Category Archives: Drinks

3…2…1…

Happy New Year! First I would like to thank our family and friends who came over for New Year’s Eve dinner. We’re so glad you were able to join us! We couldn’t have asked for a better evening…hopefully you all had a great time too. 🙂

I posted my menu a few days ago, but now I’m able to give you some more details and photos! We’ll start with a photo of our table. Linens are from Christmas Tree Hill (LOVE them). Napkin folding is courtesy of my ever-so-talented husband!


We started the evening with a cocktail, served with the cocktail nuts in my last blog post: Apricot Fizz

Ingredients

3 tablespoons chilled apricot nectar or peach papaya mango juice *I used apricot nectar
1/2 cup chilled Prosecco
lime slices for garnish

Directions

Pour the apricot nectar in a champagne flute and top with Prosecco. Garnish with lime slices if desired.

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The first course was Fallen Goat Cheese Souffles on Wilted Spinach (courtesy of Emeril via Food Network website)



Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons plus 5 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • Wilted Spinach, recipe follows
  • Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter 6 (3/4 cup/6-ounce) ramekins with 4 teaspoons of the butter. Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and use to dust the bottoms and sides of each ramekin. Set inside a roasting pan large enough to hold the cups without touching. Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the butter and set aside.

    In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens slightly and forms a light roux, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, and bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking, until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the cheese, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and stir to incorporate.

    In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks just form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the yolks in 3 additions. Divide among the prepared custard cups and fill the roasting pan with warm water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake without opening the oven door until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Let rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins to release the souffles. (Note: souffles can be covered at this point in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.) *I refrigerated for a few hours. It worked very well!

    Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Bake the souffles until puffed and heated through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven.

    Add the dried cherries and pine nuts to the spinach and stir to combine. Divide the wilted spinach mixture among 6 salad plates. Arrange 1 souffle on each plate and serve.
    Wilted Spinach

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    • 18 ounces baby spinach, tough stems removed, well rinsed and spun dry
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    Heat butter in a wide 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until foam subsides, add garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook for 30 seconds. Then cook spinach, stirring, until just wilted but still and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

    Some photos for you of removing the souffles from the ramekins:

    Step 1: Pray 🙂

    Step 2: Place souffle in palm of hand

    Step 3: Carefully place souffle on baking sheet for later

    These were definitely a hit! They weren’t quick and easy by any means, but they were totally worth it.

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    With the first course, we served a French Sauvignon Blanc:

    Next up: main course! We served a Pork Tenderloin En Croute with Pear and Parsnip Puree (again, both Emeril from Food Network’s website.)

    Pork Tenderloin En Croute

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup minced shallots
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
    • 2 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloins
    • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
    • 1/4 cup Creole mustard or any whole-grain mustard *I used Creloe
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water to make an egg wash
    • Haricots Verts, recipe follows *We omitted these because, frankly, I forgot to buy them!

    Directions

    To make the mushroom stuffing, in a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are wilted and begin to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan and until the liquid has almost all evaporated and the mixture is tight, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. Let cool completely before using.

    Season the pork tenderloins with the Essence. *I actually sliced the tenderloin into 8 smaller pieces and decided to make individual servings.

    Heat the oil in a skillet or Dutch oven large enough to hold the tenderloins over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and reduce the heat to medium. Sear evenly on all sides and cook, turning frequently. Remove pork from the pan and cool for 10 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Set aside.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 12 by 18-inch rectangle. Place the pork tenderloins on 1/2 of the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Evenly coat the tenderloins on all sides with the mustard.

    Pack the cooled mushroom mixture around the pork tenderloins. Brush a 1/2-inch border of egg wash on the pastry around the meat. Gently pull the remaining pastry over the meat to completely enclose, and press gently to seal. With a small knife cut away the excess pastry to make an even border and crimp the pastry edges with a fork dipped in flour. Make a small slit in the top of the pastry for steam to vent.

