Market is open for business! Come in down!
Some of you might remember this post from last summer. We’ll, we pulled a bag of the roasted tomatoes out of the freezer and used them to make sauce for pasta and pizza.
Yum! They still tasted pretty fresh and made me that much more antsy for spring to hurry up and get here! The beauty of the roasted tomatoes was that we didn’t have to do anything to them other than defrost them. We mashed them up a bit for the pizza, but the basil and garlic that were roasted with the tomatoes added all the flavor we needed. Easy Peasy.
A couple of Sundays ago, instead of watching the Super Bowl, I spent some time in the kitchen. I wanted to take a crack at some of the other things our bread machine can do. Pretzels were a big part of football watching in the house growing up. Mainly dipped in salsa and cream cheese, or just cream cheese, or french onion dip. Needless to say, pretzels are a favorite of mine and have been for quite awhile. How could I pass this up?
Making the dough was simple enough, we simply followed the list from the recipe book and turned on the machine. About an hour and a half later, we had a big ball of dough and were ready to start forming our pretzel twists. We separated the dough into 12 pieces per the instructions, rolled them into long logs. We did our best to twist them into the traditional pretzel shape and let them sit for a bit. That’s when things got a little more interesting.
Rather than popping the cookie sheet in the oven, we placed them one at a time into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, making sure to flip them halfway through their time. From there, they were dipped into a mix of baking soda and water before they went into the over to turn brown and crispy. That’s where the recipe booklet ended and we took over. We wanted to make sure and get those tasty salt crystals sprinkled on top. To make sure it all stuck we drizzled melted butter over the tops before we sprinkled salt across them. We kept half of the pretzels salty but with the other half tried a sweet mix of cinnamon and sugar.
We wolfed down the warm pretzels pretty quickly eating 4 salty and 2 sweet right away that night. The rest we’ve been trying to keep for toasting up in the stove after work. They’re just about gone. These will definitely get made again, maybe for the Olympics, or just for Friday. I’m also making sure we have cream cheese on hand for the next batch too.
This weekend I decided I wanted to find recipe to re-boot my ‘Recipe of the Month’ idea. With the short, cold days we’re experiencing in Minneapolis, I thought soup would be perfect. After doing some browsing, I found this onion soup recipe and traced it back to one of my favorite blogs, ‘Smitten Kitchen’. I’ve made a few things from the blog before, so I knew it would I could trust it. I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe including; substituting the Blue Cheese for Gruyere and using a mix of fresh parsley, chives and dried basil. You can find the recipe right HERE.
It’s a bit of a time consuming process to cook both the rice and the onions, but the smell in the house was worth it. It also gave me a chance to master my old nemesis, the mandolin. I used it to get nice even slices of onion and it went much faster than trying to slice them all by hand. The soup itself was mild and pretty filling. The recipe called out 4 servings but we could have easily done 6. I have to say my favorite part was the pieces of baguette and cheese on the top. After a few minutes of it soaking up the broth, it was the perfect blend of mild and sharp flavors. I could have eaten a full baguette myself if I had enough soup to soak it in.
I hope this gives you something to make the next time a Polar Vortex comes rolling through. It seems to be once a week now around here. Check out the rest of the recipes on ‘Smitten Kitchen’ as well, including an all time favorite; ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake‘. Follow the link for that, just do it.
Did any of you make it to the Fulton Winter Market on Saturday? I was there from 11-2 and there was a steady stream of people coming through the whole time. We even had to turn away a few people who stopped in after the stands had started to come down. Since it’s the off season, I wasn’t sure what there would be to choose from so I didn’t come prepared to buy much. After about 5 minutes I was regretting that choice. The market seemed larger than last year’s winter market with plenty of canned goods, hearty root veggies, fresh mushrooms, hot food and cold beer. I made a few notes on where I’ll want to return for next month.
I did come away with a bag of goodies from Wise Acre, a restaurant that features local food year round. They had ready made bags of stew mixings which, with another polar vortex coming on strong, sounded perfect. It came with a few carrots, shallots, celery root, cabbage and sprig of rosemary. I picked up some cubed beef from the Co-op and seared it a dutch oven before removing the meat and adding in the veggies with the exception of the cabbage. Once the shallots started to brown and get translucent I poured in a few good glugs of red wine to pick up all the good brown bits from the bottom. I let that reduce a bit before adding in canned tomatoes, beef broth, and meat. Once it comes up to a boil, I added in my bundle of herbs and let it sit on low for a few hours until it smells too good to ignore.
I’ve never really done much measuring with this recipe. It’s truly whatever sounds good or what we have on hand at the time. We’ve done carrots, onion, celery and mushrooms as well as potatoes and peas. Herbs have ranged from just generous salt and pepper and a bay leaf to the fresh rosemary, sage and thyme from this last weekend. It’s really easy to make it your own and any combination goes well with a buttery roll. Hope you enjoy!
Raise your hand if you’re sick of the cold. Ok, thank you. Now, raise your hand if you’re tired of the snow. 1,2,3,4…. Got it, thanks.
Now, what if I told you there was a way to get a break from it and get you in the mindset for spring and summer? Well here you go. The Fulton Farmer’s market is hosting it’s first winter market at Bachman’s in South Minneapolis.
You can find the full list of vendors, hours and location details on their site, here. I’ll be volunteering as well as picking up some goodies for myself. I hope to see you there!
A few of you out there might have seen the photo below when I first posted it last Thursday. The Hubs made a small portion of butter using some of the cream we had left in the fridge. What you don’t know is why it all started in the first place.
