Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Summer on a Sandwich

The definitive sandwich of summer has to be the BLT. Fresh, ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce are carefully layered along with thick, crisp slices of bacon between perfectly toasted pieces of sturdy bread which have been slathered with mayo. That long sentence is one mouthful of deliciousness! Here at Jungle Jim's International Market we enjoy kicking up the excitement when it comes to food and the classic BLT is no exception. If you haven't tried the Applewood Smoked Bacon in our meat department, you are missing out on a spectacular olfactory and gustatory experience. It is, quite simply, the royalty of bacon. Baking bacon until perfectly crisp is an easy and less messy method for preparing bacon. Follow along!

For the 8 thick slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon we used a 12x16 inch or half sheet pan. We lined ours with parchment paper before baking, but you can use aluminum foil to make clean up super easy. Place the bacon in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes and watch so that it doesn't burn. You don't have to flip them over half way through baking - they crisp up nicely without turning. When done, place on some paper towels to blot up the excess pork fat. If you feel faint, it's probably from the enticing aroma that is wafting through the kitchen. Luckily, you won't have to wait long to eat it!

The smell of this bacon baking is so tantalizing, it's like the Pied Piper of Pork - people stopped in the Cooking School just to inhale and hope to be asked to sample a piece!

Slice up several ripe tomatoes and clean some crisp lettuce. Any lettuce will do - we used romaine lettuce, but consider butter lettuce or even peppery arugula. The bakery at Jungle Jim's International Market offers a variety of sturdy breads that will work well for constructing a BLT. Today's sandwich features the whole wheat loaf with sunflower seeds. It toasts beautifully. Any of the sourdough breads, however, will make a great BLT.

We couldn't just settle for plain mayo, so we added a wallop of flavor with Sriracha mayonnaise. It is super simple to whip up - barely a recipe, but we're giving you the instructions.

Oven-Baked Bacon for 2 BLTs

8 slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon
half-sheet baking pan
parchment paper or aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the half-sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Place the strips of bacon on the pan and slide into the oven. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Remove from the sheet pan and place on paper towels to absorb grease. Eat and enjoy!

Sriracha Mayonnaise

1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha

Combine until well blended. Slather on your sandwich

Variations - add chipotles in adobo or wasabi paste to the mayo

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pie Crust

When it's admirable to be flaky...

A galette, crostada, tart or pie that elicits "oohs and ahhs" from guests probably means the contents have been deliciously nestled within a flaky, rich crust. Jungle Jim's International Market sells a variety of pies, but if learning to make a great pie crust tops your culinary bucket list, we have tested a simple recipe in the Cooking School that works every time. Follow along! The recipe is for a single pie crust used in a delicious tart cherry crostada made with Clearbrook Farms jam - a local product made in Sharonville, Ohio.

When you pulse the flour, sugar, zest, salt and butter in the food processor, you should be able to see pea-sized clumps of butter within the mix before you add the ice water (see above photo). The clumps of butter form the layers of flakiness as the crust bakes.

Once you add the ice water, pulse just until the dough comes together in moist, rough-looking clumps.

Gather the dough and shape it into a flat disk. You can see we had a large piece of plastic wrap under the dough. This helps to form the dough and keeps it from sticking to the counter surface. It's then ready to wrap for refrigeration. The butter is visible in the dough and that's what you want! Let the dough firm up in the refrigerator for an hour, then remove and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the size the recipe calls for or the size of the pie plate or tart pan you are using.

This dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months. 

Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse about 10 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Pulse in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Roll out for a single crust 9-inch pie.

Tart Cherry Crostada

Pie Crust Recipe (above)
One 10-ounce jar Michigan Red Tart Cherry preserves, or your favorite flavor
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Prepare pie crust with above instructions.

Preheat oven to 400°. Have ready a baking sheet and parchment paper.

Lightly flour parchment paper and roll dough into an 11-circle. Spread preserves over dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold and pleat dough border over preserves to form an 8-inch circle. Transfer crostada on the parchment paper to baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden and preserves are bubbly, 30-40 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Sprinkle with almonds before serving.

Serves 8

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


A Hunk of Churning Love

There are plenty of hot days left this summer to enjoy a bowl of chilly, tart sorbet. It's a refreshing treat that pleases everyone. If you own an electric ice cream maker, homemade made-to-order fruit flavors are simple to make. Jungle Jim's International Market offers an incredible selection of 100% juices and nectars that work beautifully for churning up popular and unusual - flavors of sorbet. We chose the "wild berries" flavor for it's pretty pink color and ripe berry taste.

We have discovered that a thick "nectar" will result in a creamier scoop. A clear juice will produce a less creamy, but equally delicious scoop. The "wild berries" flavor we used is a clear juice and you can tell from the very last photo that it forms a very nice scoop. The bottle of 100% lime juice is a new refrigerated product we substituted for freshly squeezed lime juice. It has a nice tart flavor - much like a fresh lime.

The Cooking School uses a 1.5 quart Cuisinart ice cream maker. The Gourmet Galeria carries the Cuisinart 1.5 and 2 quarts models along with the Donvier brand. If you always keep the empty bucket in the freezer, you can instantly begin to churn sorbet or ice cream when the mood strikes. There was some debate among the staff about how to store the bucket in the freezer. Leigh just puts it on a shelf in the freezer and stores it upside down. Ellen covers hers in plastic and stores it right side up. You can always rely on the manufacturer's instructions! 

One scoop or two?!

Wild Berry Sorbet
1 1/2 cups wild berry juice blend or nectar, chilled*
2 tablespoons lime juice
6 tablespoons sugar

Combine berry juice, lime juice and sugar in a large measuring cup or bowl; whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer liquid to a 1½ to 2-quart ice cream machine; process sorbet according to manufacturer's directions.

Transfer sorbet to a freezer container. Press waxed paper directly onto sorbet. Cover container with a lid and freeze sorbet until firm, 1-2 hours. Sorbet can be stored in freezer for up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 cups

*We used:
Philicon Premium Fresh
Wild Berries
33.8 ounce aseptic package
25% juice

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Don't Be Blue

Summer desserts can be simple, healthy and bursting with goodness especially when ripe, fragrant fruit is available. This easy-to-prepare blueberry crisp is Leigh's favorite summer blueberry dessert. "Leftovers make a terrific breakfast!" she admits. IF you have leftovers, give it a go for breakfast! At Jungle Jim's International Market pints of blueberries are piled high just waiting for you to take some home and make this best-loved dessert.

A food processor makes for a quick mix of ingredients, but if you don't own a food processor, streusel ingredients can be mixed with a fork or your clean fingers. 

We baked the blueberry crisp in a glass pan. If you find that your crisp browns too quickly, turn the heat down 25 degrees. Some people have trouble with glass pans browning food too quickly, but that hasn't happened for us in the Cooking School.

Almonds, pecans or other nuts would be a crunchy addition to the streusel.

Fresh Blueberry Crisp

2 pints fresh blueberries
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cut in 4 pieces
3/4 cup oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x11 inch baking dish.

Spread blueberries evenly in prepared pan. Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until large crumbs form. Add oatmeal and pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the blueberries. Bake 40-50 minutes, until bubbling and the top is beginning to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream Serves 4-6.

Variation:  Fresh Peach Crisp - omit blueberries and substitute 4-5 large, fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced.

Plan Ahead:  Bake, cool and cover 1 day before serving. Store at room temperature.

From Leigh Barnhart Ochs' cookbook Be Your Guest