Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage (potato-cheese “mouthfuls”)

A few weeks ago I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I enjoyed it so much more than the movie – the “real” Julie was so likeable to me in the book (maybe it’s because I love that she loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer – in our opinion one of the best TV shows ever!), whereas I wish they had just made the movie all about Julia Child and left the Julie parts out because she just rubbed me the wrong way!

The one recipe that I just had to make after reading her book was for Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage – decadent potato-cheese “mouthfuls” that made me salivate just reading about them. My husband read the book after me (and surprise, surprise) guess which recipe he wanted to try? Yup – the one and the same!

I went to the internet and found a copy of the recipe, although you can also find it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, of course. It seemed simple enough, so the next weekend I prepared a batch to go with our steak and braised carrots – YUM!

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I substituted sharp cheddar cheese for the Swiss called for in Julia’s recipe. We aren’t nutmeg fans at my house (and I can’t eat cayenne) so the flavor profile is slightly different from in the original recipe, but they were super fantastic and I knew that I would be sampling them at the Co-op very soon.

Well, that day was yesterday, and they were a hit with customers and staff. I usually try to avoid recipes that are too technical so they will appeal to the broadest audience (this one uses a pastry bag to pipe the sticks), but I don’t have a ton of experience using pastry bags myself and I got along fine, so I figured it was worth the “risk”. This recipe does take a lot of elbow grease (I got a doozy of a blister the first time I made them – I wore an oven mitt when I beat the dough this time and avoided another dreaded blister), but I feel that it is well worth the effort.

While I do own pastry bags, I ended up using a plastic freezer bag with a corner cut out to pipe the cheese sticks because it was larger, and it worked pretty well for me. Be sure to exert even pressure or the seams on the bag could split, and if you have plastic gloves to wear (so you can pipe while the dough is still really warm) they are also helpful. I had some minor blow-out trouble the first time I made these (I was squeezing the bag too hard!), but by the second time I was piping like a pro.

Bon Appétit!

photo of potato cheese sticks

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage


  • 1/2 # Russet Potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 c sifted all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

The original recipe created by Julia Child has the following differences:

  • Replace the cheddar with Swiss cheese
  • 1/8 t white pepper (instead of black pepper)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F and place oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions. Butter two baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then put through a ricer (or mash them by hand—just be sure to get all the lumps out!) back into the saucepan. You should have about 1 cup of potatoes.
  3. Stir the potatoes over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until they form a light film on the bottom of the pan, indicating that most of their moisture has been evaporated. Turn heat to low.
  4. Beat the flour into the potatoes; then the butter by fractions; then the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, and seasonings (if using) in order. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Fill dough into a fluted pastry tube 1/4” in diameter, and squeeze the mixture into 2 1/2” lengths spaced 1/2” apart onto the baking sheets. You should either let the dough cool a moment first, or wear gloves so you don’t burn your hands.
  6. Bake both sheets at the same time for about 15 minutes, or until the sticks are lightly browned. Halfway through the cooking time reverse the sheets so they cook evenly (switch racks and turn them 180°).
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature (I think they are best served hot, my husband likes them best at room temperature – you decide!).

Bouchées Parmentier au FromagePDF

You can find Julie’s blog from Julie and Julia called The Julie/Julia Project, here and her post about the potato cheese sticks here.

As a side note, I took Arabic (in elementary school) and German (in high school), although I can only speak a few words of either anymore, so I was a little daunted to say the name of the recipe out loud to customers. After a little verbal translation recon and practicing on my co-workers, a French-Canadian shopper told me that I did a pretty good job with my pronunciation! Say “boo-shay pahr-men-tyey oh fro-mazh and you’ll sound like you’ll know what you’re doing too!

Butternut Squash Dip

In honor of the big game this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to make a healthy (yet still tasty!) dip to sample.

I’ll admit, we’re a baseball household (even when the Mariners are having a dismal season; we’ll miss you this year Dave!). I haven’t watched the Super Bowl since I was a teenager, and one of the main reasons I did was because my dad would let my brother and I get any snacks that we wanted for game time – can anyone say sugar overload?

This butternut squash dip is kind of in that vein – the flavor assemblage of squash and goat chevre makes for a sweet combination, with a subtle hint of roasted garlic. I know, sounds kinda weird, but it is delish!

