Category Archives: Cooking

The Perfect Loaf


Southern Tomato Pie

In that flaky crust is a whopping three and a half pounds of tomatoes, cooked down with caramelized onions and herbs and cozily blanketed with an oh-so-Southern hit of mayo and a not-so-Southern-but-really-really-good dose of fontina and parmesan. More tomatoes sit on top—fresh instead of roasted—for a pretty visual touch alongside some leaves of basil. It’s a gorgeous pie, and to be perfectly honest, one of the best things to come out of our test kitchen all summer.


For the pie crust

1 14 cups all-purpose flour
2 12 tsp. granulated sugar
12 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter cut into 12-inch cubes
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ice-cold water
12 tsp. white vinegar

For the filling and topping

3 1⁄2 lb. vine-ripe tomatoes (about 12), cored, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice, divided
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced with the grain
1 tsp. picked thyme
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
13 cup packed whole basil leaves
12 cup mayonnaise
13 cup grated fontina
13 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large Roma or heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced and blotted dry with paper towels


Make the pie crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium for a few seconds. Begin adding the butter one cube at a time. Continue until the flour is speckled and crumbly, about 4 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the water and vinegar until just combined. Do not overmix. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Bring the crust to room temperature and lightly butter a 10-inch metal pie pan. Preheat the oven to 400°. Dust your counter and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll the crust slightly larger than your pan. Lay the crust in the pan and press gently into its edges. Cut off the edges that hang over and discard. Freeze for at least 15 minutes or until you’re ready to blind-bake.
Lay foil or parchment paper on top of the crust and weigh that down with dried beans or rice. Blind-bake the shell for 30 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil or parchment and bake 5 minutes more. Set the cooked crust aside as you prepare the filling.
Make the filling: Toss half of the diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar. Set them over a colander to drain while you get everything else ready, at least an hour.
Lower your oven to 375°. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter and then add the onion and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat until deeply caramelized. This will take about 45 minutes. If the onion gets away from you and burns a little, add 1⁄4 cup of water to the pan, scrape up the overbrowned bits, and keep going. In the end, you have a scant 2⁄3 cup caramelized onion.
Toss the remaining diced tomatoes with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a sheet tray with as much room separating the individual pieces as possible. Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 30-35 minutes. You’re looking for the tomatoes to dry out and brown slightly.
Once all the individual components are done, stir together the onion, the fresh and roasted diced tomatoes, the remaining salt, sugar, black pepper, and basil.
Make the topping and finish the pie: In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, fontina, and Parmigiano. Spoon the filling into your blind-baked crust. Top with the cheese mixture and tomato slices. Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. Both have their virtues.

Perfect Poached Eggs

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The perfect poached egg. Tender whites around a warm liquid yolk that oozes out like liquid gold when you cut into it. They’re an essential part of Eggs Benedict, they can turn any salad into a meal, or any vegetable into brunch.

The problem is, they’re really tough to make right. So you’ve probably read all the tricks and know all the secrets: Add vinegar to your water. Add salt to your water. Don’t add salt to your water. Stir a vortex into the water. Wrap your eggs in plastic wrap. And guess what? None of them really work.

There IS one method that works every single time, and all it requires are two things.

The first is: a really fresh egg. Fresh eggs have tighter whites and yolks that help them retain their shape better as they cook.

The second tool you need is a fine mesh strainer..


1. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer, then reduce heat until it is barely quivering. It should register 180 to 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Carefully break 1 egg into a small bowl, then tip into a fine mesh strainer. Carefully swirl egg around strainer, using your finger to rub off any excess loose egg whites that drop through. Gently tip egg into water. Swirl gently with a wooden spoon for 10 seconds, just until egg begins to set. Repeat straining and tipping with remaining eggs. Cook, swirling occasionally, until egg whites are fully set but yolks are still soft, about 4 minutes.

