December 18th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
I’ve been on a vanilla kick this week, posting stories on my must-have extract brand and a holiday recipe for Creamy Vanilla Sweet Potatoes.
My final vanilla-themed entry is today’s wonderfully wintry cocktail recipe. Add Vanilla Peppermint Pattitinis—a vodka-infused peppermint pattie on ice—to your Christmas or New Year’s Eve bar menu. Trust me, your guests will swoon.
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store. Bottom’s up!
Vanilla Peppermint Pattitini
Makes 2 servings
- 2 ounces vodka
- 2 ounces half-and-half or cream
- 1 heaping tablespoon hot cocoa mix
- 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure chocolate extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract (or Madagascar or Mexican extract, if preferred)
- Chocolate syrup
- Mini candy canes
- Add all ingredients, except the syrup and candy canes, to a shaker, and shake vigorously.
- Pour into chilled martini glasses.
- Garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup and a candy cane.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Nielsen-Massey/ARA
Read More:Vanilla Peppermint Pattitini
December 17th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Sweet potatoes and vanilla are a perfect pairing, as demonstrated by:
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch
- Sweet Potato Pie Smoothies
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples with Pecan Streusel Topping
- Sweet Potato Bundt Cake
In each recipe, vanilla enhances the orange veggie’s inherent sweetness.
I’m adding a new recipe to the oeuvre: a smooth, creamy holiday side dish that incorporates the richness of cream cheese and butter, the sweetness of maple syrup, and the decadence of smoky bacon. (Vegetarians can easily omit the bacon.)
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Creamy Vanilla Sweet Potatoes
Makes 6 servings
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- Canola oil
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 5 strips bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash sweet potatoes, and lightly coat skins with canola oil. Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until fork-tender.
- Cut the hot potatoes into halves. Scoop the pulp into a mixing bowl, discarding the skins. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute using an electric mixer.
- Add cream cheese, butter, syrup, vanilla extract, salt and pepper. Whip until creamy.
- Spoon whipped potatoes into six ramekins coated with nonstick cooking spray, and top with the bacon. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until heated through.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Nielsen-Massey
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December 16th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
I have a large collection of cookbooks, and the ones I rely on for baking impart a critical piece of advice: Use only the best ingredients, including spices and extracts.
Many authors are quite specific about the brand of vanilla extract they use: Nielsen-Massey. I’ve come to rely on it, too, for both sweet and savory dishes, and the company uses organic vanilla beans.
Nielsen-Massey is pricier than many of the vanillas you’ll find on supermarket shelves, but consider it an investment in taste. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of a 4-oz. bottle. I buy it at my local Cost Plus World Market, which offers competitive prices.
As I wrote a few years ago in Flavor Focus: Vanilla, “vanilla beans with distinctive nuances come from four principal parts of the world”:
- Madagascar: Mellow and creamy flavor; often referred to as “bourbon” vanilla beans because they’re grown on the Bourbon Islands
- Mexico: Mild and smooth
- Tahiti: More aromatic, musky and sweet
- Indonesia: Smokier and sharper
For baking, choose Madagascar vanilla, which holds up well in high oven temperatures.
Mexican vanilla, according to the experts at Nielsen-Massey, is spicier and “smoothes out the heat and acidity of tomatoes and chili peppers, which are used in salsas and barbecue sauces.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns consumers to purchase only Mexican pure vanilla that is produced in the United States,” they add. “Mexican vanilla is often made with coumarin, a toxic substance banned in the U.S.”
Tahitian vanilla is ideal for foods that are cooked and cooled, such as refrigerated and frozen desserts, fruit pies, sauces, smoothies and shakes.
For a great selection of vanilla recipes (and holiday gift books), check out:
- A Century of Flavors
- Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance
- Simply Vanilla: Recipes for Everyday Use
5 Recipes to Inspire You
- Organic Vanilla Cured Pork Loin with Roasted Turnips in a Vanilla Maple Sauce
- Candied Butternut Squash
- Chilled Holiday Nog (Raw)
- Soufflé Omelet with Balsamic Strawberries
- Organic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Read More:Make Mine Vanilla
January 24th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
As I reported in our recent article Organic Supermarket Trends—Flavor Focus: Vanilla, vanilla is still America’s favorite flavor, and top chefs are incorporating it into innovative main dishes.
“I try to bring two ingredients together that you originally kept separate,” says Chef Robert Del Grande of Cafe Annie in Houston, Texas.
According to the flavor experts at spice maker McCormick & Company, combining sweet and savory ingredients in spicy foods creates a “more palatable offering, as the sweet chaser balances the hot notes for a smooth, robust flavor, pleasing even the most timid taste buds.”
Their Sweet & Sassy Vanilla Slaw is very different from your grandmother’s old-fashioned coleslaw recipe. Vanilla, ginger, red pepper and black pepper add heat to the crisp crunch of the cabbage. Serve it as a refreshing side dish at a moment’s notice, as it takes only 15 minutes to prepare.
Note: Because you follow an organic lifestyle, Organic Authority recommends using certified organic ingredients, when available, in all recipes to minimize your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Sweet & Sassy Vanilla Slaw
Makes 8 servings
1 medium head Napa or Chinese cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 16-oz. package broccoli slaw
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Mix cabbage and broccoli slaw mix in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine sugar and remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended.
- Just before serving, pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Toss gently.
Read More:Sweet & Sassy Vanilla Slaw