Friday, June 22, 2018

Using Watermelon in a Way You Haven't Thought of.

How about Watermelon Soup! It's a cool soup to do, and not just because its trendy!  Nina Elder, who's the Executive Food Editor for Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine stopped by Tonia's Kitchen with her Chilled Watermelon Soup recipe. She starts with four cups of watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes and red wine vinegar. Mix together with a blender and place into a freezer until cold.  Then in a bowl, put more seeded watermelon that's chopped, along with cucumber and feta cheese.  Use that to top each bowl of soup, along with basil and mint. It's a great way to enjoy a classic summertime treat, especially on a hot day!

  • cups diced seedless watermelon
  • cup diced seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
  • teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup torn basil
  1. In blender, puree 4 cups melon and 1/2 cup cucumber with the tomato and vinegar; season. Freeze until cold, 10 minutes. In medium bowl, combine remaining melon and cucumber with feta; season and mound in bowls. Pour soup around melon-cucumber mixture; top with basil.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Best Rhubarb Pie You'll Ever Eat!

That's because, unlike other rhubarb-only pies, this one's going to be especially juicy. Amy Emberling, who wrote the cookbook Zingerman's Bakehouse stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her recipe for Just Rhubarb pie. This She told Tonia to sugar the rhubarb the night before. Doing so helps "sweat" the rhubarb, and yields juice. Amy says you take that juice and cook it with corn starch. This allows the rhubarb to stand on its own in the pie and makes for something especially flavorful, in fact even more so when combined with the recipe's butter crust! A tip from Amy, use locally grown rhubarb.

Makes one 9-in [23-cm] pie
Rhubarb, cut into 1-in [2.5-cm] pieces 6 1/2 cups 910 g
Granulated sugar 1 1/3 cups 270 g
Sea salt 1/8 tsp
Cornstarch 3 1/2 Tbsp 34 g
9-in [23-cm] double pie crust, unbaked (recipe follows)
Egg Wash
Large egg 1
Egg yolk 1
Water 1 Tbsp
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb pieces and granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain the liquid from the rhubarb into a saucepan. Put the salt and cornstarch into a small bowl. Remove one-fourth of the total liquid from the saucepan, and gradually pour it into the cornstarch, stirring to make a slurry.

3. Bring the remaining liquid in the saucepan to a boil. Stir the slurry into the liquid and simmer until the mixture is clear. Remove from the heat, and add the rhubarb pieces. Cool to room temperature.

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C] 20 minutes prior to baking.

5. Roll out the dough for the bottom crust (page 63), and fi t it into a 9-in [23-cm] pie pan. Add the cooled filling to the unbaked pie shell. Make the egg wash by beating together the egg, egg yolk, and water, and brush the edge of the dough lightly.

6. Roll out the top crust, and place it on the filled pie. Follow the directions on page 64 to finish the pie crust. Brush the entire top of the pie with egg wash, cut four vents into it, and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

7. Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The pie is done when the juices are bubbling in the center and the crust is a dark golden color. Remove from the oven and let the pie cool to room temperature before serving (this will allow the juices to thicken).

Pie Dough
Makes two 9-in [23-cm] crusts
Unsalted butter, cold 1 cup 227 g
All-purpose flour 2 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbsp 363 g
Sea salt 1 tsp
Water, cold 1/3 cup 73 g

Mix the Pie Dough

1. Cut the cold butter into 1⁄4-in [6-mm] cubes. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt with a fork. Add three-fourths of the cold butter to the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, or two butter knives, or your fingers. Cut or work the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. If using your fingers, break the butter chunks down and rub the butter and flour together. Pick the mixture up between your hands and rub your palms together as if they’re cold. This will break down the butter and rub it all over the flour. The flour will take on a creamy yellow color during this step. When you pick the mixture up in your hand, it should be possible to squeeze it into a mass that will hold together. When you see the color change, and the mixture holds together when squeezed, you know that you’ve worked the butter in enough. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t become warm. The goal of this step is to cover the flour with fat so that the gluten strands are not able to develop. This will allow the dough to be short and tender. It is much more problematic to not break down the butter enough in this step than it is to break it down too much. Most of us don’t incorporate it enough. Try not to be hesitant in this step.

2. Add the remaining one-fourth of the butter and cut it into the mixture as before. These butter pieces should be left pea sized. The chunks of butter will create flakiness in the final pie crust—when they melt during baking, they will create steam, which separates layers of the coated flour, making flakes of crust.

3. Create a well in the center of the mixture. Add the chilled water. Using a fork, blend the water into the flour mixture. The mixture will still be crumbly in the bowl, but it should look moist. If it still looks dry, add an additional 1 to 2 Tbsp of water, until the mixture looks moistened but still crumbly.

4. If the butter has been rubbed into the dough adequately in step 1, the amount of water specified should be adequate. More water is usually necessary only when the butter has not been adequately distributed. It’s not desirable to add more water, because it tends to make a tougher crust.

