Archive for June, 2009

Summertime, and the eating is easy…

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

 Probiotic Super Fruit Ice Cream

Well, it is finally (FINALLY!) looking like summer here in the Philly area (what is that big yellow orb in the sky?). And now that I can leave my cardigans at home, I’m looking for some hot weather treats with a little mojo.

Tasting Table L.A. recently featured a number of Los Angeles area shops that are taking ice cream sandwiches in a whole new direction. Imagine a homemade Meyer lemon cookie with lavender honey ice cream, or fudgie chocolate cookies with salted caramel ice cream. I’m drooling in my mango water ice right now.

Everything Old is New Again…

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Just the other day, I read that both Sun-In and Zinc Oxide are back in for the summer. Now right there are two things that I never imagined to see in my beach bag again.

But then there are classics that endure – like macaroni & cheese. I actually used to hate the stuff…but with a husband that practically lives on the blue box, I’ve not only grown to appreciate it, but love it.

So when I recently read about Good Tastes Kitchen’s Mac & Cheese of the Month Club, I began to drool. Customers can sign up for one, three, six or 12 month subscriptions that deliver “Bliss in the Mail.”

Ranging from the typical All American variety, to Cajun, Pancetta & Pea, or even Pumpkin & Sage, recipients explore seasonal and ethnic flavors through and American classic.

And while the price seems, admittedly, a little high, each month feeds a family of four for a total bill comparable to a casual restaurant. So that you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home, with your orange hair, and your neon green nose!!!

Like sand through the hourglass…

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I’ve been reminded recently of how my tastes have changed since I started working at David Michael. I was a super picky eater – I’d turn my nose up at everything. If it looked “weird” or unusual, if it smelled funny, or if it wasn’t the norm, I refused to try it. But these days, things have changed, and I’ll try anything at least once. (Just not raw meat or fish – sorry, that still gets me.)But it can’t just be my work environment, can it? Sure, I’ve been exposed to more flavors and foods than I could have ever dreamed of – add to that co-workers with a real zest for flavor that can’t help but get you excited about new things. But, I’ve also matured (well, somewhat!), and have grown more experimental in my own kitchen. But is there something else? Have I simply been progressing along with other consumers – growing more open to ethnic flavors and exotic foods? After all, when your friends want to try the new Indian place in town, how can you turn them down?

Consumers are more adventurous these days. But, at the same time, they still harbor a number of preconceived notions about “weird” foods. (Like, say, my own personal refusal to eat sushi.)

Consumers like familiarity. My go to happy meal will probably always be chicken fingers and french fries, but my list of comforting favorites has grown to include goat cheese with pears, breakfast enchiladas with eggs and tomatilla salsa, and tzatziki on just about anything (including those chicken fingers and fries!).

Asparagus flavored licorice – a future trend?

Asparagus flavored licorice – a future trend?

Combining unusual and new flavor developments with more familiar ones is a great way to introduce new concepts to consumers. After all, isn’t that how we grew to love mango so much – by pairing it with peach? And now mango is the familiar flavor, helping to usher in lesser known fruits like guava.

Now is the time to get experimental…challenge yourself to try a new food at least once a week. A little hesitant? Combine it with something you love.

Bartender, can I have a brew?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

From the evolution of molecular mixology to the rebirth of cocktail classics, bartenders are literally setting the bar a bit higher. Bartending has evolved into a culinary profession. At upscale establishments, bartenders are referred to as “mixologists,” creating bitters and tonics from scratch, and experimenting with infusions and tinctures (alcoholic extracts made from herbs).

Modern mixologists, or bar chefs as some are referred to, will source ingredients for their drink menus as they do the rest of the menu – focusing on seasonal and fresh ingredients, visiting farmer’s markets, locating exotic ingredients, handcrafting the above mentioned bitters, tinctures and infusions, squeezing fresh fruit juices on a daily basis, and stocking precious and obscure liquors.

Seeking to educate their patrons, and rid their glasses of the overly sweet appletinis and lemon drops, modern mixologists work with a combination of esoteric ingredients, science and creativity.

Modern Mixology Concoctions

But with a downturned economy, and an increase in at-home entertaining, how is the average consumer expected to keep up? Syrups and drink mixes are always helpful, but can sometimes lack the panache or versatility of a bartender’s arsenal. There are, of course, exceptions, and one of the most innovative products we’ve spotted recently is Tea Forté Cocktail Infusions.

With added visual appeal – it looks like a pyramid tea bag with a leaf for a string – Tea Forté literally brews a cocktail. And the flavors? Well, they’ve got us really excited. Lavender Citrus blends white tea with lavender, bergamot, grapefruit and violet. Lemongrass Mint combines lemon myrtle and spearmint. And Silkroad Chai merges black tea with cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.

