Thursday, August 27, 2015

Caprese 'Cocktails' with 'Green Passion' Dressing



Caprese salads are simple to prepare. You just have to have great tomatoes and really good mozzarella. Heirloom tomatoes, when you can get them, are a must.  But our new dressing takes all this to a new level.

This dressing is reminiscent of the classic ‘green goddess’ dressing of old. Sadly, green godess dressing went to the wayside years ago along with Thousand Island and Russian dressings, but to be fair, green goddess still rates as a classic among chefs.  Green goddess was named for its tint, and has an herbaceous flavor.  Ours follows suit with both, and adds a tangy fruity freshness.

This is a versatile dressing, folks!  Already we have paired it with classic green salads.  If you are a fan of panzanella (think Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is popular in summer), this makes for an amazing dressing to soak the bread and brighten the tomatoes!

for the cocktails:
  • 2 (8 ounce) containers fresh mozzarella (cherry sized or 'Ciliegine')
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 6 small basil leaves (as garnish)
for the dressing:
Combine scallions, garlic, basil, and passion fruit vinegar in food processor or blender and pulse to blend. Stream in Meyer lemon olive oil, then extra-virgin olive oil to form a smooth dressing. Add pepper and a touch of salt - not too much! A light touch of salt enlivens the flavors, too much will take away the 'fruitiness'.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of thick dressing, ideal for coating the tomatoes and mozzarella. For a lettuce salad or panzanella, you may want to 'thin' the dressing with more olive oil.
Combine tomato halves and mozzarella balls in a large bowl - you are looking for a 50/50 mix. Lightly salt and pepper. Add dressing to taste and toss to coat. Arrange in a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf.

Serves six.

Green Apple & Fennel Slaw

We are big Food Network fans, which I am sure surprises no one.  One of our favorite shows is Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.  We recently viewed an episode which presented pulled-pork sandwiches topped with a green apple and fennel slaw.  The awesome restaurant was in Vancouver, BC, a bit too far for a visit and taste.   However, for a recent large family gathering, we attempted to recreate the dish tweaking it to feature our amazing gourmet condiments.

The slaw we created turned out to be a stand-alone star.  Our take focused on a creamy (but not too) version of what we saw on TV - theirs had a more 'pickled' approach.  Plus, we knew our White Balsamic Vinegar with Pear would tie the elements together - particularly the apple & fennel.  We think the result is amazing, with varying shades of white to green color that is gorgeous when presented.


By the way, you can still use this on a pulled-pork sandwich!  We won't tell!


ingredients:
  • 1 (8 or 10) ounce package shredded green cabbage
  • ice water as needed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Pastamoré White Balsamic with Pear
  • 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 green onions, including tender green parts thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley 
Fill a large bowl with ice water and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into it. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat and add the juice of remaining lemon half.

Cut off stems and feathery fronds of the fennel bulb and remove any bruised or discolored outer leaves. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out any tough core parts. Thinly slice each half into matchsticks sized pieces and place immediately in the bowl of iced lemon water. When all the fennel is cut, transfer with a slotted spoon to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. (Reserve the bowl of iced lemon water for the apples.) Drain the blanched fennel and rinse under cold running water. Transfer to a fresh bowl of ice water. Set aside.

Working with 1 apple at a time, quarter it and cut away the core. Slice each quarter into matchstick sized pieces and place immediately in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining apple.

In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, pear balsamic vinegar, milk. Mix together and add the black pepper and adjust the seasonings, taste. The dressing should be both sweet and tangy, and the consistency should be pour-able, not thick. Add a little more milk if the dressing is too thick.

Place cabbage in a large bowl. Drain the fennel and apples, squeeze gently to remove excess water, pat dry and add to the bowl of cabbage. Add the green onions and parsley. Pour the dressing over all and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves six.

Late Summer Corn & Bean Salad



Nan & I had a cook-off with this recipe.  Nan always wins best bowl!
This is a simple, easy to prepare salad. Just cut some corn, tomato and parsley, and you are pretty much done. This salad was inspired by our love of beans in summer, but the thought of hot baked beans on a hot summer day doesn't always have appeal. Think lighter and fresh!

