Tomato Head’s Turkey Pot Pie

Every holiday has a unique set of traditions, of course, but Thanksgiving is special because it comes with an extra set of conventions for the flip side of the holiday. Naturally, there’s football, football and football, but there’s more: many families use the day after Thanksgiving to put up a Christmas Tree; there’s the annual depleting or deploring of stores that open on Black Friday; and there’s also the ritual complaining or rejoicing about the abundance of leftovers.

For many folks, eating the remains of the day is a simple thing; turkey sandwiches are legion and come layered with dressing, perhaps a generous spread of mashed potatoes and a side of gravy for au jus style dipping. And it can be a fun way to close the holiday and play top chef as you present your creation with chefly jargon like “a clever riff on the holiday” or “a deconstruction of the feast.”

And as much fun as all that can be, leftover turkey presents yet another opportunity to gather together at table, touch the souls of your family and friends, and maintain the comfortable mood of the holiday regardless of bad punt returns, strands of lights that expire only after they’re on the tree and even the stress of maddening crowds at the mall.

A steaming pot pie, fresh from the oven is a nearly iconic symbol of the special kind of comfort that comes with a Sunday at Grandma’s house. But it’s easy to create that feeling at your own home with Mahasti’s simple recipe – especially since the bird is cooked, and you’ll probably have many of the other ingredients on hand, too.

There are two things that make Mahasti’s Pot Pie stand out. One is the inclusion of turnip. It will be easy to think about leaving that out, but, if you do, you’ll miss a rich and almost mysterious flavor element that really amps up this recipe. When cooked like this, turnips, especially small ones, add a sweet and earthy element that matches perfectly with potato and cream sauces. If they’re young and fresh, they also take on a tender almost silky texture.

The other element that makes this recipe stand out is that instead of a pie crust or puff pastry, Mahasti tops the pie with biscuits. I don’t have to tell you what a biscuit can to do a meal, but when it sits on top of a pot pie it gets a beautiful brown top, a fluffy middle, and a bottom that’s happily situated in the pie’s gravy-like sauce.

It’s a simple way not only to put those leftovers to a delicious use but also to extend the warmth and fond memories of family time around the table.

Mahasti will show you how to put it all together on Saturday during WBIR’s Weekend Today!

Tomato Head’s Turkey Pot Pie

For the cream sauce:

2 ½ Tbl unsalted butter

2 Tbl all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

½ cup water

2 Tbl heavy cream

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 Tbl fresh sage or Italian parsley, chopped

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until all the flour is absorbed into the butter and no lumps remain. Add the milk, water, and heavy cream and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add salt, pepper and herbs – remove from heat and set aside.

For assembling the pot pie:

1 Tbl vegetable oil

2/3 cup onion, diced

1 cup cooked Turkey meat

1 medium potato, peeled, diced and boiled

1 medium carrot or 2/3 cup cooked carrot

1 small turnip or 2/3 cup cooked turnip

1cup cooked greens

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chili flakes, optional

Peel potato, dice into 1-inch cubes and boil until soft. Drain potatoes and set aside. In a 10-inch case iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add carrots and turnips, if raw and sauté just until the turnips start to brown a little. Add cooked turkey, greens, potatoes, salt and chili flakes and stir to mix. Remove the skillet from the heat and add cream sauce, stirring well until all the ingredients are mixed up.

Top your pot pie with 6-8 three inch biscuits – made from our Best Biscuit Recipe from National Biscuit Month.

Place assembled pot pie in a preheated 425 degree oven and bake just until biscuits are cooked and starting to brown ~ about 13 minutes.

Serves 4.

Celebrate National Pizza Month with us!

If you read our last post, then you know that we’re in the midst of National Dessert Month. And yet, that’s only one part of the story of October.  One of the most important holidays of the year is already upon us, but it’s one that we never stop celebrating. Unlike Christmas and Thanksgiving, which are typically limited to the last quarter of the year, here at Tomato Head National Pizza Month is like the song that never ends – it just goes on and on my friends, but at our restaurant it gets better with each round.

Even though Mahasti didn’t really start out with pie in her eyes, there was a big pizza oven in our original space that she couldn’t overlook, let alone move. Of course, hindsight being 20/20, we wouldn’t have it any other way – and we suspect that neither would many of our friends and guests.

Even though the month has a lot of neat designations that honor the foods we love, for us October is bittersweet – like anybody we look forward to the good times and fun stuff that start with this month, but it also means that the Farmer’s Markets are closing and so too the season of the really fresh, local produce that inspires many of our pizza specials. But the end isn’t here yet; there’s still some good stuff coming from our farming friends.

So this month we’re celebrating pizza in high style with a special that features some of the beautiful, organically farmed bok choy and organic Chinese long beans that we’re getting from local growers. Bok choy, a Chinese cabbage, shows up all around town (it’s even in stock at the Fellini Kroger), but Chinese long beans haven’t quite made it to the average Knoxville shop (though, Lowe’s has carried the seed on and off for several years).

The long bean comes from a prolific and pretty vine that’s actually more closely related to the southern cowpea than it is other green beans. And that sucker is long – it can easily grow to over a foot in length, even longer if you let it go to seed. Its scientific name includes the designation sesquipedalis, which is also the source of a very long and polysyllabic word, sesquipedalian which, unsurprisingly, means having many syllables.

What’s most important about our long beans is that they’re fresh, local, organic and on a pizza. This special pie is veggie rich, redolent of the East, and has a homemade kick. Mahasti and the mad scientists in the Tomato Head Test Kitchen have piled the long beans, bok choy, red peppers, chicken, and roasted peanuts on top of a white pizza with a soy, brown sugar sauce. The kick comes from our housemade kimchi – a spicy Korean relish that’s based on fermented cabbage (which, according to some, is a good cure for the morning-after).