And as for versatility, a great example is the Lemongrass Citrus, which is said to work well with Gin & Tonics and Mojitos, aside from custom recipes.

Of course, Tea Forté doesn’t just do cocktails – they’ve got a whole line of tea and iced tea bags, but this cocktail line truly shines. And now, I’m feeling inspired…and thirsty…

A Peruvian Adventure

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Today we welcome guest blogger Yuko Noda, a food chemist in our processed flavors department. Yuko recently returned from a trip to Peru, and had lots to share with us about the experience, and the flavors!!

Last year, both Epicurious and Bon Appétit predicted that Peruvian cuisine to be the hot ethnic cuisine of 2009. True to their predictions, we are seeing more Peruvian inspired dishes and drinks making their way into magazines and on restaurant menus. As I had coincidentally planned a vacation to Peru, I was excited to find out more about this delightful cuisine on my trip.

Some people say that Peru has the best and most diverse food in all of South America.  Peruvian cuisine is a melting pot of flavors ranging from Incan and Spanish cuisine to Chinese, Japanese, African and other European immigrant influences. One example of this is the popular dish lomo saltado, a beef sirloin stir-fry seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar and aji chili pepper (Peruvian hot pepper). It is served with French fries, which are sometimes mixed with the stir fry, and white rice. Visually, it seemed kind of strange – but then again, how can you go wrong with deep fried potatoes?

Speaking of potatoes, Peruvians adore potatoes and grow a few thousand varieties of them, ranging in color, shape and size. Potatoes were in virtually every dish that I ate on my trip-as one of the main ingredients in dishes like causa (potato mashed with aji chili and layered or stuffed with a mixture of tuna, chopped red onions, avocado, boiled eggs, lime juice and mayo) and lomo saltad. They were also served as sides or garnishes in dishes like ceviche, alpaca steak and roasted cuy (roasted whole guinea pig which is a specialty in the area around the town of Cusco). If you’re wondering, both the cuy and alpaca were quite tasty. Alpaca meat was tender and the flavor was similar to a cross of goat and lamb. And cuy tasted kind of like rabbit. I cheated and got the shredded cuy confit, instead of the whole animal with its head and feet. (Seriously, would you want this thing staring at you from your plate??)

One of my favorite dishes was arroz con pollo. Arroz con pollo is a popular dish in the Latin world but what makes Peruvian arroz con pollo special is the use of cilantro. Cilantro blended with water is added to the cooking liquid, giving the whole dish a green hue. People who don’t like cilantro may actually enjoy eating this dish since the cilantro flavor is very mild. The same flavor profile is seen in seco, a stew with cilantro sauce made with beef, lamb, chicken or duck.

Cuy (roasted whole guinea pig)

Cuy (roasted whole guinea pig)

From munching on Inca protein bars (containing quinoa, amarath and popped wheat and a hint of anise) while hiking on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, to enjoying aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a rich creamy aji chili sauce served over rice) in an upscale restaurant overlooking the pre-Inca ruin in Lima, my trip to Peru was definitely a culinary adventure!

Machu Picchu in the early morning

Machu Picchu in the early morning

Tempted to try some Peruvian flavor for yourself? Stay tuned to! Yuko will recreate one of her favorite dishes for the August Recipe of the Month. Visitors to this year’s Innovation Roadshow will also have the opportunity to enjoy some Peruvian flavor at Yuko’s booth.

Happy National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Just a quick note to let everyone know that today is National Strawbery-Rhubarb Pie Day!! Seriously! Celebrate with our recipe of the month – Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie!

Heading West

Friday, June 5th, 2009

It’s that time of year again…time for the IFT Food Expo! As always, David Michael will be there. Check us out at the Anaheim Convention, booth #837 from Sunday, June 7th to Tuesday, June 9th.

2007 IFT Food Expo - Anaheim California

We’re serving a delicious, California spa-cuisine menu this year. Enjoy veggies in Sweet Vanilla Onion Dip, with our signature Soup & Salad Savory Side Bars. In Caramelized Onion, Garlic Butter Herb and Black Pepper Parmesan flavors, these biscotti-like bars will deliver a delightful taste of sweet and savory. Wash that down with a Yumberry Rooibos Tea Slushie – perfect for beating the heat!

While you’re there, don’t forget to enter our contest to win a free trip to this year’s Innovation Roadshow®. To learn more about what we’re showing at the IFT, please click here.

Not going to IFT? No worries, it’s strawberry and rhubarb season here in the Northeast, and what better excuse to sample this month’s recipe, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie. So yummy, you won’t even want to share!

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