Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Leftovers

Split Pea Soup

If a beautifully glazed ham is the centerpiece of your upcoming Easter meal, you will inevitably have a meaty ham bone left over. Students at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's enjoyed an impressive Easter menu and wine pairing this past Saturday with Carol Tabone and Dave Schmerr. The ham bone from the tangerine-glazed ham made the perfect base for the Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup recipe featured in this post. The Cincinnati area woke up to snow-draped trees and shrubs, so even in mid-April a bowl of soup is in order!

This soup recipe is really, really easy to make and very delicious. For very little effort the result is huge. If you are a fan of split pea soup, you will enjoy this with gusto! 

Once your ingredients are prepared, you will simply layer the ingredients in your slow cooker. We used a 6-quart slow cooker, but a smaller one will work, too.

The rinsed, dry split peas are the first layer.

Layer in the chopped vegetables and garlic.

Add the fresh thyme and bay leaf.

Nestle the ham bone on top.

Add the liquids - low-sodium chicken broth and water. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. We recommend waiting until the soup is done until you add more salt. Depending on the ham bone, you may not need to add any additional salt. It took 5 hours on high in our slow cooker.

Once the soup is done and the meat is falling off the bone, remove the ham bone from the soup. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and add it back to the soup. Stir it well and then taste for seasonings.

Pea soup freezes well for up to 2 months. As the soup cools over night in the refrigerator, it will thicken considerably, so when gently reheating, you may want to add a little chicken broth or water until it is the consistency you like.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

(recipe adapted from CHOW website)

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed
2 medium carrots, small dice
2 medium celery stalks, small dice
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bushy fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 meaty smoked ham bone or 2 ham hocks
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups water
Salt and pepper

Arrange the split peas in the slow cooker in an even layer. Arrange the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf over the peas in one even layer. Place the ham bone or hocks on top of the vegetables.

Pour the chicken broth and water into the slow cooker and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the peas are very soft and the meat is falling off the bone, on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.

Remove the ham bone or hocks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, place the meat back in the soup (discard the skin and bones), and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 cups

Friday, April 4, 2014

DIY Crackers

Herb Crackers

Hosting a basketball party this weekend? The snack madness continues and The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market presents an easy cracker recipe that is the ideal vehicle for scooping up and piling on dips and other dunk-ables. These fragrant Herb Crackers complement the many fine cheeses and meats you will find in the Charcuterie Department at both store locations. 

Homemade crackers are simple to make - follow the steps below!

Prepare all your ingredients and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. A food processor makes the dough come together quickly. Add the dry ingredients in the food processor bowl.

Add the butter and pulse several times to combine.

When pulsing in the butter, the finished product should be evenly combined with no chunks of butter. You can see the result in the photo above.

With the machine running, add enough hot water (1/2 cup hot tap water) to form a smooth, soft ball. Stop to check the texture before you add all of the water; you may not need all of it.

The dough will feel soft and warm.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly several times. 

Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper. You can re-flour as needed. Feel free to pick up the parchment paper and rotate it if that helps with rolling. Do not pick up and turn the dough over.

Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, slice the dough into approximately 1 1/2-inch squares, cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Leigh trimmed the edges to make nice, straight edges. You can make a more free-form cracker if you don't feel like trimming the dough. Tip - don't reuse the trimmings as they will be very tough.

Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. Top the crackers with Kosher salt (optional).

Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the crackers are crisp and light brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all the dough. Feel free to substitute your favorite dry herb blend.  Enjoy homemade crunchy crackers with your favorite party dip!

Herb Crackers
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1½ teaspoons dried herbes de Provence seasoning
¾ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
½ cup hot tap water, or as needed

Preheat the oven to 450°. Lightly flour your work surface and a piece of parchment paper. Have ready a rolling pin and a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, herbes de Provence seasoning, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse several times to combine. With the machine running, add enough hot water to form a smooth, soft ball, stopping to check the texture before you add all of the water; you might not need all of it.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly. Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on the parchment paper (re-flour as needed). You can pick up the parchment and rotate it as needed in between rollings, but don't turn the dough over.

