A Great Gift For Your Honeybee

Made in Grainger County by the most adorable couple ever, Bob and Delores Moore, Moore’s Acres Creamed Honey is delicious when spread on sandwiches, used as a sugar substitute in recipes, or drizzled over an earthy and nutty cheese. Our favorite way of enjoying it is slathering it on a biscuit for breakfast. It’s sold at the Flour Head Bakery dessert counters at each restaurant in 1lb. tubs for $10.

Yum Yum Yum!

Moore's Acres Whipped Honey

Moore’s Acres Whipped Honey

December’s Featured Brewery: Blue Pants Brewery

This month Tomato Head taps will be flowing with craft beers made just about 4 hours south of us in Madison, Alabama from the Blue Pants Brewery. Madison is a fast growing and prosperous city in the Hunstville Metropolitan Area, and, from all indications, it’s a forward thinking, can-do kind of place; that attitude is clearly mirrored in Blue Pants’ tag line: “We like to make unreasonably good beer.” Actually, that’s more than a tag line, it’s a manifesto.

Blue Pants has established a good track record in the 5 years of their being with a wide assortment of tasty froth that’s covered all the major beer styles. Still, unsatisfied with leaving well enough alone, Blue Pants has shown a penchant for reviving old beer styles, getting jiggy with infusions, presenting playful variations on core brands, and daring the heights of high gravity brews.

There are so many interesting things available from Blue Pants that you can look forward to several surprises flowing from taps.  A number of those are TBA, but we’re very excited to offer their Sour Amber; and that’s being kegged just for us, so Tomato Head is the only place in the world for you to sample this brew.

But don’t be a tap snob because then you’d miss the chance to try Blue Pants Cantaloupe Alalambic!  It’s a 2 year old lambic that we’re offering in 750ml bottles, and it’s too delicious to miss.

So, put on your own blue pants and comes taste ours.  You’ll be happy to have both.

Blue Pants Brewery IPA

Blue Pants Brewery IPA

Tomato Head’s Jamaican Pepper Pot

In anticipation of the inevitable dip in temperature, Mahasti is sharing a delicious way to warm up that comes with a bit of heartwarming history: Jamaican Pepper Pot Soup.

The name Pepper Pot probably entered the minds of most Americans more through Pop Art rather than a steaming bowl of the soup itself. Andy Warhol’s iconic depiction of the soup can called Small Torn Campbell Soup Can (Pepper Pot) sold for over $11 million dollars in 2006.

Like many dishes, this soup belongs to multiple regions each with its own variation on the recipe. Guyanese Pepper Pot, a traditional Christmas food, is distinguished by the addition of Cassareep – a thick sauce made from ground cassava root and spices. Around the West Indies the thickness, spiciness and the primary protein of the dish vary considerably. Jamacian Pepper Pot is traditionally made with Calloo, a unique Caribbean vegetable that tastes like a hybrid of spinach and broccoli, though spinach is a frequent substitute.

And closer to home Philadelphia, the Birthplace of Freedom, is also the birthplace of an American variety of Pepperpot.

According to legend, George Washington, while encamped at Valley Forge under the siege of a harsh winter, painful deprivation, and frequent desertions, was finally able to fortify his troops with a spicy version of this stew that was unique for its use of tripe – the muscle wall that lines a cow’s stomach. In the story the dish was an inspired and soldier-saving brain wave from the Baker General of the Continental Army, Christopher Ludwick. Of course, it’s far more likely that the dish came to Valley Forge by the same sad route that brought both rum and slaves to the colonies.

Pepper Pot is still available in some Philadelphia restaurants (and is also the name of the city’s Public Relation Awards), including the City Tavern Restaurant, though tripe has been replaced by beef shoulder.

Mahasti’s version, eschewing both tripe and beef shoulder, is vegetarian but hearty with lots of potato, sweet potato and spinach. It’s also spicy – in both senses of the word. The recipe includes a ½ teaspoon of allspice, which contributes a warming flavor and aroma that’s reminiscent of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Interestingly allspice has a number of aliases, including Jamaica Pepper.

The recipe also calls for habanero pepper, which is no shy violet, living, as it does, near the top quarter of the Scoville heat index. Depending on your taste, you can add or subtract as much of the pepper as you want – just make sure that you remove the seeds and take care to handle the pepper with caution. More than a few cooks have made the mistake of touching their eyes after handling the habanero without gloves or a thorough hand washing. The pain is unmistakable and dangerous; avoid it.

But don’t avoid the soup! It’s nourishing, filling and delicious. If you tune in to WBIR’s Weekend Today on Saturday (12/5) and Mahasti will help you put it all together.

Tomato Head’s Jamaican Pepper Pot Soup

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Leaves from 3 Thyme sprigs

4 cups water

8 oz fresh spinach

1 small Yukon gold potato, rinsed, and diced

½ – 1 habanero pepper, seeds removed, chopped

1.5 tsp salt

½ tsp allspice

1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 medium sweet potato, rinsed and shredded

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent. Add thyme leaves, water, spinach, potato, and habanero – bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are soft. Add Salt, Allspice, and Vinegar.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth – or allow soup to cool and puree in a traditional blender (do not blend hot soup in a traditional blender – it will splatter all over you) Add the shredded sweet potatoes to the pot and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft.

Serves 6-8

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

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.

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

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

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.

 

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design