Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some of My Favorite Local Products

Local Wonderful Things
As 2014 prepares to make its exit, I wanted to highlight local folks who are producing some wonderful new products.  When you get a chance to catch your breath - and maybe shop for your own goodies? - check out these wonderful new additions to our world of great food.

Parable Flavors - These folks are shaking up the dried herb mixture world, and I couldn't be happier   With each herb mix from these folks you get a story pertaining to the mix (Parable?  Get it?) and a recipe. The dried mixes are amazing combinations using some familiar ingredients like, cilantro, oregano, parsley, and also some rather new to most of us, like French Breakfast Radish Powder.  They admit sourcing from wherever they can procure the very best, but they make these wonderful mixes right here in Philadelphia on E. Cumberland Street.  I recently mixed some "Franglais" with Sour Cream and some chopped onion and let it sit in my refrigerator overnight.  With some really good local potato chips, I had fantastic Onion Dip - no cardboard soup mix needed.  I know for sure that Parable Flavors are available at Fair Food Farmstand.  Keep an eye out for them in other stores as well.

Food and Ferments - If you read anything about food trends, you know that fermentation is back - and in a big way.  Fermentation is a centuries old technique and it is good for you!  And tasty! And nobody does it better than Food and Ferments.  I start every day with a shot or two of their Beet Kvass.  I am not a juicer by any  means.  I like my Kale cooked or crisped, but definitely not in a shake with fruit! But this Beet Kvass?  I have to have it.  It is both delicious and healthy.  The sauerkrauts and kimchi handcrafted in Philadelphia by Food and Ferments is delicious and the culinary possibilities are endless.  They also produce Kombucha and seasonal vegetable pickles.  You will find their products at Fair Food Farmstand and a number of local Farmers' Markets.  I sincerely hope to see them regularly at my Market, Head House, next season.

Love Bar - Chocolate.  Chocolate sauces.  Chocolate Bars.  Local, artisanal chocolate. Love Bar Chocolate is the only "bean to bar" producer in the city.  I am particularly addicted to the sauces.  Over ice cream, pound cake or right from the jar for a quick chocolate hit, they do not ever disappoint.  Love Bar products are available at Capogiro Gelato, Shane's Candies, and Head House Farmers Market (in season).

PB & Jams - You like Peanut Butter?  Have you gotten tired, as I have, looking for "pure" peanut butter?  Look no more.  These folks are sourcing as much as they can locally - of course, the Philly region is not known for nuts (hold that thought!) - and their nut butters are amazing.  I love the "classic" peanut butter but the "Hot or Not" was a revelation.  The sweet and spicy blend is fantastic used in all of the usual ways, and I also like to dollop it over hot Asian noodles, toss, add some chopped scallions and you have an easy and totally delicious dish.  PB & Jams is available at Farmers Markets, and speciality stores in our area.  When you find it, stock up.  See?  Just writing this, I find that I need to go spread some "Hot or Not" on a nice piece of celery!

Spruce Hill Preserves - I think I actually walked past a selection of Spruce Hill products awhile back.  I shall never do that again!  These are preserves kicked up way past a notch!  These jams and preserves are made with local and seasonal ingredients. All of Spruce Hill's products are so much better than anything you could buy commercially - you won't go back. My favorite right now is the Maple Bourbon Smoked Apple Butter.  You read that right:  maple, bourbon, smoked.  It is wonderful in a number of uses, even though I find myself having a spoonful or two all by itself on a regular basis.  Try this particular preserve basted on a roasting chicken for the last five minutes it's in the oven.  You can thank me later.   Spruce Hill Preserves are at Metropolitan Bakery locations and other speciality stores.  Check out their website at:  www.sprucehillpreserves.com.

Tea Blends at Green Aisle Groceries (Passyunk and Grays Ferry) - The brothers who own Green Aisle - Adam and Andrew Erace - continue to develop products with the Green Aisle label.  They have yet to falter.  The brothers new tea blends are composed of very creative combinations.  The pictured blend - "Moyamensing Grasshopper" - is made from organic mate', cocoa, mint, carob and vanilla.  Delicious tea and packaging that appeals to our home neighborhood pride.  These two stores are special.  Yes, they are "grocery" stores, but they are aimed at those of us who "want to know where our food comes from".  I love to shop at Green Aisle. You will too.