I found the recipe on All Recipes website – it had gotten pretty good reviews and I thought it sounded intriguing. After asking a couple co-workers if they thought it sounded good, I went for it. It was extremely easy to make – you just roast the squash (cut in half and rubbed with olive oil) and the garlic and mash all the rest of the ingredients together with a spoon after it has cooled enough to handle. You can serve the dip warm or chilled (I elected for chilled when I sampled it for customers).

I used a couple small heads of the local red winter garlic since it was available. We only have the 8oz logs of goat chevre at the Co-op, so you can either cut back on the squash (I used a 2.25# squash with 11oz of goat cheese) and get the 8oz log, or I recommend trying a couple of the 5oz packages – either the plain or the pepper flavored ones. I served it with (gluten-free) Food Should Taste Good multi-grain chips and sweet potato chips – I had never tried their sweet potato chips before and found a new favorite!

Butternut Squash Dip

Makes about 4 cups


  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded (about 2 1/4#)
  • olive oil for brushing on squash
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 11 oz of goat cheese (chevre)
  • ~1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c walnuts, finely chopped
  • Pinch sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.
  2. Brush the cut side of the squash halves with some of the olive oil, and place them oiled side down on a baking sheet/dish.
  3. Cut the top off of the head of garlic.
  4. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil, and place on the baking sheet/dish with the squash.
  5. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork.
  6. Scoop the squash out of its skin when it is cool enough to handle, and place in a serving bowl.
  7. Squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their skins, and into the bowl with the squash.
  8. Mash until smooth.
  9. Stir in the goat cheese, lemon juice, and sea salt until well blended.
  10. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a more mild flavor, you can substitute cream cheese for 1/2 of the goat cheese.

Butternut Squash Dip PDF

Fun Bellingham videos, plus cheese sauce!

I haven’t demo’d any recipes over the last couple weeks because my administrative duties have taken precedence, so since I haven’t posted anything, I thought I’d share some fun co-op/Bellingham related web content, and, randomly,  my recipe for yummy cheese sauce.

First, the videos:

This first video is a commercial made for us in 2010 by co-op member Don Scott.  It features both co-op locations, as well as many of our local farmers.

The second video was produced by a group called Journey of Action, a duo of siblings who highlight the culture of social activism around the world through short videos.  They produced a great video about Sustainable Connections and how they inspire our local living economy.  The Co-op is a Sustaining Member of Sustainable Connections, and we are also the originators (and a  sponsor) of their Food to Bank On! program.  This short video isn’t about the Co-op specifically, but outlines how our local businesses help sustain our economy.

The third video was made by a couple of co-op shoppers called “Bellingham State of Mind”.  They forgot to mention us in the song, but we forgive them because they made such an awesome video about our little community.

The following videos are from our Community Parties.  Each summer we hold an event at Boulevard Park with music and dancing, vendors, non-profit information, a kid’s parade, and burritos for a few bucks.  The first was posted by Community Concerts (with music by Yogoman Burning Band) and the second is a performance by Maggie’s Fury.

And, because there has to be a cooking related video – here’s one from Deb Slater’s show Experience NW with local chef Robert Fong.

Now for the cheese sauce.

I am allergic to tomatoes, so when there is sauce involved (pizza, pasta, etc.), I always make this quick and tasty cheese sauce.  I based the recipe on one from Martha Stewart that she uses for macaroni and cheese, but it used three pans, and that’s just too messy for me.

Mine uses only one pan, and although I don’t usually measure my ingredients (it is purely made on instinct at this point), I did make note of them when I made it earlier this week so I could give you a place to start from!  The three cheeses I use are ones that we always keep in stock at our house as they are our favorites.  You can feel free to experiment with yours!

Melissa’s Cheese Sauce


~ 1 T flour (GF or wheat)

~ 1 T butter

~ 1 c milk, cream, etc.

~ 1 1/2 c total of grated cheddar cheese (I use 2 parts Organic Sharp Cheddar from Greenbank Farms and 1 part Extra Sharp English Coastal Cheddar, which is super sharp and extra tasty!)

~ 1/8 – 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese (Reggiano is imported from Italy, I really recommend using a high quality parmesan.)


1. Take the milk out of the fridge and allow to “warm up” slightly – it is important that you not use “straight from the fridge” milk as it will affect the overall sauce.

2.  Heat butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.  When butter just starts to foam, add the flour and stir constantly to create a roux.  A lot of the moisture from the butter will be evaporated, and when it is ready, it will be just on the pale side of golden.

