Sunday, October 26, 2014

'Dishing Up New Mexico' offers enchanting ideas

‘Dishing up New Mexico’ offers enchanting ideas
Due respect to peppers — which can be stuffed with lamb, flavor CafĂ© Diablo or perk up a cucumber frozen pop — are given in a picture-recipe book that will have you headed west.
“Dishing Up New Mexico: 145 Recipes from The Land of Enchantment” is Dave DeWitt’s love letter to the state’s land, people and the food they create together. Chickpea and chorizo stew, blue corn chicken taquitos and Lusty Mustard-Slathered Chicken Breasts sound as good as photos of farmers’ markets, grazing livestock and panoramic sunsets look. This book even offers our weekly Pumpkin Update, with a recipe for curry pumpkin soup (rum optional).  The following recipe is versatile:

Double  Pepper-Infused Strawberries
One fourth cup tequila
2 piquin chiles, crushed
4 pints of strawberries, hulled and halved (about six cups)
2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
one half cup orange juice
 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Fresh mint springs, for garnish
Pour the tequila over the chiles in a small bow Soak for 1 to 4 hours before straining. The longer you leave the chiles, the stronger the flavor will be.
Combine the strawberries, pepper, orange juice, vinegar and infused tequila in a bowl and toss well. Cover and chill for at least three hours, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the mixture into 6 small glass bowls and garnish with mint springs before serving.

Cluck ‘nMoo
With a name like that above, can you guess what you’re getting into? How about a very nice frozen burger that’s perfect for celebrating National Kale Day. Yes, that’s a thing. Look it up.
Cluck ‘nMoo combines grass fed beef and chicken with Kale for a burger that has 52 percent less fat than USDA data for ground beef. I tried my first one with great success, serving creamed corn as a dip for blue corn tortilla chips and chopped white onions. It was a quick and delicious meal. So it’s easy, and good and I suppose that could get me crowing and kicking.

Chipotle Bloody Marys
Organic ginger puree, shitake mushrooms and tamarind go into Powell & Mahoney’s handcrafted cocktail mixes. Sip ‘em slow to pick up on the subtle flavors. I’ve told you I eat peppers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so Chipotle Bloody Mary Mix is perfect for another meal: Brunch. There’s a sriracha and a “regular,” and suggestions for garnish include celery stalk, slice of lemon, pickled long beans, olives, salami, grilled shrimp or a slice of crispy bacon.
Here’s the deal. Makers suggest these make great tailgate beverages. If you know anybody tailgating like this, please call me. This stuff is very nice. I didn’t know they like it so spicy in Vermont.

McCormick has your gluten-free back
Gluten-free turkey gravy and chili mixes, three-spice packs including flavors fo Rosemary Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Carrots and skillet sauces (how about Taco with Chopotle?) are among some new packets. McCormick must have had Southeast Texas in mind with Zesty Garlic Shrimp as a flavor option.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some fall flavors and fantasies

Some fall flavors and fantasies
Did you know you can pour, powder and paste on your vanilla this fall?
Nielsen-Massey  has amazing options for icing, beverages and main dishes. Start with a sprinkle in your morning coffee. If you like to play with your food, explore all their options. Their fine powder must be inhaled first every time you open the jar. Then it goes in all kinds of goodies. Here’s one:

Chewy Macadamia Nut Cookies

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder

2 eggs

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

one half  teaspoon baking soda

one half teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla powder in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer on a medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar and cinnamon and mix well. Stir in the macadamia nuts. Chill for 2 hours. 

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Coat an insulated cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. 

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 3 dozen 

When preparing bakery items such as cookies, here's at tip to enhance the flavor intensity of your product: cream the vanilla into the butter or shortening and sugar first. This step encapsulates the vanilla and helps prevent flavor loss in low mass/low moisture/high heat cookies.

Menu tease
My mother passed me a menu card from a friend’s travels because she thought you Culinary Thrill Seekers would enjoy hearing about it. We don’t know the year or the place, but we would like to sit down to The Royal Marriage: black mushroom consommĂ© accompanied with dumpling delicacies. Later there’s The Willow’s Melody: a delightful lotus seed pudding in strawberry sauce. 

Pumpkin update:
Krusteaz has a new Pumpkin Pie Bar mix that was ready in just a few minutes. The skill required to fashion this yummy crowd-pleaser was minimal and the payoff was huge. When warm, people were convinced there was chocolate in there. The flavor actually comes from a gingerbread crust. Amazingly, there was still some left when it had cooled properly and it was still a hit. My favorite was the crispy corners, so I paired with a soft-center lover.

