March 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm (Entree, Salads, Side Dishes)
Dear Fellow Foodies:
More from the pantry challenge. We just brought in some amazing dried beans from Italy. The following recipe is so simple it’s almost comical. All you need to do is open two packages and one jar and have an incredible meal for 14 people. Crazy huh? The only items we had to pick up at the grocery store were parsley and cherry tomatoes. If it was summer, these items could have come from the herb garden on the deck. This recipe uses Corona beans. These huge plump beans are similar to the Coco Blancs you find in France or the Giganta beans found in Europe. Known as the “poor’s meat” these beans are creamy and hearty. With the addition of Spanish Bonito Tuna in oil, this was a very satisfying meal hitting all the right notes. Even meat and potato folks would enjoy this!
This also is a wonderful gluten free meal. Since the Corona beans are high in protein, this would also make a great vegetarian meal, just omit the tuna.
Corona Beans with Spanish Bonito Tuna
One Bag of Corona Beans – soaked overnight
One Jar of Spanish Bonito Tuna
One package of Boscaiola Dried Pasta Sauce from Italy
Parsley – chopped fine
Cherry tomatoes – cut in half
Salt and Pepper
When cooking any kind of bean you need to soak them overnight for best results. The instructions on the packet of beans recommended soaking for 12-14 hours and cooking for 30-40 minutes. After soaking the beans overnight, they actually needed an hour of cooking time to get them creamy enough. Be sure when you are cooking any kind of legume or bean that you don’t salt the water. You know the saying “tough beans”? That is what you will get if you cook them in salted water. Wait until they are almost cooked completely before salting.
Soak the Boscaiola Dried Pasta Sauce in a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook off the water from the sauce and reserve. You may add olive oil to this if you like. These dried pasta sauces from Italy are great to have in your pantry for adding to pasta, risotto or in this case, beans.
When the beans are done, taste and season again with additional salt and pepper if desired. Open the tuna and pour the olive oil onto the beans. Crumble the tuna into the beans and add the tomatoes. Add the cooked Boscaiola to the bean mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle additional olive oil over if you desire.
We were able to have this dish for lunch for several days and also had enough to bring to a friend’s home as a side dish. Ta da!!
March 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm (Entree, Salads)
|Most folks don’t think of using squash in a salad, but when roasted and paired with goat cheese it becomes a hearty meal in itself. This was part of the pantry raid week. We had a wonderful cinderella squash left from our grower’s market that needed to be used. Feel free to substitute the hazelnuts for any other nut and you can leave out the bacon for a vegetarian option.
Warm Squash Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese
- 1 small kobotcha squash or cinderella squash 3-4 pounds – peeled, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2″ slices.
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- 3 Tablespoons smoked brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espellette or smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Maldon Flake Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup White Balsamic
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
- 6 ounces mild goat cheese
- 4 ounces hickory bacon – cooked and chopped into small pieces
- 1 pound arugula – washed and trimmed of any stems
Warm your oven to 475F. Mix all the ingredients except the hazelnuts, goat cheese, bacon and arugula to create a vinaigrette. Toss the slices of squash in the vinaigrette and bake 10 minutes on a non-stick baking pan. Turn over and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until soft, but not mushy.
Form the goat cheese into small rounds and roll into the finely chopped hazelnuts. Reserving the remaining hazelnuts and vinaigrette.
Arrange 3-4 squash pieces on a plate. Sprinkle with bacon and a small amount of hazelnuts. Place a few rounds of goat cheese on top. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of reserved vinaigrette. Toss the arugula in a small amount of vinaigrette (you may not use all the vinaigrette) to lightly coat. Top the warm squash with the dressed arugula and serve with additional flake salt and cracked pepper. Enjoy with a Southern Oregon Viognier. Serves 6-8.
