Vermicelli Stir Fry

When we recently made Spring Rolls, we mentioned wanting to make Vietnamese Crispy Spring Rolls with Vermicelli, so ordered noodles for the MPM shelves. The “Rice Sticks” arrived, but after a busy day in the store, we decided instead to make a quick stir fry using these delicate noodles.

If you’re not familiar with Vermicelli, these are super thin rice noodles that take just a minute to cook. We had our stir fry dinner ready in about fifteen minutes.

Here’s what we did:

First get a pot of water going to cook the Vermicelli. While waiting for it to boil, get a high sided frying pan and heat your oil to carmelize the onions along with the following ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP Avocado Oil
  • Half a sweet onion
  • 1 tsp Black Gold Garlic Salt
  • 1 TBSP Ginger People Minced Ginger
  • Sprinkle of Flatiron Pepper Flakes depending on how hot you like it
  • Couple dashes of Red Boat Fish Sauce

Likely your pot of water will be boiling now. Drop in the Vermicelli. After two minutes, we turned off the heat and let the noodles sit while we moved on to the next step:

Adding the Other Goodies:

Here’s where you can get creative with whatever you have.

To the sautéed onions we added:

  • Diced Beeler’s Ham
  • Chopped Coffee Pot Farms Salad Greens
  • Sliced Coffee Pot Farms Turnips
  • Chopped Celery
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Two Coffee Pot Farms Eggs

Stir the veggies up with the sautéed onions until the greens are soft, then add the eggs and scramble into the greens.

Next grab your tongs and add in your rice noodles! Mix it all up in the pan until the noodles are coated and serve! Quick, easy, and so delicious served with our Ka Me Sesame Rice Crackers.


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Spring Rolls

Spring has arrived! In honor of my favorite season—and Coffee Pot Farms awesome greens—we picked up spring roll wrappers for the MPM.

Spring rolls may look complicated to make, but in truth? They’re as simple as making a burrito. Seriously. Drop a rice paper disc in water for a sec, take a bunch of veggies, a protein if you want, then roll it up just like you would a burrito. No cooking required. Back in my news photographer days, I often carried spring rolls for lunch since salads weren’t the most convenient thing to eat when out on assignment. Plus, I love the texture of the rice wrappers.

The wrapper

These things are trippy looking, like a plastic disc or something. The first time I used one I didn’t know what to think. But it’s just rice flour, tapioca flour, water, and salt. The discs are thin, stiff, and rather delicate, but when you put them in water they completely transform into a stretchy pliable base to make your spring rolls.

Find a dish the discs will fit in, fill it with warm water, and set it next to your prepped ingredients. When you’re ready to start making them, soak for about 10-15 seconds, pull out of the water, and lay on a flat surface.

What to put in them

Really, whatever veggies you like, cut into matchstick size sticks or small bites, along with cooked chicken, or pork, or whatever protein strikes your fancy. Think in terms of salads. Here’s what we did:

  • Beeler’s ham steak
  • Mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
  • Coffee Pot Farms spinach (we were out of their Asian Greens)
  • Coffee Pot Farms turnips slivered, plus the turnip greens chopped
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Poblano pepper
  • Jalapeño pepper soaked in lime juice
  • Red cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Ginger People Sushi Ginger

With the soaked rice paper laid out on a flat surface, load the stuff on one end of the disc. We started with a whole leaf of spinach and built on top of that, then drizzled some sauce over the top.

The sauce we improvised using:

  • 1/4 cup-ish of Mayo
  • couple splashes of Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • Couple drops of Sesame Oil — be sparse otherwise it will get bitter
  • Spoonful of Chile Sauce (we used a Peruvian one we carry at the MPM because that’s what we had)
  • Teaspoon of Ginger People Minced Ginger

Once everything is loaded on, start from the end closest to the pile of stuff and roll once, tucking the wrapper around the goods, then fold in the sides and keep on rolling—see? Totally burrito-style. I threw Brian in when he wanted more, and he easily put together his own spring roll on the first try. Use this same strategy on your kids to get them involved and excited about eating their veggies—plus it gives you a chance to sit and eat while they work.

You can make a vast array of dipping sauces, from one with peanut butter and soy sauce, to a sweet one with rice vinegar and sesame, or a mayo based one like we did. Here’s a link to three sauce recipes.

The most time consuming part of making spring rolls is the prep, but if you need a shortcut buy precut veggies for a perfect springtime meal.

Crispy spring rolls

You can also use these wrappers to make crispy spring rolls. Next up on our list, we’re going to make Cha Gio! Click the photo link below to see the base idea we’ll start from.

