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Friday, April 8, 2011

Here Piggy piggy!

Soooo....what does the Wench love *almost* as much as CHEESE? PIG. All things pig. Bacon, chops, loin, trotters, belly, cheeks, shanks... you name it. Where is her favorite place to get great pork? Close to home.

Meet Some of My Favorite Meat

My friend Stephen Green is awesome. He is a husband, a father and a very funny guy. He's a former Army Paratrooper who served overseas in the 80's and graduated from the University of Georgia. He serves up my favorite brats for breakfast on Saturday mornings at the Cherry Street Farmer's Market. The coolest thing about my friend Stephen however, is that he's a farmer. The really good kind. The kind that you don't see enough of anymore. On his farm "Pork & Greens" Stephen grows beautiful heirloom vegetables in Broken Arrow, and  raises FANTASTIC heritage breed pork. 

Nope, it's NOT all the same

For those that don't know, there is a HUGE difference in commercially produced pork, and properly raised pastured pigs. The piglets of Pork & Greens begin life as they were meant to, in a comfy spacious pen with plenty of room for trampling each other while vying for the "prime" nursing spot. Piglets in many large factory farms that suffer from overcrowding (and boredom from being penned up all day) can end up with tail biting problems. To prevent this, their tails are often docked and their teeth clipped. Stephen's piglets are never subjected to that. Overcrowding and being locked up all day can also increase the occurrence of disease, requiring the use of antibiotics that can end up in your food. Not at Pork & Greens. Many factory farms use growth hormones to speed up the rate at which the pigs reach market weight, also something Stephen refuses to do. Instead, he prefers raising healthy, happy clover-grazed pork. The best part? It just tastes better.

Want some?

I thought so. Luckily, you are a mere day away from enjoying some of the best piggy around. Stephen can be found each Saturday morning at  the Cherry Street Farmer's Market and on Wednesday mornings at 41st & Peoria. In the off season, Stephen keeps us fed through the Tulsa Clean Food Market.

For a great way to try delicious products graciously donated by many local growers, and help a good cause, get your tickets for the Northeatern Oklahoma Farm to Table Dinner on Saturday, May 21st benefiting the Tulsa Akdar Shrine Center. Chefs Jennifer Spears, Dan Potter (host of KRMG's OK Foodie), Jeremiah Ramey and Amanda Simcoe (The Cheese Wench) will prepare a multi-course meal paired with local wines and beer. Tickets are $65 per person and seating is limited. To reserve your spot, call 918.836.2500.

Facebookers, check out Stephen's page Bacon is Beautiful for more info & pics!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Panzanella: Springtime, Salad, and the flavors of Italy!

Want a great springtime salad that is super easy? Check out my Panzanella recipe!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cheese & Beer o' the Irish

This year, before you don your green and head out for some scary green beer, check out some of Ireland's finer exports!

Irish Cheese

Willem's Family Farm
Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

Originally from Holland, the Willems family moved to Ireland more than 20 years ago to make their Gouda-style cheese. Made from Pasteurized cow's milk and aged 12 months, Coolea is semi-hard with notes of caramel. Perfect with Porter!

Cashel Blue
Grubb Family Farm
Suir Valley, Tipperary, Ireland

In 1984, Cashel Blue became the first blue cheese produced in Ireland. It's made from Pasteurized cow's milk and aged for six months. It's name comes from the Rock of Cashel in South Tipperary. Rich and creamy with a salty tang, Cashel Blue is mild enough for people who don't like a strong blue, but flavorful enough for true blue cheese lovers. Try it with an Irish pear cider!

Cahill's Irish Porter
Cahill's Farm
Newcastle West, County Limerick, Ireland

Cahill's Irish Porter is handcrafted with Pasteurized Cow's  milk from Limerick and North Cork counties. The addition of Guinness Porter gives it a unique marbled appearance. Rich caramel flavors and a semi-firm texture make this cheese great for snacking. Try it (of course) with a pint of your favorite Irish Porter!

Gubbeen Farm
Schull, County Cork, Ireland

Love a good stinky (washed rind) cheese? Tom & Giana Ferguson have just the cheese for you! For 8 months of the year, their cows graze on the lush grasses of West Cork, producing the flavorful milk used to create Gubbeen. Semi-soft with a washed rind, Gubbeen is made with traditional rennet and aged 6-8 weeks to produce a rich and pungent earthiness.

Aged Irish Cheddar                                                     

Started over 40 years ago shortly after the creation of the Irish Dairy Board, Kerrygold sources milk from small family owned dairy farms throughout Ireland, and uses it to craft their many cheeses and rich Irish butter. Made from pasteurized cow's milk, their vintage Cheddar is very limited in production and is aged 2 years. 