3.  Add the milk in a slow stream, stirring constantly with a fork or small whisk.  Reduce heat to medium-low.

4.  Continue to stir periodically until you notice the sauce beginning to thicken.  You want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scald/boil.

5.  Once sauce has started to thicken (it will start to cling to your utensil), reduce heat to low and start incorporating the cheese, starting with the cheddar.  Add it in small handfuls, stirring in between to fully incorporate the cheese.  Once you have added all the cheddar (be sure to taste it as you go along – you may need slightly more or less cheese depending on your taste preferences), add the freshly grated parmesan and stir until incorporated.

6.  Rem0ve sauce from heat and you are good to go!

The sauce will keep for a week or so in the fridge, in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  It will get denser as it sets, so you can add a little broth or hot pasta water to reconstitute it.  If you want to reheat just the sauce, place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan with simmering water and stir until warm.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Every week when it is time to sample a recipe, the Produce staff are always excited to find out what I will be sampling (my demo table is between the Bulk and Produce departments). Last week as I was setting up my hummus demo, they asked what was on the menu for the day, and I hear the Produce manager holler from the prep area “candy bars?!?” Hummus is in no way a candy bar (I think somebody was craving a sugary treat that day!), but based on her enthusiastic “suggestion” that was what I had planned on preparing and sampling this week.

Thursday came around, and I went to check the shelf stock on the ingredients I would need, and guess what? One of the main ingredients was out of stock! All of a sudden, I had no demo for the next day and I had to think fast. Thank goodness I had done a little recipe recon earlier in the week, and I ran across a gluten-free blogger that I hadn’t checked out before. It was the name of the blog that got me “Hey, that tastes good! or how I learned that gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free“. Connecticut blogger Jill has some fantastic recipes, and it is on her blog that I found what would prove to be a delicious substitute for the candy bars I had planned to make (don’t worry, I’ll still make them around Valentine’s day) – Chocolate Tres Leches cake.

For those of you that haven’t had Tres Leches cake, it is a sponge or butter cake that is soaked in three kinds of milk – cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk – that originates from Latin America and is best served chilled. It is a delicious cake that isn’t soggy like you would think, and I was even more excited to find a chocolate version on Jill’s blog. Customers absolutely loved the cake – it is a great one to serve if you have a gluten and/or egg intolerance, because no one will know that it isn’t a “regular” cake!

I used the Swan Bakery’s GF Vegan Chocolate Cake mix in the recipe, because I had experience soaking it with berry sauce when I made the vegan Fluffy Berry Cake last year. You can use just about any chocolate cake recipe (GF or wheat) in this recipe, just be sure that it isn’t a dense cake or it won’t soak up enough of the milk mixture and will become soggy. I used the fairly traded organic chocolate chips and cocoa that we have in the bulk department, and the cake turned out fantastic. In the original recipe, Jill uses regular sugar in her whipping cream, but I usually use powdered sugar; you are welcome to use whatever is your favorite method for making whipping cream. Be sure to use at least a little sugar though – you will be adding cocoa powder to the cream and if you don’t add any sugar at all it could come out a little bitter and/or blander tasting overall.

As I mentioned before, Tres Leches cake is best when allowed to soak up the milk overnight, so this is a great cake to make when you know you have guests coming over the next day. If you use a cake mix, there is really very little hands-on time that you spend in the kitchen making this cake, and it tastes like you slaved for hours!


photo chocolate tres leches cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake © 2011 Sassy Sampler


adapted from Hey, That Tastes Good


  • 1 package Swan Bakery Chocolate Cake mix (GF or wheat variety, or any airy chocolate cake recipe), plus related ingredients

For the Swan Bakery GF cake mix (you may need to adapt this depending on what chocolate cake mix you use):

  • 2 c water or soy milk
  • 1 c grape seed/canola oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

Tres Leches Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 oz chocolate chips (about 1/3 c)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder


  1. Prepare cake according to the instructions. Once it’s cooled, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Don’t worry if it is messy, the top of the cake is going to be covered with whipped cream anyway!
  2. Combine the condensed milk and the chocolate chips in a small saucepan and heat on the stove just long enough to melt the chocolate chips. Don’t boil or simmer the milk. You can also place them in a microwave safe bowl and heat them for a minute or two to melt the chocolate.
  3. Pour the chocolaty milk into a bowl and add the evaporated milk and 1/4 c of the heavy cream.
  4. Slowly pour about 1 1/2—2 cups of the mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (overnight in the fridge is best for flavor).
  5. You will have some chocolate milk mixture left over. I recommend making a mocha with it…I did—it tasted like a liquid truffle.
  6. To make the whipped cream, combine the rest of the cream with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and whip until it is thick.Spread over the top of the cake and refrigerate again until ready to serve.
  7. Store cake in the fridge.  Best when consumed within a couple of days.

