Monday, January 30, 2012

Chili for "The Big Game" Can I say "Super Bowl"?

Warm chili is the perfect winter supper and an easy way to feed a crowd or just two. Cincinnati’s 5-way chili is famous and many “fast-food” restaurants feature it. Skyline Chili is the best known and is no longer limited to Cincinnati. There is now an outlet on Clearwater Beach (right next to Mc Donald’s). Chocolate and spices make the flavor different from standard chili. Serve it 3-way, 4-way or 5-way chili for hearty meal. Five way chili starts with meat sauce and is built with spaghetti, kidney beans, chopped onion and lots of shredded Cheddar cheese. Oyster crackers are the traditional accompaniment.

 Cincinnati Chili

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cans (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes

1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce

1 cup beef broth

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Brown ground beef, onions and garlic in 5-quart Dutch oven. Stir occasionally to help browning. Pour off any fat. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and broth.

 Combine chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and cumin small bowl. Stir into beef mixture. Heat chili to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chili can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until serving.

 Reheat chili if needed. To serve Cincinnati style, serve with spaghetti, beans, onion and lots of Cheddar cheese.

In Cincinnati, the famous chili restaurants serve so much cheese on top everything else is hidden. For four servings of 5-way chili you will need the following:

12 ounces spaghetti, cooked, drained and kept warm

1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion

2 to 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

When I' only serving two, I freeze the remaining chili for another two meals and reduce amounts of the toppings.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mc Cormick Flavor Forecast for 2012

McCormick has identified 6 major trends for 2012 by assembling a group of culinary professionals from around the world over the course of a year. Last week Ellen Gibbs, Principal Food Technologist,  presented their findings to a group of Minneapolis consumer and food professionals. This year is the first time they took a world-view in their  research since McCormick is used in over 100 countries.  In addition we were able to taste representative samples from each category. For more details on their results  and recipes go to

TREND: Honoring roots. Authentic flavor with modern flair such as cumin with sofrito

TREND: Quest for the ultimate. Quality ingredients, flavors and textures such as Lemon Tart with Meyer lemon, lemon thyme and limoncello

TREND: Vegies in Vogue. Fresh seasonal vegetables with new techniques and spices, eggplant with honey and harissa, squash with red curry

TREND: Simplicity Shines. Back to basic clear flavors. Vanilla with butter (what's better?), ginger and coconut

TREND: Flavorful Swaps. Balancing bold flavor and healthful foods. Little changes leading to big results. Red tea with Cinnamon and Plum, grapefruit with red pepper

TREND: No Boundaries. Blending new ideas and ignoring the confines of traditional "rules". Freedom to explore. Sweet soy with tamarind and black pepper, blueberry cardamon and corn masa

This is a very brief review of their findings. These findings are a catalyst for future product and menu development. One of their surprise findings is that food lovers around the world have a lot in common.

Two of my favorite flavor combos from the samples were Squash, Red Curry and Pancetta Sweet Potato Chips and Red Tea, Cinnamon and Plum Flavored Chewy Taffy.

Some of these flavor combinations are only available in commercial applications but watch for new flavors at the supermarket or try some of these combinations youself!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Warm Day with Clouds- Need Sunshine Vitamin D

Minnesota along with most of the country this winter is experiencing record warm temperatures. Usually the end of January is the coldest week of the year and the days are crisp, bright and shiny. Even so it is almost impossible to get enough Vitamin D from sunshine in the winter in the northern parts of the U.S.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies manufacture it from a form of cholesterol when our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In the south, ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week produces enough to meet our requirement but with increased use of sunscreen and air pollution experts feel that Vitamin D supplements are becoming necessary almost everywhere. In northern parts of the U.S. the level of the sun is too low to provide enough ultraviolet rays to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D from November to February. People living in areas above a line drawn roughly from northern CA to New England are included in this group.

 Vitamin D is helps prevent osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. Bone is constantly lost and rebuilt, but as we age it becomes more difficult for the body to rebuild.  Once this delicate balance is upset, bones are more fragile and easily broken in falls especially after menopause.

Vitamin D helps maintain appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood and improves the absorption of calcium into bones. In the United States since the 1930’s most milk has been fortified with Vitamin D.

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are rich in this amazing vitamin but most other good sources have been fortified. Milk, fortified cereals, margarine, egg yolks and some fortified fruit juices are the best dietary sources. Dairy products can be good sources if they have been made from Vitamin D fortified milk but this can be hard to determine.

Here's a comforting dessert for a cold winter's night packed with Vitamin D. Is chocolate a substitute for sunshine? Not really!  
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Custard Sauce

                       1  cup whipping cream

                        6   ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

                       1/2 cup sugar

                              Pinch of salt

                        4   eggs

                        1   cup milk

                        1 teaspoon vanilla

                        6     cups 1-inch pieces of day-old bread

Heat whipping cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Add chocolate and remove from heat. Let stand until chocolate melts, stirring once or twice. Cool slightly

Beat sugar, salt, and eggs in medium bowl until mixture is completely smooth. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and mix well.

Place bread in lightly greased 9-inch pie pan. Pour milk mixture over bread and let dish stand about 1 hour. Push any bread not moistened down into the milk.

Heat oven to 325°F with oven rack in middle.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set and a knife inserted near center comes out clean although it will be wet.
Cool on wire cooling rack until serving, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Baking Basics and Beyond, 2nd Edition, 2012 Surrey Books, by Pat Sinclair 

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year: New Plan

Like almost everyone else in America, I'm resolved to eat healthier food in 2012 and one of the best ways to improve a diet is to add more whole grains. In addition to being healthy, whole grains add flavor to food and help you feel full longer.

An easy way to increase whole grain consumption is to prepare whole grain pasta. I like Barilla Multi Grain pasta. It's not as heavy as whole wheat pasta but still packed with nutrition. Try adding a little whole wheat pasta to basic pasta a little at a time and gradually adjust your tastes.

Brown rice is another easy addition and now can be purchased as quick-cooking and also boil-in-bag. Cooking brown rice requires about 45 minutes so add time to your meal plan or use one of the convenience foods above.

I often add barley to soup because its whole grain goodness adds a chewy and satisfying goodness. Pearled barley has been partially processed to remove the bran so it cooks it less time but it is still high in fiber. Pearled barley can be purchased ground coarse, medium or fine.

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

            Makes 8 servings 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds lean beef strips (sirloin, round)

1 cup chopped onion

4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cups sliced carrots

2 (32 ounce) boxes beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup pearled barley

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan and add about half pf the meat. Cook over high heat until browned. Remove and add remaining oil and meat to the pan. Cook until browned and remove from the pan. Cook the onions in the oil until tender. Add a little more oil if needed.

            Stir in the barley, mushrooms, carrots, beef broth, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 40 minutes until the meat is tender and the barley is cooked. 

Tip: Use 50% reduced sodium, fat-free beef broth.

This soups freezes well.