Archive for December, 2011

December 29, 2011

Persephone’s Drinks Cabinet | Stone Fruit Sparkler

What’s New Year’s Eve without a sparkly cocktail?  Although I know folks are firmly on either side of the fence about them.  ‘Tis the season, I say.

Just about everyone loves a little (or perhaps a lot, God love ’em) bubbly this time of year.  Give your glasses of sparkling wine, Cava, Prosecco, Asti, Crémant, Champagne (the choices really are almost endless, really), a little extra glee with a splash of Middle West SpiritsOYO Stone Fruit.  This year’s seasonal vodka is kissed with sweetness from Montmorency cherries, peaches, apricots and loveliness.  I think it pairs deliciously with an Asti (which deserves another look; it’s not what it used to be) and is perhaps even better garnished with a homemade maraschino.

Cheers to another great year!

OYO Stone Fruit Sparkler, makes one

1.5 oz Stone Fruit Vodka, chilled

1 dash orange bitters (Fee Brothers are good)

5 oz sparkling wine

In a champagne saucer or flute, combine the vodka, bitters and top with the sparkling wine.  Imbibe.

Playlist included Shampain, by Marina and the Diamonds.

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December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

May all your Christmas wishes come true.

Linens from great grandma, dishes from an aunt and uncle, glassware from mother-in-law, antique ornaments from Grandmother, antique ball jars from a Twitter friend, food from our kitchen.  (Plus cute clementine place card holders for whimsy.)  I love a meaningful table.

Playlist included I’ll Be Home for Christmas, by the Carpenters.

December 23, 2011

A Christmas Tradition | Santa Cookies

We’ve been making these in my family as long as I can remember.  Even when Momma’s old cookie cutter was almost broken in half, we – but perhaps more kindly she – still managed to turn out dozens upon dozens of these intricate, almond-y cookies.

Fast forward to the age of the internet and a quick Google search can help you turn up just about anything.  Even a replacement (or three – one for her, one for me and one for my sister) for a thirty-year old cookie mold.  The Merry Christmas set has this mold in it.

So start a tradition in your house with these.  Charming as well as tasty, they are entirely worth all the effort.

Playlist included Little Saint Nick, by She and Him.

December 15, 2011

The Beautiful Bivalve | Mussels with Chorizo and Broken Fideo

In the Abode of the Dead they are known exclusively as moules, and, when served, Hades will eat them in breathtaking quantities.  They are mussels — tiny, meaty, sweet little jewels that are revered like no other ingredient in these parts.  I must admit, they are strangely beautiful.  Their black and pearly shells contrast with the orange-yellow flesh inside, and a full pan of these yawning bivalves is quite striking indeed.

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December 12, 2011

Cookie Exchange | Chocolate-Sichuan Pepper Crinkles

It’s not the holidays without at least one cookie exchange.

This year I wanted to make a traditional cookie (the ubiquitous crinkle) with just a slight kick.  Enter Sichuan pepper: not related at all to black peppercorns or chili peppers, it’s used most commonly in Chinese and Japanese cooking.  It is a most unusual spice, one that has a piney, citrusy flavor and makes your mouth a bit numb.  Up until 2005 they were technically illegal to import (but not for any consumption reasons).  It all adds up to give these chocolatey cookies a feeling of just a hint of lemon and danger.  Who else’s cookies can promise that?

Chocolate-Sichuan Pepper Crinkle Cookies, makes 90 (whoa), inspired by a classic Betty Crocker recipe

3/4 cup vegetable oil

6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled

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December 10, 2011

Homemade Hostess Gift | 20-Minute Cranberry Clementine Chutney

I love pressing a small gift into the hands of a host when I visit.  And you know me, I like it even more if it’s a quick little homemade something.

This cranberry clementine chutney takes just a few minutes of care and stirring and is quintessentially wintery.   It is fantastic with cheese, delicious with pork, lovely smoothed on buttery toast.  The ingredients aren’t at all exotic, but combined transcend into something special.  And this is one of the easiest recipes ever: combine and stir.  You can do it!

Spiced Cranberry Clementine Chutney, makes one small jar, with a bit leftover for you to enjoy

12 oz fresh cranberries

2 clementines, zest and juice

1/4 c dried currants

3/4 c sugar

1 whole star anise

1 cinnamon stick

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December 7, 2011

Diary of a Dinner | Anglian Soup

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t really planned, per se.

And lately I’ve been trying to formulate a way to express just how meals come together at our house.  Because I think it’s kind of important.  Cooking is a part of almost all that I do.  But not in an intrusive, takes-up-all-my-time kind of thing.  It’s easy.  I keep saying that because I think everyone can look at how they use their time and fill in a spare five or ten minutes with a few small tasks that really elevate meals into something special.  Even if a portion of it is takeaway from a grocery store.

Yesterday I picked up some crab cakes from Fresh Market (December is buy one get one free salmon fillets and crab cakes on Tuesdays).  And I knew that I had a good piece of butternut squash in the fridge.  A whole roasted pie pumpkin from over the weekend was in there, too. 

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