Monday, January 5, 2009

And from the spice fairy....

An earlier post alluded to some of the hot flavor trends expected for 2009. The year, according to spice purveyor McCormick, is going to continue getting more exotic. Whether this is an attempt to lure weak-willed spice junkies like me -- or whether they think Agave nectar will truly go mainstream -- remains to be seen. But their recipe suggestions this year continue to call for more ethnic ingredients. I don't know that polenta's gone mainstream in the South yet (although my grandma used to fix cornmeal mush), but they're trying to nudge us toward bold flavors.

I've used toasted sesame seeds several times in the past few weeks. This recipe was super easy and oh, so hearty. Highly recommended.

Sesame Root Beer Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 1/4 hours

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into serving-size pieces
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 ribs celery, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
2 medium onions, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)2 medium parsnips, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 bottle (12 ounces) micro-brewed root beer
1/2 cup water
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat short ribs with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof saucepot on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the short ribs; cook 5 to 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining short ribs.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven on medium heat. Add garlic, celery, onions and parsnips; cook and stir 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add root beer, water, bouillon cubes, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of the sesame seed, sea salt and pepper. Bring to boil, stirring to loosen browned bits in bottom of Dutch oven. Return short ribs to Dutch oven, stirring to partially cover short ribs in liquid. Cover.

Braise in oven 2 hours. Add sweet potatoes; cover and braise 1 hour longer or until short ribs and sweet potatoes are tender. Skim fat from liquid. Divide short ribs and vegetables among serving bowls. Top each with sauce. Sprinkle short ribs evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon sesame seed.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 652

Sodium: 492 mg
Fat: 48 g
Carbohydrates: 28 g
Cholesterol: 105 mg
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 27 g

I'm also a fan of brie. Here's a non-traditional way to look at a feisty cheese:

Warm Rosemary Brie Cake with Peach Preserves

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

1 1/4 cups flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection™ Rosemary, Crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/4 cup milk
1 round (8 to 10 ounces) Brie cheese
2/3 cup peach or apricot preserves, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix flour, baking powder, rosemary and salt in small bowl. Butter and flour 9-inch springform pan. Slice brie evenly into 3 horizontal layers. Place 1 layer, skin-side down, in center of bottom of prepared pan. Cut remaining 2 layers in half. Place, skin-side down, around brie in pan so that most of the bottom of the pan is covered with brie, leaving about 1/2-inch uncovered around edge of inside of pan. Set aside.
Beat butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add egg yolks, beat on high speed until well blended, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture, milk then remaining flour mixture on low speed until well blended, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
Beat egg whites in clean large bowl with electric mixer on high speed 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream of tartar in small bowl. Gradually beat into egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture until well blended. Gently stir or fold in remaining egg white mixture. Pour and spread batter over brie to create an even cake layer.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Run small knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool about 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove rim of pan. Spread top of cake evenly with preserves. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftover cake.

To Make Ahead: Prepare and bake cake as directed above. Cool completely. Cover tightly. Refrigerate. Several hours before serving, remove cake from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Remove rim of pan. Place cake on baking sheet. Spread top of cake evenly with preserves. Heat in preheated 350°F oven 15 to 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 290

Sodium: 284 mg
Fat: 14 g
Carbohydrates: 34 g
Cholesterol: 110 mg
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 7 g