Sweeten up your holidays with Tomato Head cookies.

From our holiday-inspired flavors like Gingersnap and Peppermint Crackle to the classic lineup of Tomato Head cookies including our vegan and gluten free varieties, you’ll find plenty of goodies for your holiday gift giving, celebrations, and office parties. Just stop by either bakery counter, or call Market Square at 637-4067 or our 7240 Kingston Pike location at 584-1075 to place your order. Cookie bags of 8 ($9.75), small cookie box of 16 ($17.95), and a large cookie box of 24 ($25.75) are available.

Yum Yum Yum!

Holiday Cookies 2016

Holiday Cookies 2016

Sweeten up your Thanksgiving with our holiday pies!

Tomato Head Thanksgiving Pies Are Now Available!

Our autumn-inspired flavors include Spencer Mountain Farm sweet potato, Shwab Farm apple, and pecan. You can also order vegan and gluten-free versions of each 9″ pie. Regular and vegan versions are $29.50. Gluten-free pies are $32.50.

Just stop by the bakery counter at either location, or call 12 Market Square at 637-4067 or 7240 Kingston Pike at 584-1075 by the close of business this Saturday to place your order. Pies will be ready for pickup the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Yum Yum Yum!

Holiday Pies

Holiday Pies

Our love for National Peanut Butter Month

At last, the chill of autumn seems to have arrived, and with it comes a heightened sense of holidays. There are an incredible number of things to celebrate, including a fete for which we are truly grateful: National Peanut Butter Month. Actually, there are a whole bunch of food products that claim November as their month; but to our minds only peanut butter seems worth the fuss – of course, that’s due to the fact that peanut butter is so very, very lovable, and its appeal can last a lifetime.

My family had the typical, usually loose rules about food: clean your plate; don’t spoil your appetite with snacks; eat your peas. And most of those didn’t bother me much once I learned how to push food around my plate and hide peas in my pockets. There were, however, more onerous restrictions, killjoys really, about how to eat certain things; and those really bugged me. After all, they were silly rules, like, “Don’t drink milk out of the carton” and “You can’t eat peanut butter straight from the jar!”

Who among us, I ask you, can resist the urge to lick peanut butter right off the spoon and plunge it back into the jar for a second helping?!? Even as an adult I still lick the spoon, though I have let go of the urge to double dip – not out of a new found maturity, per se, it’s just that I’m always embarrassed when, inevitably, I get caught. Even so, I’ve progressed from the first time when I was caught, quite literally, with my hands in the peanut butter jar. Even as my mother swatted my hands away for a second scoop, I was thinking, yeah, this is worth it.

I don’t know what it is about Peanut Butter that creates such longings, but at Tomato Head we celebrate it every day in one way or another. If you’ve yet to try our peanut butter cookie, you just need to go do that now. It’s a tender little bit of heaven that strikes a craveable balance between cookie sweetness and the habit-forming flavor of peanut butter. And our baker (with a wicked grin, I’m sure) tops the cookie with a nearly irresistible pool of chocolate glaze that makes it hard not to eat the cookie in about 10 seconds flat.

Of course, there’s another worthwhile holiday lurking about the corner near the end of this month, and it’s one that particularly suited for our other favorite nutty indulgence: Peanut Butter Pie.

Resistance is futile once this pie is on the table. We take a lot of rich, creamy peanut butter and blend it with cream cheese to create an enticing fluff to fill up a chocolate crust. Once we add a little chocolate topping, it becomes a seriously beautiful dessert that never weighs us down or makes our fingers too sticky.

And in the midst of all this nutty happiness, we’re going to tell you part of our secret for unforgettable peanut butter ecstasy. It’s something you can do at home – and, honestly, it’s a treat you and yours deserve. It’s a simple matter of using all natural and trans-fat free peanut butter.  It’s a difference that’s worth looking for; it tastes better, and it’s better for you, whether it’s in a cookie, pie or straight off the spoon.

We hope to see you soon for a little peanut party to celebrate this special month.  And if you like to eat your peanut butter pie without utensils, that’s okay by us – after all, it’s finger licking good and, although we can’t speak for mamma, we certainly won’t slap your hands.

Inverted Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Inverted Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Why October makes perfect sense as National Dessert Month

The scent of autumn takes on many nuances as it wafts through October. There are smoky gusts of bonfires in the air, a musty, earthy smell swirls from the trees alongside multi-colored leaves, and beneath all of that the air itself has a new and brisk scent that’s as crisp as it feels. Inside, the fragrance of home changes too, from baskets of fresh apples, pears and the smell of baking which takes on richer, sweeter tones as the year begins to fade.

