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Test Kitchen with Magic Pantry

Test Kitchen with Magic Pantry
Jacki McLenaghan

Every time I go into the kitchen to invent something new or to tweak an already favorite recipe, I wonder, “Will people like this?” This is an important question considering that I run a retail food and catering business.

To get the answer to this question is very simple…TEST KITCHEN! Let the people try your food and be willing to hear the feedback. This is the EXACT reason for this blog. Last night at Greenbriar Market and refillery, we had our “Test Kitchen” event. It's something that we have been doing monthly for the last three months. I really love it! It is a wonderful way for me to test out my creations with the public and get market research that is so incredibly valuable, PLUS it is so much fun!!! Who doesn’t like to get to eat and drink free food in return for giving an honest opinion? Maybe it is a new product that I would like to feature or an old favorite that I would like to showcase in a new and unique way. Any way you slice it, Test Kitchen is a real winner!

The big feedback from this last test kitchen… “Can you share your recipes with us?’ The answer is yes. Let me tell you a little bit about what happened, and I’ll share the specific recipes on the Greenbriar website in the next few days.

And so it begins…

We started the evening with a Black Fruit and Basil Mojito. A fun twist on a classic cocktail. We took Magic Pantry Black Fruit preserves and muddled it with fresh basil. We let those two ingredients get to know each other for a little while before adding vodka and soda water. For those who chose not to imbibe, we simply left out the vodka. The result, a delicious, easy-to-create cocktail/mocktail that people really enjoy.

Next, we moved on to our appetizer plate. This consisted of three handmade crostinis coated with a light topping of our Cashew Brie Cheese. In some circles, it is known as “Secret Cheese” because it only appears when we have Fresh tasting events or upon pre-order. Beside it, we featured 1 new jam, 1 new jelly, and 1 classic favorite. They were Strawberry Habanero Jam, Strawberry Habanero Jelly, both of which are new products, and then the ever-favorite, Ginger Marmalade. On the side, we added a sampling of our classic Pickled Onions. You can never go wrong with pickled onions. Mat, one of the owners of Greenbriar, said that these products have a sweet and spicy vibe…just like me lol. I love the way the sweetness tones down the spice in these preserves, and the creaminess of the brie takes this dish to the next level. The great news, the dish is completely plant-based and lactose-free. A great way to make sure that everyone gets to enjoy these culinary treats!

Next, we moved on to another fairly new product, The Rustic Tomato Basil soup. I created this soup because we were approached by Fringe Coffee shop to make soups for their café. For those of you who don’t know this, Fringe, Greenbriar Market, and Rising Tides Taproom, all are business owners in the neighborhood of Montgomery. Not only are they neighbors, but they are all very community-minded owners who love to support one another. You can buy Fringe Coffee at Greenbriar, and you can get our soups and waffles at Fringe. When you attend a test kitchen event and you’re not quite ready for the night to end, Rising Tides has your back. They give a 25% off of a flight of beer when you attend a Greenbriar Event.

The soup is a rustic Tomato Basil. I roast the tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and celery, before blending them to a not-too-smooth, yet not-too-chunky soup that I spice with basil and other delicious herbs and spices. If you want to get some soup for yourself and your family, we’ve now made this product completely shelf-stable and ready for you to take home and enjoy. Judging from how many people bought themselves a jar of this after the test kitchen last night, I think people like it!

Time for another cocktail? We thought it was. This time we took the classic Cowboy Roy Cocktail and added our special twist. This is a cocktail that is comprised of vodka, rum, orange juice, and soda water. The twist we added was some Magic Pantry Ginger Syrup. A surprising hint of sassiness. Just what this drink needed.

The main course was coming up next, but I snuck in one more surprise before the meal came. Apple Chips! That’s right, this sneaky little treat doesn’t stay on the shelf long once people try it, and last night was no exception. I have found a way to cut the apples so thin that it is hard to believe you are not eating potato chips. Add a little lemon juice, cinnamon, and a hint of sugar to bring out the natural apple flavors, and there you have a real winner. After sampling the Apple Chips, our guests snapped up all but one bag of these treats. I had just restocked that day! I guess I will be making apple chips this week. Now on to the main.

The main course was so much fun. It was garlic-roasted chickpeas in a lettuce wrap, topped with our very special Candied Jalapenos. If you’ve never had a candied jalapeno, boy oh boy are you in for a treat, my friend. They’re truly the perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness. The sugar tames the sharp heat from the jalapeno, turning it into this mouth-watering little gem.

On the side of the lettuce wrap, we featured a new product called Cowboy Spread. This is again a sweet spicy spread that can be used as the name would indicate, as a spread, or as a marinated or even salad dressing. DELICIOUS! We took some Butler Soya Curls (I don’t sell them, I just love them) and we marinated them in the Cowboy Spread for a few hours. If you're not familiar with Soya Curls, they really do taste exactly like chicken. If you wanted the same effect with a meat product, you could marinate pork, chicken, and beef to get the same result.

After we marinated the curls, we then skewered them and baked them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. They came out crispy and full-flavored. Yum!

Side note…After the guests all left, Shawn and Mat (The owners), myself (Jacki), and Debi (A brilliant woman who works for both Greenbriar and Magic Pantry) made ourselves a plate of these delicious skewers and had our own version of a test kitchen in the back. It can be a challenge watching people eat so many good things while you are serving and hosting. But the wait was well worth it!

Finally, for dessert, we had a handcrafted Belgian waffle topped once again with our Magic Pantry Black Fruit Preserves. If you are wondering what a Black Fruit preserve is, it is whole berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and sometimes even cherries (If they are in season) and we preserve them in a light simple syrup. The waffles I made from a recipe that I tweaked