Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Potato Pancakes – Our Hanukkah Latke Recipe

Thursday, 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!

Black Friday Preview and Pre-Thanksgiving Sale!

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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!

Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Our Favorite Green Bean Recipes

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

So, you know that classic dish, the green beans, with the can of soup and the crispy onions? It’s the one dish that is always leftover after my family’s Thanksgiving meal. This year, I’m throwing out the classic green bean recipe because I’ve figured out how to cook green beans in a way that everyone will love – it’s a colorful, flavorful seasonal recipe that plays with the other flavors of the holiday meal wonderfully!  Bonus for anyone contending with allergies or dietary restrictions: This recipe for fresh green beans is a vegan, gluten free thanksgiving recipe that even the most traditional eaters will enjoy! It’s a twist on the classic green beans almondine that really brings a lot of color to the table – just look at how pretty it looks here! Want even more green bean recipes? Scroll on down past the recipes for a taste of some of our other favorites from around the web!

How to Cook Fresh Green Beans

Items Shown: Acacia Wood Tray

Let’s get cooking. Here’s our Thanksgiving recipe for green beans with almonds, pomegranates and oranges.  It’s a little sweet, a little salty, and SO flavorful that I almost prefer it to turkey. No joke, it’s that good. Plus, it only takes one pan and one burner to make – huge bonus on a holiday when burner space is harder to get than Superbowl Tickets.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • two oranges
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

Thanksgiving Sides: Garlic Green Beans with Seasonal Fruit

Items Shown: Oval Serving Tray

  1. Prepare your oranges.  This recipe uses pretty much every part of the orange, so zest them, set the zest aside, cut out the sections from between the membranes, (video here) and squeeze the juice from the membranes into a bowl.
  2. Prepare your pomegranate. Here’s our video on how to get the seeds out. Remove the seeds and set them aside. They’re the last thing you’ll use.
  3. Heat your largest skillet to medium heat. Add half of your olive oil, the garlic, and the almonds, stirring  regularly until they’re golden brown but not burnt. Pay extra attention to this step, as it’s extremely easy to burn almonds and garlic, and they’ll make the whole dish taste bitter.  Once they’re done, remove to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Adjust the heat on your skillet to medium high. When hot (a drop of water should sizzle) add the rest of your olive oil and your green beans. Add salt at this point, as well.
  5. Toss your green beans every couple of minutes. The color should change from dull to bright green and the beans should begin to shrivel or even char a little. You’re building flavor
  6. Once the beans are tender, add in the orange zest, orange juice and orange segments.  The juice will sizzle and steam a lot.
  7. Turn pan to medium low and add pepper. Taste and add salt as needed.  Toss beans in orange segments and juice until they’re well coated, then turn onto a serving platter
  8. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and your almond/garlic mixture and serve!

 

There you have it,  A stunning, vibrant part of any holiday meal. This is the perfect fresh, bright, healthy thanksgiving side to serve along with some of the heavier dishes. It’s also quick to make, so it doubles as a wonderful weeknight option – it’s great with roast chicken!

Now I know we promised you some other favorite Thanksgiving vegetable dishes. Here are a few, from some of our favorite bloggers!

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Photo Credit: Hilah Cooking

Brussels sprouts are trendy and delicious! These Fried Brussels sprouts from Hilah Cooking are beyond delicious. With the fish sauce and rice vinegar, they have a bit of Asian flare, but are traditional and subtle enough to pair with a more basic Thanksgiving menu. We’re pretty impressed, and addicted.

Photo Credit: What’s Gaby Cooking

Another dish that we’re bringing to our Thanksgiving table this year is this insane recipe for Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots from Whats Gaby Cooking – the fact that they’re easy to make AND super flavorful makes them a delightful Thanksgiving option.  Plus, I love carrots and easily go through a pound a week. How can I NOT have carrots on my Thanksgiving table?

Salad? For Thanksgiving dinner?  Absolutely. Not only do I have awesome salad bowls to put it in, but I love having something fresh to contrast all the heavy, carb-filled foods of the season. This salad from Two Peas and Their Pod is studded with pecans and dried cranberries. I always make a huge batch – unlike traditional lettuces, the greens in this salad don’t wilt, so it stays beautiful for leftovers the next day, and is great with sliced turkey!