March 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm (Side Dishes)
The following is a recipe I have adapted from our wonderful employee Jois. Lentils du Puy are a great way to add texture, flavor and protein to your diet. The advantage of Lentils du Puy is that they don’t get mushy like other lentils. Be sure you are getting the authentic lentils vs. the ones from Washington state. The package should state A.O.C. or A.O.P. The A.O.C, or Nomenclature of Controlled Origin, is the denomination of a country, region, or locale used to designate a product of the region and of which the quality and the characteristics are exclusively or essentially derived from the geography. The AOP, Protected Origin Nomenclature, is its analogue at the European level. In Europe, there is an immense richness and variety of food products ; but when a product acquires a remarkable reputation, it can find itself confronted in the market by imitation products that try to usurp its name. This disloyal practice not only discourages the producer but also leads the consumer astray. This is why, in 1992, the European Community created a system of protection and valorization of agro-alimentary products (AOP, IGP, STG).The Nomenclature of Protected Origin (AOP) designates the denomination of a product of which the production, transformation, and elaboration ought to have a place in an area geographically determined with a recognized and stated know-how.
Phew! Basically, it means it is the real deal and not an imitation. That said, the Lentils du Puy do cost a little more but are well worth it and seeing a cup of lentils feeds 6 adults it isn’t that expensive after all.
Lentils du Puy with San Marzano Tomatoes
1 Cup Lentils du Puy – picked through to be sure there are no stones
1/2 sweet onion – minced
1 carrot – minced
2 Tablespoons Onion Avocado Oil
1/4 cup Red wine or Vermouth (or for non alcoholic option use Red Verjus)
1 – 28 oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes from Italy – chop tomatoes and save juice
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
Sea Salt and Pepper
Heat the avocado oil until hot, add the onion and carrot and cook until soft (approximately 5-7 minutes) Deglaze the pan with the wine or Verjus. Cook this until almost dry (au sec) Add the chicken stock or vegetable stock and the juice from the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer then add the lentils. Cook this for approximately 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for approximately 7 minutes more to heat through. This is wonderful with sausage sliced on top or with a crispy trout filet or salmon filet. Anyway you look at it, Lentils du Puy are one heck of a wonderful base for many healthy, hearty meals.
Happy Cooking Everyone!
September 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm (Dessert)
We all know how these things begin. It’s ten at night, dinner was hours ago, and you’ve been reading a good mystery until… you realize that you’d really like just a little something. A sweet little something. And, before you know it, you’re having a one night stand with a jar of chocolate caramel sauce.
We just got into the Mercantile new Sweet Crisps from 34￮. These may even help you hold on to your self respect. Get your fix from Smooth Chocolate or Dreamy Caramel, and never have to commit to more than 60 calories with 7 or 8 of these nearly fat-free little beauties. If you want to tart them up with a bit of nut butter or introduce them to a little Greek yogurt, they won’t mind, but we find them crunchily satisfying all on their own.
Come on in and introduce yourself to our cool new friends. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship. The best part is they are only
$5.25 for 10 servings of guilt-free happiness.
June 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm (sandwiches)
Dear Fellow Foodies:
Working in the shop has many advantages one being the amazing recipes people share with me. Kim from South Stage Cellars
gave me this recipe. The following is a great Panini sandwich that uses the French Walnut Brie we just started carrying. A very simple concept, and quite delicious! Our former Jacksonville Gelatoria had a similar sandwich using Proscuitto, Brie and Fig Jam
. I’m sure Kim could help you pick out the perfect wine to go with your panini.
Walnut Brie, Proscuitto and Pear Panini
Bread of your choice.
Walnut Brie – amount of your choice
2 slices proscuitto
1/2 Pear sliced thin
Caramelized onion (optional) or fig onion tapenade spread
Vanilla Fig Balsamic
Place the walnut brie (you can smear it into the bread) and pear on the bread. Place Proscuitto on other side. Add caramelized onion or tapenade (if desired) and drizzle small amount of Vanilla Fig Balsamic over pears. Press in Panini Press, serve hot.
June 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm (Entree, Salads)
I just taught a class on how to cook from the Farmer’s Market recently. Since most of my students didn’t know how to cook a fava bean (or even what they were) we decided that we would have them for part of our meal. Since I had help cleaning the fava beans, I got 8 pounds. Then they realized what a pain in the butt they are to clean and cook, but they are SO darned good. I know, I know, you think that is a LOT. Nope, just enough with a small amount left over for me today. We made a wonderful spread with the favas but I wanted something else. This got me to thinking about Panzanella salads.
I’ve also been on a bread baking kick. Not just any bread baking, but the rustic loaves you get at the grower’s markets with the crusty, crispy exterior and the large holed interior that just melts into your mouth. I made my starter and fed it for a few weeks. My friend Jois told me that I should name my starter so I wouldn’t let it die. I named it Henry. When it gives me trouble I call him Hank, and when I attempt French Bread I’ll call him Henri. Henry has helped me bake some amazing loaves and of course I started to have half loaves all over the house.
