This is Alton Brown’s recipe and it makes about 6 cups. Traditionally eggnog is blended with rum, but I like to add whiskey.

Cheer Up, Here's some Eggnog

Cheer Up, Here’s some Eggnog

4 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 fluid ounces whiskey, bourbon, or rum
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
4 egg white

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.

2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

3. Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

Butcher in Bloomfield

Today, I had the day off from work. With sleeping in, ’cause that is what you do on days-off, I managed getting out of the house late-morning for a bite at The Sandwich Shop and a trim at Dan Cercone. I was on my way home when I noticed a new storefront on Liberty; Bloomfield now has a butcher — DJ’s Butcher Block.

He’s been open since last Thursday, so his scale is small at this point, but that is good. He seems committed to providing affordable, fresh, local, and quality meats (plus other products – especially if you ask); if he sticks to that commitment, time and community support will hopefully sustain larger scale and increased variety.

For now, yay! I got some Ohio Eggs (yes Ohio), Apple Cider pressed in Wexford, some Buffalo Chicken Sausage, and some freshly ground beef.

DJ’s Butcher Block, 4623 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA

Pinto Beans

My basic recipe.  Nothing super special to this other than the liquid smoke.  It took me sometime to find it, so if you’re a yinzer reading this post, go to Wholey’s in the Strip; you’ll find it with their hot sauces.

This works as a side dish or in a tortilla wrap.  I usually wrap them in a tortilla.

1 cup dried Pinto Beans, soaked overnight
1 Bay Leaf
1 small Onion, minced fine
1 clove Garlic, minced fine
1 quart of Water
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed Black Peppercorns, to taste

Add the beans, bay leaf , onion, garlic, a healthy pinch of salt, and water to a two-quart sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, lower the heat and cook for 60-90 minutes, till the beans are tender.

Add the liquid smoke and lightly crush the beans with a potato masher (just two or three passes) to release some of the bean starch so the broth is slightly thickened.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas, I am not really a fan.  The have such tough exteriors, I have always found it hard to have flavor penetrate them.  And anytime I make anything with chickpeas, there is always first the flavor of the dish and then the starchy flavor of the chickpeas once you’ve bitten into one.  I will make hummus quite a bit, and since you’re pulverizing them, they work  for me.  But because I make hummus, I do keep chickpeas on hand, and I have been searching to find more applications that I like.

Recently while browsing through Bon Appetit, this recipe jumped out to me.  With the assertive flavor of cumin and coriander, I definitely though this would work.  During a recent dinner party at my place, I think these chickpeas were my biggest success.

20 ounces of cooked Chickpeas (1 cup uncooked), rinsed and dried thoroughly
1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons Coriander Seeds
Cayenne Pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Kosher Salt to taste
4 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degree farenheit.  Heat a heavy bottom saute pan over low heat then add the cumin and coriander seeds.  Toast the seeds for about 2 minutes while stirring occasionally.  Once done, grind the seeds in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle). 

Once thoroughly dried, add chickpeas to a mixing bowl.  Mix in the ground cumin and coriander, the cayenne pepper, salt and olive oil.  Combine and ensure all of the chickpeas are well coated.

Spread the mixture over a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes or till chickpeas have begun to brown lightly.

Place in a bowl and enjoy as a snack, or toss them in your salad.

Recipe taken from Bon Appetit, October 2010, Page 93

Crab Chowder

Presenting this chowder to a group of friends, the first reaction I got was “crab chowder?”  I grinned thinking, “yes, that is a bit unorthodox,” but after reading on preparing for this post, I learned that chowders could be almost anything and is more associated to the pot it’s cooked in, chaudière in French, than the clams and cream that made it famous.

In Southern Illinois, chowder not only refers to the cauldron the stew is cooked in but the event for which it is prepared.  The headlining ingredients will include beef, chicken, tomatoes, lima beans, but more traditionally squirrel.  While in Newfoundland, fisherman would throw their day’s catch into a large cooking pot while preparing that evening’s meal.

This is a recipe I adapted from a Lobster Corn Chowder recipe.  The changes I made fit into my pantry and budget.  The most interesting is the Chinese Rice Wine that filled in for the white wine this recipe called for.  It may be a bit sweeter than the recipe intended, but it accents the subtle sweetness of the crab quite well.  Enjoy.

