Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saucy Mama Blogger Recipe Contest 2015: Asian Fusion Steak Tacos With Ribbon Slaw and Sriracha Mayo

It was about this time last year that I posted my entry into Saucy Mama's blogger recipe contest for a chance to win a golden ticket to the World Food Championships. My recipe for my Honey Dijon Chicken and Bacon Wafflewiches ultimately held their own against the other recipes and took home the crown.

A few months later I found myself in Las Vegas competing against a crowd of other cooks at the World Food Championships. The competition was stiff and after two cooking rounds I landed up taking a somewhat respectable 13th place. Since only the first 10 places advanced to the category finals, I was free to visit with my many contesting friends who were there, and my hosts, Suzie Barhyte and Colette Harris from Saucy Mama.

I was excited to finally meet Suzie after working with her company on a couple of occasions. I really admire her a great deal. She has done what many of us would have liked to have done ourselves. She found something she was passionate about, and with a lot of hard work and dedication, made it a great success. Suzie's story epitomizes the American dream.

Four days after her high school graduation Suzie married her husband Jan. Shortly thereafter they started a family and became the parents of three sons Chris, Mike and Jeff. In 1979, they opened Swift and Martin Station Deli in Pendleton, Oregon, intending to sell quality meats, cheeses, soups and desserts. The only thing that they found lacking in their new business was a good European mustard, so they starting making their own from an old family recipe.

The Barhyte's mustard became so popular that by 1982 they started their own mustard business. In 1984 they opened a factory near the mustard fields of the Willamette Valley under the name of Old Fashioned Foods, making sweet and sour, stone ground, jalapeno, dill, horseradish and pub mustards.

In 1994 they moved their business back to Pendleton, where Suzie started creating marinades, and salad dressings, setting the stage for their hugely successful Saucy Mama line of gourmet sauces and condiments.

Today, Barhyte Foods and Saucy Mama brands are still family run. Oldest son and CEO, Chris handles sales, while Mike is in charge of production. Son Jeff works elsewhere, but is always on hand to help out with technical issues. Jan Barhyte oversees the company's 52 employees and Suzie is still in charge of product development. Annual sales now exceed $10 million. Not bad for a business that got its start in a 5 gallon Hobart mixer.

I am so happy that I got to spend some time in Las Vegas with Suzie and her Marketing and PR Manager, Colette. Besides both of them being gracious and genuinely kind, I got to see the personal side of Suzie and hear in her own words how much she loves her company and values her employees. Success couldn't happen to a nicer person.

So here we are, almost one year later and it is time for Saucy Mama's blogger recipe contest. I considered going out on top and leaving this year's contest to a new group of bloggers, but I just couldn't miss out on the opportunity to pass on the good word about Saucy Mama's delicious products.

The only problem joining in this blogger event was deciding which one (or ones) of Saucy Mama's products I wanted to use in my recipe. Somehow when I chose my sauces from her extensive line of products, I chose Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing twice. I took this as a sign and opened one of them first. The flavor is robust, slightly spicy with just the right amount of sweet, and a spark of ginger. I loved it. Decision made.

Since you can't go wrong pairing this sauce with any type of protein, and since I had a whole beef tenderloin for a dinner party in the fridge, I portioned some out and started marinating. The steak turned out tender and flavorful and totally perfect on its own, but with all the beautiful spring produce in the markets I decided on adding something fresh. Since I wanted my dish to be simple, I shaved some ribbons from a few vegetables, wrapped everything up in a warm tortilla, and my Asian Fusion Steak Tacos were born.

So fingers crossed, Suzie will like this year's recipe as much as last year's and I will be packing my bags for Florida in November with a golden ticket in my hand. If not, I will be cheering on this year's winner as they vie for the big win representing Saucy Mama at the World Food Championships.

While we wait for Suzie and Jan to choose a winner for this year's blogger contest, they have offered a little gift pack of their sauces for me to give away to one of my US readers. Since I like to keep things simple (i.e. no Rafflecopter, standing on your head or giving me your first born) all you have to do to enter is leave me a comment. Yep, that's it. Just make sure I am able to contact you to let you know you've won. If not, I'll have to choose someone else and I hate doing that. I'll choose my winner one week from today, on June 2nd. Good luck!

Oh, by the way, if you don't have Google+ and can't comment here, you can leave a comment on Savoury Table's Facebook page and I'll throw your name in the hat for the giveaway.

One last important thing! To learn more about Saucy Mama, see a list of products, and order a few for yourself, please click here.

Asian Fusion Steak Tacos With Ribbon Slaw and Sriracha Mayo

1 pound beef tenderloin or other tender cut
1/2 cup Saucy Mama Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 - 3 teaspoons sriracha (depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 of an English cucumber
1 large carrot
3 - 4 nice big asparagus spears
6 very thin red onion slices
1 red jalapeno or Fresno pepper, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
6 taco size flour tortillas
1 handful of cilantro

Place beef in a medium size bowl. Pour Saucy Mama Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing over the top. Turn meat over to coat; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning over a couple of times during marinating.