We were having one of those nights where instead of having a real meal for dinner, we were just having little snack-y things like pieces of cheese or random crackers from the cupboard. Well, we decided to make popcorn on the stove and realized we didn’t have any butter to melt and pour over it. I decided to just run to the grocery store a few blocks away and bring it back, no problem. Well, I get there and realize that my debit card is in my jeans that are sitting on the floor of our room (it was after 6 p.m., obviously I was in sweatpants) and the measly little dollar bill I had in my wallet just isn’t going to cut it. Whatever, I’ll run back home and grab it, come back problem solved right? Nope.
When I came home the popcorn was done and The Hubs decided instead of me running back to the store he was going to make butter. “Ok fine, but how long is it going to take?” I asked. “Ten minutes” he answered. I argued that I could get back in the car get to the store and back in that amount of time too. The popcorn was still hot and we had never made this before so what if it didn’t turn out. I was reassured it would work and to just hang out while he made it. So I sat there, on the couch, smelling popcorn, waiting and waiting for more like 15-20 minutes than 10. Finally, I was called to the kitchen to see the final product. I had to admit, it looked like pretty good butter. We melted a bit in the microwave and poured it over our cold popcorn and gobbled it down, it tasted great.
In case you didn’t know, the season premiere of Downton Abby was on Sunday night. You should probably start watching it if you don’t already. I love it all: costumes, scenery, great story and saucy lines delivered from Dame Maggie Smith. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to use this post to give any spoilers. This is about what I ate for the premiere. As it’s a proper English show, I wanted to make a proper English tea.
The first thing that came to mind was cucumber sandwiches without the crusts. The recipe is as simple as it sounds. I referenced several English recipes online and they all said the same thing: soft white bread, lots of butter and thin sliced cucumber. I peeled the cucumbers before slicing. To draw out moisture, I also let the slices sit with a few pinches of salt. After sitting for about 10 minutes, I rinsed and dried the slices on a few sheets of paper towel. It keeps the cucumbers from turning the bread soggy and let’s be honest, no one likes a soggy sammy.
I also made scones and clotted cream. This was more of a process. The scones turned out ok but I’m not going to share the recipe. The one I used had the ratio of dry to wet ingredients off somehow and I had something that looked more like cake batter than pastry dough. I ended up having to do a lot of fudging: adding in tablespoon after tablespoon of flour and estimating on additional sugar and baking powder to get the right consistency. If I make them again I’ll be using a different source.
The clotted cream was ridiculously easy but very time consuming. You take 2 pints of heavy cream and pour them into an oven safe pan or bowl so you end up with around 3 inches of standing cream. Pre-heat your oven to 180, cover the cream and cook at that low heat for 8-12 hours. Yes. Hours. Once it turns a bit yellow and thick on the top you let it cool on the counter for an hour or so and then pop it in the fridge overnight. The next day you collect all the thick cream off the top and use it to spread on your scones or any other pastry you like. You can use the leftover cream in the bottom for baking. I liked the recipe because it was something you could start right away in the morning and then let yourself forget about it for the day. There’s no stirring or checking necessary until you timer goes off. Just don’t plan on leaving the house either. Since it’s not very sweet, I served it with some of the raspberry jam we canned this summer. It made it just the right amount of sweet and tart and kept it from becoming to rich. I’m curious to see how it would pair with some more savory ingredients as well. Any suggestions? I’m sure Carson or Mrs. Patmore would have just the thing.
Well, we broke in the new bread maker this weekend. First loaf was Honey Whole Wheat from the handy dandy recipe book that came with it. It’s supposed to be a start it and forget it machine, but we kept peeking through the little window on top to see what it was doing. It made a huge, 2 lb. loaf with slices 5-6 inches tall. An added bonus of the machine cooking away? The house smelled amazing!
So far the bread has proven itself to be a tasty with butter, butter and jam, and peanut butter and honey. It was also best fresh out of the machine while it was still warm. Haven’t taken it for a full on double decker club sandwich run yet. Maybe this weekend. I’m also figuring out what the next loaf will be. They have a lot to choose from in the book, and there are even some dough recipes for things like pretzels and cinnamon rolls. Chances are I’ll try both.
I can’t believe the last time I posted on here was way back in September. That’s just ridiculous. There have been quite a few things I missed out on sharing with you in the last few months. So, instead of doing a year-end re-cap of favorite posts or list of 2014 resolutions I’m going to do a down and dirty photo re-cap of things I wish I’d shared.
First up was a week-long trip to Managua, Nicaragua. The trip was for work, but there was a lot of new foods to be had as well. I can’t remember or pronounce most of the names for these things so just sit back and enjoy the photos. Side note: the plastic bags in the photos below are filled with fruit juice. I was told they’re tasty but not meant for out of towners.
Next was a week long road trip around the east coast. We tried to get something local on each of the stops including; tours of Ben and Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery, maple farms, and breweries. We had our biggest treat visiting my Aunt and Uncle in Maine who put together a New England Shore Dinner for us, complete with homemade biscuits with whipped cream and garden grown blueberries. Needless to say, my jeans felt a little tight by the end of the week.
Some other random events that happened: Roasting and freezing the last of the tomatoes, lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella made from scratch, digging up our carrots in November (yes, November), making apple pie for Thanksgiving and caramels for Christmas.
I hope you all have had a happy start to the new year. Any food related resolutions out there? One of my goals this year is to get back on track with teaching myself new techniques. I also got a bread machine for Christmas, so I’m hoping I can stop buying bread at the grocery store, or at least minimize it. I’m also going to play around with some new things on here as well as get back to some old ideas that have gone by the way side. Anyone remember my dessert and drink of the month posts? Yeah, it’s been awhile. Hopefully, I can get back at it!