By Richard Thompson
“We were cleaning our aprons when he just comes in to have coffee. We were planning the dinner and he just walks in. Really, it was like he floated in,” recalls Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef of Felidia and meal curator for the Pope.
Bastianich gets giddy and, in her sweet Italian accent, recounts the time that the People’s Pope walked into her kitchen and took a coffee break with her and her staff. “He talked to us about family – in Italian of course – for nearly 15 minutes. It was extraordinary, but beautiful because he addressed each one of us and asked us to pray for him.” she says.
For Bastianich, who is a devout Catholic, the pope’s surprise visit to her kitchen resonated on a personal and professional level. “He makes people feel important in his life. From somebody of his magnitude…it’s big,” Bastianich says.
For anyone wondering if the Pope likes cream or sugar in his coffee, he doesn’t. “For me, cooking for the Pope is special because…I am proud to give back through what is most dear to me on this Earth: food and my family,” she says.
Bastianich worked alongside Angelo Vivolo and a team of executive chefs that included Bastianich’s children to carefully curate a meal plan that would embody a homeliness for the spiritual leader. “For me, food – comfort food – is home, and I wanted [the pope] to feel welcome and feel like he was right at home,” says Bastianich.
Initially aiming to create a series of dishes reminiscent of Pope Francis’s background, Bastianich instead moved to lighter fare such as squash and other vegetables, rice and fresh fish to accommodate his diet better. “I wanted him to feel like he was in his mother’s kitchen. We were going to show off American beef – a whole rack – for Argentinian beef meals, but we were told he wanted to eat light, so I cooked more seasonal fare like rice dishes… He loves risotto with some olive oil, lemon and parsley,” she says.
The first meal that would grace the pope’s plate was Caprese di Astice e Burrata (Heirloom tomatoes, house-made Burrata and steamed Maine lobster) followed by Brodo di Cappone con Anolini (Capon soup with Grana Padano raviolini) and veal medallions ‘Boscaiola’, porcini, corn and fresh tomato – known as Medaglioni di Vitello alla Boscaiola. For dessert, Sobetto di Uva Fragola con Torta degli Angeli – Concord grape sorbetto with angel food cake.
While the pope follows a very specific diet, Bastianich’s capon soup was such a hit with His Holiness that he had leftovers the next day. “It was really done from the heart…I made a big pot of capon soup and fed it to him twice. One day with lots of vegetables and one day with lots of rice,” says Bastianich.
Each morning started at 6:45 am with the pope coming down for a breakfast that consisted of a medley of frittatas, all kinds of yogurts, honeys and cereals and fruits of every type, recalls Bastianich, “He was rather simple on the breakfasts he liked and was very undemanding of everything, but he loved his coffee.”
The pope never did business at the table – maybe with the exception of light scheduling – and didn’t stray from his routine of mangoes and pineapple, Melba toast and some jam, despite the abundance of jams, baked goods, crepes and freshly squeezed juices that were available. “Saturday was the last breakfast…and he greeted everyone’s family before eating,” Bastianich says. “It was very moving.”
Bastianich relied on her own personal garden to provide many of the ingredients in the vegetable-inspired lunch that was prepared for Pope Francis. Insalata Cotta e Cruda con la Nostra Ricotta, cooked and raw vegetable salad with Felidia’s ricotta, comprised a veritable cornucopia of Bastianich’s private vegetable reserve. “Whatever I had in my garden is what I made with…beautiful squash, string beans, beets, sage, basil, parsley, tomatoes….” she says, “We wanted the pope to feel the love of home.”
Next came the Risotto con Porcini e Tartufi (Risotto with porcini, summer truffles and Grana Padano Riserva) followed by Pere ed uva al forno con Gelato alla Vaniglia, roasted pears and grapes with vanilla gelato, for dessert.
