Say Cheese: How to Make a Cheese Plate

March 17th, 2015

Now I know what you’re thinking: Cheese Plates are easy. Put some cheese on a plate and BOOM! But really, a beautiful cheese plate makes an easy party appetizer or even a simple dinner. I love arranging cheese platters for dinner parties or large gatherings because with a little planning and a teeny bit of work, you’ve got a crowd pleasing appetizer folks can nosh on while you’re still frantically cooking dinner, mopping up spills, and trying to frost a cake…or maybe that’s just my dinner parties.  I always try to over-achieve.

How to make a perfect cheese plate
Here’s how to assemble the perfect cheese plate in 8 easy steps. Believe me, it’s insanely easy.

  1. Figure out how much you need.  Anticipate needing about 3-5 ounces per person, unless your friends go crazy for chevre, bonkers for brie, or psycho for Parmesan. Ultimately, if you like your selection, it’s not the end of the world if you have leftovers. Cheese lasts a bit, and it’s good on everything from sandwiches to eggs to salad. . . but then, I don’t need to tell you that!
  2. Pick your cheeses. Try to include a variety of textures and flavors.  I normally do 3-5 cheeses on a plate. Most cheese belongs to one of four basic categories:  soft, firm, semi-firm, or blue.  Try to pick at least one that fits into each category. I also make an effort to pick some cows milk cheeses, some goats milk cheese, and occasionally some sheep’s milk cheese.  If you’re not sure what you’re getting into, talk to someone at a local cheese shop (list here) or your grocery store cheese counter.  Remember that particularly pungent cheeses will overpower a cheese plate, no matter how delicious they are. Here are some ideas, but by no means the only cheeses out there.- Soft: Brie, Chevre, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, Humboldt Fog, Manouri
    – Firm: Manchego, Parmagiano, Pecorino Romano, Asiago,
    – Semi-Firm: Cheddar, Comte, Edam, Emmental, Fontina, Gruyere,
    – Blue: Cabrales, Gorganzola, Fourme d’Ambert, Maytag Bleu, Roquefort, StiltonBlue cheese on cheese plate
  3. Pick some accompaniments. A great cheese plate is more than just cheese – you’re going to need a cheese delivery system (think bread or crackers) and some delicious accompaniments.  Consider textures and flavors, and make sure you get something crunchy, something salty, something sweet.  I normally serve at least one kind of cracker, some sliced baguette, fruit (dried or fresh,) nuts, and either jam or honey (often both) with my cheese plate.  Below are some of my favorites- Crackers: Raisin Rosemary, Black Pepper, Gluten Free rice crackers
    – Jam: Fig Jam, Spiced Blueberry Jam, Peach Jam, plum compote, quince paste
    – Bread: Sliced seeded baguette, toasted brioche, raisin challah
    – Fruit: Grapes, Sliced strawberries, dried apricots, fresh plums, raisins
    – Honey: Thyme-infused honey, orange blossom honey, truffle honey
    – Nuts: Candied pecans, salted roasted almonds, chile lime cashews
    – Etc: Olives, Cured meat, breadsticks, artichoke hearts, pickles
  4. Pick your cheese board or cheese plate.  As you see in these pictures, I often use a few smaller plates rather than one big plate.  Why? Less mess, and it allows people who aren’t as comfortable with funky blue cheeses to steer clear entirely. Plus, placing a few different boards at different heights adds visual interest to a table. Occasionally I’ll use a huge platter or a large plank for my cheese board, but I still find myself using tiny bowls for accompaniments, a separate plate for  my soft, spreadable cheeses, and jars for honeys and jams.  Check out my top five cheese dishes here, here, here, here and here and my favorite little bowls here.Beautifully Plated Brie Cheese
  5. Line your plates or boards. If you’re using acacia wood dishes or another super-resinous wood, or if you’re using a non-porous material, this step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s still nice. You can use parchment paper, but I love the look of cheese leaves. They add a bit of visual interest to the plate, they’re food safe, and they help minimze the mess from gooey cheeses and drippy honey. If your dishes are porous (many wood types, slate) lining your plate with cheese leaves will keep the flavor and scent of your cheese from seeping into the dishes. As good as that cheese is, I’m sure you don’t want to be tasting it next week with your chocolate cake.
  6. If you bought cheese ahead of time and stored it in your refrigerator, remove it 2 hours ahead of time.  You want to serve cheese at room temperature to really show off the full flavor and texture of the cheese. After all, if your brie is so cold that it’s hard, it’s not going to give you the creamy, rich experience you’re hoping for.
  7. Arrange your cheese plate(s).  I do this about half an hour before the party is supposed to start. When serving wheels of brie or other creamy cheeses, I leave them whole but supply spreaders. With harder cheeses, I cut some slices and put out cheese slicers or knives for my guests to cut the rest. People are more likely to eat the cheese if they’re not the first one to slice from a wedge, so I make it easy by cutting some slices.  I also put out smaller wedges rather than massive, daunting ones. I hold the rest in the kitchen so that I can replenish the plate as needed. By keeping my cheese plate(s) a little sparse-er, it gives people room to maneuver. When considering how to arrange my cheese plate, I also consider my accompaniments and utensils. Fruit can be grabbed with fingers or tongs, but jam needs spoons, spreaders or knives.  If your guests are prone to food allergies, it may be smart to put nuts and any gluten free bread items on separate plates. If you’re serving on multiple plates, do what we have here and divide some accompaniments among the plates or even top off some of your cheeses, such as our thyme-honey topped goat Brie above.pre-slicing cheese
  8. Last, but not least, enjoy, and enjoy the extra time your cheese plate just bought you.  You may be in the kitchen doing the last few dishes, topping off those cupcakes or plating the chicken, but you can rest assured knowing that your guests are enjoying, and you will too!