I made some croutons with olive oil, herbs de Provence and a pinch of salt. Then came the dressing. Using the juice from my quick pickle recipe and the oil from the Italian Olives in Lemon I made the vinaigrette. Sliced up some wild ramps (you guessed it, Farmer’s Market) and mixed this all together with a few leftover tomato pieces from David’s dinner the night before.
I have never eaten a salad where I was grunting and groaning over it and I was happy no one was close enough to hear me . Sometimes the best meals are right in front of you while you stand at the open refrigerator door. This was one of them.
Next time maybe I’ll share – then again, maybe not. Grunt, grunt, grunt, ooooohhhhh.
- 1 cup Reisling Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 small seedless cucumbers – cut in small pieces
- 3 small ramps – sliced thin
- 1 Tablespoon Harissa Paste
- Mason Jar to store
Heat the vinegar until warm, add the sugar, harissa and the salt. Stir until melted. Pour over the cucumbers and ramps in the jar. Allow to sit chilled for 2 hours or longer. Use this as your vinegar for your vinaigrette.
May 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Uncategorized)
Silk Road Burger
It finally happened. Our grill died. I guess using a grill for over 13 years in a row, year round, tends to do that. Of course since we are without our grill we both are craving burgers. Not any burger mind you, but the ultimate burger. You know the one. The burger that makes you stop talking to your friends, close your eyes and eat while juices drip down your chin. You open your eyes hoping no one noticed and get up to grab a napkin, or in the case of most of our outdoor festivities, a paper towel then smiling to yourself notice all your friends are doing the same thing.
Grilling has been a pastime for many people, but there are those, we are part of that clan, that takes it quite seriously. The best burgers are not just plain beef. There is something always special added to it. Some people put cheese in the center of their burger, some like to add lots of toppings. We like to tweak the actual burger with spices and add a second meat to the top sirloin beef. Sometimes we add pork, sometimes we add elk (one of my personal favorites). Here is the recipe for a burger that uses both Harissa and Aleppo Pepper. The pepper is named after Aleppo, a long-inhabited city along the Silk Road in northern Syria, and is grown in Syria and Turkey.
- 2 tablespoons Harissa Paste
- 2 tablespoons Light Muscavado Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Aleppo Pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1-1/2 pounds ground top sirloin
- ½ pound ground pork (or elk if available)
- 6 Slices of Rogue Creamery X-tra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 6 Burger Buns – toasted
- Onion Confit
Mix the Harissa with the Muscavado and spices. Add this to the mix of beef and pork. Make 6 patties and chill until you grill them. After cooking, top with cheese and onion confit and any other toppings you desire.
Now we need to go to find another grill. Happy Grilling and Cooking Everyone!
March 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm (Uncategorized)
Dear Fellow Foodies:
Being from Chicago, Pizza was a way of life for us. While reading the latest Bon Appetit I came across a method of cooking pizza that I haven’t
tried before. Since we sell the “00″ flour at the Mercantile I wanted to use this to make the “crunchewey” pizza you find in pizza parlors that use a wood burning pizza oven. The secret to this dough is not to mess with it too much. Don’t roll it out. Don’t knead it too much. Go light on your toppings. You will need to start this a day ahead of time to allow it to ferment property. If you follow these suggestions, you will end up with an amazing pizza. In fact, this is so easy you may just opt to make your own from now on. The pizza in the photo has Italian baby artichokes on top as well as using the Jacksonville Mercantile Cherry Tomato Tepanade as a sauce.
Happy Pizza Dough
5 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cups “00″ Flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 teaspoons flake sea salt (I used Murray River)
3 Cups Very Warm Water
Mix all your dry ingredients together. While stirring add your water to the
flour mixture (I did this in a mix master with a paddle). Take out the
dough and place on a well floured surface. Knead until all the flour is
incorporated. Place this into a bowl that is large enough for the dough to
expand by two and a half times. Do not oil the bowl. Cover the bowl with
plastic wrap and set out at room temperature for 24 hours. The dough will
look bubbly and will have expanded by twice the size. Remove the dough from
the bowl onto a well floured surface. Spread out the dough with your
fingers and then cut into 6 or 8 even pieces. Roll each dough piece into a
ball and cover with plastic wrap for an hour before baking. At this point
you can wrap the dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3
days. This dough does not freeze because of the limited amount of yeast.
