Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Choose Cheese

Assembling a Cheese Board

We really like cheese here at Jungle Jim's International Market! Our Cheese Department is a cheese-lover's paradise. A quick and easy platter to take to tailgates or parties is a fresh fruit and cheese board. Buy some of your favorites and then mix it up with a really unusual choice. Add some fresh fruit - you can see we had a delightful selection of fresh figs, strawberries and green grapes. Crackers, flatbread, baguettes and pita chips are just the tip of the carb ice berg to complete a truly fantastic cheese board. Read on... we'll give you some tips for assembling the board and some unique cheese selections.

In May of 2013, representatives of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board visited Jungle Jim's. They shared some great information with our employees that we can pass along to our customers. Their ideas for "putting on a show," help to make a decorative statement with a cheese board.

1. Color - make sure you select a range of colorful cheeses.

2. Shapes - make your cheese cuts interesting. Leave some larger pieces, cut some into           cubes or slabs or wedges. Leave some cheese whole. Use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes. Place soft cheeses in pretty bowls. 

3. Texture - mix the smooth with the crumbly.

4. Serving Pieces - choose wood cutting boards, granite or marble strips, mirrors or slate pieces to display the cheese.

5. Simple signs - make simple signs for the cheeses so guests can shop for them later. We cut off the label and taped it to a toothpick - you can't get any easier than that!

6. Order - depending on the cheeses you select, arrange them from mildest to strongest.

Some of our cooking classes include a "light snack" for students and the photos included in this post highlight the meat, fruit and cheese board we typically offer. There is a wide selection of cheese and a favorite salami, Bianco O'ro from the deli, on our board:

Hennings - natural cheddar cheese cubes
Crowley Sage cheese cubes (Crowley's makes a muffaletta, hot pepper or garlic chive)
Carr Valley Sweet Vanilla Cardona Cheese cubes - a nice, mild, slightly sweet goat cheese
Greve - a mild, Swiss-like Norwegian cheese
Emmi Classic Emmanthaler
Emmi mild Gruyere
Kenny's Farmhouse Cheddar
Jungle Jim's very own cheese balls in a variety of flavors

Brad Hacker, our Cheese Department Manager, answered a few quick questions for us. Since he is our resident cheese expert, we rely on his recommendations at the Cooking School for cheese selections.

Question: What is the most unusual cheese on the shelf right now?
Brad: Kokos Gouda made from cow's milk and coconut cream

Question:  What is your recommendation for a soft spreadable cheese?
Brad:  Mackenzie Creamery's Pumpkin Goat Cheese

Question: What hard cheese do you especially like?
Brad:  Uniekaas aged gouda from Holland

Question:  If you had to pick a cheese for lunch today, what would it be?
Brad:  CaƱarejal Creamoso - a raw sheep's milk brie served on crackers or bread

If you perchance have leftovers after a party, consider making a grilled cheese sandwich, super cheesy mac and cheese or try some different cheese on a pizza or in a calzone. Come and visit the cheese shop at Jungle Jim's for inspiration and don't be afraid to ask Brad for recommendations.

Attention Cheese Lovers! Join us for the Big Cheese Festival on February 8, 2014. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Simple Soup

Rita's 30 Minute Vegetable Soup

Rita Heikenfeld is a good friend of and a popular guest chef at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market. She graciously agreed to share her super simple vegetable beef soup recipe with our readers. The cool nights of early fall make us all ready for a warm bowl of soup and if you have a reasonably well-stocked pantry or freezer, you can stir up a pot in under an hour and have it on the table for your family. A thick slice of multi-grain sourdough bread from the Bakery would be an especially good accompaniment to this soup. And slather on some really good butter - like Plugra!

If you buy ground beef when it is on sale and freeze it, now is a great time to take out a pound or so and let it thaw in the refrigerator. If you don't eat ground beef, ground turkey or chicken will work, too. Once you have a large onion chopped (generous 1 cup) and a couple large cloves of garlic minced (1 teaspoon), add them to the pot with the ground beef. If you are racing to get dinner on the table, you can purchase pre-chopped onions and garlic in the Produce section. 

Ellen, our sous chef, was making a BIG pot of soup for Rita's Best Ever Yeast Bread class on Tuesday, Sept, 21 for 24 students. You won't need a pot this big for one recipe! She used ground beef tenderloin and drained it well after the beef, onions and garlic were cooked. 

She added the remainder of the ingredients, minus the fresh spinach, and stirred to combine. The pot will simmer for 30 minutes - hence the name! Check the vegetables at thirty minutes to make sure they are tender. Simmer a little longer if needed. Toss in the fresh spinach and you are ready to go. A dusting of grated parmesan or a handful of shredded cheddar would be a nice touch!

Rita's Heikenfeld's 30 Minute Vegetable Soup

1 generous pound ground sirloin
1 generous cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 jar (20-30 ounces) chunky garden style pasta sauce - we used Prego
2 cans (15 ounces) low sodium beef broth
Water to taste - start with one broth can of water and go from there)
1 can (10 ounces) chopped tomatoes and chilies - we used Rotel
1 bag (20 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables for soup, thawed,  - we used Bird's Eye
Fresh spinach  - 5 ounce package
Cheddar or Parmesan for garnishing

Cook meat, onion and garlic together. Add everything else but fresh spinach. If you have the 30 ounce jar of pasta sauce, add almost all, but taste before adding the rest. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Toss in spinach and cook until wilted, about one minute more.

