WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT
Ring in the New Year with pizzazz! January is the perfect month to dive into new taste experiences and flavor adventures. Pasta & Co’s winter deli menu is ready to inspire you! Spiced with the lively foods of Morocco, Spain and Portugal, countries noted for bold, richly flavored cuisines, we’ve got dishes conveniently ready for all occasions. Each is prepared with pure, all-natural ingredients according to Pasta & Co’s strict standards. Each will bring sizzle to cold weather meals after a day on the slopes, out walking Green Lake or simply when the week is too hectic to cook. We’ve also stocked our pantry with authentic condiments such as preserved lemons, olives and harissa from our theme countries, along with our favorite Lake Champlain chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day. Here’s more delicious news! You can leave Valentine’s Day dinner cooking to us. Order our elegant Surf ‘n Turf dinner and relax on February 14th. Details follow. Until then, you’re invited to kick-off 2010 with new Pasta &Co taste adventures. We’ve got plenty of ways to ensure the next 12 months are great-tasting and entertaining. Come and explore the world’s flavors with us!
Yours in good taste,
THE FLAVORS OF MOROCCO, SPAIN & PORTUGAL
Olives and olive oil, citrus fruits, onions, seafood, crusty breads, soups, meat stews and small plates--tapas in Spain and kemia or mezze in Morocco--are where the cuisines of Morocco, Spain and Portugal overlap. For all three countries, food and family are also the foundation of national culture.
Where their cuisines differ--based on geography, religion and seafaring explorers--is where things become intriguing. For example, Spanish and Portuguese cooking is simple and conservative, and based on peasant traditions. Ingredient flavors are undisguised and the quality of natural produce and foodstuffs is important to recipe preparation. Dishes are colorful, inspiring the Iberian saying, “Half the eating is in the eye.”
In contrast, Morocco’s cooking traditions are sophisticated and complex. Part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, which includes Algeria and Tunisia, many dishes date to the earliest recorded history. Arab invasions, which came in waves between the seventh and 14th centuries, brought Islamic traditions and eastern spices (cumin, ginger, garlic, saffron), along with the sweet-sour concept and the fruit-inspired dishes of ancient Persia. Four centuries later, the French invaded bringing soups, sophisticated fish dishes, café culture and wine-making expertise. Where rice is the grain of choice in Spain and Portugal (think paella), in Morocco it’s all about couscous, tagines (both the conical cookware and the dish), and glasses of steaming mint tea to complete a meal.
DELI DISHES INSPIRED BY MOROCCO, SPAIN & PORTUGAL
The bold flavors and seasonings in the dishes of Morocco, Spain and Portugal are right on the mark for Pasta & Co. Add cooking cultures focused on family and friends and these countries naturally inspired our winter deli menu. You’ll find our dishes conveniently ready to heat and serve. With all the holidays coming up--Martin Luther King (1/18), Chinese New Year/The Year of the Tiger (2/14), Valentine’s Day (2/14), and President’s Day (2/15)--there are plenty of special occasions for wintertime eating adventures.
Create a meal around our hearty chicken, lamb and beef main dishes adapted from traditional dishes in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. ORANGE CHICKEN shows off Moroccan influences with boneless chicken breast marinated in orange juice accented with orange zest, garlic, paprika and spices. It’s grilled and topped with a fresh orange salsa. BEDOUIN CHICKEN also finds inspiration in Moroccan kitchens. For this aromatic stew, boneless chicken pieces are seasoned with ginger, cinnamon and paprika, then seared and simmered with bite-size pieces of onion, butternut squash, tomatoes, cilantro, carrot and zucchini. Served with couscous (Check our Pantry items.), both chicken dishes make winter suppers extra easy.
Another terrific main dish is PORTUGUESE LAMB STEW, which combines tender pieces of leg of lamb slowly simmered with onions, paprika, red wine, tomatoes and chicken stock, while toasted almonds and Kalamata olives add crunch and an appealing salty spark. The Moroccan version of sausages or kabobs is KEFTA, a popular street dish each vendor seasons with his own blend of spices and herbs. Ours combines ground beef, minced onion, garlic, cinnamon, authentic ras-el-hanout (an exotic Moroccan spice blend that can contain up to 50 spices!), parsley and cilantro. Keftas are sensational topped with zesty Harrissa sauce. (Check our Pantry items.)
As sides, or main dishes for vegetarians, try our SPINACH-MUSHROOM TORTA. A variation of a frittata, it features a bottom “crust” made with mushrooms and onions that’s topped with a mixture of eggs, spinach, parsley and grated Beecher’s Flagship cheese. Another side dish or vegetarian main is our WARM SPICED LENTILS, which combines tender, petite French lentils sautéed with onion, cilantro, parsley and lemon juice, plus a Moroccan-inspired spice mix of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika and cayenne.