It makes perfect sense that October is the month we celebrate desserts. It is, after all, the month for treats (and a few tricks, too), plus the weather affords cooler days and warmer kitchens and stimulates the appetite for baked goods. Of course, we keep delicious treats handy all year round, but somehow they taste sweeter once October rolls around.  Maybe we feel like we’re in training for the feast days that lie ahead? Regardless, it’s a sweet month, and while our celebrations include the familiar abundance of tender cookies and cupcakes piled high with thick frosting, it’s the best time of year for a sweet we don’t see as often as we’d like: sweet potato pie.

It can be difficult to pin down the origin of any recipe, but it seems likely that this dessert springs like sweet water from the foul well that was plantation life in the colonial South. In fact one of the first, if not only cookbooks published by a former slave, Abby Fisher’s What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking, published in c. 1881, includes a pretty straightforward recipe for our featured treat. Whether it was adapted from European traditions or the evolution of an African recipe, the dessert has become a soul food staple and what author and baker Rose McGhee calls the “sacred dessert of black culture.”

If you grew up with your mother’s sweet potato pie recipe, then of course you’ve already had the best rendering of the treat. Even so, we’re pretty confident that you’ll enjoy our version that sits regally in a tender crust; it’s a traditional recipe that has the added advantage of using local sweet potatoes – it’s worth a trip to the restaurant.

But then, good dessert is always worth the effort – especially since our world class bakers are hard at it to make National Dessert Month as sweet as possible.  As the month goes along, you can expect to see more flavors of autumn show up in our dessert case – I hear that there are some ginger treats on the way that are good enough to wake the dead!  But for now, you and your sweet tooth can look forward to good stuff in cupcake form including the likes of Chocolate Stout, Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Gluten Free Apple Walnut! Now that’s a way to celebrate!

 

The Best Biscuit Recipe for National Biscuit Month

As difficult as it may be for Knoxvillians to believe it, May, the month of the International Biscuit Festival, isn’t National Biscuit Month. That honor belongs to September. Of course, real biscuit lovers celebrate on a daily basis, and I’m not sure that the official observance attracts much attention – it doesn’t seem to come with any days off or other perks like other holidays do.  Still, it’s worth taking some time to ponder the biscuit, especially this year when we’re already feeling the breezes of autumn and the nostalgia that those winds sometimes bring.

Biscuits come with memories and stories full of mothers, grandmothers, early mornings, and big family breakfasts.  After all, it shows a special kind of love to get up early to mix flour into dough and fill the house with that most comforting of wake-up calls, the smell of biscuits in the oven. For me, every biscuit brings a smile because it recalls a favorite family story about a boy named Virgil, who, in his latter days, was also known as Papaw Mynatt.

Little Virgil loved biscuits, especially the particularly fine and well-buttered examples baked by his family’s neighbor, Lucille. She was a kind lady with several children of her own to feed, and, even though it was the Great Depression and times were tough, she always had an extra biscuit.

Virgil’s mother, Maggie, however, took some exception to his biscuit foraging. Perhaps she thought it reflected poorly on her own domestic skill, or that it made Lucille think that Virgil wasn’t getting enough to eat at home. So, mother Maggie forbade him from asking that woman for another biscuit. Virgil obliged. Instead he was soon to be found in the neighbor’s yard, strolling casually by the kitchen window singing a song of his own composition: “I just love them butter biscuits”.

Even as his mother did NOT spare the rod, Virgil protested his innocence; he never asked for that biscuit – it just came his way.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that a good biscuit is worth the risk of a good spanking. And, more importantly, a good biscuit recipe is worth having; it will endear you to good eaters (and some young songsters, too).

Of course, biscuits mean different things to different people, and nowadays biscuits come in all sorts of styles and flavors. But a few years ago, Mahasti decided that she wanted to find the best biscuit recipe – the one that would produce the most consistent and tastiest results with the least amount of fuss. After asking the public for their favorites, Mahasti worked through dozens of recipes. What she found was that the best biscuit was a simple, traditional method using buttermilk and cold butter.

Buttermilk is essential in this recipe because its acidic personality works to soften the villainous gluten which can toughen your dough. Buttermilk helps keep everything tender. Likewise, using chilled butter will make a fluffier biscuit – the butter melts in the oven and produces steam which gives our beloved bread a luscious lift.

In honor of National Biscuit Month, we dug up that recipe so you can celebrate in style.

If you’ve never tried baking your own, now’s as a good a time as any. Just promise us that you’ll try, at least for Biscuit Month, to steer clear of biscuits that come out of a can – you know how we feel about that.

Enjoy!

The Best Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup chilled buttermilk

Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into a medium bowl. Add chilled butter and work into flour with fingertips or a pastry cutter until the butter resembles small beads. Add buttermilk and work flour into buttermilk until you have a soft dough. Turn dough no more than 10 times.

