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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frank About...Cherry Tomato Bacon Jam with Carol Parker and at the Webb City Farmers Market

I was fortunate enough to be Carol Parker's guest, again, on her "Cooking With Carol" segment on Living Well on KSN 16, Tuesday afternoon. It was a little preview of what I will be doing Saturday at the Webb City Farmers Market. 

At the moment, tomatoes are ruling the market tables! I have been eyeing some gorgeous, dark red cherry tomatoes, recently. I wanted to do something that would incorporate them and really take them on a different journey. I decided to make a cherry tomato bacon jam. This can be used sooooo many different ways: a sandwich condiment, mixed with cream cheese to make a dip, or even as I did, serve over a crostini, smeared with a nice chevre. And since Terrell Creek Farm just took home their second consecutive Best Overall Dairy product at the Missouri State Fair, last week, it was a no brainer that I should work that in. Add in Redings Mill Bread Co. baguette and you have a locally sourced appetizer that is perfect in every way! 

Cherry Tomato Bacon Jam

1 lb bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lb cherry tomatoes
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

1.  Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain, reserving the bacon drippings in        the pan. When cool, crumble the bacon. 

2.  Add 2-3 Tblsp of the bacon drippings to a heavy bottomed pan, such as an enameled Dutch      oven. Heat the pan to medium, and cook the onion and garlic until onion is translucent,     
     about 6-8 minutes. 

3.  Add the crumbled bacon and remaining ingredients to the onion & garlic. Increase heat to 
     high, and bring to a gentle boil. Then, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, 
     stirring occasionally. Once thickened, remove from heat. 

4.  Serve warm or chilled. Use as any condiment or topping. I recommend toasting some                  crostini, smear with a spot of goat cheese, and top with the jam! The jam should last for 
     about week or two in the refrigerator, or 2-3 months in the freezer. 

Frank's Notes:
1.  You can use any type of tomato for this recipe. I highly recommend nice, dark, ripe cherry or        Roma tomatoes. You can also use a mixture of tomatoes.
2.  You could caramelize the onions over medium low heat for approximately 30-45 minutes. If         you go the caramelization route, you may omit most of the sugar from the recipe. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Frank About... "Right to Farm"

Firstly, I will say that I do NOT "get" politics. I don't do well playing the politics game at work, with acquaintances, nor understanding the politics of society. Secondly, I don't ever discuss politics; I was taught early in life not to discuss politics or religion in most situations. Any political leanings I possess, I typically just keep to myself. 

However, as a blogger, cook, and eater that appreciates locally produced food products, it would be remiss of me not to speak about the proposed "Right to Farm" Missouri Amendment 1, that Missouri citizens will be voting on, this Tuesday, August 5. 

I honestly have not read much detail about this amendment. What I do know of it, involves opening doors for foreign and corporate interests in Missouri farms. Everything about this amendment is suspect; it does not seem to aid any small, independent family farmers. 

Most importantly, how do I know that I should vote against this amendment? 

The very people I trust to feed my family, the people that I go to at least once a week to purchase the food that I prepare, knowing it was raised without chemicals, without genetic modification, in a humane, environmentally responsible manner... the local farmers in my area... all agree that this amendment is wrong, and should be defeated. If I trust them with my family's well-being, why would I not listen to them? 

If you read this blog regularly, I will assume you take a great interest in the food you consume. And I will assume you are concerned about where your food comes from, and how it is produced. 

I will be voting NO on Tuesday, will you join me in protecting local, independent farming in Missouri? 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Update!

Well, it seems like a long time since I've posted anything here, on the blog! For that, I apologize; life seems crazy busy and hectic. I have several stories and interviews I have been needing to get written and posted, but seems like every time I think I can sit down and get to it, something comes up. I hope to be able to get back into the swing of things, soon! So, please be patient, and continue checking back here, regularly. As always, I urge you to search older posts for some great stories, interviews, and recipes! 

I need your help! Frank About Food needs a logo! I'm calling on you to submit your best idea for a logo. You can contact me for more information, and submit your ideas/pics/logos, at  

There are more ways to keep up with Frank About Food, now, as well. I've had the Facebook page for some time, now, and have recently surpassed 500 Likes. The Facebook page is a great place to follow food news, silly pictures and memes, shared recipes I have found online, and interact on a more daily basis. I have a Twitter feed that is similar to the content on the Facebook page, but some people enjoy the Twitter format more. Recently, I have taken the leap and started an Instagram account. There, you can find some great food porn pics, and even some of the different beers I enjoy. Lastly, I have a YouTube channel! And of course, there are no videos uploaded, yet! I am working on fixing that! I will have an introductory video posted, soon. With the YouTube channel, I imagine having video tutorials, cooking demos, Q&A sessions, and maybe video footage of different food-related events. Please keep an eye on there. 

Please follow me via all these social media outlets, and be sure to share with your friends and family! Also, please feel free to give me feedback and suggestions. What would you like to see on YouTube? Any questions you have? 

Thanks for all your patience! I promise to get my arse in gear, soon! 

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Frank About... Blueberry Lamb Kebabs and the Webb City Farmers Market

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to put on another cooking demonstration. I choose blueberries as a focal point, this week, as seen on Cooking With Carol from Tuesday where I made Blueberry Upside Down Cake. For the Webb City Farmers Market demo, I chose something a little bit different, blueberry lamb kebabs with a yogurt cucumber mint sauce, basically a tzatziki sauce. I love being able to showcase fresh herbs from Fredrickson Farm, responsibly raised lamb from Sunny Lane Farm, and gorgeous fresh blueberries from Robertson Family Farm! I will add pictures when I have them uploaded from the demo, but for now, here is the recipe! 

Blueberry Lamb Kebabs

1 lb. lean ground lamb
1 C. blueberries (fresh or frozen), roughly chopped
1/4 C. shallots, minced
1 Tblsp garlic, minced
2 Tblsp fresh mint
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Yougurt Cucumber Mint Sauce:
1 C. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 C. cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
2 Tblsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tblsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1.  Combine all the sauce ingredients and chill until ready to serve. 

2.  Preheat oven to 400°F. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 10 minutes. 

3.  Combine all the kebab ingredients.

4.  Using wet hands, form the lamb mixture into oblong sausage shapes and mold around the 
     top half of each skewer. 

5.  Bake on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes.  Broil an additional 5 minutes to brown the 
     outside surface. You may also grill over medium heat.

6.  Serve kebabs with the yogurt mint cucumber sauce. You may serve atop a bed of seasoned 
     couscous, and/or pita bread. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Frank About... Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Today on "Cooking With Carol" on Living Well, I am showing a very quick and easy recipe for Blueberry Upside Down Cake. I am using lemon poppyseed muffin mix in my version. Blueberries and lemon just work so well, together. 

For the demo on Saturday, at the Webb City Farmers Market, I will be continuing the blueberry theme and am going to use Sunny Lane Farm ground lamb with blueberries to create a delicious kebab. I will post the recipes closer to Saturday. 

Here is the video from the show: 

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

2 C blueberries
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 - 6.5 or 7 oz package muffin mix, any flavor 
1 egg, beaten
1/3 C milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8 inch round cake pan with non-stick vegetable spray. 

2.  Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add the blueberries, and gently toss 
     to coat. 

3.  Pour blueberries into cake pan. 

4.  Combine the muffin mix, egg, and milk in a medium bowl, until slightly lumpy. Do not 

5.  Carefully spread the muffin batter over the blueberries. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the 
     cake springs back when pressing a finger against the center. 

6.  Cool for at least 5 minutes in the pan. Then, invert onto cake plate. Slice into wedges, top with whipped cream and serve. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Frank About... Garlic Scapes!

It's garlic scapes season!!! 

They have finally arrived at the Webb City Farmers Market, and none too soon for my upcoming market demo on All Things Scapes, this Saturday. Yesterday, I appeared on the "Cooking With Carol" segment of Living Well on KSN 16. Here is the link: Cooking With Carol: Frank About Food & Garlic Scapes

A few years ago, I heard about something called garlic scapes. I had never actually seen them, or had the opportunity to try them. They were never offered at our local Webb City Farmers Market. I inquired from a vendor family about them. They told me they tried offering them at the market, but no one had any clue what they were or how to utilize them, so they went unsold. 

A couple of years ago, a friend of my wife had posted on Facebook about getting her hands on some scapes at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, Iowa. I had my wife find out the name of the vendor, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some scapes the next weekend while visiting her family in Davenport, from One Acre Produce. My mind ran wild with ideas on how to use these gems!

After first inquiring about them, they began gracing vendor tables in quite an abundance, last year. How about a little information on what garlic scapes actually are? 

Garlic scapes are the leafless stem that shoots up from the garlic bulb that produces the flower of the garlic plant. When first emerging, the scape curls, with a slight bulge toward the top of the stem. To achieve the best growth and formation of the garlic head, and cloves, these scapes need trimmed within a couple of weeks of appearance. Many farmers take advantage of these scapes and sell to the "in-the-know" culinarians, or foodies, at local farmer markets. Many others, including the southwest Missouri farmers, can't find a viable market for these, and will just utilize them in their kitchens, or enhance their compost piles. Scapes become available only one time a year: late spring and early summer. A very short-lived season, coupled with great versatility, make garlic scapes a highly sought after item in many markets. 

The scapes are only truly good when curled, with the very slight bulge (see above picture). Once they begin to straighten, or flower, they become too woody, and lose much of the desired flavors. Two years ago, when I started seeking them out, locally, I found the scapes pictured below, at the local farmers market. Very cheaply priced, I thought I would grab a small bundle to see if there was any good in them.... I can tell you... NO! 

The flavor within a garlic scape can be described as a cross between a scallion, or green onion, and garlic. I'm not gonna lie to you... it is sharply garlic. You know... the kind of garlic that bites your tongue. However, I am from the school of thought about garlic never being too much. One of my favorite quotes is by Emeril Lagasse: "Once I was asked, 'Emeril, how much garlic is too much?' I replied... 'Dunno... ain't been there, yet!'"  If you eat garlic scapes, definitely double, triple, up on breath mints, that day! 

Some preparations really calm down some of the bite of the scapes. As I said before, garlic scapes are very versatile. Here are just a few ideas of things you could do with garlic scapes: 

  • chop into short lengths and sauté them as a side dish
  • chop them and toss them raw into salads
  • chop into short lengths and toss into a stir fry
  • toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill them
  • substitute them for garlic in hummus recipes
  • use them as an aromatic herb in recipes
  • pickle them and store them for months to come
  • a delicious, yet unusual preparation as a garlic scape tart
  • a garlic scape pesto
When preparing garlic scapes for cooking, be sure to trim off the tops, just below the bulge. I used my two bundles to prepare a garlic scape pesto. As with any other pesto, there are a lot of ways to prepare it. For garlic scape pesto, you could use the scapes as a substitute for basil, or mix half and half with some herb, such as basil, dill, arugula, spinach, or chervil. For the nut component of the recipe, you could use pine nuts or walnuts. Below is the pesto recipe I have evolved, and adjusted accordingly to my desired outcome. 

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/2 C chopped scapes

1/2 C baby spinach
1/4 C walnuts
juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Place scapes, baby spinach, lemon juice & zest, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food   
     processor, pulsing until all chopped and incorporated well. 
3.  Begin drizzling in the olive oil as you continue to pulse, or run, the processor, until you 
     reach a desired consistency.
4.  Scrape the pesto into a bowl, and stir in the Parmesan cheese. 

Frank's Notes:

1. Pesto can be frozen. If you are going to freeze the pesto, do not add the Parmesan cheese   
    until you are ready to thaw and serve the pesto. 
2. Freezing will mellow the sharp garlic flavor of the scapes in the pesto. I served mine fresh, 
    but it did have a substantial bite, at first. The longer it sat in the refrigerator, the more 
    mellow it became. 
3. This pesto can be served on toasted breads, or tossed in with hot pasta. It can also be 
     tossed in with a cream sauce for pasta. A small round of toasted baguette, topped with   
     some pesto, and finally topped with a grilled shrimp makes for some amazingly simple, yet        elegant appetizers at a gathering. 

Garlic Scape Tart
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
12 Tblsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4-5 Tblsp ice water

1 C thinly sliced garlic scapes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 C ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves (or 1 tsp thyme + 1/2 tsp lemon zest)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1.  Place the fours and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. 

2.  Add the butter and pulse until butter is pea-sized. Sprinkle 4 Tblsp ice water onto the dough. 
     Pulse until the dough holds together. If it is too dry, add some additional ice water to pull it 

3.  Take dough out, and shape into a flattened disc on plastic wrap or parchment. Wrap and 
     refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

4.  Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Press into 
     sides and bottom of 10 inch fluted tart pan. Prick entire bottom with a fork, and line with a 
     sheet of parchment paper, and fill with dry beans or pie weights. 

5.  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove pie weights and parchment, cooking for 7 minutes 

6.  Place the scapes, eggs, ricotta, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Beat until 
     well combined.  Pour filling into tart shell and return to oven for 30 minutes, until filling is set. 
     Cool to warm or room temperature before slicing and serving. 

Frank's Notes:
1.  If you use a larger tart pan, such as an 11 inch, you can just increase the eggs and ricotta by 
     half more. For example, use 3 eggs and 1.5 C ricotta.

Your turn: I want to hear some feedback from you guys. Have you heard of scapes before? Have you cooked with scapes before? Let me know... Let me know if you have a favorite preparation for garlic scapes! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The SGF Beer Buzz Four Course Memorial Day Challenge

I was recently approached by former beer radio host and current Beer Buzz blogger Benjamin Stange about doing a bit of a beer pairing challenge. Around Valentine's Day, earlier this year, Ben had guest Chef Marty Lowry of the Springfield Hy-Vee stores on the show to discuss an easy, but elegant multi-course dinner for your Valentine. Ben provided the beer pairings to accompany Marty's menu. With this show topic, Ben had suggested towards the end of the show that it would be an interesting experiment to have Marty and I work on separate menus to accompany a pre-determined selection of beers. Okay, to be quite "Frank About" it, Ben called me out on the radio! A gauntlet was thrown, and it was on! 

After both participants missing the deadline to get it on for American Craft Beer Week, we decided leading up to Memorial Day weekend would be a perfect opportunity to toss out a grill-centric menu! 

The rules were clear and simple: 
1.  Ben selected four local beers (in order of food course: Springfield Brewing Company's 11 Point Pilsner, Boulevard Brewing Company's Tank 7 Farmhouse Style Ale, White River Brewing's Belgian-style Table Rock Red, and Mother's Brewing's Three Blind Mice)
2.  We had to come up with a dish for each course that would pair well with the beer
3.  All dishes needed to focus on the grill 
4.  We needed to explain how we came up with the pairing, and how it worked with the beer
5.  Provide the recipes for the readers

As an added fun factor, Ben decided to make it a bit of a friendly competition; he asked readers to comment on each day's post with which pairing they thought would work better. That's been fun. Luckily, my friends and followers of the blog have been honest in their comments, and several friends have voted against me, thus far! That's how I wanted it to turn out. 

We are heading into the final course, today: dessert. The beer Ben selected is a tricky one for dessert. You will learn why, when you read the post, a bit later this morning. I may reprint the recipes here in the following weeks. I do encourage you to head over the the Beer Buzz blog and take a look. I will provide the links below to each day's course! 

Links to each day:

Course #1: appetizer

Course #2: salad

Course #3: main dish

Course #4: dessert

Final Wrap-Up and Menu Summary