Archive for December, 2011

Queen’s Feast | Charlotte Restaurant Week

Queen’s Feast 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The semi-annual Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week® will make its Winter 2012 outing from Friday, January 20, through Sunday, January 29.

Charlotte Restaurant Week is a metro-area promotion during which numerous upscale restaurants offer a three-course (or more) dinner for $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Restaurants represented in the promotion stretch across many neighborhoods of Charlotte and around the area to Matthews; the Lake Norman area of both northern Mecklenburg and Iredell counties; Concord in Cabarrus County; Belmont in Gaston County; and Fort Mill, SC.

Reservations are strongly recommended; reservation links and contact information for all participating restaurants can be found on the event website

http://www.charlotterestaurantweek.com/

Enjoy a Gluten-Free Holiday Season with Almonds

Enjoy a Gluten-Free Holiday Season with Almonds

Gluten-Free Almond Sacher Torte

Following a gluten-free diet during the holiday season can be stressful and daunting. Almonds, in their various forms, are the ideal solution to elevate the flavor and texture in gluten-free recipes without sacrificing taste.

“Staying gluten-free during the holiday season can be challenging, but with almonds, navigating the dinner table is simple,” says John Csukor, chef and CEO of KOR Food Innovation. “Almonds are a safe and delicious choice that enhances any sensory experience without limit.”

Naturally gluten-free and versatile, almonds offer a wide range of gluten-free solutions that bring a balance of interesting flavors and unique texture to a whole host of recipes without the worry that those with gluten sensitivities face during the holidays.

While gluten-free living requires planning and preparation, it also encourages the exciting discovery of new foods and flavors. So rethink some of your favorite recipes – from entrees to desserts – and substitute ingredients with various almond forms to add flavor, crunch and sophistication to dishes.

For example, you can inspire guests this holiday season with an Almond Sacher Torte that will tempt them to begin dinner with dessert instead.

For more recipes and information, visit www.AlmondBoard.com/glutenfree.

Gluten-Free Almond Sacher Torte

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, sweet unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 cup confectionary sugar
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups sliced toasted almonds
Ganache Frosting
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces 60 percent chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

Preparation

  1. Whip egg whites to soft peaks, add in white sugar and continue to whip into a firm meringue then set aside.
  2. Cream butter, almond extract and confectionery sugar until the mixture is light in color and smooth. Add melted chocolate to butter mixture until fully incorporated and then add egg yolks one at a time.
  3. Fold butter-chocolate mixture into the meringue. Once mixed, sift together dry ingredients and slowly add to wet ingredients until mixture is completely blended.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F in a 10-inch spring form pan that has been lightly coated with butter and dusted with almond flour.
  5. Ganache Frosting: Bring heavy cream to a boil on the stove, then pour over the chocolate and agave nectar in a large mixing bowl and mix with a whisk until smooth. Allow ganache to set up overnight before use. When ready, spread ganache over top and then sides of cake in a thick layer. Garnish sides of cake with toasted almonds.

Serves
Yield 1 single or split double layer 10-inch frosted cake

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Chef Tip: Lightly brush cake with your favorite liquor before icing. This allows the cake to stay moist longer, and adds a little extra flavor.

SOURCE:
Almond Board of California



Share the Spirit of the Season with Holiday Cookies

Share the Spirit of the Season with Holiday Cookies

Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies

The holidays are a season of sharing – sharing memories, sharing recipes and sharing the holiday spirit by making and giving homemade cookies. This year, the baking pros at McCormick are collaborating with cookie-sharing expert Kim Ima, owner of New York City’s The Treats Truck and author of the new “The Treats Truck Baking Book,” to make sure flavorful cookies are at the top of everyone’s gift list.

“Making and sharing cookies can really be a gift from the heart,” says Ima. “That’s what ‘The Treats Truck’ is all about – sharing a little of myself through my fresh-baked treats. It really is one of the greatest ways to connect with people.”

