Friday, May 24, 2013

Ready. Set. Start grilling!!!

Is this weekend the start of the grilling season for you?  Hopefully the weather cooperates and allows for some outdoor foodgasms this weekend.

When you are grilling, don't just think meat! There are some wonderful possibilities from the vegetable kingdom.

You may have seen this episode before. Yes, this is a rerun. But have you tried my Grilled Artichokes with Spicy Sweet Remoulade Sauce?


I had something like this just last week at a restaurant.  It was nice, but it just didn't have that extra kick.

Try this as an appetizer in addition to whatever else you plan on grilling. And let me know how it went.

Here's the recipe.

A Little Bit of Kimchi

Another discovery at the NRA show was from Korea--by way of Indiana.

Sunny's Korean Restaurant is based in Mishawaka, Indiana, but their impact goes way past that community.

Chef Ashley Simone and Sunny
Now the restaurant has been running for 20 years.  And what Sunny found is that there was a demand for the flavorings she uses in her food.  So she is now marketing Sunny's Teriyaki Sauce and Sunny's Kimchee Kit.

If you know anything about Korean food, you've heard of Kimchi. It's a traditional Korean dish that is  fermented and pickled. It's a side dish of vegetables, eaten at every meal. Another thing about Kimchi is that it has a strong odor. And it's hot. Sinus-clearing hot.

It's also "hot" in the culinary and healthy living communities. Some call it one of the world's healthiest foods, and the reason why obesity is not a problem in Korea.  

I came away with several packets of their Kimchee Kit. Sunny pointed out that there's no MSG in her products. Also no Gluten. All the ingredients are natural. I got to sample the product simply tossed with fresh cucumbers. It was super tasty.

I'm not sure yet how I am going to use my kimchee kit.  I could go the traditional route. Or maybe I'll use these flavorings on something a little different. It has so many possibilities from appetizers to cocktails. Whatever it will be, it'll be Foodgasmic, I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maguey Sweet Sap: A Natural Sweetener to Try

I go to the National Restaurant Association’s show every May in Chicago. I go because I want to keep up on what’s happening in the food world. I go because I want to discover something new.

And this year I did make a discovery: Maguey Sweet Sap.

First off, I want to make it clear that it isn’t pronounced like it seems. Maguey.  (If you didn’t already click on the word, so, and then you’ll have the correct pronunciation.)

It’s a natural sweetener. Comes from Mexico. From a cactus plant. "Oh yeah," you say. "I know that. Agave syrup.  I use that."

But it’s not agave syrup. A small taste makes that abundantly clear. It has a unique and robust flavor profile. It has a slight taste of molasses and agave combined, but also a distinct flovor all its own. The Maguey Sweet Sap lingers with a subtle flavor.
So I was pulled into the booth at the NRA. I wanted to find out more.

Chef Ashley Simone with Mayra Ortiz, one of the owners of the company.

And what the couple in that booth wanted me to know for sure is that the Maguey Sweet Sap they were hawking was most definitely not agave.

To be honest, you can call it a cousin. 

Actually, the maguey plant is similar to some other common plants. To the aloe plant even. To the century cactus plant.  All in the same family.

In the United States, we’ve grown used to the benefits from this family of succulents which gives us agave syrup and tequila.

Maguey Sweet Sap is gathered from the maguey plant only after it has matured (some 12 years) and is about to flower. The central part of the plant is removed and hollowed out and then sap can be collected several times a day, for as long as four months.

This venture, by the company Villa de Patos, is organic. The operation is sustainable and it provides a living for a number of families in some small villages in the north of Mexico.  Another plus is that this natural sweetener is higher in sucrose than, say, honey, agave syrup and, of course, high fructose corn syrup.

I’m going to be experimenting with this sweetener.  I have tried it in my coffee. Soon I’ll share a recipe or two with you and let you know how I like to use this sweetener. Maybe I'll create a fun new cocktail.  Stay tuned!

Have you ever tried Maguey Sweet Sap before?  This product may not be in all the grocery stores right now but you can purchase it online from The Republic of Tea.