Sandwich Mondays
Get on board. It’s a thing. Do you crave the convenience of lunch meat but shy away from preservatives? Hillshire Farm is making it pretty easy on us with the new Naturals line: Slow Roasted Turkey Breast, Honey Roasted Ham, Hardwood Smoked Turkey Breast and Black Forest Ham. What I got was quick meals of salads, wraps and omelets without artificial ingredients, preservatives, colors or added nitrates, They come in reusable plastic boxes that are easily stacked to keep your fridge orderly. That makes it a triple hit with me for taste, health and ease of use.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bring on the hummus

Bring on the hummus

I was literally in the kitchen prepping some homemade pumpkin hummus when my husband was in the next room telling me had containers of lemon, garlic and traditional versions of Cat Cora’s new product. I love each and every one of them. It’s not hard to make hummus, but go ahead and let Cora do what she knows. Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Grecian Delight Foods has given us three winners. Here’s what she says about it:

“My hummus recipes draw inspiration from my Greek heritage, with flavor twist I’ve picked up throughout my culinary career,” said Cora. “I’m so excited they will be available via grocer giant HEB in the Lone Star state.”
They’re all so good, but I think lemon will remain my favorite.
You can get Traditional, Smooth & Creamy Garlic, and Smooth & Creamy Lemon, a version that’s topped with jalapeno peppers. I’ve been using it as salad dressing, dipping sugar snap peas in it and doing the cracker thing.

Celebrity Chef Cat Cora is best-known for her role as the first female Iron Chef on Iron Chef America and since has co-hosted Food Network’s Melting Pot and America’s Best Cook as well as Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates. Her namesake Cat Cora’s Kitchen operates at the Houston Intercontinental, the Salt Lake City and San Francisco Airport Terminals.

Pumpkin alert
Remember last year, readers, when there was a new pumpkin story every week? Retailers want us to play that again, because pumpkin abounds. Krusteaz has new flavors out including a pumpkin spice muffin mix. I played with that, adding flax seed, subbing banana for the egg and adding Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder, a luxury any baker can afford. In just a few minutes the reward of pumpkin made my breakfast.

The easiest way to go from plain to flavored is Kickers, packets of natural favors with real fruit. Got cottage cheese or yogurt? Make them chocolate peanut butter or strawberry banana. Oatmeal gets apple cinnamon and pancakes can go for maple banana cream. Mix and match to flavor oatmeal, cereal and smoothies.

125th anniversary
McCormick has an anniversary edition of pure vanilla extract and suggests you may want to play with that and Thai a Kitchen Coconut Milk, subbing a can for the oil and water of your favorite cake mix. Let's do it. Get to for ideas, like "naked birthday cake."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Don'tcha love being Southern?

“Super Fast Southern”
I love being southern. The new book “Super Fast Southern” helps interpret our flavors and ways for those who maybe would like the taste of crawfish but don’t have time for a full-on boil.

This Southern Living Book covers Asian food, mac and cheese with bacon, chicken fried steak and shrimp kebobs with blackberry and mango. It’s all over the culinary map and I want to take that trip. The maque choux features slices of okra; instant gazpacho uses bloody mary mix; and the BLT Benedict includes an egg and avocado-tomato relish. Quesadilla variations include Greek, with feta and olives.
I love being a southerner. Don’t forget Bonuts, little fried biscuit dough bits covered in powdered sugar. Or, try deep frying your Moon Pie.
Here’s how to get a quick taste of crawfish in your week:

Spicy Crawfish Dip
3 tablespoons butter
one half cup finely chopped onion
three fourths cup finely chopped celery
 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
 2 tablespoons salt-free seasoning blend
one half teaspoon ground red pepper
 8 ounces peeled and cooked crawfish tails, chopped
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
In an 8-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onion, celery and garlic in butter 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Add seasoning blend and ground red epper. Cook and stir 30 seconds longer.
In medium bowl, mix vegetables and crawfish tails. Add cream cheese; stir gently to combine.

Pumpkin is pervasive
Thanks for the flavors. Thomas’ Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice English Muffins and Bagels and Thomas’ Limited Edition Cranberry English Muffins and bagels are at markets and mass stores, like Walmart, this fall. Use them as the base for breakfast and dessert with your own spreadable ideas from gourmet peanut butter and pepper honey to cream cheese and chocolate. I love them. Let me know what  you come up with.

Larry’s Southwestern Sauces
Down in Groves, Larry’s means crawfish. This other Larry in Austin is getting famous for all-natural Mexican cooking sauces for artisan tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chicken and more. I tried the mole sauce with eggs for breakfast, though it’s designed to pour over meat and bake for an hour. Serve that with rice, corn or tortillas. My simple egg mole was appreciated for nuanced flavor so early in the morning.
The Chipotle and Ranchero jars are also vegan and gluten-free and good for very quick accomplishments. Summon your friends and get the fiesta going.

Had me at Hershey’s
I wasn’t even looking for it, but it found me. A box of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate instant pudding mix had smooth, creamy stuff ready for me with a few moments of blending. It just asked me to give it cold milk. I just had instant milk, and even that worked out blissfully good. So, now you know.