Monthly Archives: November 2013

All About Sage

By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

When I ask you what herb reminds you of Thanksgiving, most of you will probably say sage.  This perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean, is indeed quite popular at Thanksgiving. Often added to a stuffing or roasted turkey recipe, sage has a wonderful, slightly sweet and citrusy smell.  Some say it smells camphorous, cleansing or purifying and it can linger for some time – good if you enjoy the smell, not so good if you don’t!

The botanical name for sage is ‘Salvia’ which, in Lattin, means “to heal” or “to save.” The reason sage was named this way is because it’s essential oils contain antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. (Sage is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, E and K  – important antioxidants for health and wellness.)

Sage has been used for centuries not only in cooking but for medicinal purposes for many things including healing the common cold or flu and soothing insect bites.  The Native Americans believe it wards off evil spirits and the Arabs believe it helps with immortality. At one time, the Chinese regarded sage so highly they would trade up to four pounds or sacks of tea (camelia sinensis) for one pound or sack of sage leaves to make tea. (While sage tea isn’t commonly found in most grocery stores, you can find it online.)

The sage plant is quite easy to grow, will weather over the winter and is fairly drought tolerant. So, it’s a great herb to try if you’re new to (or not so good at) gardening.  It’s leaves are soft and blue-greyish in color and the plant can have delicate purple or blue flowers, depending on the variety.

Sage is an extremely versatile herb to use in the kitchen. Here are just a few delicious ways to play with it in your everyday cooking:

Steep in hot water for tea
Infuse in water with blackberries
– Added to ice cubes (fresh only)
Eggs
Flavoring for white bean dishes
Infuse with salt
Rub on poultry, pork or lamb
– Incorporate into sausage
Savory flavor to bread or rolls
Simple syrup for cocktails
Savory flavor for homemade crackers
– Soups and stews
– Vegetables or potatoes

Chef Dawn’s Super Simple Compound Butters

By Chef Dawn Wykoff

Click on the picture to watch our short video on super simple compound butters. Recipes are below.

Click on the picture to watch our short video on super simple compound butters. Recipes are below.

Compound butters – or flavored butters – are an wonderful way to infuse flavor into everyday cooking.  The options or limitless and the butters can be made in less than 5 minutes.  Here are some of my favorite combinations for Thanksgiving.

Asiago Pesto Compound Butter

Use plastic wrap or wax paper to form a log before refrigerating.

Use plastic wrap or wax paper to form a log before refrigerating.

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tablespoon of pesto
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of tobacco (optional)
2 tablespoons shredded Asiago cheese
 
Instructions: Mash butter in a medium bowl with fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.  Place onto a large piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log and tightly wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Use on bread, pasta, flatbread, pizza and more.

Sweet Vanilla Compound Butter

Compound butter log ready for refrigeration.

Compound butter log ready for refrigeration.

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon seas salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice
 
Instructions: Mash butter in a medium bowl with fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.  Place onto a large piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log and tightly wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Use on sweet potatoes, french toast, pancakes, muffins, toast, and more.

Blue Cheese & Walnut Compound Butter

Compound butters are an easy, make-ahead way to add flavor to your Thanksgiving Day meal.

Compound butters are an easy, make-ahead way to add flavor to your Thanksgiving Day meal.

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 
Instructions: Mash butter in a medium bowl with fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.  Place onto a large piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log and tightly wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Use on bread, crackers, mashed potatoes, red meat and more.
 

Have you made compound butter before? If so, share your favorite combinations!

Simple Turkey Brine Recipe

This simple turkey brine recipe will ensure that your turkey is moist and flavorful whether you’re baking, frying or smoking your bird this Thanksgiving!

Image

To begin you’ll need:

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1 tbsp peppercorns

1 tbsp allspice berries

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 gallon ice water

Add all your ingredients (except ice water) to a medium stock pot over high heat and stir until dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and add your ice water. Allow the brine to cool and insert your turkey, breast side down for 12 hours. Flip the bird half-way through. The next day, remove your turkey from the brine and rinse off excess brine. Your turkey is now ready to cook. Enjoy!

To view the step-by-step instructions, please visit our YouTube channel

Recipe adapted from: FoodNetwork.com

Chef Dawn’s Thanksgiving Day Tip: Use a Leave-In Oven Thermometer

By: Chef Dawn Wykoff, High Quality Organics R&D/QC Manager

Click on this picture to watch our short video on how these savvy thermometers work.

Click on this picture to watch our short video on how these savvy thermometers work.

Hosting family and friends for the big Thanksgiving Day feast can get a little crazy.  The last thing you want is to be constantly watching the clock and opening and closing your hot oven to take the temperature of the turkey.  One of my super simple tips is to get an affordable leave-in the oven meat thermometer.  They range in price from a few dollars to about $50.  Below are some good ones. (Note: Many you can get online at Amazon.com but I wanted to include some stores that might be in your local area in case you are in a time crunch!)

Walmart – Maverick Roast Alert Oven Thermometer – $17.86

Amazon.com – Polder Original Cooking All-In-One Time/Thermometer – $14.67

Williams-Sonoma  – OXO Digital Leave-In Thermometer – $40

Bed, Bath & Beyond – All-Clad Digital Oven Probe Thermometer – $50

Paleo-Friendly Easy Mashed Cauliflower

By Chef Kyle Boesen

Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

As the Paleo diet – a diet that encourages one to eat like our ancestors and limit processed foods, dairy, many grains and sugar – becomes more popular, we’re seeing a lot more people searching for recipes that meet the diet’s criteria.  (In fact, even Whole Foods is opening a new store in San Francisco with a Paleo Bar! Read about it here.)