Wyndridge Farm Soda - If you have been following me over the past few years, you know that I have gradually removed almost all processed foods, Kraft products, and a host of other "bad" stuff from my diet.  I waited a long time to part ways with my two a day Pepsi (regular) habit, but it's been out of my life for some time now.  Once in awhile, I'll treat myself to an Italian soda and I am always on the look out for local sodas.  I am also a Cream Soda addict.  Nothing goes with a good sandwich like a delicious cream soda, in my opinion.  How wonderful that we now have Wyndridge Farm Soda.  The contents are simple:  real vanilla beans, cane sugar, and filtered water.  Just about perfect. Produced in York, PA and available at Fair Foods Farmstand.

Local Honey - I picked up the Honey pictured at Green Aisle Grocery on Passyunk.  We are very lucky to have a number of folks tending hives - sometimes on the roofs of restaurants and private homes - and producing  real, pure honey.  There's also a big health benefit to anyone with allergies to eating honey that was produced in your geographic area.  The honey helps build resistance to the allergens. And we need those bees too!  It's a win/win delicious situation.

This Blog will continue to highlight our local riches in 2015.  Let me know of your favorites in the area.  Let's support close to home first!  And, of course, "Know where your food comes from".

Monday, December 1, 2014

Recipe: "Stuffing" Soup Dumplings

Turkey Soup with Stuffing Dumplings

Let's talk about that most challenging of Thanksgiving leftovers:  Stuffing.  For some of you I understand that this is known as, "dressing".  In our home it's known as stuffing and a great deal of it is stuffed inside the turkey and cooked there.  It's Heaven. We love and always over do the stuffing.  We stuff the bird and we fill a couple of casserole dishes with the overflow.  How do we make this magical concoction?  Well, it's bread - torn into pieces and "staled" overnight; onions and celery sautéed in an obscene amount of butter; and thyme, salt and a huge amount of freshly ground pepper - all mixed together.  That's it.  The stuffing that cooks inside the turkey is transcendent.  The casserole  pan stuffing is also highly amazing especially with turkey gravy and/or stewed tomatoes (see last post) dolloped on it.

Please know that, of all of your Thanksgiving leftovers, stuffing freezes the best.  Small bags - especially if you can vacuum pack them - will hold up very well, and can be pulled out to recreate the dinner with the turkey I am hoping that you also have frozen.

But, you must - and I am not kidding here at all - you must save some of the leftover stuffing and make soup dumplings.

Now - if you think of yourself as a cook, and you hate waste, I am guessing that you have used all of the appropriate bones, etc. to create a nice big pot of Turkey Stock.  Excellent!  By the way if you haven't done it yet, try roasting or smoking the bones before you make the stock. Amazing flavor.

So, you have your stock - which also freezes well by the way - and you will be making some of your favorite turkey soup recipe. Go for it!  Just skip the noodles or rice and go with the stuffing dumplings instead.  You will thank me.

Recipe:  Turkey Stuffing Soup Dumplings

Note: If you can, hold off on adding the turkey meat until after the stuffing dumplings are floating.


2 cups of leftover stuffing
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, salt and pepper together until smooth
Add the stuffing and mix well until everything is well blended
Cover the bowl and reserve

Bring your soup to a simmer

As your soup is coming to a simmer, wet your hands and make small sized balls (about a tablespoon of the mixture,  maybe a bit smaller than a meatball) from the stuffing/egg mixture. Place the stuffing dumplings on a tray or pan until you make dumplings out of all of the mixture.

NOTE:  the moisture level of your stuffing will vary.  If the dumpling "dough"  is too soft to roll add flour a teaspoon at a time until it is firm enough to hold its shape.

Drop the dumplings into the simmering soup.  Cook until the dumplings float, about 3 - 4 minutes.  When the dumplings float,  add the turkey meat and taste to adjust seasonings.  You may want a bit more salt and pepper.

OK - Now - Stop what you are doing.  Ladle the soup and dumplings into a warm bowl, sit down, eat and make happy sounds!  Enjoy.

Please share this recipe.  I think folks end up tossing perfectly fine stuffing!  Thanks.

That is a fabulous, light and delicious soup dumpling!

With thanks to the Food Network and to the Beekman Boys who discovered this before I did!