Saturday, June 25, 2016

Berry Delish Vinaigrette

The engaging article and fabulous recipe below are courtesy of Esther Kennedy, better known as 'Esther the Zester'.  She writes a compelling food blog with recipes, her thoughts on food and food issues, and about her quest to write her first cookbook.  She is personable, charming, and best of all, can write.

She has graciously given us permission to republish her recipe, which involves her meeting us at one of our shows (you'll understand when you read her words).  However, we suggest you take some time and enjoy her full body of work by going to her food blog, here.


"There are a few splurges in life that I truly enjoy — a glass of dry, aromatic Cabernet or a rich dark chocolate bar, preferably together if at all possible. So when I was given the chance to go wine and chocolate tasting, you bet I jumped on that train immediately!

A couple of weekends ago, Paradise, a small town in NorCal, put on its annual Chocolate Festival. I was cordially invited to be entertained the evening prior to the official festivities, where I donned a glass of red wine in one hand and an elegant chocolate bite in the other.

While walking around and tasting the different wines, chocolates, cheeses, meats and a little of everything in between, I came to a stand where Brad Roth was handing out samples of his infused oils and vinegar's.

As a cook, I love infused vinegar's and oils because they bring a whole new level to dishes. For instance, a basil-infused olive oil is a perfect addition for a pasta dish or a fruit-infused balsamic vinegar goes phenomenal over sautéed vegetables.
 

After careful consideration — and sampling — I came away with a bottle of delicious raspberry balsamic vinegar. While chatting with Brad for quite sometime, in between sampling of course, I mentioned that I was working on a cookbook and promised to incorporate the balsamic into some of my dishes.

I highly recommend adding an infused oil or vinegar to your kitchen — you’ll definitely thank me later. You can order one from Brad’s website (there are other delicious foods on the site so definitely check it out!). However, if for some reason you cannot, there are specialty olive oil stores in many cities that offer tastings, as well, or check out a local specialty grocery store in your area.

My first recipe is a simple but delicious dressing to top your favorite salad. I incorporated certain flavors and profiles that I thought would mesh perfectly with the dressing, creating a fresh summer salad.

Let me know your verdict. Enjoy!"


ingredients
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
directions

In a small bowl, stir all ingredients (except the olive oil**) together; slowly whisk in the oil until fully blended. Transfer to an air-tight container — mason or glass jars are perfect — and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes serving over salad.

Pro tip: Dressing will keep up to 5 days if refrigerated.

** Whisking in the olive oil last will give you the consistency you want in the vinaigrette. The 3/4 cup is a guideline — it could be more or less, depending on the viscosity you desire.


summer salad

Of course, you can use your favorite veggies, nuts, cheeses and fruits, but here are my recommended toppings:

  • Red leaf lettuce
  • English or Persian cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Slivered almonds (or crushed walnuts)
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh basil
  • Shredded chicken (for the meat lovers)

For more recipes by Esther the Zester, go to her blog:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Carrot, Ginger & Lemongrass Soup


This is a simple, tasty soup which can be prepared for winter or summer, hot or cold. While savory in nature, it has a slight sweetness, and we like that the ginger and lemongrass are backdrops - and not overwhelming. We think there is an overall harmony to the dish.

Some notes. If you are not familiar with ghee, it is a type of clarified butter. It imparts a nice butter flavor, but has a high smoke point. The quality of the chicken stock is important in this recipe, in fact, if you are familiar with bone broth, its use will make the soup richer in flavor. Lastly, we like to use white pepper in soups, mostly for aesthetic reasons in light colored dishes. Feel free to use freshly ground black pepper instead.

The croutons pictured are diagonally cut baguette slices, buttered and sprinkled with lemon pepper seasoning, and lightly toasted.


ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ pounds carrots, lightly peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Pastamore Lemongrass with White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 cups high-quality chicken stock
  • sea salt
  • ground white pepper
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the ghee or olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, sweat until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots, ginger, and stir to coat the vegetables with the ghee or oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the broth and lemongrass balsamic vinegar, increase the heat to medium. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth, blending in batches if necessary. Season with sea salt and white pepper to taste and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: You can refrigerate the soup for up to 1 week, or freeze it for up to 6 months.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lemongrass Balsamic Mojito



Mixology is a hot culinary topic these days, and finding unique ingredients for cocktails is all the rage.

You may have heard the term "shrub". These are sweetened vinegar-based syrups, from which the cocktail is made, also known as drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks. Our balsamic vinegar fits the bill perfectly.

The recipe that follows uses our Lemongrass with White Balsamic Vinegar. Lemongrass has a citrusy aroma, with undertones of ginger and mint, which obviously lends itself well to a mojito. This is a relatively easy recipe with stunningly complex & refreshing flavors.

Oh! Fair warning: We found these to be a little TOO easy to consume... if you know what we mean...


ingredients
Combine mint and sugar in shaker; mash well with muddler or wooden spoon. Add lemongrass balsamic vinegar, rum and lime juice; stir or shake until sugar dissolves. Strain into 2 highball glasses. Fill with ice; top with club soda. Garnish with mint leaves.

Makes two drinks. 




Monday, November 23, 2015

Dark Cherry Balsamic Chocolate Truffle Cookies




We find it surprising that few people know how useful balsamic vinegar is in baking. Consider it like a liqueur, rich and full of flavor, but with a tang to ease the sweetness. We have always love chocolate and cherries as a combination - it marries like PB & J - but also consider this recipe with our Raspberry Balsamic for a clever and unique variation.

A note on the addition of the nuts: If you decide to add them (and we hope you do) be aware that the cookies will result in a mound shape – in other words, less flat. You can see the difference in the second picture where we have both cookies plated.

 
Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon Pastamoré Dark Sweet Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly chopped & toasted (optional)
  • powdered sugar, optional as dusting
Directions:

In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the butter stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, cherry balsamic and the chocolate mixture until well mixed.

Combine the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, then gradually stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips and pecans, if using. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly cover cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Roll chilled dough into 1 to 2 inch balls. Place on cookie sheets so they are 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.



Makes 3 dozen.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gluten-Free Lasagna with Oven-Ready No-Boil Noodles


This is a reprint (with some elaboration) of the recipe included in our Pastamoré Garlic Chive Lasagna and our Spinach with Roasted Garlic Lasagna packages. In case the package is ripped, or the print is just too small to read, we wanted you to be able to find a copy here. Also, as we use the noodles more, we hope to try some variations. By the same token, if you have tried some different ways to use our noodles, please let us know. We will update this recipe as we learn!

Needed:

  • 9” by 13” baking dish
Ingredients:
  • 1 package Pastamoré Gluten-Free Lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
  • 1 pound ground beef (we like 90/10) or Italian chicken sausage
  • 2 (24) ounce jars of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 (16) ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook ground beef or sausage in a sauté pan, medium heat until well browned.

In a large sauce pot, heat pasta sauce to a low simmer. Once the meat is cooked, add to the pasta sauce. Simmer for about fifteen minutes to blend flavors.

In a small bowl, mix egg with ricotta cheese. Set aside.

Assemble the lasagna: Spread a small amount of pasta sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. At this point, the layering begins, three times: noodles, ricotta mixture, sauce, and mozzarella – repeat.

Arrange 4 lasagna noodles evenly on bottom of baking dish. Using a spoon, dollop one third (4 to 6 spoonful’s) of the ricotta mixture on the noodles and spread as evenly as you can.

Using a ladle, cover the noodles completely with a layer (again, one third) of the pasta sauce. Sprinkle one third (about 10 ounces, the top layer can be a bit heavier) with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Repeat the layers, three times total, finishing with the mozzarella.

Cover with non-stick foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Total cook time is one hour. Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 15 minutes. Cut into portions and serve.

Serves 8 generously.