Tuesday, February 26, 2013

‘Heated Passion’ Fruit White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Since its introduction six months ago our newest balsamic vinegar is making quite the impression.  In short order, our Passion Fruit White Balsamic Vinegar may be our best selling product second only to our other clean, crisp elegant balsamic, our #1 White Balsamic with Pear.

I love taking sweet and matching it with just a bit of heat, here we use just enough red chili pepper flakes to give this a spicy edge.  While this recipe is described as a vinaigrette, it can also be used as a marinade for pork, shrimp or chicken.  You can make this as spicy as you choose.

See the cork in the picture?  I wonder why it is there!

  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons Pastamoré Passion Fruit White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine minced shallot, vinegar and olive oil in a small Mason jar.

(Note:  For vinaigrettes, I prefer to use a Mason jar.  It is easy to dump the ingredients into the jar, seal and shake.  You get a nicely emulsified and creamy vinaigrette in seconds, plus you can easily store the extra in the fridge.  I realize purists prefer whisks for better emulsifying, so feel free if you desire, use a bowl and whisk away instead!)

Place the red pepper flakes in the palm of one hand, and with the fingers of your other crush the pepper flakes further.  This will release the essence of the pepper faster.  Add these to the Mason jar along with some salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.  You need  salt for this vinaigrette to bring the flavors forward, but too much will negate the fruitiness.

Set aside for at least an hour to let flavors meld.  This will cover one large bowl of salad greens and will serve at least four.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Balsamic Truffles

If you haven’t tried making traditional chocolate truffles, you may be surprised at how easy they are. Essentially you make a simple 'ganache' of melted chocolate and heated cream, which is then cooled. At this point, you can now brag to everyone that you can make a 'ganache'! The cooled filling is then formed into small balls, and coated with cocoa powder. Truly, something this decadent doesn’t get any more effortless than this!

The twist for these truffles is the use of balsamic vinegar, which adds a punch of intense flavor. Using the raspberry balsamic adds a back note of the berry flavor to the dark chocolate. We chose our raspberry balsamic, but our Pastamoré Black Cherry would work just as well.
Shelf life (in this house):  About 5 minutes...
ingredients: Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water. Place melted chocolate in a small bowl. Stir in the Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. Cool the chocolate in the refrigerator for one hour. Remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, until firm but moldable.

Use a teaspoon to scoop out chocolate. Use your fingertips to shape into balls about the size of a large cherry. Set the chocolate balls on a parchment-lined tray.

Place the cocoa powder in a small shallow dish. Place 6 truffles at a time in the cocoa powder and roll the truffles around to coat, and return the coated truffles to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining truffles. Place the truffles on a serving dish or store in an airtight package.

Makes about 36 truffles.

Grilled Flat Iron Steaks with Spicy Chocolate Rub

It may be unusual to think of dark chocolate used in savory dishes, but here is an example where chocolate paired with chilies transcend the flavor of beef.  This is simply a take on a traditional Mexican mole.  Here we marinate a steak in our dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.  I apply a rub made with brown sugar, chili powder and allspice.  The steaks are cooked to medium rare on the grill, sliced thin, and finished with a quick drizzle of the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.  If you haven’t tried the classic pairing of beef, chilies and rich dark chocolate, you are missing a timeless taste sensation.  The combo for this dish is a bit sweet, a bit hot and very exotic.

For this recipe, I chose flat iron steaks as they tend to have a stronger beef flavor.  Filet Mignon or a nice New York Strip will work just as well.  Try to find a good fresh Mexican chili powder – there are some interesting new ones appearing all the time, or better yet, make your own.  It is easier than you think!

Grilled Flat Iron Steak w/ Gorgonzola Farro
  • 2 (6) ounce flat iron steaks (filet mignon or New York strips will work too)
  • 1 tablespoons Pastamoré Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar plus finishing drizzle
  • 1/2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix the Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and the Canola oil in the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Add the steaks and marinate for about an hour on each side.

Mix together the brown sugar, chili powder and allspice. Set aside.

Remove the steaks from the marinade, salt them and dip them in the spice rub on both sides. 

Heat a grill or grill pan until hot.

Grill the steaks until you get the doneness you desire.  For medium rare, this should be about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.  Drizzle a little bit of Dark Chocolate Balsamic over the meat before serving.

Serves 2

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sweet Potato Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

When we do shows the most common question we get is pasta related.  And it may have something to do with the sign we keep in the booth – "Ask us about our No Sauce Pasta".  And people do!  After explaining how the well-flavored pasta doesn’t need a heavy sauce, I will often describe my favorite (and very easy) way to make a lighter style pasta dinner.  So here it is – in all it’s simple tasty charm.  But please note, this recipe is more a serving suggestion, and it can be used with many of our pastas besides our Sweet Potato.  Try this with Tomato Basil, or Garlic with Toasted Onion

  • 1 pint (10 ounces) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 ounce) package Pastamoré Sweet Potato Fettuccine
  • 2 to 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise and place in a small bowl.  Mince the garlic and add to bowl.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir in the olive oil, and toss.  Set aside, but toss it once in awhile.  The idea is to let this marinate and have the flavors meld, it can sit for an hour or two.

Prepare the Sweet Potato pasta per the directions on the package.  Remember what Nan has told every one of you at some point:  Big Pot, Lotsa Water.

Put the cooked pasta from the strainer back into the hot pot, but not back on the hot burner.  Add the tomato mixture and gently toss, making sure to fully coat the pasta.  Divide pasta into four pre-heated pasta bowls.  Sprinkle with the goat cheese and serve.

Serves 4