Posts Tagged ‘Black Pepper’


In Cooking, Uncategorized on August 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm

We have been enjoying the August bounty of the Farmer’s Market. Tomatoes being at the top of the list! I love fresh grown tomatoes; especially straight from the farm, where they remain untainted by waxes.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy a good tomato is Bruschetta (pronounced “brusketta”). 


  • 6 or 8 ripe Roma tomatoes (or any small sweet tomato will do!)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
  • zest of half lemon, optional if using lemon juice
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette French bread or similar crusty bread
  • melted butter, for toasting bread

Directions: Wash tomatoes; cut them in halves or quarters; remove the seeds and stems from their centers.  Cut them into smaller pieces if desired. Add the tomatoes to a bowl; stir in 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest/vinegar, chopped basil and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside or in refrigerator while you prepare bread – this resting time allows the flavors to bloom.

 Cut the bread on the diagonal, about 1/2 inch slices. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Apply melted butter to both sides, with a pastry brush; add buttered slices to skillet. Cook on each side until brown and toasted. Remove and  rub both sides of the warm bread with the cut garlic; set aside on serving tray. Top warm buttered garlic toast with chilled tomato mixture. Serve with additional small basil leaves, for those like me who enjoy a lil’ extra basil. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

We enjoyed ours with some fresh fruit and good cheese. I love the touch of lemon, instead of the much more common balsamic vinegar. It adds a brightness to the taste and smell of the dish.  Also, I love rubbing the warm toast with the garlic, instead of having minced garlic in the tomato mixture.  It adds amazing flavor and is still aromatic, while allowing you to control the garlic content and focus on the beautiful tomatoes!! Simple. Lovely. Summer.


Quinoa Grits

In Cooking, Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

This is my first time to try quinoa. So far I am a big fan. It was just like cooking rice, although it smelled like I was cooking rice in peanut butter and chicken stock. Maybe that is just me, but it smelt weird so I was needless to say leery.  So I decided to make them cheesy and serve like grits with poached eggs for a meatless, but high protein dinner. So technically these aren’t grits, but this was the closest description I could come up with for the dish.

Quinoa Grits

Serves 2

1 cup cooked quinoa
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cottage cheese
3-4 baby carrot, finely grated
1 egg, plus 1 egg white
1 small yellow onions, finely diced
1 /2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of  garlic powder
Olive oil to saute onions
2 poached eggs to serve with Quinoa Grits. 


Directions: Prepare quinoa according to directions and set aside to cool. In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, carrot, eggs, sugar, pepper, cumin, salt, and garlic powder.

Heat a frying pan with olive oil and saute onions; then add mixture and cook through until warm and all the cheese is melted. Place in your serving dish and top with a freshly poached egg. Voila.

I made extra quinoa in the rice cooker to try other recipes. This recipe would lend itself to any variety of flavors and spices so if cumin isn’t your thing feel free to experiment!

Salt Preserved Lemons

In Cooking, Uncategorized on February 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I have wanted to try this for awhile.  I love lemons! As a child we used to peel them and eat them with salt.  So as you can imagine preserving them in salt seemed like a natural progression.  Plus, recently I have discovered several recipes calling for these jewels and well I have never seen them for sale at the market – gotta get them somewhere.

Salt Preserved Lemons

5-7 Lemons, Large (preferably organic)
1 lb of sea salt (what it’s a big jar?!) * See One Week Update below
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2-3 Large Sprigs of Thyme
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 small bay leafs
2 small dried chilies

Please note: all the seasonings, minus the salt, are optional.  After reading tons of recipes I discovered the Moroccan style is to preserve with herbs and seasoning to intensify flavor – yeah okay sign me up for that!  I added things I love, please feel free to add or omit and make it your own!

Directions: Sterilize your airtight container; place a couple Tbsps of salt at the bottom of the container.  Combine first four spices and grind in a mortar & pestle, spice grinder, beat with a mallet – anything to crush up the seeds so they will release more flavor.  Stir into a cup of sea salt.  Wash lemons thoroughly; dry and quarter 1/3 to 1/2 way through the lemon.  Stuff the cut of the lemons with the salt and a section of your thyme sprigs; close and squeeze into the jar.  As you assemble and fill the jar add salt to fill the space and place your remaining larger spices (cinnamon; bay leaf and chilies).  Make sure the lemons are covered and there is still air space at the top before sealing.