McCormick and Ima share some simple tips for making holiday cookies extra-special:

  • Fantastic Flavor Combinations - Certain flavor match-ups are real winners around the holidays. Cinnamon and ginger are comforting holiday classics, while a splash of peppermint extract adds a surprising hint of refreshment.
  • Dress it Up - Spruce up versatile, go-to recipes like Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies with seasonal flavors and creative decorations. Add a hint of almond extract to deepen the flavor, or play with festive cookie cutters and colorful frosting.
  • Gift It - In a mason jar, combine pre-measured spices, seasonings and other dry ingredients for a homemade “cookie mix.” With a strip of ribbon, attach a recipe card with baking and decorating tips.

To capture the magic of holiday cookie-baking virtually, McCormick is helping bakers share their own delicious gifts from the heart in “The Big Cookie Share” at www.Facebook.com/McCormickSpice. After choosing a signature cookie recipe and customizing it with their own flavor twists, McCormick fans will receive an e-cookie to share with Facebook friends – complete with a frosted holiday message – and the accompanying recipe to bake up a batch at home.

Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
Colorful Cookie Icing
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 to 4 drops McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye

Preparation

  1. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat granulated sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight until firm.
  2. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheets.
  3. Bake in preheated 375°F oven 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
  4. For the icing, mix all ingredients except food colors. (Stir in additional milk as needed to thin icing or more confectioners’ sugar to thicken, if needed.) Place small amount of icing into small shallow bowls, using one bowl for each color desired. Stir drops of food coloring into icing until desired shade is reached.
  5. To ice cookies, hold cookie by its edge and dip top of cookie into icing. (Or spoon icing onto cookie using a teaspoon.) Place iced cookies on wire rack set over foil-covered baking sheet to dry. (The foil-covered baking sheet will catch drips.) To add decorative details to cookies, spoon tinted icing into resealable plastic bag. Snip off tiny piece of corner. Squeeze icing through hole in plastic bag to decorate cookies. If desired, colored sugar may be sprinkled onto freshly iced cookies.

Serves
Makes 6 dozen or 24 (3 cookie) servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Test Kitchen Tip: Mix 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar to use for dusting surface.

Calories: 184g Total Fat: 8g
Cholesterol: 29mg Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 26g Sodium: 137mg

 

Preparation Time:
20 minutes

Cook Time:
8 to 10 minutes per batch

Refrigeration Time:
2 hours

SOURCE:
McCormick

Host a Holly Jolly Party

Host a Holly Jolly Party

Parmesan Pepper Spritz Crackers
Merry Mushroom Bites
Savory Southwest Donuts
All Aglow Melon-tinis
Cheery Cranberry Mojitos
Peppermint Blitz Hot Chocolate

When it comes to celebrations, there’s no season quite like the holiday season.

The celebration experts from Wilton share party tips and irresistible recipes to help create a fabulous cocktail buffet complete with all the trimmings.

“It looks like it would take lots of time and effort, but it really doesn’t,” says Nancy Siler, Vice President of Consumer Affairs at Wilton. “We’ve worked out all the details to make it easy, elegant and delicious.”

Siler suggests setting up a beverage station so guests can serve themselves, or recruit a friend to help prepare and serve your signature cocktails – sugar-rimmed Cheery Cranberry Mojitos and colorful All Aglow Melon-tinis that twinkle with sparkle gel. And for a warm beverage choice, offer rich, thick hot chocolate garnished with frosty snowmen, peppermint curls or chocolate candy-coated marshmallows.

“When it comes to the food, a mix of savory and sweet is a must,” Siler adds. “Tree-shaped Merry Mushroom Bites and tiny Savory Southwest Donuts piped with avocado to resemble a wreath will wow both the eye and the palate. For another unexpected twist on tradition, stack peppery spritz crackers in a clear glass canister.”

And for the sweets, beautifully decorated snowflake shaped holiday butter cookies are displayed on stacked pedestal plates alongside a bowl of truffles adorned with festive candy drizzles and luminescent pearl dust. Both treats make a fitting finale – and can be made in advance.

