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Archive for 2013

RECIPE: Winter Vegetable Kabobs

Yes, we’re past Thanksgiving, but these “Thanksgiving Kabobs” work all fall and winter and are equally fun for Christmas dinner. They may even have people who don’t like to eat vegetables asking for more!

Our friend Hannah Kaminsky of BittersweetBlog.com created “Thanksgiving kabobs” from all the classic Thanksgiving (and Christmas) accoutrements. They’re threaded onto portion-controlled, dippable skewers.

  • Serve them as a side with the main course; as a vegetarian meal atop a bed of mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or whole grains.
  • For a non-holiday dinner, you can add cubed turkey to the skewers for the a main course.
  • Serve them on a platter as an appetizer
  • Hannah adds cubes of sourdough or sturdy cornbread to evoke stuffing.
  • Sweet potato can substitute for acorn or butternut squash or pumpkin.
  • Trimmed green beans can be added.
  •  


    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    “These kebabs are limited only by a lack of imagination,” says Hannah. She loves gravy for dipping on the side; the choice is yours.

    RECIPE: THANKSGIVING KABOBS

    Ingredients

    Quantities will vary depending on how many people you plan to serve and which vegetables/add-ins you choose.

  • Small Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
  • Butternut squash, cubed
  • Turkey cubes or vegan options, including seitan or tempeh
  • Large fresh cranberries*
  • Optional: mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, whole grain (barley, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • Optional: Gravy
  •  

    If you regularly use skewers, invest in the
    steel variety. Unlike wood skewers, they
    don’t have to be presoaked and they’re
    sustainable: no trees are sacrificed. These
    are from Norpro.

     

    Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup†
  • 2 tablespoons olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch rubbed sage
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE wooden skewers by submerging in water for at least 20 minutes. This prevents them from burning (or worse, catching fire) while in the oven. If using metal skewers, skip this step.

     

    2. PREHEAT oven to 400°F and lightly grease a shallow baking dish that can accommodate the full length of the skewers. Thread individual vegetables on the skewers in any pattern or proportion you like. Just ensure that all your components are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Place the finished skewers in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. If you’re making enough for a big party, consider a second baking dish.

    3. WHISK together the ingredients for the marinade and brush it generously over the skewered “meat” and veggies. If you have any leftover marinade, reserve it to baste the skewers halfway through the cook time.

    4. BAKE for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, flipping after 10 and basting if desired. The vegetables should be nicely browned and tender when done. Serve immediately over hot mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or grains with a small bowl of gravy for dipping.
     
    *When selecting cranberries, look for particularly large berries and skewer them precisely in the center, as they have a tendency to wither and/or split while baking.

    †Hannah prefers Grade B maple syrup in this recipe.

      

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    PRODUCT: Cream Cheese & Sour Cream Hybrids With Greek Yogurt

    We have long been cutting down the fat content of our dips by mixing sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt. Sooner or later, dairy producers were going to figure out that creamy, nonfat Greek yogurt could be used to lower the fat count and calorie count in those two voluptuous, fatty and caloric dairy staples, cream cheese and sour cream.

    “GREEK” SOUR CREAM

    We initially received the news from Breakstone, which launched the first nationally “hybrid” last month: delicious Greek Style Sour Cream. It contains 50% less fat, 40% less cholesterol, and twice the calcium and protein of regular sour cream (each two tablespoon serving has 4% of the daily value for calcium and 2 grams of protein).

    They sent us samples. It is smooth, creamy, far superior to nonfat sour cream, and no one will know the difference. Use it instead of full fat sour cream in any recipe. We were so excited, we devoured half the carton with a spoon.

    The product is certified kosher by OU.

     

    A guilty pleasure: sour cream with New York Style Bagel Chips. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

     

    Available in bricks and tubs. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Farms.

     

    “GREEK” CREAM CHEESE

    Then, we were trolling the aisles of our supermarket and saw Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese. Green Mountain Farms is a brand of Franklin Foods.

    Similar to the Breakstone Greek Sour Cream, the blending of nonfat Greek yogurt into cream cheese results in two times the protein and half the fat of conventional cream cheese, plus “live and active cultures.”

    Our market only carried the plain version, but it also is made in Cucumber Garlic, Garlic & Herb, Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato. The products are packaged in bricks and tubs. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Strangely, we detected a very slight sweetness to the product, such that we checked the label to see if any sweetener was in it (there isn’t any).

     

    While this might be delicious on a cinnamon raisin bagel, it was distracting on our poppy seed bagel with smoked salmon. The product consistency was less firm than conventional cream cheese (in the way that fat-free cream cheese can be), but not disconcertingly so.

    Try it yourself and see if you like it. When we’re in a fat-cutting mode, however, we’ll stick with Philadelphia Fat Free.

    Neither the Greek sour cream or Greek cream cheese is Greek in origin. The name simply refers to the Greek-style yogurt used in the blend.

    If you’re looking to cut back on fat, “Greek” is the new lower-fat. Opa!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: White Hot Chocolate For A White Christmas

    Tis’ the season for white hot chocolate. No matter what the weather is like where you live, you can have a white Christmas with a cup of it.

    Here are two recipes that give a gourmet twist to hot chocolate. The second recipe, for hot chocolate on a stick, can be given as party favors and stocking stuffers.

    The first recipe from the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel outside Chicago, which has been serving up the Christmastime concoction to guests in their fireside lounge. The blend of whole milk and half and half makes it very rich, indeed.

    RECIPE: WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 10 ounces quality white chocolate (we use these Callebaut white chocolate disks)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  •  

    White hot chocolate is made with top quality white chocolate disks. Photo courtesy Schaumberg Renaissance Convention Center Hotel.

