Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmases of Yore....

The photo above is a gift from the Ghost of Christmas Past...it shows a replica of a Woolworth store that would have seen at Christmas time around the 1940's and 50's.  I love it.  And REALLY want to go visit it in person at the National Christmas Museum in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Brown Sugar-Bourbon Ice Cream

You're likely to have some repeat desserts from Turkey Day at Christmas-time, right?  Maybe pecan pie.  Apple pie.  A cobbler of some sort.

Well, don't settle for the plan old do-over.  Throw a scoop of this deliciousness on for an added blast of flavor.

And then save the recipe for next Thanksgiving.

Brown Sugar-Bourbon Ice Cream
Makes about one quart.
From Bon Appetit.

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (or more) bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir milk, cream, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a rolling boil (it may look curdled, but this is normal).

Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl until mixture is pale yellow and sugar dissolves.

Place a medium metal bowl in a large bowl of ice water; set a fine-mesh sieve over metal bowl. Whisking yolk mixture constantly, gradually add hot cream mixture (to prevent the eggs in the yolk mixture from scrambling). Return to pan. Stir custard over low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Immediately strain custard into metal bowl. Let custard cool completely, stirring often.
Stir 1 Tbsp. bourbon and vanilla into custard. Add more bourbon to taste by teaspoonfuls, if desired.

Cover and chill.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container, cover, and freeze.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Spiced Pecans

These nuts are all over the place...and that's a good thing. Spicy, sweet, salty and smoky.  They will hit everyone of your tastebuds. When you serve them up as holiday gifts, you'll have a group of grateful folks on your hands.

The recipe I will post here is for pecans, but walnuts, almonds or a mix will do the trick nicely. Just be careful to keep stirring and don't cook at too high a heat.  You don't want these treasures getting too browned.

Spiced Pecans
Makes 2 cups.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons roughly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and cook, swirling skillet constantly, until nuts are just toasted, about 5 minutes.

Add brown sugar, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, chili powder, salt, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, and cinnamon and stir until pecans are evenly coated. Continue cooking pecans, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 minute longer.

Transfer pecans to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, spread into a single layer, and let cool, stirring pecans and breaking up sugar and spices occasionally.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Stocking Up....

Yes, Christmas is about egg nog and wrapping and yummy food.  But there's also a practicality to the holiday season.  It takes preparation.  So here are two categories you better stock up on.
  • You'll probably have unexpected guests dropping in. Be ready to entertain them in style by supplementing your pantry with extra supplies of mixed nuts, assorted cheeses, olives, crackers, and some bubblies. 
  • For those same guests, have some homemade goodies ready.  Tins of cookies.  Jars of pickles or preserves. Homemade infused vinegars or vodkas.  You don't want them leaving empty-handed.
  • Got kids?  (Even if they're not yours.) Have plenty of batteries (AA, AAA, D) and a small screwdriver ready so you can open and energize those noisy electronic gifts that they will unwrap.
What else do you stock up on so you're ready for Santa's onslaught?  Comment below...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Kale with Chorizo and Garlic

I am glad to be getting greens in our produce co-op share these days.  As I figure out what to do with them, I can only hope that eating them is some sort of preemptive cleanse before the carb/fat/sugar/booze-loaded holidays come around.

Now this recipe isn't completely healthy, but what self-respecting green would be seen without at least a little pork fat by it's side? This makes a great side for pork tenderloin, roast chicken or a nice flaky piece of fish.

Kale with Chorizo and Garlic
Adapted from Bon Appetit.
Makes four servings.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ounces cured Spanish chorizo, casing removed, if needed; sliced into thin rounds
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine, divided

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook until lightly rendered (but not crisp) and oil turns bright red, about 3 minutes. Add onion and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in kale; season with salt and pepper. Cook until kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup wine and 1/4 cup water. Cover partially and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently until kale is tender, 20-25 minutes.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

We've been loving our co-op produce share.  Pick it up every two weeks and it's been full of wonderful local organic goodness.  Of course, it's not tomatoes and squash at this time of year.  Instead, potatoes, onions, apples, wonderful lettuces and lots of winter squash.  Inspired by an Ina Garten recipe, I pulled squash, apples and onions out to make this delicious soup.

If you're being virtuously healthy, you can stop before adding the cream and butter, but it's the perfect decadent touch for the holidays.  Serve it in shot glasses with a few toasted pumpkin seeds on top at your Christmas cocktail party.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 4-6 main course servings.

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 red apples, peeled and cored (I used Fuji.)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon good curry powder

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch pieces. Place them in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a grind of black pepper pepper. Divide the vegetable mixture between 2 foil-lined sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender. Make sure not to let the veggies brown.

Let the vegetables cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor in batches until roughly pureed Add a little chicken stock as necessary to keep things going.  Place vegetables in large pot and add the remaining chicken broth.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Heat the soup over medium-low heat until warmed. Add the curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. For an added velvety texture, stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.