Sunday, December 12, 2010

McCormick’s 2011 Flavor Pairings In The Cupcakes and Crablegs Kitchen

Kevan Vetter, McCormick's executive chef, is part of a team that meets to develop McCormick's annual "flavor forecast" report. What I love the most about the report is the flavor pairings.

I will admit that some of them are a little out of the ordinary but you will be amazed when you start experimenting…which is what I did this past weekend.

Bon Appetit!

Here are the pairings for 2011:

1. Fennel and Peri-Peri Sauce

I couldn’t find Peri-Peri at any of my 4 favorite stores - so hard to believe since you can find anything in Chicago - but Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market and Jewel didn’t carry it so I gave up and made my own.

Peri-Peri Sauce

4 peri-peri peppers, cleaned and finely chopped

juice of one Lemon

3 cloves of garlic, minced

one tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, (optional)

one tablespoon Paprika

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Salt

Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Note: Take the necessary precautions when handling hot peppers.

Grind and mix all ingredients to a fine paste by hand or use a blender or food processor. If you want to go hotter add ground cayenne pepper of pepper flakes to taste. Cook in a hot frying-pan for a few minutes.

Store in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator. The flavor will develop over the course of just a week.

Here is McCormick’s recipe for a Bloody Mary’s and it came just in time since we all decided to indulge this morning after a very late night Christmas party.

It was a good change of pace from the usual Bloody Mary and I marinated the cherry tomatoes overnight so they were super infused with the vodka flavor.

Peri-Peri Fennel Bloody Mary with Vodka-Infused Tomatoes
Makes 4

2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Fennel Seed

1/2 cup vodka

4 small cherry tomatoes

4 small pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives

3 cups tomato juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon peri-peri sauce

Heat small skillet on medium heat. Add fennel seed; cook and stir about 1 minute or until fragrant. Immediately pour out of hot pan to avoid over-toasting. Finely crush seeds using a small food processor, a clean coffee grinder, a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle. Pour fennel into small bowl with vodka.

Make a small “x” in the top and bottom of each cherry tomato. Add to the bowl along with the olives. Let stand 4 hours or overnight to marinate. Drain, reserving vodka mixture. Thread 1 tomato and olive onto each of 4 cocktail skewers.

Stir tomato juice, reserved vodka mixture, lemon juice and peri-peri sauce in large pitcher until well blended. Pour into ice-filled glasses.

Garnish with tomato and olive skewers or anything fun that you happen to find in your refrigerator. That’s a challenge these days since all these Christmas parties are taking a toll on my refrigerator space. I don’t think I have room for another ingredient or leftover…unless it is chocolate.

To Rim the glass: Serve in beverages glasses rimmed with fennel sea salt. Place 1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Fennel Seed in large resealable plastic bag. Close tightly. Pound with a rolling pin, mallet or heavy skillet until ground. Mix with 3 tablespoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt on small plate. Wet outside rims of beverage glasses with lemon wedge. Dip glasses into fennel sea salt to coat.

2. Pickling Spice and Rice Vinegar

Here is McCormick’s take on Asian pickles which is great on your favorite Bahn Mi or just right out of the jar!

Asian Refrigerator Pickles

1 seedless or English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (2 cups)

1 cup thinly sliced radishes or daikon (Asian white radish)

1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots

2 tablespoons McCormick® Mixed Pickling Spice

2 cups sugar

2 cups rice vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1. Mix vegetables in large glass bowl. Set aside.

2. Place pickling spice in the center of piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter. Tie tightly with string. Place in medium saucepan with sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid and pickling spice bundle over vegetables. Cover.

3. Refrigerate vegetables. Stir once a day for 1 to 2 days to blend flavors. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Makes 5 ½ cups.

And here is another pickle recipe for the most appetizing side dish at Momofuku’s in New York…the pickles.

Momofuku’s Pickles

For brine:

1 cup very hot tap water

1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar

6 tbsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp pickling spices

For Veggies:

2 lbs whole baby carrots, scrubbed, peeled, and trimmed

3 bulbs fennel

Pack carrots (for larger ones, cut them length-wise, so they are snack size) and fennel (core and cut into 1/8-inch strips) into mason jars or 1-qt plastic containers, cover with brine, close lid, and refrigerate. They'll be ready in four days. Most will keep for up to a month.

3. Roasted Curry Powder and Wild Mushrooms

I could never quite get into curry until I had “real” curry down on Devon Street in Chicago. Here is a recipe that I like and it is especially good when mopped up with oversized pieces of Naan.

Mushroom Curry

1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon whole cumin

½ tablespoon olive oil

½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

½ onion, chopped

1 jalapenos, stems removed and thinly sliced

1 cloves garlic, minced

½ tomato, chopped

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoons coriander powder

8 cashews

Rotisserie chicken – add as little or as much as you like

1/4 teaspoon Garam masala

Salt and pepper

Pour oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Set the mushrooms aside.

