Thursday, October 8, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Greek Salad

As you may know, Cal and I are world traveling farm animals. We have been to Greece - twice. So you could say we know a thing or two about Greek food. For example, here is us at a cafe in Athens enjoying wine and baklava.

What we have decided about Greece is that they have the best food in the entire world. So, we dabble in Greek cooking, and you will see us post many more Greek recipes in the future. Recently, we discovered a food blog we love, Elly Says Opa! Today, we are making a big Greek salad using Elly's Greek Dressing recipe and her chicken gyro recipe. We wish we still had some of our authentic Greek olive oil to use for this, but our house extra virgin will have to do. We do however have some greek salad seasoning that we brought back with us and will use then in place of just oregano.


for the dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2 heaping Tbsp greek yogurt
1 tsp greek seasoning mix (or oregano)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

for the chicken
4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbsp greek yogurt
1 Tbsp greek seasoning mix (or oregano)
salt and pepper
1 lb chicken

for the rest of the salad
feta cheese
whatever you want to put in it: olives, tomato, etc

1. marinate chicken. whisk together all the chicken ingredients in a small bowl. Add chicken. cover and refrigerate at least an hour.

2. make the dressing. whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Add the oil in a steady stream, while whisking to combine and emulsify. add salt and pepper to taste. refrigerate an hour.

3. preheat broiler. sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. broil until cooked through, about 5 min per side.
4. toss salad ingredients and dressing.

5. when chicken is cooked, slice and top the salad.

We really liked this salad. It was light and filling and yummy. Conveniently, we still had some leftover homemade pitas to complete the meal. Once again thanks to Elly Says Opa! for the excellent and authentic greek recipes!

Pig, out.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Pita Pockets

To recap our Monday adventure, Cornelius and I decided to make a big complicated meal, so we have made Chicken and Apricot Phyllo Pie, these pitas, and a sauce. We have made pitas many times before, but we wanted to try out a new recipe. These pitas are more sophistocated than our other pitas because these ones have pockets! This recipe is from

Things you will need: baking stone (or upsidedown cookie sheet)


3.5 c bread flour + some more
1.5 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 packet dry, active yeast
1 c warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil


1. preheat oven to 500 with baking stone.

2. combine yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. add water. stir. add oil.

Cal's Note: yes, this is weird (see below). we werent really sure what to think about the lack of yeast rising time either. perhaps there is some sort of kitchen science reason why this particular recipe combines ingredients in this way. perhaps not. if you know, please tell us.

3. add 1 c flour and mix with wooden spoon. add more flour, a 1/2 c at a time, until it is too difficult to stir with the spoon anymore.

Cal's note: again, this is weird. hopefully you have some bread making experience, otherwise this will be a frustrating recipe for you.

4. put dough on floured surface, knead, adding more flour as neccessary until you have a nice soft dough. about 5 min.

5. divide dough into 8 equal sized balls. cover and let rise 20 min.

Cal's note: ours certainly didnt rise much in 20 min.

6. flatten each ball with your hand, then roll out a little, to make the balls flat and about 5 inches in diameter.

7. Cook each pita on the stone for 8 min. Remove from heat.

Well they sure look nice. We really appreciate the nice puffiness of these pita pockets, although only about 1/2 of them puffed nicely. They are also a little dry for our taste. However, they are about what we were going for to match our meal, and they would be very nice for a gyro or a souvlaki pita sandwich. We'll have to make our famous pitas for you soon.

Until then,

Once upon a time there was... Chicken and Apricot Phyllo Pie

On Monday, Cal and I had off of our day jobs, so we decided to make something complicated. When I think of complicated, I think of phyllo pastry dough. And when I think of phyllo pastry dough, i think of the ghost petit fours I tried (and failed) to make for Halloween one year. Since then, we've improved our phyllo skills, so we've decided to attempt Chicken and Apricot Phyllo Pie from our Mediterranean Food of the Sun cookbook. This recipe took 2 hours to make, including a solid 45 min of prep work, so consider yourselves warned Castle Farm Cookbook blog readers - this recipe is a project!

Cornelius' Note: on our first trip to Wegmans we could not find Bulgur Wheat. We later disovered that Taboule (pictured below) is bulgur wheat in disguise. Even if you are tempted to use something else, we recommend sticking with the b.w. because it really just takes on the flavor of the rest of the dish.

Another Cornelius' Note: Considering how much stuff has to be chopped, minced, diced, and otherwise made smaller, we recommend doing all of that before you begin, not as you go. See pic below of us exhausted from all that work.

