Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birthday Baked Beans

Today was my sweetheart Michael’s birthday. Since it was a weeknight, I offered to make his favorite meal for a special dinner: Hormel Cure 81 ham, corn on-the-cob, salad, and baked beans. 

Almost from the day we met, Michael has asked me to make baked beans. He loves them! Unfortunately for him, it is not one of my favorite dishes so I never think to make them. Plus, he is pretty particular about just what makes the perfect baked beans. I would taste the brands he liked from the store, and anytime he enjoyed baked beans at a restaurant, I would try to get a taste. After a while, I felt I knew the flavors he looked for—sweet and slightly smoky.

I pulled out my copy of the Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook. It was full of ideas, but none of the recipes seemed just right. So I took the one that was closest to what I was looking for and then added my own adjustments and touches. (Of course, ketchup had to be one of the ingredients!)

The beans were a hit! I made them in the slow cooker, and Michael snuck a bowl full before dinner time. He ate more for dinner and wanted to make sure there were leftovers for the rest of the week. The recipe makes such a large amount that I even put a container full in the freezer for future enjoyment.

Michael said, “It doesn’t get any better that this!”

I just smiled.

Birthday Baked Beans

1 large onion, diced
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup tomato-based barbecue sauce (I used KC Masterpiece.)
1 cup ketchup
3 28-ounce cans pork and beans (I used VanCamp’s.)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and saute until just softened.

Add the brown sugar, barbecue sauce, and ketchup into the slow cooker. Whisk together until combined. Mix in the beans and sauteed onions. Set the temperature to low and cook for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally so the beans do not burn. Season with salt and pepper just before serving.

Note: These beans are sweet. If you like yours less so, just cut the sugar amount in half. Also, about 1/2 pound of crispy bacon would make a nice addition.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oven-Baked Pork Chops


Do you ever use Shake ‘n Bake, the coating for pork and chicken that you shake-up in a bag? I remember watching my mom use it and thinking shaking the food in a bag was so cool! And during my first marriage I used it all of the time, mainly for the convenience and quickness. I could have dinner for a family of five ready in just 20 to 30 minutes!

I haven’t used this product in a few years. Instead I’ve moved to an easy marinade I created. However, I thought of it the other day when I had some pork chops I needed to use and I wanted to do something different.

A recipe in The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook for oven-fried pork chops caught my attention. However, I wasn’t taken with the Asian flavor combinations, and I knew my husband, Michael, wouldn’t go for it either. So I decided to create my own recipe.

These pork chops were delicious—moist, tender, and flavorful. And Michael loved them, too!

Oven-Baked Pork Chops
Serves 4

4 boneless center-cut loin pork chops about 1/2-inch thick
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Juice of one large lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack onto a sided cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan and coat well with oil or non-stick cooking spray. [I also baked these just on a cookie sheet, and they tasted great, but they will be crispier baked on a rack.]

Combine the egg white, lemon juice, salt, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Whisk well to combine. In a second shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, sage and pepper.

Dip each pork chop into the egg white mixture, and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the baking rack. Bake for 20 minutes, turn over and bake an additional 20 minutes.


FYI: Yes it’s Friday, which is usually when I post this week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers along with a group of fellow food bloggers. Unfortunately my schedule this week didn’t allow me to join in on the salute to Spanish chef Elena Arzak, but many of my compatriots did! Be sure to check out what they created:

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It’s Not Ree Drummond’s Fault

I love to bake, and when it comes to cakes, cookies, and quick breads, I do a pretty good job. I’m even getting better at making pies. Yeast breads are more of a challenge, but ever since a Kitchen Aid mixer made its way into my kitchen, I have mastered things like pizza crust and simple breads.

However, there is one recipe I’ve never gotten right—cinnamon rolls. They are the bane of my baking existence. The dough is too tough, or it doesn’t rise. You name it and it goes wrong. So I decided to never make them again. And I don’t need to! There are so many local bakeries and restaurants that do it so well.

And then I got a copy of the new Ree Drummond cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. I love her recipes. Her first cookbook is full of ones even my husband, Michael, enjoys. In fact, it is where I start whenever I need to create something for dinner. (Read more of my thoughts on Ree here.)


You can see from all of the orange Post-it tags there are many recipes I want to try.


One of those recipes is Orange Sweet Rolls. It instantly brought back memories of the Pillsbury’s Orange Sweet Rolls I enjoyed as a child, teenager, young adult, adult, etc. (Do they make them anymore? I couldn’t find them on their website.) When I mentioned the recipe to Michael, he thought of the same thing. Turns out they are one of the few sweet treats he likes!