 Irish Beer

Guinness Stout
St. James Gate Brewery
Dublin, Ireland
 It all started in 1759, when Arthur Guinness signed the legendary 9,000-year lease on the St. James Gate Brewery. The rich black beer with a creamy head and notes of roasted malt born at St. James gate has since become in many opinions THE Irish beer. In 1840 the first shipment of Guinness set sail for New York. More than just a beer, to many, Guinness is a ritual. Poured slowly in stages in order to create the perfect balance of supple and frothy, and in some cases layered with other brews to create a "beer cocktail"; every Guinness lover has their favorite way to enjoy this classic Irish favorite.

O'Hara's Irish Stout

Carlow Brewing Company

Bagenalstown, County Carlow, Ireland

One of the newer Irish breweries, Carlow Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by Seamus O'Hara and began production in 1998. O'Hara's Irish Stout is wonderfully complex with notes of coffee and cocoa. 

Harp Lager

Guinness Brewery

Dundalk, Ireland

From the fine folks that bring us Guinness, Harp lager was first produced in 1960 in response to the rising popularity of continental lagers. After being purchased by Diageo, Harp was separated from Guinness in 2005. Light & smooth, Harp is a great pint for a warm afternoon. 


Smithwick's Brewery

Kilkenny, Ireland

 In 1710 John Smithwick (pronounced SMID-ick) founded his brewery on the site of a Franciscan monastery used by monks to make beer since the 14th century. It remains Ireland's oldest operating brewery. Due to religious and political issues, it wasn't until 1827 that the Smithwick name hung over the brewery. Though the brewery was sold to Guinness in 1965, and later along with Guinness became a part of Diageo, it continues to produce it's Irish Red Ale just as it has for centuries. Smithwick's rated one of the top 5 best tasting beers in Ireland by the McHale Beer Tasting Club in Ireland. I tend to agree!

So, before settling on a plastic cup of green Budweiser, why not opt for some REAL Irish beer, and be sure to try some of Ireland's fantastic cheeses! 

St. Pat's in T-Town:

Looking for tasty cheeses? You can find many of these cheeses locally at:

Ladonna's Fancy Foods
1615 E. 15th St.
Tulsa, OK 74120

Whole Foods Market
1401 E. 41st St. 
Tulsa, OK 74105

Looking for beer? You can find these beers (and just about any other beer you may be after) at 
Collin's Midtown Liquor
    1685 S. Yale Ave
    Tulsa, OK 74112

Wanting to find these tasty brews out and about? Check out these great local spots and their St. Pat's Day Festivities!

On Cherry Street:

Kilkenny's Irish Pub
1413 E. 15th St.
Tulsa, OK 74120


James E. McNellie's Public House
409 E. 1st St.
Tulsa, OK 74120

Arnie's Bar
318 E. 2nd Street
Tulsa, OK 74120


Friday, March 11, 2011

Mmm...Mac & Cheese

Springtime is coming, and with it usually comes some rainy days. This past week a rainy afternoon made me crave some warm cheesy comfort food. Of course, one of my favorites is a good Mac & Cheese. Now, before you reach for the blue box, have a look at just how easy it is to make a tasty cheese sauce from scratch! Never tried it before? Here are a couple of things to remember before you start.

Starch is your friend. Why? Well, because curdled cheese does not make for a tasty & delicious sauce. Starting with a bit of starch not only makes for a richer texture, but helps prevent curdling. Also adding the cheese last, and cooking it just enough to melt (usually you can remove the pot from the heat and just allow the residual heat to do the job) can prevent problems as well.

Why wine? Not only can it add nice flavor, but the acid in white wine can help keep cheese from getting stringy, which is also not so great in what's meant to be a smooth creamy sauce. Not looking for the flavor of wine in your dish? As little as a Tablespoon should do the trick, or a squeeze of lemon juice will work as well.

In this recipe I added a bit of red pepper and curry powder just for fun, but you can replace them with anything that sounds tasty to you. For example, use applewood smoked cheddar and add some smoked paprika; or try some diced chiles, onions, tomatoes and some dried chipotle for a southwestern flavor. Fresh herbs are also great additions.


 Curry Mac & Cheese


5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2#  elbow macaroni (my fav is made from Quinoa, whichh is gluten free. You can pick it up at Whole Foods and Reasor's)

6 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 1/2 C whole milk

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp dry white wine

1/2-1 tsp Curry powder

Cayenne pepper, to taste

2 C grated cheddar cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse with cool water to stop it from cooking further. Melt the butter in a heavy 3-Qt sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk slowly in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook (still whisking) 4-5 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, and add the wine, salt, curry powder, cayenne, cheese and red pepper flakes. Stir well to melt the cheese. Toss with pasta and serve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Now at Kilkenny's, it's Burger time, ALL the time!