Gluten-free Chocolate Tres Leches Cake PDF

“Buckeyes” (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)

For this week’s demo, I wanted to make something sweet. If you notice the ratio of desserts to entrees that I tend to sample, you’ll see that I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, although I try to keep a balance of recipes. I haven’t demoed a sweet treat since late August, so I felt it was time!

Buckeye tree nut

Buckeye tree nut

I trolled the web and found numerous recipes for Buckeyes that sounded promising – who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate? Well, actually one mother daughter duo professed to me yesterday that they didn’t, but everyone else I talked to sure did! If you are not familiar with Buckeye trees (as probably many in WA state are not), here are a few facts: Buckeyes are nuts from trees of the same name, which are very closely related to Horse Chestnuts. They grow all over the world but in North America, they grow mostly in the southern half of the continent (you’ll find them in CA, TX and of course in OH, which is called the Buckeye state). Buckeyes and Horse Chestnuts were historically used to aid circulation in both humans and horses (hence the name).

Homemade buckeye treats are very easy to make, and taste like a really, really good peanut butter cup. I used Santa Cruz organic dark roasted peanut butter in my batch, as well as organic dark chocolate chips for the coating. Some organic powdered sugar, butter and vanilla rounded out the ingredients. This is a recipe that does not shy away from sugar, and believe it or not, I used less sugar than the original recipe called for (by about 2 cups!).

A customer and I chatted about substitutions for the recipe, and you can of course use margarine in place of the butter if you want a vegan version, but she was going to try using coconut oil instead and I thought that might work out pretty well. She was also going to replace the powdered sugar with Rapadura sugar (both powdered and the crystals) but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you know what Rapadura tastes like – it does have a stronger flavor than regular white sugars, but I think in this recipe it could work.

This is a great recipe to make with kids, as there is no oven involved – as long as there is supervision melting the chocolate (although that can be done in the microwave in a pinch, but I think it tastes better done on the stove). You can also easily halve this recipe and still have a decent amount of treats. Enjoy!

photo of buckeye peanut butter balls

Buckeyes © 2010 Sassy Sampler



  • 16 oz jar of peanut butter
  • 1 c butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1# powdered sugar
  • 4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.
  2. Roll into 1” balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping them).  Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir frequently until smooth.
  5. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick.  Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeye nuts.
  6. Place Buckeyes back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until served.  Remove toothpicks before serving.
  7. Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls) PDF

    adapted from

Easy Peaches and Cream Cake

Donut Peaches Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Mmmmm….local peaches.  Need I say more?   It is always exciting to see the first boxes arrive direct from the Okanogan Producers Marketing Association (a co-op of six small central WA farms), and they keep getting tastier until that day in September that they are no more, which always comes too soon.

Local organic peaches Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

We still have an abundance of peaches at the Co-op, and even have a couple of varieties of white and yellow ones from Brownfield Farm in Chelan.  If you haven’t come in and gotten any – you are really missing out!

As you might have surmised, my inspiration for this weeks recipe… PEACHES!

I rarely do anything with peaches besides slice them up and eat them, so I wanted to step outside my “comfort zone” for this week’s recipe.  I started by peeling about 8 or 9 donut peaches and then cut them into 1/2″ chunks.  I threw them in a skillet over medium-high heat with melted butter, a little bit of sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Over the next few minutes I had a divine smelling peach saute, and it tasted like creamy heaven.  So what to do with the concoction?  Though there were a myriad of possibilities, I thought a peaches and cream cake would be an easy winner.

I prepared a package of the Swan Bakery’s gluten-free pound cake mix – I cooked it in a 9×13 cake pan, and let it cool for about 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven.  I poked a bunch of holes in it with a toothpick, and poured my peach mixture over the whole cake.  I let it sit for about another 15 minutes, and cut out a slice as a “tester”.  YUM!  The sauce from the peaches had soaked into the cake just enough to give it peachy flavor without making it goopy.  I added a dollop of whipped cream (with vanilla) to the top, and thus created my first peaches and cream cake!