HAPPY COOKING!


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Farfalle Veneziana

One of our favorite Southern California Italian restaurants served an awesome pasta dish called Farfalle Veneziana made with Italian sausage, mushrooms, peas, and a creamy marinara sauce. It was Brian’s absolute favorite. Considering we had nearly all the ingredients on the MPM shelves, I figured I’d make it for him. He said it was epic. He’s nice like that.

THE MPM GOODS

Quality goods definitely contribute to the success of the meal. Part of our goal at the MPM is to find the best of the best.

The Farfalle comes from Gragnano Italy, made the old fashioned way with bronze extruders and dried in the mountain air. As we’ve said in the past, pasta from Gragnano is considered the best in the world and protected by the European Union.

The Italian Sausage is from Beeler’s, a company with incredibly high standards for their pork. The sauce, Vesper Bros of Pennsylvania, a delicious homemade tasting sauce with no additives, not even citric acid. This is mixed with Danzeisen cream, a cream made with no stabilizers or gums. JUST CREAM.

Add some peas, mushrooms, fresh basil, and grated Parmesan, and you have a delicious, quick and easy dish!

We didn’t have mushrooms so omitted. As always, don’t let a missing ingredient stop you! Make a recipe your own.


Farfalle Veneziana

This recipe serves approximately six. When I made it, I roughly cut this in thirds to make two servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb La Fabbrica Farfalle
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Beeler’s Hot Italian sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Flatiron Four Pepper (if you want hotter!)
  • Sliced Mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 jar of Vesper Bros sauce, either Marinara, Arrabbiata, or Tomato Basil
  • 1/2 cup Danzeisen heavy cream (or more if you want creamier like we do!)
  • 1/3 cup of frozen peas
  • Fresh Basil and fresh grated Parmesan to top
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

PREPARATION

  1. Get your pasta water boiling with olive oil and salt and cook your Farfalle until tender but firm to the bite (about 8 minutes). Drain and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
  2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and crushed red pepper. Sauté until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up with back of fork, about 5 minutes. If you want mushrooms, add them in at this point and sauté. Put in the peas. Add the Vesper Bros and cream. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sausage mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss over medium-low heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry. Serve sprinkled with basil and fresh grated Parmesan.

Happy cooking!


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Valencian Paella

This week, we’re going to travel through food.

Before the pandemic, Brian and I talked about spending an extended period of time in another country and Spain floated to the top of the list. But then the pandemic shut down travel, so instead of getting on an airplane, we headed to the kitchen. There, we got to experience Spain in a different way by making their most famous dish: Paella.

Not only is Paella delicious, it is beautiful. We sourced the ingredients from two importers of Spanish foods, including an American who received the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit from Spain’s King Juan Carlos I.

What is Paella?

Technically, Paella is the name of the pan, but over time the name became attached to the rice dish. Paella can be seafood-based or earth-based. Different vegetables can be used. But one thing is always the same. The key ingredient:

Saffron.

If you’ve bought saffron, you know how pricey it is. Because we don’t use saffron a lot, it gets wasted, so instead of investing in a jar for one recipe, we opted for a highly-rated Barcelona-made Paella Base that already has the saffron in it. One box=one pan of Paella so no waste! This all-natural broth does have some, well… not so common ingredients like rabbit and snail. But don’t get scared! It was incredibly delicious. I mean, really really good. Plus it makes Paella making easy.

What’s in the Aneto Stock: Water, Free-range chicken, Onion, Carrot, Cabbage, Leek, Celery, Sea salt, Rabbit, Duck, Tomato, Extra virgin olive oil, Ferraura beans, Green beans, Garrofon beans, Snails, Saffron, Rosemary.

Valencian Paella

Since Paella originated in Valencia, we decided to loosely base ours on a traditional recipe which has chicken, rabbit, and snails. While we did use chicken (a breast cut from one of our Mary’s Organic Whole Chickens) we did NOT add in additional slugs and bunnies (other than what’s in the stock). We used instead a dry Spanish Chorizo (different than Mexican chorizo). For the veggies, the recipe called for three bean types, we used two: green beans and our Adobe Milling Bolita Beans, a bean that really picks up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking.

We say it all the time, but don’t be afraid to modify! Use what you have available, and make recipes your own.