Now the waiting game; but, the work isn’t over! Place this beautiful jar in a warm place and shake eat day to distribute the salt and the juice.  Let ripen for 30 days before consumption.  Once ready to use rinse the lemons, as needed.  No need to refrigerate upon opening and lemons should keep up to a year.

I intend to take pictures – oh say weekly and then in a month I will use them in a recipe.   That of course will be the great unveiling of my months hard work of shaking! P.S. I have no idea if these lemons will be any good, but my hands smell great! :p

One Week UPDATE:

Okay let me start by admitting that I was way over zealous with the salt… what?? I love salt.  Salt is delicious.  The salt and I go way back… anyways, moving forward.  Adding too much salt for the first phase was a surprise blessing, which I discovered in my transplant project.

I removed the lemons, and whole seasoning to a bowl, placed a strainer over the bowl and dumped the contents – so the juice rendered could also be transplanted.  In addition, I decided to add four small lemons I had in my pantry, since the large lemons had slumped and revealed more room in the jar.  I prepared the new small lemons in the same fashion as above, arranged all the lemons in the jar; added the juice; and filled the jar about 7/8 with water.  This leaves room for the new lemons to render their juice.  Continue to shake daily; t-minus 3 weeks to the testing day! 

Blessing: Upon extracting the salt I tasted it! Oh my…. OH MY this salt is insanely flavorful.  So waste not – want not.  I am drying the salt and blamo! I will have amazing salt rub for barbecue, steaks, potatoes… something good is going to come of this I can feel it!!

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread

In Baking, Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Today was the last day of National Bread Machine Month. Apparently regular National Bread Month is November.  I don’t know why,  but the internet says it is so and I believe it.  I own a bread machine.  Most people don’t know that, but I received it as a wedding present and in last two plus years I have used it three times.  Guess I am a bit of a traditionalist. Also, I don’t like to clean equipment or utensils unless I REALLY need them, so maybe it is kinda a lazy thing too? Though I have to admit letting a bread machine make your dough – very rewarding!

I did such a thing this last Friday with this bread.  I let the machine do the hard work and then I removed the dough to rise and bake.  It was nice and worth the cleanup as I made the Bacon & Onion Scones during the “down time”.

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread:

1 cup warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1/2 heaping cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/4 tsp yeast, active dry
Egg Wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
additional freshly ground pepper for dusting loaf


Directions: Place ingredients, in this order, into the bread pan fitted with the kneading paddle.  Bread machine settings should be as follows: medium loaf; French/Italian style loaf; medium crust.  Once you have selected your setting press the Start button.  You can let the bread machine do the whole kit and kaboodle; however, I hate the squat loaf shape of the bread machine pan and like the liberty to egg wash my bread.  You can even let the machine knead and rise the bread and remove before the baking cycle…If you choose to do so continue below:

Option One: (Rise bread out of machine) Lightly oil (olive oil) a large bowl; remove bread dough and place in bowl covered with a tea towel to rise (in a warm place – I always put mine on the dryer and load it up)  Let the dough rise for 45 minutes to an hour and half, or until doubled in size; punch the dough down and knead on a lightly floured surface; repeat rise.

Option Two: (Bake bread out of machine) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  You can now use a loaf pan, shape the dough and cook on a cookie sheet, or make a round loaf in a round cake pan.  Whatever you choose either lightly grease the bake-ware and dust with cornmeal before placing the bread.  I folded the dough into a rounded shape and placed on a cookie sheet, crease down.  You can dress the bread up even more by making a few slashes with a very sharp knife, by making diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of the loaf.  Prepare egg wash by beating egg and water together and brush loaf; bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove loaf and brush with egg wash a second time; grind fresh pepper over the second egg wash so it will adhere to the loaf; bake an additional 15 – 20 minutes until the bread tests done.  Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing (hot bread is much harder to cut!).