Rita will be teaching In Praise of the Braise on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 from 6:00 - 8:30pm at the Fairfield location. If you would like to join her, you can register online.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Butter + Sugar + Chocolate + Caramel = Delicious

It is hard to resist the delightful scents that draw people to the kitchen. Freshly baked cookies is one of those incredible aromas. Your nose can sniff the smell of baking bread and other good things here at Jungle Jim's International Market in the Bakery department and of course, in the Cooking School. Right now the Kraft Caramel Bits are available and when you pair that with a bar of Jungle Jim's 54% Dark Belgian Chocolate with Roasted Almonds and a pinch of flaky sea salt, something wonderful is going to happen. Follow the evidence!

Good Smell #1:  Browned Butter

If you haven't tried browning butter, then you really should. For the cookie recipe below, we used 2 sticks of unsalted butter and browned it in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep a close watch over the bubbling and foaming butter - stir it frequently until you smell a nutty fragrance and the color turns a golden brown. The butter can go from brown to burned quickly, so don't walk away. High fat butter will brown more quickly because there is less water to evaporate, so giving an exact time to completion is hard to do - depends on the butter you use.

Good Smell #2:  Coffee

When the powdered espresso hits the dough, you can smell the coffee house aroma waft up from the bowl of the mixer.

Good Smell #3:  Chocolate

You can really use any kind of chocolate in this recipe, including semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks , or other high quality dark chocolate bars with or without nuts. Jungle Jim's markets a very nice chocolate bar that is showcased in this recipe; we also carry a dark chocolate bar with cocoa nibs that would work very well, too. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt brings all the good flavors together in perfect cookie harmony.

A cookie scoop ensures a uniform size of cookie that helps with baking - all the cookies are done at the same time! We used a 1.5 tablespoon sized cookie scoop. You can pick one up in the Gourmet Galeria.

Good Smell #4:  Freshly Baked Cookies - see above photo again and again!

Brown Butter Mocha Cookies with Sea Salt and Caramel

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar - you can use light brown
1/4 granulated sugar
1 large egg + one egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour - we use Gold Medal Unbleached
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder - we use Medaglia D'Oro brand
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup caramel bits - we use Kraft Caramel Bits
3/4 - 1 cup coarsely chopped Jungle Jim's 54% Dark Belgian Chocolate with Roasted Almonds
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and watch carefully. When the butter begins to turn brown and fragrant, remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer to cool for 5 - 10 minutes.

While butter is cooling, combine the flour, coffee, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

When the butter has cooled, add the sugars and beat until well combined - at least 2 minutes. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed until just mixed. The caramel bits and chocolate chunks can be mixed in gently by hand.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop to make balls of dough. Eight  scoops of dough per pan. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt. Bake for 9 minutes and then check to see that the edges are brown and the dough is not shiny. Bake an additional 1 to 2 minutes if more time is needed. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and remove to a rack.

Makes 22-24 cookies

Tip:  When using all butter in a cookie recipe, take the time to make a test cookie. If the cookie flattens out too much, add a couple tablespoons of flour to the remaining dough or chill the dough for 30 minutes and try again. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Chicken Wings

Let's Wing It!

Game on! Football season is back! If you are planning a tailgate party for the first game of the season, consider making a pan of sticky, crowd-pleasing chicken wings. The Gerber chicken wings at Jungle Jim's International Market are tender, juicy and meaty. These wings are a sweet, spicy bite of goodness that your guests will gobble up. One pack of chicken wings yielded 24 finger-licking pieces.

Our first preparation tip is to cover the baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil. We like to double foil the pan because as you will see in a later step, clean up is so much easier. Preparing the chicken wings requires a sharp knife, a cutting board and a little muscle! Sever the drummette from the flat wing and discard the tips. Or you can save the tips to make homemade chicken stock. Just bag them and freeze them until you are ready to make stock.

Heat the BBQ sauce ingredients together and then let the pan set off the heat until the chicken wings have been baked the first time in the oven.

When the wings come out brown and crispy from the first baking, remove the first layer of foil with the wings on it to a rack. You can see how easy the clean up is going to be! An added benefit of taking the wings off the first sheet is also to remove excess grease.

Put the wings on the clean foil and coat thoroughly with the warm BBQ sauce before sliding back in the oven for a quick session under the broiler.

Here is the final product! Score some points with the football fans at your party.

Orange BBQ Glazed Chicken Wings

2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken wings, tips discarded, each cut into 2 pieces
Salt and pepper
½ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
½ cup BBQ sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of release foil.

Season wings with salt and pepper, arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine juice concentrate, BBQ sauce, marmalade, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat broiler. Remove chicken from baking sheets by picking up top layer of foil. Transfer chicken to 2nd layer of foil on baking sheets. Toss wings with glaze. Broil until sauce is bubbling and wings are dark brown in spots, 1-2 minutes.

Makes about 24 pieces