5. Turn the mixture out onto a clean, unfloured work surface, form it into a mound, and push out sections of dough across the work surface with the heel of your hand. We call this “schmearing.” Push each section of dough once, not twice. Make sure to schmear enough so that the dough loses its dry, crumbly appearance. At the end of the schmearing, all of the pie crust will be pushed out flat on the work surface.

6. Fold the dough back onto itself with a bench scraper. Gather it into a ball, pressing it firmly so it holds together.

7. Cut the dough into two equal pieces, shape each into a disk, and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
Tip: The dough can stay in this form in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen, well wrapped and preferably in an airtight container, for up to 3 months.

Roll Out a Single-Crust Pie Shell

1. Remove one piece of the chilled dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still in the plastic wrap, firmly but gently tap on it with the rolling pin until it is flexible but still cold. Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Place the disk of unwrapped dough on the surface and lightly flour the top of the disk with flour.

2. Using a rolling pin, start rolling the dough from the center to the edge, away from you. Do not use too much pressure or the dough will crack.

3. Stop and give the dough a one-eighth turn. This rotation will prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface and will help make a perfect circle.

4. Reflour the work surface and the top of the dough to prevent the dough from sticking. Continue to roll and rotate the dough until it’s about 1⁄8 in [4 mm] thick and about 1 in [2.5 cm] bigger than the pie plate you will be using. Flour is your friend in this process. Use it liberally to avoid sticking.

5. When the crust has reached the correct size, use a pastry brush to brush away any extra flour from the top of the pie dough. Turn the dough over and brush off any extra flour from the bottom. One way to do this is to roll the dough up on your rolling pin and then unwind it with the bottom surface now facing up.

Fit the Dough into the Pie Plate

1. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin. Position the edge of the dough over the edge of the pie plate and unroll the dough. Gently ease the dough down into the pie plate, making sure not to stretch the dough.

2. To finish the edge of the pie shell, trim the edge, leaving 1⁄2 in [1.5 cm] of dough over the edge of the pie plate. Turn this extra dough under to make a neat thickened border.

3. Create a decorative edge with this border as you choose. A simple finish is to press the tines of a fork all around the edge or to press a spoon into the edge to make semicircles.

4. Now follow the directions in the specific pie recipe. The crust will either be used raw or blind baked. Blind-baking instructions are given next.
Tip: If you are not going to use the crust right now, wrap the unbaked crust well and it can stay in this form in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Blind-Bake the Crust

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C].

2. Roll out a single pie crust and fit it into the pan, as just described. Dock the dough all over. This means to make tiny holes in the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork. All of these holes will allow the gas from the melting butter to escape without forming large air bubbles in your crust.

3. Refrigerate or freeze the pie shell for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the chilled pie shell from the refrigerator. Line the chilled crust with parchment paper, pressing it snugly against the bottom and sides. Fill with dried beans or pie weights to hold down the parchment.

4. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until the edge begins to color. Remove the parchment and the beans. Bake for another 5 minutes. At this point the pie shell is considered partially blind baked. For a fully blind-baked crust, bake for another 12 to 15 minutes after removing the parchment.

Make a Double-Crust Pie

1. Using one of the two pieces of pie dough, follow the directions given earlier for rolling out a single-crust pie shell and fitting it into the pie plate. However, trim the edge of the dough so at least 1 in [2.5 cm] of excess is hanging over the edge of the pie plate.

2. Follow the directions for creating the filling in the specific pie recipe you are making. Put the filling into the bottom crust. Brush the edge of the bottom crust with water.

3. Using the second piece of pie dough, roll the top crust out slightly larger than the top diameter of the pie plate, so that it will comfortably be able to cover your filling.

4. Roll up the top crust onto your rolling pin and, starting at one side of the pie, gently unroll the crust over the filling. If you do not place the crust perfectly, just move it gently with your hands to make it as evenly placed as possible. Trim the crusts, leaving 1 in [2.5 cm] of excess to form the border.

5. Now it is time to seal the edges. Fold the excess dough from the bottom crust over the edge of the top crust and seal by lightly pressing both layers together with your fingers against the top of the pie pan. Decorate the edge as you like. There are many different decorative edges to choose from. You can do a simple one by pressing the tines of a fork all around the edge of the pie. You can also press a spoon into the edge to make semicircles. Or you can pinch the dough with your fingers to make the classic fluted edge. Now cut at least four 2-in [5-cm] vents in the top of the crust at even intervals to allow the steam to escape as the pie bakes. Follow the directions for baking in the recipe of your choice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It Might Amuse You, But Don't Bash This Bouche!

You might be bemused by the name of this appetizer.  Brittany Wood Nickerson, who wrote the new cookbook, The Herbalist Kitchen, stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her recipe for Red Pepper and Feta Amuse-Bouche (hence the title).  She says this truly is an appetizer, designed to stimulate the appetite for a bigger meal.  And what a delicious way to do that! Brittany told Tonia that one of the reasons this dish is so tasty, is because of the Caramelization that takes place when you cook it.  Essentially it allows the natural sweetness of the vegetables you're making to come through!  Try it out

Red Pepper and Feta Amuse-Bouche
Brittany Wood Nickerson
The Herbalist Kitchen

Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer

2 large red bell peppers
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 ounces feta cheese, thinly sliced

1. Cut about ½ inch from the tip and tail of the bell peppers and remove the seeds. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thirds or quarters, making relatively flat slices.