For dinner, Bastianich focused the four-course meal of fresh striped bass, tuna and vegetables. The Tutto Tonno is tuna tartare made with a semi carpaccio preserve and tonnato sauce that was followed by the Cacio e Pere, pear and pecorino filled ravioli, aged pecorino and crushed black pepper. The main dish of the evening was Bastianich’s signature Felidia dish, Spigola Striata al forno con Olio d’oliva e Limone, which is whole roasted striped bass, late summer vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and lemon. The dessert was a specially made apple crostata with local honey ice cream. “I think the focus is on the ingredients – the goodness of the ingredients. When making traditional Italian, stick to traditional Italian products. I always say, ‘Follow the recipe…don’t be dominated by it,’” says Bastianich.
Bastianich tempers any pride in who she serves with the humility that the Holy Father carries with him to the masses. “Food is not a luxury,” she says with the inflection of an Italian matriarch, when asked why cooking for Pope Francis meant so much to her. “Food nourishes us all in about the same way.”
Amen to that.
In the sunburned heart of southern New Mexico, the Tres Hermanas Mountains rise from the horizon. Nearby, in the town of Deming, family homes, local business, and acres and acres of pepper farms sprawl out in their protective shadow. It is from these mountains that Tres Hermanas takes its name. It is from this community where Tres Hermanas is inspired.
Tres Hermanas believes that great flavor comes from great farms. This is why the company works diligently alongside farmers that have grown peppers for generations. Together, Tres Hermanas and its farmers cultivate the very best seeds and ideal growing conditions to raise delicious, uniquely New Mexican peppers. All jalapenos, green chiles and tomatillos are grown within a 30-mile radius of the company’s headquarters to ensure maximum farm-to-flavor freshness.
Each fall, these peppers are harvested by hand, with each one carefully considered to ensure that only the best New Mexican peppers make it to your shelves – and your shoppers’ tables. The farmers and their families celebrate this pepper harvest by making a whirlwind of sauces and salsas, bringing age-old family recipes to life with flavorful fresh ingredients.
Tres Hermanas brings these traditional recipes to you with a full line of peppers and sauces. These peppers fill dishes with raw desert spices. Sauces run from sunset red to verdant green. All are imbued with a touch of something special that sparks the senses, something that transports anyone who enjoys their flavor from their dining room to a sun-soaked plain outside Deming, where three gentle peaks rise to kiss the turquoise sky.
Inspired by the vivid flavors this community has enjoyed for generations, these cooking sauces make it easy to create truly authentic Mexican meals in only a few simple steps.
So whether your shoppers enjoy spicy peppers, authentic sauces or both, everyone will love the dips, enchiladas, nachos, tacos, burritos and even pizzas they can make with the bold, farm-raised flavor of Tres Hermanas.
With restaurants continuing to seek out ways to offer their customers wholesome, natural ingredients, Emmi Roth USA has recently released a new melting cheese to meet the needs of foodservice professionals with flavor and functionality. Natural Melt™ Creamy Fontina helps operators clean up their menus with a multi-purpose melting cheese that is crafted to melt, naturally. Three simple ingredients – pasteurized cultured milk, enzymes and salt – create an approachable flavor and buttery, velvety texture that is suited for a grand scope of culinary applications.
Developed in collaboration with the company’s team of corporate chefs and master cheesemakers, the cheese is crafted specifically to melt in hot foodservice applications. Special cheesemaking techniques are employed, including reduction of the protein bondage, to create an ideal natural melting cheese. Emmi Roth’s newest creation was launched to help foodservice operators not only elevate a host of menu favorites with a deliciously distinctive note, but also meet consumer demands for natural products.
Natural ingredients and artisan cheese are among the top 20 food trends for 2015 according to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Culinary Forecast. NRA’s forecast also shows that 75 percent consider natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a hot trend, 65 percent consider artisan cheeses as a hot trend and 25 percent consider it a perennial favorite.
