Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Rolling in the Dough!

The Cooking School staff has had fun testing pizza recipes for the Sub Shop located inside Jungle Jim's International Market. As a result of our experiments, we discovered that Jungle Jim's frozen pizza dough is easy to roll out and work with and tastes really good. If you enjoy pizza as much as we do, this dough is great to have on hand when the mood for pizza strikes. One 20 ounce ball of dough will make 2 very thin-crust 13-inch pizzas or 1 thicker-crust 13-inch pizza. Now there's no excuse not to indulge in a serious pizza craving! 

You'll find the frozen pizza dough in the Bakery department along side very tempting-looking frozen desserts. Don't let them distract you from your mission of getting the pizza dough - unless it's a tradition to serve dessert with pizza at your house!

The best way to thaw the frozen dough is to put it in the refrigerator the night before. Use the thawed dough within 2 days.

Lightly flour the work surface. Have your rolling pin and pizza peel ready. Your pizza stone should preheat in a 500 degree oven for 1 hour prior to baking. A pizza stone will give you a crispy crust that is hard to duplicate with a metal pan.

A pizza peel makes the job of sliding the crust onto the stone so much easier. If you don't have a peel, you can slide the dough onto a pizza pan and then slide the dough from there onto the stone. Gather the toppings to dress your pizza while the crust parbakes. If you are at a loss for unusual topping ideas, just walk up and down the aisles at Jungle Jim's - it's inspirational! 

Parbake the crust for about 3 minutes. Parbaking helps the crust set up, makes it easier to handle and dress and most importantly, produces a crispier crust. We used our home-made pizza sauce that you'll find the recipe for at the end of the post.

Many people are tempted to overload the pizza with too many toppings - resist the urge! The crust will be crispier if it isn't loaded down with heavy toppings. We used a whole-milk mozzarella that we shredded here in our kitchen. This 13-inch pizza has 2 cups of shredded mozzarella on top. Use any variety of cheese you like, but you'll notice the rich flavor and gooey-ness of a whole milk mozzarella.

If you are a fan of pepperoni, try using the "sandwich" pepperoni found in the Deli at Jungle Jim's. You can put these spicy, large pepperoni slices right on top of the cheese. They look impressively delicious. Put your dressed pizza back on the hot stone and bake for 5 - 7 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and bubbly on top.

Slice and eat. The aroma of freshly baked pizza is like the Pied Piper drawing folks into the kitchen! Everyone who tasted this pie liked the crunch of the crust, the great flavor of the toppings and the overall visual appeal of a homemade pizza. Give it a try! Just to let you know how good this pizza is - "Jungle" Jim stopped by and ate 4 slices!

Beer Alert! We asked Dave Schmerr, the manager of the Wine and Beer department what beer he would select if "forced" to choose to drink with a slice of fresh, hot pizza. He said all the beers are good! But, he would pick the Winter Solstice from Anderson Brewing Co. that you can get ice cold from the Growler bar in Fairfield. 

Pizza "Recipe"

1 13-inch crust ready to be "dressed" 
Pizza sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups of shredded cheese *
Toppings of your choice (we used sandwich-sized pepperoni from the Deli)

Preheat the pizza stone for 1 hour in a 500 degree oven. Roll out the dough and parbake for 3 minutes. Dress the pizza with toppings of your choice. Slide back onto the hot stone and bake for 5 - 7 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and bubbly.  

* we used Grande whole-milk mozzarella found in the Charcuterie case.

Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Whisk all ingredients together. This is enough sauce to top 2 13-inch pizzas. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gifts from the Kitchen

Panforte di Siena (pahn-FOHR-teh)

Don't hate us for thinking about the holidays already! If you like to give and receive homemade gifts of food, allow us to introduce you to a wonderful Italian cake/confection that you can make right now and give as a gift for the holidays. It's a good time to purchase the ingredients for this treat - Jungle Jim's International Market is stocking the shelves with all the dried fruits and nuts you will need for this recipe. 

What exactly is Panforte? The word means "strong bread." It's a firm, sweet cake/confection full of nuts, spices, pepper and candied fruit. This is NOT a fruitcake! A specialty of Siena, Italy, Panforte is traditionally served in the winter, especially at Christmastime. Served in very thin slices, it's delicious as dessert or an afternoon snack with tea. We think it would be a fabulous addition to a cheese course. A light dusting of powdered sugar makes for a pretty presentation. 

To give as a gift, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then parchment/butcher paper and tie with a decorative string or ribbon. Panforte should sit for at least a week before serving and will last for up to a year. Store it in plastic wrap - no need to refrigerate.