Pour the other half of the oil into another skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin. Cook 30 seconds. Add the ginger, onion, jalapenos, and garlic. Cook for about 7-8 minutes.

Add the tomato, turmeric, chili, and coriander. Cook for about 5 minutes. If the mixture is too dry add a 1/4 cup wine or water.

Pour half of the mixture into a blender with the cashews. Process and pour back into skillet. Add the mushrooms, and bring a simmer. Cook for a minute. Add chicken. Stir in the garam masala and stir. Serve over white rice.

4. Caramelized Honey and Adzuki Red Beans

I could not find caramelized honey and once I caramelized my own, I was hooked. It’s so much better than regular honey. It takes a little getting use to but once you have it down, you’ll be putting it on everything.

Combine a little water, lemon juice and honey. The water prevents the honey from scorching, while lemon juice prevents the caramelized honey from hardening or crystallizing.

Cook the honey over low heat, stirring the honey constantly with a wooden spatula. Once the honey begins to simmer stop stirring and cook the honey for just 1 or 2 minutes more.

As soon as the honey reaches a golden brown color and starts to emit a nutty aroma, remove the saucepan off the heat. Swirl the pan to distribute the color and flavor evenly and transfer the contents into another container.

This is McCormick’s recipe for Pork and Beans. I used a little pork belly in mine and, as always, am wild about yet another bean recipe.

It looks like a lot of work but well worth the effort when you take your first bite. I like the addition of fish sauce in this recipe. In fact, I try fish sauce in a lot of dishes because it has such great flavor and goes well in some many sauces and toppings.

Sweet and Smoky "Pork and Beans"

1/2 cup Honey

2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Premium Fish Sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Smoked Paprika, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Garlic Powder, divided

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Crushed Red Pepper

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)

2 slices bacon, diced

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Ground Ginger

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Coarse Grind Black Pepper

1 can (15 ounces) adzuki beans, drained and rinsed or fresh beans (that’s what I use) cooked as follows:

Soak 1/2 cup of beans overnight in ample water. Drain and simmer in 2 cups of water for 40 minutes to an hour. Alternatively, pressure cook the soaked beans in 2 cups of water for 5-9 minutes at high pressure. If you don't have time to soak the beans, pressure cook for 15-20 minutes.

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix honey, fish sauce, lime juice, 2 teaspoons of the smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of the garlic powder and red pepper in small bowl until well blended. Brush pork with glaze.

Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until desired doneness, brushing with glaze halfway through cooking time. Let pork stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet on medium heat until crisp. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, remaining 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika and garlic powder, ginger, sea salt and pepper; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Gently stir in beans. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Slice pork on an angle into thin slices and serve over bean mixture. Garnish with green onions.

5. Ancho Chile Pepper and Hibiscus

Here is McCormick’s cupcake recipe which was downright sinful.

I did my own things with the frostings here using a little fudge under the Hibiscus buttercream and topped it with a few swirls of lighter chocolate and lots of extra hibiscus and a few chocolate shavings. I hardly ever follow a recipe when topping a cake.

I really loved the combination of the fudge cake with the hibiscus in the buttercream. Little did I know that the Hibiscus that grew in my back yard in Hawaii was so enchanting to eat!

Chocolate Fudge Ancho Cupcakes with Hibiscus Buttercream Frosting

1 1/4 cups flour, divided

1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Ancho Chile Pepper

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate

6 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup water

Hibiscus Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 1/2 cup of the flour, ancho chile pepper and baking soda in small bowl. Set aside. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Gradually beat in ancho-flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Add remaining 3/4 cup flour alternately with water, beating until well blended after each addition.

2. Spoon batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Frost cupcakes with Hibiscus Buttercream Frosting.

Hibiscus Buttercream Frosting:

Beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened, and 1 tablespoon finely ground dried hibiscus flowers in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 2 cups confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water; beat until light and fluffy.

Easy Chocolate Fudge Ancho Cupcakes:

Prepare 1 package (18 1/4 ounces) chocolate fudge cake mix as directed on package, adding 1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Ancho Chile Pepper with the cake mix. Bake as directed for cupcakes. Double ingredients for Hibiscus Buttercream Frosting and prepare as directed. Frost cupcakes with frosting. Makes 2 dozen.

Makes 12 (1 cupcake) servings.

Note: To grind whole dried hibiscus flowers for the frosting, place the flowers in a clean coffee grinder. Grind on fine setting until finely ground.

Hibiscus syrup is great to mix with a variety of liquors for celebratory winter drinks. Remembering the flavor pairings, I also use a little Ancho Chile Pepper to give it a bit of a kick.

I bought Agave syrup at Trader Joe’s – one of my favorite stores for sourcing hard to find ingredients. Trader Joe’s was the only store to have Hibiscus – they had it mixed in with cashews. That combination was amazing.