Here’s what we did:

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Large Organic Chicken Breast, cubed
  • Half of a sweet onion, diced
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • Half a 14-oz can of organic Bello Tomatoes (or two fresh Roma tomatoes)
  • Green Beans
  • Adobe Milling Bolita Beans (soaked and cooked the day before)
  • Dry Spanish Chorizo, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups special Matiz short-grained Paella Rice
  • 1 Box of Aneto Paella Base
  • Sprig of Rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a Paella or other flat-bottomed pan and brown the cubed chicken. Push aside once browned. Add the onion and caramelize. Push aside. Add both types of beans and get them toasty. Push aside. Add the chorizo and let it cook a minute and then, yep, push aside. Next add the tomatoes and garlic. By now the sides of your pan will be full of good stuff! Time to stir it together and evenly distribute around the pan.

Sprinkle the special short-grained Paella rice over the whole thing and stir to incorporate, then get everything arranged in the pan the way you want. Shake the Aneto Paella Base and then pour the entire box evenly in the pan, float a sprig of rosemary and WALK AWAY.

Do not stir!

Let this cook for 10 minutes on a medium high heat, then lower the heat for another 10 minutes, rotating the pan occasionally on the burner to get even cooking. You want all the liquid to cook out. At the end, crank the heat up to get the much desired socarrat which is the crunchy caramelization on the bottom of the pan—the best part!

Place the pan on the table to share with your pals, because really… a dish this lovely needs to be shared. Many thanks to John and Joan for being our MPM Test Kitchen Paella guinea pigs!

Buen provecho!


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Thanks and Happy cooking!

Italian Wedding Soup

A good quality Italian Sausage can be used in so many recipes—like this Italian Wedding Soup—and now we have an excellent one in stock at the MPM: Beeler’s Hot Italian Sausage! As with all Beeler’s products, this top-quality sausage has:

  • No antibiotics ever
  • Casein & gluten free
  • Vegetarian fed
  • Non-GMO diets (Non-GMO Project Verified)
  • No gestation crates

The ingredients are simple: Pork, sea salt, red pepper, fennel, paprika. That’s it. No MSG, no “natural flavorings,” no nitrates. As a result, it tastes fantastic. We know because we put it to the test at the MPM Kitchen. We made an Italian Wedding Soup using MPM ingredients: Beeler’s sausage, Coffee Pot Farms spinach, Pacific Chicken stock, Black Gold Garlic, and chopped La Fabbricca Spaghetti.


Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup is a meatball soup with some kind of greens, usually spinach, along with a small pasta of some sort. As with all recipes, modify to make it your own!

For our soup, instead of combing beef and sausage, we used all Beeler’s Italian Sausage for the meatballs so we could really taste the new product.

Here are the basics:

The Meatballs

  • 1 Pound Beeler’s Hot Italian Sausage (or do half ground beef/half sausage)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (we used our Ancient Grains Crispbread to make this gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or if using dried, a couple tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of that up and make into small meatballs. In the pan you’re going to cook the soup in, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and brown the meatballs. Remove from the pan once brown and set aside.

The Soup

You’ll start with a soffritto, a holy trinity of ingredients (carrots, onion, celery) that pack a ton of flavor when slowly cooked in olive oil :

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups 1/4-inch diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups diced yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (We sliced 2 cloves of our Black Gold fermented garlic, and minced 2 cloves of regular garlic)

Pan sautée the first four ingredients until soft (six to eight minutes), and then add the garlic and cook for a minute or so more.. Since we didn’t have an onion or celery, we improvised with leftover peas, carrots, and onion infused olive oil (from a cool Zoom cooking class we did with Mely Martinez).

Next step, add in:

  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth (depending on how brothy you want it)

Let this come to a boil and then add in:

  • 1 cup of pasta, traditionally orzo, although we used gluten-free spaghetti broken into small pieces. From our pasta selection, Farfalle would be fantastic or the super fun Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and Motorcycles!)!
  • Add in the browned meatballs

Reduce the heat and let this cook for ten minutes. Just before you’re ready to serve add in:

  • 6 oz fresh spinach, chopped. Our robust Coffee Pot Farms spinach works beautifully in this soup and will be available again this week!

Give it a stir and cook until the spinach wilts, dish up, and sprinkle some fresh Parmesan on the top.

After making the soup, I read Giada DiLaurentis’ recipe. Before serving, she gets the soup moving in a circular motion then pours in a beaten egg with Parmesan same as you would an egg drop soup. I’m totally going to try that next time!

So was it good?

Don’t even ask how many servings Brian had. He’d be embarrassed to say. It comes down to this: a great sausage made a great soup. We can’t wait to try the sausage with Vesper Brothers Arribbiata, or on cauliflower pizza, or an Italian frittata. It truly is exceptional—but that’s no surprise considering it came from Beeler’s..

