Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pepper personality

Next to salt -- that universal seasoning -- pepper is comfortable in its role as best supporting actor. However, when it comes to adding zing to ANY dish, pepper leaves salt in the dust.

The beauty of pepper is that it's a jack of all trades, no matter the form. Ground pepper you keep in the spice cabinet has its place in the kitchen, just as much as the peppercorns that, when the right pressure is applied, yield up that lush, freshly ground pepper.
Now, pepper doesn't have to be complicated, but the spice genies at McCormick have added some enhancers. They might not appeal to someone who has a spice cabinet that could well rival McCormick's line, but for single folks who don't keep a lot of ingredients on hand, these could be useful.
“Americans truly have a passion for pepper, exemplified by the 60 percent increase in pepper imports in the last 20 years alone,” said Laurie Harrsen, director of Consumer Communications at McCormick. “For years, consumers have turned to the iconic pepper can to elevate the flavor of nearly any dish. Now, there are two bold new pepper flavors to add to the spice cabinet.”

McCormick Smokehouse Ground Black Pepper: Black pepper is infused with an applewood smoke flavor to create alluring aromas and a wood-smoked taste. Make ordinary burgers, ribs, pork and chicken extraordinary with the addition of smokehouse flavor.

McCormick Worcestershire Ground Black Pepper Blend: The enticing flavor of Worcestershire sauce is artfully combined with black pepper to create this irresistible seasoning. Pump up the flavor of your favorite steak, stew or spice rub with the bold addition of Worcestershire.

Worcestershire and Smokehouse Black Pepper retail for a suggested price of $1.99 for a 2-ounce can. These two new flavors are available now in the spice aisle of grocery stores nationwide.
Worcestershire Peppered Pork
4 pork loin chops, 3/4-inch thick (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon McCormick Worcestershire Ground Black Pepper Blend, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
Sprinkle pork chops with 1/2 teaspoon each Worcestershire Pepper and salt.
Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chops; cook 4 to 6 minutes per side or until desired doneness (if chops brown too quickly, reduce heat slightly). Remove skillet from heat. Transfer chops to serving platter; cover and keep warm.
Stir wine into skillet, scraping to loosen any browned bits. Add cream, mustard, sage and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes or until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Serve sauce over chops.
Chicken and Mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 package (8 ounces) mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick Worcestershire Ground Black Pepper Blend, divided
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire Pepper, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned.
Stir in cream and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened.

Creamy Peppered Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon McCormick Worcestershire Ground Black Pepper Blend
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended; cover.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir dressing before serving.

Wedge Salad with Creamy Pepper Dressing and Bacon: Serve Dressing over wedges of iceberg lettuce. Sprinkle with crumbled cooked bacon.
Romaine Salad with Creamy Pepper Parmesan Dressing: Prepare dressing as directed, adding 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese. Serve Dressing over salad of crisp Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced red onion and croutons
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
2 teaspoons McCormick Worcestershire Ground Black Pepper Blend
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended. Cover.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve with assorted cut-up vegetables, pita wedges, crackers or bread sticks