Hibiscus Syrup

• 1/3 cup agave syrup

• 4 tbs dried hibiscus leaves

• 1 pc lime

• ¼ tsp. Ancho Chile Pepper

Reduce agave syrup to 2/3 until thick. Add the hibiscus and let it steep for 5 minutes then pass through a fine mesh strainer and chill. Adjust the sweet and sour balance with the lime juice and add the Ancho Chile Pepper.
6.Thyme and Stone Fruits

For years, I have grilled peaches with thyme and honey so this old recipe is now everyone’s new favorite. It’s not just a summer recipe…I do it in the middle of winter because I love grilled fruit any time of the year. In winter, you will likely have to opt for the flash frozen fruit but some brands are almost as good as the fresh!

I made these recently as a side at my neighbor’s winter BBQ and everyone loved the taste with the BBQ pork. You can also use nectarines, which I like as well.

2 peaches

1/3 cup honey

¼ tsp fresh thyme

Pull thyme leaves off the sprig and mix with the honey.Cut peaches in half. Grill the peaches until semi-firm (about 5 minutes).Baste the peaches with the honey-thyme mixture liberally. Grill the peaches for another 5 minutes or until soft

7.Mustard Seed and Vermouth

I love this pairing because it is so simple…just a little vermouth in some grainy mustard and you have a sauce that will go on just about anything.

One of my all time favorite foods is sea scallops and this recipe from the Asian Food Channel is an interesting combination and a nice variation from the standard scallops with butter or cocktail sauce.

Seared Scallops with Mustard Vermouth Sauce

20 fresh large scallops, small side muscle removed

3-4 tablespoons grape seed oil (or canola)

Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 oz vodka

1/4 cup vermouth

1/4 cup 35% whipping cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Thoroughly dry the scallops by laying and folding them within a double layer of paper towel.

Pre-heat a heavy-duty skillet over high heat then add oil. When it is almost smoking, season the scallops with salt and pepper and sear them briefly, 1-2 minutes per side, so they are golden on the outside, and still tender inside. Remove them from the pan and pour in vodka to de-glaze, allowing it to flame. When flame subsides, add the vermouth, mustard and cream and reduce to a sauce like consistency. Whisk in the green onions serve immediately.

8.Cilantro and Nut Butters

This was the most challenging combination of all for me but I love stir fry so a mixture of these ingredients proved to be a delicious and attention-grabbing meal. I love it over rice but you can also toss it over salad or pasta.

Chicken Stir Fry With Cashew Butter and Cilantro

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)

1 tablespoon cashew butter

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 lime (juice and zest)

2 cloves garlic (grated)

2 teaspoons ginger (grated)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons chili sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

1/4 cup cashews

2 green onions (chopped)

Heat the oil in a pan.

Add the chicken and sauté until cooked, about 4-7 minutes.

Mix the cashew butter, soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, chili sauce and sesame oil in a bowl.

Toss the chicken and cilantro in the cashew butter sauce to coat.

Serve over rice and garnish with cashews and green onions.

I found yet another recipe that made the combination of nut butters and cilantro a winning balance of flavors.

Cabbage and Cilantro Slaw with Peanut Sauce

6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

1 cup finely shredded carrots

2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 sliced green onions, both white and green parts

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp water

1 1/2 tsp Hoisin sauce

Place the shredded green cabbage in a bowl. Add in the peanuts, shredded carrots, chopped fresh cilantro and Italian parsley, and green onions.

Prepare the dressing by whisking the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, water and Hoisin sauce together until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and peanuts. Toss to coat all the vegetables well.

9.Herbes de Provence and Popcorn

French popcorn never tasted so good…especially with all the butter. I actually liked air popped until I experienced this recipe. You can put as much or as little butter on as you like. Me – honestly, it’s a weekend cheat worth cheating for.

8 cups popped popcorn.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoon herbs de Provence (a blend of dried marjoram, thyme, summer savory, basil, rosemary, sage, and fennel)

In a large pot, add 1/4 Cup vegetable oil.

Heat on medium high, add a few kernels to the oil.

When the first kernels pop add the rest of the popcorn kernels.

Melt butter in small saucepan; add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in herbs de Provence.

Place popcorn in large bowl. Toss flavored butter mixture.

10. Green Peppercorn and Goat's Milk

I like a variety of salad dressings and this one, from McCormick’s was no exception. I really don’t love goat cheese but loved it in this recipe.

Creamy Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

1 log (6 ounces) goat cheese (chévre), crumbled

1/2 cup goat’s milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Green Peppercorns, finely crushed

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Onion Powder

Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbled goat cheese for sprinkling. Mix remaining goat cheese, goat’s milk, sour cream, green peppercorns, sea salt and onion powder in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended and smooth. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sprinkle dressing with reserved crumbled goat cheese. Serve over salad greens.

An afterthought:

After trying all of the new pairings I can say that McCormick really got it right this year. I’ll review their predictions at the end of 2011 and we’ll see how they did. In the mean time, if you come up with some great recipes when trying these pairings, let me know.

My favorite: Ancho Chile Pepper and Hibiscus…or was it Pickling Spices and Wine Vinegar?