Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Last Day at the Market

Our last day at the St. James Farmers' Market in Sewickley!
Loyal customers who became friends!
After three years of selling our honey and talking about bees at the St. James Farmers' Market in Sewickley, we are turning over the market reins to Steve Repasky, an Eastern Apiculture Society-certified Master Beekeeper (a very big deal!) and Vice President of Burgh Bees (big deal, too!). It's been tough decision to give up the market because we have made many, many friends and enjoy market day so much.  Yet our "real" jobs have gotten busier, making it harder for us to give the market the attention it needs. 
Steve Repasky, ready for customers!

Luckily, we have the irrepressible Steve to take over! In addition to selling his honey (and ours when we have it), Steve has some wonderful new products to introduce, including a delightful peppermint foot cream that'll get you ready for sandal weather!

A frozen Robert and a warm Steve!

Perhaps it was a sign, but it actually SNOWED on Saturday, on our last day.  Temperatures hovered in the low 30s, so we couldn't bring the observation hive out for one last show, alas.

We look forward to coming to the market as "civilians." We'll be the ones hanging out at the bee booth bothering Steve (unless it's snowing!).

A queen between two drones! (Thanks, Felicity, for taking the photo!)  
Though we're scaling back, Robert and I remain devoted beekeepers and will continue to sell our honey from our home and apiary in Aliquippa.  We welcome visitors!  Call or email us to find a time to stop by.  We'll also plan to update this blog more regularly, so if you haven't already, please "follow" us and sign up for email notices when we add a new post.

Many, many thanks to: Bob Jankart, market manager extraordinaire; our fellow vendors at the St. James Farmers' Market, whose beautiful produce and wares always inspire; and especially our loyal customers and friends for embracing us so warmly--even when it snowed.   Bee happy!  --Jennie & Robert

Monday, April 23, 2012

Honey Cannoli! A Dessert Calzone!

New York Times food writer, Melissa Clark's "A Good Appetite" column never lets me down.  Last week, she  offered several recipes for calzones using Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe, one of which included this Honey Cannoli Dessert Calzone I made tonight.  It's made with fresh ricotta, which Clark demonstrates in a video on the NY Times website.  Sound complicated?  Not at all! Fresh ricotta can be ready in less than 30 minutes depending on how long it takes the milk to boil.  If that sounds like a lot of work, consider (as Clark points out in her video) that fresh ricotta is cheaper than store bought, tastes so much better and is fun to make!

I start by offering the Honey Cannoli Dessert Calzone recipe with photos.  Read on for recipes for pizza dough, fresh ricotta and a delightful spinach/red pepper calzone that Robert and I made last night with some of this dough.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (yes! 500!)
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease

Take 1/4 of Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe (see below--make the whole recipe, divide into 4ths and use one ball; freeze the rest if you're not making any other dishes)  Pull/roll the dough into a 6 to 7 inch circle.

In a bowl, combine:
3/4ths cup fresh ricotta (see below for recipe)
3-4 tablespoons honey (we used summer honey)
1-2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Spread the ricotta mixture on one half of the dough. Lightly wet the edge and fold the dough in half, covering the ricotta mixture.

Crimp the edges, sealing well.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the calzone is well-browned and puffed.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with more honey. Split and serve.  One calzone generously serves two for dessert.

Mark Bitmann's Pizza Dough Recipe
3 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
1 teaspoon fast-rising yeast (2 teaspoons if you want to speed things up)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Put the flour, yeast, salt and oil in a food processor and pulse to mix well.  With the processor running, slowly add 1 cup of water through the feed tube, and process until the mixture forms a ball, which should be sticky.  Using flour or oiled hands, form the dough into a ball and let rest at room temperature 1 to 2 hours (or, do as I did, which was wrap the dough well and refrigerate overnight; return the dough to room temperature before proceeding with recipe).  For the honey cannoli recipe,  divide the dough into four equal pieces and use one for the honey calzone. (You could wrap and freeze the others for later, or double the recipe if you want more servings.)

2 quarts whole milk (1/2 gallon)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large pot, stir the milk, cream and salt together and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from scorching.  Meanwhile, prepare a sieve or colander by lining it with four layers of cheese cloth, leaving a big overhang. Place the colander over a large pot.

When the milk/cream mixture comes to a rolling boil, stir in the lemon juice, reduce the heat and simmer just until curds start to form.  If you want firmer ricotta with big curds, cook for about a minute more.  Pour the mixture into the cheese-cloth lined colander and let drain until it's the consistency you like.  The longer it drains, the drier the curds will be.  That's it!  Place the ricotta in a container and refrigerate--it should keep for at least a week.  (For a simple and divine dessert, try this drizzled with some honey and cinnamon.)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (yes! 500!)  Line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly grease.
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing calzone
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper, diced in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 pound fresh spinach, cleaned well
1/2 of Bittman's pizza dough recipe (see above)
1 cup fresh ricotta
3 ounces mozzarella, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
tomato or pizza sauce for serving on the side

Heat oil in a skillet add garlic, sprinkle with a little salt and lightly saute, being careful not to burn.  Add diced red pepper and saute for a few minutes.  Add spinach and cook until it's wilted.

Pull and roll the pizza dough until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Spread one half of the dough with ricotta, leaving about 1/2 inch margin to seal the dough.  Top with the spinach/pepper mixture (draining if it's very watery) and then with the mozzarella slices.  Fold the dough over, wet the edges and crimp and seal well. Transfer the calzone to the prepared cookie sheet and place in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes.  The calzone should be very brown--even a little darker on top.  Remove from oven and cool for about 5 or 10 minutes before slicing into it.  Makes two very generous servings for a main course.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blueberry Honey Scones

These scones would make a lovely weekend breakfast. They are not very sweet, so you could serve them with some more honey and butter. They are especially good fresh from the oven, but managed to choke one down while I was at work the next day

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced and frozen
1 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the frozen butter and cut into the flour mixture until it is about the size of peas.  Add the other 1/2 cupt of the flour to the berries in a separate bowl and mix.  Set the blueberries aside.  Put the half-and-half in a liquid measuring cup.  Add the honey, egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add this to the flour and butter and gingerly combine, stirring just until the entire mixture is wet.  Fold in the blueberries and flour that you set aside and gently knead a few times in the bowl until it all comes together.  (This is basically a biscuit, so the more you work it, the tougher it'll be.)
When all is incorporated, turn out onto a floured surface and pat into about a 9 inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper).  If you'd like, you can lightly wet the tops with some half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar or brown sugar.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Broccoli Salad

It's been quite awhile since I've posted to this blog.  The mid-semester demands of teaching have kept me away from the kitchen--and the bees.  Here's a great broccoli salad that makes a wonderful side dish or nice lunch to pack.  It's slightly sweet from the honey and dried fruit and can be adapted with anything you have on hand.  Swap out the dried currants for some black olives and add some crumbled feta cheese, for example.  Hope you enjoy!

1 bunch of broccoli cut into large spears
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup dried currants (or raisins, or craisins or other dried fruit)
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons honey (I used our summer honey for this)
salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add about a teaspoon of salt.  Prepare a bowl of ice water.  Put the broccoli spears in the boiling water and blanch until the spears turn bright green.  Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water.  Drain the spears, drying well, and chop into about a 1/2 inch dice and put in a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine well.  Taste and check seasonings.  Serve cold.  Makes about four servings.