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Thyme and Honey

  • Chicken Bleu

    Chicken_Blue_plated.JPGHi all! Spring is nearly here! Not that winter was particularly terrible but I don’t know about you, but I welcome warm breezes, birds singing and the sight of snowdrops poking through the soil. Spring to a food lover means fresh spring greens coming soon to a farmers market near you. As the markets will be opening soon it brings me back to farmer’s market memories.

  • Turkey Burgers

    Turkey Burger, photo credit: Pen & Fork blogIt's grill time baby! This month we're sharing one of our favorite recipes to get you pumped up for cooking even when it's hot and humid! This burger is off the hook delicious!

  • Tiramisu

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    Good.JPGI love tiramisu! Now I have to admit, this favorite Italian dessert was a not a part of my Italian-American upbringing. My family hailed from southern Italy where cannoli and sfogliatelle were our go to desserts. Tiramisu originated in northern Italy in the vicinity of Venice, although it’s actual place of birth is widely disputed. So wonderful a dessert it is, it’s understandable that so many places want to lay claim to its creation. I actually didn’t know such a phenomenon existed until a few years ago when my son, home from college for the weekend, asked me why I never make Tiramisu. I replied, “Tirami who?” I had no idea what he was talking about. He had eaten it when out for dinner with friends. This opened my eyes! I never go out to eat at Italian restaurants because, why pay someone else to make what I make myself on a regular basis. It never occurred to me that Italian food can be vastly different based on region. I was happy in my own little world. I felt ignorant and ashamed of my culinary short sightedness. So the first chance I got, headed out for some tiramsu. I was hooked at first bite! Creamy and coffee flavored, I felt a pang of regret that I had missed this all my life and vowed to become a proficient creator of tiramisu. So I researched recipes and variations on ingredients and methods and found that the only common ingredient in all of these recipes is coffee. Some recipes use lady fingers, others panatone or some other cake. Some have liquor, some do not. Eggs vs no eggs and even the way to make the cream is up to debate. There are probably as many variations as there are regions laying claim to its invention. Ah… But which is the true tiramisu? No way to tell, but trying lots of recipes out to find my tiramisu was the only way to satisfy my curiosity. I know, I know…. such a sacrifice. I needed to make numerous attempts and it was really hard to find willing palates to judge the results. But back to the main ingredient,coffee. Some recipes use instant espresso, others just strong coffee. But to me it’s worth the effort to brew a pot of espresso to use in the recipe and enjoy while you are making the tiramisu. But what’s different about espresso you ask? For that explanation, I defer to my friends at Monocacy Coffee Company. According to Matt Hengeveld, coffee roaster at MCC:

    “Espresso is made differently than standard drip coffee. Drip coffee is infused via gravity, water is distributed on top of coffee grounds and sinks through. Espresso is made via pressure. Coffee is placed in a near pressure-tight capsule known as a portafilter and is pressurized to produce a high potency extraction. Monocacy Coffee Co currently has a medium roast Brazilian single-origin coffee that is excellent for espresso.”

    To me it’s all about the coffee but for others, it’s all about the cream. Now you can make this part as easy or as complicated as you like. Tiramisu aficionados would say “there must be eggs”, but they are raw eggs combined with the mascarpone cheese that holds everything together. Some folks are not fans of raw eggs so I avoid them and get a different texture of cream. Mascapone is the cheese of choice, and in my opinion, the best choice but a little on the pricey side. Similar results can be achieved with cream cheese and a bit more sugar. Now you can see why it took so many tries to get what I was looking for in a recipe. So here it is, my version of tiramisu, an uncomplicated version with a decadent taste, that my family enjoys and I hope yours will too.

    -- Diana

    Tiramisu

    IMG_0200.JPG2  8  ounce cartons  fat-free sour cream

    2  8  ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened

    2/3 cup sugar

    1/4  cup fat-free milk

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    1/2  cup strong coffee Try Monacacy Coffee Company

    2   tablespoons coffee

    2  3  ounce package ladyfingers, split

    2   tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

    Step By Step

    1.In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Combine coffee and coffee liqueur.

    2 .Layer one package of the ladyfingers, cut side up, in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Brush with half of the coffee mixture. Spread with half of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cheese mixture.

    3. Sprinkle with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If desired, sprinkle serving plates with additional unsweetened cocoa powder. Cut dessert into squares to serve. Serves 15.

  • Local Eggs Best Defense Against Avian Flu

    eggs.jpgBack in the '70s the American Egg Board touted “The Incredible Edible Egg” as a protein-packed part of a healthy diet. Then in the '90s, eggs were considered  cholesterol packed time bombs waiting to clog your arteries at any given time. Fact is, eggs have been consumed by people since 600 BC and really are considered a staple food the world over. This being said, when highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 strikes, threatening egg production and in turn egg prices, it’s a big deal. The hard boiled fact is that Americans consume approximately 79,360,000,000 each year which amounts to 1 billion dollars annually. Suffice it to say, we do love our eggs.  

    Now it’s not just your morning omelet that is in danger, but your toast and maybe that morning donut you have with your coffee. You see, food manufacturers are heavily affected as well and to meet their production demands we are importing eggs from the Netherlands. And the 30 million eggs that we export each year? We won’t go there. This is a BIG deal, economically and gastronomically!