Gather into a ball. Flatten the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1 inch. Either trim the edges and use a knife cut the biscuits into squares or use a traditional round biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits. Gather up any remaining dough into a ball and repeat flattening and cutting the biscuits.

Place the cut biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet (placing the biscuits in the freezer at this point for 30 minutes will yield a fluffier biscuit). Bake in a 425 degree oven for 8 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot.

Makes 6-8 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Chocolate Zucchini Pan Cake

If you polled farmers about garden humor, I suspect that you’d find out that the poor, prolific zucchini is a popular subject for jokes. That’s because, like rabbits, this summer squash greets life with a singular drive to be fruitful and multiply. I have one gardener friend who tells tales about drive-by squashings; these midnight capers involve sneaking from house to house to leave big bags of the squash on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors, all in an effort to make sure that the squash glut gets eaten – just by somebody else.

That’s why we have recipes galore for zucchini; from bread to cookies, thrifty and clever cooks have found all sorts of ways to use up legions of the rapid reproducer, and do it in a way that combats the inevitable squash fatigue that comes with late summer.

But what’s really great about these recipes is that they’re also excellent options for the devious parent who stays awake at night plotting ways to sneak vegetables into the food of their unsuspecting offspring.

There’s almost an industry about his kind of cunning cooking. You might remember some flack over the publication of Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, which involved accusations of plagiarism by the author of a similar cookbook that dealt with sneaking good food into kids’ diets.

Well, there’s no controversy with this recipe – it’s all ours and comes from the tried and true food resource that is Mahasti’s kitchen. It’s a chocolate sheet cake that’s not only delicious, it’s also easy to transport – and that’s a boon for tailgating, picnicking, and all sorts of places where you might want to accomplish the dastardly deed of feeding little people squash and making them love every minute of it.

The key to sneaking good vegetable matter from the garden and into your kid is subtlety.  So make this when the kids are not around. Or at least have the secret ingredient already prepped and ready to add to the recipe in a flash while you distract your kid with something like taking out the trash (even if you don’t succeed in assigning the chore, the inevitable whining will keep the juvenile mind occupied long enough for you to slip the zucchini into the batter unnoticed). And don’t be tempted to shortcut on the grinding or grating of the squash; you don’t want the vegetable to look anything like itself! After all, if you can’t see it or taste it – it isn’t really there. With this recipe – all they’ll taste is delicious.

One of the byproducts of using zucchini is that it adds lots of moisture to the cake, so it’s really tender. And in addition to the nutritional value of the vegetable, this recipe uses whole wheat flour in addition to white – so it’s a treat that you can feel pretty good about serving. Even with these nods to healthy eating, the cake remains a decadent taste sensation. From the first mouthwatering bite of cake and indulgent dark chocolate frosting the cake is chocolate, glorious chocolate, all chocolate and nothing but the chocolate. You’ll probably find yourself wanting to make this even when the garden isn’t overwhelmed with squash production.

Flour Head Bakery’s Chocolate Zucchini Pan Cake

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1.5 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 cups finely shredded zucchini

1.5 cups All purpose lfour

1 cup White Wheat flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Icing

1-1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup half and half

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a large bowl mix together melted butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and buttermilk. Add zucchini and stir well.

In another large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until all the dry ingredients are mixed well with the wet.

Pour the mixture into a 9 inch x 13 inch greased foil pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 30-25 minutes until the top feels springy or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool.

While cake is cooing, heat half-and-half on the stove in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate chips, and remove from heat. Whisk the mixture until all the chips have melted. When the cake is cool to the touch, pour the chocolate mixture on top of the cake and spread out with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Cut the cake into squares and serve right out of the pan.

Tomato Head’s Yellow Squash Crostini with Pesto

Walking into the Knoxville air and feeling it push back, being caught daily in random patches of heavy rain and lightening, and sweating your ~you know what~ off over the past few weeks of this summer is paying off. Not only did we all sweat out a few pounds and increase our water intake by 200%, but also this time of the year is wonderfully ample in fruits and vegetables. The payout is an abundance of foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and so many more.

This month’s WBIR recipe for yellow squash crostini with pesto certainly pays attention to the local and available.  Although the origins for this recipe are Italian, the addition of one of the three sisters gives this recipe an American twist.

To cook up this dish, you’ll need:

5 cups yellow squash, diced

5 cups tomatoes, diced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

⅛ cup olive oil

⅛ cup cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and toss well to incorporate all of the flavors.