 

What are you making for Thanksgiving this year? If you need more inspiration, keep checking our  blog  and our social media pages – we’ll be posting Thanksgiving recipes, tips and tricks until Thanksgiving day! Make sure to tag #PMTCHolidayTable for a chance to win a gift card to our site, too!

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe You’ll Fall in Love With!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

At this time of year, pumpkin is king! You see it in your ice cream, cookies, cakes, soup, salad and even your coffee.  One of our favorite pumpkin treats is pumpkin bread. While it’s delicious, I’m not talking about the pumpkin bread that reminds me a little of banana bread and is readily available in a certain chain coffee shop. I’m talking about this subtle, spiced, yeasted pumpkin bread recipe. When shaped into rolls, they’re perfect for Thanksgiving (especially if baked in one of our tear and shares, naturally) but I sometimes braid this bread like challah or even shape it like a rustic loaf. On its own, this is a fantastic vegan pumpkin bread recipe, but if you want to push it a little over the top, you can fill each roll with a bit of cream cheese for a tangy surprise.

Ok. Are you as psyched as I am? Let’s get baking. Get ready for your entire home to smell like heaven.  Seriously. This pumpkin cream cheese bread recipe is BEYOND delicious, with or without the cream cheese. Made into a loaf, it’s heavenly for turkey sandwiches. . . especially those great Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches. Full disclosure: This recipe is loosely based on a recipe by King Arthur Flour. The proportions are theirs, the tweaks are all ours.  Suggestions for making this recipe vegan are in italics.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (or orange juice)
  • 2 large eggs (or just increase the pumpkin puree to 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 1/2 cups  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • zest of 2 oranges, divided in half
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Ok, that may look like a ton of ingredients, but it’s easy, I promise. Even easier, this first step is only if you want cream cheese filled rolls. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, half the orange zest and the teaspoon of sugar.  Just mix it together well, and when combined, transfer to saran wrap. Roll it into a snake (it’s like Kindergarten art class folks) about an inch thick and stash the whole thing in the fridge. You won’t need it for a while.
  2. In a large bowl (I seriously suggest breaking out our bread baking set or a Mason Cash bowl if you’ve got them) add the milk or oj, checking that it’s not too hot – should be just around body temperature or a little higher. Add in the maple syrup and the yeast and stir well to combine.  Leave the mixture alone for 5 or so minutes. If you see it foaming, you’re good. If not, your yeast is dead and you should buy fresh and start over. You can’t make happy bread with sad yeast.
  3. Once you’ve double checked that your yeast is alive (see image above) It’s time to make that bread dough. Whisk the eggs (if using,) pumpkin puree, and vegetable oil into the yeast mixture until completely combined. Add the spices and orange zest (but not the salt.)  It’ll look less than beautiful, but trust me, it all comes together in the end. Plus, it smells totally awesome, doesn’t it?
  4. At this point, add in about 4 cups of the flour,  mixing with a spoon or your well-floured hands.  When it’s combined, and probably still a hot mess, pour a generous amount of flour on a cutting board or counter top and turn the dough out.
  5. Flour your hands even more, then add the salt and about a cup of flour to the dough and begin kneading (here’s how.) If the dough begins to come together as a smooth, soft dough (it should still be sticky, but not too sticky to handle) then you’ve got enough flour. If not, add more, kneading between additions. Just don’t add more than the 6 1/2 cups the recipe calls for, or you’ll get a disappointingly dry dough. Once your dough is well kneaded (here’s one good way to check) place it in an oiled bowl. Cover with a lid (see bread baking set) or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until its volume has doubled. It’ll take a little over an hour – the perfect time to re-watch your favorite episode of Game of Thrones. . . or whatever.
  6. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface.  Break it in half and decide how you’re going to shape it.  This recipe will either make two loaves, a loaf and a tear and share, or a large batch of rolls. Shape as desired.  If you want to put that cream cheese mix from step one in the rolls, now is the perfect time. Simply divide the dough into rolls, flatten each roll, place a chunk of the cream cheese inside it (no larger than about 1″ x 1″ and shape the roll around the cheese, double-checking that it’s sealed well. If you’re skipping that step, just shape the bread. A bread form for loaves works, as does shaping a rustic round loaf, or even braiding it. If you’re doing rolls, I suggest baking them in a tear and share or casserole dish for crisp tops and super moist sides. Just place them about an inch apart.

  7. Once your bread is shaped, cover the pans and set it aside to rise until almost doubled in size. This will take between 35-45 minutes, so preheat the oven to 350 and use this time to wash the dishes. Unfortunately, this isn’t Beauty and the Beast. They’re not going to wash themselves.
  8. Bake the bread about 30-35 minutes (20 minutes for the rolls)   until it sounds hollow when tapped, is nice and crusty on top, pulls away from the pan a little, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers about 190°F. At that point, let your bread cool. This will be the most difficult part. It’s going to smell absolutely amazing but you can’t touch it until it’s just a little warmer than room temperature or the whole loaf will fall apart, and that would be sad. Once it’s cool, enjoy. If you’re serving it to guests, make sure you grab a piece before serving – the whole loaf will be gone in a blink of an eye. It’s that good!

Well, friends. There you have it. An easy pumpkin bread recipe that you’ll find yourself totally addicted to. It’s the perfect thing to serve with a holiday meal, or to grab a thick, buttered slice of at 2 in the morning. It’s also super-delicious on a cheese plate with cheddar or brie! Enjoy! I know I did.

 

Caramel Apple Recipe and Tutorial: How to Make Caramel Apples

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Can you believe we’re halfway through October? Just two weeks until Halloween. What are you dressing up as? Scroll to the VERY bottom of this post to check out the owner of our company in his costume. ANYWAY, one of my favorite things about this time of year is all the special treats, especially things made with apples. They’re SO good right now being as they’re in season. I can’t get enough apple cider, apple fritters, apple pie, apple cider doughnuts, and especially, caramel apples. They’ve been a favorite since I was a kid and I used to buy them all the time. Now that I know how to make caramel apples at home, they’re a favorite party treat, especially in the mini size shown here; what a perfect serving size! If you’re looking for a Halloween party food, a dessert buffet idea or just a fun lunchbox treat, consider making caramel apples!  Read on for the caramel apple recipe and some tricks and tips, such as how to make the caramel stay on your apple!

Ingredients:

  • 8 large apples or 16 small lady apples (shown)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large pinch sea salt.

Optional Ingredients for toppings:

  • Sea salt
  • Chopped peanuts or almonds, toasted
  • Minced candied ginger
  • Sprinkles
  • Finely chopped chocolate

Special Equipment:

  • Craft Sticks, strong wooden skewers or other sticks for handles
  • Heavy Bottomed non-reactive saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Bowls large and deep enough to submerge the apples in (to roll toppings)

Instructions:

  1. It’s honestly incredibly easy to make candy apples with the right ingredients, a little patience, and a little know-how. Really, it’s all in the prep. One of the most common pitfalls is making your beautiful caramel and having it slide off the apples. Why does caramel fall off your apples? Simple – most commercially available apples are lightly coated in wax.  To remove the wax, either scuff the surface of the apple with sandpaper or submerge apples in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Like magic, your caramel will stick.
  2. Dry each apple completely and put a stick into the stem end, making sure the stick is solid and secure. Hot caramel burns and you don’t want to be fishing your apples out with your fingers. Craft sticks work better on larger apples, but on our lady apples, wood skewers cut in half did the trick!
  3. Arrange your toppings in bowls. Fill them half to 3/4 of the way full with the toppings of your choice. Chopped peanuts are a classic candy apple topping but my favorite is diced candied ginger. SO spicy and nice for the fall. Also, prepare a tray lined with a piece of parchment paper or greased wax paper. This is where your finished apples will hang out to dry.
  4. Time to make the caramel! Add  your corn syrup, half your heavy cream, your sugar and your butter to a saucepan, making sure the pan is half full at most. Cook over high heat until it is a rich golden color and measures 250 degrees on your candy thermometer.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the heavy cream, vanilla and sea salt, stirring to combine. The mixture will spatter and foam up. That’s normal, and that’s the reason you gave yourself extra room in the pot. Once all the cream and vanilla is incorporated, it’s time to dip.
  6. Dip and turn your wax-less apples in the caramel to coat completely. You may need to tilt the pan to get all the way up on the sides. Hold the apples over the pan and twirl them on their sticks, letting the excess caramel drip off, and back into the pan.
  7. While the caramel is still warm, roll in the topping of your choice and set on the parchment to cool completely. Keep going until you’ve run out of apples or caramel. If you end up with extra caramel, just spoon it into a Kilner jar and pop it in the fridge. Rewarmed, it’ll be amazing over ice cream or your morning yogurt.
How to do the caramel apple dip

