Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jack Daniel's Orange Zest Butter - Strike a Blow for Liberty with your Condiments

At least for today...

My Mise en Place is more fun than yours...

Because I love fresh fruit, when I was finished making the dish and the photo session, I enjoyed a little extra fresh fruit.  You see, I only needed the zest of the orange, but wanted to show the orange in the photo.  When I was done, being a good steward of the earth, I didn't want to waste anything, so I ate the fruit.

Also for the Mise en Place photo, I used a shot glass to visualize the Bourbon.  The recipe only uses 1 TBS of Jack, while a shot glass holds 2.5 TBS.  Being a good steward of the Earth, even at 6 AM, nothing I could do but strike a blow for liberty with the overpour!

BTW...  Here in Kansas City, we love our history and we love our native son, Harry S Truman.  Harry was a walker.  He took a walk, rain or shine almost every day of his presidency.  It was simpler time back then, and he would often just get up, grab a single Secret Service agent and head out the door to randomly explore his neighborhood.  While it appeared random, several times he would accidentally walk by an early morning establishment, go in and down a shot of bourbon with the toast, "here's to striking a blow for liberty".

The origin of the phrase can be traced back to prohibition days.  The returning doughboys (of which, Harry was one, Battery D Artillery) that defended liberty in WW 1 (the first war to end all wars) were greeted with do-gooders pushing through prohibition in order to "protect us from ourselves".

So, next time you worry about the government getting too big, involving themselves in our personal life (on-line poker, tax the heck out of it, but allow an American company to keep the tax dollars here, not Costa Rica), grab a big bottle of Jack Daniels, spit in the eye of the government and strike a blow for liberty (and never pay more than one twelfth of the pot to draw to an inside straight, or more than one third of the plot to draw to a flush on the turn)....

But I digress...

I first saw this on a Rachael Ray segment.

1 TBS Bourbon 
Zest of one Orange
1 stick of Butter, softened

Whip it all together and serve on pancakes, Corn on the cob, fresh cornbread is amazing with this...

Aside from the novelty of this, the "goof factor" if you will, this does indeed have a terrific taste to it.  the bourbon is not overpowering at all.  The earthy meaty aftertaste is perfect with the sweet from the zest and of course butter.

Just a nice combination of tastes that will leave your guests asking what was that (in a good way)!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cinnamon Popovers - with Peach Butter from Louisburg Cider Mill, a Kansas Treasure

Be honest, when you read these posts, doesn't a little bit of you wish you lived in Kansas too?

Louisburg Cider Mill since 1977I have to apologize.  Jackie and I visited the Louisburg Cider Mill.  It was an impromptu trip, and I did not take my camera.  So, you will have to follow this link (click HERE) to get a visual image of the place.

But, if you will trust me to direct your mind's eye, as you pull in, you see the big red barn that is the heart of the business.  In the background, you can see the apple trees, and the country specialties that make this a must visit for families, foodies and people who just want to see a little bit more of the beloved Kansas that was missed so much while living in the tropics.  The mill offers tractor rides through the orchard, a corn maze (will be spectacular in October for the pumpkin buying trip) and much more.  It's just a fun country way to spend your morning.  

louisburg apple ciderBut the highlight for me is the country store...

The good folks who run the farm started as an Apple Cider joint.  It is still their best seller.  They have been featured on the Food Network, several national "we love this stuff" type articles as well as being on the list of the top ten cider mills in America.

In their last 35 years, they have expanded their store from just apples and cider to most things organic and "real foods".  Wholesome, fresh and just a little better than you expect.  All good stuff.

When planning your next vacation, forget Hawaii and Paris.  Come to Kansas in the early fall.  Kansas in general and the Louisburg Cider Mill in specific are worth the visit.

Jackie and I came away with a gallon of cider, a new cooking tool and a little jar of this amazing Peach Butter!  Think the apple butter I remember from my childhood (half a century ago), but with that extra little sweet hint of peach.

A great peach butter like this deserves something special to be put on.

