By Lillie Dorchak
RARITAN TWP — For 20 years, eveyone wanted to know "What's cooking at Muirhead?"
The Flemington area's former gourmet restaurant on Route 202/31 near Ringoes was run by Ed and Doris Simpson, self-educated chefs who enjoyed whipping up gastronomic treats on a limited basis.Muirhead was open by reservation only a few days a week.
After closing the restaurant in 1994, the Simpsons, who live in Raritan Township, turned their hands to mass producing their sought-after salad dressings, and then other gourmet treats now sold across the country in fine food emporiums like Williams-Sonoma.
The newest Muirhead product, Green Tomato Mincemeat, was among the top seven Outstanding New Products for 2003 at the summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.
"One thing leads to another," said Mr. Simpson, who got the idea for green tomato mincemeat from a conversation with other food enthusiasts. He did his research and came up with a winner at the food show.
"It's classic. If you don't like meat mincemeat, this is a good alternate. Make pies, muffins, use it in any baked goods or serve it as an addition to roast pork meals. We came up with a two-flavor pie, mincemeat on the bottom, pecan pumpkin butter on top," he added.
The Simpsons also recommend it as a wonderful addition to a cheesecake, baked between the crust
and the cheese custard. Recipes for using green tomato mincemeat are being prepared for their
online catalog at
where a raft of other products can be ordered on the secure Web site.
The mincemeat is sweet with a slight sour taste that adds another dimension to apples, raisins and green tomatoes.
The tomatoes for the production originally came from a Rutgers University hydroponics project in Burlington County where water used in fish farms is recycled to feed tomatoes grown during the winter in greenhouses.
MAGIC IN THE KITCHEN — Ed Simpson receives honors for his new Green Tomato Mincemeat at the New York Fancy Food Show this summer. The concoction was one of the show's top new foods for 2003. Mr. Simpson and wife Doris run Muirhead Foods from their Raritan Township home.
Summer supplies of green tomatoes comes from Jersey farms, making the condiment a new addition to the Jersey Fresh campaign sponsored by the state's Department of Agriculture.
All in all Muirhead offers 25 unusual and shippable products, impressive in an industry that demands new products each year, but where too few innovative food ideas actually get into mass distribution.
Among the special offerings from Muirhead are the company's butter and sherry Barbeque Sauce, Ed's Tomato Sauce, a classic Honey Mustard, several salad dressings, Apple Cranberry Chutney, Tomato Marmalade, a peppery apricot jelly, Chocolate Raspberry Sauce, fruit and nut butters like Pear and Port Butter and the latest addition to these last, Ginger Peachy Butter. There are many ways to use these concoctions and come off looking like a gourmet cook, according to the Simpsons. The product line can be ordered by calling (800) 782-7803. Muirhead can also send out giftbaskets for your convenience.