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Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook

 

Tomatoland

Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, is an eye opening book about what goes on behind the scenes in the land of tomatoes. He gives a history of the ugly hiring and employment tactics of big tomato agribusiness in Florida, a state so ill suited to growing tomatoes that dangerous pesticides are the norm. Understanding where our food comes from and how it is grown and processed to market, gives us more control and say in what we want to put in our bodies. This book provides just that. Though repetitive in some places, over all it is an interesting and compelling read. Understanding why supermarket tomatoes have no flavor, how flavor has been bred out in place of rock hard solid tomatoes that can make it to market and survive rough handling, helps make the case for growing your own or buying them at a local farmer’s market. It also makes the case for eating fresh tomatoes in season only and using canned the rest of the year if tomatoes are a must. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to know where the food they eat comes from and how it gets to them. This book has made me think twice about what kind of tomatoes I purchase and from where I make the purchase. Overall, an interesting read. Find a copy in My Favorites.

Friday Foodie: Portobello Mushroom Open Face Sandwich

Friday Foodie: Portobello Mushroom Open Face Sandwich
Author: 
Recipe type: Sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Though possibly a stretch to call these little beauties a sandwich, no matter. What they really are is delicious and so easy. These have a perfect combination of nutrition and the olives add just a bit of saltiness.
Ingredients
  • Portobello Open Faced Sandwich
  • 2 Portobello Mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • A large handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 8 Kalamata Olives, chopped
  • 1 cup prepared or homemade spaghetti sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While oven is preheating, cut onion in half from root end to tip. Then slice the onion in thin slices. When oven is heated, place mushrooms stem side up on a baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, place skillet on burner set to high, once a few drops of water will scoot across the pan, add 1 Tbs. of water and then immediately add onion slices. Turn heat to medium. Stir onions frequently, turning down heat if they begin to brown to fast. Cook them slowly and they will caramelize, giving them a rich deep flavor. Chop the olives and set aside. A minute or two before the mushrooms are due to come out of the oven, pour spaghetti sauce into skillet and heat through with onions.
  2. Remove mushrooms from the oven and pour off any liquid that has pooled inside. Careful, they are really hot. Sprinkle olives over surface of mushrooms. Layer spinach evenly on each mushroom. Divide onion mixture on top. Place back in oven for about ten minutes until spinach has wilted.
  3. Serve. This makes enough for two with a side salad. If desired, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Friday Foodie: Armenian Brioche filled with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and Spices

 

Armenian Brioche is a new bread for me. I’ve been making bread for many years and started out the old fashioned way, but when bread machines came along, I quickly adapted. Making this bread took a bit longer, no doubt, than one I might make in my machine, but was so worth the time and effort.

While looking at spices on the Penzeys website, I took a look at their specialty spices and saw, Mahlab. Curious, I did a web search and found out about this spice and recipes that use it. The Perfect Pantry had an Armenian Brioche recipe which I changed up a bit and became the recipe I am sharing with you today. (The Perfect Pantry had also adapted it from another source, however, the only change I saw was a division of ingredients to make a smaller amount.)

Because Mahlab should be ground fresh, I used my molcajete. I actually bought this specifically for the task, but have always wanted one, so great excuse, eh? I also ground my cloves for the filling. Next, I’ll be making guacamole in it!

Because I could not get a super fine grind, I then sifted it through this mesh strainer. This is a great tool for sifting, by the way.

This is my two flours, barley and bread flour, along with the yeast at the top and the mahlab at the bottom. I love barley flour for it’s fine texture and smoothness in breads and cakes. A great way to add a whole grain to a bread, cake or pancakes.

After beating the eggs and sugar with the butter, and adding the flour and milk/water mixture, I switched to my dough hook to finish kneading this into a smooth ball.

Before the first rising.

After the bread had been through it’s two risings, I formed the dough into 20 balls and while they rested for 30 minutes, I made the filling. I chopped the dates and walnuts. That’s my Pampered Chef chopper in the background. Works wonders on nuts.

I used a regular teaspoon to scoop up the filling for each roll.

This is one of the balls with the filling.

On the left is the pinching up process and the right all pinched together. I then rolled the dough back into a smooth ball.

The egg wash.

I used this tea strainer to sprinkle the poppy seeds onto each roll. The tea strainer works for other spices as well.

Beautiful! I think I over cooked them just a bit. Go for golden, but go short rather than long!

Here’s the recipe. Click on the title for a printable or downloadable copy. I hope you will enjoy as much as my family and I did!

Peace and joy!