Use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to slice the dough into approximately 1½-inch squares, cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. You can remove any trimmed-off pieces at the edges and re-roll them later, though they will be a little tougher in texture and may shrink a bit when baking. Transfer crackers on the parchment paper to the baking sheet.

Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the crackers are crisp and light brown around the edges. (You might need to bake the crackers on the inside of the sheet a little longer, because they will not brown as readily.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all of the dough. Cool completely before serving or storing.

Makes approximately 100 small crackers

Make Ahead: The crackers can be stored in an airtight container (not plastic) at room temperature for about 1 week. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Snack Madness

Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Puff Pastry Straws

If you are looking for a salty-sweet snack to serve party guests, look no further than the Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Puff Pastry Straws artfully arranged in the mug! Most of the ingredients you need to make these addictive treats can be found in the Dairy and Frozen Food departments at Jungle Jim's International Market. Usually we recommend the thick applewood smoked bacon, but for this recipe you will need thinly sliced bacon. Jungle Jim's brand bacon comes in both thick and thin sliced varieties, so make sure to pick up the thin type. Thin bacon strips will result in a perfectly crisp, fully cooked puff pastry straw your guests will gobble up! The Cooking School staff sampled the freshly baked straws and enthusiastically noted that they pair exceptionally well with any beer on tap at the Tasting Bar!

Working with puff pastry is easy. When you purchase puff pastry, keep it in the freezer until the day before you are ready to use it, then take it out and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Have all your ingredients and utensils assembled before you are ready to make the straws before you take the puff pastry out of the refrigerator. You will find that chilled puff pastry is much easier to work with. Unfold the puff pastry into one flat sheet, brush lightly with the beaten egg and then sprinkle the desired amount of cayenne pepper over it. We didn't give you a specific amount of cayenne to use because each person has their own definition of "hot or spicy."

Sprinkle the finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese over the cayenne and then gently press the cheese into the puff pastry with a rolling pin. 

Cut the cheese-covered puff pastry into long 1/2-inch wide strips. Fold them in half on top of each other and then pinch the ends together. Gently twist them several times.

Tip - once you have all the twists made, refrigerate them for 30 minutes. They will be easier to handle for the next step.

Mix the brown sugar, minced fresh rosemary, salt and pepper in a pie plate. Gently coat each twist with the brown sugar mixture and place on a greased rack that sits on a foil-covered baking sheet. Give the straws some space - at least an inch and a half. They will expand while baking. 

Place the coated twists in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Depending on your oven, we recommend checking them at 30 minutes. They will look crisp and browned when they are done. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the rack; then take a thin metal spatula and move them a bit so they don't stick to the rack. Cool another 10 minutes and then eat.

Because these twists were immediately devoured by the staff, we can't say how long they will last or how to store them! Please leave us comments with instructions on how to store them if you happen to have any left over. We didn't try this, but we think the twists would freeze well before coating with the brown sugar. Just remove the twists from the freezer, roll in the brown sugar mixture, place on the prepared rack and baking sheet and bake. Enjoy!

Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Puff Pastry Straws
Yield:  26-28 twists

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
Cayenne pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
13-14 thin slices of bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with non-stick spray.

Open one sheet of puff pastry on a cutting board. Brush the surface lightly with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with your desired amount of cayenne pepper to taste (see photo above). Sprinkle surface with 1/2 cup of cheese to evenly cover entire surface. Dust a rolling pin with flour and then roll the rolling pin over the cheese to gently press the cheese into the puff pastry.

Cut the puff pastry into long 1/2-inch wide strips and then fold in half and then pinch the ends together. Twist each strip several times.

Take a piece of bacon and wrap it around the twisted pastry. Place on the rack. Repeat with the remaining twists until everything has been used.

Mix the brown sugar, minced rosemary, salt and pepper in a pie plate. Carefully take each bacon wrapped pastry one at a time and dip it through the brown sugar mixture - coat completely. Place each coated twist back on the rack.

Bake the twists for 35-40 minutes. Check them at 30 minutes to make sure they aren't burning. Once the bacon is cooked and the twists are browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Use a thin spatula to carefully lift the twists off the rack so they don't stick. Allow them to cool another 10 minutes to firm and crisp up before serving.

