WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT
Open the calendar to start a New Year! All those blank pages ready for fresh beginnings, new adventures, unexpected pleasures and shared meals with family and friends. At Pasta & Co, we’re creating dishes with all these things in mind. We focus on pure, all-natural ingredients, mix to create bold, delicious flavors, stir in a new twist and prepare for convenience. That’s always where we begin to create our deli dishes and it suits a New Year nicely. For winter flavors, we looked South-of-the-Border, way past Mexico—all the way to South America. It’s both a continent and a collection of countries with delicious culinary traditions reflecting the mingling of European food cultures with indigenous ingredients. Pasta & Co’s Culinary Council tasted many potential dishes and pantry items to narrow the selection to the very best to inspire your winter meals. You’ll find rich flavors to warm a cold winter night, please the gang after a ski trip, or simply serve for a fast and convenient dinner. And with Valentine’s Day not far off, we’re ready to help you celebrate with a special dinner, not to mention entice your true love with truffles from Lake Champlain Chocolates. Be assured chocolate is a treat regardless of whatever twists and turns the economy takes in 2009! Come on in and we’ll help ensure a delicious start to your New Year.
Yours in good taste,,
THE FLAVORS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. From north to south, 12 countries cover the massive continent stretching from the Caribbean to Antarctica. All are united by their Spanish—or in the case of Brazil, Portuguese—colonial history. All have food traditions adopted from African slaves who worked the sugar plantations in Brazil and indigenous natives mingling with those of European settlers. The result might be considered one of the original fusion cuisines.
Some of our most popular vegetables today were first grown in South America thousands of years ago. Corn, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and squash, for example, were all cultivated by the ancient Incas or Quechua Indians who inhabited the Andes Mountains that rise along the western edge of the continent. The high altitude of the Andes inspired the first freeze-dried, air-dried and salted foods, all inventions of the Quechua.
Other food traditions, such as roasting meats over open-air wood fires, were introduced by Spanish conquistadors and remain popular today, especially at festive events. The use of ginger was another Spanish introduction.
Variety and abundance season the dishes of South America. Cooks living in tropical latitudes favor bananas and plantains, and Chile’s wines have become renowned worldwide. Coastal countries, particularly Chile and those along the Caribbean, also include fish and seafood in their diets. In Argentina and Uruguay, where vast plains or pampas offer ample land for cultivating grains and grazing cattle and sheep, beef and lamb satisfy meat-loving residents.
We’ve tapped all these diverse South American culinary influences to bring you new dishes with authentic tastes and flavors. Come in and let us take you on a culinary adventure this winter!
INSPIRED BY SOUTH AMERICA: WINTER DELI ITEMS
Hearty and satisfying with bright, bold tastes and complex flavors, our deli dishes adapted from South American favorites hit the spot when it comes to winter meals. They’re ready to heat and serve when you want something special to serve on winter holidays such as Chinese New Year (1/26), Martin Luther King Day (1/19), Ground Hog Day (2/2) or Presidents’ Day (2/16).
It’s a snap to make a meal with COLUMBIAN SHREDDED CHICKEN. It’s a delicious mix of tender chicken breast meat poached in a stew of minced green onions, red bell peppers, garlic and paprika, then shredded. Chicken also stars in VENEZUELAN CHICKEN where boneless chicken breasts are marinated with lime juice and oregano, then sautéed till done and tossed with rice and green pimento olives to spark flavors.
We’re also serving TURKEY PICADILLO, a favorite in many Spanish-speaking countries that’s traditionally made with pork and beef. Seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper, the turkey is browned, then simmered with onions, red bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, raisins and capers.
For beef lovers, our version of SHEPHERD’S PIE gives a nod to Argentina’s thriving beef industry, as does a returning favorite, LONDON BROIL WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE. In Shepherd’s Pie, we’ve combined ground beef with raisins and savory seasonings under a polenta crust. For the London Broil, tender strips of beef are paired with an Argentinean chimichurri, the Latin version of pesto. A blend of fresh oregano, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and other seasonings, it’s a staple with many meats.