Friday Foodie: Armenian Brioche filled with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and Spices
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Armenian Brioche stuffed with Dates, Walnuts, Honey and spices While looking at the Penzey spice website, I noticed a section of specialty spices and perused the list. I ran across Mahlab, a spice totally unfamiliar to me. I was intrigued with it’s origins , Turkey and Iran, and that essentially it comes from the pits of a sour cherry. I did a search for recipes using this “spice” and found this Armenian Brioche, traditionally served at Easter. This is the recipe I adapted from The Perfect Pantry.
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 2 cups barley flour + extra as needed
  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbs. finely ground Mahlab (grind just before using)
  • 2 ½ tsps bread machine yeast (or one package of yeast)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ Tbs coconut oil
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ cup warm water, (I use hot from the tap since adding straight to the flour and yeast mix)
  • ⅓ c warm milk
  • Filling:
  • 10 ounces, pitted and freshly chopped dates (I used Medjool)
  • ½ c chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 2 Tbs honey
Instructions
  1. For Filling: Mix first four ingredients together. Use your finger tips to mix the spices and walnuts with the dates to help separate clumps of dates. Mix in the honey and set aside until ready to fill bread. After filling, if there is any left, eat directly from the bowl. (I had about a heaping spoon full left and it was delicious!)
  2. For dough: Combine flours mahlab, salt and yeast, set aside.
  3. Turn oven to 100 degrees (or lowest setting). When it reaches temperature, turn off oven.
  4. In heavy duty mixer, cream butter, oil and sugar together. Add eggs and beat until combined and creamy.
  5. Combine milk and water together. Alternating between flour mixture and milk/water mixture, starting with flour, add to the creamed ingredients and continue mixing. When dough becomes too thick for the standard beater, replace with dough hook. Add additional flour (I alternated between barley and bread flour) one tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Oil a large bowl, but not metal, and place dough in bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in warm oven. If oven feels hot, prop door open until just warm. The idea is to give the dough a warm place to rise, out of drafts, until double in size, about 2 hours.
  7. Punch down. Fold together, smooth into a ball and allow to rise again for about 1 ½ hours, until double in size. Punch down again and allow to rest for 15 mins. Divide dough in half. Divide each half again and then make five balls from each quarter. Allow the balls of dough to rest , covered, for 30 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flatten each ball into a round, using a dining table spoon, scoop a spoonful into the center. Pinch dough closed around filling and reshape into a ball. Fill balls, one at a time, then place, two inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash, made from one egg yoke and one tsp of water. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
  9. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy hot from the oven or may be reheated the next day for serving. Freeze any leftovers (which there will be none, but just incase) for up to a month.

Layers of veggies

Friday Foodie: Quinoa Apple Walnut Salad with Mint

Layers of color before tossing. I seem to have failed to take a final picture, but this gives you the essence of this light, tasty, easy to prepare salad.

Layers of veggies

Start with 1 1/2 cups quinoa, prepared according to package instructions. I made mine in the rice cooker on the white rice setting. I made it a day ahead so it would already be cooled.

Sliced Apples

I used already sliced apples and then simply chopped them up into small, bite size pieces.

Walnuts

The walnuts did not need further chopping.

Frozen Corn

I like this frozen roasted corn, as it is easy to throw into any dish. No need to defrost. By the time the salad is ready to be tossed, the corn will be defrosted. If frozen roasted is unavailable, either roast a cob and remove or use any frozen corn. It does not have to be roasted. Do not use canned.

Celery

This celery was in the bottom of the drawer on its last leg, but still crunchy and this salad was a good way to use it up. I cut into long strips, as above, then chop.

Tender Young Kale

This kale is quite young and tender. Avoid the big heavy leaves as they will not be as tender. If that is all that is available, cut the amount to 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 and chop into small pieces.

Red Peppers

Aren’t red peppers just beautiful! I love the color and they always seem so juicy.

Mint

This is just a few sprigs of the mint leaves I had. Sadly, kind of blurry. The mint adds the refreshing pop that makes this salad so delicious.

This salad was inspired by a salad I ate at the Flying Star a few weeks ago. I almost didn’t order it, as it sounded like such an odd combination, but it truly is delicious. I dressed the salad with pomegranate balsamic, but I have included a recipe for a pomegranate vinaigrette that could be used. I hope you will give this a try. This salad kept nicely for 4-5 days, so it is a great choice to fix ahead and have ready for a sack lunch. Quinoa provides a protein punch that satiates and keeps you feeling full. This could also be served on a bed of mixed greens. Give it a try and enjoy!

Quinoa Apple Walnut Salad in a Pomegranate Balsamic

1 ½ cups quinoa prepared following package instructions
¾ cup chopped apples (use a tart apple, no need to peel)
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup roasted corn kernels (frozen is fine)
½ cup chopped celery
½ – 1 cup chopped baby kale leaves
½ cup chopped red pepper
½ cup chopped mint leaves (or less if preferred)
¼ cup Pomegranate Balsamic

Place all ingredients, except balsamic, in a large salad bowl. Toss until well combined. Pour balsamic across salad and toss until ingredients are moistened.

The mint and apples make this a refreshing salad. This salad could also be dressed with a:

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 cup of POM or other 100% pomegranate juice (read the label)
½  tsp of sugar
½ tsp of salt
2 tsps high quality balsamic
1 tsp high quality olive oil (optional)

Bring the juice to a boil. Turn down heat and reduce the liquid to about 1/3 – ½ cup. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients until sugar and salt are dissolved. Allow to cool. Dress salad with desired amount.

Recipe by Jane Thompson
www.janeannthompson.com

What are you eating?

Yummy

“What is at the end of our fork, is more essential and important than what it at the bottom of our pill bottles. Each meal is a chance to heal.”
-Mark Hyman, MD

What we ingest as food, effects us as much as what we ingest in the way of pills and other modern day medicine. The difference, healthy food has no side effects. If only everyone understood, food is medicine, we could heal our country of the chronic diseases that are over burdening our health care system and stop wasting our time in doctor’s offices, hospitals and in bed sick. What are you eating? Need a health coach? Send me your questions and I’ll be glad to help!

Peace and joy!