Peaches and Cream Cake Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Easy Peaches and Cream Cake


8—10 donut peaches OR 4 –5 large peaches

Pound cake mix (and ingredients needed to prepare cake—most likely eggs, milk and butter)

~ 1/4 sugar or other sweetener

3 T butter

1/2 t + 1 t vanilla

Pint of whipping cream


1. Prepare pound cake in 9 x 13 pan according to directions on the package.

2. While cake is baking, halve and peel peaches.  Cut into slices or 1/2” chunks.

3. Melt 3 T butter in skillet over medium heat.  Taste your peaches for sweetness.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add up to 1/4 c sugar.  Cook until dissolved, about one minute.

4. Add peaches to butter/sugar.  Increase heat to medium high and  cook peaches until they are soft and have reduced down slightly into a sauce (about 3-5 minutes).  Remove from heat.

5. Let cake cool for about 20 minutes.

6. Poke a bunch of holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick.  Spread peach mixture over cake.

7. Prepare whipped cream, and for the most tasty results, serve immediately!

To make whipped cream:

1. Put bowl and whisk in refrigerator to cool (you get better whipped cream this way).

2. Take bowl/whisk out of the fridge, and add the pint of heavy whipping cream, along with 1 t of vanilla.

3. Beat until soft peaks form.

4. Spread over cake in desired fashion – You can frost the cake and refrigerate it, or serve each slice with a dollop of cream on top.

Peaches and Cream Cake PDF

July Meal of the Month – Rice-crusted Pizza (and shortcake!)

This month’s Meal of the Month was submitted Zoe Plakias, a former member of the Member Affairs Committee (she has since moved to Davis, CA to attend school – good luck Zoe!).

I was intrigued by the recipe – because I am gluten-sensitive, and because I love short grain brown rice!  Again, it was a very easy recipe to put together, and cost under $10 (I spent $9.93 and bought the Organic short grain brown rice, the organic GF falafel mix, and the pre-shredded mozzarella cheese in the Cordata Deli).  I didn’t think it would weather well for customer sampling, so I made a batch and had staff sample and got a lot of positive feedback.

Rice-crusted pizza after step 4

I let the rice cool after cooking for about a half hour, and then put it in a bowl with the falafel mix, egg, and cheese.  I wore gloves and just mixed it by hand (the rice was still pretty warm), but you could use a mixing spoon as well, but it is pretty sticky so keep that in mind!

I added the sauce to the large pizza (I am allergic to tomatoes so I made a small one for me to sample!), and then more mozzarella and Parmesan.  You could add more toppings as well, but I wanted to try it in it’s “pure” form!

Yummy - out of the oven!

It smelled even better when it came out of the oven the second time, and it was no problem finding staff to sample it for me!  It was crispy on the bottom, and cheesy gooey on top…a great combination if you ask me!

Since I wasn’t going to sample the pizza for customers, I also got to work making some berry shortcake – Zoe supplied a recipe from the Joy of Cooking (it is included in the Meal of the Month recipe as a bonus), but I love the Swan Bakery’s goodies as well, so I cut up a loaf of the Buttery Shortcake that we sell pre-made by the Bakery, and I also prepared a batch of the Bakery’s GF Pound Cake mix.  Both were excellent, and I have to say that I am very impressed with the GF Pound cake mix – it was light and fluffy and had none of the aftertaste that is unfortunately so common in gluten-free items.  The Bakery really knows what they are doing!

Berry Shortcake sample

I used both the local organic raspberries (grown by Hopewell Farm – our favorite carrot farmer is branching out, hee hee) as well as local strawberries for the sauce.  All I did was mix them in a bowl and sprinkle a little sugar on them – I then let it sit while I was preparing the pound cake mix.  If you do this the night before, then you have a great berry sauce all ready the next morning (keep it in the fridge).  I took half the berries and threw them in the blender and put them in a squeeze bottle so I could get a nice concentrated berry “shot” on each sample.

I put together the samples at the demo table, with a little whipped cream.  By the way, if you haven’t been able to find me on Fridays, it’s because Aaron, our maintenance guru, built me a great new demo table that is now between Produce and Bulk at the Cordata Co-op.  It’s a great location because it’s right by a lot of the ingredients in the recipes (this is also where the copies of recipes now live if you like to pick them up in the store).