  • Optional garnish: shaved chocolate, cocoa powder and/or whipped cream (try this candy cane whipped cream recipe)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE milk and half and half; heat to a slight simmer.

    2. SLOWLY whisk in chocolate and vanilla until the chocolate has fully melted.

    3. GARNISH as desired and serve.

     

    Hot chocolate on a stick: fun party favors
    and stocking stuffers. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.

     

    Here’s a fun project: Make your own hot chocolate on a stick. This recipe from McCormick creates a fudgy square of peppermint-flavored white chocolate and a marshmallow on a lollipop stick. You swirl it into a cup of hot milk until it melts into rich, creamy and minty hot chocolate.

    You can wrap them in cellophane bags, tie with a ribbon and give them as gifts. The chocolate squares can be made up to two weeks in advance and assembled up to 2 days in advance.

    RECIPE: Peppermint White Hot Chocolate On A Stick

    Ingredients For 36 Pieces

  • 2 pounds white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 4 drops red food color
  • 18 large marshmallows, halved crosswise
  • 36 lollipop sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Place chopped chocolate in large bowl. Set aside.

    2. BRING sweetened condensed milk and cream to simmer in medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently with wire whisk. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

    3. STIR in peppermint extract. Remove 3/4 cup chocolate mixture. Tint chocolate mixture pink with red food color.

    4. POUR remaining (plain) chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Drop tinted chocolate mixture by tablespoons over chocolate mixture in pan. Swirl with knife for marble effect. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight until firm. Cut into 36 squares. (May be made ahead to this point. Store chocolate mixture, tightly covered, in pan in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before cutting into squares.)

    5. ASSEMBLE: Thread a marshmallow half and a chocolate square onto each lollipop stick. Wrap each hot chocolate on a stick in plastic wrap or small cellophane bag.

    6. MAKE hot chocolate: Stir hot chocolate on a stick into 8 ounces hot milk.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA AND HOT CHOCOLATE

    Most people use the terms interchangeably, but they’re actually different.

  • Cocoa is a drink made from cocoa powder, which has had a portion of the cocoa butter removed.
  • Hot chocolate is a drink made from actual chocolate, usually ground or shaved into small bits. Chocolate has more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, so it makes a richer drink, all things being equal (the same type of milk, e.g.).
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    RECIPE: Candy Cane Whipped Cream, Egg Nog Whipped Cream

    Garnish your holiday desserts and beverages with a festive dollop of peppermint-flavored, candy cane-swirled whipped cream. It’s especially delicious on chocolate cake, pound cake and angel cake.

    RECIPE: CANDY CANE WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 4 drops red food color
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Peppermint whipped cream is an exhilarating topping for chocolate cake. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    1. BEAT cream, confectioners’ sugar and extracts in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.

    2. MAKE candy cane swirls: Remove 1/2 cup of the whipped cream to small bowl. Gently stir in red food color. Swirl into remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

     

    Egg nog whipped cream, flecked with
    nutmeg. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: EGG NOG WHIPPED CREAM

    This is delicious on most cakes, apple pie and pecan pie.

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and rum extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed, until stiff peaks form.

     

    2. COVER and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    See our other flavored whipped cream recipes, including Bourbon Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream and Spiced Whipped Cream.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red & Green Champagne Cocktails

    If your Christmas cocktail of choice is a fizzy one, you don’t need to spring for costly Champagne. Consider more affordable bubblies:

  • Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy
  • Cava from Spain
  • Crémant from France
  • Espumante from Portugal
  • Sekt from Germany
  • Sparklers from Austria, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S. and other countries
  •  
    You can also serve red bubblies such as Italian Brachetto and Lambrusco or sparkling Shiraz.

    All can be made with ginger ale cocktail for non-drinkers and kids.

    For Christmas, the two sparkling cocktails below have a red or red and green color palate. Both are named for great Italian artists:

     

    What’s more Christmassy than a sparkling red cocktail? Photo of the Rossini Cocktail courtesy Chandon USA.

     

  • The great 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, author of “The Barber of Seville” and other memorable music
  • Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), the greatest Venetian painter of the sixteenth century and the father of modern painting
  •  
    RECIPE: ROSSINI COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 6 ounces strawberry purée
  • Chilled Prosecco or other sparkler
  • Champagne flutes
  • Garnish: whole strawberry or blackberry (not frozen)* or three green grapes on a toothpick
  •  
    *Ideally the strawberry leaves will be green and perky. If the leaves are wilted, remove them and optionally combine the strawberry with a mint leaf on a cocktail pick or colored toothpick.

     

    The Tiziano Cocktail has a bonus treat:
    frozen grapes. Photo courtesy Harvard
    Common Presss.

     

    RECIPE: TIZIANO COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 6 ounces white grape juice (not grape juice cocktail)
  • Chilled Prosecco or other sparkler
  • Frozen green and/or red grapes
  • Champagne flutes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Add three or four frozen grapes to each flute glass.

    2. Pour 1½ ounces of grape juice into each flute.

    3. Fill the glasses almost to the top with Prosecco. Serve.
     
    RECIPE: KIR ROYALE

    This deep red cocktail is one of our favorites at any time of the year.

    Ingredients

  • Creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur
  • Sparkling wine
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD cassis to taste to the bottom of the flute or tulip Champagne glass.

    2. GENTLY POUR the sparkling wine down the side of the glass. Stirring breaks the bubbles, so the better option is not to stir (if you must, stir once, very gently).

    7 VARIATIONS ON THE KIR ROYALE

    Each is more delicious than the next. Check out the easy recipes.

      

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