Product DetailsLike this recipe for a cinnamon popover.  Just this week, I saw an episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown extolling the beauty of the popover.  I was reminded that I had this recipe that I wanted to try.  It comes from a cookbook on polenta.  Yes, a whole book featuring not just flavored cornmeal squares, but also desserts, appetizers, salads... every course of a meal using that multi-talented corn meal!

And BTW, It's a Yorkshire pudding, but without the meat drippings.  Next time, I use meat drippings for a little extra flavor.  But I digress...

Here's what I did...

Makes 4 popovers, double the recipe if you want breakfast tomorrow.

2 large Eggs
1/2 cup and 1 TBS Flour
2 TBS Polenta or coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
a pinch of Sea Salt
pinch of ground Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup and 1 TBS Buttermilk
1 TBS Butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Put your popover pan (muffin tin) in the oven to get HOT.
  2. Melt your butter
  3. In a blender, combine everything else except the buttermilk.  Blend briefly to mix
  4. While the blades are running, slowly add the buttermilk and blend until smooth.
  5. When the oven is hot, and the pan is HOT, pull the pan out, add 1/4 cup butter to each of the 4 pans.
  6. Put it back in the oven to get the butter HOT.  You want the butter to bubble and just slightly brown before adding the batter... only takes 2 minutes.
  7. divide the batter into the 4 tins and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve hot, with a dollop of Louisburg Cider Mill fresh made Peach Butter (or the jam of your choice).
Here's a couple photos to give you an idea of what it looks like in process...

Batter in the hot brown butter...

Same shot, after the cook.

Popovers are beautiful things.  they grow and expand, with a big hollow hole in the middle.  These took about the same time of prep work as pancakes, but are so much more fun.  Perfect to load up with say really chunky apple or cherry pie mix...

Or some Jack Daniels (really, bourbon), Orange Butter... but that's a post for another day.

For today, I'll enjoy one with Louisburg Cider Mill Peach Butter...


 I will be submitting this to Two for Tuesday.  Join the fun, all the ask is that you submit a recipe using "Real Food", I've been dreaming of REAL FOOD.  Makes me cry just a little bit 
(Click HERE for 2 for Tuesday details)...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Side Dishes for a Pulled Pork Meal - Killer Smoker Beans - Blue Cheese Potato Salad and Firecracker Cole Slaw

Hi again!

Fresh Baked Hamburger Buns
Firecracker Coleslaw
Blue Cheese Potato Salad
and my own KILLER Smoked Beans

Better grab a second cup of coffee, all 4 recipes in one post.  But, it's one meal, one perfect (to me) meal...

Remember yesterday's post?

I have finally come  up with a Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce/paste just as good as the top notch commercial brand.  Thick and rich and full of sweet taste, with a big jalapeño and adobo heat aftertaste.

I used the paste to season a mop and finishing sauce for some of the best pulled pork I have ever had.  But a pulled pork sandwich (no matter how good) does not a BBQ meal make.

A great sandwich needs great side dishes.  

These are my favorites...

My Buns are fresh baked.  I use my own recipe I call Eng Bread.  Eng bread is a French bread recipe with just a little bit extra sugar in the mix.

Makes 6-8 hamburger size buns
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)
1 tablespoons granulated yeast
1  tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
3 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
2 1/2 TBS Sugar