To assemble the Crostini, you’ll need:

Flour Head Bakery Knoxville Sourdough or Baguette*

Olive Oil

Tomato Head Pesto**

Slice the bread to the thickness you desire. Brush lightly with olive oil on both sides. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400° oven until toasted. Remove the toasted bread from the oven, spread each piece with a liberal amount of pesto, and top with a generous portion of the squash mixture.

A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or even a Vino Verde that is not overly effervescent, would pair nicely as white wines. If you would rather have red, consider an Italian red that is both bright and slightly earthy, such as a Chianti or Barbera.

Although this dish does not seem to be compatible with beer for most, it is possible. Belgian ales pair nicely with the strength of pesto, as the herbs and spices of the ale complement the pesto.

*Flour Head Knoxville Sourdough and Baguettes can be found at Three Rivers Market and Kroger in Bearden

**Tomato Head Pesto can be found at both Tomato Head locations, Three Rivers Market, Butler and Bailey Market and the following Kroger stores:  Fountain City, Cedar Bluff, Farragut, Bearden and Northshore

 

The Exchange of the Knoxville Idea

Market Square is the place to be on Saturday mornings.

We are two weeks into the new season’s farmer’s market on Market Square. As one of the largest open-air fresh markets in the region, the farmer’s market plays host to local produce, food, live music, as well as arts and crafts.

The whole square is hopping, usually to the tune of jazz or big bands. Restaurants (like us) are open for brunch, often featuring items purchased from local vendors in the market. Vendors also sell homemade items such as clothing, soap, pottery, and woodworking. If you don’t like big crowds, then come down on Wednesday mornings, when produce vendors set up shop for a quieter day at the market.

The most amazing thing about the Farmer’s Market is that is an accessible connection to Knoxville’s history.

The support of communal bonds and fresh food is something that Knoxvillians have gathered around for nearly 160 years. Where Market Square stands today was once a building where farmers would gather to sell produce, and city dwellers came to buy their groceries. I’ve had people visiting our restaurant tell me stories of catching a bus to the Farmer’s Market with a pocket full of change that would be just enough for fresh snacks, a movie on Gay Street, and vegetables to bring home.

In today’s food climate, buying local food is healthier, fresher, and all around better than purchasing over-preserved vegetables from chain grocers. Not to mention, the money spent on produce, meats, and breads is remaining within our community, helping to sustain economic growth and jobs.

As Jack Neely put it, spending time and money at the farmer’s market “is an investment in the idea of Knoxville”. The Farmer’s Market is the culminating beacon of our city’s dedication to their neighbors that serves as a promise for up-and-coming community driven initiatives such as the Striped Light and the Knoxville Darkroom.

We support the farmer’s market because it supports our community.

Eating fresh strawberries, corn, and other produce is a perk that we also enjoy—and share on our menu. Remember that as the seasons cycle, so will the types of produce that are being offered. It’s important to return every few weeks if not every week, to see what has ripened. While you’re downtown, stop by to say hello. Stay and eat if you’re hungry.

Market Square Farmers Market Carrots Knoxville Tomato Head

Put away those winter blues with a sweet snack in the sunshine​

Oatmeal has all of these really great health benefits, like being good for your heart and lowering cholesterol. This must mean that oatmeal cookies aren’t bad for you, or at the very least draw even, like celery with peanut butter*.

Lucky for you, this weekend at the Tomato Head we are featuring two different recipes for oatmeal cookies. We’ll be pitting our Flour Head Bakery oatmeal spice cookie against Patti’s infamous oatmeal cookie recipe.

Which one is better? You be the judge by visiting our Facebook page to vote.

I tell you this, you’re going to get to try some top notch baking. Bust out your inner cookie connoisseur and come on down to the Tomato Head this Saturday and Sunday to enjoy an oatmeal cookie-off in the sunshine.

Don’t worry, we’ve got milk too.

In case you’re interested, Patti’s Infamous Oatmeal Cookie recipe looks like this:

1 cup Oats

½ cup Walnuts, Chopped

½ cup Dried Cranberry

¾ cup Flour

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Baking Soda

½ cup Shortening

½ cup Dark Brown Sugar

¼ cup Sugar

1 Egg

½ tsp Vanilla

In a medium bowl mix together the Oats, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Flour, Slat, and Baking Soda.

In a medium bow, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat shortening with sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until egg is incorporated. Gradually mix in the flour and oat mixture until all the oats and nuts are mixed into the butter.

Drop by the spoonful onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 25 small cookies.

*this claim is not backed by any actual fact, it’s just here to help you feel better about sweets if you need the justification, because we care.

Click the video to watch Mahasti’s appearance on WBIR Channel 10.

TomatoHead's Infamous Patti Oatmeal Cookie WBIR

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design