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
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.
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.
This recipe serves approximately six. When I made it, I roughly cut this in thirds to make two servings.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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)
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!
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
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:
1 Pound Beeler’s Hot Italian Sausage (or do half ground beef/half sausage)
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.
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..
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
Quiche is one of my favorite breakfasts. We prefer crustless since we don’t eat wheat, but you can make it either way. For this quiche, we added a TBSP of gluten-free flour (we prefer Cassava) into the egg mixture. I’ve gotta tell you, this is probably the best quiche I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot of quiches.
The quiche was made entirely with ingredients from the Mercantile. Beeler’s premium uncured bacon. Danzeisen cream with no stabilizing additives. Fresh spinach and leeks. Hickman Eggs. And Muenster. Muenster was a new cheese for me, and wow! It is my new favorite for quiche. As for flavorings, I like nutmeg, but you can also use cumin or dry mustard. Play with flavors you like! That’s what cooking is all about.
Muenster Leek Spinach Bacon Quiche
1 pie crust ((if using, I make mine crustless and add 1 tbsp of cassava flour to the eggs instead))
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek ((peeled and chopped white part))
2 slices Beeler’s uncured bacon (cut into small pieces)
1 lb chopped fresh spinach
4 Hickman eggs
1 cup Danzeisen cream
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
3 slices Muenster cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cumin or dry mustard, whatever suits your palette!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
If using crust, prebake.
Heat the olive oil on medium heat and sautee leek until soft Add the bacon and continue to cook until the bacon is cooked through. Add the fresh spinach to wilt. Remove from heat.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper, and seasonings.
Put the bacon leek spinach mixture into pie pan. Pour egg and cream over. Cut the cheese into pieces. Distribute the cheese on top and bake at 325°F for 40 minutes.
Welcome to another episode of… well, we don’t have a name for this segment yet. For now let’s call it, “Cooking with the MPM!” where we show you what we did with the weekly produce offerings. Last week we showed you the Dutch Baby Apple Pancake, this week a rich, creamy spaghetti squash recipe with an unusual ingredient.
When our rep Shannon suggested we get some organic Beech mushrooms for our weekly produce selection, I said sure! I like mushrooms—even though I hadn’t heard of the Beech variety. But hey… a mushroom is a mushroom, right? I didn’t expect this:
Whoa… just about the trippiest gaggle of mushrooms around, don’t you think? They came packaged in a cellophane bag and had a pungent smell when opened. I didn’t have a plan for these odd creatures, but as I looked at the other items from our shipment, one began to form.
We had a case of spaghetti squash (Brian and I took the ugliest one).
Plus of course the Danzeisen cream.
In the fridge, we had some uncured bacon. (Now have Beeler’s Bacon as part of the MPM offerings!)
And a block of moldy Parmesan—easily cleaned up with a sharp knife. With hard cheeses, the mold doesn’t penetrate so it’s perfectly safe to cut off and eat. In fact, part of the aging process of Parmesan is a mold rind.
Now that we had the ingredients, it was time to put them together into something edible.
We rarely use recipes in our house. We usually get an idea and go for it. Sometimes I reference recipes for ratios, but this one didn’t need that. Forgive my lack of specific measurements below.
First, the squash got cut in half. Man! Brian did a number on this thing trying to cut it. Chunks went flying! That’s the hardest part of cooking spaghetti squash. Cutting it. The rest is super simple. After cutting, scrape the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and place cut-side down into a pan. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.
While that was roasting, we fried up the bacon in a cast iron skillet (or whatever skillet. We like cast iron.)
Once crisped up, the bacon came out, and the weird mushrooms went in—because what doesn’t taste great cooked in bacon fat?
Add a little sprinkle of thyme, salt, and pepper. Plus garlic. I used a garlic olive oil, but you can do fresh cloves, jarred, dehydrated, granulated. Whatever floats your boat. Measurements you ask? Beats me. I sprinkle until it looks right. Helpful, eh? Next the bacon went back in with the mushrooms…
And then the cream…
Oh that heavenly Danzeisen cream! Can you tell I love the stuff? I’d say 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Don’t overthink it. Go with what looks right. That’s what cooking’s all about!
Did I mention this is a rich dish? ‘Cause it is. Although the squash mellows it out. Speaking of…
After about 40 minutes in the oven, poke it with a fork and see if it’s soft. If it is, take it out and use two forks to “spaghetti” the squash.
Then add it to the pan with the mushroom, bacon, cream mix.
We grated the fresh Parmesan into the pan before the squash, but next time I think I’d do it after.
Plate & Eat!
I love when a dish comes out exactly as you were hoping. Flavorful. Delicious. Satisfying. Next morning we scrambled the leftovers up with some eggs and liked it even better.
And now the “recipe”…
CREAMY BACON SPAGHETTI SQUASH
A rich main dish with Beech Mushrooms, Bacon, Cream, and Spaghetti Squash
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 tbsp olive oil
5 strips bacon ((we use uncurled))
1 pkg Beech Mushrooms
garlic of choice to taste ((we used garlic oil))
1 Tsp-ish thyme, salt, & pepper (or to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup Danzeisen Heavy Cream
Fresh Grated Parmesan to taste!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut spaghetti squash in half, de-seed, slather with olive oil and salt, and place cut side down in baking pan with a little bit of water and roast for 40 minutes or until skin easily pierces with a fork
Sautee bacon while the squash is cooking. Once crisp, remove and add the mushrooms and seasonings. When the squash is close to being done (like ten minutes or so) add the bacon back in along with the cream.
Take the squash out of the oven and “Spaghetti” it with two forks. Toss in the pan of bacon and mushrooms, mix it all up, and grate fresh Parmesan over the whole thing
So what did you do with your spaghetti squash and mushrooms? We love to see other people’s dishes! Carol G used hers in a tomato-based sauce. Looks delicious!
If you’re not on the order reminder mailing list, click the button below! In addition to the Danzeisen stuff, the Sunday email will show what produce we have available for Thursday’s delivery! Click here: Email Reminder List
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My original plan with this week’s recipe was to have striped beets and watermelon radishesto make a bold statement on the plate, however, we ended up with standard beets instead. While I was bummed to lose the visual impact, it’s not like regular beets are boring. That beautiful purple against my yellow plate was stunning. Plus, beets pretty much taste the same. Stripes or not, this combination of Roasted Beets and Radishes with Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese and orange dressing was even better than I expected.
The Root Veggies
The first step is to peel the beets and gigantic radishes (wearing gloves helps prevent hot-pink fingers). Then slice them thin on a mandolin, (a steel glove under the latex glove protects you from the blade.)
Oil ’em up!
Spread a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, lay out the sliced beets and radishes, and coat them in a good dose of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme, and stick them in a 400 degree oven. I roast them until the edges start to get crispy, so depending on the thickness of the slices, the time will vary. Start checking at 10 minutes.
The Goat Cheese!
I love goat cheese. The goat cheese we got from our distributor is particularly creamy and delicious. To make the cheese balls, put roasted salted pistachios in the food processor and grind up, then roll balls of goat cheese in the pistachios.
Juice one Valencia orange and add an equal amount of good quality olive oil.
Take those lovely roasted beets and radishes and arrange them on a plate. Top with goat cheese balls. Drizzle that delicious orange dressing over the top, and voila! Your colorful dinner!
And that’s how you make Roasted Beets and Radishes with Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese
Super easy and so pretty. Plus… really delicious. Everything on the plate came from the Mercantile’s shopping list. Pretty cool, right?