“Our team developed Natural Melt Creamy Fontina in response to the trends we are seeing in foodservice,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “We take pride in delivering innovative products and meaningful cheese solutions to our customers and are committed to transparency in our cheesemaking practices and wholesome, natural food production.”
Available in 7.5-pound loaves, Natural Melt Creamy Fontina can be easily incorporated into any hot foodservice application that calls for melted cheese, including sauces, soups, dips, mac n’ cheeses, burgers, flatbreads, grilled sandwiches and pasta dishes. Evan Topel, Corporate Chef at Emmi Roth USA, has developed a collection of delicious recipes featuring the new cheese:
For more information about Roth Natural Melt Creamy Fontina, visit www.rothnaturalmelt.com.
There’s a reason your customers keep Wind & Willow in the pantry at all times and tend to buy multiples when purchasing. They know they’ll be getting a consistent quality product, great shelf-life and a multitude of recipes for every mix. Since 1991, customers have been using Wind & Willow savory mixes for more than cheeseballs or spreads. They are the base for many favorite appetizers, side dishes, and even entrees. The latest recipe from the kitchens of Wind & Willow adds a new twist to a traditional favorite.
Turn your traditional mac ‘n cheese into an upscale, super side dish with an unexpected Wind & Willow favorite. This time, a sweet dessert mix is used in a savory recipe by combining the Pumpkin Pie Mix with cheeses and cream over pasta. Savory Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese is a pleasant surprise that will once again have your customers stocking up.
Follow Wind & Willow on Facebook to see new recipes each week: facebook.com/windandwillowfoods. You can also find recipes on the company website at www.windandwillow.com. Find great recipes and tips for every occasion on Pinterest: pinterest.com/cheeseballmix.
Innovative food discovery app Handpick today officially launched its iOS app and website in the U.S., as well as announced its Series A funding. The new app allows food lovers access to over 10 million socially shared food posts from Instagram, hundreds of unique food blogs, and top recipe sites. Handpick’s unique semantic technology also recommends ingredient pairings based on what users have on hand. Handpick’s 10 million socially shared food posts include dishes from 1.6 million content creators worldwide.
“We started Handpick to let users input what they already have in their kitchen and find dish ideas using those ingredients,” saidPayman Nejati, Handpick chief executive officer. “We’re curating the best dishes from Instagram and top food blogs, making it easy to discover how people around the world use your favorite ingredients.”
This Thanksgiving, some dishes are going to look and taste a little different – except the turkey, of course, according to a new survey from McCormick, America’s favorite herbs and spices. Classic sides and desserts are beginning to reflect the growing number of cooks in the kitchen, who are getting more creative with new flavors, ingredients and preparations.
While the majority of Americans still want the turkey to taste the same, the survey revealed 40 percent want to change up their sides and 38 percent want to do the same with desserts. Add that two-thirds of adults are now helping cook the big feast – including one in every two men – and it’s clear the Thanksgiving meal is turning into a melting pot of flavors and dishes, evolving from a time when one person planned and prepared a classic meal with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
“Sides and desserts are often made by different people – whether it’s a neighbor, a cousin or a friend – and they tend to add their personality to the dish,” said Chef Kevan Vetter of the McCormick Kitchens. “That might include using cayenne pepper in a great aunt’s sweet potato recipe or searching Pinterest for new flavors, like butterscotch, to make a more decadent pumpkin pie.”
Regional differences are also impacting flavors and dishes. For example, Midwesterners are most likely to change up their menus by adding an entirely new dish. And, those in the West and South are more likely to celebrate with a mixture of friends and family from different backgrounds, bringing their own heritage flavors to recipes.
In celebration of this year’s big and flavorful Thanksgiving meal, the McCormick kitchens are offering cooks tasty inspiration for stuffing, gravy, vegetables and desserts.
Classic Sides with a Twist: Of the Americans changing up sides, 69 percent said they’d like to add new flavors, while 20 percent are looking for spicier ingredients. Introducing a few unexpected twists to traditional Thanksgiving sides is a great way to bring new tastes to the table while still enjoying the ones you already love.