Extra 1/4 cup Flour  to aid in kneading
a pinch of Sea Salt

An egg for an egg wash

Herb mix to garnish the top

  1. Mix the dry ingredients first.  I like to do the mixing stage in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Aids in keeping a bowl clean, or your  countertop.
  2. Add the water and mix well.  Be sure the water is warm, but not too hot.  Anything above 110 degrees will kill the yeast before it gets a chance to do it's magic.
  3. Now it's time to knead the bread.  Keep the extra flour handy, as the dough at this stage is very wet.  Knead for at least 10 minutes.  You will need to add flour to get to a sticky, but not too sticky phase.  With experience, you can feel and see the bread become hydrated.  That is when the ingredients mix completely, and it is ready for a rest.
  4. Modern Bread makers call it proofing, old timers call it rising.  But whatever you want to call it, form the dough into a ball, cover with a towel and let it rise for 2 to 3 hours.  The dough will double in size in that time (again, reminds me of my fat cat, who also doubled in his preferred size)
  5. And now, it's time to punch the dough down,  form the loaf, add toppings and allow the final rise...
  6. Punching the dough is exactly what it sounds like.  The yeast releases gases.  That is why the dough doubles in size.  When you take a punch at the dough, the gases are released.  The dough returns to it's original size.  If you are dividing the dough, use a knife to cut the dough, instead of tearing.
  7. Divide into 8 equal portions (6 if you like big buns).  Form them into balls.  arrange them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and press down slightly to get the bun shape
  8. And now, a few tricks I have learned...
  9. Do an egg wash.  Just a beaten egg, brushed on.
  10. sprinkle a bit of an herb mix on the top for a garnish.
  11. Sprinkle a little rough cut sea salt. 
  12. I bake the bread (350 degrees) using a remote read thermometer, with the prob inserted into the center of the bread.  The bread is done when it reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees.  If you cook by time, it takes about 25 minutes.
  13. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting!


But man does not live by bread alone.  He also needs a very colorful, flavorful Cole Slaw.  I first saw this recipe on Sam's blog, MY CAROLINA KITCHEN.  Sam did a pre-4th of July post of a red, white and blue FIRECRACKER COLESLAW.  But with the light dijon mustard vinaigrette replacing the heavier mayonnaise base in many slaws makes this a recipe deserving of year round serving.  Their is plenty of "weight" to the next two side dishes that will make you feel full and a little bloated (totally worth it).  But this... Dare I say diet food?, this light vegetable (yes, cabbage is a veggie) dish is a great complement to the heavier aspects of this meal.  Or, as I like to do, use this slaw as a topping for the sandwich...

Firecracker Coleslaw
Adapted from Simply Shellfish by Leslie Grover PendletonAs seen on  MY CAROLINA KITCHEN

½ cup natural rice vinegar (unseasoned)
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups finely shredded red cabbage
4 cups finely shredded white cabbage
2 red bell peppers, cut into thin slivers
½ cup toasted sliced almonds

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar together with the oil, mustard and sugar. Just before serving, add the two cabbages, bell pepper and almonds and toss well. Season with fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serves six to eight. Easily doubled.


I have a couple of secrets in my potato salad that makes this special.  Neither are so over powering that you immediately know what they are.  But, the little subtle aftertaste of both make this recipe my very favorite in the whole world (and I learned to eat in church basements, I have seen my fair share of potluck dinners).

My two secrets, Blue Cheese and a tsp of Raspberry Chipotle BBQ paste!

5 Pounds Red Skinned Potatoes, 3/4" diced, unpeeled (healthier, adds texture and appearance)
8 ounces 
Blue Cheese (one of those pre-crumbled packages)
4 hard cooked 
Eggs, chopped
1 medium size finely chopped 
Vidallia Sweet Onion
4 TB fresh 
Chives, minced, divided half in the taters, half as garnish
2 TB 
Salad Sprinkle, McCormick brand, divided half in the taters, half as garnish
1 TB fresh ground Black Pepper
0 TB Ground sea salt (yes, ZERO salt, there is plenty in the Salad Sprinkle)
3 TB Pourable 
Yellow Mustard
2 cups 
1 tsp 
Raspberry Chipotle BBQ paste.  The paste is a concentrate.  1 tsp is plenty to season 5 pounds of potatoes.

Cook the potatoes til just done, cool immediately. Combine all the other ingredients into your kitchenaid mixer and mix on low for about three minutes. Once the potatoes are completely cooled, mix in about 1/4 of the potatoes and 1/4 of the goo in a serving bowl. Then add about 1/2 the remaining potatoes and goo, mix that layer, then the final layer. Cool in the refrigerator for at least three hours prior to serving, preferably over night.

A word about cheese quality. Ordinarily, I believe that the better quality cheese, the better quality your food will be. This is NOT the case with this recipe. I made this once with a top quality Blue Cheese, and the taste was overpowering. just a word of warning, the package seems to be the right mix.


Alright, sit back, maybe grab that third cup of coffee, 'cause this is going to be a long portion of the post.  

I know a lot of smokers (not the Marlboro men, the indirect grilling, long and slow cooks, with a hint of Wood smoke in their food).  EVERY SINGLE SMOKER IN THE WORLD THINKS THEY HAVE THE BEST BEAN RECIPE.  Want to start a fight, tell one of these smokers that your beans are better than theirs.

My beans are better than theirs (sorry Chris).  There are lots of little details in the beans that add up to ... better.  I will pretend to be humble about my beans, and not use the word best.  But I have eaten a hundred smoker's beans... so far, mine are better.


And here's the difference...  First, like every great bean recipe, this is sweetened with not only a little brown sugar, but also molasses AND sorghum!  The M & S adds deep color, as well as extra layers of texture (makes it thick) and taste.

But the key is the spices.  With the exception of some dry mustard powder, I do not add any new spices to my beans.  Instead I add 1/2 pound of spiced meat scraps.  Either some pork tenderloin or brisket frozen from a previous cook session or I fire up the grill or smoker a few hours early and cook a few scraps before putting the beans on.  Remember what your mom served you... Pork and Beans.  Well, these are pork and beans with a bite.

For my latest session, I had smoked some pork tenderloin, stuffed with sausage..  I had already reached temperature on the pork, and was going to wrap them in foil.  I knew I was going to use this to flavor my beans.  So, I cut off an end piece (end pieces have extra spice rub on them).  I diced it up and used it in the beans.  Believe me, plenty of seasonings.

One word of caution... This technique for spicing your beans works best when you add the meat as it cooks, not at the end of the cook session.  Think making a stew or a soup.  You do not add the onion in at the end of the session, but at the beginning, when the flavor of the onion will flavor the entire pot.  Same theory with adding spice rubbed meat scraps.  It does take planning ahead, but so does any successful BBQ...

And my final secret...

Look close at the photo on the left...

I smoke my beans below the pulled pork.  Beans take about 3-4 hours to smoke.  during the last couple of hours of the cooking of the pork shoulder, I drizzle some honey on the shoulder and put the beans below the pork.  The drippings from the pork (there aren't many, it is at the end of the session remember) drop into the beans and add yet another layer of flavor and heat from the mop and dry rub that the drippings drip through.

Layers of flavors, built around different layers of flavors.  This is the menu item that people come back for seconds.

It's just pork and beans (wink nod).

OK, here's the recipe for the beans...

Ingredient list...

1/2 pound of cooked smoked meat scraps, well spiced already with spicy rub, save the end pieces from a previous cook session.
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 medium size red onion, small diced (about 1/4 inch square) ... save these to add just prior to serving
6 ounces tomato paste
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar ... save to add just prior to serving
1/3 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Sorghum Syrup
1 TB Dry Mustard
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1-27 ounce can BUSH'S brand Country Style BBQ Beans
1-16 ounce can BUSH'S brand Pinto Beans
1-16 ounce can BUSH'S brand Great Northern Beans
1/2 bottle of 
Killians Irish red (or your favorite) Beer
Place all the ingredients in a heavy baking pan, stir well to blend ingredients. Add a full bottle of Killians if using an offset smoker, or just 1/2 bottle if using an oven. Place in cooker and allow to cook along with the meat for 2 hours, leave them in the smoker as long as the residual heat is at least 200, after you remove the meat and foil the meat (foiling the meat allows the juices to be absorbed into the meat, making it more moist and tender... but I digress).  The moisture in the bean pot will help to keep moisture circulating in your cooker.

Garnish with the red onions and a bit of brown sugar.
And fellow smokers or grillers... These are worth leaving your bean recipe behind for a try.


It's just a simple meal, a little tater salad, some beans, a pork sandwich with cole slaw on the top.  And a dash of Panache.

What are you serving for Labor Day???

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Raspberry Chipotle Sauce you can make in your own Cul de Sac!

Oh my!

Long time readers know I have had a love affair with Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce.  I've used it on a Spiral Cut Bacon wrapped sausage stuffed pork loin (yes, pork, wrapped around pork, wrapped around pork).  I also used it on salmon, shrimp, steak sandwich, potato salad and more.  A personal favorite was to make a nice batch of Raspberry Chipotle brisket chili.  Sweet and heat, can't beat it.

