Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spinach Dumpling

      I love foods that are easy to make and filled with flavor and nutrition.  Dumplings are really amazing and you can do anything with a good dumpling.  This one is an adaptation from an old Italian family recipe.  I worked on it to make it a healthy version.  I love doing these and having the dough in the refrigerator.  It stores well and is a fast and easy meal and I feel like a real chef when I can whip up something like this in minutes. 

  Use fresh spinach.  One pound.  It is actually a large container.  Amazing that one pound gives you maybe two cups of steamed spinach.

   You will need to squeeze the spinach out after it has cooled from steaming.  I use paper towels to do that.  You want it moist, but not wet.

    I place all the ingredients in the mixer.  The ricotta has been drained to remove excess water.  It mixes up well and should not be soggy.  

   With the reserved flour I roll the dough out into thumb size ropes and cut them into 3/4 inch size pieces.   Dust them with flour to keep them from sticking together.

     Drop the dumplings in salted boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  The dumplings will float to the top.

    Sorry this picture is blurred.  I have smoked chicken sauteing in a little butter and olive oil  I add the dumplings right from the hot water.  Let them brown with the chicken.  You really could do anything from red sauce to white sauce and sausages to vegetables.

The finished product, the dumplings are light and moist and best of all whole grain. 
Enjoy  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy 

 Spinach Ricotta Dumplings
Dumplings are easy to make and so fun to eat. I like to add roasted chicken or cooked salmon in the butter and oil right before adding the dumplings.
  • 1 pound Ricotta Cheese, Drained for 4 hours
  • 1 cup Fresh Ground Spelt Flour
  • pound Fresh Spinach
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 2 ½ cups Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Grated
  • ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg, Fresh Ground
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 5 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.Drain the Ricotta. Some ricotta is very wet and some dry. It needs to be dry for this recipe. :
2.Steam Spinach and drain or squeeze dry. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. :
3.While water is boiling in a bowl or mixer add spinach, ricotta, eggs, egg yolk, 3/4 cup spelt flour, and 2 cups of cheese. Mix well and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. :
4.Divide the dough into three pieces and dusting the counter lightly with flour, roll the dough out into a 20 inch rope about the size of your thumb. :
5.Cut the ropes in 3/4 inch pieces and roll in flour lightly. Cook in boiling water in small batches until all is done. It takes about 2 minutes. The pieces will sink to the bottom and will rise to the top. Do not over crowd the pot. :
6.In separate saute pan melt butter with oil and when ready add dumplings. Toss in butter and oil and let brown lightly, serve with remaining cheese. Serve warm.:
7.Dumplings can be a side dish or the main course.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June~ Third Sunday Report

     Life is all about people and everyone has a story.  That is what I love about Third Sunday Dinner.  I get the opportunity to learn about stories and get to know people on a deeper level.  This month Third Sunday Dinner fell on Father's Day.  My day, so I chose to have Third Sunday Dinner, but with a twist.  Later in the evening and not dinner,  we had a what I call a Summer Sunday Social.  Ice cream and cookies.  It was great fun.  Can't go wrong with Thrifty ice cream and cookies.  I love how comfortable it was and for our Third Sunday Dinner it was smaller.  Understandable, Father's Day, and I am not complaining.  It was great.  I decided on a later time because it is so hot at 5:00 Sunday after noon in the middle of June.  By 7:00 it was perfect outside.  So back to the story.  I didn't get any pictures of food,  ice cream is pretty common, but I did take pictures of people.  So this month it is about people and isn't that why we do these events anyway.  To get to know our friends and neighbors better.  


  This is Jeff Barney and Kent Flake.  Two of my most favorite people in the world.  They are amazing men that have overcome great challenges.  Jeff has lost about 50 lbs this year and is an inspiration to me to get in shape.  We need friends to remind us and help us be our best.

  Jeff Barney's daughters.  We have a common bond.  We love to hunt fairies.  I have a fairy garden and they are full of practical ways to capture them. I am going to try some and I have promised them if I catch one I will call them first.

   The Mormon missionaries are a great part of our neighborhood.  We love them and they are always welcome to come to dinner.  The man with the white shirt is engaged to the woman in the blue.  The boy with the hat, Will, and the young girl in pink, Faith are good friends and often come early to help out.
 Elder Fore,  just got his transfer to Brazil.  We will miss him.  