Rice-Crusted Pizza Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Rice Crusted Pizza (with Berry Shortcake recipe)


2 cups cooked brown rice

2 beaten eggs

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup falafel mix (Fantastic is NOT GF, but the Organic Mary Jane’s Farm is, although it might raise the cost of the recipe)

2 cups pizza sauce

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. basil

½ tsp. minced garlic

¼ cup grated parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 450º F

2. In a large bowl, mix together cooked rice, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella, and falafel mix.

3. Press rice mixture evenly into the bottom of an edged, generously greased baking sheet.

4. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

5. Combine pizza sauce and spices and spread over crust.

6. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and any desired toppings.

7. Bake 10 minutes.

To cook brown rice

1. Measure 2 c rice and rinse well in a large bowl.

2. Place rice in heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cover with 4 c water and a pinch of salt.

3. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover pot and reduce heat to low (just enough to keep it boiling).

4. Cook one hour.

5. Let cool, with lid on off the heat for a few minutes before removing the lid.  Fluff rice with fork.


Biscuits – adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ Tbsp. granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. chilled butter or shortening

1/3 cup milk

2 cups berries of your choice

8 oz. heavy whipping cream

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. powdered sugar


1. Sift together dry ingredients (excluding nutmeg) in a large bowl.

2. Cut in butter/shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized.

3. Make a well in the center and add milk.

4. Stir until dough comes away from the side of the bowl.

5. On a lightly floured board, knead lightly 8-10 times.

6. Roll until ½ inch thick.

7. Cut out circles of about 2” diameter using a biscuit cutter or an upside down Mason jar.

8. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450º F for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

9. Toss berries with a little sugar, depending on their sweetness.

10. Whip cream. Place on top of biscuits and berries.

11. Eat slowly for full effect of summer’s goodness.

You can also purchase a pre-made shortcake from the Swan Bakery, or a bag of GF Pound cake mix!

July MoM rice crusted pizza PDF

Guacamole Picosa

Last week one of my co-workers told me about a recipe that I thought would be an interesting thing to sample – guacamole made with unripe, hard avocados.  Who would think such a thing was possible, and edible, right?  The recipe came from Ciao Thyme, and they know what they are doing, so I contacted them to see if I could give out their recipe (they obviously said yes!).

Now the first thing I should point out is that like a lot of fruit (well, technically an avocado is a large berry), they do have a different flavor and texture when they are not ripe.  I wanted to really test this recipe so I used the most rock hard avocados that we had.  My thinking was that this time of year avocados ripen a lot easier so regular guacamole is a no-brainer, but in the winter, it seems like it takes forever for them to ripen sometimes, and it would be great to be able to use them if you get impatient (or if you just wanted a new twist on an old stand-by)!

I’ll caution you that you need to be paying attention when preparing this recipe – hard avocados are just that – really hard.  Make sure you have a sharp knife that isn’t too large, and use proper knife handling skills.  Peeling and removing the seed from an unripe avocado is a little more time-consuming than ripe ones that just come apart, but it is worth it, so keep at it.  I used four small organic avocados when I prepared the recipe, but you could easily half or even double the recipe depending on your needs.

This is also a recipe that has many options to change the flavor profile, as well as the texture.  The key is getting the avocado as pulverized as possible, and then adding more ingredients from there!  Suggestions from customers and staff include:  onions, tomatillos, tomatoes, cilantro, and other hot peppers.

I used 3 small cloves of red garlic because it is so fragrant, and a jalapeno pepper (only one, I always make the recipes I demo on the mild side to appeal to the broadest range of tastes), and I think that all the options suggested would be great for future batches!  I made two batches for customers to try – one with Fresh Breeze 2% milk, and one with organic soymilk.  I was surprised that a good amount samplers preferred the soymilk version because of how the flavors blended, so if you are vegan it’s your turn to gloat – this is one of those recipes where it was the preferred choice!

I will also note that this guacamole didn’t turn brown on me, even after hours in the fridge and on ice – it stayed a beautiful, bright spring green!  Here’s a  tip though –  keep a seed or two when you are making (ripe avocado) guacamole, and then put it in the bowl of finished product – it will keep it green!  I’m not sure why or how this works…but it does!

Guacamole Picosa Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Guacamole Picosa


4 unripe small avocados

1-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely (to taste)

1-2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (to taste)

~ 1 1/2 c dairy (milk, ½ and ½, etc.) or milk substitute (rice, soy, etc.)

Salt (to taste)

Fresh lime


Tomatillo, chopped (to taste)

Onion, chopped fine

Tomatoes, chopped coarsely

Fresh Cilantro


1. Cut and de-pit avocados and put them in a blender/food processor.  You can slice them a few times to make them easier to blend.

2. Add half of the milk or milk substitute.

3. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper.

4. Blend until combined and mixture starts to get smooth.  Continue adding more milk until it reaches the desired consistency.

5. Remove from blender/processor and put guacamole in a bowl.  Add salt to taste—be sure you taste the guacamole with a sample of what you will serving it with—this could dictate how much salt you actually need to add.

6. Squeeze about half the lime into bowl and add optional ingredients to taste and mix.  Add more lime juice if necessary.

7. Serve and enjoy!

Note—if it doesn’t get as smooth as you would like in the food processor, throw it in a blender and it will get smoother!

Homemade Mozzarella..sometimes you win, sometimes you gain experience!to

Almost every Spring I read Barbara Kingslover’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.  If you are unfamiliar with the book, Barbara and her family decided to eat locally and seasonally for one full year by growing their own vegetables and fruits, preserving, freezing, and utilizing their local resources. The only things they made exceptions for were olive oil, spices, and the fact that the wheat for their flour was not grown in their county (but it was milled there!).  I love to read it because it is so inspiring, and it has some great seasonal recipes.  Both her oldest daughter and husband also wrote for the book: Camille provided the recipes and related commentary, and Steven supplied background information on various food issues.  I have always wanted to try making cheese, and the mozzarella recipe they offer (from Ricki Carroll of Home Cheese Making) seemed really simple for a cheese novice!

I decided that for my recipe demo this week I would try my hand at their 30-Minutes Mozzarella recipe.  I have never made cheese before, and this seemed like a good place to start.  I have talked to a couple of shoppers who make mozzarella regularly, and they also said how simple it was.  I figured I was up to the challenge.

I armed myself with the recipe, and got to shopping.  We only carry one kind of rennet, and we have citric acid in bulk, so those were no-brainers.  I waffled back and forth between which local milk to use (isn’t it great that we have a choice!), and settled on the Fresh Breeze Organic 2%, mostly because it is the organic option and I always try to go that route.

After citric acid addition.

After I had made what turned out to be my first batch, I couldn’t figure out why the milk was not curdling like it was supposed to.  I assumed it had something to do with the temperature of the milk when I added the citric acid (the recipe indicated to add it at 55 degrees, and it heated up a lot faster than I thought it would and I ended up adding it at 66 degrees), so I went and bought another gallon and tried it again.

Testing for a clean break.

The same thing happened!  I got online and started to look and see which of my ingredients was the culprit, because I had followed the recipe to a tee this time.  I finally figured out that the Junket rennet was the issue – the recipe called for liquid rennet, and we only carry the Junket tablets at the Co-op, so that is what I used.  I did do a little sleuthing before starting and found many recipes that used tablets that were very similar to the recipe I was using, so I figured I was all good.  I wasn’t all good.  Apparently when you use the Junket, you have to let the milk sit for 1-2 hours to form a “clean break“, which coincidentally was turning my 30 minute cheese into four-hour cheese!

I realized that I shouldn’t sample the cheese at this point because it was taking way too long and I wasn’t satisfied with the rennet that was available to me (I will be looking into the Co-op carrying a more-cheese making friendly rennet option!), but I was still going to finish the cheese!

Oh my curd!

After achieving what I supposed was a close-enough clean break, I continued with the process.  I spooned out the curd with a slotted spoon, but that proved to be very time-consuming as well, so I got a very fine metal colander and unceremoniously dumped the contents of the pot into it.  The above photo is what I was left with.  I know that I lost a decent amount of usable curd by doing it this way, but I just had to finish what I started and figured that as long as I had some cheese to try at the end, I didn’t care how much I lost!

After the microwave portion was finished, this is what I had!

After collecting my curd, I dumped it into a glass dish and stuck it in the microwave for one minute.  I squeezed and kneaded the curd briefly and poured out the whey that was extracted, then microwaved it again for about 25 more seconds.  By this time, I knew I was actually going to get some cheese out my experiment, so I was getting excited!