    So what’s an egg lover to do when the grocery store says “No eggs for you!” or you’re just not willing to pay the going price of a dozen eggs, currently $2.69 at last check? You do what you should have been doing all along, look local.  The Pennsylvania Agriculture Department has already taken steps to ensure Pennsylvania factory farms remains flu free, but your local farmer has been doing this as a best practice since forever.

    This afternoon a post popped up in my Facebook news feed from Todd Hedrick, owner of Hedrick Family Farms and Produce in New Tripoli, about the availability of pasture raised, hormone free eggs at the usual price of  $2.50 per dozen. I was excited, and about to put as many eggs in one basket that I could.

    So I dropped Todd a note for some insight on the current situation and he was a lot of help.

    I asked Todd why this is happening to large producers and not smaller farms. He explained Factory farms that raise livestock in confinement house don't care for the animals the way that smaller family farms do. This causes many healthy issues. Clean farming practices prevent disease, however nothing is fool proof”. 

    Thus far, the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza (HPAI) H5 has cost the industry in excess of $410 million, according to U.S Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. The flu has caused the death of 33 million birds across 16 states, 4 of which have declared a state of emergency.

    So if the cost of eggs isn’t enough to keep you from the local supermarket, consider this. When you buy local you can ask question, get to know your farmer and your food. When I asked Todd about the best practices used on his farm, he told me this:

     “Our egg layers are on pasture daily. Meaning they free range during the day, then are secured in coops for the night. This gives them fresh grass, grubs, insects, feed daily while getting good exercise then the security of the coop overnight.” He added that, “Disease is possible anywhere and on anything. However minimalizing the area for bad bacteria to grow is crucial. In our coops we add carbon to the soil to remove the ammonia released from chicken manure. This eliminates odors and promotes healthy living for the birds.”

    All these careful considerations make a difference not only in the health of the birds but in the final product. “A fresh egg that is less than 24 hours old is fuller, brighter, healthier, and has much more taste. Plus, as an egg sits it loses nutrients, so a fresh egg is better” is the claim Hedrick makes

    Availability, eggcellent taste and nutrition and value are eggactly the reasons why you should buy from your local farmer.  All eggie puns aside, by supporting our local farmers we stimulate our local economy and give ourselves the best possible food at the best possible prices.  Don’t be scrambling for eggs this week, stop by a farm or farmers market for a fresh dozen and enjoy!

                                                                                                                                      - Diana

  • Loaded Clam Chowder

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    Soup.jpgLoaded Clam Chowder

    (Serves 4)

    1 tablespoon EVOO
    3/4 cup small diced onion
    3/4 cup small diced red pepper 
    3/4 cup small diced potato
    1 teaspoon dried thyme 
    1/2 pound bacon, cut into half inch pieces
    1 pint half and half
    1 stick of butter
    1/2 cup flour
    3 cans minced clams (2 cans of juice reserved)
    3/4 cup corn (canned, fresh or frozen)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Fresh minced parsley or basil
    Directions:
    Heat soup pot with oil over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, potatoes, thyme and bacon. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally and until the vegetables begin to soften and bacon is cooked. Bacon will not be crisp. Add half and half and clam juice. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. 
    In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add flour slowly, stirring constantly. Meanwhile, remove two cups of hot broth from the soup pot. Set aside. Once the flour is no longer visible and turns a golden color, remove from heat. Immediately add broth to the pan, pouring liquid in slowly, one cup at a time and stirring until well combined. Slowly add mixture to the soup, stirring continuously. The broth will become much thicker. Mix in corn and minced clam. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish individual bowls with parsley or basil. Serve hot!
  • Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes

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    Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, these enchiladas are incredibly simple and remarkably delicious! They're perfect...creamy, cheesy and have a bit of zip! Serve with Spanish rice and a tossed salad, if you'd like! Sometimes I double the recipe and save half for future devouring! You're family will love these!

    image1.JPGChicken and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes

    (Serves 4)

    1 pound chicken, cooked and cubed
    Salt and pepper
    2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
    1 small onion, diced
    1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
    1 jar salsa verde (12 ounces)
    1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
    1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese (plus additional for topping)
    1/2 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese (plus additional for topping)
    6 large flour tortillas at room temperature
    Sour cream (optional)
    Avocado, diced (optional)
    Hot sauce (optional)

    Over medium heat cook the peppers and onions until soft. Stir in soup, salsa and liquid smoke. Bring to a simmer. Once the mixture begins bubbling, remove from heat and stir in cheese. Poor one third of the sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased casserole dish. Add chicken to the mixture and stir to combine. Spoon out equal amounts of the enchilada mixture into each of the tortillas, lining up the enchiladas lengthwise. Top with remaining sauce and and additional cheese. Bake until bubbling, approximately 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings! We prefer sour cream, sliced avocado and hot sauce!

  • Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

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    Scones have been popping up at coffee shops all across the country for some time now. Perhaps their recent popularity is in part due to the huge hit, that is Downton Abby. Or maybe it's simply the fact that these individual quick breads are the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea! 