Tip: refrigerate the uncoated twists for 30 minutes to firm up before coating with the brown sugar mixture. They will be easier to handle.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Brownie Madness

Fudgy Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies

March Madness basketball has the nation gripped with excitement, but here at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market, a brownie madness has the staff enthralled. We want to share this easy, crazy-good recipe for brownies. If you rely on boxed mixes for your chocolate fix, please consider making these fudgy brownies as a superior alternative. You'll please the people who love fudgy centers and the folks who fight for the edge pieces. It's a one-pan winner! 

The secret to the fresh, ripe raspberry flavor is Clearbrook Farms' seedless red raspberry jam. It is packed with raspberry goodness and a perfect pairing with chocolate. If you haven't been introduced to Clearbrook Farms' products, we highly recommend them. They are locally produced in the Sharonville, Ohio. The Cooking School is offering a class on Thursday, April 3, using Clearbrook Farms' jams and preserves. Our students will get an introduction to the products in the class menu and will enjoy a gift to try at home.

Once you have your jar of jam, prepare the other ingredients - most cooks have them on hand in their pantry or refrigerator. Measure out a 1/4 cup of jam and stir with a spoon to loosen it up.

Melting the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl saves on time and dishes. Microwave the chocolate and butter for 45 seconds. Remove and stir. Microwave in 30 second segments until the chocolate is just melted. Stir until smooth.

You can add the remaining ingredients (minus the jam) into the bowl and stir until combined. No lumps should be in the batter and it will be thick. Scrape the batter into a greased 8x8 pan.

With a spoon, distribute the jam on top of the brownie batter. You can use a dinner knife or a paring knife to swirl the raspberry jam around through the batter. 

Place the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The aroma of baking chocolate and raspberry is fantastic! Find the willpower to allow the brownies to cool completely. They cut more easily and the texture will be perfect. If by some miracle there are brownies in the pan the next day, they will be even better! The recipe says to cut into 12 pieces, but somehow 9 pieces seems more reasonable for chocoholics!

Fudgy Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies

6 ounces (1 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup raspberry preserves, stirred well

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

Place chocolate chips and butter in a glass bowl and microwave in 30-45 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour and salt and mix well.

Spread batter into prepared baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of preserves over batter; pull a knife through batter to create a swirled effect. Bake 35-40 minutes or until brownie just begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Makes 12 brownies

Friday, March 7, 2014

Simple Seafood

Cod - An Easy Weeknight Dinner

The Seafood Department at Jungle Jim's International Market is teeming with fresh, frozen and fabulous fish. Cod is a mild, flaky fish that is a great choice for an easy weeknight dinner. You can buy frozen cod in blocks, but the fish counter boasted a fine display of fresh, skinless fillets that would work well for our Spanish Baked Cod with Chorizo. A simple preparation will have dinner on the table in under an hour - give it a try!

This baked cod recipe serves 4 people; however, it can easily be halved (if you are cooking for 2 people) and that's exactly what we did today. You'll need a pan that can go from stove top directly to the oven. We used a 9-inch Le Creuset pan for a half recipe. For the full recipe, use an ovenproof 11 - 12-inch skillet.

Yukon Gold potatoes can be purchased in bulk or in bags. We used small bulk potatoes and sliced them 1/4-inch thick. Leeks should be well washed of grit. Cut off the dark green top. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and then thinly slice into half-moon shapes. We used Goya brand chorizo that we thinly sliced - a little less than 1/4 inch. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and then saute the chorizo for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. 

Add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes until softened and lightly brown. Add the leeks and everything but the cod; stir gently to mix. 

Arrange the cod on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the ovenproof skillet in the oven and bake 18-20 minutes. The cod is done when it flakes easily. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and enjoy!

Spanish Baked Cod with Chorizo

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes with peel, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 leeks (white and light green parts), sliced into thin half moons
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
¾ cup dry sherry
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1½ pound cod fillet
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or shallow casserole over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo and cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.

Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the leeks, saffron, sherry and salt and pepper to taste; stir gently. Arrange cod on top of the mixture in the skillet, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cod flakes easily, 18-20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 4

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It is still soup weather in the Midwest!

