It’s been quite the year. Twelve months ago we had just found out that we were expecting our first child. Fast foward to today, and our daughter Fiona is four months old, is a giggling machine, and already has her two bottom teeth! I guess that’s what happens when Mom’s a dentist and Dad’s a food blogger. So in honor of a truly unforgettable year, a special drink is in order. Thank you so much for stopping by the site this year, for all your kind words, and for giving our recipes a try!!
Kir royales are a classic way to ring in the new year, but as always, I had to put my quirky spin on things. So instead of the typical champagne with a splash of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), I created crème de cassis caviar pearls!! This process of spherification, or turning a liquid into solid spheres, can be easily done using chemicals such as sodium alginate. However, I decided to keep it simple and use gelatin sheets – much more accessible, and frankly, less intimidating.
I stumbled upon the idea of mulled wine syrup by mere happenstance. An extra half cup of sugar, which was serendipitously dumped into a pot of simmering mulled wine, gave my favorite holiday drink a thick, syrupy consistency . . . and then the lightbulb went off. Let’s pour this doozy over ice cream!! So here it is, a spiced wine syrup that is so luxuriously delicious and easy to make, it’s officially become a tradition in my household.
Mulling spices and ingredients vary drastically – it really just depends on your personal taste. I love orange peel, cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla bean and pink peppercorns in my mulled wine. It helps to toast the spices in a pan, over medium heat, for a couple of minutes to help release all oils and flavor.
Holiday dinner hosting can get stressful which is why I usually cheat and put together a cheese or charcuterie platter. This time I’m adding a favorite that I’ve probably made a dozen times: eggplant pâté. I got this recipe years and years ago from Dr. Weil’s website, which has tons of great healthy recipes. I’m not going to say it tastes like duck pâté because it certainly does not, but it’s got incredible flavor and texture all the same. I made a little onion jam to serve along side the pâté and served it with crusty toast, whole grain mustard, olives and cornichons. Trust me, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love this appetizer!
The holidays are upon us, which means it’s officially time to get festive with the cocktails. I decided that I wanted to make something that looked fancy, but was actually fairly simple. I made a homemade grenadine by combining freshly juiced pomegranate seeds with equal parts sugar. And to really make the cocktail pop, I wedged a lemon shell smack in the middle of the glass, creating a layered effect that truly makes this cocktail a work of art!
Seasonal ingredients are not only more flavorful, but make for pretty cocktail decorations as well!
Crafting, cooking and celebrating is what we love most about the holidays. And as the year nears it’s end, it’s time to revel in style by making festive party favors! Christmas crackers are deep rooted in many holiday traditions – crackers are typically pulled at the dinner table or at parties. Guests pull them at each end until they POP! with a loud cracking sound, with treats, games, confetti, and candy spilling out. With the help of our friends at Castle In The Air, we are adding our own little colorful twist by adding an ikat pattern with an amazing and surprisingly easy technique that is ridiculously fun to do.