Maybe it is time for a pizza party!
If you have a pizza stone this is the time to get it out of the closet. If
your stone seems dirty, do not wash it in water. The best way to clean a
pizza stone is to brush it off and when you are cleaning your oven, place
the stone in the oven at the same time. Use a wire brush to scrub off any
leftover bits. If you have accidentaly gotten your stone wet, do not use it
for a few days. This will prevent your stone from cracking or exploding in
Now it is time to make your pizza! This is the fun part and the new method
I just read about. Preheat your oven to 500F or 550F if it goes that hot
with the pizza stone in the top 1/3 of the oven for one hour.
To form your pizza, take a rested pizza dough ball and place on a well
floured surface. Using your fingers, start spreading the dough outwards.
Take the dough and invert over your fists, allowing gravity to stretch the
dough further. Place onto a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet that
has more “00″ flour or polenta on it to prevent sticking. Rub the dough
with olive oil, truffle oil or any oil of your choice. Put your toppings on
(go light on the toppings) and a light sprinkle of flake salt and cracked
When you put your pizza onto the stone turn on your broiler. Yes, really.
The heat from the broiler coming from above and the hot stone recreates the
wood-burning pizza oven effect. Keep your eye on the pizza. These cook
quickly. Your pizza will be done between 5-7 minutes. Take it out of the
oven and allow to rest for a few minutes on a wooden board or wire rack.
Cut and serve hot. To make more pizzas, turn off the broiler and set the
oven temperature to 500F or 550F. Allow 3-5 minutes between pizzas to let
oven get to the optimal temperature.
Happy Pizza Cooking Everyone!!
Chef Constance Jesser
March 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm (cocktails)
While scanning the latest food magazine I came across a blurb (no recipe) about a gin martini made with strawberries and balsamic. This got me to thinking about another thing to do with the Strawberry Balsamic we carry in our shop. The outcome, yup, you guessed it – yummy good. Here is the “recipe”:
Place everything in a shaker with ice. Serve up in a coupe glass with a strawberry as garnish.
This must be the shortest post yet. Bottoms up!
February 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm (Uncategorized)
Dear Fellow Foodies:
March is one of those strange months. Sometimes it feels like spring, sometimes it still feels as though winter is going to be here forever. When we lived in Chicago we had a fabulous French Bakery in our neighborhood that would have the standard green cupcakes in March but what we always remembered were the tea cakes they had available. This tea cake is like the ones we used to enjoy. Time to break out your bundt pan for this one. Anyone else remember “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and the reference to bundt cake? To increase the lavender flavor, leave the lavender leaves in the milk. If you want it to be very subtle, just strain it out. Be sure you are using culinary lavender (known as French Lavender) not regular lavender. Culinary lavender doesn’t have a strong taste of camphor (like bath soap). If you want to increase the lavender flavor, grind it in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle then add to the powdered sugar before making the glaze.
This would be a wonderful cake to bake for a tea party. Pair this with the Sweet Cream tea from our local tea blender Devi Tea. Or the latest arrival of Tarantas Spanish Cava works well after dinner with this.
Lavender Honey Tea Cake
Pre-heat your oven to 350F
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan
To flavor the cake:
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Lavender Honey
1 Tablespoon Culinary Lavender blossoms
Heat the milk with the honey and lavender. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. You may strain out the lavender blossoms for a subtle flavor or leave in for more pronounced flavor.
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
7.5 ounce tub Creme Fraiche
1 Cup Caster Sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter – room temperature
3 large eggs
Whisk dry ingredients together. Mix the creme fraiche and milk in a bowl until smooth. Beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add 1/3 of the creme fraiche mixture. Add more flour and then creme fraiche mixture until smooth. Place in prepared bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter (it is fairly thick). Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack completely. You can either dust with powdered sugar and more lavender blossoms or make a glaze.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon finely ground lavender blossoms (use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Mix the glaze. Pour over the top of the cooled cake. Allow the glaze to set up. If the glaze is too thick add a few drops of lemon juice, if too thin add more powdered sugar.