Easy Snacks: Pita Chips and Hummus Recipe

March 1st, 2015

Pita Chips and Hummus are snacks I can actually eat every day, all year round, and never get bored. However, I find myself making hummus the most in the summer – I just whip up a big batch on Sunday and bring it to work for snack (in jars with carrot sticks), use instead of mayo on sandwiches, and serve it plated elegantly when guests come over. Making hummus from scratch is super-easy, and I love having a healthy, protein-rich treat I can grab and go whenever I’m hungry.

The Best Hummus Recipe on the Planet

What is hummus? Simply put, a delicious spread with chickpeas, garlic and tahini. I’m going to avoid getting into the history of hummus but I will say this: There are a BUNCH of countries in the middle east that all claim hummus as their own, so in an effort to stay neutral (just call me Switzerland) I’m not picking a side. I’m just going to say that wherever it’s from, it’s delicious! Personally, my favorite way to eat hummus is with pita chips.  At times, I buy chips in the store,  but it’s so easy to make my own, and it’s the perfect use for any slightly stale pita you may have lying around.  Without further ado, I give you our best hummus recipe as well as a bonus recipe for super simple, extremely flavorful baked pita chips.  If you plate these beautifully on a chip and dip tray or a couple of platters, you’ve got an instant appetizer. It’s a gluten free, vegan appetizer that even die-hard carnivores will go nuts for!

Ingredients for hummus, ingredients for tzatziki

Pacific Merchants’ Best Hummus Recipe

  • 30 oz cooked chickpeas*
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini**
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 4 oz sundried tomatoes, drained (optional)
  • salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil, paprika and cumin, for garnish

*You can either use 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans that you drain and rinse, or you can cook dried chickpeas until tender. Both work. If you use canned chickpeas, you’ll probably need to add less salt than if you use fresh.

**Tahini is ground sesame paste. You should be able to find it in the international section of your local grocery store. If presented with the option, go for a light roast tahini. If you can’t find any and/or want to make your own, here’s a recipe. And here are a few more things to do with tahini, since it comes in a big jar.

blending garbanzo beans for hummus

Instructions: If you want to get really technical, you should pinch the skins off each chickpea. It’s tedious work, but it leads to the smoothest, creamiest hummus ever. If you’re fine with a more rustic texture, you can skip this step.

Put everything except for the salt and the garnish in the bowl of a food processor (or a powerful blender.)  Pulse it until mostly combined, then blend until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed.  The beautiful thing about this recipe for hummus is that it’s totally customizable. Add more garlic and you’ve got garlic hummus. Add roasted peppers and you’ve got a red pepper hummus. Throw in a jalapeno for a spicy hummus.  We added the sun dried tomatoes listed above along with some beautiful basil for a tomato-basil hummus.   If you’d like your hummus a little creamier, add a bit more water or blend in some plain yogurt.  I occasionally mix mine almost 50/50 with yogurt to create a really good, creamy dip.

Once your hummus is flavored to your liking, Scoop into the dip portion of a chip and dip plate or mound onto a platter. Garnish hummus by drizzling it with good-quality olive oil and sprinkling with paprika and cumin.  Serve with pita chips (recipe below) or veggie sticks and you’ve got a really easy, crowd pleasing appetizer or snack.

how to make pita chips at home

How To Make Pita Chips From Scratch

My favorite pita chips at the grocery store aren’t cheap, but the pita at my local middle eastern market is, so I took a day and figured out how to make really nice, richly flavorful pita chips. Of course, you can always serve your hummus with soft pita or with veggies, but everybody loves chips, so when I’m cooking for a gathering, I make these every time.