So I put aside my fear of sweet rolls and decided to give the recipe a try. The dough came together very easily. I did deviate from the recipe a little. First, I used rapid-rise yeast instead of active dry yeast. And I used my mixer, pouring the wet ingredients into the dry. The dough proofed just as it should. (I also used the trick of preheating my oven at 450 degrees for 1 minute and then turning it off. That gave me a warm place to let the dough rise.)

Then it came time to roll out the dough. I sprinkled flour over the counter where I do my rolling, and then got out the measuring tape to be sure I got the dough into the correct 30- by 10-inch shape.

My counter was too short.


The only other option was the dinning room table. So I sprinkled out the flour, trying desperately to not get any on the carpet, and started to roll. I was so focused on getting the dough to the proper length that I didn’t pay attention to the width. My final dough was 30- by 14-inches. No big deal, right?

It was a big deal. Once I got the filling spread onto the dough, I started to roll it up. Not only did the dough stick to the table, but it was almost too thin to roll! I kept flopping it over and using my bench scraper to un-stick the dough—all the while hoping I wouldn’t scratch the surface of the table that was Michael’s before I came along and he loves very much.

Once I got it somewhat into a long roll (and kept the filling from oozing onto the carpet), it was time to cut. Ree’s recipe said it made 48 rolls, which in the photo looked like they were pretty small. I decided to go with the directions from her website and cut them into 1-inch wide pieces. Turns out, I had too. Otherwise I would have never gotten them into the pans.



The result was two of the saddest pans of orange sweet rolls you have ever seen. I crossed my fingers and allowed the biggest one to rise and bake, while I put the smaller one into the freezer to bake (or throw out) at another time.



The rolls looked better after they baked.






And they tasted delicious! I ate two. (Well, I think it was two. I had to use a knife to cut them into squares.)

In fact, these rolls are so good I think I’ll have to try making them again.

If at first you don’t succeed…






Orange Sweet Rolls
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond
[My comments are in these brackets.]

Dough
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1/2 rounded teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt

Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
8 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Icing
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup of whole milk, more if needed for a pourable consistency
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

In a large saucepan over low heat, heat the milk, granulated sugar, and oil until warm but not hot. Add the yeast and 4 cups of flour, then mix and transfer to a bowl. Cover and let rise for at least an hour. [I heated the milk, oil and sugar until they were 110 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. I put the flour and yeast into the mixer. (Rapid-rise yeast doesn’t need to bloom in a warm liquid before being mixed with flour.) Then I turned on the mixer and poured in the warm liquid.]

Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep. You’ll want it to be as thin as you can get it so that you can add plenty of goo. [But trust me, not too thin!]

Drizzle the melted butter all over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to smear it all around so that it coats evenly. Spread the orange marmalade all over the buttered dough, distributing it as evenly as you can. Sprinkle plenty of brown sugar all over the marmalade and finish with a light sprinkling of salt to offset the sweetness.

Using both hands in a back-and-forth motion, gradually roll the dough toward you into one long log. Pinch the seam to seal it. Then slice the log-o’-dough into 1/2-inch pieces. [I did 1-inch slices—sort of.]

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the rolls in a buttered baking dish and allow them to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Add the zest and juice of 2 oranges to a bowl. Add the powdered sugar, salt, whole milk, and melted butter. Whisk it together until it’s nice and smooth and lovely. Your kitchen smells like oranges!

Pull the rolls out of the oven when they’re golden brown and drizzle on the icing right off the bat. The piping hot rolls will suck that gorgeous icing right down into their crevices and the whole thing pretty much becomes a miracle.

[It sure was a miracle for me!]

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ina Garten’s Mexican Chicken Soup



It’s Ina Garten week in our downtown Topeka, Kansas apartment. She is week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers that I and a group of my fellow food bloggers post about each Friday. And I had trouble deciding on just one recipe. Two days ago I posted about her wonderful Chicken Piccata recipe, and tonight my husband, Michael, and I enjoyed her Mexican Chicken Soup. Then I made a loaf of her Irish Soda Bread to serve as snack to the preschoolers I teach in my non-writing life.


I’ve always enjoyed watching Ina’s television programs. Her recipes are simple, but they also focus on the best and freshest ingredients. I like her style—both elegant and down-to-earth. Michael says I’m a lot like her, at least from what he sees on television. (I wish!) And I’m enamored by her loving relationship with her husband, Jeffrey. It reminds me of the time Michael and I spend together enjoying food and life.