But so far, I haven't quite been able to make the sauce as rich, thick and tasty as the better commercial brands... Till now.

To be fair, I actually wanted to make a Raspberry Chipotle paste that I could use to season a mop sauce (see the photo, a thin sauce used to baste a pork shoulder while I was smoking it).  Once it is in a concentrated form, I can easily use a couple TBS to flavor the mop sauce, as well as make a thin North Carolina style finishing vinegar sauce.  Finally, with the past, I can add to ketchup and make a fast easy BBQ sauce.  

And with raspberries being a dollar a pint at my Farmer's Market (I love this time of year!), this is far cheaper than the top quality commercial brand.

So, here's what I did...

2 pints fresh Raspberries, rinsed
1/2 medium Onion minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 TBS Olive Oil
2 TBS canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt

  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Chiles and stir constantly for about a minute.
  3. Add the Raspberries and continue to stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, and finally, add the sugar and salt and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook till you get the desired consistency.  Like I said, I wanted a thick paste that I would use for a variety of uses.
  6. Pulse in a food processor to get an even thick paste.
2 TBS of the canned peppers in the Adobo sauce makes this very spicy as is. 

But I was using this as a mop sauce.

I took one rounded TBS of the Raspberry Chipotle paste.

Added that to 1 1/2 cup of Cider Vinegar,
1 sliced Jalapeño 
1/2 Onion sliced and rings separated

And just mix well.  It will be a very thin almost watery consistency.  

And now I was ready to take my new mop sauce and smoke a little pork shoulder for some killer pulled pork!

I recently did a very detailed post on smoking a pork shoulder.  Click HERE for those details.

So, for this cook session, I used my new raspberry Chipotle vinegar mop sauce.  It is most important to mop the pork each hour for the first 5 hours of the cook.  That is the time when the tissues absorb the sauce best.  After that, a mop every 3 hours is fine.  Slow cooking, means this was going to be a 24 hour cook, averaging just about 210 degrees.  Again, click HERE for those details.

I made a finishing sauce for the pork from the same Raspberry Chipotle Paste.

A finishing sauce is very thin.  It is poured over the pork after it is pulled and just prior to serving.  The sauce adds an extra bit of moisture to insure a moist pieces of meat.  Traditionally, a pork shoulder is among the very toughest, fattest meats on a pig.  That is why slow cooking is about the only way to get a tender meal out of it.  But the slow cooking process can also dry out the meat.  That is why a mop and a finishing sauce is recommended.

I just took another 2 TBS of the Rasperry Chipotle Paste,

added that to 1 1/2 cup of cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 TBS black pepper

Whisk everything together, and pour over the finished meat and toss so everything is well coated.

Serve on a homemade bun, with some Firecracker Cole Slaw...

And my "If I could chose my last meal" Meal would be a pulled pork sandwich (with Raspberry Chipotle finishing sauce), some Blue Cheese Potato Salad, my insanely good Smoked Beans and this colorful firecracker Cole Slaw.  But those will be posts for another day.

I love this meal!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Garlic and more Garlic (and a little beans and tomatoes... but mostly GARLIC!)

Looks dramatic doesn't it???

Want to see it from another angle...

How about a close-up...

And even closer so you get an idea of just how much garlic is in this...

Truth is, this recipe is so fast (start to finish, about 40 minutes, but 30 minutes is roasting the garlic, so you have time to change diapers, wash windows, eat bonbons or play a turbo double or nothing sit and go $5 on-line poker tournament (I won, so I made a profit on the meal (it's cheap)  Bit I digress)).  Where was I??? Oh yeah, this is so fast, only 10 minutes actual hands on effort, that I had to show so many photos just to get the post long enough.  But the photos are pretty aren't they?

Fast and CHEAP, and really really good.

BTW, another Farmer's Market post.  Tomorrow is Saturday.  Can't wait to go back and restock!

OK, here's what I did...