  • 4 rounds pita, cut into wedges
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp za’atar (optional)*

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend. It generally consists of sesame, sumac, and  thyme, with other herbs, and sometimes salt. I got hooked on it as a kid in Israel, where we’d get grilled flatbread sprinkled with za’atar and olive oil from street vendors for snacks. SO delicious, but these chips are delicious without, if you can’t find it.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375.  In a large bowl, combine the oil and seasonings.  I sometimes need a little more oil than this recipe calls for, but most of the time, this is plenty. Toss the bread in the oil/seasoning mixture until thoroughly coated.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until tops are crisp and golden brown (5-10 minutes.)  Flip over and bake other sides (another 5 minutes) until chips are crisp.  Remove from heat and serve.

Now, if you want to get really fancy,  you can do what we did and create cute little plated appetizers. Simply pipe some hummus onto a chip and garnish and arrange them on a nice plate. We did a little preserved lemon peel, some herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was awesome! You can also serve up the hummus and dip along side some totally cooling tzatziki. Check back next week and we’ll teach you how to make this classic Greek yogurt based sauce!

easy appetizers, easy vegan appetizers

 

 

 

How to Make Deviled Eggs: 2 in 1 Deviled Eggs Recipe!

February 28th, 2015

Whenever I throw a dinner party, backyard barbecue or picnic, I always, ALWAYS make deviled eggs. They’re a a ridiculously easy, ridiculously delicious bite sized snack. As a bonus, they’re a cheap party food – When I’m cooking for a crowd I buy a flat of eggs at my local bulk store, where I can get 60 eggs for under 10 bucks. Most addictive, budget friendly appetizer on the planet! Seriously – unless you’re serving vegans.

While I’m always happy to make basic deviled eggs, sometimes it’s fun to switch things up a little bit.  This deviled eggs recipe is going to give you a really solid base to work from (or eat, if you like them plain) and two killer variations that’ll knock your guests’ socks off. Whether you’re looking for a classic deviled eggs recipe or something with a little more punch, keep reading.  But first, what the devil are deviled eggs, and what does Satan have to do with them?

Short answer: Other than being diabolically delicious and addictive, deviled eggs have absolutely nothing to do with the underworld. The term “deviled” is an 18th century term for food that’s seasoned in a zesty, spicy or zippy way. And with their mustardy kick, even the basic version of these deviled eggs is indeed zesty.  Random history note: Deviled eggs were a traditional first course in ancient Roman times. If they were good enough for the Romans. . .

Anyway, here’s how to make deviled eggs. It’s a pretty basic recipe to start, but just you wait. We’re gonna spice things up. So whip out your favorite serving platter and a bunch of prep bowls. We’re gonna cook!

Basic Deviled Eggs (Deviled Eggs Base)

Ingredients – this recipe is for 12 eggs. I normally make 12-24 at a time. Just multiply the recipe as needed

  • 12 large eggs, hard boiled – Here’s how.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper

See? Simple ingredient list so far. Ingredients for our variations below:

Horseradish Deviled Eggs (for 6 whole eggs)

  • 2 teaspoons grated horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Potato chip to garnish (optional)

Curry Deviled Eggs (for 6 whole eggs)

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley
  • Parsley leaves for garnish (optional)

Ok, so you’ve gathered your ingredients, right?  Here are the instructions!

  1. First, peel the hard boiled eggs. The simplest way I’ve found is to drain those piping hot eggs, put a bit of cold water in the pot with them, and shake them up so the eggs are cracked all over. Add more cold water, let sit until the eggs are easy to handle, and peel. The peels should slip right off with very little fuss.
  2. Cut the eggs in half the long way and pop out the yolks. Every now and then, you may get a yolk that’s a little close to the edge of the white, and the white may break. That’s ok.