Crab Chowder

Crab Chowder

4 slices of Bacon, diced small
1 medium Onion, diced small
1 Celery rib, diced small
1 Carrot, diced small
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
6 cups Vegetable Broth
1 large Red Potato, diced 1/4 inch cubes
2-3 ears Corn, kernals cut off the cob
1 pound Crab Claw Meat, coarse pulled apart
3/4 cup half and half
2 teaspoon Chinese Rice Wine
Kosher Salt and Black Peppercorns, coarsely crushed, to taste

Heat a dutch oven or large pot over medium low heat.  Once the pot is hot, sautee the bacon for about 5-7 minutes, or till the bacon has browned.  Stir in the onions, celery, and the carrots and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or till the vegetables are softened.  Add the thyme, then the flour and stir to combine. 

Pour in the vegetable broth and stir till the flour is fully combined with the broth.  Turn the heat up and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and lower the heat so the soup is simmering.  Let the potatoes cook for about 15 mintues or till tender.

Add and combine the corn and crab.  Continue to simmer for another 5-7 mintues.  Turn off the heat, then stir in the half and half and rice wine and salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from Soups, Strews & Chilis by America’s Test Kitchen

Pizza Dough

The best part about a pizza is the dough and for the last 6 months I have been working to get one I am happy with.   I love a dough that is thin with a big, soft, and tender crust.  I can probably say that I am not totally done with this recipe, but I wanted to get it up for future referencing in my kitchen.  So once you have your crust then you have everything you need.  Without any doubt, one of the best things about pizza are the endless possibilities.  You can really do almost anything on a pizza.  From a classic like Pepperoni or Spinach, to throwing leftovers over bread with some cheese and a simple sauce: simple and tasty.  

Spinach Pie

Ingredients (makes 2, 12″ pizzas)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour (250 grams by weight)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil, for the pizza crust
Flour, for dusting the pizza peel

Proof the yeast in about 1/4 cup of warm water (between 90-110 degrees).   Let it proof for about 10 minutes.  Note, the temperature of the water is important; if it is too cold, it won’t activate the yeast and if it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.  I usually measure about the water out in a glass measuring cup and heat that quarter cup in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  That will usually get it to about 100 degrees in my microwave, but it is best to use an instant read thermometer to ensure the temperature of your water.

In your stand mixing bowl add the dry ingredients: the bread flour, sugar, and salt then mix till combined.  Add the proofed yeast water, plus the remainder of water and olive oil to the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.  Spray your dough hook with a bit of oil and start your mixer on low-speed.  Once the ingredients are combine, move the mixer speed up to medium-low and run for about 15 minutes to work the gluten in the flour.

Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  The dough should be soft and a bit sticky.  You can incorporate a bit more flour at this point, till the dough is just barely tacky.  Divide the dough ball into two equal pieces (by weight if you have a scale).  Roll both pieces up into individual balls.

Lightly oil two bowls and place the dough balls into its own separate bowl.  Lightly oil the tops of each dough ball, cover with a tea towel and allow to proof for another hour or so (till the balls have doubled in size).  

Proofed Dough

 Lightly dust your rolling surface and the proofed dough again.  Your dough is ready to roll, however you may want to consider using cornmeal as well on your surface, which allows an easier roll of your dough across the work surface.  Shape your dough and add your toppings.

Ready to Roll

Cooking the pizza, it is also very important to work with very hot temperatures.  I crank mine oven to about 500 degrees.  And when I do it on the grill, I get all my burners running on high for about 10-15 minutes, till the grill is 600 degrees or higher.  I then turn the burns down to low on one half of the grill and leave them on high on the other half.  While grilling my pizza I like to use pizza screens.  I had tried using a stone once, but the high heat of the grill, 700+ sometimes, broke the stone…not good.

So continue to cook till the pizza is a beautiful brown, allowing a slight be of burn to come on the bottom of the pie.  It takes anywhere between 6-9 minutes to cook a pizza at 600 degrees.

Today With My CSA: Tomatoes and Friends

I have never worked with fennel so I am probably just going to start by roasting them: that seems to be the most popular method.  As well, with thinly sliced bulbs, a slaw might be in order with the below cabbage.  I discarded the fronds, though I have read they can work in salads as well as wrapping fish then roasting it – on the grill!


Rocky appears to have worked with fennel before. He was all over the fronds as soon as I set the box down.

Rocky and Fennel Fronds

 Bibb Lettuce, plus the cukes and tomatoes I got as well, will make for some nice salads.

Bibb Lettuce

I got one bunch of beets this week and they’re already roasted and gone.  The greens are still around, and I think I am going to try a beet green & prosciutto pizza. 


Probably one of the most beautiful cabbages I have ever seen.


Tomatoes and Friends. The arrival of summer is not marked with Memorial Day nor with the 4th of July; the arrival of summer is marked with the coming of tomato fruits. There are only two in my box this week, but I know July and August should be fun. Some friends that came as well this week were cukes, zucchini and dill.