1 pound Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
1 pound Green Beans. trimmed
1 pound whole head of Garlic, roasted in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 TBS Olive Oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and ground Pepper to taste
  1. Separate the cloves of garlic, remove the skins, drizzle a bit of olive oil over them, a little salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (just a shade longer if the turbo poker tournament lasts longer than it should because you are winning... I roasted mine for 40 minutes and it was fine).
  2. Once you are ready to cook, smash and dice as best you can the garlic.  It will be soft, but you want chunks, not a paste (although a paste would work if you over smash and cut.  It just looks better with a chunky paste).
  3. In a sauté pan, heat 2 TBS Olive Oil over medium heat.  Add half the chunky garlic paste. Trim the beans and sauté in Olive Oil for JUST 3 MINUTES.  NO LONGER than 3 minutes.  Beans should have a snap to them.  Crunchy when you eat them.  3 minutes gets a nice shine, heated through, yet will have that snap.
  4. Set aside and do the same with the tomatoes.  Again, 3 minutes is plenty.
  5. While the tomatoes are sauteing, arrange the beans attractively
  6. Dump the tomatoes on the beans, garnish with Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste
  7. And most important of all, listen to the oooohhhs and ahhhhhs from your family.
This was plenty for our lunch.  All the fresh tastes of the harvest season in a plate.

It's a winner!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Toasted Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Gruyere Cheese and Walnut Pesto

Let's start a list of phrases I should never use again (but will)...

"This is the best (insert dish of the day name here) ever!"

"This is not your Grandmother's (insert dish of the day name here)!"

OK, even though I believe the above about (insert dish of the day name here) um, I mean, my grilled cheese, I promise not to say those two phrases during the next post.

But what does come to mind is Emerson (Ralph Waldo), "Build a better TOASTED CHEESE SANDWICH and the world will beat a path to your blog"

Well, start beating, the welcome mat is out and I'll make you that tomato soup bisque to go along with this better Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

The basics of a toasted cheese sandwich... bread, cheese and in this case, a stuffing...

The Bread...
I used a couple of slices of my fresh made ENG BREAD.  Eng bread is my version of a French Bread.  just a little extra sugar in the mix.  This time, I added an egg wash just prior to baking, and sprinkled on a generous amount of my "SODOM and GOMORRAH Sesame Seed with Garlic and Sea Salt" spice mix.

I toasted the bread like I would make a Bruschetta.  For details with lots of photos, follow the link; but briefly, medium thick slices of bread, generously brush a top quality Extra Virgin olive Oil, both sides.  In a frying pan, begin toasting over medium heat.  As it is toasting, slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the exposed side on the bread.  the garlic oil really zips the taste.  Toast just slightly underdone, as the bread will be in the broiler briefly.

The Cheese...
Get out of the dairy section of your store and explore the specialty cheese section, or even better, find a specialty cheese shop.  Ask some questions, tell the cheese monger what you want to do.  they will make some spectacular suggestions, and even give samples (my lunch for the day).

I used an Emml Young Gruyere.  A young Gruyere cheese is creamy and soft.  Melts well, and adds a nutty rich taste.  Gruyere is a terrific cheese to use for baking.  In fact, in a classic Chicken Cordon Bleu (which has nothing to do with the cooking school (but I digress)), as well as classic French onion soup, Gruyere cheese is the cheese of choice.  The older it gets, the more the cheese gets more grainy and does not melt as well.  So, try to find a young (less than 2 months old) Gruyere.  Mine was marked as young, but you can tell from the feel.  If it has a slight softness to it, it is young.  If it is harder like a block of Parmesan, it is more mature (and a perfect cheese for a cheese tray... but I digress).

The Stuffing
And now we get to it... Pesto.  In fact, more than just any pesto, I use what I call OHIO PESTO.  Ohio pesto is much the same as a "regular" pesto (although there are dozens of varieties).  Basil, Parmesan cheese, Olive Oil, Garlic and I love to add Ohio Black Walnuts.  The classic calls for Pine Nuts in the recipe.  Me, I prefer the earthiness of the walnut flavor.    Pine Nuts have very little actual flavor.  Give the walnuts a try, not only are they 1/4th the price, but adds a deeper flavor.

So, toast the bread, add the pesto, top with the cheese and slip under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese!

And serve with Soup!

You bet YA! 

Invite your Grandma, she'll say it's the best ever (wink nod).