Items Shown: Delicious Caramel Apples!

See? Not too hard. And those pictures are making your mouth water, right? This time of the year, there are so many types of apples available, and they all make pretty good caramel apples. But, in my (totally awesome) opinion, the best kind of apple for caramel apples is either granny smith (that sour apple/sweet caramel contrast is amazing), golden delicious, or little tiny lady apples like the ones pictured above.  If you’re serving bigger apples at a party (especially to kids with loose teeth) consider slicing them up for ease. The little ones are easy to bite into so you can skip slicing. And remember, these make a fantastic party favor. Put them in a cellophane bag and tie a ribbon around the stick for instant cuteness.

Oh yeah, I promised a picture of Bruce, President of Pacific Merchants, dressed up for Halloween. Because I ALWAYS keep my promises, here you go!  He takes Halloween very seriously. Can you blame him? It’s the best.

mr peanut

Fall Table and Fall Food Photography Contest

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
pmtcFallTable
Dear Fans,

We are SO excited that autumn is here! To celebrate YOU, the fall season, and our love for bringing people together at the table we’re hosting a #pmtcFallTable contest for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to our store. Here’s how to enter:

1. Visit any of our social networks (links in header) and #regram the Pacific Merchants fall table photo pictured above.

2. Tag @pacificmerchant in the photo.

3. Want a better chance at winning? Hashtag all your fall food and table photos with #pmtcFallTable to earn an extra contest entry.

It’s time to get creative with your fall food and table photography! We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Contest runs October 1st through October 16th 2014. We’ll #regram our favorites, and announce a winner October 17th. Winner will be chosen at random.
Also, October 1st through the 16th, eat up our super sale prices with 20% off retail purchases on our Acacia Hardwood Plates and our Place Mat collection. Coupon Code FallTable at checkout.
Let the #pmtcFallTable games begin!

Sweaters, pie, and pumpkin spice lattes,
Team PMTC

*Both Fall Table Contest and sale valid for retail customers only. Customers may not combine sale with other offers. Contest closes October 16th 2014 11:59PM. Please note that any entries submitted through a private social media account will not be seen by us, and thus will not count as an entry.

More Football Food: 2 Fantastic Dip Recipes

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

If you checked in last week, you may have noticed some delicious looking dips in the background of our chicken wings post. Today we’re gonna talk about them. In my mind, chips and dip are pretty much the perfect football food, but a lot of the time I opt for veggies with my dip for a healthier option.  For our football food fest we did a little of both and it worked beautifully.  Whether you’re hunting down chip and dip recipes for game day, for a pot luck, or just for fun, our recipes for caramelized onion dip and green goddess avocado dip are SO good.  You’ll find yourself  making them for years to come.

Let’s start with our Green Goddess Avocado Dip recipe. With a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, it’s shockingly easy to make, and it’s always fun to have something to do with avocado besides guacamole – though if you want a great guacamole recipe, we’ve got one of those too.  So let’s get started on what may be my all time favorite dip for vegetables. I’ve been eating it as an afternoon snack all week.  As a bonus, I make this one with yogurt rather than sour cream, so it’s super creamy, nice and flavorful, and a really healthy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados, cut in half, pits removed
  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 6 green onions, green part only (you can actually re-plant those roots)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2-6 cloves garlic (depends on your taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of your food processor (or a separate large bowl) crush the avocado with some salt and pepper. It blends better if it’s not chunky.
  2. Add all other ingredients to food processor or blender.
  3. Pulse until combined. You may find yourself needing to add a tiny bit of water if you’re working in a blender, which is why I prefer a food processor.
  4. Once your dip is well combined, taste it. Does it need any salt? Any pepper? More garlic? I sometimes even add a jalapeno to this; I like my food spicy and garlicky.
  5. Really, it’s that easy. You’re officially done. Serve with some chips, pita chips, or cut up veggies. Or just eat with a spoon.

