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Archive for January 25, 2015

VALENTINE GIFT: Crème Yvette

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Crème Yvette violet liqueur, worth getting to know. Photo courtesy Cooper Spirits International.

 

This old-fashioned-looking bottle with an unfamiliar name hasn’t been around in more than 40 years. Purple-hued and violet-scented, it was enjoyed since the 19th century in cocktails and as an after-dinner digestif.

Alas, it was one of many old-fashioned liqueurs that went out of style and ceased to be produced; in this case, it went defunct in 1969. But it recently caught the fancy of the creator of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (another favorite for Valentine’s Day or any day), who has resurrected it.

Crème Yvette, also called Crème d’Yvette and Crème de Yvette, is made from parma violet petals*, blackberries, blackcurrants, red raspberries and wild strawberries, along with honey, orange peel and vanilla.

Currently, it seems to be available in New York and California, but you can see if your local liquor store can order a bottle for you.

There are cocktail recipes on the brand’s website, CremeYvette.com. We enjoyed mixing it with sparkling wine (we also layered St. Germain into one variation).

And it’s delicious atop raspberry sorbet—an easy Valentine’s Day dessert.

(By the way, exactly who Yvette was has been lost to history.)
 
*The same exotic flower used to make those violet pastilles.

 

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Burns Night Tonight

When you sang “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve, did you recall that it was first a poem from Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland (1759-1796)?

His birthday, January 25th, is celebrated in Scotland as Burns Night. Family and friends gather for an evening of good food and company—a warm and happy event much like our Thanksgiving. A traditional Burns’ Supper is served. Here’s the supper format, if you want to plan ahead for next year.

But you can have a much smaller event tonight, as brief as enjoying a tumbler of Scotch and reading a poem. Burns’ complete works are available free online. Some suggestions: A Red, Red Rose (“My luve is like a red, red rose…”); To a Louse; To a Mouse; Tam O’Shanter.

If you’d like to do something a bit more elaborate, call around and invite a group for a Scotch tasting (here’s how). Everyone can bring whatever brand they have at hand…along with any bagpipe music.

Then, there’s a Scotch and chocolate tasting. While solid chocolate wasn’t invented in Burns’ lifetime, he was a bon vivant and we’re sure he’d approve.

Here are more food ideas for Burns Night.

 

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Celebrate Burns Night with Scotch and a poem. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

 
Heid doon arse up! (That’s Scottish for Get on with it!)

  

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RECIPE: Spreads With Wine

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Butternut squash spread, served warm. Photo
courtesy Mondavi.

 

If your crowd drinks red wine rather than beer during the Super Bowl, here are some dip ideas from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. The brand created recipes that go well with its Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. For good measure, a tablespoon of wine is added to each of the dips.

If you’re a Super Bowl guest, offer to make the dip as well as bring the wine.

RECIPE: ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & GOAT CHEESE SPREAD

This dip is served warm.

Ingredients For 4-6 Appetizer Servings

  • 1 pound butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 3 bulbs garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Pinot Noir
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped (we use scissors and snip them)
  • Plus:

  • Crackers and/or bread: baguette slices, ciabatta, pita triangles or other favorite
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. TOSS the first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is fork tender, about 30 minutes.

    3. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. (If you’re making the dip a day or more in advance, also taste and adjust when you’re ready to reheat it.)

    4. SPOON the dip into a serving bowl and top with extra pine nuts and goat cheese. Serve warm with the bread/crackers and a glass of Pinot Noir.

    TO MAKE IN ADVANCE: Hold back the goat cheese and pine nuts until you’re ready to reheat and serve. At the 25-minute mark, remove the dip from the oven and the sprinkle goat cheese and pine nuts over the top. Place it back in the oven on BROIL for the remaining 5 minutes to toast the pine nuts and warm the goat cheese.

     

    RECIPE: CARAMELIZED ONION SPREAD

    This dip is served at room temperature.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Appetizer Servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced into half rings
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter over medium-low heat, then add the onions, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly caramelize the onions by letting them sit for about 3 minutes, then stirring. Do not allow the onions to burn. If the pan gets too dry, add a small amount of water. When the onions are a rich brown color (about 30 minutes)…

     

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    Butternut squash spread, caramelized onion spread and some almond nibbles. Photo courtesy Mondavi. Photo courtesy Mondavi.

     

    2. ADD the Cabernet Sauvignon and cook for another three minutes or until the wine is completely absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat. Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the caramelized onions for garnish.

    3. ADD the cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth on medium low speed. Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed and add the onions. Add the seasonings to taste.

    4. GARNISH with the caramelized onions and chives and serve at room temperature.

    TO MAKE IN ADVANCE: Follow steps 1-3. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. Garnish and serve.
     
    DIP OR SPREAD: THE DIFFERENCE

    Mondavi calls these recipes dips, but they’re actually spreads. What’s the difference?

    Both dip and spread call it like it is:

  • A spread is thicker and requires a knife to spread it, typically onto bread or crackers. If it requires a a knife, it’s a spread.
  • A dip is thinner and requires no utensil: Simply dip something into it—bread sticks, chips, crudités.
  •  
    Some recipes deliver a consistency between the two, and are dippable or spreadable. But if a chip breaks under the weight of the “dip,” it’s a spread.
      

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