And by the way, the cheese, garlic, basil and spices in the "SODOM and GOMORRAH Sesame Seed with Garlic and Sea Salt" all came from the Kansas City River market (our Farmer's Market).  So I continue to only post recipes made from ingredients found at a Farmer's market.

Do yourself a favor and hunt one down this weekend... It is the BEST time of year for fresh produce!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Farmer's Market Tomato Soup... um, Bisque and a Beauty Tip

Dare I say it???

There is a bit of a chill in the air.

Well, it's not 100 degrees anymore, so in comparison.  But the chill is coming, and faster than you might think.  BUT, nothing takes the chill off like a good thick hearty soup... um Bisque.  And take a drive through the countryside.  See all those stands of tomato sellers?  Stop and pick up a bag.  Easy to do and delicious.

And while you are there, grab some carrots, garlic, celery and some basil.  There is more to this than just tomatoes.  Still basking in the glow of the KC River Market (The local Farmer's Market).  If you missed it, I did a photo tour a few days ago (click HERE).

Are we counting?  I am pretty sure every post I have done since returning to god's Country (Kansas), has featured a Farmer's Market find.  And why not?

This is the time.  In just a few short weeks, all the amazing fresh produce will be replaced with... well, just a bit less.  Sure you can get hot house tomatoes in November.  But they are not the same.  Sure, corn is available year round.  But it is not the same.  Burgers, ribs and pulled pork posts are coming.

But for me, this time of year... local, fresh and a great recipe makes my day.

Like this one...

This made 8 servings, but I made a toasted cheese sandwich to pair with the soup bisque.  Probably only 4-6 servings if just the soup bisque.

4 pounds (12 Roma or 5-6 large Heirloom) of Tomatoes
(peeled, quartered and unripe white veins inside removed)

1 Onion quartered
4 stalks of Celery, rough cut
4 Carrots, rough cut
4 cloves of Garlic, rough cut
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 TBS Brown Sugar
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce 
3 TBS "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provance" (herb mixture, use whatever you like, dill, rosemary, thyme... or, be a cook and make a batch of your own Herbes de Provance and have handy so that you can add this complicated mixture to your own soups easily... but I digress)

A little grated Parmesan Cheese and Sour Cream to garnish!

Removing the skins of the Tomatoes is an easy thing to do.  Get a pot of water boiling, and have a bowl with ice water handy.  Cut an X into the top (not the vine end, the other end) just enough to break the skin.  Plunge them into the boiling water for only 15 seconds.  You want the outside to cook just a shade, but not so hot that the inside starts to cook.  Remove and plunge into the ice bath.  The skin peals easily now.

The Vegetables are going to be pulsed through a food processor (that's what makes this soup a bisque.  Soups have sliced vegetables and/or meat in it, while a bisque has the same ingredients (maybe not meat), pureed to an even smooth consistency).  So no need to do precise small cuts when making a bisque.  Just grab a chef's knife and hack and slash.  It's OK to have some 1/2 inch and some 3 inch cuts.  It all gets pureed in the end.

  • Over medium heat, Cook down the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, till they are soft.
  • Add the tomatoes and again, cook them down for about 30 minutes, till they are completely soft and mushy.
  • Stir occasionally, and forget the flowers.  Take a few minutes to stop, clear your head of the pressures of the day and breath in the oder of the cooking tomatoes and vegetables.  While you are doing that, the steam will be opening your pores and giving you a facial.  That's why the skin on my face is soft and smooth, even though I am still well tanned.  It's like a facial.  But I digress...
  • After at least 30 minutes (longer if your skin is dry and rough), add everything else and mix well.  Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes for all the flavors to mix.
  • In batches, pour into a food processor and pulse till you get the desired thickness.
  • Top with a bit of sour cream and Parmesan Cheese.

Everybody, repeat after me... 

(and my skin is so soft)!

Oh, and BTW, come back tomorrow for a post about this sammy...

It's just a toasted cheese sandwich (well, maybe just a bit more).

I did a post on the sandwich... 

Toasted Grilled Cheese Sandwich -
Gruyere Cheese and Walnut Pesto

See you tomorrow and treat yourself to a tomato soup bisque facial!