Thursday, December 20, 2012

Divinity

This is my first attempt at divinity. I think I should have beat it longer...it's supposed to lose its gloss, and mine are fairly "shiny" and a little too sticky, but it was starting to cool and thicken enough that I was anxious to get it spooned and swirled into bite-sized clouds. (Or mouthful-sized clouds, as these turned out.) Still, they're delicious! If practice does, indeed, make perfect I'll improve on these because I do intend to make them again. :)

Ingredients:
2 C sugar
½ C light corn syrup 
½ C water
2 egg whites
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
(optional: chopped nuts or 1 C peanut butter*)

Directions:
Bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Continue to boil, undisturbed, until the mixture reaches 265°.  While it is coming up to temperature...

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.

When sugar syrup reaches 265°, slowly drizzle boiled sugar mixture in a thin, steady stream down the side of the mixer bowl into the stiff egg whites, continuing to beat on high speed. Continue beating until the candy begins to lose its shine. This can take 5-10 minutes depending on your mixer.

Working quickly, fold in vanilla - and chopped nuts or peanut butter if desired. Drop spoonfuls, twisting into cloud-like shapes, onto waxed paper. Cool completely before serving; candies will firm as they cool.

Store in an air-tight container.

* I have memories of baby-sitting for my kindergarten teacher (when I was years older) around Christmas time and enjoying some Christmas cookies she left out for me...including a divinity swirled with peanut-butter that I thought was quite heavenly! I've never seen a recipe for divinity with peanut butter, though some recipes do include other chopped nuts. I tried swirling the last half of the batch with about a ½ cup of peanut butter, and I thought it was delicious! But maybe it's just me. (???) :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pepper-Onion Relish

Harry & David sells a delicious pepper and onion relish. Here's a homemade version. :) This is a fine sweet-spicy relish to use on sandwiches and burgers. A softened brick (8 oz) of cream cheese mixed with ½ cup (or a little more!) makes a great chip dip, too.

Ingredients:
1 sweet onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
½ C sugar 
½ C brown sugar
¾ C vinegar
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt (or a little more, to taste)
2 Tbls corn starch

Directions:
Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Finely chop onion and peppers.

Mix all ingredients except corn starch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Gently simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Scoop or pour about half the mixture into a blender; purée with cornstarch (2 rounded tablespoons). Return purée to saucepan; bring to boil again. Remove from heat.

Immediately transfer to canning jars for long storage, or...
Let cool, then transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate for more immediate use (within 2-3 weeks).


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients
4 C flour
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 C shortening, cold, cut into ½" pieces
1½ cups buttermilk, plus additional for brushing

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in shortening using pastry blender or a stand mixer fixed (with dough hook) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 cup buttermilk, mixing just until a sticky, but workable dough forms. Add more buttermilk if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently fold over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Press dough  to 1½" thick; cut with a floured biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on ungreased baking sheet; brush tops with
buttermilk. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pomegranate Christmas Punch



Ingredients:
1 C ice
1½ C simple syrup*
1¼ C unsweetened pomegranate juice, chilled
1 C cranberry juice, chilled
25 oz (approx) sparkling water, chilled
2 limes, thinly sliced

optional garnishes: fresh mint, pomegranate arils

Directions:
Place ice in a punch bowl; add simple syrup, pomegranate juice, and cranberry juice. Stir well. Gently pour in sparkling water. Garnish with lime slices, mint sprigs and/or pomegranate arils.

Alternately, mix punch in a large pitcher; place a slice of lime, a mint sprig and a few pomegranate arils in 10 champagne flutes, goblets or tall glasses. Gently pour punch into flutes/goblets/glasses and serve.

* Simple syrup:
Combine equal parts sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; allow to cool.

















Ashley & Taylor
Lower photo is just for inspiration...using a bundt cake pan with some of the garnish ingredients to make an ice ring to float in the punch bowl.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pomegranate & Chevre Crostini



Pomegranate relish recipe courtesy of PomWonderful.com

Ingredients:
1 C pomegranate arils (seed sacs)
2 Tbls pomegranate molasses
6 Tbls finely diced shallots
2 tsp lemon juice
½ C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
salt & pepper to taste

6 oz chevre (or ricotta or a similar soft cheese of your choice)
1 demi baguette

Directions:
Place diced shallots, lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt in small bowl and let sit 5 minutes.

While it is resting, thinly slice demi baguette on the bias. Place slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly toast slices under the broiler.

Whisk in the pomegranate molasses, and then the olive oil. Stir in the pomegranate arils and chopped parsley. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Spread crostini with chevre; top with a spoonful of pomegranate relish.

An alternate pomegranate-crostini serving suggestion:
Spread crostini with chevre. Top with pomegranate arils & chopped mint; drizzle with fresh honey.






Karissa & Cheryl

Pomegranate Chutney



Creamy vegetable soup* garnished with Pomegranate Chutney and candied nuts.

Ingredients:
½ C jellied cranberry
1/3scallions, finely chopped (including about ½ the greens)
1 C pomegranate arils
1 Tbls  fresh minced ginger
1 Tbls  fresh minced jalapeño
½ tsp  ground coriander
1 Tbls  lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Place jellied cranberry in a microwave-able bowl; heat until softened (about 20 seconds). Gently mash with a fork or whisk until smooth and creamy. Stir in scallions, pomegranate arils, ginger, chili, coriander and lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.





















David & Amber
Serving suggestion: Try serving appetizer sized "soup shooters"...

* Many creamy vegetable soups would be complimented well with pomegranate chutney and/or candied nuts...such as creamy sweet potato soup, pumpkin, butternut squash, carrot...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pomegranate & Black Pepper Poultry Glaze



Ingredients:
¾ C    horseradish
3 Tbls Dijon mustard
½ tsp  salt
1½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

pomegranate seeds for garnish

Directions:
Whisk together pomegranate molasses, horseradish, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Glaze may be used briefly as a marinade before cooking, but is best basted during cooking. If cooking a whole turkey (or chicken), use chicken stock to baste at first; switch to basting with pomegranate glaze during the final 15 minutes. Brush a final coating of glaze on poultry immediately after removing from the oven.

Serve garnished with a sprinkling of fresh pomegranate seeds.

* Pomegranate molasses may be found at well stocked grocers and middle eastern markets. 















Victoria & Devin