A look back across 2013's best recipes, food experiences and flavor discoveries
What a year for culinary inspiration! Shareable flatbreads. Savory pies. Pretzel everything. And everywhere we looked—bold and beautiful flavors. Our chefs at the Kraft Culinary Centre were as inspired as the customers they serve. Indeed, they developed almost 100 new recipes in 2013, addressing 10 sustaining food trends in delicious, easy-to-execute ways. They brought you more than 50 plus-one ideas, taking the Kraft products you rely on even further. They also added three new culinary technique videos to the Kraft Works Video Showcase, bringing the video portfolio up to 18. On the business side, Kraft Works shared real-world success stories, relaying tried-and-true strategies and profit-generating ideas from six industry professionals. We look forward to doing it all again in 2014!
It's hard to choose the "best of" when our chefs are proud of everything they develop, but with a little coaxing, they each whittled down their lists to their top three recipes of 2013. They also shared favorite food experiences and flavor discoveries. We'd love to hear about yours! Let us know on the Kraft Foodservice Facebook page.
I took my 11-year-old son to Belly Q in Chicago. The food was very good. My son ordered for us—steamed buns, stuffed roasted quail with sticky rice and Chinese sausage, and baby backs with homemade hoisin and Asian coleslaw. We had a view of the kitchen and the wood-fired oven, and felt immersed in the experience. What made it memorable—beyond the good food and ambiance—is that it was just the two of us. We had arrived straight from the soccer pitch, where I watched my son, an amazing goalie, play in the finals. His team lost, but they played a fantastic season. Our dinner was about celebrating that, mourning the loss, and enjoying great food together.
Freeman Moser III
Senior Executive Chef, Kraft Foodservice
I've been experimenting with my ceramic cooker and I landed on a wonderful recipe for ribs. I coat the pork ribs with chili powder that I bloom in fat, and let those sit for a day. I make a poaching solution of chicken stock, water, onion, garlic, jalapeño and salt and pepper. I poach the ribs for 10 minutes, then put them on the grill at 250°F for 20 minutes. I pull them out, dip them in the poaching liquid again, which I've modified now to include Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce and cider vinegar. I repeat this grilling-poaching routine every 20 minutes for five hours. The result is a rib with flavor penetration right into the meat, rather than just being added on through the sauce.
I ate at a place in my Chicago neighborhood called Nana. We ordered an incredible charcuterie platter—all housemade: pastrami duck, pork rillettes, dry-aged salamis. Those were amazing, but the best part was the variety of pickled produce —cinnamon-pickled pineapple rind, clove-pickled green tomatoes, green beans, snap peas and gingered carrots. We had toasted bread on the side, grain mustard—all is good in the world.
Corporate Executive Chef, Kraft Food Service
I loved this unusual flavor combination: snap peas, blanched and cut on the bias, as a crunchy garnish to a chocolate dessert.
I visited my friend's urban aquaponic farm, Greens & Gills, in Chicago. I loved sampling the fresh harvest of greens and micro-greens, from baby shiso to baby mustard greens. Baby radish was the most interesting—it almost has the bite of horseradish, but it's not as intense. I like contrasting it with a good olive oil, canned sardines, Grey Poupon Mustard, lemon, cherry tomatoes and capers.
Corporate Executive Chef, Kraft Foodservice
I'm really loving the plethora of dark leafy greens that appear as both mains and components of dishes.
I cannot help but smile when I recall having dinner on a patio this summer at Firehall Pizza Co. in Blue Mountains, Ontario, with my husband and two young kids. The sun was shining, there was live music, the service was wonderful, the beer was cold and the thin-crust pizza was delicious. If I had to choose one meal to re-live again and again, it would be that one—full of happiness, peace and simple but delicious food.
Corporate Chef, Kraft Foodservice
I'm in love with harissa paste [Tunisian hot chili paste] and ras el hanout [North African spice blend]. I recently added those two ingredients to Kraft Ranch Dressing for a Grilled Moroccan Chicken Salad. The warmth of the spices and chili with the creamy background of ranch was just wonderful. That embellished dressing would also be a great dip for sweet potato fries.
When I visited Hawaii, I tried the food from a lot of shrimp trucks, which was awesome. It's a huge part of the food scene there, and the vendors put out great, fresh product. I also ate at iNG this year, Homaro Cantu's place in Chicago, and that was an amazing experience. But what always blows me away are the simple foods that are executed well, like the Chicago-style hot dog at Superdawg Drive-In—amazing dogs and fries. For me, a great food plays on both the physical (taste buds) and emotional (comfort food) aspects.
Corporate Chef, Kraft Foodservice
I made a Twinkie® Tiramisu that was a huge hit! I usually bake my own ladyfingers and do everything from scratch, but I needed it fast and dirty for a birthday party that day. So I made an espresso, Marsala and sugar syrup, and then soaked the sliced Twinkies in the mixture in the bottom of half hotel pans. I then layered it with Jell-O Vanilla Pudding, Dream Whip Topping, and then topped it with cinnamon sugar and a heavy dusting of cocoa powder.
I dined in Jalisco and Colima in Mexico. The fresh and focused flavors in the deserts of Jalisco were really exciting. And eating along the Pacific in Colima was pure luxury.
Corporate Sous Chef, Kraft Foodservice
I had pretty wonderful food experiences in Los Angeles that featured cultured grasses and foraged foods. Very cool stuff. Here's an example from Chef Jordan Kahn at Red Medicine: young potatoes, gently poached in a cream of sweet butter and yeast, crisp rice dumplings, wild grasses, flowers and succulents foraged from the Malibu coast.