We are giving you  instructions with a few more photos so you can confidently make this in your own kitchen this holiday season. 

After you have toasted all the nuts, chop them in large pieces. Leigh chopped the hazelnuts in half, so you can use that as a size guide for the rest of the fruit and nuts.

Mix the bowl of dry ingredients into the chopped fruit and nuts. Combine well until the nuts and fruit are coated.

The sugar, honey and butter should be mixed thoroughly and brought to 238 - 240 degrees. Our mixture is almost ready to be removed from the heat and added to the nuts and fruit.

Be careful as you add the hot mixture to the nuts and fruit! Stir well until all the dry mixture is covered with the honey mixture. The batter is too thick to use a spatula - a sturdy wooden spoon works well.

Scrape the mixture into your prepared cake pan.

Once the mixture is in the pan, lightly dampen your fingers and press the batter evenly into the pan.  

It should reach almost to the top of the pan.

Occasionally the batter may run over, so put a pan on the next rack down to catch the overflow.
The batter will bubble about 2 inches in from the edge of the pan. Don't worry if the center doesn't bubble. Once done, follow the directions for cooling and removing from the pan. 

This is a beautiful, unusual gift that your friends will enjoy. If you don't have a 7x2 inch round cake pan, visit our Gourmet Galeria at either location. 

The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's has a popular holiday class tradition offered every November  - "Gifts from the Kitchen." If you enjoy giving homemade gifts, consider joining Leigh for some fresh ideas that you can make this holiday season. We offer 4 classes to fit busy schedules. Check out the 2013 menu.

Panforte di Siena

1½ cups whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup whole hazelnuts, skinned, lightly toasted
1 cup diced candied orange peel
3 ounces dried apricots, diced
3 ounces dried figs, diced
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting, optional

Preheat oven to 325° with rack set in the center of the oven. Generously spray a 7x2-inch nonstick round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of pan with a parchment paper circle, spray parchment paper circle with cooking spray. Coat bottom and sides of pan with flour, tapping out excess.

Roughly chop almonds and hazelnuts and place in a large, wide bowl, along with orange peel, apricots, and figs; toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. Add to bowl of nuts and fruit and toss until well combined.

Place sugar, honey, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook mixture until it reaches 238-240° on an instant-read or candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat and quickly pour sugar mixture into nut mixture. Stir until well combined, using a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to prepared cake pan, pressing lightly (damp hands) and smoothing surface with a spatula.

Transfer cake pan to oven and bake until about 2-inches of the outer edge is bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool about 1 hour; run a warm, damp knife around edge to loosen. Cool for an additional 15-30 minutes, run a damp knife around edge of pan again and invert over rack (smack pan bottom) to remove from pan; turn cake over again (bumpy top up) and cool completely (pull parchment off bottom while still barely warm). Wrap well with plastic wrap, parchment paper, and then again with plastic wrap. Store in a cool, dry place at least one week before serving; panforte keeps well at least 3 months.

To serve, dust the panforte with confectioners' sugar, if using, and cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife. Makes 24 or more servings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Trick or Treat!

Butterfinger Cookies

Colorful packages of candy in fun sizes, king sizes and snack sizes await costumed trick-or-treaters eager for a full bucket of sweet treats. If your job as "candy security screener" allows you to sort through the goods, consider setting aside some Butterfinger candy bars to make these chewy, buttery cookies. Everyone will thank you. We carry individual bars as well as bags of Butterfingers at Jungle Jim's International Market- just in case you couldn't find those bright yellow wrappers amidst the piles of Halloween booty.

Leigh was baking cookies for a care package this past weekend and the results were disappointing. She used high quality, high fat butter and determined that using it produced a flat, somewhat greasy cookie. Undaunted by failure, it spurred her to try another recipe in hopes of getting a chewy cookie that would taste great and be sturdy enough to travel in the mail. Here it is! 

A few, simple ingredients are needed - the only thing you may have to purchase are the Butterfinger bars. They chop easily - don't be afraid to allow for some larger chunks.

It is a stiff dough, so you will have the best results using a stand mixer. 

We used a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop to make these cookies. They do spread some, so six cookies on a large baking sheet is ideal. 

Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before moving them to a rack. If you have a cup of coffee or glass of milk, now is a good time to test the cookies! Warm cookies can't be beat.

If you enjoy baking, consider taking a class during Sweet Week - the first week of December 2013. We have 4 great classes that feature desserts, candies and cookies you will enjoy making for the holidays and all year round. For class information view the class calendar.

