Here Piggy, Piggy, Piggy…

September 26, 2016

I am a self proclaimed porkaholic!  My father raised pigs when I was growing up and yes you did not want to be down wind of the barn. But being able to have fresh bacon, pork chops, pork ribs was pretty great!

When my husband and I traveled to Chicago we asked our daughter to recommend a favorite restaurant. My daughter has similar tastes to mine needless to says, so when she recommended a restaurant specializing in pork I was thrilled. Enter the Publican!

The Publican was so much fun. We started off with cocktails, a “Dancing Legs,” for me and a craft beer for my husband, and a plate of assorted hams. Can I just say wow!  We were in hog heaven.

Looking around the restaurant, I really enjoy people watching, I saw someone I recognized. I leaned over to my husband, “That looks like Aaron S. from the Foodnetwork? ,” my husband confirmed that yes I was correct. So not only did we have awesome food but we got a little food star gazing as well.

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Assorted Hams

 

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Busy Saturday night

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Ossabaw Island Hog

We continued to eat our way through the menu which included suckling pig and a unique take on duck confit, which reminded my a lot of Peking duck because of the plum in it.  Both very delicious!  We finished up with an amazing grilled sour cream pound cake that was absolutely stellar!

Yes, we in two words, pigged out, and I will need to put in several more miles in the next few days to compensate for the pounds I put on. Thanks Vic for the recommendation and thanks to the Publican for the beautiful meal!

 


 

I’m in a Pickle without you: Good bye to Savannah Grill

I found out last week my favorite restaurant, here at the lake has closed. Savannah Grill has been my husband and I’s go to place for several years now and I will miss the food and the staff very much!

The food there was exceptional and very unique, specializing in locally sourced produce and meats from the Missouri area. One of Chef Robert Sills specialities and my personal favorites included his charcuterie boards with wonderful pickled produce and totally awesome smoked meats.

So as a tribute to these lovely folks here’s my recipe for pickled beets.   We will miss you guys!


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Pickled Beets

2 medium beets, steamed or boiled, then sliced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons whole mustard

Bring mixture to a simmer, making sure to dissolve all of the sugar, and remove from the heat.  Steam or boil 2 medium beets and slice. Add the sliced beet to the warm pickling brine and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum and they are ready to eat.

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Sweet, sour, and a hit of spice.

No Pectin Plum Jam

Scenario: You are having way too much fun at the farmer market and you come home with 30 pounds of fruit and forget that you don’t have any pectin in the pantry! Answer: No Pectin Jam! Otherwise known as the way jam was originally made.


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Apricot, plum and vanilla peach jams

Plum Jam

15 pounds red plums, destoned

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 cups sugar

Place the plum halves, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot, a dutch oven works well, but if you have a pot that is specifically designed for jams like this one please use it you won’t be sorry.  Allow the plums to soak for about an hour, then begin your cooking process.

This is a slow process you will be bringing this up to a boil 4 separate times!  Stirring through this is mandatory you don’t want scorching on the bottom of your pot. Then allow it to cool down each time to room temperature.  This method allows you not to add pectin and get the beautiful thick consistency that you want for a jam.  It also doesn’t give you the rubbery consistancy that you can sometimes get from a commercial pectin.

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Sugar, lemon juice and plums, you can’t get any simpler.

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Red Plum Jam

You now have a beautiful thick jam! if you don’t go ahead and heat and cool it an additional go round.  The jam can now be canned in sterilized glass jars or frozen in plastic containers. I used this method for peaches, plums and apricots and they all turned out great!

Buttermilk Biscuits

A really good biscuit is the perfect way to start the morning.  Whether the biscuit is paired with sausage gravy, jam or a nice piece of chicken, they need to be fluffy and tender.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 6 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degree.

Dice the butter into small 1/2 inch pieces. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder,salt, and baking soda. Using your hands pinch the butter throughout the flour mixture.
Once the butter is at a crumb level, drizzle in the buttermilk and gently stir to combine with a fork, or with your hands if you are feeling adventurous.

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So much better than the canned stuff, and no preservatives!

Roll out dough to 3/4 of an inch and cut out with a 4″ cutter, or use a 3″ ice cream scoop and create 6 mounds of dough. Dust the bottom of a glass with flour and gently press down each mound.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Cherry Pie Filling

Late summer and early fall you’ll find it a little warmer in my  kitchen than it usually is. Because I’m probably canning something. I consider canning to be a lost art form.  Jams, jellies, and pie fillings are usually on the check list.  For me, the ideal cherry pie filling is both sweet and tart. A large majority of the ready made pie filling are, to me, simply one note. By combining both sweet and sour cherries together I think you get a more interesting and complex favor, that just gives you a better pie.

For this recipe I used a combination of Rainier Cherries, which are sweet and have a thinner skin, and North Star Cherries, which add that sour note.

Ruby red with notes of gold.

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Quick shower.

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Little jewels

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Necessary tools….

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Melt down…

Cherry Pie Filling

3 pounds Rainier Cherries or other sweet cherry, pitted

3 pounds North Star Cherries or other sour cherry, pitted

1 1/4 cups lemon juice

3 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup water

The most time consuming part of this whole process is pitting the cherries, pure and simple. Six pounds of cherries took me about 45 minutes to pit.

Place the cherries, sugar, salt and lemon juice in a large heavy bottomed pot. Stir to combine. Whisk the water and cornstarch into a slurry and add to the cherry mixture.

Over medium heat cook the filling down until it thickens. At this point you can cool and use immediately in a pie or process in a water bath for 35 minutes.