See step-by-step instructions for Mint Chocolate Chip Truffles, Chocolate Raspberry Chip Truffles and Snowflake Shortbread Cut-Out Cookies on www.wilton.com.

For more holiday recipe and decorating ideas, visit www.wilton.com.

Parmesan Pepper Spritz Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup milk

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In small bowl, combine flour, black pepper, white pepper and salt. In large bowl, beat cheese, butter and garlic until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to cheese mixture. Mix until dough forms a ball. Gradually add milk, mixing until fully incorporated. Shape into small logs and place in Cookie Master Ultra II. Using desired disk, press crackers onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling grid. Remove from sheet and cool completely. Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Serves
Makes about 7 dozen crackers

Merry Mushroom Bites

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces portobello or baby portobello mushrooms, coarsely diced
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (4 ounces) water or other favorite crackers
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Chopped rosemary or parsley (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare Bite-Size Silicone Tree Mold with vegetable pan spray.
  2. In large skillet, cook onion and butter over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, rosemary and black pepper; cook until liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes; cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add eggs, flour, and salt. Pulse until mixture is pureed with no large pieces of mushroom or onion. Fill cavities of silicone mold completely with mushroom mixture, patting flat.
  3. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until top of the mushroom mixture is firm. Cool in pan 15 minutes; carefully remove and place on cracker. Top with sour cream, sliced red pepper and, if desired, rosemary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves
Makes 24 bites

Savory Southwest Donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Topping
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Additional chopped cilantro

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray Mini Donut Pan with vegetable pan spray. Lightly sprinkle wells with some of the paprika.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cumin, chili powder and salt. In second bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil, garlic and cilantro. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until flour is moistened. Fill each donut cavity about 1/2 full.
  3. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched. Let cool in pan 4 to 5 minutes before removing. Wash pan, dry thoroughly and prepare with pan spray and paprika. Repeat with remaining batter.
  4. For topping, mash avocado with lime juice and salt; stir until smooth using a whisk or in a food processor. Pipe avocado mixture over top of cooled donuts. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves
Makes about 36 mini donuts

All Aglow Melon-tinis

Ingredients

  • Wilton Red Sparkle Gel
  • 2 ounces green melon liqueur
  • 1 ounce lemon flavored vodka
  • 1 ounce bottled sour mix
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Maraschino cherries (optional)

Preparation

  1. Squeeze Wilton Red Sparkle Gel around the inside of a martini glass.
  2. In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine melon liqueur, vodka, sour mix and club soda; shake well. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Serves
Makes 1 cocktail

Cheery Cranberry Mojitos

Ingredients

  • 6 fresh torn mint leaves, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 lime, cut into four wedges
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Wilton Red Colored Sugars, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 ounces rum
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces club soda

Preparation

  1. In tall glass, thoroughly muddle mint leaves, lime wedges, cranberries, and red sugar. Add rum, cranberry juice and club soda and stir. Add ice and additional club soda to fill glass.

Serves
Makes 1 cocktail

Peppermint Blitz Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (4 cups) milk
  • 1 cup (about 6 ounces) Wilton Dark Cocoa Candy Melts, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 ounces chocolate liqueur (optional)
  • 1 ounce peppermint liqueur (optional)

Preparation

  1. In a large pot over medium-low flame, heat milk and Candy Melts, whisking frequently, until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in extracts and liqueurs, if using.
  2. Garnish with peppermint sticks or curls or snowman decorations and serve immediately.

Serves
Makes about 4 servings

SOURCE:
Wilton Enterprises



The Sweet Secret to New Holiday Favorites

The Sweet Secret to New Holiday Favorites

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Pie
Banana-Mango Bread Pudding with Coconut Caramel Sauce
Ice Cream Cone Sundae Fudge
Cinnamon Spiced Café Latte

The holiday season is a perfect time to share delicious and decadent family recipes with friends and relatives. This year, introduce them to new sweet homemade treats that are sure to quickly become holiday favorites.