Chewy Butterfinger Cookies

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
4 regular size Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 ounces each), chopped

Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on medium speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl at least once. Add the egg and mix well. Add flour mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in Butterfinger pieces with a wooden spoon.

Drop mixture with a 1½ tablespoon scoop onto prepared baking sheets (alternately, drop by slightly rounded tablespoons). Six cookies to a large baking sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes or until just beginning to brown, cookies should look slightly underbaked. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes 2 dozen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pumpkin Mania

Pumpkins Have Rolled In!

Fall has officially arrived and the evidence is stacked up in the Produce section at Jungle Jim's International Market. All kinds of pumpkins are available for carving and eating! If the first snap of cold weather compels you to collect and make pumpkin recipes, you are not alone. Redolent with delicious aromas of fall produce, the Cooking School is the place to be because Leigh baked a moist, dense batch of pumpkin pecan muffins. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you'll enjoy these pumpkin muffins as you kick-start your autumn baking.

The batter can be mixed in two bowls - one bowl for the dry ingredients and then one for the wet ingredients. Quick and easy clean up! We used a 1/4-cup scoop to fill the muffin tins. Each muffin is the same size, bakes evenly and looks coffee-house perfect. Don't be tempted to overfill the muffin tins - they should rise, not overflow.

Leigh opted to grease the muffin tin, but you could use paper liners. To make a crunchy topping, use baker's coarse sugar - a generous 1/2 teaspoon per muffin will result in a crackly, crunchy coating that contrasts wonderfully with the moist, dense crumb of the muffin.

Patience is a virtue! It is so hard to wait until they are cool enough to eat, but the muffins come out so much easier when they have a chance to cool. Run a knife along the edge to detach the sugar from the sides and lift them out gently.

These muffins disappeared as soon as they were cool enough to handle! 

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
cups granulated sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
Coarse bakers’ sugar for tops, optional

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 regular-size muffin cups.

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt in medium bowl and whisk to mix. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove muffins from pan and cool completely.

Makes 12

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Tart Apple Tart!

Homegrown, freshly picked bushels of apples have arrived! Varieties of apples from all over Ohio and the USA grace the shelves, bins and baskets at Jungle Jim's International Market. If apples hold a special place in your heart, you won't be disappointed to discover an abundance of apple-centric products on the shelves: apple cider, apple butter, dried apples, apple pie, apple quick bread and the incredibly delicious, over-the-top caramel apples made in-house at the Bakery. You'll find apples featured in at least one product in almost every department. We grabbed a large, bright green Granny Smith apple for our apple tart.

In the Cooking School, we enjoy testing new recipes and incorporating interesting products that we find on the shelves. Because apples mix well with so many other flavors, we decided to add an almond flavor as a twist on the classic apple tart. Almond paste comes in a tube-shaped roll, so you can cut off what you need and refrigerate the remainder for another use.

Puff pastry crusts are simple to make - especially if you are intimidated with the usual butter or shortening crust process. All you have to do is take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Puff pastry results in a crispy, buttery crust that melds beautifully with the almond paste "sheet" that lays on top of it.

Granny Smith apples have a distinctive tart flavor that contrasts well with the rich crust. Once peeled, halved and sliced into 1/8 inch disks, you can practice your "shingling" skills - which is nothing more than decorative layering! The photo below illustrates a simple layer of sliced apples over the almond paste and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and dotted with butter. Now the tart is ready for the oven.

Keep an eye on your tart - it can go from brown to burned very quickly. Once out of the oven, have your apple jelly and a pastry brush ready to glaze the apples. You may want to microwave the apple jelly for 10 seconds to melt it so it is easier to spread. Once the tart is cool enough to handle - eat it with gusto! And a cup of coffee! This tart is a nice size for 2 -4 people. A scoop of cinnamon ice cream would be nice or a dollop of whipped cream. If you want to serve more guests, the recipe is easy to double.

Apple Almond Tart

½ sheet puff pastry (½ sheet = approximately 4½x9 inches), thawed
½ package almond paste (3½ ounces)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 teaspoons butter, cut into ¼-inch bits
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple jelly, melted

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place puff pastry on prepared sheet and fold edges over by ¼ inch and crimp to create a ¼-inch thick border. Roll almond paste into a 4x8-inch rectangle, trimming to fit within the border of the puff pastry. Lay almond paste rectangle on top of pastry.

Beginning in 1 corner of the tart, shingle apple slices over almond paste in neat, diagonal rows, overlapping each slice by about half, until surface is completely covered. Dot apple slices with butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle apple slices evenly.

Bake until pastry is golden brown and apples have softened and caramelized, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and brush apples with melted jelly. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 3-4 servings