Tomatoes and Friends

Lastly, the larger family.  There are some double takes here with the fennel and the cukes, but added to the mix are the tomato’s best friend, basil.  As well there are green onions and new potatoes.  I was perticularly excited about these new potatoes, freshly pulled from the ground.  These early season potatoes are so young the skins peel by just rubbing them with your thumb, and they’re so fresh they need stored in the fridge.  I made some nice potato tacos with these and if I can nail it down, I might post the recipe.

The Extended Family

Pickled Radishes

First shot at developing this recipe and it turned out pretty good.  Looking forward to pickling more veggies over this summer.

Pickled Radishes

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)
2 cups radish, sliced thin
3 springs fresh thyme, chopped rough
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 t kosher salt
10 peppercorns
1 whole cloves, broken in two
1 small bay leaf, split in half

Combine the radishes and thyme; split evenly between two 8 ounce canning jars.

Boil the remaining ingredients for 10 minutes and add to both jars by splitting the garlic, peppercorns, garlic, salt, cloves, and bay leaf as evenly as possible.  Return the lids to each canning jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Lemon Ice Cream

So, I think I am declaring this recipe a work in progress.  For anyone who’s had this ice cream, they would be doing a double take right now because as it is below, this is absolutely brillant.  My problem, however, it isn’t a fully DIY piece in that I store bought the lemon curd that goes into this.  But that said, who really wants to make their own lemon curd?  …Ahh, someone who makes their own ice cream for sure.  Stay posted.

Trader Joe's Lemon Curd

Ingredients (makes about 1 quart)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
4 1/2 ounces sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd

Add the half and half, the cream and a pinch of kosher salt to a 2 quart saucepan.  Lightly whisk till everything is combined.  Start the burner at a medium low heat and place a probe thermometer in your cream.

Begin to separate the eggs.  Discard the whites and add the yolks directly to your stand mixer bowl.  Begin to whisk the yolks in your stand mixer on low-speed.  Slowly add the sugar to the yolk mixture.  I like to add about a half ounce of sugar to the yolks, check on my cream’s temperature and stir, then back to my yolks and add another half ounce of sugar and so on till all the sugar has been added to the yolks and the mixture has reach ribbon stage.

Once the cream has reached 210 degrees, you now want to slowly whisk it into your yolk and sugar mixture.  I use a 2 ounce ladle and add one ladle at a time, wait for that cream to combine, then add another  ladle and so on.  Patience is the key.  If you go fast, your yolks will scramble.  By adding it 2 ounces at a time, we will slowly raise the temperature of the yolk mixture without cooking them.

Once all the cream is added to the yolks, you now have a custard.  Add the custard back to your saucepan and back on a low flame.  Place your probe thermometer back in the custard and stir occasionally till the custard reaches 170 degrees.

To catch any curdled yolks, strain your custard into a 2 quart casserole that has a tight fitting lid.  Add the lemon curd, the vanilla, and about 1/4 cup of the custard to a small bowl just to thin down the lemon curd so it is easier to mix to the full batch of custard.  Empty the lemon curd mixture back to the main bowl of custard, mix thoroughly and move to your refrigerator.  After one hour, cover and allow to cool to 45 degree.  I like to make the custard the day before churning it.

Once the custard has cooled entirely, add to your ice cream maker and churn per the instructions on your maker.   Usually you don’t want to churn it more than 15 minutes.  Once it is done, transfer the freshly churned ice cream to your storage container in quarters.  After your container is a quarter filled, fold in 1/4 of your graham crackers and marshmallows.  Repeat till your container if full.

Place in your freeze for an additional 4-6 hour, or till hard.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

June is strawberry month in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  This week in my Kretschmann Box was a basket of spring produce, which of course included some of the most beautiful strawberries I have ever eaten.    

Yummy Strawberries

 There is nothing better than fresh strawberries and popping them into your mouth one by one.  But with this batch I was looking on expanding my application for these little sweets in a slightly novel way.  I found a great recipe for Spinach and Strawberry Salad from Our Life in the Kitchen.  I took some liberties on their vinaigrette, as my pantry dictated, and the results were quite nice.  Without much hesitation, any pints or quarts of strawberries I buy in the future, I will make this vinaigrette.    

Strawberry Vinaigrette w/ Salad

 Ingredients (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Strawberries, chopped rough
2 T Sugar
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 T Cream

Rinse a few strawberries and rough chop them so they add up to 1/2 cup.  Add the berries and sugar to a small bowl, mix well, and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.  The berries will begin to allow their juices to flow.  Add the berries, vinegar, canola oil, salt, and the pepper to a blender; process on the lowest setting till this mixture is thoroughly emulsified.  Finally, add the cream and blend till combined.