Southwest Chicken Soup

The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market hosted a sold-out class with Brian Reed of Mogo Tago. His Columbus, Ohio, food truck business is a popular stop for hungry people. This past Saturday, he fed 40 of our students a delicious menu of his taco favorites. The staff at The Cooking School was fortunate to be able to sample some leftovers for lunch which inspired us to assemble this simple soup you can make at home - even if you don't have some of Brian's leftovers! It is an easy soup recipe packed with bright, Southwest flavors. When you stop at Jungle Jim's for the ingredients, take a swing through the Bakery and pick up a loaf of sourdough bread or jalapeno cheddar pretzel bread. For something a little different, try Kontos brand Southwest flatbread. 

Brian makes a superb roasted tomatillo salsa that we used in place of a jarred salsa verde. Frontera brand makes an excellent salsa verde that is readily available on our shelves. Beware - green salsas can be spicy - so if you are not an adventuresome heat-aholic, look for a jar that is labeled as "mild."

If you are in Columbus, check out where Brian has parked his truck for the day. You will enjoy meeting him and sampling the tacos and sauces on his menu. And don't forget the homemade tortilla chips! 

The ingredient list for this soup is short:  salsa verde, shredded, cooked chicken, cannellini beans, chicken broth and cumin. The sour cream, green onions and tortilla chips are for the garnish. This soup can be assembled and on the table in less than 30 minutes. If you have some leftover rotisserie chicken, this soup recipe is a great way to use that up.

Once the salsa verde and chicken broth has simmered for 10 minutes, add the shredded chicken, beans and cumin. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and then simmer gently. Assemble the garnishes and you are ready to ladle the soup into bowls and serve!

Southwest Chicken Soup
(adapted from a Real Simple magazine recipe)

1 12-ounce jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken or other cooked leftover chicken) 
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade chicken broth)
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
2 green onions, chopped (optional garnish)
sour cream (optional garnish, but really good)
tortilla chips (optional garnish, almost necessary!)


Combine the chicken broth and the salsa into a large saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the shredded chicken, beans, and cumin. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with green onions, add a dollop of sour cream, and some tortilla chips (if desired).

Serves 4

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lazy Morning Sweets

Pecan Sticky Buns

Weekend mornings are the perfect time for relaxing with a sweet treat and a good cup of coffee or tea. Puff pastry dough is a buttery alternative for making your own sweet roll dough. It is readily available in the frozen food section of Jungle Jim's International Market. We had a sheet of leftover puff pastry dough from a cooking class and rather than waste it, we baked a pan of Pecan Sticky Buns - much to the delight of the staff!

When you purchase the frozen puff pastry, it should be defrosted before using. So, if you purchase the day before, you can store it in the refrigerator until ready to use the next morning. Or, if you forget to defrost it in the refrigerator, take it out and set it on your counter top 45 - 60 minutes before using. A box of puff pastry contains two sheets, which is what the recipe calls for. Since we had one sheet to use - we made a batch of 6!

Unroll the puff pastry - no need to roll to a larger size. Spread the softened butter, brown sugar and chopped pecans (filling) evenly across the top leaving a 1/4 inch border on 3 sides and 1/2 inch border along the top edge.

Roll into a jelly roll starting with the edge nearest you. Put the seam side down like the photo above.

Prepare the topping ingredients and evenly place the mixture into the muffin tins. This will make the gooey, sticky topping that is the hallmark of pecan sticky buns. Cut each roll into 6 pieces - about 1 1/2 inches each. Place them spiral side up in the tin over the topping mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes - be careful to watch because they will easily burn. Allow the sticky buns to cool 5 minutes in the pan before inverting and devouring.

Pecan Sticky Buns

For the topping:
8 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped

All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 package (17.3 ounces/ 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry 

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Prepare topping: Combine butter and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Scoop mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Sprinkle with the pecans.

Prepare filling: Combine melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans in a medium bowl and mix well.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Pat one-half of the filling evenly over the pastry, leaving a ¼-inch plain border on 3 sides and a ½-inch border at the top. Brush the ½-inch border lightly with water. Starting with the bottom end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam-side down. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, about 1½-inches each. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden brown on top and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool a few more minutes before serving.

Makes 12