Share Your Sweet Secret

All home bakers need is a can of Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk and their imagination to enter the brand’s Sweet Secret Recipe and Essay Contest. From October 5 through December 7, 2011, home cooks can enter an original dessert recipe and essay (100 words or less) describing how Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk is their “sweet secret” for the chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Visit www.eaglebrand.com and www.marcaeagle.com for Official Rules and entry form.

Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk is the go-to sweet secret ingredient for preparing countless holiday recipes. It is a special blend of milk and sugar that can be used to create a foolproof “base” for a variety of desserts. When combined with acidic fruit juice, such as lemon juice, the sweetened condensed milk thickens – without heating – to form velvety pie fillings, puddings and other desserts. It also caramelizes evenly and easily – just empty in saucepan, heat and stir per directions on can. Visit www.eaglebrand.com (and in Spanish at www.marcaeagle.com) for more dessert recipes and helpful baking tips.

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell, thawed according to package directions
  • Water
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips or miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Whipped topping

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Brush pie shell very lightly with water; generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  2. Stir ricotta cheese, sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pie crust.
  3. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Filling will appear slightly soft. Cool completely on wire rack. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped topping, if desired.

Serves
Yield 8 servings

Preparation Time:
25 minutes

Cook Time:
45 minutes

Banana-Mango Bread Pudding with Coconut Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

Bread Pudding
  • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 8 cups lightly packed 3/4-inch challah bread cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups diced fresh mango (2 to 3 mangos)
  • 2 medium bananas, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 9.6-ounce can mango nectar (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Spiced Sour Cream
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Coconut Caramel Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Coat 13 x 9-inch baking dish with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. To make Bread Pudding: Combine bread cubes, mango and bananas in large bowl. Whisk together eggs, sweetened condensed milk, mango nectar, milk, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl. Pour over bread mixture, stirring until thoroughly moistened. Let stand 30 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until set in center. Cool slightly in pan on wire rack.
  3. To make Spiced Sour Cream: Stir sour cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger until blended.
  4. To make Coconut Caramel Sauce: Cook butter and sugar in small saucepan over medium-low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.
  5. To Toast Coconut: Spread coconut on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high 2 to 4 minutes or until lightly toasted, tossing the coconut with a fork after each minute. To avoid overbrowning, remove from plate immediately.
  6. To serve: Spoon Bread Pudding into shallow serving bowls. Drizzle with Coconut Caramel Sauce. Top with a dollop of Spiced Sour Cream. Sprinkle with coconut. Serve immediately.

Serves
Yield 10 servings

Preparation Time:
30 minutes

Cook Time:
60 minutes

Ice Cream Cone Sundae Fudge

Ingredients

  • Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped sugar ice cream cones
  • 3/4 cup white baking chips
  • 1/2 cup well-drained chopped maraschino cherries

Preparation

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Coat foil with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in peanuts, chopped sugar cones, white chocolate chips and cherries until thoroughly blended. Spread in prepared pan. Cover and chill 3 hours or until firm.
  4. Remove fudge from pan by lifting edges of foil. Peel off foil. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Serves
Yield 64 pieces

Preparation Time:
25 minutes

Cook Time:
3 hours 30 minutes

Cinnamon Spiced Café Latte

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ground Folgers® Classic Roast® Coffee
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Whipped cream, as desired
  • Additional ground cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Stir together ground coffee and cinnamon. Brew coffee in coffee maker using 3 cups cold water.
  2. Pour sweetened condensed milk into large coffee pot or 1 1/2-quart pitcher. Add hot brewed coffee, stirring until thoroughly blended.
  3. Pour coffee mixture into café mugs. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves
Yield 4 servings

Preparation Time:
10 minutes

Cook Time:
5 minutes

SOURCE:
The J.M. Smucker Company