1 lb chicken, minced
1 onion, diced
3 oz (1/2 c) bulgur wheat
3 oz dried apricot, diced
1 oz (1/4 c) almonds, chopped
2 oz (1/4 c) greek yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 Tbsp fresh chives
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
salt, pepper
6 Tbsp butter
10 sheets phyllo pastry dough


1. put bulgur wheat in 1 c hot water. set aside until all water is absorbed, about 15 min.

2. melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add chicken and onion. Cook until golden brown.

3. add bulgur what, apricot, and almonds to the pan. cook 2 min.

4. remove from heat. stir in yogurt, cinnamon, chives, parsley, and salt/pepper to taste.

5. preheat oven to 400.

6. Melt remaining 4 Tbsp butter.

Cornelius' Tip: Phyllo is tricky. Make sure to follow package thawing instructions. Remove 10 sheets from package and cover with clean, damp towel. As you use the phyllo, be sure to keep the remainder covered - it hardens and cracks easily.

7. Cut the phyllo into 10" circles. We used a bowl and a pearing knife.

8. Place a sheet of the phyllo into the bottom of a round 9" tin. Brush melted butter over dough. repeat with 2 more slices.

9. pour chicken mixture into pan.

10. layer 3 more sheets of phyllo on top of chicken, buttering with each sheet.

11. crumple remaining sheets of phyllo on the top of the pan and drizzle rest of butter on top.

12. Bake 30 min or until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Despite all the time, Cal and I definitely think this dish was worth the effort! It had a very unique, yummy flavor (and looks pretty impressive too!) When we reheated it to eat more, we were sad that the phyllo crust lost its crispiness. The flavor was still very nice but we recommend eating the entire pie at once. After spending 2+ hours making it, this should not be difficult. We also made some pita and dip to go with it (coming soon!).

Once again, the recipe is from Mediterranean Food of the Sun cookbook, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.

Pig, out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

once upon a time there was... Pumpkin Tartlets

When Cornelius and I heard about the nationwide pumpkin shortage, we panicked. Would this be a fall season without Cornelius' Favorite Pumpkin Pie? Or Pumpkin Cheesecake? It was almost too much to take. Luckily when we arrived at Wegmans we discovered that they were out of Libby's brand but had plenty of Wegmans brand pumpkin. We loaded our cart, so never fear Castle Farm Cookbook blog readers, there will be plenty of pumpkin recipes to go around. And now that we were no longer facing a pumpkin shortage, we decided to try a new recipe instead of one of the usuals. We have been meaning to use our mini tartlet pans that we just had to have (but 2 years later still hadnt used) so we found a recipe for Jack o' Lantern tarts at Martha Stewarts site. So here it goes...

- you will need 12 3-4 inch mini tart tins or 6 mini tins and one 9-10 inch tart pan
3.75 c flour
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp sugar
3 sticks butter, chilled, cubed
.5-1 cup cold water

pumpkin filling
15 oz can pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 c honey
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt

1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp heavy cream

1. make the crust dough. combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and process until the mixture is coarse - about 10 seconds. With machine running, add water slowly until dough just holds together without being wet or sticky - no more than 30 seconds. it will still be a little crumbly.

2. chill dough. divide dough into 3 equal balls. flatten into a disc and wrap each in plastic. chill at least an hour.

3. prepare crusts. on a floured surface, roll out one disc of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. cut out 6 6-inch circles. (Cal's tip: if you dont have 6-inch cookie cutters, be creative and look around your kitchen. we used the lid to our flour canister.) Repeat with second disc to do anther 6 tartlets or one big tart.

4. fit circles to tart pans, trimming and shaping overhanging edges. Put all the prepared tins on a cookie sheet and chill for 30 min.

5. roll out third disc and cut out 12 3-inch circles (or 6 3-inch circles and a bigger one for the big tart). place circles on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill 30 min.
6. preheat oven to 375.
7. prepare the pumpkin filling. whisk together pumpkin, eggs, honey, sugar, 1 c. cream, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.

8. prepare for the baking! in a small bowl, beat egg yolk and 2 Tbsp cream. Brush chilled tart tins with glaze. Divide pumpkin filling among the tarts.
9. bake about 30 min or until crust is golden and filling is set. (if you are cooking a large tart it may take an additional 10 min). cool on wire rack.
10. Remove pastry circles from refrigerator. Using a paring knife, carve jack o lantern faces or whatever design you would like into the circles. Brush with egg glaze. Bake until golden, about 12 min.
11. When tarts and tops are cooled, place a top on each tart. Chill before eating.

Cal's tip: the 3", 6", and 10" measurements are approximate. Make sure to measure your actual bakeware or else your pies will come out silly like ours.

Here we are with our finished product!