RELAX AND DINE AT HOME WITH YOUR VALENTINE
If dining in a crowded restaurant on Valentine’s Day with dozens of other couples isn’t your idea of a romantic evening, here’s a delicious option. Order Pasta & Co’s elegant dinner for two. You’ll enjoy a relaxing, intimate evening on February 14th with your significant other. Our PRIX FIXE SURF & TURF DINNER is available for $59.95 from January 25 through February 14, with a February 14 pick-up. We’ll prepare a restaurant-quality meal for two that’s easy to assemble, heat and serve. The menu stars 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. The sweet finale is our seductive Chocolate Velvet Cake. Say the word and we’ll add your choice of wine or bubbly to complete your Valentine’s Day dinner.
EXPLORE MOROCCAN COOKING
If you’re tantalized by the flavors of Moroccan cooking, this cookbook is a must: Flavors of Morocco: Delicious Recipes from North Africa by Gillie Basan (2008). Beginning with kemia and salads, and moving to soups, breads and savory pastries, to tagines, k’dras and couscous, and finally, desserts and drinks, the author invites you to discover authentic Moroccan dishes easily made at home. Mingling with the recipes are insightful essays about Morocco’s food traditions, including olives and argan oil, Ramadan, Berber traditions and more. Lavishly illustrated with scenic shots of people, food and the countryside, this cookbook might be the next best thing to taking the night flight to Marrakesh.
WINTER PANTRY ITEMS
To complement the cuisines of Morocco, Spain and Portugal, our Culinary Council has selected pantry items to help you further explore the fascinating dishes of these countries. Top of the list is MAHJOUB M’HASA COUSCOUS. Produced in Tunisia by a century-old family firm according to authentic Berber methods (Berbers invented couscous as a way of preserving wheat and protecting themselves from seasonal droughts), this couscous has authentic texture and flavor produced by hand-rolling semolina flour with olive oil, water and salt on screens to produce small grains. We’ve paired it with PASTA & CO’S MOROCCAN SAUCE, a zesty, tomato-based sauce seasoned with garlic, eggplant, capers, onions and spices; TIBAR SAUCE WITH HARISSA & CAPERS, a thick, zesty tomato sauce seasoned with harissa chile paste, wild mountain capers, garlic and coriander; and TESTOUR SAUCE WITH ARTICHOKES & LEMONS, a spicy-sweet mixture of fresh tomatoes, artichoke, preserved lemons and spices. We’re also stocking MAHJOUB M’HASA SUNDRIED GARLIC SPREAD, sweet, mild chunks of garlic packed in extra virgin olive oil ideal for spreading on crostini or whisked into salad dressings and marinades. We couldn’t be true to our theme without stocking ALIL’S HARISSA, a traditional hot, red sauce combining chili pepper heat with native citrus flavors and spices. It’s so versatile it can be used in dressings, sauces, rubs for chicken and beef, with roasted vegetables and on rice and noodle dishes. If you’ve always wanted to try PICKLED LEMONS, we have these too. Entirely edible, pickled lemons are used to flavor Moroccan tagines, traditional savory stews. Check out the MARRAKECH OLIVE MIX, a flavorful mix of full-sized Moroccan olives that’s ideal for snacking, tagines or the ultimate martini garnish. Also from Morocco is Mustapha’s ARGAN OIL, the dark, nutty oil made pressed from the nut of argan trees and used as a flavorful substitute for olive oil. We also found colorful hand-thrown and -painted ceramic LE SOUK OVAL PLATTERS and TAGINES, the conical vessel invented by Berbers to serve aromatic meat stews.
To round out our pantry, we remembered Valentine’s Day too, and selected LAKE CHAMPLAIN CHOCOLATES for whimsical KISS ME FROG chocolates, plus FOIL HEARTS and RASPBERRY TRUFFLE HEARTS for the sweetest day in February.
KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM
When January arrives, many of us crave lighter meals after the delicious excess of the holidays. The following salad from our own cookbook, PURE FLAVOR, combines flavors and ingredients deliciously enhanced by adding slices of Pickled Lemons and Harissa, or by substituting chopped Marrakech Olives for the green olives.
4 sweet oranges
1 teaspoon sugar
2 heads butter lettuces, core removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup chopped, pitted green olives
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions (white and green parts), chopped
1 cup herbed croutons (store-bought or make at home)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh mint
2 ounces hard cheese, thinly shaved to make 1/2 cup, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Peel the oranges and separate them into segments. Mix the orange segments with the sugar in a large bowl and let sit 5 minutes.
Combine the orange segments, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, green onions, croutons, basil, mint and vinaigrette dressing. If desired, add 1/4 cup sliced pickled lemons to the mixture and replace the 1/4 cup green olives with 1/4 cup chopped, pitted Marakech olives.
Divide the lettuce evenly among 4 to 6 chilled salad plates. Top each portion with cheese and freshly ground pepper to taste. Dress with your favorite vinaigrette.