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 an acidic tang to ease the sweetness. We have always loved 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 (below) where we have both versions plated.

  • 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 Black 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
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!


  • 9” by 13” baking dish
  • 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
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.

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 creamier (but not too) version of what we saw on TV - theirs had a more 'pickling spice' 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!

  • 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 (flat-leaf) 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

This is an update to one of our most popular recipes. Originally the key ingredient was our Spicy Tomato Oil, which has been replaced by our Sundried Tomato. We think the salad is even better - the complexity of our new oil adds depth to the dish!
We love this simple, easy to prepare salad. There isn't a need for much measuring, just roughly have the same volume of corn, tomato & beans. This salad was inspired by our love of beans, but the thought of hot baked beans on a hot late summer day doesn't always have appeal. Think light 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 shifted from Italy to Mexico for a great new flavor profile!


  • 1 tablespoon Pastamore Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup Pastamore Sundried Tomato Oil with Harissa
  • 10 oz. fresh corn cut from the cob, or frozen & thawed
  • 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes (optional)
Whisk together balsamic vinegar & Dijon in a large salad bowl. Add Sundried Tomato Oil in a slow drizzle while whisking. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and optional chili.

Add corn, kidney beans and chopped tomato. Toss lightly to coat. Add in most of the parsley, reserving some as 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.


•            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.