Flavorful Desserts Prepared in New Ways – Of the Americans changing up dessert, 63 percent want to add new flavors and 29 percent are eager to switch up how it’s prepared. Put together a menu that features an array of desserts and gives your guests a chance to sample it all:
More Thanksgiving Recipe Recommendations from McCormick® FlavorPrint™
Love the flavors in pumpkin pie? Discover new favorite Thanksgiving and holiday recipes using free FlavorPrint recipe recommendations, which take the flavors you like and recommend the dishes you’ll love. Get your FlavorPrint atwww.McCormick.com/FlavorPrint.
Table for 2 from Wind & Willow gives us the comfort food we crave without having to cook for a crowd. The line includes soup mixes, pasta kits and heavenly desserts. The Mushroom Parmesan Pasta is particularly to die for, as is the Warm Apple Crisp (Grandma would be proud). In addition, one of consumers’ favorite things about the line is the alternate recipes (use the White Cheddar Potato Soup to make Chicken Pot Pie for 2, for example).
I used Pendleton© Brown Sugar+Molasses Barbecue Sauce the other night to make a batch of baked beans that turned out fabulous! I started with a couple of cups of cooked Anasazi beans. I put that in a pot with about half an onion that I chopped finely and browned in the fat I rendered out of a couple of strips of bacon. I drained the grease and added the browned onion and chopped bacon bits to the beans, then added enough of the barbecue sauce to moisten it well — probably about 3/4 cup. Then I just let it simmer for about 45 minutes while I baked some chicken and dressed some cole slaw. And the best thing is that I managed to stop eating while I still had some leftover beans and cole slaw for today’s lunch!
The Anasazi beans are a Southwest heritage variety that I bought at my local farmers market. They’re a gorgeous bean with cranberry and cream speckles, and they have a creamy texture when cooked. The Brown Sugar + Molasses sauce is one of a pair of new flavors from Pendleton, which also makes new Hot+Spicy flavor and Original and Mesquite flavors. The sauces are made by Oregon Growers & Shippers in partnership with Hood River Distillers. The Brown Sugar + Molasses Sauce was created for consumers looking for a sweeter flavor profile and is made from premium quality molasses and dark brown sugar for a caramel flavor accented with hints of citrus from coriander and some mild heat from black and chipotle peppers and a backdrop of hickory smoke that add some spicy tang to that sweetness for a result that didn’t taste anything like candied beans.
— Lorrie Baumann
During peak picnic season, make sure your spread is complete with the perfect potato salad. With more than 100 potato salads in its rich recipe database, as well as tips from the experts and how-to videos, the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) website is your top resource for this popular summer side dish.
“Through analytics we know that close to 70 percent of the visitors to our website during the summer months are looking for recipes or tips to help them make the perfect potato salad,” explained Frank Muir, President/CEO of the IPC. “Our new recipe database, Ask Dr. Potato question and answer forum, and abundant how-to videos on our YouTube channel demonstrate how and why Idaho® potatoes are the ideal potato for summer salads.”
Hot, cold, traditional, or with a twist, there are so many different mouth-watering Idaho potato salad recipes that you can serve a new one to your family every day during the summer months. It’s hard to resist the traditional potato salad with mayonnaise and hardboiled eggs, but if you’re looking for a light and nutrient-dense option, try the Asparagus and Idaho Potato Quinoa Salad with Orange Parsley Dressing. Loaded with flavor, textures, and important vitamins and minerals, this dish can stand alone as a vegetarian meal or accompany your family’s favorite protein. Did we mention it’s gluten-free, too?