At this point I needed to add some salt and stretch the cheese until it was like taffy (shiny, smooth, and rope-like).  This happened very quickly.  All of a sudden I had cheese!  I had about the amount you would buy pre-made in the specialty cheese section, but doggone it, I had made this all by myself and was pretty happy (so happy I forgot to take a photo of the little mozza balls I formed with the finished product!).

If you are adventurous, I do recommend trying this recipe (although I hate to say this, but try to find some liquid rennet to use unless you have some time on your hands!  Like I said earlier, I’ll see what I can do to get some cheese-making rennet on the shelves at the Co-op!).  I’m definitely not going to give up myself – once I master this, I really would love to try my hand at making some cheddar!

Fresh Mozzarella PDF

FYI – I’m still working on a GF chocolate butter cake recipe…once I’m happy I’ll let everyone know!

Bocconcini (Mozzarella) and Tomato Salad Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Also, here is the recipe that I ended up demoing yesterday (with fresh mozzarella from the specialty cheese case!).  It is a super simple recipe that people loved sampling (I asked one young shopper what she thought, and she said it was delicious and promptly brought her father and brother over to try it!).  Enjoy! Bocconcini and Tomato Salad PDF

Chilled (local) Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Spring has sprung, and that means more local produce is showing up every week.  Right now we have local, organic rhubarb, Napa cabbage, red mustard greens, asparagus (the only local organic asparagus that you can buy at any grocery store in town, I might add!), salad mix, and my favorite – English and Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cucumbers from local grower Dominion Organics.

I sampled the English cucumbers last week for customers, so this week I had to pay attention to the Mediterranean cucumbers – as I have stated in the past, they are my most favorite local produce item (well, until the honeycrisp apples start showing up from Bellewood!).

As I was surfing the web for recipes, I ran across a bunch of cold soup recipes.  I know, cold soup sounds really yummy, huh?  Most everyone has heard of gazpacho, but a plethora of chilled soup recipes exist out there, and I found a couple more that I will prepare and sample this summer as we get more local produce in stock.    Just like any soup, these recipes can have a large range of ingredients, so I looked for one that I knew could be made with all local products once the growing season really gets going (except the lemon and olive oil – we’ll never get those locally due to our climate!).

This soup would be great on a hot summer day because it really is refreshing (and soooo easy to make!).  The flavor profile is similar to mint raita (cucumber/yogurt condiment – see our January Meal of the Month recipe), and it has a little bite – followed by creamy smoothness.  One of the recipes I found suggested serving the soup with a garnish of raisins, which I though would be really strange, but they add a nice touch of sweet and added texture to the soup, though they may not appeal to everyone!

This is a (mostly) one-pot meal – all of your ingredients go straight into the blender or food processor.  The recipe I adapted (from indicated that you should use raw garlic, but that flavor doesn’t appeal to everyone, so I did blanch the garlic for about 45 seconds before I added it to the blender.  I used a 4 cup blender, and the soup came out to about 4 1/2 cups, so it just fit – any more ingredients and I would have had to make it in two batches.

I used the Greek Gods non-fat yogurt, but any yogurt will work – I will make it with the local Grace Harbor Farms yogurt next time.  You can also use English cucumbers, but I don’t recommend regular cucumbers for this recipe as the flavor is different and you would have to de-seed them first.

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup


1 1/2 c yogurt

1/2 c sour cream

1 t olive oil

3 large Middle Eastern/Mediterranean  cucumbers, peeled and grated

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 bunch mint leaves, chopped (about 1 c)

1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped (about 1/2 c)

2 cloves garlic, crushed and blanched (can also be used raw)

1/2 t salt (optional)

1/4 c raisins (optional)


1. Combine yogurt and sour cream in blender or food processor (fit with blade attachment)

2. Add olive oil and blend.

3. Add cucumber to blender/processor and  combine until smooth.

4. Add lemon juice and pulse to combine.

5. Add mint and dill, combine until smooth.

6. Add blanched garlic and combine until smooth.

7. Add salt if using.

8. Refrigerate soup after final blend, or serve immediately.

9. Serve garnished with about 1 T of raisins (if using), or leftover herbs.

This would be great served with lamb, or just some toasted pita bread.

To blanch garlic—

Heat a couple of cups of water in a small sauce pan until boiling.  Add crushed garlic cloves and allow to cook for about 45 seconds.  Remove garlic from water and let cool on cutting board.  This will mellow the heat of the garlic, and is not a necessary step if you are a raw garlic fan!