The Mexican Chicken Soup was delicious and perfect for this unseasonably warm winter day. (Our high was more than 80 degrees!) It is full of shredded chicken, and the flavors are clean and bright. I also like how healthy the soup is, unless you had gobs of cheese and sour cream. We added a little grated cheddar and some toasted tortilla strips. Also, since Michael doesn’t like very spicy dishes, I only used one jalapeno pepper in the dish. It gave it a good flavor, but there was no heat at all. Next time I may try two peppers, just to give it a little kick.

Plus, I made it in a slow cooker. The chicken was oven roasted according to the recipes instructions, and I also sauteed the onions, carrots, and celery. Then I tossed everything into the slow cooker and let it go for 6 hours on low.







I’ve also included her Irish Soda Bread recipe. I left out the orange zest and currants since I was looking for just a plain bread to serve to my preschoolers. I haven’t tried it yet. I want to wait to cut it until Friday morning. But if the smell is any indication, it should be delicious!





Mexican Chicken Soup
From Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Irish Soda Bread
From Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Ina Garten:

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ina Garten Preview—Chicken Piccata


Each Friday, my fellow food boggers and I feature a recipe from one of the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game Changers list.  This week’s selection is one of my favorites—Ina Garten. I’ve enjoyed her show, The Barefoot Contessa, for years. My husband, Michael, even knows who she is after just a few months of marriage.

On Friday I will write more about why I enjoy her cooking style. I’ve made a couple of her recipes in the past. In fact, my friends raved over her Outrageous Brownies. But when it came to selecting a recipe for this week, I couldn’t decide between two that sounded wonderful. So I made one for dinner tonight, and I’ll make another one for Friday.

Tonight’s dinner featured Chicken Piccata. It was wonderful! The lemon-butter sauce not only tasted delicious on the chicken, but would be great on fish as well. Michael liked it—he cleaned his plate of every last drop and said I could make it anytime! I served it with rosemary roasted potatoes and a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.

How good is that?

Stay tuned for Friday, when I’ll make Ina’s Mexican Chicken Soup.

Chicken Piccata
From Barefoot Contessa At Home by Ina Garten

2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
 








For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Orange Marmalade Teacake



What a lovely twist of fate. As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, when Americans of all ethnic backgrounds claim to have a little Irish in their ancestry, this week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers is Irish chef Darina Allen.






Chef Allen is an author, instructor, and culinary celebrity in her country, plus the owner of the internationally acclaimed Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.




The school is set on a 100-acre organic farm, and she founded the first farmer’s market in Ireland. The school promotes a focus on all aspects of food, from the growing to the preparing, cooking, eating and enjoying.

(This picture is from the school's Facebook page. I see a trip to Ireland in my future!)




The school’s website has many recipes to enjoy. I selected one for Seville Orange Marmalade Cake. Of course, I didn’t have Seville orange marmalade, but I did have this version.

Also, I didn’t have the 6 1/2-inch diameter cake pan the recipe called for, so I decided to make it in a loaf pan to give it a teacake look. And like with my winter tea party, the measurements were done by weight, so I went with the metric amounts since they are a bit more accurate.

The cake tastes lovely—light with a hint of orange. In fact, I would like it to have more orange flavor, so next time I may add some fresh orange zest or a little juice to the mix. I enjoyed it as is, and it also tastes great warmed up with a little butter. I think a dollop of clotted cream would be nice, too.






Orange Marmalade Teacake
Serves 8 to 10

350g (12oz) self raising flour
Pinch of salt
140g (5oz) butter
140g (5oz) castor (granulated) sugar
4 tablespoons Seville orange marmalade
2 organic eggs
milk
3 to 4 tablespoons of marmalade

17 x 7 1/2 cm (6 1/2 x 3 inch) cake tin. [I used a loaf pan.]

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, rub in the butter and add the sugar. Make a well in the centre; add the chopped marmalade and lightly beaten egg and mix to a softish consistency with 5 tablespoons milk. Put into a lined tin and bake in a preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours approximately. [My loaf pan only took 40 to 45 minutes.]

Allow to cool, still wrapped on a wire tray. Paint the top with marmalade and dust with icing sugar. [I warmed the marmalade in the microwave to make it easier to spread on top.]

Also, be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Darina Allen:

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mamaw’s Recipe Box #5 (Sort of): Chocolate Pudding


When I think of Mamaw, my maternal grandmother, the image I most often picture is of her in the kitchen of the farmhouse she lived in her entire married life (and where my parents live now.) And the dish I associate with that image is her chocolate meringue pie. I remember her cooking the chocolate pudding filling on the stove top, and whisking egg whites and sugar in a blue glass bowl with her flat whisk until they were stiff and glossy. Most of all I remember the finished pie with its golden brown meringue top and creamy chocolate center supported by a flaky crust.