  3. Arrange your whites on a serving platter. I LOVE arranging them in a flower shape on a big round plate. It’s ok if there’s a little yolk still clinging to the whites. It’ll still taste delicious. I promise.
  4. In a separate bowl, mash up your egg yolks, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper until pretty well combined. It may still be a little chunky.  At this point, if you want to make one (or both) of our variations, skip to step 6.
  5. Skip this step if you’re making the horseradish or curried deviled eggs:If you want classic deviled eggs, it’s time to add the mixture to a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush it with your hands (through the bag, no need to get messy) until the mixture is creamy and smooth (no chunks,) snip off a corner from the bag, and pipe the mix into the little egg white cups. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

    Eggs are delcious

    Items Shown: 10 Inch Round Plate

  6. To make the variations, divide the egg mixture in half into two smaller mixing bowls. They complement each other really well, so I suggest making both variations, or you can keep half plain (see step 5 for the plain instructions).
  7. For Horseradish Deviled Eggs: Combine grated horseradish and paprika with the basic egg yolk mixture. When it’s well combined but still a touch chunky, scrape into a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush the contents with your hands (through the bag) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Snip off a corner of your piping bag and pipe into the egg whites.  When serving multiple kinds of deviled eggs, I alternate. It makes for a cool presentation.
  8. Garnish with shards of ruffled potato chips for a really cool salty, crunchy texture.
  9. For the Curried Deviled Eggs: Combine curry powder and finely minced parsley with the basic egg yolk mixture.  When it’s well combined, but still a touch chunky, scrape into a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush the contents with your hands (through the bag) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Snip off a corner of your piping bag and pipe into the egg whites.  Garnish with whole parsley leaves for a fresh looking, fresh tasting garnish.
devil eggs

Items Shown: 10 Inch Round Plate

BOOM. Three easy deviled eggs recipes for the price of one. Whether you’re combining one or all three, you’re about to make (and eat) the absolute hit of the party. No matter what else I make at dinner parties (or even Thanksgiving Dinner)  I never EVER have leftover deviled eggs, which is kind of a bummer. I like them for breakfast.

Want some other ideas? Does this recipe for deviled eggs just not cut it? Consider the following deviled eggs variations – just mix the seasonings with the basic recipe to taste. Really, the possibilities are endless. Get creative!

  1. Truffled Deviled Eggs – truffle salt, truffle infused mustard.
  2. Sriracha Deviled Eggs – Add 2 teaspoons of sriracha to the mix.
  3. Bacon Deviled Eggs – Mince up some crispy bacon and mix it with the yolk mixture. Garnish with slivers of crispy bacon.
  4. Pickle Devil Eggs – Add some pickle relish to your deviled egg mixture. Garnish with pickled onions.

Happy New Year From Pacific Merchants

December 31st, 2014

Can you Believe that it’s 2015? Where has  the time gone?

In honor of a new year, we wanted to take a moment and thank each and every one of you who has made our year so fantastic. We couldn’t survive without our wonderful customers, and we appreciate each and every one of you! As a small token of our appreciation, please enter “NewYear2015″ for 20% off all Acacia wood purchases on January 1*!

Happy New Year

We hope that each and every one of you has a safe, happy and healthy New Year.  Keep checking back in 2015 for exciting new products, fabulous offers, great recipes and more.  Most importantly, make sure to take time in the coming year and “enjoy the simple pleasures of life!”  It’s more than our motto – it’s a reminder to do something enjoyable each and every day. Let us know in the comments – What’s your new year’s resolution? What are you most looking forward to in 2015.  We may like your answer enough to offer you a gift certificate!

Cheers to a fantastic new year!

Lemon Lime Margarita in Kilner glasses

*Coupon Valid on 1/1/2015 12:00am – 11:59pm EST and is NOT combinable with other offers or codes, including our free shipping code, newsletter discount code and blogger discount codes.  Valid on retail orders only. Wholesale and Commercial accounts may not use the coupon.

Happy Holidays! Here’s Our Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe.

December 18th, 2014

With just a week until Christmas, isn’t it time that you have a foolproof sugar cookie recipe?  This recipe makes fantastic cutout sugar cookies that hold their shape and don’t need to chill first – a huge bonus if you’ve got impatient kids, or if you’re just busy. ‘Tis the season of busy, after all.  Read on for a fantastic Christmas cookie recipe that we hear Santa loves! We’re also going to link you to some of our favorite cookie baking and decorating tips from around the web. Huge bonus – even if you’ve got ZERO time to go Christmas shopping, everyone loves a box (or Kilner jar) of cookies. And these are not only super easy to make and highly delicious, but they’re inexpensive – a great way to save some money during this expensive time.

How to make Christmas Cookies, How to make sugar cookies

Items Shown: Acacia Wood Plate

Of course, if you want to buy a gift, we’ve got options, and as long as you place your order by December 23rd, there’s a way to get it to you for Christmas (Call us or Live Chat us for details – Ground shipping WILL NOT necessarily do the trick, depending on where you’re located.)  Check out our Odds-and-Ends section for really cool one-off pieces up to 50% off, or take a look at our Holiday section for gifts and table decor. Or, you know, feel free to browse our entire site. We’ve got some INCREDIBLE gift ideas. Got a baker on the list? We’ve got cake stands.  A holiday junkie? Consider a Mason Cash Christmas bowl. A tea drinker?  Give them a beautiful new teapot!

But enough talk. Let’s bake instead! What makes these cookies extra special? You don’t have to chill the dough before baking. You can freeze the cookies OR the dough. They hold their shape without being too hard. They bake quickly. But most importantly, they’re super-tasty.

Our signature christmas cookie recipe

Items Shown: Holly Leaves, Wood Plate

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of one tangerine or small orange
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (unless you’re making and freezing the dough.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or with a hand mixer if you want)  cream together the butter, lemon zest, tangerine zest and sugar until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Add the egg, scrape the bowl, and then add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix or you’ll ruin the texture,  but scrape bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  6. Once dough is barely incorporated (It’ll still be crumbly, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it lightly with your hands to combine, then roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Cut into shapes and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, or freeze flat with parchment between cookies.
  9. Decorate as you see fit! I use a quick royal icing (powdered sugar, lemon juice, egg white) to ice my cookies. Sometimes I go crazy with the sprinkles.

See below for more cookie baking, decorating and gifting tips!

decorated christmas cookie ideas, PLUS christmas cookie decorating tips, tricks, and recipes

Photo Credit: Bake at 350. Check it out – she’s ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!

Need some cookie decorating inspiration?  The Brilliant Bridget over at Bake at 350 (hello, alliteration!) has a killer holiday cooking guide – everything from recipes to tips to decorating ideas all in one place. Click here to be absolutely wowed!

Invisible Outline with Royal Icing_3

Photo Credit: Sweet Sugar Belle!

How about some flawless icing?  This post (and hello, video tutorial) over at Sweet Sugar Belle will have you making professional looking iced cookies in no time!

Toasted_Oatmeal_PB_Sandwich_Cookies_8

Photo Credit: We are Not Martha

Need a pretty cookie that packs? We are Not Martha suggests these sandwich cookies – Check them out at the end of the post, packed in cute holiday gift boxes!

Photo Credit: The Purl Bee via The Kitchn

Need more cookie-wrapping inspiration? Check out this post over on The Kitchn. Everything from jars (hello, Kilner) to take out containers to brown lunch bags can be made into beautiful gift containers with a little ingenuity.

So there you have it, folks. It’s not too late to make (and give) a fabulous holiday gift – I mean really, can you think of anyone who doesn’t like cookies? Whether you’re making our cookies or favorite recipes of yours, whoever is on the receiving end is going to be one lucky friend! And, since it’s a week away, Merry Christmas. If that’s not your thing, Happy Holidays, happy winter, happy day!

 

 

The Twelve Day Of Christmas Sale: Details, Rules and More

December 9th, 2014

As you may have seen, We’re running a 12 Days of Christmas Sale. One item, every day for 12 days. Here’s how it works: Every day for 12 days, we’re putting an item on exceptional discount. To get up to date emails describing each item BEFORE they go on sale, sign up for our email list.   People on that list get a heads up about what’s going on sale.

Now here are the rules of the 12 Days of Christmas sale:

1. You can’t use any other coupons with the sale. This includes the “FreeShipping” code and the Newsletter sign up code. Please save those for another time.

2. Each item is only on sale for a day. Once that day is over, the sale ends. The sales run 12:00 am to 11:59pm EST.

3. The same deal will not be offered twice. Every day is Unique!

4. The specials are for retail customers only. If you’re a wholesale or commercial account, we can’t apply these sales to your order.

5. The sale discounts are automatic- no coupon code to enter. They’ll automatically be applied at checkout.

6. The sale item each day will be featured in the rotating banner at the top of our page, as well as in our email.

If you’ve got any questions, please give us a call, reach us via livechat, or email [email protected]

Happy Holidays, everyone, and happy shopping!

Potato Pancakes – Our Hanukkah Latke Recipe

December 4th, 2014

Here at Pacific Merchants we love the holidays, and we’re pretty equal opportunity when it comes to celebrating. Why? Because we’re a pretty diverse group and learning about each others’ customs is a blast. So we figured, before we dig in on Christmas-mania, early December would be a good time to share our favorite Hanukkah recipe: a simple recipe for latkes that is beyond delicious.  Plus, we’ve scoured the net for some other delicious variations on  potato pancakes. Because nothing says good times like fried carbs, fascinating traditions, bright lights, miraculously efficient oil lamps, and great friends.

I’m sure you know that latkes are traditionally served at Hanukkah, but I’ve served them at parties all year long. When made on the smaller side and topped with a bit of sour cream and a slice of smoked salmon, you’ve got a beautiful, and totally crowd-pleasing appetizer. Some other favorite toppings include: Traditional sour cream and applesauce, brie and cranberry sauce, sour cream and bacon (clearly not for those who keep kosher,) fried eggs and chives, and even peanut butter and jelly. I’ve occasionally even used hem in place of an English muffin in eggs Benedict. SO good. But suppose you want to keep it traditional and serve latkes for Hanukkah? Well, first, when is Hannukah? Unlike Christmas, it changes every year. Hanukkah 2014 is December 16-December 24. Now that you know the dates, it’s as easy as whipping up a batch of these tasty treats.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Pounds of Russet potatoes
  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2+ Tablespoons of flour (you can sub out matzoh meal for Passover or coconut flour to make it gluten free.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil, chicken fat, or butter for frying. I’d suggest bacon fat, but that’s not kosher.

Instructions

  1. Peel your potatoes and your onion. Either in a food processor or by hand with a box grater, grate your potatoes. If you’re using a box grater, be wary of your knuckles.  I wasn’t, and I regretted it.
  2. Line a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel. Put all your potato and onion mixture into the dishtowel.
  3. Twist the cloth to squeeze moisture from the potato mixture, and let sit for 15 minutes to drain.
  4. Transfer the drained potatoes into a bowl and add the garlic, eggs, 2 Tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.  If the mixture seems too wet, add more flour (you can always do this after cooking a test latke.)
  5. Latkes are best when eaten fresh, so about 14 mintues before you’re ready to eat, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees, and heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add about 1/4 inch of oil to your skillet.
  6. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil.  It should spread out, so  leave room between latkes.
  7. Cook the potato pancakes 3-4 minutes on each side. Both sides should be golden and crisp.
  8. Eat right away or keep warm in the oven.

There you have it – a delicious treat for the eight nights of Hanukkah in eight easy steps. Now that you know how to make potato pancakes from scratch, something tells me you’re going to be doing it all year. It’s super-easy, after all, and incredibly delicious.  But let’s just say you wanna try a different recipe. . .

 

These sweet potato latkes are from our blog – we posted them last year when looking for a sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving, which just happened to fall on the first night of Hanukkah.

These rainbow latkes from What Jew Wanna Eat – Not only are they incredibly fun to look at, but they’re a great way to get an extra serving of veggies in. Each one is made from different produce, and is naturally colorful.

These Gluten Free Carrot Scallion Latkes from Elana’s Pantry. We love that Elana thought to make a paleo-friendly version of a latke, and we love the way the scallions and carrots taste together. A perfect combination!

These super-flavorful Zucchini and Green Garlic Latkes from Sassy Radish – I’m a little obsessed with green garlic, and I always seem to have a surplus of zucchini, so to me, this is the perfect latke recipe.

 

Apple Latkes - Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

Apple Latkes – Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

If you want to make it sweet, these Apple Latkes from Smitten Kitchen are AMAZING, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a nice way to end a meal.

Have a happy Hannukah, Friends. I hope you enjoy it!

The Black Friday Sale – 11/27 Through 12/1

November 26th, 2014

Hello again, and happy almost-giving! We’re psyched to announce that our Black Friday sale * is going to be running Thanksgiving day (11/27) through Cyber Monday (12/1) to give you optimal time to enjoy your holiday and shop. That’s right, it’s not one or the other with us! We want you to cherish the time with your family and still get in on the great deals.  Plus, with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (we definitely qualify) and Cyber Monday, how can we not keep the sale going all weekend long.

shipping copy

First of all, Free Shipping!  That’s right, all retail orders placed 11/27 through 12/1 qualify for free GROUND shipping. If you want it there faster, you’re going to have to pay. But you’ve got PLENTY of time until Christmas! Ground should be fine! Excludes Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Sorry Guys!

Gift Card copy

Second, free money!  No, we’re not going to mail you cash with your order, but with every $150 retail order placed between 11/27 and 12/1, you’ll get a free $20 gift certificate to apply to any order placed after 12/2.  We’ll email you the gift certificate codes by 12/2 at the latest, so you’ll have them in plenty of time to do additional Christmas shopping.  Plus, they make great gifts!

pmats

Third, All our top-selling Acaciaware® is 20% off. The unique, hand carved wood pieces are great for gifting and for serving, so buy some for you and some for a friend. You’ll end up with beautiful serveware for the holidays and  your friend will get a gift they’ll cherish for years to come! Plus, a sale this good on Acaciaware® only comes around once a year!

aca

Fourth, our Placemats are also 20% off – we want to make setting a beautiful table fun and affordable! All of our Laguna and designer mats are on sale so that you can chose your favorite color and style.

Last – We’re extending our pre-Thanksgiving sales through 12/1! That means that our Tagines are still on sale,  our bread baking set is exceptionally priced, and you’ll get a free pack of snowflake leaves with every order of decoleaves. It also means that our bakeware is 25% off, so if your Thanksgiving meal taught you that you just don’t have quite enough bakeware, now’s your chance to stock up!

We hope that you all have fun, happy and safe holidays, and that you enjoy your time with loved ones. We’re thankful to each and every one of you for being such devoted customers. Happy Thanksgiving!

*These deals are for retail customers only and are not combinable with other offers including our Newsletter Sign Up Coupon Code and blogger discount codes. Save that 15% discount for another time! Wholesale and commercial accounts do not qualify. If you order online and receive free shipping or free items, we WILL charge you for the shipping and we will NOT include those items on your purchase. Thanks for your understanding. Any questions? Call us at (888) 207-8999 or email [email protected]

Black Friday Preview and Pre-Thanksgiving Sale!

November 20th, 2014

Sing it with me, folks. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”  Christmas sales, that is! I know, I know, it’s before Thanksgiving, but we wanted to put some things on sale now, just to tell all of our customers how thankful we are for them. Plus, we figured you could get some of your shopping out of the way now and take Thanksgiving to enjoy time with family – that’s what it’s really all about.

So, what do we have on sale now, and what do you have to look forward to?  Let’s start with our Pre-Thanksgiving sale* – First up, Free gift with purchase with every order of Deco Leaves!

Deco Leaves Cheese Leaves

Offer: One pack of Snowflake Deco Leaves with Each Retail Purchase of Deco Leaves

You read that right -with each order of Deco Leaves cheese leaves (any style!)  you’ll get a free pack of snowflake cheese leaves ($11.95 Value.) They’re great for holiday decorating and a beautiful way to bring some wintry weather indoors, without bringing the cold in.  Whether you’re using the cheese leaves to accent a cheese plate at Christmas, line your platter of latkes at Chanukah, or line a dessert tray, you’ll get a ton of use out of these food-safe parchment leaves. Plus, they come in a resealable package, so you can use half now, and save half for a Christmas in July type party!

DecoLeaves

Each Pack of Snowflake Leaves contains 4 patterns – 20 pieces total

Next on the Pre-Thanksgiving sale sale rundown: Our Mason Cash Tagines!  Whether you’re shopping for a gift for an adventurous cook or for an addition to your own bakeware collection, these beautiful stoneware pieces are a fantastic idea.  For the sale, we’ve got them marked down to $49.95, and we’ll even ship them for free via UPS ground.  So, if you’ve got a foodie on your list, consider the gift of a beautiful Tagine. They’re the traditional cooking vessel of Morocco and are fantastic for cooking richly flavorful braised meats and stews.

Buy Mason Cash Tagines - Holiday Gift Idea!

Tagines are just $49.95

If you’ve got a baker on your list, consider our bread baking set – it comes in a beautiful gift box and is a fantastic addition to a baker’s kitchen.  The set includes a generously sized mixing bowl made of signature Mason Cash stoneware. The bowl doubles as a proofing bowl and comes with a stoneware lid that, when turned upside down, works as a baking stone – the unglazed surface actually helps homemade bread get that crisp crust and tender crumb that makes bread so delicious! The set comes with recipes and is marked down a whopping $20.00!

MC Terracotta Bread set A

What else is on sale? Bakeware.  Our Mason Cash Terracotta and Enamour Bakeware lines are both marked down 25% so when you discover that you just don’t have enough oven-to-table bakeware at Thanksgiving, you’ve got plenty of time to stock up before Christmas.  The pieces in both lines are classic and go beautifully from your oven to table, so they make wonderful gifts as well as being great additions to your own kitchen! Enamour on Special Holiday Sale

Pre-Thanksgiving Sale - Black Friday Event

Both Terracotta and Enamour are on special holiday sale!

As you can see, our Pre-Thanksgiving sale is definitely something to give thanks for. But what can you look forward to for Black Friday Weekend?  Well for starters, a whole different set of items on sale, so keep checking back. Second, we’ll be running our sale Thanksgiving day through Cyber Monday (December 1.) to give you plenty of changes to figure out what you want and put in those orders!  There may even be some free gifts going on – because everyone likes free stuff.

But that’s not all (do I sound like an infomercial yet?)  From December 3-December 15, we’ll be doing a “12 Days of Christmas” sale event.  1 item per day on super sale. If you want to get email notifications, sign up for our mailing list (popup in the corner.)  You can’t use the 15% off code on the super sale items, but you can save it to use another time.  And rumor has it, Mason Cash bowls may be back!**

Are you psyched for the holidays yet? We sure are!