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HAPPY COOKING!

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Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

I made cream cheese. From scratch. And dang! It was beyond good.

Why did I make cream cheese? Because nearly all commercially produced cream cheese is loaded with carrageenan and gums that don’t sit well with me and I really really wanted cream cheese. I love cream cheese.

To make this, I bought a culture from Cultures for Health, used 2 cups Danzeisen whole milk and 2 cups Danzeisen cream. You’ve heard me say it before, but the reason we picked up Danzeisen was because of their gum-free cream, something you can’t find in our local grocery stores. Danzeisen cream is JUST CREAM. 24 hours after culturing the cream I had the most awesome cream cheese—which meant I could make one of my favorite dishes, one I’ve had in my repertoire longer than I’ve had Brian.

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

Saturday night we roasted one of the MPM’s new Mary’s Organic Chickens.

Normally we’d do this in an oven, but our super cool temporary thrift store oven from the 70s decided to conk out—which is okay. Its demise will push us to finally build our real kitchen, starting with getting a gas line. More on that another time.

From our roasted Mary’s Organic Chicken, we had dinner on Saturday, made three quart jars of overnight broth, and had plenty of leftover meat to make cream cheese chicken enchiladas.

How to Make Them

Part one: The filling

  • Chop up one Poblano pepper and one jalapeño and pan sauté in ghee or avocado oil or whatever oil floats your boat. (If I would have had a sweet onion, I would have sautéed that first and then added the peppers. But I didn’t have one.)
  • Chop up leftover chicken add to the pan once the peppers are soft
  • Add 4 oz or so of cream cheese
  • Then stir in our Flatiron Hatch Chile pepper flakes, chili powder, salt, and pepper into that creamy-meat-mash.

Part Two: Roll ‘em up

  • Melt some ghee or oil of choice in a pan. Dip corn tortilla in oil (we used Brian’s homemade corn tortillas…. my FAVORITE)
  • Spoon some filling onto the tortilla
  • Add some cheese (we used our Eichten’s Cranberry Chipotle cheese!)
  • Roll up and put in pan
  • Once pan is loaded with awesome enchiladas, sprinkle with more cheese and—the best part—pour Danzeisen heavy cream over the top. Oh yeah…

Part Three: Cook

If I’d had a working oven, I would have stuck them in a preheated 350 oven for 20 minutes. Instead, I used my air fryer (which I forgot cooks faster).

To make crispy cream cheese enchiladas (as I did) simply run to your guitar near the end of cook time to play along to your favorite song on Pandora, totally forgetting about said enchiladas and crispifying the cheese on top. We’ll just pretend this color was totally intentional.

Still. They tasted AWESOME. Especially topped with guacamole.

So there it is… Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas.

Happy cooking!


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Arancini made with Leftover Risotto and Pesto

Normally, Brian and I don’t eat breakfast, but with the beautiful snow out our window, we both wanted to tuck into some tasty food.

The view from our side window.

On a recent cooking show I watched an Italian chef make Arancini—fried rice balls with mozzarella in the middle. He served them with a Marinara and man they looked delicious!. I’ve also seen them made with riced cauliflower for a lower carb version and also leftover risotto.

This morning, I was in luck.

For dinner last night, we tested the Tiberino Lemon Risotto from the Merc with our new Pacific Organic Chicken Stock. Totally delicious.

Leftovers for Breakfast

In the fridge we had everything to make Arancini for breakfast: leftover risotto, fresh mozzarella, GF quinoa crisp bread crackers to use for bread crumbs, leftover spinach walnut pesto, and Coffee Pot Farms eggs (all Merc items, btw!).

Making the Arancini

I didn’t follow a recipe, simply took a palmful of the leftover risotto, tucked a piece of fresh mozzarella inside, and made a ball. Then I took that ball and dunked it in whisked egg followed by the breadcrumbs. Instead of deep frying, I rolled them in a bit of olive oil and stuck them in my Air Fryer for 15 minutes on 370 degrees. They came out PERFECT. I’m guessing they would also oven bake fine, or you could fry on the stovetop in some oil.

We paired the Arancini with an over-medium Coffee Pot Farm egg and topped both with leftover over spinach-walnut pesto. Of course, we had Joshua Tree coffee with Danzeisen cream on the side. This was an outstanding breakfast, beautiful and very tasty.

The Spinach Walnut Pesto

Wait a minute you ask… spinach walnut pesto? Isn’t pesto made with basil and pinenuts? Yup. But you can also make it with spinach and walnuts (or other leafy herbs and nuts)..

