Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tropical Cream Cheese Spread

I made this Tropical Cream Cheese Spread for the last Wining Women event of the season.  The theme of the event was supposed to be Tropical Island Wines but the hostess found out that no Tropical Island wines are available for sale in the United States.  At least not in our area.  The hostess decided to switch the country of origin to Argentina because those wines are readily available.  I was once again extremely brave (or stupid) about taking a brand new untried recipe with me to an event and I would say that I was also extremely lucky.  The Tropical Cream Cheese Spread turned out to be very tasty.  The strawberries I served with it were fragrant and delicious. The coconut cookies I bought were also a big hit.  I wish I had kept the wrapper of those cookies so I could give them a plug here.    This is a nice (easy) summery appetizer that I will make again to bring to a summer event.  If you use neufchatel or light cream cheese it will be just as yummy but about 1/3 the calories.   I found the recipe on http://www.worldfamousrecipes.org/.


Yield: About 1 & 1/2 cups.

8 ounces cream cheese or light cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons peach preserves or orange marmalade
1/4 cup crushed pineapple packed in juice or syrup, drained
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used unsweetened coconut)
2 teaspoons honey

Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor;

Process until well blended and smooth.

Transfer the spread to a serving or storage container and cover.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Can be kept up to 1 week in refrigerator.

Serve with fresh fruit (strawberries, banana slices, pineapple spears) or with crackers and toasted bread rounds. 


The Creative Cook

Monday, May 24, 2010

Herbes de Provence Redux

I definitely did not try hard enough to find Herbes de Provence in my local grocery stores.  No sooner did I publish the post on Herbes de Provence, when I found a bottle at a grocery store in Westminster.  I bought that bottle although I am  not sure why.  I guess I felt that I should explore all possibilities.  I kept looking and found it again at another local chain.   Shame on me!  I had no idea how many places I could find Herbes de Provence but now I know.  I am feeling obligated to try as many recipes that call for Herbes de Provence as possible.  I found several so don't worry about that.  I also did some reading of reviews on the recipes.  I am pretty sure that there must be many versions of Herbes de Provence available in various parts of this country.  Some of the recipe reviews mentioned that the lavender was overwhelming.  I think these people must have used an imported version of the Herbes.  The McCormick Spice people did a nice job of blending the Herbes de Provence to our pedestrian American taste buds.  They bottle the Herbes de Provence under their Gourmet Collection Blends label.  I had no issues with lavender when I tried these Herbes.  In fact, there may not be any lavender in the McCormick blend.  I imagined that I tasted it in there very very slightly but when I read the ingredients I did not see lavender listed.  The list of ingredients goes something like this:  Spices (including rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and savory).  Yes, they actually use a parenthesis in the list of ingredients.  Isn't that interesting.  Of course, the McCormick Spice people know that here in the United States, we use lavender more in soap or candles than in foods.  The recipe for Herbes de Provence mentions lavender as optional but traditional.  Most the recipes I have reviewed and tried call for at least a tablespoon of Herbes de Provence so I wouldn't want to use the imported version and get a mouthful of soap with my chicken or potatoes or whatever.  Thank you McCormick Spice Company!! 

I am including two of the recipes that I found on the web for Herbes de Provence Chicken and Herbes de Provence Potatoes.  I don't necessarily recommend you try them together like I did.  It was pretty good but could be overwhelming if you don't care for the Herbes.  Both recipes are very easy to make.  Why not bring a little bit of the South of France into your kitchen when you get the chance?

Chicken Herbs De Provence

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence seasoning

• 4 teaspoons champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 1 teaspoon sea salt

• 4 chicken breasts


Combine all ingredients and marinade chicken for at least two hours.
Grill until tender basting frequently with marinade or bake 30 minutes at 400.

(I had to roast the chicken about 45 minutes to get it to its proper doneness so be careful here.)

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis


4 to 6 servings


• 1/2 pound small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 3/4-inch diameter), scrubbed

• 1/2 pound small white-skinned potatoes (about 1 3/4-inch diameter), scrubbed

• 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, plus extra for garnish

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the potatoes into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the herbs, garlic, and oil together until blended, and then pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer the potatoes to a heavy large baking dish, spacing them evenly apart.

Roast the potatoes until they are tender and golden, turning them occasionally with tongs, about 1 hour. Transfer the roasted potatoes to a decorative platter and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and Herbes de Provence, if desired. Serve hot or warm.


The Creative Cook