In the immortal words of Chandler Bing, “Could that be any easier?”  I think not.  Which is why you need to make a second dip. They’re both super easy to make, they complement each other beautifully, and your guests will be wowed when they find out you made this from scratch. So on to our caramelized onion dip.  True story: I figured out how to make this because I became addicted to the pre-made version at Trader Joe’s. Homemade onion dip is super easy and crazy delicious. Let’s go.

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions, white or brown, sliced thin
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, pulled from stem
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1.  In a large saute pan, heat the butter.
  2. When it’s melted, add the onions and turn heat to medium.
  3. Let onions cook , stirring occasionally to keep them from burning. Depending on your stove, the moisture level of your onions, etc, this could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
  4. When onions are beginning to brown, add a sprinkle of salt, the garlic, the sage, and the thyme. You’ll have to pay close attention to keep the garlic from burning. Bitter garlic is gross.
  5. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook until onions are a rich golden brown.
  6. Once onions are beautifully brown all the way through (they should be just lighter than an acacia wood tray)  spread them on a sheet pan to cool them quickly.
  7. When onion mixture is at room temperature, place in a large bowl. Add sour cream and stir to combine.
  8. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen – Two super-simple dips to make at your next football party, pot luck, barbecue, PTA meeting, or whatever the next event may be. Be sure to bookmark this page  – that caramelized onion dip is a total crowd pleaser around the holidays, and an easy distraction if you’re trying to keep folks out of the kitchen. But remember, friends – Use good manners when eating your chips (or veggies) and dip. Don’t double dip.

Great Football Food: Sticky Spicy Korean Chicken Wings

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

A little more than a year ago we taught you how to cook hot wings, and they were delicious. After spending a solid chunk of this past Sunday watching football at a restaurant that *gasp* did not serve wings, I was left with a serious crunchy, saucy chicken craving. I was thinking about wings so hard that I’m shocked I didn’t sprout a pair of my own. Naturally, after the game I dug up the recipe from last year, but then I thought “how do you make hot wings a little differently?” The answer? I turned to a favorite restaurant for inspiration and came away with some sweet, spicy, seriously flavorful Korean-style baked chicken wings. They’re definitely going on the Sunday Football food menu.

Ready? It’s a shockingly simple recipe. These are oven baked chicken wings, but you can also grill them or even fry the chicken wings, then toss them in the addictively sweet-spicy sauce. You can even make these ahead of time and reheat them before serving if you’re trying to save time on game day.

Equipment Needed:

  • Large Bowl
  • Baking Sheet
  • Foil
  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup Korean Gochujang Chile Paste or Sambal Chile paste
  • 12 oz apricot jam
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the oil, minced garlic, minced ginger, jam, chile paste and soy sauce.
  3. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally until well combined and slightly thickened (8-10 minutes.)
  4. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into a large bowl. Add the chicken wings, tossing to combine.
  5. Spread the wings on a foil-lined baking tray, extra sauce and all.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn over, brush with some (but not all) of the additional sauce, and bake for another 12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, toss the chicken wings in about half the remaining sauce, and return to sheet tray.
  8. Turn your oven to broil, and add the chicken, keeping a close eye on it. You want a slight char in places but no burning throughout. Ours took about 3-5 minutes per side.)
  9. When one side is done to your liking, flip and broil the other side of your chicken wings.
  10. Remove from oven, toss in remaining sauce and arrange on a plate.
  11. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, peanuts, and green onions as a flavorful garnish.

Just check out that closeup. Clearly, these are some delicious baked chicken wings.  Sure, there are a few steps involved in making these Asian chicken wings, but the process goes quickly and the end results are SO delicious.  If you’re not sure what to serve with chicken wings, you could go with a traditional football food spread of chips, dips and beer, or you can try to keep everything in theme – pair these with some Korean BBQ tacos, kimchi and rice for a satisfying, delicious, totally unexpected touchdown of a meal. Check back next week for more football food – some of our absolute favorite dips for veggies or chips. Spoiler alert: they’re almost as addictive as these wings.