2. Warm the oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the peppers and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes on each side. This long, slow cooking allows the sugars in the peppers to caramelize. Try not to let the peppers burn or even brown too much. If they start to brown or stick, reduce the heat and add more oil if necessary. Flipping them periodically also helps slow the cooking process. When they are done, the peppers should be cooked just enough to be soft and sweet throughout, but al dente enough to hold their shape.

3. Transfer the pepper slices to a plate and toss with the garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Don’t use too much salt, as the feta is salty. Arrange the peppers faceup on the plate, placing any bits of parsley and garlic left on the plate onto the pepper slices. Top each pepper with a thin slice of feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.

“Excerpted from Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, © by Brittany Wood Nickerson, photography by © Alexandra Grablewski, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Try This...Lemonade with Cilantro

You did not read that by mistake. Brittany Wood Nickerson, who wrote the new cookbook The Herbalist Kitchen, came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her Cilantro Lemonade. And while standard lemonade is quite refreshing, it's not known for its cleansing properties.  This drink, on the other hand, is very healthy and can work as a gentle detoxifier. By the way, it also tastes great! Learn more at Brittany's website:

Yield: about 3 cups

1 bunch cilantro (about 2 cups packed)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1–2 lemons)
2 tablespoons raw honey
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups water

Combine the cilantro with the lemon juice, honey, salt, and water in a blender and purée for 3 minutes. The drink will be a rich green color with a beautiful white foam on top. I enjoy drinking the lemonade as it is, with the cilantro pulp, but you can strain it through a sieve or tea strainer before serving, if you like. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cilantro for Gentle Cleansing
You can drink cilantro lemonade on a daily or weekly basis to stay cool in hot weather or to support liver and digestive function and gentle detoxification. It also makes a nice seasonal tonic to help the body transition from colder to warmer weather.

“Excerpted from Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, © by Brittany Wood Nickerson, photography by © Alexandra Grablewski, used with permission from Storey                                                                   Publishing.”

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pizza...But Not From The Oven

You might never think of pizza the same way again.  Chef Billy with Compass Restaurant Associates stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about his idea for Grilled Pizza, and we think it's a winner!  It's really simple too, just make or buy pizza dough, roll it out and put it on the grill under low to medium heat.  Once it gets marked, just flip it over and repeat for the other side.  Once that flip side is done, place the sauce and cheese over the dough.  Let it sit on grill for about 4 minutes.  A few items of note, if you plan to top your pizza with vegetables, make sure they're cooked first, also try to keep the dough as thin as possible.  If the bread is thick, it'll be easier to burn.  Chef Billy recommends trying a practice pizza before you serve one out, because it does to take a little work to get it just right.  Once you do though, it's fantastic!

Reprinted from website

1 ball pizza dough (about 1 pound), store-bought or homemade
1/2 to 1 cup tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade
Cheese such as torn mozzarella, grated Asiago or Swiss, and grated Parmesan
Toppings such as herbs, thinly sliced vegetables, pepperoni and salami, prosciutto, chopped greens such as kale, or diced tomatoes
Olive oil
Grill, gas or charcoal
Metal tongs
Metal spatula
  1. Heat the grill: You should heat it quite hot; around 550 to 600-degrees. Set it up so the pizza is over direct heat.
  2. Gather your ingredients and toppings: Set up a table or bench near the grill so you have easy access to everything. Good grilled pizza is as much about the organization and logistics as it is about actual cooking!
  3. Also have your tools close to hand: You will want a pair of long metal tongs. A spatula may be helpful, although not absolutely necessary. You may want a hot pad or oven mitt if your grill lid gets hot.
  4. Prep your dough: It should be stretched or rolled out into a thin circle. (Circle-ish — as you can see, my pizzas usually resemble continents more than they do the moon!)
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil: Brush one side of the dough with oil; this is the side you'll lay down on the grill.
  6. Grill one side of the pizza: Take the lid off the grill. Lay the dough round on the grill with the olive-oil side down. Brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of olive oil, too. Let the dough cook for about 3 minutes, with the lid off, or 1 to 2 minutes with the lid on. Use the tongs to lift up the dough from time to time, checking on how it is doing. You want grill marks on it, but you don't want the dough to get crispy; it should be just set.
  7. Top the pizza: Flip the dough over with the tongs or spatula. The dough should come up easily and flip without tearing. Now is where your organization comes in! You need to top the pizza quickly. Spread on a thin layer of sauce, some cheese, and toppings. It shouldn't be too heavily loaded, or the pizza won't cook well.
  8. Cook the pizza: Put the lid on and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Use your sense of smell; if the pizza smells like it's scorching, take the lid off and move the pizza to a cooler part of the grill or turn the heat down.
  9. Remove the finished pizza: Remove the lid and check the pizza. The edges should be crisp and well-done, and the cheese should all be melted. Drag the pizza off with the spatula or tongs. Let cool for 3 minutes, then cut into pieces and eat!