*Special offers apply to retail customers only. Re-sellers and commercial accounts cannot take advantage of these deals.  Unless otherwise specified, deals are not combinable with other offers, including our newsletter signup coupon code and free shipping code. Please call us at (888) 207-8999 or reach out on livechat with any question.

**For Retail orders only.

Our Signature Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

November 13th, 2014

Every time I look at the Calendar, I’m amazed at how fast time is flying. Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! Last week, we covered the veggies, but this week, we’re all about everyone’s favorite side dish, stuffing.  Since I cook for a huge crowd, I always do two versions of stuffing, a cornbread stuffing with sausage, and this vegetarian stuffing recipe. I love having a little something for everyone! If you’re looking for something a little different this year, scroll on down to the bottom of this post where we’ve compiled some of our favorite dressing recipes from all over the internet.  But before we start, I’ve got an important question: Stuffing or Dressing?  Is one more correct than the other?

Anyway, on to the recipe.  As we mentioned, this is a vegetarian recipe, but if you want to carnivore it up, saute some sage sausage with the carrots, celery and onions, and chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. Boom- sausage stuffing.  You can even stuff it into your bird, though I never do – I love the crispy texture the top of my stuffing gets when I bake it in a terracotta dish. It’s kind of like the edges of brownies – I just can’t get enough. Plus, you don’t have to worry about overcooking the bird while you’re waiting on the stuffing to get hot enough to kill off salmonella and that’s definitely a double win. Crispy edged stuffing and a moist, juicy bird! Let’s go.

Ingredients

  • 1 large loaf of challah or brioche (about 1 pound) cut into small cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 sprigs thyme, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced sage
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • salt

Instructions

  1. The night before, spread the bread out on a sheet tray  and leave it uncovered and out of reach of pets and small children. You want it slightly stale.
  2. Add half the butter to a saute pan. When melted, add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, apple and herbs over medium heat until they are tender and fragrant.  Taste the mixture and add salt, leaving it slightly underseasoned.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bread, sauteed vegetables, and cranberries. Let rest until the mixture is room temperature.
  4. Add the rest of the butter and the vegetable stock and mix until well combined. Taste for seasoning – add salt or pepper as needed.
  5. Once you love the way it tastes, add the egg and pack the mixture into a baking dish – I love cooking in terracotta since it gives me nice crusty edges while keeping the dressing moist in the middle – the perfect combination!
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until the surface is crisp.  Serve alongside all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes (or with a roast chicken for a perfect Sunday supper.)

Ok, so there are a lot of ingredients, but as you can see, It’s pretty easy to make homemade stuffing. Once you have the basic stuffing recipe down, you can play with it – I’ve done cornbread instead of challah, added sausage, pecans, mushrooms and roasted garlic over the years, and even oysters for a traditional oyster stuffing – no matter what, the basic formula stays the same and the dressing turns out beautifully. That’s the magic of having a great basic recipe- all the variations are so exciting.

Now, I promised you some of my other favorite stuffing recipes. Here we go, from all corners of the interwebs!

This wild rice stuffing from Tidy Mom is not only delicious, it’s gluten free! It’s got the traditional flavors of a bread stuffing, but with nutty, flavorful wild rice, pecans, and a hint of smokiness from bacon. And really who can go wrong with bacon? It’s awesome.

Want something a little different? Try this chorizo and cornbread stuffing we found on Table for Two.  I love the addition of mushrooms and the combination of sourdough for stability with super-flavorful cornbread. It’s a totally well-rounded stuffing that’s pretty delicious on its own as well as being a great addition to your Thanksgiving table.

If you want to go the whole wheat route, that’s pretty easy with stuffing as well. Our friends over at Love and Lemons have this beautiful Kale and Shiitake stuffing recipe made with whole grain bread. Super bonus – it’s completely vegan. I know how hard it can be to accomodate everyone’s diet at Thanksgiving, so having a great vegan Thanksgiving recipe or two never hurts.  And admittedly, I’ve made this one just for myself, for dinner a number of times. There’s kale and mushrooms, so totally healthy, right?

There you have it, folks. Whether you’re a carnivore or a vegan, a bread lover or keeping it gluten free, stuffing is one of the most versatile thanksgiving recipes out there. So versatile, in fact that it goes by two names. Stuffing or dressing, it’s delicious!


As Seen In ACEBristol FarmsDean & DelucaSur La TableWhole FoodsWilliams SonomaWynn Las Vegas
© 2015 Pacific Merchants Trading Company. All Rights Reserved.