S’Mores Ideas and a Labor Day Sale

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

It’s hard to believe that it’s the last week of August and summer is drawing to a close.  We thought that the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer would be to celebrate with some gooey, melty s’mores. Fair warning – we haven’t mastered the art of taking perfect pictures of massively messy concoctions, so brace yourselves – this gets gooey. But MAN, if you’re throwing a Labor Day Barbecue or a beach bonfire, consider setting out the fixings for s’mores. They’re a great picnic food idea – with the right mix of ingredients and options, everyone can customize their own.  If you’re only here to find out about our Labor Day Sale, scroll down to the bottom of the entry.

As you can see, we have a bit more than the traditional fixings on the table. But I always do start with traditional s’mores ingredients – milk chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. No matter how many delicious fixings you have, someone in your crowd will be a purist. And that’s totally fine.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s how to make smores (and also, how to make s’mores in the oven, in case you don’t have access to a bonfire.)

  1. Toast your marshmallow. Either toast on a stick over a fire, or lay on half a graham cracker and broil in the oven.
  2. Layer your s’more.  You’re making a sandwich here, with the graham crackers as bread. 1 cracker, then the chocolate, then a hot marshmallow (for maximum meltiness) then the second graham cracker.
  3. Enjoy. It’s really that simple, and it works for pretty much everyone.

So, you’ve got the basics down and want to know how to make a s’more that’s a little more gourmet? The only thing that really needs to stay constant is a marshmallow.  Beyond that, listed below are some flavorful twists we’ve created to switch it up. Also, for fun, some ideas from other bloggers we love!

Gooey, Melty, Delicious S'mores

Items Shown: 7 Inch square plate

  • Add something salty. We did a layer of potato chips between the chocolate and the marshmallow for that super-trendy sweet and salty thing. I’ve also used pretzels or even a sprinkle of salt.
  • Change up the chocolate. As you can see above, we love our peanut butter cups in s’mores. I’ve also swapped the milk chocolate for dark, used favorite candy bars (make sure they’ll melt all the way through – Heath bars don’t work.)
  • Use fancy marshmallows. I recently came across some DELICIOUS coffee flavored marshmallows at a gourmet store. SO good in s’mores. Check gourmet websites and stores for interesting flavors.
  • Change out the cookies. Graham crackers are traditional, but as long as your cookies are big enough to contain the deliciousness of a s’more, you’re good.  Chocolate chip cookies work, gingersnaps are delicious. Also, ritz crackers and mini marshmallows are insanely good for s’mores. YUM!
  • Add sliced fruit. Thin sliced strawberries, crushed raspberries or slices of orange work so well with chocolate, marshmallows and the smokiness from a fire. It’ll add something addictive and unexpected!
  • Get saucy – add nutella, peanut butter or even caramel sauce for a little something unexpected!

And from some of our favorite bloggers, even more fantastic s’mores ideas.

 delicious smores, bacon smores, lime smores

smores are delicious

From Left to Right: (Top) Bourbon Bacon S’mores from Beyond Frosting, Key Lime S’mores from The Kitchn, Roasted Berry S’Mores from Jelly Toast Blog. (Bottom) Peach and White Chocolate S’Mores from  Peanut Butter and Julie, Dark Chocolate Passionfruit S’mores from Blogging Over Thyme. See how many amazing options there are?  Also, if anyone wants to give us some tips on photographing s’mores, we’d be interested. Clearly, it is possible.

Annnnd, Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the sale.  We’re doing a labor day weekend Placemat and Wood extravaganza! Our placemat line and our Acaciaware wood line are beautiful transitional pieces – they work both outdoors and indoors, so whether you’re out on your patio enjoying the end of summer or dining indoors, they’ll look lovely.  Enter “LaborDay” at checkout for 25% off all retail orders of our placemats and our wood products.  Good stuff, right?

Happy Labor Day, friends! Enjoy your holiday. You’ve earned it.

 

 


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