2. Carefully lift eggs from pot with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately, or transfer to a bowl of cold water and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To serve, transfer to a bowl of hot water and let reheat for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Hanoi-Style Breakfast Phở


Austin Fermentation Festival 2015

Austin Fermentation Festival 2015



MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Payne, 347-933-0403

Austin Fermentation Festival, October 25th, 2015, Austin, TX

Keynote Speaker: Jennifer McGruther of Nourished Kitchen

October 25, 2015 (AUSTIN, TX) – Texas Farmers’ Market and Presenting Sponsor Barr Mansion announce the 2015 Austin Fermentation Festival with keynote speaker, blogger, author, and traditional foods advocate Jennifer McGruther.

The Austin Fermentation Festival is an educational event that celebrates all things fermented in Central Texas and will run from 9am – 4pm at Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle Road, Austin, TX 78754). Proceeds from this event will benefit the Texas Farmers’ Market Farmer Emergency Fund, which offers financial assistance to TFM farmers and ranchers in times of environmental, personal or other crisis.

The day will include a series of fermentation workshops (covering topics such as kimchi, kefir, cheese making, charcuterie, beer, sourdough, vinegars and lacto-fermented vegetables); a community culture swap; a kraut mob; fermented foods and product vendors; book sales; festival-inspired lunch for purchase from local purveyors; fermented beverages and alcohol; a mini farmers’ market; and live music.

Attend by securing general admission or VIP tickets at, where online donations to this fundraiser event are also accepted. Vendor applications are accepted here and workshop presenter applications accepted here

For more information, please visit

Pi Day of the Century

Pi DayThe Pi Day of the century, 3.14/15 is only a little over a week away. For a time now Pi Day has been all about fun and of course pie, but with the way in recent years, science and even reality itself have come more and more under attack, I’m thinking maybe this year it’s time for Pi Day to emerge as something more than just fun.

For so much of our history, the people of our country and the world have benefited greatly from the science-based reality that has shaped America’s future. Science may be based on numbers, but science’s actual value is in its humanity. It’s beyond doubt that through science and the honest representation of reality our lives have become safer, healthier and happier.

Yet today the very science that has done so much to reduce suffering in our lives is now under attack. From the climate, to vaccines, to Wisconsin’s own Governor Walker’s belief that there are more votes in denying evolution than there are in embracing it, clearly somewhere something has gone very wrong. There is more than enough blame to go all around for how we got here, but maybe this is one of those times that where we are is not nearly as important as where we need to be.

Maybe rather than a debate of our differences, what we need is a celebration of what we share. At Penzeys we think Pi Day could grow into just the holiday we need. There really is no time to lose to get on to celebrating the truth of science-based reality and the math behind it. And there is also no time better than now to get back to celebrating the kindness, compassion and the nurturing nature of our shared humanity that has always been behind the very best that science has brought to our lives.

In Pi, the number is all the value and beauty and wonder that is at the heart of the reality science holds. In the gift of a good slice of pie, the desert is all the kindness and compassion that our shared humanity encompasses. Pi Day really is ready to become so much more. And could there be a better day to relaunch Pi Day as the holiday we truly need than 3.14/15; the Pi Day of the Century?

So we are reaching out to our customers for help. We need your stories and a recipe or two. We already have good stories in the works for living with climate change, the value of vaccines, evolution, and the psychology/brain chemistry of why as humans we are so resistant to seeing the certainty of climate change.

Where we still really need your help is in finding an economist or two to speak to why our deficit spending has left our economy and our humanity in so much better shape than what Europe is facing today. And we could also use one more person with the knowledge to speak to the monetary cost and the human cost of sending to prison people who simply need treatment instead.

For recipes we are flexible. Pies are great but not necessary. Maybe you have another baked good you like to share. Or possibly you have a way you like to make some other circular item: a sliced carrot recipe, scallops are always popular, or even a beet salad that’s an old family tradition would do the trick. We really are flexible.

The important thing is if you have the science, or the numbers, or the knowledge that is needed for good policy making in the fields of economics or restorative justice please actually contact us. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Just email a phone number where we can reach you and I will have one of our friendly writers give you a call.

It’s time to get off the sidelines. We can’t let science and all the goodness it can bring to our lives be a victim of our cultural wars. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but the future really is at stake here. With your help 3.14/15 could be the turning point the world so very much needs.

We realize we are looking for a needle in a haystack here, and on short notice. If you know someone who fits what we are looking for, please forward this email to them, or better yet, give them a call.


Bill Penzey