Monday, August 31, 2009

Vanilla specialists offer appetizers small in size but big in flavor

Some say the economic belt tightening is starting to loosen, but restaurants are still offering options that won’t break the bank. With a lower price point and many varieties, appetizers are seen as a good alternative to main entrées. According to the National Restaurant Association, small plates or appetizers are a 2009 top 10 food trend. The industry is following this trend, as chefs are experimenting with appetizers to bring variety and value to the menu.

At-home and professional chefs can add dimension and a signature touch with vanilla and extract enhanced appetizers. Vanilla is not just for baking and desserts; it is a classic ingredient that intensifies the flavor of any dish from ice cream to filet mignon.

“Vanilla is as important in Vanilla Butter Cookies as it is in Spicy Tequila Shrimp or Eggplant Parmesan,” said Beth Nielsen, Chief Culinary Officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. “Our cookbook shows how vanilla is an essential ingredient in all recipes, including appetizers.”

Nielsen-Massey's A Century of Flavor cookbook has a variety of vanilla and extract enhanced appetizer options. The ingredients of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract or Pure Lemon Extract can bring a unique taste to any menu or special occasion. The combinations below are appetizer possibilities for experimenting chefs:

· Take the recipes for Crab Cakes with Vanilla Rémoulade or Spicy Tequila Shrimp and downsize the portions to make them an appetizer.

· The delicious Savory Pork Tenderloin can be transformed into gourmet bite-sized sliders.

· Lemon-Bleu Tomatoes are already the perfect size for a cocktail party snack.

· Create your own fruit skewers infused with a Vanilla Vinaigrette or use it to add pizzazz to a fresh veggie wrap cut into bite-sized morsels.

· Use the stuffing from Lemon-Bleu Tomatoes as a gourmet appetizer on toasted slices of a French baguette and top with small cooked shrimp.

· Combine Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste with honey for a tasty, sweet spread to serve with crackers
When opening your wallet or your mouth, consider giving vanilla infused appetizers a try. The variety, flavor and price are sure to please your budget and your taste-buds.

Lemon-Bleu Stuffed Tomatoes
Featured in Nielsen-Massey’s A Century of Flavor Cookbook
Makes 24 Tablespoons of Stuffing for 48 Tomatoes

2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 ounces blue cheese crumbles
2 pints cherry tomatoes (approximately 48)

Combine the wine and shallots in a small bowl. Let stand.

Combine the cream cheese, garlic, lemon extract, white pepper, cayenne pepper and shallot mixture in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended using an electric mixer. Fold in the bleu cheese with a wooden spoon. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator.

Rinse the cherry tomatoes. Remove the tops by slicing a small amount off each tomato. Scoop out the seeds with a small measuring spoon. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each tomato so it will stand upright when plated. Fill each tomato with ½ tablespoon of the chilled Lemon-Bleu Stuffing using a pastry bag or spoon.

Additional appetizer recipes and photos are available upon request. Recipes for Crab Cakes with Vanilla Rémoulade, Spicy Tequila Shrimp, Savory Pork Tenderloin and Vanilla Vinaigrette are available.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world. The full line of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla products include: Vanilla Beans and Extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico; sugar and alcohol-free Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar and Certified Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Beans and Powder.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas recently introduced a new line of Pure Flavors: Pure Chocolate Extract, Pure Almond Extract, Pure Orange Extract, Pure Lemon Extract, Pure Coffee Extract, Pure Peppermint Extract, Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water. All Nielsen-Massey products are certified Kosher and Gluten-free. The company is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, with production facilities in Waukegan and Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

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