There isn’t a potato-related question that Dr. Potato can’t answer. The number one trending question this season is, “How long does potato salad last in the refrigerator?” Here is Dr. Potato’s response: “Did the salad get made up and then refrigerated right away, and you just have some left over? If this is the case then it should easily last three to four days. Was the salad used at a picnic and then placed back in the refrigerator? Then probably no more than the next day, if that. I usually don’t recommend saving the salad after it has sat out in the heat at all.”
To read more on this topic and other popular potato-related questions, please visit http://foodserviceblog.idahopotato.com.
YouTube How-to Videos
If you have always wondered how to make your potato salad look as good as the pros, try visiting the IPC’s library of videos. Popular food blogger Average Betty shows how she makes her “pota-totally” awesome salad, Roasted Red Potato Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese, Cranberries, Candied Pecans and Balsamic Dressing. This salad is so flavorful and easy-to-make there’s a good chance you’ll want to serve it at your next meal!
To go directly to the IPC’s potato salad recipe collection, visit: http://recipes.idahopotato.com/allthingspotatosalads
By Lorrie Baumann
A colleague of mine at Oser Communications Group has asked me to review a recipe for Pasta with Jam Sauce concocted by Mr. West Collins and demonstrated in a YouTube video that can be seen at http://youtu.be/90tZUltzRBc. She asked me to respond to the video as a professional writer on matters of culinaria, based on my experience as editorial director of Gourmet News, the business newspaper of the specialty food industry, and Kitchenware News & Housewares Review magazine, as part of her participation in GISHWHES as a member of Team CommorientLoves6RMartial Arts.
Collins’ recipe calls for canned pasta sauce, carrot juice, Goldfish crackers and a whole apple with several bites out of it, which of course does not adhere to our traditional notions of how to make a great pasta sauce. It must be said, though, that there are certainly more recipes for pasta sauce out there than there have ever been pasta cooks to concoct them, so we must not accept without question the notion that Collins’ recipe is entirely new to the world.
We recreated the recipe in our editorial office with Hunt’s all-natural tomato sauce, which does not include added sugar; Polaner strawberry spreadable fruit, which is sweetened only with fruit juice; Bolthouse Farms carrot juice; Pepperidge Farm’s Baked Goldfish crackers, flavor blasted with “Xplosive Pizza + Parmesan” for a little bit of Italian flavoring; and a Red Delicious apple, which was removed when the pasta was served on elbow macaroni from a carton of Kraft macaroni and cheese.
The results admittedly fall short of our expectations for a fine Italian pasta sauce, due primarily to the ingredient choices, which could have been improved. However, ingredients are just one element in a successful culinary experience. Other necessary elements include technique and tools. Collins’ video demonstrates that he had available to him the essential tools of a modern American home kitchen, although it is also apparent that his technique with them is not expert. Clearly, that will benefit from future experiments in the kitchen and additional instruction from a knowledgeable cook with more culinary experience than he.
With quality ingredients, adequate tools and a firm grasp of basic technique, any cook can put an edible meal on the table. But putting an exceptional meal on the table calls for something else: the creativity born of imagination and a willingness to experiment. And that, Collins brings in abundance.
That being the case, the actual taste of the dish that results from Collins’ recipe is almost irrelevant. In any case, the sauce made from his recipe is not all that different from a nationally distributed brand that has certainly turned a profit over the years. What Collins is really serving up here, along with his Pasta with Jam Sauce, is fun. That the adults around him encouraged his experiment fostered his creativity and culinary courage. That they recorded it and shared it with us allows us also to have a taste of the fun.
However, if you are looking for your own opportunity to cook up a playful take on an Italian classic, I would suggest some experiments with the Maple Bacon Aioli recently released by Stonewall Kitchen, a premium product that you’ll find in a specialty grocery or gourmet store. Stonewall Kitchen sent me a couple of jars to sample and review, and I recently tried it out as a pizza sauce with good results. I used a prepared pizza crust from Trader Joe’s, rolled it out and spread it with the aioli, then topped it with chopped roast chicken and mozzarella cheese and baked it. Delicious!