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Dinner Party with McCormick Gourmet: Cooking from Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook

Last month I received an email from McCormick asking if I'd like to host a dinner party using some of their spices. I was up for the challenge.

I received a set of spices, some tools of the trade and a gift card. I then had to come up with a theme for a party and make at least one appetizer, main course and a dessert. Not too hard, right?

Well, it wasn't almost until the last minute that I figured out my theme: dinner party based on recipes from Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook that I received on my trip to Asheville.

The Menu
Roasted Corn Salsa
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
Grateful Dead Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise
Peaches with Candied Almonds and Vanilla Ice Cream

{Note, alas all the photographs from my actual camera came out horrendous. Luckily, I took some phone photos, and that's what you get.}

Roasted Corn Salsa
I made a few changes to the original recipe. My version is below:

2 cups fresh corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
chipotle chile pepper powder to taste
juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine corn with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 7-15 minutes.
2. Combine corn with the rest of the ingredients. Serve straight away or refrigerate for a few hours.

The salsa is something you can make the night before the party. Just wait till the last minute to add the onions, cilantro and lime juice. Serve the salsa with corn chips.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
12 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
fresh oregano or thyme as a garnish

Directions {I slightly changed them accidentally because sometimes I have ADD and forget to read the recipe all the way from the beginning to the end.}
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients but the fresh herbs.
3. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and place tomatoes cut side up. Do not discard the  vinaigrette.
4. Roast tomatoes for one hour. Take the tomatoes out of the oven, brush them with the reserved vinaigrette and roast for additional 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme or oregano.

This was another dish I made the night before. I served it cold as a side dish, but you can reheat it slightly if you wish. These tomatoes would make an incredible soup if you just blend them with a bit of cream, or add them to a salad.

Grateful Dead Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion
1/2 cup green pepper {the recipe called for poblano chile, but my store did not have them}
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup tofu, pureed till smooth
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 cups panko brad crumbs
2 cups canola oil
8 hamburger rolls
Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise {6 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, salt & pepper to taste}

1. Saute carrots, corn, peppers, onion, celery and garlic for about five minutes. Cool.
2. Combine the vegetables with the black beans, cilantro, lime juice and spices and pulse in a food processor a few times. You will want to do this in batches. {The cookbook calls for a smooth texture, but I left mine coarse.}
3. In a large bowl mix together the black bean mixture with the tofu and panko crumbs and form 8 patties.
4. Fry the patties in the hot oil for five minutes on each side. Serve in toasted buns smothered with the cilantro lime mayonnaise.

What can I say? These burgers were pretty fantastic. I'm interested to see how they taste pan-sauteed or baked versus fried. The cilantro lime mayonnaise would be great on any sandwich or used as a salad dressing.

And then the dessert!

For the dessert, I was planning on making Tupelo Honey Cafe's Peach Cobbler With Candied Almonds, but it was nearly a hundred degrees and I really did not want to heat up my oven once again. So I decided to just wing my own version of the recipe stove-top.

for the peaches
8 peaches, pitted and quartered
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
for the almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
vanilla ice cream

1. In a large French oven {I used my Le Creuset} combine peaches, water, and sugar. Let the peaches bubble covered on medium heat for about 10-20 minutes depending on how ripe they are and how mushy you want them to be in the end.
2. In a separate non-stick large skillet combine almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar. Cook until the almonds are covered in the sticky sweet goodness and caramelized.
3. Serve the peaches in a bowl, slightly covered with the syrup and topped with the almonds and vanilla ice cream.

Ta da! Dinner was a success. Thank you McCormick for a fun opportunity. Thank you Melissa for bringing the beverages and Cecilia for the lovely sunflowers and a bottle of bubbly!

Now an opportunity for YOU:

  • YOU can join the “The Dinner Party Chain” by visiting the McCormick Gourmet Facebook page and submitting an idea for your dream dinner party
  • You’ll be entered to win similar kits themed to a holiday of your choice, so that you can enjoy hosting a party of your own!


K.C. Sequeira said...

Oh, totally delish!! I can't wait to try these out! And, I think your photos are fantastic, no need for fancy pants photography; the 'awesome' was captured!

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Thank you so much!!! This made me feel a little bit better ;) Definitely let me know which recipe you end up making.

K.C. Sequeira said...

Will do, Olga. I'm so glad I came across your blog. What a great resource! Your recipes will be my inspiration for many future dinner parties!

Georgina Castellucci said...

All of these photos look so delicious! You were definitely the right person to have been selected by McCormick!

Georgina at:

Ann Mah said...

The bean burgers look fantastic! Could they be made ahead? P.S. Your phone photos look lovely!

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Yes, I bet they could be made ahead, but don’t fry them until you are ready to serve. Thanks for the compliments ;)

ellenbcookery said...

WOW! What a great blog you have. I just discovered you from Gina at Skinny Taste. I'm so pleased to be following your blog now!

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

What a lovely comment! Thank you so much, Ellen! Welcome ;)

DeliciousDish said...

Definitely looks like a huge success! I especially want some of those tomatoes.

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