Each and every month, one of my favorite spots in town to grab a bite and a pint comes out with a new specials menu, ranging from Soups, Appetizers, Desserts, delicious German specialties for Oktoberfest to one of my favorites, BURGERS. Last year I went down to Kilkenny's with 8 other burger lovers, and we sampled all 9 selections on the menu, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I have always been a fan of their original Butterslip Burger, so it's no surprise that their specialties would be delicious as well. What WAS a (very good) surprise was learning that now the burger menu will be available ALL THE TIME! Now those who previously missed the opportunity to try all of the tasty options have plenty of time to sample their way through them all at their leisure.

Big Daddy's Gut Grinder

With bacon, Cheddar, blue cheese, chili, cream cheese, jalapenos, beef, buffalo, Pepper Jack, shallots, rashers, goat cheese, pesto, Chorizo, Andouille, Swiss cheese, remoulade, habanero sauce, fried eggs, rosemary mayo, mushrooms and more; there is an option for everyone on the burger menu. Add a pint of your favorite brew, and it's a meal that's hard to beat!

The Wench's top pick: The Cabernet Bison Burger

Kilkenny's Irish Pub
1413 E 15th St
Cherry Street, Tulsa, OK 74120
(918) 582-8282

Want more tasty morsels from Kilkenny's? Tune into OK Foodie with Dan Potter on AM740 or FM102.3 KRMG this Saturday at 1PM or Sunday at 9AM when General Manager Jeff Underwood will talk about the history of the pub, and prepares one of their famous Boxtys!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fantastic Figs

I LOVE fresh figs. I love their sweetness. I love the rich softness of the fruit. I love the way the little seeds go crunch in my teeth. I love when they are in season. That time is now. For those who think that a fig is nothing but a Newton, think again. One of history's oldest fruits has much more to offer. Thick fig jam is a delightful accompaniment for ripened cheeses such as Brie and Camembert. Fig syrup is divine on pancakes and waffles. Fresh figs play a part in one of my favorite desserts ever....Cambezola Ice Cream with Savannah Honeycomb and Port-wine poached figs (more on that later...). Today I'm thinking about something fresh and cool, with just the right balance of salty and sweet, perfect as a pre-dinner amuse.

Figs with Prosciutto, Mascarpone and Rosemary

6 Fresh Brown Turkey or Black Mission figs, halved lengthwise
2 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
12 strips Prociutto di Parma
Chopped fresh rosemary

To assemble, top or wrap each fig half with the strips of Prosciutto. Add 1/2 tsp Mascarpone to each Garnish with fresh Rosemary and serve. Serves 4.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Heirloom tomatoes, peppered bacon, lettuce and Pt. Reyes
Original Blue make this one seriously tasty sandwich!
Bacon (Mmmmmmm....BACON). Lettuce. Tomato. A little mayo perhaps. It's a BLT. It's perfect, right? What could possibly be missing from this classic sandwich that I've enjoyed all these years? Adding anything would be blasphemous, right? WRONG.

Longtime Tulsa Restaurateur Don Eller (or "Dad" to Madeleine) helps out on the grill
So it's Thursday afternoon, and we're scrambling to get out of town. Deciding that some greasy fast-food would be our fate if we didn't pick up lunch on the way out of town, we decided to stop by Sproutz at 26th & Harvard. Opened earlier this year by Madeleine Eller, Sproutz serves gourmet sanwches, soups, wraps and salads. They aso have a breakfast and bakery menu. We ducked in to grab a quick bite we could eat on the road. I immediately zeroed in on the item titled "BCBLT". Blue Cheese Bacon Lettuce Tomato. Not only had Madeleine added blue cheese to one of my all-time favs, but she used Point Reyes Original Blue. Fantastic cheese, whether on a salad, cheese plate, burger cracker or as I have learned, a BLT.

Point Reyes Original Blue is hand-crafted by the Giacomini family of Pt. Reyes Station, California. Bob Giacomini has been raising Holstein cows for milk since 1959. It was in 200 that he began producing his award-winning blue cheese. It is made with raw cow's milk and vegetarian rennet.

Looking for a delicious lunch option? Check out Sproutz, and be sure not to overlook the BCBLT! Want to check out Pt. Reyes Original Blue? You can often find it locally at LaDonna's Fancy Foods or Whole Foods.