Colleen and Ttina.  What great women these two are.  Always happy and smiling. 

Rainy,  She is an amazing woman who is always ahead of the game.  She is amazing and makes the best toffee in the world.  Check out her web site at    The man next to her is Jacob.  Boy does he have an amazing story.  He is like my son and it all started when I invited him to Third Sunday Dinner over 5 years ago.  Since he has married and if they are not present I feel the loss.

 We get people from all over that come to visit.  This woman is from Utah visiting her son below in the light blue shirt.  It is always fun to meet and make connections.

Justin and his friend.  Justin and I have recently become friends and he is wonderful in every way.  I am amazed at how much room we have to just keep adding to our hearts.  

I think she came to see if there were any cute boys.  I did my best to introduce her around. 

Good friends.  Will the short one is amazing.  He knows everyone in our neighborhood and constantly brings new people to dinner.

Boys scooping Ice Cream.  

Shelby is my daughters friend and Sean is my sons friend and both are my friends.

Sisters consoling sisters.  It's great to have a place where we can build and lift others and just relax and be friends.  

The Baker family plus one.  Justin Turley is my constant support.  He is 13 and so amazing. 

Third Sunday Dinners don't always have to be about food.  I love just getting together for and reason. I look for reasons and I try to be consistent in making them happen.  To me that is so important.  It gives a constant reason and resource to gather and build bonds that make life more enjoyable
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Third Sunday Dinner Report~May 2014

      Over a year ago we did Deep Fried French Toast, and it was such a hit I decided to do it again.  It's a pretty easy meal and Everyone LOVES it.  Nothing healthy about this meal, but sometimes we need to have the foods that we love and not always be perfectly healthy.  This recipe was my Grandpa's and he served it in his cafe's back in the 40's and 50's.  He was a restauranteur and owned several concepts in Gallop New Mexico.  I guess it is in my blood.  I never saw his cafe's, he was an old man when I was a boy and way past his cafe cooking years.  In fact the only thing I remember him ever cooking was scrambled eggs and cow brains.  Probably because my mom would not cook it for him.  As I remember it, I liked it, although I would likely not eat it now.

     Growing up I loved it when my mother made this for breakfast.  It is a comfort food to me.  These are the types of foods that bring back precious memories.  My mother used her white bread and fried it in Crisco.  We covered it with margarine, we could not afford butter, and homemade maple syrup.
My mouth still waters when I think of it and although I hardly ever make it for obvious reasons, when I do, I love it and eat it with no regrets.  

     It has become a Third Sunday Dinner Favorite and I love the joy on everyones  faces as they eat this wonderful creation.  My Grandpa probably never even thought about how this dish would be served for hundreds in his Grandchild's home.  That is how life is,  we do things and hardly ever think about how it will effect others years to come.  I personally like to think about that,  how my actions today will effect others in years to come.  It makes a huge difference when we look at the big picture instead of thinking about the moment and the cleanup and the hassle, etc.  When we look at the big picture I have discovered that we can find greater  joy in the moment.  That is how Third Sunday Dinner's are for me.  Alway's looking at the big picture,  I guess that is why I keep doing it and will keep on,  the BIG picture tells me that lives are blessed and great things are happening that I will never know or understand, but countless others will.  

The Frying of the French Toast,  I have to say I do use Crisco, but only on rare occasions.

     Deep Fried Goodness,  It taste as good as it looks.   Fried to golden perfection.  I have to say that on of the secrets to frying is to make the oil, or Crisco really hot.  To cold and it absorbs the fat,  to hot and it burns and does not cook.  The perfect temperature seals the outside, while cooking the inside perfect and leaving it the prefect golden brown.

The Fryers.  This is a chore,  frying 300 pieces is a labor of love, but the fryers 
after they are done are good friends.  

  The Dipper, That's a lot of bread to dip.

Another Happy Family enjoying the great food. 

    I love this boy,  Brandon, my son's best friend and I feel like my son.  I am glad parents don't mind sharing their children with me.  He totally loves the French Toast.  And I totally love feeding him.   (My son is on a mission,  Brandon left before him and is anxiously waiting for him to come home.)