(As a side note, turns out that blue glass bowl would fulfill many glassware collectors’ dreams! My mom has it in her china cabinet. I have the whisk, which hangs on my kitchen wall.)






When I started to blog about Mamaw’s recipes, I knew her chocolate pie would be one of the early posts. However, as those of you who read this blog know very well, I’m not big on making pies. But I do love chocolate pudding, so I went in search of her pie filling recipe to give it a try.

I couldn’t find it!

It wasn’t in the file box.

I looked once, twice, three times, but there was no recipe for either chocolate pudding or pie. There was a pie crust recipe. There was a meringue recipe. But there wasn’t a filling recipe.

Was my memory just a romantic notion of my grandmother’s most memorable dessert? I also have memories of her using the pudding in-a-box mixes for the pie as well. Did I just imagine her homemade efforts? Was my amazement at the idea of chocolate pudding being made from scratch and not from a box all a false memory?

A phone call home to Mom reassured me that I did remember Mamaw making chocolate pudding from scratch. She felt Mamaw may have known the recipe so well she didn’t need to write it down. Or it may have come from one of her standard go-to cookbooks.

So, since Mamaw often used Joy of Cooking, and I also own that cookbook, I decided to try the recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding.

I will never make pudding from a box again!

This recipe is so easy, and the flavor is far superior to anything you could buy on a shelf. Rich, chocolaty, creamy…everything a chocolate pudding should be.  

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding
From Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
4 servings

Have ready a 3-cup bowl or four 5- or 6-ounce cups or ramekins.

Combine in a medium heavy saucepan:
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. Mix together until smooth:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup milk

Stir slowly into the hot milk mixture. Stirring constantly, heat over medium heat until the mixture just comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, stirring briskly; bring to a simmer and continue to cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla
 
Pour the pudding into the bowl or cups, then press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Almost Local Breakfast Sandwich


This week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers that I and a group of my fellow food bloggers post about each Friday hits close to home. Not that our subject, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, is from my corner of the Midwest. (She lives in Hudson Valley, New York.) However, she has dedicated her life to farming and the recruitment and promotion of new young farmers. In fact, she directed The Greenhorns, a documentary film focused on those newbie farmers, which gave birth to a non-profit organization that promotes the same mission.


I come from a long line of farmers. In fact, my parents live on the farm that was started more than 100 years ago by my great grandparents. As a food writer, I’ve interviewed many small family farmers who grow produce, dairy, and meats, which are often times free from preservatives and chemicals. I enjoy buying local, organic products and supporting the efforts of these farmers. It’s a cause I feel is important as a food lover and consumer who wants to keep my money inside the local community.

For this week’s recipe, I clicked on a link listed on The Greenhorns website that took me to Farm Girl Farm in Egremont, MA. Farmer Laura Meister runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where members pay for a share of the harvest of vegetables and fruit, plus put in a few hours of work on the farm. Each week they get a box full of the farm’s fruits and vegetables.

The Farm Girl Farm’s website has a number of recipes to help members use-up their weekly bounty. The one that caught my attention was the Locally Grown Breakfast Sandwich. Besides the expected eggs, bacon, and bread on the ingredient list, there also were veggies such as salad greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Since I’d never considered adding vegetables to a breakfast sandwich, I decided to give it a try.

It’s hard to find local products in Topeka at this time of year. In April, when the farmer’s market opens each Saturday, there will be an abundance of area-produced eggs, meats, breads, fruits, vegetables, and other food products. But now, not so much. So I bought Kansas-made cheese and bread, and bacon from Wisconsin. For the rest I settled for organic.





The sandwich was wonderful—and I’m not a big fan of breakfast. The flavors were bright and fresh thanks to the baby salad greens and the little bit of chives I added to the mayonnaise. My husband liked it, too, which says a lot since he is a pretty picky eater. I’m already looking forward to having another one this weekend!

Locally Grown Breakfast Sandwich
Adapted from Farm Girl Farm recipe

Bacon
Eggs
Sliced bread
Cheddar cheese, grated
Mayonnaise
Chives
Baby greens—either salad greens or bitter green mix
Tomatoes, cucumbers, or any other favorite veggie
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Cook the bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels. Fry eggs and toast bread. Place grated cheese on top of fried egg to melt. Dice chives and mix into mayonnaise. Spread chive mayonnaise on one side of both toast pieces. Add a layer of baby greens on one of the toast slices, then bacon, egg with cheese, and more greens. Top with second toast slice. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Severine von Tscharner Fleming:

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades