) or November 1, 2018 (stew).Finally, stay tuned next week for our salute to National Chocolate Cake Day (January 27th)!Now, without further ado, here is the recipe:
Baked, Stuffed French Toast
1 32-oz vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek – I prefer Greek)6 eggs, well beaten½ - 1 c brown sugar½ t cinnamonZest of 1 orange (optional)8 slices breadYour choice of jam (If you want to get truly decadent, mix your jam with a few tablespoons of cream cheese. Or, stuff the toast with Nutella. Mmmmm!)Mix yogurt, eggs, ¾ of the brown sugar (if you’re using ½ c sugar, use ¼ plus 2 T), cinnamon and zest. Pour about 2 c yogurt mix into greased 9x12 baking dish.Place 4 slices bread on bottom. Spread about 1-2 T jam on each slice. Top w/another piece of bread & pour remaining yogurt mix over top.Cover w/plastic, allow to soak. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.Bake 30 mins or until puffed and golden. Sprinkle w/remaining ¼ c sugar, place under broiler for 2 minutes or until just browned. (It should be almost like a Crème Brulee.)
Like most folks, I enjoy the holidays. I really do. But, by the time New Year’s comes around, I find I’m ready for a normal schedule again. Now that the holidays are over and the cold is finally really here, I’m back into our schedule and psyched for soup. I was looking through old newsletters and came across a few versions of potato soups, one of which I converted into a clam chowder that was terrific. It’s always nice to have a recipe that is flexible enough that a few changes can make it into a completely different meal.Both of these soups are great in our soup bowls. I’ve been letting people know that our soup bowls are not the “melt away beneath the soup” kinds of bowls. Nope. Our bowls will allow for seconds or thirds and still be great to pull apart and eat with the soup!Meals like this don’t usually call for many sides, except whatever you might want to top the soup with. The veggies are in the soup and the bread is under it. Tada! A warm meal for a cold night with practically no cleanup and great leftovers (if there are any…).Clam Chowder5 celery stalks, diced5 carrots, diced2 medium onions, diced2 containers chicken stock7-8 small potatoesGenerous ¼ c chicken soup base6 cans baby clams with liquid1 stick butter + 2 tbsp1 c flour 4 c milkWhite pepperChop celery, carrots, onions in food processor & sauté in 1 stick butter. Add potatoes, cans of clams with liquid, 1 box chicken stock, soup base, and bring to boil until all veggies are tender.In the meantime, in separate pot, melt butter, stir in flour until it begins to clump. Pour in milk slowly while stirring vigorously. Pour in second box chicken stock. Continue stirring. Add a few ladles of soup from pot of veggies and clams. Now that roux (flour/butter/milk mixture) is hot, transfer entire contents of pot into pot of veggies and clams. Bring to boil again, then simmer and serve.To make this a loaded potato soup, rather than clam chowder, replace the baby clams with 5 strips bacon (cooked til crisp then crumbled) and 1 ½ c cubed ham. Finally, serve topped with generous amounts of shredded cheddar.
I’m so stuffed! After Christmas’ amazing lamb dinner, then New Year’s Eve steak dinner with sautéed mushrooms and a carmelized onion and balsamic reduction, then the traditional New Year’s Day pork and sauerkraut with garlic smashed potatoes, it feels like we’ve eaten our way through the last month. Never mind the sweets – pumpkin roll, tarts, pies… Now it’s time to get back on track.This month is traditionally the time when everyone basically stops eating. Talk to anyone in the food industry and they’ll tell you that business just tanks during January. I don’t understand. People do still need to eat, they just are focused on eating a healthier diet. That’s where we come in. Our products, being all whole-grain, are just what you should be eating. Even one of our muffins in the morning is still a better choice than white toast or a white-flour muffin or bagel. Accompany that with an egg for protein and you’ll not be snacking, even after lunch.As for dinner options, I always promote our pizza dough and crusts during this time of year. What can be better than a veggie-laden pizza made with a whole-grain (wonderfully tasty!) crust. Our frozen pizza dough makes a 12-inch, thin-crust pizza. That’s what we usually choose for home because I’m all about the crisp, thin crust. We also have pre-baked crusts for an even faster-to-the-table meal.The ideas listed below are perfect for this season because they are so packed with flavor that a little piece of the pie will go a long way. Have a big green salad with your “za” and it’s a filling, feel-good meal!Here are some great tips for making your own fabulous pizzas:Remember that “pizza” doesn’t mean “red sauce with cheese on top.” If you do use red sauce though, try getting some fresh tomatoes and crushing them, or use a can of crushed tomatoes, distribute it on the well-oiled crust, sprinkle with some oregano and kosher salt and call it done. (Traditional Italian pizza does not use pre-cooked red sauce.)A pizza is not finished until it has been drizzled with a helping of best-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).For something a little different, try making your pizza in a cast iron skillet.Topping Ideas:Swiss chard, sausage (perhaps a low-fat turkey sausage available at the market!), and fresh mozzarella (also available at the market!): Drizzle pizza disk with EVOO, toss chard with EVOO, pull apart mozzarella and distribute around pizza, distribute chard and sausage over surface of pizza. Bake in 450-500 degree oven. You can use these directions as a guide for the pizzas below.Sautéed shitake and crimini mushrooms with Fontina cheese. Add a sprinkle of fresh arugula after it comes out of the oven and it’s a fabulous treat.Pesto, corn, goat cheese, and sundried tomatoesGrilled veggies (cut into chunks), ricotta, pecorino-romanoHam and smoked goudaSmoked salmon, spinach, and ricotta: As with above, distribute mozzarella on oiled pizza disk, top with spinach and salmon, distribute dollops of ricotta on top. Bake.Oh, and for those of you who prefer a sweeter variety, try spreading ricotta over the oiled pizza disk, top with fresh peaches or pineapple, sprinkle with a bit of cayenne and drizzle with honey. Bake until the fruits are slightly carmelized. Serve with salad dressed with a mandarin orange vinaigrette. (For the vinaigrette, try using a blood orange balsamic vinegar for a really over-the-top dressing. If you don’t have any, treat yourself to a jaunt down to Olio in Ephrata. It’s worth the trip)These are just a few ideas. Let your imagination run wild. You can top a pizza disk with almost anything. Enjoy!
Last week went fast and so is this week! We've been baking up a storm and are ready for the New Year. As with Christmas, we celebrate New Year's Day with a babka breakfast before heading out to the traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner with family. (What are your traditions? We would love to hear about them!)Tom and I would like to wish all of you the best in this New Year! Thank you for your support of our business and your enthusiasm for our baked goods (and our newsletter!). We appreciate you more than you could know.Blessings for the New Year and we hope to see you soon!
Well, here we are! The week before Christmas and the craziness is at its peak. We are so excited that all our kids are going to be home for the holiday this year. It will be a full house, so I’ve planned accordingly with not one, but two (!) legs of lamb for our Christmas dinner. It’s such a favorite that we seem to never have enough. My son-in-law is very fond of this dish and considers it an integral part of our traditions, which is pretty cool. (Another tradition is Chocolate Cherry Babka and coffee on Christmas morning. Yum!)Enough about us now. Let’s get cooking so we can all celebrate.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
¼ c honey2 T Dijon mustard2 T chopped fresh rosemary1 t freshly ground pepper1 t lemon juice¼ c balsamic vinegar¼ c EVOO6 cloves garlic, halved1 t coarse sea salt or kosher salt 1 cup water5-pound leg of lambCombine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Rinse and pat dry the roast. Cut 12 slits around the roast and insert halved garlic cloves. Using your hands, rub the marinade all over the roast. Place it in a covered pan and refrigerate overnight.Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place lamb on rack in roasting pan, pour water and remaining marinade into bottom of pan. (This will make a wonderful gravy with the drippings!) Place it in the oven without the lid and roast 15 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to 350 and continue cooking for about 45 more minutes, checking for doneness with an instant-read thermometer. The lamb is done (rare) when it registers 140. If you prefer a medium rare, let it roast until the internal temp is closer to 150.Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy with mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, and Holiday Fruit Tart for dessert!
Most of you know that Tom and I are in the bakery Tuesday through Saturday, leaving Monday as a day to run errands, pick up ingredients and catch up on paperwork. It’s a schedule that doesn’t leave much time for play, but every once in a while, we get out there and have a bit of fun.This week Tom and I went adventuring. We stopped in at the Asian market while running errands. It was quite amazing. So many things we couldn’t identify and others we were thrilled to see – Thai basil, fresh bean sprouts, dragonfruit (a new experience for us…not sure if we’ll do it again), and quite the assortment of meats, fish, and seafood. Since we love Asian food, we decided to get the ingredients for Pho while we were there. We already had some meat cooking, so we skipped that and went for the fresh vegetables, basil, and rice noodles. That’s where things got interesting.In our search for noodles (of which there were so many it was overwhelming), I came across a box that looked like a Pho kit with all the right noodles and other ingredients. Eureka! A solution to my noodle questions. We purchased the box, along with the bean sprouts, jalapenos, limes, and basil. (I already had fish sauce and Siracha at home. Those are some of the many sauces that crowd our refrigerator door. Someday I’ll have to post a photo so you can all be as entertained as our daughters who claim there’s little to eat in the house other than sauces.) Armed with our Pho box and other supplies, we trundled home anticipating a feast.Upon arriving home, I excitedly dove into the box only to find it was a box of those instant noodle bowls that you see in the grocery store. Major oops. How to rescue the adventure? Simple. We pulled the noodles out of the bowls and used the beef and broth that we had on-hand. With that and the other ingredients we had purchased, we were able to get out the chopsticks and enjoy. It wasn’t quite the Pho that our Vietnamese neighbor has made for us in the past, but it was yummy and warm for a cold evening. (Note: If you’re going to try this – and I think you should – make the pilgrimage to the market and get the Thai basil and bean sprouts. They really “make” the dish.)So, no recipe this week, but next week we’ll talk about Christmas lamb (yes, lamb, not ham). Stay warm and come see us this weekend to enjoy holiday treats (see menus below) and place your order for next week! Christmas is coming!
