How to Drink on New Year’s Eve

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How nice of Esquire magazine to provide this handy guide to how to drink on New Year’s Eve. If your evening starts early, they have an early evening cocktail called Sexual Chocolate, then they tell us what to drink at each hour, when to eat, the handy reminder to drink water, suggestions on party hopping, what Champagne they recommend etc.

A fun read!

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Friday Inspiration – Rumi

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Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
Rumi ♥


Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake (Non-Dairy)

I am on a quest to make non-dairy desserts, so that my daughter can enjoy them with the whole family. Here’s a new recipe I created today:

For a 12″ cake:

Preheat oven to 350.

4-5 pears, peeled, cored, sliced into 1/4″ slices (about 12 slices per pear)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Marinate pear slices in juice sugar mix while preparing other ingredients.

Prepare dry ingredients: mix together in food processor, after grinding the almonds in it:
1-1/2 cups blanched almonds, ground fine in food processor
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Set aside and do pears in caramel:

For the caramel top:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp almond milk
Pinch of salt
Heat all ingredients in 12″ cast iron pan on medium heat, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes. Take off heat, and arrange pear slices in pinwheel pattern. Set aside, and do wet ingredients.
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Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or similar)
1/2 cup almond milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup sugar
Mix together. Add in dry ingredients, stirring minimally, just to blend. Pour over pears evenly.
Bake 45 minutes, until cake is medium brown and set. Turn off oven, open oven door, and let rest for 5 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Run butter knife around side of pan. Put large platter over pan, and (using mitts), pray or wish for success, then invert cake onto platter. If you are lucky, it comes out like this:

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Meatballs & Spaghetti

From scratch, and worth it (according to my family)

Marco’s spaghetti sauce (enough to feed 8-12)

1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz uncured bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups dry red wine (Cotes de Rhone or similar)
5 small cans fire roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1- 1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
1 sprig rosemary, stripped from stem and minced

In a very large sauce pot, render the bacon in olive oil. Add onion, red pepper, carrot, and sauté on low to medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, heat 2 more minutes. Add wine, bring to boil. Add tomatoes, sugar, seasonings and herbs. Cook on very low heat 1 hour. Using immersion blender, process sauce until it is the consistency you prefer – there is no right or wrong.

Bring pot of water to boil for pasta.

If you are adding meatballs (see separate recipe) add to the sauce, and cook 20-30 more minutes.

Meatballs (to make 25-30, serving 8-12 people):

¾ pound ground veal

¾ pound ground pork

1 ½ pound ground beef

2 cup fresh white bread crumbs

4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (note – I omitted for this batch, for a non-dairy eater, but it is better with the cheese)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp oregano

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

½ red onion, finely minced

2 large eggs, beaten

¾ – 1 cup warm water

Mix all ingredients with hands as little as possible to just combine, in large mixing bowl. Form into 1-1/2 to 2″ balls, drop into spaghetti sauce. Cook 30 minutes.

Drop 2 lbs spaghetti into boiling water, and cook per package directions. Before draining, reserve 2 cups cooking water. Drain and return to cooking pot. Add in 3 cups of spaghetti sauce to coat pasta. Add in pasta water as needed to create right consistency.  Serve into bowls, with 2-3 meatballs and more sauce. Buon Appetito, mange!


Apple Cake

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This great apple cake is sometimes called Mom’s Apple Cake or Jewish Apple Cake, because it can be made non-dairy (parve), so it can be served after a meat meal in a Kosher home. With or without the dairy based caramel sauce, it is delicious. Hint: if you have any left over, toast it next morning, and feel free to use butter, or a dab of caramel sauce (save few tsp from the glaze).

8 apples, peeled, cores, diced in large chunks. I used Honey Crisp apples
2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided

3 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp
1/4 cup orange juice plus 2 tbsp
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Optional caramel glaze:
1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan with oil or Pam. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp OJ, and 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder 1 tbsp cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 cups sugar and vanilla. Add lightly whisked eggs and applesauce. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones. Add chopped walnuts. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Using slotted spoon to lift apples from marinating juices, spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.
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Optional caramel glaze:
Put all ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to boil, lower heat, boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow to cool slightly, and drizzle over cooled cake, allowing glaze to run down sides. Save a bit to spread on leftover slice next day at breakfast.

Cook’s note: my photo shows a 10″ springform pan, because I couldn’t find my tube insert, and I had a badly bent bundt insert. Do try to use a tube pan, because the center will be too loose in a full pan.


Friday Inspiration – Stop and Smell the Cookies!

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the Moments that Take Our Breath Away.

The holiday season is hectic.  I hope you can slow down, smell the latkes (or the holly), look into the eyes of your loved ones, really taste the cookies, feel the love, and fully enjoy the season.

Good health, happiness and prosperity to everyone!


My Chanukah Present

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Saw the commercial for this Kitchenaid recently on TV, and said THAT’S the food processor I’ve been waiting for. Adjustable slicing, and adjustable speeds! 13 cup plus small task bowl. Everything I need in a food processor!

This will replace my current Kitchenaid FP, which has been a workhorse for 10 years.