Here in the Castle-Farm Cookbook, we are not going to lie to you - these pumpkin tarts taste pretty much the same as pumpkin pie. Now, we really like pumpkin pie, but we have some recipes for the pumpkin filling that we like even better. So if you are looking to make something cute, or are trying to use your mini tart pans for the first time, this is the recipe for you. If you are going for maximum pumpkin deliciousness - stay tuned for our thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Until next time,

Once upon a time there was... Blueberry Muffins

After weeks of buying Wegman's blueberry muffins for our breakfasts, Cal and I decided enough was enough! We are going to buy some jumbo muffin pans and begin our quest to find the best blueberry muffin recipe in all the land. For our first muffin attempt, we are mostly following a recipe from All Recipes called To Die For Blueberry Muffins, except that we made a few changes along the way. For one, their recipe does not make nearly enough muffins, so we have doubled it. This will still only create 9 jumbo muffins.

3 c. flour
1.5 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 c milk (roughly)
2 c blueberries
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1/4 c butter, cubed
1.5 tsp cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 400.
2. grease muffin pans with butter or line them with papers.
3. pour 2/3 c oil into a glass measuring cup. add the 2 eggs. add milk until you have 2 c of total liquid (roughly 2/3 c milk). add vanilla.
4. combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer. pour in liquid mixture while the machine in running. blend until well mixed, scraping down the bowl as needed.
5. fold in the blueberries.

6. pour into muffin pans. you can fill them most of the way.
7. prepare the crumbly mix topping! combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in a food processor. pulse until butter is no longer in chunks.

8. divide topping over all of the muffins.
9. bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. This is what the looks like:

10. allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing. then they will come out beautiful like this:

Do I know the muffin man? No. But I do know the muffin pig. His name is Cornelius (yes, thats me) and he makes the greatest blueberry muffins in the land.

Pig, out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Apple Pie Cupcakes

Cornelius is really the cupcake expert but Apple Pie is one of my favorite desserts, so I feel like I have some expert knowledge too. We slightly adapted this fantastic recipe from one of our new favorite blogs, Annies-Eats.


3 cups sifted cake flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp butter

1 Tbsp cinnamon

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp spiced rum

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

whipped cream


1. preheat oven to 350°. line cupcake pans with papers.

2. in a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well to combine. Add in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

4. fill the cupcake liners 2/3-3/4 full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

5. make the apple filling: heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon and brown sugar and cook for a minute, until the mixture begins to bubble. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the apples. Mix well. Add the rum. Stir. Cook until the apples are somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

6. while the apple mixture is cooling, use the cone method to remove a chunk from the center of each cupcake, making sure to leave a rim around the top of the cupcake. Cornelius' cupcake trick is to fill a cup with very hot water and dip a pearing knife in the water between in cake. The hot water helps the knife cone the cakes easily.

7. when the apples are cool, fill the holes with the apple mixture.

8. when ready to serve, top each cupcake with a dollop of whipped cream.

this made 36 cupcakes for us and they were delicious! once again, thanks to Annies-Eats for the idea!


Once upon a time there was... Cheddar and Beer Risotto

There are few things we enjoy more than cheese and alcoholic beverages.
For those that were wondering, Cal did wonder at one time if it was ok for him to eat dairy - but that only lasted like 5 seconds because he really REALLY likes cheese. Anyway, we decided there was no better way to dress up plain risotto than with both of those.
Here's the recipe we made up:
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz lager beer
1.5 cups chicken broth
5 oz shredded yellow cheddar cheese
3 oz shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
tabasco sauce, a few drops
salt, pepper
1. saute onion and garlic in oil and butter for 2-3 min
2. add rice, cook another 2 min
3. Add 1 cup of broth, cook until liquid is mostly absorbed
4. add 1 cup of beer, cook until liquid is mostly absorbed
5. add 1/2 c of broth and 1/2 cup of beer, cook until liquid is mostly absorbed
6. add all the cheese, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and a few drops of tabasco sauce. stir into rice until all the cheese is melted and all ingredients are mixed.
serves 4.
Both Cal and I agree it was a fantastic dinner and it reminded me of Melting Pot cheddar fondue. We only wish we had thought to chop ourselves some dippers!
Pig, out.

Once upon a time there was... a blog

Hi there! 

Thanks for visiting our blog. Cornelius (he's the pig) and I (Cal the cow) are full-time stuffed animals who enjoy cooking, travelling, rolling in mud and other sophisticated activities. 

We live with two three humans and a bulldog on a beautiful castle-farm just outside the beltway in Northern Virginia  in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  

We make good food.  We make even better messes.  

And like most food blogs, we spend more time taking and editing pictures than actually cooking.  However, to date we haven't had a pictured accepted to  We're pretty sure they are discriminating against farm animals and plan to take action soon.