Some of you know that Fiona has a habit of stealing my credit cards. Yep, Daddy’s wallet is already one of her favorite toys! First, she’ll empty the cash. Then the receipts. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch her in time before anything gets shredded to bits. Lastly, she grabs the credit cards. She’ll wander the whole house, a card in each hand, smiling ear to ear. I suppose it’s my fault. Back before we started daycare, she and I used to spend hours at the biergarten down the block. One of the only ways I kept her content (and from eating old food off the ground) was handing over my wallet. Have at it kid! Fast forward to a few days ago at the grocery store – I’m all set to check-out at the cashier with ingredients for this very punch, I open my wallet, and low and behold . . . no cards. Awkward!! I rush home and check her favorite hiding places: under the rug in the living room, down the heating vent, and finally found them inside a pair of Audrey’s shoes. She sure keeps me on my toes, that one. With all that extra running around this holiday season, I probably won’t have time to get too fancy with the cocktails. I wanted to share this quick holiday punch recipe that I’ve been enjoying recently.
It’s a Scott Beattie recipe. I’ve tinkered with a few things here and there – primarily decreasing proportions to suit my little family. As Scott mentions in his book, this is essentially a sangria variation. The addition of the winter spices make it just right for the holiday. There’s not much prep, other than a bit of simmering. Again, easy enough to whip up on Thanksgiving morning.
Potatoes au gratin has been a Thanksgiving tradition and a Chan family favorite for as long as I can remember. Sure, they were most always made out of the box thanks to good ol’ Ms. Betty Crocker but hey . . . potato, potahto. It’s been several years since Karen and I have ditched the dehydrated potatoes for real, hand cut potatoes and it seems like year after year, we’re constantly trying up the ante on this beloved side dish. More cream, less cheese, more herbs. More cheese, less cream, less herbs, more spices. This year, instead of traditionally layering the thinly sliced potatoes on top of each other, I’m stacking them vertically. Tatin style with a hasselback twist. They key here is a mandoline – if you don’t already have one, get one. It’s one of my favorite and most used kitchen gadgets. And with all the visually impressive things you can make by being able to quickly and thinly slice fruit and vegetables, it’ll become your best loved tool too. Dip the potato slices in a mixture of heavy cream, parmesan, and thyme and bake to crispy, yet creamy, perfection. The best of both worlds. I’m thankful.
Welcome back Bay Area weather!! This past weekend I was hanging out with a few neighbors who recently moved out from Colorado. They were convinced that the weather never really changes here in the Bay. Just warm and dry, dry and warm. Well what do you know, we finally got a little rain this week. It wasn’t much, but combined with some cooler temperatures and the recent time change, I was close to grabbing my snowboard out of the garage. Unfortunately, we’re a long way away from snowcapped mountains. However, cozying up on the couch with a warm cocktail is certainly appropriate. Hot buttered rum has always been one of my favorite cold weather drinks. I have so many fond memories of snow-camping with friends, huddled around the fire with mugs of steaming hot buttered rum. Sigh . . . Okay, so I’m going a liiittle overboard – we had less than an inch of rain this week!! As for the cocktail, this is my older, more health conscious take on the classic hot buttered rum. Admittedly, there’s no butter in the recipe at all. Coconut oil takes its place. Just like with the butter in the classic recipe, the coconut oil coats the mouth for a silky smooth texture. Freshly ground spices are a must, some quality aged rum, and you’re guaranteed to stay warm and happy!
As you may already know, my fiance and I have been undergoing a renovation at our new home and have recently settled back in to the house to enjoy the renovated kitchen! Weekends in a new kitchen are a little different now– I slow things down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee before I take on the day. My ritual now includes a sleek Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo that has found a home at our new bar/coffee-station. I take my coffee addiction pretty seriously and luckily, the Evoluo makes a full line of different roasts and flavors (check out that beautiful layer of crema!) to satisfy my coffee cravings. This amazing machine brews both large cup coffee and espresso (so no more washing 50 coffee and espresso machine parts in the morning) and their Grand Crus varieties are sourced from the top 1-2% coffee from around the world. Nespresso kicked off their experience a cup above campaign last week and what better way to compliment their coffee than with a breakfast equally as elevated and decadent– an egg custard inspired by the Japanese chawanmushi, which is a steamed savory egg custard. This one has cream and Parmesan and is topped with the most amazing mushrooms that are sauteed in butter and thyme and a few shavings of truffle. Because why not right?
Woo hoo!! I love it when Halloween falls on a Saturday! That way I can take full advantage of my favorite holiday from the moment I wake up, until the moment my head hits the pillow. I have some pretty ambitious plans this year. Morning is great for pranks, like writing cryptic messages with fake blood on the bathroom mirror, or placing a hairy rubber tarantula on the floor of the shower (I hope Audrey isn’t reading this). Then I’m off to shop for a few last minute costume additions. We’re a family of dinosaurs this year. Audrey made me a wicked t-rex hoodie, but I think some face paint is still in order. Next, a quick stop down the block for some neighborhood pumpkin carving action with Fiona. She could care less about the carving, but LOVES getting her hands all slimy. Then it will be time to rush home and prep for our annual Halloween party. As always, I’m in charge of the cocktails. Given how busy the day will be, I wanted a cocktail that was quick/simple to make, but still complex enough to wow my guests. American Honey Sting was just what I needed: a blend of bourbon, honey, and ghost pepper, it’s the perfect spirit for the occasion. Seriously, this is one of the most balanced cocktails I’ve ever made! The sweetness from the honey is countered by the fresh tart citrus. The grapefruit adds some bitterness, and the ghost pepper some bite. The vanilla coats the glass and adds depth, while the salt makes everything pop. I’m super happy with it – and again, SO SIMPLE!! Definitely a must-have for your Halloween party this year.
This riff on the classic peanut butter cup was inspired by one of my favorite sandwiches, a peanut butter and banana sandwich. This little candy has the best combo of flavors — chocolate, peanut butter and bananas. They’re also incredibly easy to make. I melt the chocolate in a ziplock bag (fewer dishes to wash!) and pipe the chocolate into the 1 inch paper peanut butter cup liners, which I found at my local CVS. Then, each cup is filled with a little peanut butter and a thin slice of banana and then topped off with another thin layer of chocolate. I made this batch with more chocolate, which I thought I would prefer, but I actually thought it was too much chocolate. I’ve decreased the chocolate to peanut butter/banana ratio and it’s amazing. This recipe makes 28 candies, but guaranteed they’ll go fast!