Toast up a handful of walnuts until they release that nutty smell. Put them in the food processor and pulse. Add some garlic to taste (we used a splash of garlic olive oil instead). Grab a bunch of Coffee Pot Farms Spinach and add it to the party. Pulse it in the food processor along with grated fresh Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and lemon if you like. Then begin adding the olive oil as you pulse until you get the consistency that feels right to you. Measurements? As I’ve said in the past, we cook by feel, but the basic ratio for pesto is this: 1 part nuts, 2 parts oil, 2 parts grating cheese, 8 parts leaves or herbs.


Good news! Most of the above ingredients are available from the MPM!

Links to the store:


With anything you prepare, modify to your own taste!

That’s what cooking at home is all about.

Questions? Ask in the reply box below!

Until next time…

Happy Cooking!


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Perfect Roast Chicken & Stock

Now at the Mercantile, Mary’s Organic Whole Chickens, humanely raised and without hormones, antibiotics, or any other junk. To learn more about them, check out this video.

If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, here’s the basics on how we do it. I’ll write a more detailed post when I roast a chicken later this week.

Roasting a chicken is one of the easiest things you can do, and one of the most satisfying. We roast at a high temperature which results in a crispy skin and perfectly moist chicken.

Prepping the Chicken

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Make sure there’s nothing in the cavity (like the package of livers or gizzards) then rinse the chicken. Next, pat the whole thing dry with paper towels. The drier the chicken, the crispier the skin.

We slip butter under the skin and a bit in the cavity then make a mixture of coarse salt, pepper, and rosemary that we liberally pat all over the skin and inside the cavity. I never measure, but will next time. It may look like a lot of salt, but much of it cooks off into the juice. Squeeze half a lemon over the bird then put it in the cavity with a couple cloves of garlic. Next pour olive oil over the whole chicken and stick it in the oven uncovered for an hour and a half. After an hour, baste the chicken.

Seriously. That’s it. Told you it was easy.

To really up the game and make the best roast potatoes ever, first line the roasting pan with uniformly cubed potatoes and garlic cloves, pour a bit of olive oil over, then put the raw chicken on top. These potatoes are SO stinkin’ good. The salty rosemary juices from the chicken saturate the potatoes and make them caramelized on the outside and soft on the inside.

Chicken Stock

After you strip the meat off the carcass, put the bones and skin back in the same roasting pan you cooked it in, with all the awesome drippings and cracklings from the roast chicken. We add bay leaves, salt and pepper, a quartered onion with skin on, poultry seasoning, carrots, celery… really whatever leftover veggies and scraps you have. I keep a bag in the freezer with veggie scraps (like onion tops and skin) for stock. Put water in the roasting pan to cover all the stuff and put it in a low temperature oven (200 degrees) OVERNIGHT! When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have the most delicious flavorful stock. You can also do this overnight in an instapot, although you lose all the good cracklings from the roasting pan.

Get a big colander and strain all the chunks out so you have just the broth. Throw all the rest away. I store my stock in large mason jars and stick a couple in the freezer. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays so you have tablespoon size broth cubes when you need small amounts.

If you ever have questions, ask! We are happy to share any tips.

Happy cooking!

Lori and Brian Law

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How Brian Cooks Beans

We love Adobe Milling heritage beans like AnasaziBolita, organic Pinto, and the wonderful Moki mix that combines several different beans. Sometimes beans get a bad rap, though, because they contain phytic acids that can be hard to digest. One way to mitigate that, is to soak them. So if you’ve bought beans from us and aren’t sure how to cook them, here’s what Brian does.

Soaking

He starts soaking beans the night before. Soaking helps break down the elements that cause digestive issues. He covers them with salt water and lets them sit. After a couple of hours, he rinses and covers again in the salt water. He does this about three times.

Simmering

Brian likes cooking the beans for a long time, so he will often start them in the morning on a very low simmer. After the final rinse of beans, he puts them in a pan with pre-heated olive oil and stirs to get the beans good and coated. He then covers them with water and salt and lets them cook throughout the day, topping off with water as needed. He recommends the first time you cook a bean, to keep it simple so you really taste the bean. After that, experiment with some flavors when warming the oil, like chopped chiles or bacon or whatever seasonings you’d like.

You don’t have to cook them all day. You can cook them for an hour or so, but we really like the texture and flavor of several hour simmer. This particular batch we served with Brian’s homemade corn tortillas and some delicious seared Beeler’s pork medallions.

The next photo is just to show how awesome my husband is. Look at that tortilla puff!!! And yes. It was a good as it looks.

Happy cooking!

Lori and Brian

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