Home Cooks Improv

My husband and I recently attended a concert performed by the Brubeck Brothers Jazz Quartet. It was swingin’ and be-bopin’ for sure. And it happened to be during the week I was putting together the newest podcast episode with my friend and guest Stephanie Hainje. Listening back to the interview, conducted over wine, caprese salad, and a fresh loaf of my sourdough bread, I realized that our discussion had the free-wheeling feel of a improvisational jazz jam session.

Well…that might be overstating it a tad….But we had a blast sharing our summer cooking experiences, tips, and ideas. It was our farewell to summer, and hello to fall. Enjoy the show (just hit the play button above) and here’s one of the recipes Stephanie is cooking this fall–Roasted Red Pepper Soup. It comes from houseofyumm.com.

You can see more of what Stephanie is cooking on her Instagram page @destinysdishes.

And speaking of fall soups, and improvisation, I performed a kitchen improv tonight for dinner. Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup. I’ll have the details soon, and a BONUS TRACK of the podcast to talk you through the recipe. Stay tuned!

Paleo and Not So Paleo

 

My daughter Christine and I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, in May to visit friends and our old stomping grounds. (Read more about it in my previous post here.)  On the new podcast episode, we are in the Manhattan kitchen of Karin Matta cooking up an indulgent cauliflower crust pizza.

Also in the new episode we hear more from Sharon Davis of the Home Baking Association. During our chat she mentions the King Arthur Flower website as a superb resource for home bakers. I agree. I have done a lot of sourdough baking recently and have used many tips and recipes from KAF.

See pictures of some of my sourdough baking and other dishes @indianahomecooks on Instagram.

Scroll down for pictures from our Kansas excursion

Karin’s Cauliflower Crust PizzaIMG_5174

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded cheese (for topping)
  • Your choice of additional toppings (olives, meat, grilled onions, mushrooms, etc) – note that toppings need to be precooked (they will be reheated when you complete the broiling process below).

Directions:

To “rice” the Cauliflower:

Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks.  Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain.  Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it.  (If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese greater).  Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time).  There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. – I suggest 4 minutes if only doing 1 cup.  I generally shred the entire cauliflower and make a larger pizza (i.e. doubling all ingredients) or multiple pizzas crusts at one time and freeze extra pizza crusts for future use. 

One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower.  The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.  We also use riced cauliflower as “rice” by heating it with butter and adding ground meat (or chicken) and additional vegetables for a “stir fry” type meal.

To Make the Pizza Crust: IMG_5172

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  I use pizza stones and do not add any cooking spray or oils.   Do NOT put the crust on tin foil as it is very difficult to separate it.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella.  Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt; stir.  Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9” round.  Optional:  Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes (start with less time).

Remove from oven.  To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese.  Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).

Enjoy!  (Karin’s notes in italics. Adapted from Your Lighter Side.)

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Here’s that shredder. Awesome!

 

Susan’s Crazy Chocolate Cake–The recipe is here.

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Highlights from our Kansas excursion…..

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Spoons, anyone? Pryde’s in Westport, Kansas City, MO.
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Karin, me, Christine, & Tori at Radina’s Bakehouse.
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Radina’s has the right attitude.
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Karin’s flat top grill. How cool is that?
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The Flint Hills tallgrass prairie in northeast Kansas.

One summer circle came to a close when Karin and Tori visited West Lafayette at the end of June for the wedding of our daughter Christine and Logan Hack. Christine, born and raised in Kansas, is happy to express her Sunflower State heritage.

Version 2

Trip to the Sunflower State

Part of our busy summer included a road trip with my daughter Christine to Manhattan, Kansas, a place near and dear to our hearts. Our family started out in Manhattan, where my husband Jim and I met and where we raised our family until 2009, when we moved back to my home state of Indiana.

Manhattan (pop. 53,000) is in northeast Kansas, about 2 hours west of Kansas City. During our years there we made many trips across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois on I-70. I had not been back to the Sunflower State since we moved nine years ago. Christine had flown back the summer she turned 16, but this was our first road trip back to “The Little Apple.”