A variation on this salad is a suggestion from Nan; use black beans instead of kidney, and cilantro instead of flat-leafed parsley. You have moved from Italy to Mexico for a great new flavor profile!


ingredients:

Whisk together balsamic vinegar & Dijon in a salad bowl. Add Spicy Tomato Oil in a slow drizzle while whisking. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt & pepper.

Add corn, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes. Toss lightly to coat. Add in most of the parsley, reserving some for garnish before serving. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours to meld flavors. Garnish and serve.

Serves six.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grilled Smoky Salsa

Recently our Queen Bee bought a new Traeger Grill for our test kitchen - we have been in a grilling frenzy ever since.  If you don't know about Traeger grills, they are a grill and smoker - entirely temperature controlled and they make grilling fun and easy.  They use pellets instead of gas or charcoal.

This recipe is adapted from their website.  If you don't have a Traeger simply add a dash of liquid smoke to the recipe.

ingredients

•            2 large tomatoes, halved

•            2 10 ounce cans original Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies

•            1 medium sweet onion(Vidalia or Maui)

•            2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

•            1 or 2 jalapenos (to taste), seeded & halved

•            1 tablespoon Pastamoré Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar

•            2 teaspoons honey

•            1 teaspoons salt

•            1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

•            large handful cilantro

•            juice of 2 limes

•            1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional if not using smoker)


Start your grill.  Set the temperature to High (450°F) and preheat, lid closed (10-15 minutes). 

While your grill is heating up, cut the onion into thick slices. Once preheated, place tomatoes, jalapenos and onion cut side down directly on the grate and grill for 5-10 minutes.

After grilling, put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is the desired consistency. Adjust for seasoning. Serve with chips or over tacos.

Makes one large bowl. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Patrick’s ‘Chocolate’ Citrus Pork


Our favorite aspect of any show we do is the opportunity to meet up with you all, our longtime fans. We can always tell 'a fan' – you make a bee-line to our booth, big smile on your faces. We often hear, “Oh good, you guys ARE here again this year!” It is so nice to hear your kind words and appreciation for our products - we have said this before; you all make this a fun job.

This past weekend, our friend Patrick came by our booth in Napa. He told us about how he uses our Dark Chocolate Balsamic with pork chops – and they sounded fantastic. We asked if he could take a moment and send some notes on it, and he did. Here is what he told us:

“For the record, I am not a chef by any means. This was just me playing around in the kitchen. I like your products and its fun trying to find interesting ways to use them. But I'm a novice by every definition. I should have made a note that the chops were standard cut, boneless, not thin cut. I've done it on thin cut and it works fine, but cooks in less time.”

He describes the pork as “smelling like a chocolate cake cooking, has a light chocolate/citrus flavor. The flavor is light but not overwhelming”
 
Here is a picture of Patrick’s prep:


Nan herself was eager to try this in the test kitchen. Here is the recipe (mostly from Patrick, some minor additions by us)


ingredients

  • 1 pork loin (we used the loin, see Patrick’s note about using chops)
  • ¼ cup of Pastamoré Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of ½ medium orange (Patrick uses clementine’s, substitute juice from one whole)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the pork loin in glass casserole dish. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and orange juice on the pork. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top of pork along with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for six to eight hours flipping the loin every couple of hours.
 

Nancy grilled the loin, but this can be baked as well. Patrick baked the standard cut chops at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (155 to 160F internal temperature).
 

Here are Nancy’s notes: “The flavor was very good; none of the ingredients overpowered each other. Actually you weren’t sure what you were tasting it just had a nice flavor.”

Nancy sliced the pork loin and served it with grilled asparagus (with a drizzle of our Pastamoré Meyer Lemon Oil). Patrick recommends a veggie, polenta, a mushroom rice or orzo side.


~ With huge thanks to Patrick Burns!