In leu of this food trend, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a great-tasting recipe that could easily be swapped for mashed potatoes at your Thanksgiving meal.

NOTE: If your party isn’t on the Paleo diet and you’d still like to try this, I’d encourage using 50% cauliflower and 50% mashed potatoes (non-Paleo ingredients and directions are below the Paleo version).  For some people, the taste of cauliflower can be quite strong so this softens the cauliflower flavor a bit and makes the dish all the more nutritious…and an excellent way to get children to eat cauliflower!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes - just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes – just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Ingredients – Paleo Diet Version
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of any of the following: ground sage, rosemary or thyme
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish on top)
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower. Place in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons water, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender (you can easily put a fork through the spears).
 
Step 2: Drain the cauliflower
 
Step 3: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. 
 
Ingredients – Non-Paleo Version
4 cups chopped cauliflower
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (keep the skins on for added fiber and nutrition)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup 2% milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish
 
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower and potatoes.  Add the cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl, add 1-2 tablespoons water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until they are tender and you can easily stick a fork through them.  Then, do the same with the potatoes. (Don’t combine them as the potatoes have more starch and will take longer to cook.) NOTE: You can also steam these on the stove.  Just put a cup of water at the bottom of a very large pot, place a heat-proof colander over and place the vegetables in the colander. Cover bring the water to a boil. Stir the vegetables on occasion to ensure they’re cooked evenly. 
 
Step 2: Combine butter and milk in a microwavable bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted.
 
Step 3: Drain the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Mash by hand or use a hand mixer while slowly adding the melted milk and butter mixture and sour cream, little amounts at a time until the consistency you desire is reached. 
 
Step 4: Season with chives, salt and pepper and serve.
 

 Do you have a healthy spin on mashed potatoes? If so, we’d love to hear it. Or, if you have a “secret ingredient” for yours, please share.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Chef Dawn’s Super Simple Flavored Whipped Creams

By Chef Dawn Wykoff

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can sometimes make you want to pull out your hair!  Not to worry. There are many simple tricks you can pull out of your sleeve to make your holidays special and less stressful.

These flavored whipped creams are a standard go-to for me. The ingredients are so simple and it takes about 5-10 minutes to “whip” them up.  The result is a super flavorful whipped cream that is sure to impress your guests.

Caramel Flavored Whipped Cream = 1 Cup Cream + 1/2 Jar Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Caramel Flavored Whipped Cream = 1 Cup Cream + 1/2 Jar Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Pineapple Lemon Flavored Whipped Cream = 1 Cup Cream + 1/2 Jar Pineapple Chutney + 1/4 Jar Lemon Curd

Pineapple Lemon Flavored Whipped Cream = 1 Cup Cream + 1/2 Jar Pineapple Ice Cream Topping + 1/4 Jar Lemon Curd

Simply whip cream in a very cold bowl with cold beaters until soft peaks appear.  Gently fold in your flavorings. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

Simply whip cream in a very cold bowl with cold beaters until soft peaks appear. Gently fold in your flavorings. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

Serving suggestions:

Pumpkin Pie Topping: The caramel flavored whipped cream is OUTSTANDING on anything pumpkin or apple.

Cookie Dunking Dip: Make the kids table extra fun with a little cookie tray of gingersnap, pumpkin or other fall-flavored cookies and let them dunk their cookies into a small bowl of the caramel flavored whipped cream.  According to our “little testers” the results were two thumbs up!

Fruit Salad: Make a double batch of the pineapple lemon whipped cream and throw together a last-minute fruit salad.

Have more serving suggestions or flavor combinations? Tell us about them. We’d love to hear from you!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

By: Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Director

2013_11_Pumpkin CupcakesThis time of year, I can’t consume enough pumpkin! Pumpkin has indeed become more popular over the years. While apple used to be the flavor of fall, pumpkin has taken over with a vengeance.  In fact, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, a report that tracts new menu introductions in major restaurants across the country, there were 105 pumpkin-themed, limited-time food offerings introduced in 2012 and only 45 apple-themed.* So, if you’re on the pumpkin bandwagon like I am, these cupcakes may be just the trick for your weekly fix. The cream cheese frosting looks extra decadent after it’s piped onto the cupcakes with a large piping tip specifically meant for cupcake decorating. Despite there being a lot of ingredients, the recipe is really easy to make. A simple addition to any Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake IngredientsCupcake Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
 
Frosting Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. (Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and walnuts, if using.) Set aside.

Step 3: Cream butter and sugar.

Step 4: Slowly eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture.

Step 5: Add pumpkin puree to the butter mixture.

Step 6: Add the flour mixture and whole milk, a little bit of each at a time, alternating between the two, as you gently mix the batter.

Step 7: Line a mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

Step 8: Fill each cupcake mold about 2/3-3/4 of the way full.

Step 9: Bake for 8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.

Step 10: To make the frosting, simply blend the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Then, add the confectioners’ (powdered) sugar. Frost and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from About.com.

*Source: Wong, Vanessa. “Pumpkin Officially Trumps Apple as Fall’s Signature Flavor.” Bloomberg Businessweek. September 17, 2013. Web. November 7, 2013. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-17/pumpkin-officially-trumps-apple-as-falls-signature-flavor
 

2013_4_12 AngieCincoMonterreyAngela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics, puts her 11 years of food and agriculture marketing and public relations experience to work leading HQO’s marketing efforts. Raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and obtaining at degree in animal science and international agribusiness from Cornell University, Angela is thrilled to be able to put her passions and expertise to work in her career.  When she’s not working, you can find her on the ski slopes, hiking trails, running, biking, cooking or traveling with her three-year-old son and husband.