Review: I made this bread on Friday – it is Monday and there is no bread.  Kinda speaks for itself. Let me see just plain this bread is light, tender, and has a very subtle cheese and pepper flavor, but toasted… OH My toasted this bread takes on this amazing deep cheese flavor and hearty crustiness that is irresistible.  This bread would make show stopping croutons for a salad.  At least I thought so, but this loaf didn’t survive long enough to test.  Actually I don’t think anything happened to this bread beyond toasting and a smear of butter and it was a good thing 🙂

P.S. When I made this bread I had no intention of posting or sharing. I was just using up some parmesan cheese I had leftover and alleviating the stress of breakfast for company, but it was too delicious not to share!!

Bacon and Onion Scones

In Baking, Uncategorized on January 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm

We have company this weekend – which always leads to baking!! I love to have bread hanging around for people to munch on for breakfast or if you need a little snack between meals.  These are yummy, I mean bacon and onions… how could you go wrong?  A little bit sweet, a tad salty, little bite of pepper, and oh so fluffy!

Bacon and Onion Scones

  • 4 strips center cut bacon
  • 1/2 a medium-sized onion, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste (I used as a garnish)
  • 1/4 cup chilled lard, cut into bite
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used fat-free milk with a Tbsp vinegar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp water

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet, or line with parchment, and set aside.  In a skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon and let it cool on paper towel.  Add the onion and sugar to bacon grease, stir until softened and onions begin to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes; drain grease and dry on paper towel.  Crumble bacon finely.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper, add the lard, and work it in with your fingertips till the mixture is crumbly.  Add the crumbled bacon and onion and stir until well blended.  Add the buttermilk and stir until sticky dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface, knead 8 to 10 times, and pat into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  Cut four times (half, quarter and repeat in the center of previous cuts), leaving you with 8 equal-sized scones.  Arrange onto prepared baking sheet.  Whisk egg and water together and brush top of each scone; top with fresh cracked black pepper.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy hot or cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.  I know! Bacon twice in a week… I don’t know what is going on, but hey it’s bacon ♥.  If you don’t want bacon and onions, feel free to substitute… ham and green pepper, go all veggie, bacon and green onions or chives, any cheese and herb combo really – just make it your own and use what you love! Happy eating! I’m off to enjoy my company… and bread 🙂

Loot: Apricot-Pepper Glazed Bacon!!!

In Cooking, Loot, Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

It is nice to have foodie friends.  Foodie friends are fun to eat with… foodie friends are fun to shop with and well foodie friends also love to make and give food.  Yeah for them!  Some of those friends are extra special and you name your shortbread recipes after them :).  I have such a friend and she started making jams last year.  They are divine.  You of course do not have to use this jam for this recipe, but if you are so lucky to own some… then you should!

If you are thinking bacon??? I am on diet. Remember it is important to treat yourself and to eat things you crave – helps to keep you on track (moderation not deprivation is the key!!).  Plus according to the package labels and my research on nutritiondata.com for three pieces it is approx: 130 cal; 4.5g fat; and 7.0g protein.  Easily done with most meals.

This stuff is magical… can’t you tell from the picture???


Apricot-Pepper Glazed Bacon

One package bacon (use what you like – we use center cut)
1/4 cup apricot preserves (if using plain, you can add a touch of vanilla bean/extract)
fresh cracked black-pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place bacon on large non-stick cookie sheet.  Brush bacon with apricot preserves; and then add generous amount of pepper.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until it begins to turn golden and edges begin to blacken.  Remove from oven; turn and coat underside with remaining apricot preserves (additional pepper is not needed, unless you just love pepper); return to the oven for an additional 5-8 minutes or until it is cooked to your bacon standards.

I am pretty sure that in a past life bacon and apricots were soul mates.  Once you try this bacon you will agree.  The bacon takes on a candy-like chewiness, the charred bits are this dark caramelized and crunchy kind of heaven.  Of course the apricot adds this sweet warmness to the whole thing and the pepper adds a spicy undertone that plays well with both flavors (bacon and apricot).
P.S. Thanks AJ for the amazing jam – as always you inspire me!