There are so many flavor associations going here that it fires almost all of our taste bud pistons from sweet to savory.  You’ll have to grab a bite to believe just how good it is. The combination of these tastes makes a special kind of flavor party that’s perfect for our celebration. So get your party hats on, grab some napkins and tuck in – pizza month is here, and we can’t wait to share it!

Chinese Long Beans

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

 

Tomato Head’s Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt and Sriracha

I was so excited when I read Mahasti’s recipe, I let out an audible “yasss” complete with the hand-motion you are probably imagining. Quinoa was the reason behind this. Quinoa is a good source of protein, as well as vitamins B, B6, and E, amino acids, potassium, and a healthy list of other minerals. It is a pseudo-cereal that is vegan-friendly and can be consumed in low quantities by those with celiac disease. The inside of the seeds also happen to taste great when cooked, otherwise it is an unpalatable, bitter seed. To get to the tasty part of quinoa, it needs to be cooked. Luckily, that’s easy to do.

To start, you’ll need:

½ cup Quinoa

1⅛ cup water

Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan over high heat. Boil until almost all of the water has been absorbed. Then turn the heat down to low, and place a lid on the saucepan. Steam the quinoa until the seeds are soft and splitting open. Remove the quinoa from the stove, and pour the cooked seeds into a large mixing bowl.

In order to turn the seeds into Tomato Head’s quinoa cakes, you’ll need a few more ingredients:

⅛ cup oil

⅔ cup onion, diced

½ cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup almonds, chopped

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbl Dijon mustard

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup breadcrumbs

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add sautéed onions and all of the remaining ingredients to the quinoa bowl and mix well with gloved hands. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. Next, scoop the mixture into balls, then flatten the balls into disks.

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the quinoa cakes in the oil until the bottoms are golden, then flip and fry the other side until it is golden as well.

Top them with plain yogurt and sriracha, if you so choose. They could also be served on top of your favorite salad or mixed greens. They can be served hot or cold.

The raw quinoa cakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and fried when needed.

This would be a fantastic dish to keep on hand for a quick lunch, or serve well for an easy dinner. As far as pairings go, this dish would pair well with a Beaujolais wine, low in tannin, fresh and nutty. If you’re adding the cakes to something with a tomato-base or similar flavors, try a Chianti or Barbera.  If you don’t drink red, try a Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. As far as beers are concerned, try a nutty porter or nutty brown ale rich with roasted malts.

Certainly be sure to give this recipe a try, especially if you’ve never tried quinoa. It is both healthy and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent WBIR cooking segment.

Quinoa Cakes

Tomato Head’s Marinated Zucchini and Mint Pasta

The redeeming grace of summers in the South boils into just a few fine points that prove enough to justify intensely hot summer days. For me, these points can be counted on one hand. Largely, this period of late spring summer multiplies our vegetation options, meaning we have so many delicious options to choose from!

Via the farmer’s market or your own garden, fresh vegetables and herbs are easily available. Fresh ingredients change a dish entirely for the better. Take Saturday’s recipe for Tomato Head’s pasta with marinated zucchini and mint for example; almost all of these ingredients can be found fresh at the farmer’s market.

The ingredients for this recipe include:

2 Large Zucchini, washed and diced to fill 8 cups

⅓ cup Oil

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Black Pepper

¼ cup Olive Oil

⅛ cup Cider Vinegar

½ tsp Salt

¼ – ⅓ cup Fresh Mint, chopped

½ cup Spinach, chopped

Toss the zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper, then place on a large cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400⁰. Remove the tray and allow the zucchini to cool.

Toss cooled zucchini with olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, and mint. Allow the mixture to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Cook a ½ lb of your favorite shape of pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach and marinated zucchini. Top with parmesan cheese, and this dish is ready to serve.

This recipe for Tomato Head’s marinated zucchini and mint pasta will serve 4-6 people of your choosing, and will pair well with a Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. For beer lovers, the pasta will pair nicely with a Belgian-style Saison. Come see us when you visit the farmer’s market.

Click on the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent cooking segment WBIR Channel 10.

Tomato Head's Summer Vegetable Pasta

Tomato Head’s Buttermilk Biscuit with Benton’s Bacon, Avocado, and Rhubarb Marmalade

Who said breakfast had to be confined to downing hydrogenated breakfast bars or cereal and milk while juggling house keys, your bag, and trying to find your matching shoe? I often find that enjoying my mornings with a flavorful breakfast and warm coffee or tea can later make even the worst parts of my day much more bearable.

Furthermore, cooking up breakfast myself starts me off with a happy feeling of accomplishment and puts me in a much better mood. This recipe for buttermilk biscuits with Benton’s bacon, avocado, and rhubarb marmalade will be sure to set your day off in a positive direction.

For the rhubarb marmalade, you’ll need:

2 cups onion, sliced

¼ cup oil

4 cups Rhubarb, sliced

4 Tbl sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ tsp salt

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, then reduce the heat to low and sauté gently for 5 minutes. Add the rhubarb and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cook the marmalade gently, stirring occasionally for another 5-8 minutes.

To make the biscuits:

We suggest using the award-winning biscuit recipe from last year’s International Biscuit Festival.

Split a freshly baked biscuit in half. Place cooked Benton’s bacon on the bottom half of the biscuit. Top the bacon with ¼ of an Avocado. Spread a generous amount of rhubarb marmalade on the top of the biscuit. Place the top back on the biscuit and serve.

This seasonal treat is great for making any spring morning a time to enjoy yourself or company.

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti make this delicious recipe on her WBIR cooking segment.

biscuit with marmalade

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design