When you have four kids, that’s a lot of wonderful noise and chaos over the holidays. This Thanksgiving, our married daughter and her husband and dog joined us. We also had one daughter bring a friend home from school, so that added to the fun. Since the meal wasn’t at our house, we had Wednesday evening to relax a little while preparing the sides for the next day’s dinner. While I was doing that, our daughter and her friend were recreating a sandwich that they enjoy while at school. The neat part about that was they even shared! It was so delicious! They had come out to the market and picked up all the ingredients they needed, scavenged some rolls from the bakery, and found the panini press when they got home. They whipped up a yummy aioli and proceeded to crank out sandwiches for us. Oh, my! Who knew that a panini could be so amazing?!Here’s what they did:Start with panini rolls from the bakery. You can also use any variety of our crusty loaves, or the hoagie rolls. Pick up fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Mix the aioli, butter the outside of the bread, and construct the sandwich on the press. Press the sandwich until the cheese is gooey. Enjoy.
1 egg yolk¼ c olive oil (EVOO)¼ c mayo1.5 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed2 T parmesanSalt and pepper to tasteBlend the yolk and EVOO with a whisk. Combine mayo, garlic and parmesan in a separate bowl and whisk well. Combine the two and whisk until the mixture is creamy and well-incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.Now, I must also let you know that our little post-Thanksgiving vacation was a great thing. We had a wonderful time visiting with my brother on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, reading books, eating great seafood, seeing amazing wildlife, and going to the Harriet Tubman museum. Thanks so much to all of you who were so supportive of us being closed for a couple of days so we could relax. It was great to hear so many of you say things like, “Good for you!”That said, we’re back into the swing of things and headed straight into Christmas. Check out the menu below and e-mail me back if you have questions or requests.
One of the best things about writing a blog is getting to share my adventures with you. This week’s adventure is, of course, food related (but does not include a recipe…sorry if you’re disappointed. I will definitely have one next week.). It begins with a story.I belong to a book club. It’s a group of wonderful, smart, funny women who enjoy reading, eating good food, and drinking good wine. All in all, it’s a great group to spend an evening with once a month. Last month we carpooled to an event to hear an author of one of the books we had read. (It was a great experience! I would recommend if you have a chance to visit with an author of a book you’ve enjoyed, take it!) On the way home, we were talking about food and the topic came up of those boxes you can order that have complete meals in them and all you have to do is assemble them. (Apparently, I’m behind the curve on this type of thing because a few of them had subscribed to different services and had good things to say.) So, when one of my friends mentioned that she had a free week of meals to give away through one of these plans, I jumped at it. Why not? Meals that we can eat at home and not have to do the prep for? Why not give it a shot?So, I sat down and signed in. I went to the menu and picked out the meals we would try for a week. Then, I waited. I’m happy to say that the meals came when they were supposed to. (I have a relative who tried one and they repeatedly delivered to a wrong address. After three misses they gave up.) I was excited to be able to come home from the bakery in the evening and not have to decide what to make for dinner, think if I had to run to the grocery and then do all the dinner prep. Instead, I dove into the box of goodies and pulled out two of the meals. (I figured that I could make two of them for three of us and have left overs. They were technically meals for two.) I must say that there was more prep to one of the meals than I anticipated, but it was worth it. A spicy Thai basil tofu dinner over brown rice is worth a little chopping. The eggplant parm, on the other hand was a surprise. Surprise because the eggplant arrived, but not the rest of the meal. Hm. Good thing I happened to have fresh mozzarella and red sauce on-hand. (I also had some great bread to eat with it. So, the meal was a good one.)My daughter was helping me at the time, so we each took a meal and began. Within about 20 minutes, we had both meals done and on the table. And, they were good. So, the question is this: Would I subscribe to this service and keep getting meals this way? Is it worth the expense?I’m not sure. Actually, I had cancelled the subscription as soon as possible so I wouldn’t be charged for meals I didn’t plan on getting. (I did purchase one, so it wasn’t just a free week.) I think I’ve concluded that, while the meals were good, they weren’t great. For the expense, I would like a little bit more…something. (Oh, we did get two complimentary chocolate chip cookies that one of my daughters baked right away and enjoyed.) I guess if I were not a food professional, I might be interested in having my meals come to me this way. And, I have to confess, the allure for me would be the lack of planning for a few nights a week. That would be wonderful. However, I do have the skills and the fridge full of sauces so maybe I’ll just stick to “Sandi-fied” meals for now. I’d be interested in hearing about your adventures!