   I love everyone that comes to dinner.  Rainy is the best,   Yellow is the perfect color for her.  Always sunny and bright.

More happy faces.

This young couple are a joy to me.  Family in every way, but blood.  

Lillian loves to have her picture taken.

I love the Mormon Missionaries.  Elder Niko is new here from the Islands.  He is precious and loves 
being a missionary.  He comes from a large family on a small Island.  Welcome to the City Elder.

Elder Fore has been a missionary in our area for along time.  He has been waiting for a Visa to go to Brazil.  While he has been waiting he has been a great influence in our neighborhood.  
By the way,  these boys love Third Sunday Dinner.

Helpers.  Yes they are smiling,  they love to help.

Enjoying the Shade of the apple tree.

Rainy gets around. She is like the best hostess ever.  She personally gets to know everyone. 

Shade is welcome in Arizona. 

The Recipe

For a family size batch.

In your blender place:
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons nutmeg
dash salt

Blend well and dip white bread in and drop in hot oil.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Perfect Sandwich Bread

I love sandwich making and am often amazed with all the options in the world we all get in what I call the "Sandwich Rut".  Meaning we eat the same sandwich over and over again.  Same bread, same spread, same same same.  Recently I was interviewing  some children and their mother.  They told me they were sick of the same lunch every day and the mother was frustrated that they were not happy.  Come to find out they were eating the same sandwich day in and day out.  No wonder they all were frustrated.  I have a saying that I use often.  "Change the Bread, Change the Spread, Change the Experience".  Pretty simple,  in a rut, the easy way out is to change the bread and the spread.  We can use the same lunch meat and cheese longer if we are creative in what we do.    I love baking different types of breads and my family loves the change.  

When it comes to spreads we often change just by adding something to the mayo.  My personal favorite is Smoked Spanish Paprika,  it is amazing and totally changes the sandwich experience.  So simple, yet the results is a wonderfully flavored mayo.  Something as simple as adding lemon and lemon zest to yogurt or mayo can be refreshing and amazingly wonderful.  

So take my advise and "Change the Bread, Change the Spread, Change the Experience".  Your family will be glad you did.  

 This is a simple focaccia bread with spinach and sourdough added to make it amazing.  I weight the dough to 8 to 10 oz.  Let it rise and bake it.  I can make these ahead and freeze.

This is a great way to make sandwiches.  Extra large Rosemary flat bread.   It makes a huge sandwich and I just slice it into squares to serve.

This is a large round focaccia bread.  Makes an amazing sandwich that served eight to sixteen depending on how big you want the slices.  Twelve is really the perfect sandwich size.  I cut each slice just like a pizza.  

Sour Dough Spinach Bread
1 cup sour dough starter *available at 
1 cup cooked grain, barley is great
2 cups drained, chopped frozen spinach
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons Xagave
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup corn flour,  or fresh ground popcorn
2 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons yeast
Flour 5 to 8 cups

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Place all ingredients in Bosch Bowl using 4 cups flour, placing yeast on top of flour.  Turn on mixer and add more flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead for 6 minutes.  Remove from bowl and divide dough into  2 to 3 pieces.  Roll out in large 1 inch thick circles.  Place on parchment paper and let rise.  After dough has risen, using finger, make indents all over the surface of dough.. Brush liberally with olive oil.  Sprinkle with dried rosemary and kosher salt.  Bake until golden brown on a hot pizza stone if you have one.    

Here are a few of my favorite sandwich spreads. 

Garlic Rosemary Spread
1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tables fresh rosemary, crushed
Mix ingredients in a bowl.

Lemon Curry Dressing
½ each  sour cream, yogurt and mayonnaise
Zest one lemon and Juice one lemon
2 teaspoons curry powder
Mix ingredients in bowl.

Yogurt Honey Dressing
1 cup yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup honey
Dash garam masala
Mix Ingredients in bowl.

Sandwich making should be a fun and exciting adventure.  Even if you are using your normal bread, take time to change the spread.   Even something as simple as pesto sauce can dress up a sandwich.  Sandwiches are a mainstay in our lunch routines, why not up the flavor so our families don't get to bored with what we are doing.   Have a great lunch.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy