Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasoned Kitchen

A must read for the month of July! 

Urban Pantry holds sustainability at its center: Take advantage of local ingredients, eliminate wasteful kitchen practices, and make the most out of the food you buy or grow.

"Urban Pantry is a smart, concise guide to creating a full and delicious larder in your own home. It covers kitchen essentials, like what basics to keep on hand for quick, tasty meals without a trip to the store, and features recipes that adapt old-fashioned pantry cooking for a modern audience. Avid chef and gardener Amy Pennington demystifies canning and pickling for the urban kitchen and provides tips for growing a practical food garden in even the smallest of spaces. Her more than sixty creative recipes blend both gourmet and classic flavors while keeping economy in mind." -The Mountaineers Book  

amy w.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Farro & Kale Soup with Cannellini Beans

I love how I can spend a couple hours in the kitchen making a pot of soup and yield enough of it to last about 8 meals!  And, this type of soup is so versatile and customizable, I would never get bored of it.

This soup starts with a basic mirepoix (2 part onion to 1 part each carrot and celery) then add in garlic, beans, water, farro, tomatoes, and kale.  You could easily make a new version with wild rice, swiss chard and black beans or even barley, broccoli rabe and cranberry beans. The combinations are endless, just keep the basic components present and you'll have a seriously nutrient dense meal with a pretty simple process!  Basic recipes like this give you the technique to formulate your own creations or adjust to seasonal availabilities.

I seasoned the cooking liquid when I added the beans & included a bay leaf, some onion powder, chili powder & ground ginger. I think some fresh thyme sprigs would be great as well.  Without the spices I think the broth would probably a bit bland for my taste because you use water not stock (very cost affective!).  Amy's right on with the sweet potato, I think that would have been a great modification to copy.

Tonight was one of those food filled evenings in the kitchen for me...oh Friday night! I made my very first batch of homemade chicken stock, froze some chocolate mint ice cream base whipping it by hand and cooked and froze some wheat berries with tomatoes and fresh basil...dinner when the school quarter gets crazy! Tomorrow I'm hoping keep up the adventurous streak and make a wheat berry salad, bulgar salad & chickpea salad and my favorite quinoa salad...all in one night!  I did some prep work today, so hopefully I'll breeze through them all pretty quick!
Cheers & Happy Grains!! -Vicki

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat/Spelt Pizza Dough

Kitchen gadgets...... people seem to have a love/hate relationship with them.  I LOVE my Kitchen Aid Mixer, Magic Bullet, Fagor Pressure Cooker, Stir Crazy Popcorn Maker, Presto Griddle, and Toastmaster Bread Machine. 

The "dough cycle" is what keeps me plugging in my bread maker time after time.  Since I'm continuously grinding wheat and spelt, homemade pizza dough is a must.  I double the recipe and freeze the dough into Ziploc bags.  Towards the end of a work week, I will thaw a pack of dough in my fridge and toss veggies, various cheeses, and leftover chicken/lunch meat onto the pizza that will not be used over the weekend.     

Honey Whole Wheat/Spelt Pizza Crust Dough -recipe has been modified Toastmaster Care Book
This recipe has been doubled.....prepare once eat twice!

2 cups warm water
4 TBL Oil
2 TBL Sugar
2 tsp. Salt
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
3 cups Spelt Flour
3 tsp. Quick Rise Yeast
1 Scoop of Dough Enhancer and Vital Wheat Gluten
Drizzle honey over ingredients

1. Place ingredients into bread maker in the order listed.  Select the dough cycle and relax!  Since I'm not big into measuring ingredients, I usually keep a close eye on it at first to make sure the consistency looks correct. 

2. Divide the dough and freeze one or both servings.  If making a pizza, roll 1 section of the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Sprinkle the pizza stone with cornmeal and place dough on stone.  Prick dough with a fork.

3. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes until edges of the crust are golden brown.  Remove, add toppings and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Fav Tips:
1. No need to buy pizza sauce....I drain 1 can of diced tomatoes and blend in my Magic Bullet. 
2. Leftover cranberry goat cheese tastes AMAZING on pizza!
3. Garnish a thin crust pizza with radicchio lettuce coated in a light vinaigrette dressing
4. Season with fresh basil and parsley
5. Add barley, kamut, farro, or wheat berries...JK haven't tried this one yet!      

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have finished 3rd Quarter!!! It was a tough one for me and really kept me from wanting to write, blog or log into any kind of computer.  But, it's over and I'm on a nearly 10 day, much needed break.  I want to share an amazingly delicious recipe I learned this quarter from my Instructor, Chef Atkinson.  Farrosotto is a sort of "Northwest" version of the classic Italian dish, Risotto.  It's traditionally made by cooking Arborio rice and slowing adding stock and stirring while the rice releases it starch, creating a creamy sauce along with it. We can't grow rice here, so instead this version was created using Farro (aka Emmer) which is grown just over the Cascades here in Washington State.  You can keep this really local and buy your cream and onion from the farmer's market when you pick up the Farro from Bluebird Grain Farms. Give this one a try and serve it with a nice piece of Salmon and some Asparagus spears, both grilled with just Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, for a great combination (we sold 18 of those dishes when we ran it as a lunch special!). Enjoy :)

1 Cup Farro
3 Cups Water
1 Tbl Olive Oil or butter
1 Onion, diced
5-6 Peppercorns
2 Bay Leaves (divided)
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 Cup Cream
Piece of cheesecloth and kitchen twine
Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Put the Farro into a pot and add the water. Bring up to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and 1 bay leaf to the pot.  Put the lid on to cook for 35 minutes to an hour, depending on how chewy you like it.
2) Sweat the onion in the oil or butter, just until it begins to soften.
3) Meanwhile, prepare your sachet of herbs. Tie up the peppercorns, the other bay leaf and the Thyme. If you don't have cheesecloth, you can add the herbs directly to the onion, but keep in mind you'll have to strain or pick them out.
4) Add the cream, a pinch of salt and the sachet to the pot with the onions and and bring to a simmer. Let the cream simmer until it reduces by half and becomes syrupy and flavored of herbs and onion. Remove the sachet.
5) When the Farro has finished cooking, stir in the reduced cream sauce and let it sit for a few minutes while the flavors develop.  Enjoy! It's soo tasty ;) -Vicki

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kale Tales Continued........

"Kale smoothies everyday, kale salad with beets, carrots, avocado, kale currie, kale sauteed with garlic and olive oil, kale in place of spinach in any recipe that has spinach. I tried kale blended with apple juice and that didn't work well, it was really chunky and kind of gross. I think that's it!!"  That's it...haha. My friend Diana has soooo much kale growing in her backyard it's unreal.  She just told me that the "curly leaf" kale is now ready to be harvested.   

When I saw this recipe, I called her immediately to order a fresh bag :)  Farro soup with kale and cannelli beans starts with mirepoix which is comprised of 25% carrots, 25% celery, and 50% onions all roughly chopped.  I learned the exact name of this mixture while reading "Notes on Cooking A Short Guide to an Essential Craft", by Lauren Costello and Russell Reich. 
I made several additions and substitutions to this recipe since I'm pretty bad at following directions.  Instead of farro, I used oat groats.  After the mirepoix softened and the garlic was mixed in, water was added to create the broth.  I mixed in chicken bouillon to flavor the water.  I did not have time to soak the canelli beans overnight so instead I purchased a can of white northern beans.  I added a diced sweet potato for fun which gave the broth a really sweet flavor.  I then followed the rest of the recipe straight from the book adding the can of diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, kale, fresh basil and parsley from my garden.

Ben and I really liked the soup!  Diana and Chris though it was delicious stating it was filling with the grains and similar to an Italian minestrone.  Diana said they would have put 20X more kale in the recipe. I was nervous about overdoing it with a vegetable Ben had never heard of.  A repeat recipe for sure!    - amy w.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kale Tales....Farro Soup with Kale and Cannelli, pg. 124

Over the weekend Ben and I purchased iPhones.  Now dinnertime consists of snapping a picture of the grain meal and sending it to his mom and brother.  The "Kraft/M&M" family CAN'T believe what's happening!  This means more Oreos, fruit snacks, microwave brownie sundaes, and Pez will be sent to our condo!   

Actual Text Message with Brother A
Andy: "Uhh, Amy I don't know what that is, but no one loves that....LOL"
Amy: "Graingirls.com at its finest, kale grain soup....Oreo cookies are scarce in this household!"
Andy: "That's tragic, You may be reported to the authorities (AKA Mamma Whipple) for that one."
Amy: "She already responded with a yuck!"
Andy: "Smother it in M&M's and cheese and send another pic to her, you'll get a better response!"

Stay tuned......did Ben like kale soup??