For side dishes, try our versatile CABBAGE SALAD. Crisp and snappy, it’s seasoned with lemon juice, cilantro and Merken, an exotic Chilean spice of dried and smoked chiles and other spices (read all about Merken in our pantry section). Or try ROASTED YAMS WITH HONEY AND LIME, a baked side dish of chunky, bright orange sweet potatoes.
As pure comfort food, take home RICE PUDDING to sweeten the ending of any winter meal. Our creamy treat is gently sweetened and accented with orange zest and vanilla.
THE SOUTH AMERICAN PANTRY
Farmers and producers all around the world are pursuing and promoting locally grown, sustainable food products. To complement our winter South American theme, we researched a bounty of tantalizing products from Zócalo Gourmet, a division of Culinary Collective, dedicated to supporting small-scale farmers who produce a variety of gourmet Latin American foods for U.S. food enthusiasts. For starters, try Zócalo’s CHILEAN HONEY and CHILEAN TIACA HONEY, harvested in the pristine native forests of the Araucania region of Chile. Another sweet treat from Zócalo is MISKI DULCE DE LECHE, a creamy-sweet spread handmade from goats’ milk by five families on farms in northern Chile. For a crunchy snack or salad topping, try GENUINA TOASTED NUTS, native Chilean nuts that are toasted and crisp. To add sizzle to salads, seafood or lamb, ORIGEN RED WINE BASIL VINEGAR and GREEN CHILE VINEGAR are produced from premium Chilean wines aged in French oak barrels and infused with fresh herbs for sparkling flavor. We’re also excited to share Zócalo’s KULTRUN OIL, a gourmet Chilean extra-virgin olive oil infused with Merken, the distinctive smoky spice made from the indigenous “Goat’s Horn” Chili Pepper. It’s wonderful as a dipping oil for bread or drizzled over pasta and salads. And yes, we had to stock MERKEN. This may be THE spice of 2009! A traditional spice in Chile, it’s an exotic blend of dried and smoked red chile peppers, toasted coriander seeds, cumin and salt and is sensational on fish, shrimp, poultry or beef, vegetables and sauces. How you use it is only limited by your imagination and taste buds. And we haven’t forgotten about Valentine’s Day in February. That’s why you’ll find extra special treats like iLOVE OLIVE OIL, an ultra premium extra-virgin olive oil from New Zealand that leaves all others in the dust for rich flavor and aroma. And you’ll easily sweep your Valentine off their feet with fresh, all-natural chocolates from LAKE CHAMPLAIN CHOCOLATES. Choose either a VALENTINE TRUFFLE BOX, or an endearing CHOCOLATE FROG (who just might turn into a prince!).
TREAT YOUR SWEETHEART AT HOME
If dining in a crowded restaurant on Valentine’s Day with dozens of other couples isn’t your idea of a romantic evening, we have an alternative. Order Pasta & Co’s elegant dinner for two. You’ll be able to relax at home and enjoy an intimate evening on February 14th with your significant other. Our PRIX FIXE SURF & TURF DINNER is available for $59.95 from January 1 through February 13, with a February 14 pick-up. We’ll prepare a superb, restaurant-quality meal for two that’s easy for you to assemble, heat and serve. The menu includes Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction and Scallop and Prawn Brochettes with a Tangy Remoulade Sauce accompanied by Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Snap Peas with Roasted Butternut Squash. Our seductive Chocolate Velvet Cake makes a sweet finale. Say the word and we’ll add your choice of wine or bubbly to complete your Valentine’s Day dinner.
KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM
Every cook in Argentina has his or her own version of CHIMICHURRI, a thick, garlicky herb sauce that’s a must with grilled meats. You can buy a prepared version—in fact, the one we’re stocking this winter is excellent--but even more fun is making your own. For extra flavor, try using Origen’s BASIL VINEGAR or GREEN CHILE VINEGAR to add a kick to the seasonings. And don’t be shy about increasing or decreasing the ingredient amounts. Taste as you go and enjoy!
Pasta & Co’s Chimichurri Sauce
Makes 1 cup
3 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, or amount to taste
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons pale dry sherry
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the garlic, oregano and cilantro in a food processor. Process until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve as a condiment with London broil or other grilled meats.