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October 2009
Recipes Contributed by:
Jacksonville Mercantile

Dear Fellow Foodies:

As the holidays approach think of the Jacksonville Mercantile for your baskets, corporate gifts or let your friends and family know what treats you would like to receive. Go to Be sure to sign up to be a fan of the Jacksonville Mercantile on Facebook. The Cheese Kits are now in the store! One of the upcoming cooking demos will be how to make Mozzarella Cheese. You won’t believe how easy and fun it is. Coming in the next few weeks are all of our holiday pastry items from Germany, Italy and France. Our local Caramel maker also will have gorgeous holiday boxes of her fabulous caramels enrobed in Belgium chocolate. If you will need large quantities of these, please be sure to let us know early so there will be enough for your gift giving for the holidays.

October brings the end of tomato season and the beginning of squash and root vegetable season. If you would like to enjoy those sweet summer tomatoes long into winter, try drying them in the oven or dehydrator. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, place them onto a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle a small amount of salt on top and a tiny drip of olive oil. Dry these overnight in a 150F oven (or if your oven is like my electric one 170F is the lowest temperature you can get). Depending on the size of the tomatoes, they usually dry in about 8-10 hours.

The following is a twist on a recipe from an Afghanistan restaurant we used to frequent in Chicago years ago. I find myself craving this dish when the weather turns cold and fresh pumpkins are available. The Ras El Hanout gives this dish a nice spicy note. If you can get ground lamb, it works very well with this dish and makes it more authentic than beef.

Sweet Pumpkin with Lamb
Balsamic Onion Confit
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Sweet Pumpkin with Lamb

1 fresh small pie pumpkin – seeded, cut into wedges and peeled
½ pound ground lamb (or use beef if lamb is unavailable)
2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout spice
1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
sea salt
4 ounces tomato paste
1 cup Crème fraiche or Greek Yogurt

Cover and cook the pumpkin wedges with some of the spices sprinkled over them with a small amount of water or vegetable stock (optional). Bake in a 350F oven until done (approximately 1 hour [longer if the pumpkins are large]) The other option to cook the pumpkin is to peel and cut into cubes and cook in oil until browned, add stock and finish in the oven.

Cook the ground meat over medium high heat with the spices and tomato paste until cooked through. Add the crème fraiche or Greek yogurt - reserve until service.

To serve: Place a wedge of pumpkin on a plate, place a generous amount of meat mixture over the pumpkin. Sprinkle with baked pumpkin seeds (optional). Serve hot with pita bread, Naan or Rice.

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Balsamic Onion Confit

The following is a great spread to be used over cheese, polenta or even with your eggs in the morning. This is a simple process but it does take time, so be patient and you will be rewarded.

4 large red onions – sliced thickly
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed oil or Natural Avocado oil
½ cup Barrel Aged Balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil until hot but not smoking, add the sliced onions and cook until they are very caramelized. This may take up to 25 minutes or longer, keep stirring every once in a while to avoid hot spots and burning. After the onions are dark brown, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until absorbed. This should have a consistency of marmalade when done. This can be cooled and saved in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or will keep frozen for 6 months. I like to warm this up a little bit, serve over polenta with crumbled goat cheese on top. This also works well over a wheel of Camembert, baked in the oven and served with crackers or bread as an appetizer.

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