The city has grown substantially since we left, but we were delighted to find Manhattan retains its friendly, welcoming, down-to-earth vibe, plus some fun places for food, drink, and shopping. It’s also the home of Kansas State University, and our family maintains a special fondness for the K-State Wildcats. Manhattan is worth a stop for anyone traveling across the Sunflower State.

One friend I caught up with in Manhattan is Sharon Davis. She is my guest on the latest Indiana Home Cooks podcast. (Listen here, or click the “play” button above.) Sharon is program director for the Home Baking Association, an organization that promotes and helps build skills in home baking for all ages. She and I go back to the days when our kids were students in the Manhattan Catholic Schools, and before that when I was still a radio professional, covering Kansas agriculture and Sharon was doing educational programming with HBA and the wheat and soybean groups in the state.

I’m so happy I could get together with Sharon. I should say, I’m happy her schedule permitted it! She is one busy lady, so I’m fortunate that during my couple of days in Manhattan she was able to work me into her schedule. We’ll hear more from Sharon in the next episode of Indiana Home Cooks. She will share some recipe ideas and thoughts on favorite things to bake. Watch for that soon. In the meantime, enjoy this episode with Sharon and me.

Resources mentioned by Sharon:  The Family Dinner Project, SNAP-Ed, the HBA Blog.

Teachingyoungmen
Sharon Davis doing what she loves.
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Me, doing what I love. Lunch and a beer at the Tall Grass Brewing Tap House, overlooking downtown Manhattan, KS.

Memories of Home

The first Indiana Home Cooks podcast of 2018 features reminiscences of my mom, Barbara Mercer. She sat down with me some months ago to record the first interview for a podcast venture that was still in the “concept” phase. In the intervening months I couldn’t find a good spot for it on the podcast. But with the winter winds blowing, snow falling, and the thermometer making its home in the single digits above and below zero, I thought it was the perfect time for the warm comforts of home.

In the episode, Memories of Home, Mom reminisces about “butchering day” on the farm when she was a young girl in Clay County. As I listened to her descriptions, I couldn’t help thinking about the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  These were some of my very favorite books when I was a girl, and the charming illustrations by Garth Williams brought them even more to life than the vivid prose. I pulled out my copy of Little House in the Big Woods, and sure enough, in chapter one, there it was–Wilder’s account of butchering day when she was a little girl. And not much had changed from 1870’s frontier Wisconsin to mid-20th century Indiana when it came to butchering a hog.

In a wrap up of the holidays, this episode also includes the step-by-step preparation of our Fluffy Yeast Rolls. These rolls have been a staple of family dinners all my life. Special occasions, mind you, not everyday meals. It’s not that the rolls are difficult or time consuming, but they do require a little advance planning, and they are pretty rich for everyday consumption. We make them at least once a year, at Thanksgiving, and sometimes at Christmas or Easter. The recipe (with photos) is included below.

Katy Eberle and I discussed bread baking also, since I was on a little bread baking jag. I brought her a baguette I had made the day before. One of my favorite homemade bread recipes is Crusty Italian Bread from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. Here is the recipe from my King Arthur book…

If you prefer a copy without spilled coffee stains, notes, and other jottings, check it out online here.

Fluffy Yeast Rolls
From the kitchen of Barbara Mercer, from Margaret Balder
Makes 18 rolls

Dissolve 1 pkg. active dry yeast in 3 T. lukewarm water in a small bowl or measuring cup. While that is dissolving, whisk together the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

1/2 C. (one stick) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. salt
1 C. lukewarm water
1/4 C. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature

Add yeast mixture and whisk again. To this mixture, add 3 C. all-purpose flour. Mix with electric mixer until fairly smooth. Stir in 1 C. flour by hand. (Total of 4 cups of flour) Dough will be sticky. DO NOT KNEAD. Leave dough in bowl, cover with a plate or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Three hours before baking:
Remove dough from refrigerator. It should’ve doubled overnight. Grease muffin pans for 18 rolls. Melt 1/4 C. butter.

Punch down dough and pull off pieces of dough roughly the size of large walnuts and shape into balls (2 dough balls for each roll). Dip each ball into melted butter before placing in pan. Cover rolls with tea towels and let rise until double. Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.* After baking, while still hot and in the pans, brush tops with more melted butter. Serve warm.

*If using dark baking pans, reduce oven temp to 425 degrees.