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Ask a Foodie: What Is Pumpkin Pie Spice?


Q.: What does it mean when a recipe calls for “pumpkin pie spice”? Is this something special that I need to buy?

—K.H.

Season your pumpkin pie to suit your tastes.

Season your pumpkin pie to suit your tastes.

Pumpkin pie spice is a seasoning blend that you can buy in the store or you can make using the spices that you like in a pumpkin pie.

McCormick makes a version that features cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice plus some “sulfiting agents” to keep it shelf stable. A 1-ounce container sells for about $3.65 at H-E-B.

If you’re only going to make one or two pies a year, you might as well make your own from scratch. Here’s where you can personalize the blend to suit your taste. Before you start, think about what flavors you like in your pumpkin pie. Ground cinnamon is practically a given, and ginger, too. But what about allspice? Would you rather have ground cloves? And what about using mace instead of nutmeg?

These variations will change the nature of your pumpkin pie (and possibly your warm spiced cider punch, if you want to season that), so the best bet is to taste the blend before you use it. If there’s too much ginger or not enough nutmeg, you’ll notice that even more so when your pie is served.

So, here are a couple of pumpkin pie spice blends to get you started. Make only small batches (you can half these recipes, again adjusting to taste), so you won’t have any leftovers that need preserving. Just remember to be careful with spices such as cardamom and clove, both of which can overwhelm everything they’re in. Start small and build those up.

If you’re looking for a little heat to add to your pie, try a pinch or two of Raz el Hanôut, a Moroccan spice blend made up of warm spices but with a a lively touch of heat on the finish. It’s made from ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, mace, cloves, cayenne pepper and turmeric, and just a touch of that will give you a whole new way of enjoying pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend I

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons ground allspice

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes 7 tablespoons.

Make your own pumpkin pie spice.

Make your own pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend II

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes a little more than 5 tablespoons.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend III

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes a little more than 5 tablespoons.

From John Griffin

 

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Johnny Hernandez Serves Up Ancho Adobo Tacos de Bistec


Ancho Adobo Tacos de Bistec with Grilled Corn and Tomatillo Salsa

Ancho Adobo Tacos de Bistec with Grilled Corn and Tomatillo Salsa

Chef Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria Ice House and True Flavors Catering recently created several recipes for McCormick & Company, including a savory treat called Ancho Adobo Tacos de Bistec with Grilled Corn and Tomatillo Salsa.

The spice company was in town this week to kick off its Asando Sabroso Tour, a multi-city sweep from San Antonio to Los Angeles designed to show off its new seasonings while offering grilling tips for the summer season.

The local stop was at La Gloria in the Pearl Brewery complex, where Hernandez’s staff offered up the tacos in a fundraising effort to benefit the scholarship program at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus.

Ancho Adobo Tacos de Bistec with Grilled Corn and Tomatillo Salsa

Grilled Corn and Tomatillo Salsa:
3 to 4 ears fresh corn
3 fresh tomatillos, papery skin removed, rinsed well and diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 radish, halved and thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons diced red onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon diced jalapeño peppers
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ancho Adobo Steak:
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon powdered ancho chile pepper, such as McCormick Gourmet Collection
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef sirloin steak
3 boiler onions, halved
12 corn tortillas (5 1/2-inch)

For the salsa, remove husks and silk strands from corn. Soak in water for 15 minutes. Grill corn over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until tender and lightly charred, turning occasionally. Cut kernels off cobs (about 2 cups). Mix corn, tomatillos, cilantro, green onion, radish, red onion, lime juice, oil, jalapeño peppers and salt in large bowl until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to blend flavors.

For the steak, place garlic, cilantro, lime juice, water, ancho chile powder, salt, paprika, red pepper, black pepper, and cumin in food processor. Cover. Process until smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Place steak in glass dish. Add remaining adobo; turn to coat well. Cover. Refrigerate 15 minutes or longer for extra flavor. Remove steak from adobo. Discard any remaining adobo.

Grill steak over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness, brushing with reserved 2 tablespoons adobo. Grill onions 2 to 3 minutes per side or until slightly charred. Grill tortillas 1 minute per side or until warmed.

Slice steak into thin slices. Slice onions into thin strips. Serve steak and onions in tortillas. Top with salsa.

Tips:  Boiler onions are small onions with a sweet, pungent flavor. They are often used whole in recipes for stews, kabobs and roasts. If unavailable, substitute cippolini or small sweet onions. McCormick offers all of the dry herbs

Approximate nutritional value per taco: 399 calories, 11 g fat, 44 g carbohydrates, 39 mg cholesterol; 800 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 31 g protein.

Makes 12 tacos.

From Johnny Hernandez/McCormick

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