    Carefully transfer the tenderloin to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the pastry evenly with egg wash. *At this point, I put them in the fridge for about an hour before baking because we weren’t quite ready for them yet. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake until golden brown and an instant read thermometer reaches 140 degrees F, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minute before serving.

    Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with the Haricots Verts.

    Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning)

    2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    2 tablespoons salt
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
    1 tablespoon dried thyme

    Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
    Yield: about 2/3 cup

    Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

    Haricots Verts

    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon chopped garlic
    2 small shallots, thinly sliced
    1 pound haricots vertss
    1 lemon, juiced and zested
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

    In a saute pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until the shallots begin to soften. Add the haricot vert, lemon juice and zest and cook until crisp-tender – about 3 minutes. Add the marjoram and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

    Pear and Parsnip Puree

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 4 ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch piece
    • 2 tablespoons nut-flavored liqueur
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

    In a baking dish, combine the parsnips, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the parsnips are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and uncover.

    In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the liqueur and tilt the pan to ignite the contents. (Alternately, remove from the heat, light with a match, and return to the heat.) *Couldn’t get mine to ingite. Sigh. Cook while flaming for 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.

    In a skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Add the browned butter, baked parsnips and their cooking liquid to the food processor. Puree on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. Serve immediately or cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

     

    These turned out very well… rave reviews from our guests. 🙂 I am fully aware that it looks a bit like a mummy head. Stop laughing. Ok, you can laugh, I’m laughing too.

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    With the main course, we served a French red:

    Finally… dessert! Grand Marnier Creme Brulee with Chocolate Ginger Shards (again, you guessed it: Emeril, Food Network website.)

    Gotta make a mini brulee to test it first!

    Super yummy and indulgent

    Ingredients *I quadrupled this recipe because there were 8 of us.

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/4 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped out and reserved
    • Very small pinch salt
    • 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
    • 1 teaspoon orange zest
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 mint sprigs, for garnish
    • Chocolate-Ginger Shards, recipe follows

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

    In a small saucepan, combine the cream, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the vanilla bean pod and reserved seeds, and salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pods. Stir in the Grand Marnier and orange zest.

    In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of the sugar and whisk until frothy and the sugar is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Divide between 2 (6-ounce) ramekins. Place in a small roasting pan or baking dish and fill with enough water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are just set and still tremble slightly in the center, 35 to 40 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

    Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the top of each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Place under the broiler and broil until sugar melts and caramelizes, 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning and turning the custards as they cook. (Alternatively, use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize the sugar.)

    Stick the sharp ends of the shards down into each custard, garnish with mint, and serve immediately.

    Chocolate Ginger Shards: 

    1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped

    Line a small baking sheet with foil and chill. 

    In the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the ginger and spoon onto the center of the baking sheet. Spread with a rubber spatula into a rough rectangle and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger, pressing lightly to help adhere.

    Chill until firm, about 30 minutes, then break into triangle-shaped pieces (shards).

    Yield: garnish for 2 brulees

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    With dessert we served a Sauternes:

    At midnight, of course, a champagne toast! We watched the ball drop on TV, raised our glasses, and kissed a little. 🙂

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    Overall, it was the best New Year’s Eve I can remember in a long time! Happy 2009!!


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    Hot Mulled Wine

    I love hot mulled wine. It totally says warm and cozy to me, especially when decorating the Christmas tree! Granted, it was sunny and on the warm side on Saturday, so we didn’t really NEED a hot drink. Still, though, it helped to set the mood. I used a Red Zin because it’s what we had open. Enjoy!

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    Hot Mulled Wine from Cooking Light, December 2008

     

    6 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

    • 1/3  cup  sugar
    • 1/4  cup  bourbon
    • 1  (750-milliliter) bottle cabernet sauvignon or other dry red wine
    • 1  sachet Mulling Spice Blend
    • Cinnamon sticks (optional)

     

    1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 20 minutes. Discard sachet. Serve warm. Serve with cinnamon sticks, if desired.

    And a picture of the tree, just for fun. 🙂

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