Makes 2 1/2  quarts of filling

White Wine Pizza Dough Recipe, for Cracker Thin Crust

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love pizza! Not everyone is lucky enough to have a pizza oven in their backyard and I have an awesome one by Fontana. The ovens are made in Italy and my model is on wheels so I have the ability to move it! The oven is wood fueled and gets up to 700 degrees, so baking a pizza takes only minutes.

The recipe that follows is my version of a Neopolitan Style pizza crust, super thin and deliciously crisp!

White Wine Pizza Dough

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Wine in the crust and a little to drink with it!

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Super crispy.

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Cracker Crust Pizza Dough

3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Bench flour for rolling out dough

In a microwaveable bowl combine the wine and the water, microwave for 30 seconds just enough to warm it. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast when you add it.

Stir in the yeast and the sugar, let set for 5 minutes or so, and allow the yeast and sugar to mingle. Then stir in you olive oil.

Next add flour and salt, knead mixture into a smooth dough. Divide into four pieces coat in olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Each piece rolled out will make one 12″ thin cracker crust.

If you don’t need all the crusts at the same time. Roll them each out, layer onto parchment paper and wrap in cling wrap and freeze flat. These will keep frozen well for a couple of weeks.

When you’re ready for a pizza simply remove for the freezer. Cover a pizza peel with corn meal and lay the frozen crust on it. Allow the crust to defrost for about 5 minutes. Top and bake as you normally would.

Fresh Strawberries

Fresh Missouri strawberries are at the farmers market right! These little guys are no bigger than a penny and absolutely delightful! Whether you make them into jam, or put them into a pie or even just eat them standing over the sink, they are truly something that should not be missed!

Currently we are working on finishing our 5th pint, we simply have them in a bowl of cold water and eat a handful whenever we go by the bowl!

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Peanut Butter “Softies”

During the last 90’s my family got the wonderful opportunity to live in Auckland, New Zealand. The food and wine there were fantastic! And it’s there that I really started to look at food differently. The food was really fresh, and there were small restaurants that had only three to four tables to them. Chefs were just doing little start ups where anything was possible. It really opened my eyes to something other that all the chain restaurants that I had had access to before.

But even though the food was wonderful, I still got a little homesick for the some food I was used too. When we lived in New Zealand the one thing that I had trouble finding in the grocery store at that time, was peanut butter. Why is it when know you can’t have something it’s all you want! I could find it sometimes , but it just tasted different than what we had here in the states. Not as salty and not quite as thick, or sometimes more grainy.

But made into cookies my peanut butter was awesome no matter what brand I used, and it tasted like home.

Yes, I’m just an old softie, and these little guys hit the spot!


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Peanut Butter Softies

Peanut Butter “Softies”

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Cream together butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla paste. Sift into the mixture the flour, soda and salt. Give it one last stir and pop into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, scoop the dough into small balls, and space on a baking sheet lined with a Silat. Dip a fork into a glass of water and flatten the dough balls with a little cross hack.
Bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove, cool and eat, it’s as simple as that!

Cookies and Milk

Cookies and Milk

Sour Cream Muffins

Don’t ask me why but for some reason I was into movie references today.  Maybe because its rainy and cloudy this afternoon and all these colors are just light and sunny or a bit like a circus?  Whatever the reason they make me smile!  And with these muffins, it was really fun being able to have them for breakfast.  I found this recipe on line, A Family Feast, and it was just too good to pass up.  I hope you like them as much as I do!


 

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I’m ready for my closeup Mr. De Mille!

Sour Cream Muffins

For streusel topping:
1/2 cup of purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

For muffin batter:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Little Miss Sunshine, for Breakfast.

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This is really my good side!

In a small bowl, using a fork, cut together flour, sugar, cinnamon into still cool butter, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using a whisk stir these together.

In a second medium sized bowl cream together sugar, and butter.  Then add oil, eggs, vanilla and sour cream.  Fold the dry ingredients into the mixture, combining well but do not over mix.

Using a medium sized scoop portion out the batter into the muffin tin and top with the streusel mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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A good supporting cast is always necessary!

Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

Paging through my many cookbooks is something I can do for exstended periods of time… With a good cup of coffee and a little time on my hands it is a most pleasurable experience.  The weather at the lake the last week has lent itself to this endeavor.  Cold, rainy, with periodic trips to the grocery store and potty training a new puppy it was a quiet week.  This little recipe just hits the spot.  Simple, not too sweet shortbread, the jam filling makes it sweet, with a nice buttery finish. This is a small recipe it only makes about a dozen sandwiches, but it just the right amount, not too many and not too little. It’s just right!

This recipe is from Tessa Kiros book, “The Recipe Collection.”  Tessa is one of my favorite cookbook authors, she just writes from the heart. When you’re looking for recipes that are simple and down to earth her recipes are definitely worth the look.  Inspired by family and friends cooking she puts forth a good story and a wonderful recipe to accompany it.


 

Sweets for the sweet!

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Dusting of Sugar

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Snow storms over!

Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

100 grams unsalted butter

100 grams granulated sugar

200 grams all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

200 grams (7oz.) jam, I used apricot and strawberry

powdered sugar for dusting

Cream together butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla extract.  Sift together the flour and baking powder and incorporate the dry with the wet ingredients.  Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Roll out the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes.  I just use a small drinking glass. Something in the 2″ diameter range. Bake cookies for around 15 minutes until golden.  Cool and spread with your favorite jam or preserves.


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Well maybe a little more.