    Traditional scones, which originate from England, can tend to be a bit on the dry side however, this recipe gets its moisture from the decadence of incorporating crème fraiche into the dough. Together the raspberries and white chocolate balance each other in what will surely become a family favorite! Not a fan of raspberries and white chocolate? Try adding orange zest and reconstituted dried cranberries.

     

    Sconepic.jpgRaspberry and White Chocolate Scones  

    1 egg

    1/2 c crème fraiche, at room temperature 

    2 c flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 stick of butter, melted

    1 cup fresh raspberries Try Oley Valley Organics!

    1/2 cup white chocolate chips

    Turbinado sugar

    In a small bowl, whisk together egg and crème fraiche. Set aside. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour, stirring to combine. Gently mix in raspberries and chocolate. Spoon even portions onto a greased cookie sheet, several inches apart. Dough will yield approximately 8-10 scones. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.

  • Cuban Sandwich Casserole

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    Happy March!!!


    Spring is on its way!!! At least we all hope so!!


    In the meanwhile, we need warm comfort foods to keep us warm. And this recipe fits the bill.
    Now, I have to admit, as much as I love food and to cook and create, there are foods that I had never been exposed to, the Cuban sandwich being one of them. I know, I know… how can that be? I must have had plenty of opportunities or maybe no one I know had ever raved about a sandwich so great that I just had to have one. I became interested in the Cubano after watching the 2014 film Chef, the story of a chef who loses his job and starts up a food truck, reconnecting with his past and bringing him closer to his family. It’s a great movie, funny and heartwarming and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if there was a way to capture the aromas of all that this talented chef created.


    It left me with a desire to try a Cuban sandwich. Oh, but where to get one! I had no idea where to find an authentic Cubano outside of Havana or Miami and certainly not in the Lehigh Valley. Now I am sure that they are out there, if you know of one … please share.

    I left the theater vowing to have a Cuban sandwich within the week. I did, making it myself!
    And now I know why in the film people followed that truck and stood on line for what appeared to be hours. Cuban sandwiches are amazing. Making them is like an art project to me. There are steps, marinating the pork, layering the ingredients, pressing it in the grill. It’s like a masterpiece!!

    So recently I bought a whole pork loin and while trimming it into a roast and some chops I had some trimming s and small pieces that I cubed. I thought to myself, “Self, what am I going to do with these cubes? A stew with some sweet potatoes, a stir fry?” Then it came to me about how I should make
    Cuban sandwiches but how can I do that with cubes? And that was how the Cuban Sandwich Casserole was born. All the goodness of a Cuban sandwich in one baking pan!

    It too has steps… toasting the bread, marinating and cooking the pork, making the sauce, layering the ingredients. But it results in a masterpiece that tastes just like an authentic Cuban sandwich.
    I like to serve it with a shaved brussel sprout slaw dressed with citrus vinaigrette. It makes a nice addition.

    So I hope you give it a try, it will make you want to Tango!

    Or whatever you want to dance to keep warm!

    Think spring, think spring, think spring…..

     -- Diana

     

  • Penne with Spinach Tomato and Capers

     

    main.jpgPenne with Spinach, Tomato and Capers

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1 1/2 medium sweet onions, diced
    6 cloves garlic (minced) Try Apple Ridge Farms
    15-20 sundried tomatoes in olive oil with herbs, diced
    1 1/2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with their juices
    3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
    5 ounces baby spinach
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add EVOO and onions. Cook until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. While onions cook, heat a large, salted pot of water on high.

    Next, add garlic to the onion and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly. About 30 seconds. Add sundried and canned tomatoes, along with capers and heat until warm.

    Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring to help the spinach begin to break down. Allow for the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes.

    Once the pot of water begins to boil, add the pasta and reduce to medium high. Cook pasta to al dente. Serve sauce over pasta with grated Parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!

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  • Shepherd's Pie

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    Shepherd's Pie

    (serves 6)

    5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced Try Twin Maples Farm
    One pinch nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    Milk
    1/4 cup butter
    1 pound ground beef
    1/2 pound ground lamb Try Willow Haven Farm
    1-2 turns EVOO
    1/2 sweet onion, decided
    3/4 cup diced carrot
    1 1/2 cups fresh peas
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 cup shredded cheddar
    One gravy packet

    ShephardsPie_Big.jpgPlace potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water and place over high heat. Add nutmeg, onion powder, salt and pepper to water. Once the water begins to boil, turn the stove down to medium-high and cook until tender. Drain. Add butter and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

    In the meanwhile, begin browning the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Once the meat is fully cooked use a slotted spoon to remove the it from the pan and place directly into a pie dish, reserving the drippings for gravy.

    Wipe out pan, add EVOO and sauté onion and carrot. Cook until soft. Add peas. Cook two to three minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

    Next, place cooked veggies on top of meat and spread evenly. Layer mashed potatoes on top of veggies. Top with shredded cheese and bake until golden brown and warm throughout.

    Make gravy according to directions on the package, using the meat drippings in place of water. Add enough water to compensate for whatever amount is needed. Serve on the side. Enjoy!

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