Combine mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl; mix well, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a frying pan or outdoor charcoal grill to medium high (I love using my cast iron griddle for this). If using a very lean cut of meat like I did, you'll need to spray your pan with a little bit of cooking spray. Remove the meat from the marinade and place onto the hot griddle. Sear meat on each side until it reaches desired doneness. We like ours medium rare so it took about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat, cover with foil and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into 1/4" thick slices across the grain. Keep the meat warm until ready to use.

Wash cucumber, carrot and asparagus spears. Remove any rough outside skin from them if needed. With a potato or vegetable peeler, shave each vegetable in 3" sections until it is a pile of "ribbons" (be sure to save the asparagus tips for vegetable stock or stir fry).  Set ribbons aside, tossing with lime juice just before serving.

Heat tortillas in the microwave or warm oven just until warm. To assemble, place a small dollop of the sriracha mayo in the center of the warm tortilla. Spread the mayo in a line down the center of the tortilla. Top mayo with equal amounts of the beef, ribbon salad, Fresno or jalapeno slices and cilantro. Fold in half and enjoy. Serve with more Saucy Mama Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing and lime wedges on the side.

Makes 6 tacos.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Something From Nothing #33: Basic Risotto

I wasn't a big risotto maker until recently. I wasn't even a big risotto eater until recently when I discovered how delicious it is, and how easy it is to make. The basic dish is little more than rice and broth which is cooked slowly, and built on from there.

Risotto begins with the starchy, short grained Arborio rice, named after the town in Italy in which it is grown. Affordable and widely available in most well stock grocery stores, this rice is starchier and creamier than most other types of rice. It is the cooking process that makes it just that little bit different, and to some, just that little bit intimidating.

There's really not that much skill required to make a decent risotto, just a little bit of time and patience. As you can see by my photos, once you get the basic recipe down you can add anything you would like to it. The day I made this I had some odds and ends in the fridge which I threw in and made a restaurant quality meal in just minutes.

So take my advice here. Go buy some Aborio rice and some vegetable or chicken stock and keep them in your cupboard for a rainy day. Then, on said rainy day, cook it up and clean out the fridge and the freezer, throwing all the good things you find on top. You can thank me later, because you know you aren't supposed to talk with your mouth full.

Basic Risotto

1 tablespoon oil
1 - 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock (2/3 of a cup can be replaced with white wine if desired), warm or at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is heated, add oil and rice. Stir to coat rice with oil.

When the rice is coated and everything is good and hot, add broth a couple of ladles (the ladle I used was 6 ounces) at a time, stirring in after each addition. Pan should remain hot enough that the stock sizzles when it is added, but not so hot that it immediately evaporates and boils vigorously so, adjust your stove temperature accordingly.

Once broth is absorbed and the rice separates for a couple of seconds when a wooden spoon is dragged through it, add a couple of more ladles full and repeat the process until most or all of the stock is added. This should take about 20 - 30 minutes. Rice should be creamy, yet sightly firm in the center when done.

One little note here: Some people think that they need to stir their risotto constantly. Even though I do stir frequently, I don't think that it needs the constant stirring to be great. So settle down and answer the telephone. It will be OK.

Add butter to finish rice, stirring well to combine.

At this point you can add any spices, herbs and/or other ingredients that you desire. I like to add a nice big handful of Parmesan or Asiago cheese, garlic, sauteed shallots, fresh or frozen peas, prosciutto, bacon, asparagus, mushrooms, or, well, you get the idea. You are only limited by your own imagination.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer

Monday, May 4, 2015

Vintage Cakes: Sock It To Me Cake

About a week ago our pastry chef at work taught a class on vintage cakes. On the menu was a lemon chiffon cake with berries and cream and a caramel cake that was iced with a brown butter frosting. I loved this class not only because of the great recipes, but also because of the memories it conjured.

Just the title of this class brought a flood of recipes to mind. I have posted recipes of several of them here. Oh how I love Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing, Chocolate Sheet Cake and Pineapple Macadamia Cake, but one I have neglected writing about, since it starts from a cake mix, is one that I will no longer ignore, the delicious Duncan Hines Sock-It-To-Me Cake.

I'm not really sure about the exact history of this cake, but I first started eating it in the 70's after my dad was smart enough to marry my step-mom. Being a full-time working wife and mother, she was up on all the best recipes that could be found on the back of a box or in the break room at work. Thank goodness she found this recipe because it is one of my all time favorite coffee cakes EVER, and it is so good that even after 40 years it is still featured on the side of their butter golden flavor cake mix box.

Well, there's my endorsement. Now for the recipe. There is one thing I have to say before I get to it. No matter how many times I have made this cake, the pecan filling always sinks to the bottom while it is baking. I don't know why, but it does this.  It still makes a delicious cake, it just doesn't have that beautiful little swirl like the photo on the box.

Duncan Hines Sock It To Me Cake

1 package Duncan Hines Classic Butter Golden Cake Mix, divided (If this cake mix is not available, I have used a yellow cake mix with good results)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped pecans (I use 1/2 cup)
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Duncan Hines Cream Home-Style Classic Vanilla Frosting (I use a simple glaze of powdered sugar and milk)

For complete instructions on how to mix and bake this cake, click here to go to the Duncan Hines site.