When I attend parties, especially in the autumn and winter, I’m always drawn to the fresh from the oven appetizers. You too? Sure, the cheese, fruits and nuts platter is a draw and the dessert platter is a must-check, but the multi-sensory appeal of something meltingly warm, especially when it’s chilly, is always welcome. I can assure you, these divine Savory Cheese Cookies will be a hit!
Cream puffs and eclairs aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think of versatile desserts. But in reality they’re wonderful edible containers that can be big, medium or small, round or elongated, and filled with all kinds of delicious options sweet or savory! Whipped cream? check. pastry cream? check. crab salad? You bet.
We should all have a few show-stopping sauces to take a recipe from tasty to transcendent. Trust me, this is one is one of those sauces you’ll treasure and share.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you like rhubarb, this is a good place to start. If someone’s given you rhubarb, pick up some strawberries and make this jam. It’s quick and easy to make and you don’t have to process it as it will keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks. Make some toast and try. If you like it, terrific. If you don’t, you have an automatic gift for someone who does.
This is a very velvety sauce, perfect over ice cream or frozen yogurt, but also lovely as a sauce over pound cake or other freshly baked cakes. Mix it into milkshakes or even cold or warm milk for a sexy caramel, vanilla milk. Personally, I think caramel is pretty wonderful warmed slightly and eaten by the spoonful. My grandsons agree, but our current favorite is freshly baked brownies topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Yummmm!
What I most like about this recipe is that it contains no corn syrup. Just make sure to cook the sugar/water mixture until it is at least a mid- amber color. The sauce in the photo is a little deeper amber in color, which gives it a more distinctive flavor. For a butterscotch or praline flavor, substitute light or dark brown sugar for the white.
Fresh Vanilla Liquid –A Non-Alcohol Option
Courtesy of Rita Rivera Author of Milks Alive
A lot of people want an alcohol-free liquid vanilla option. Although there is vanilla flavor, I personally don’t like it as it is made with propylene glycol and it isn’t very flavorful. Rita Rivera also wanted an alcohol-free option and came up with fresh vanilla liquid. It doesn’t keep as long as vanilla flavor but you can make this recipe in small batches. Here is Rita’s recipe along with her comments.
If you make salads, fresh fruit platters, grill fruits, vegetables and meats and/or make bar drinks, you should have pomegranate molasses as a go-to “magic ingredient.” You can purchase it in specialty food stores, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets and online. Or, can make your own.
Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
In this book, Alice offers “Fresh Cherries 3 Ways.” I’m providing you with the recipe for one plus her caveat, “Cheating with Frozen Cherries.” For the other two specialties, you’ll need to read the book. (Believe me, it’s worth it.)
Alice says, “These get better and better as they sit in the fridge, drawing flavor from the (Rain’s Choice) vanilla bean.”
The picture for this recipe was made with frozen cherries (it’s February here) so they aren’t as spectacular looking as fresh cherries. That said, they were delicious. Instead of using vodka, rum or brandy, I used raspberry wine to give the cherries a fruity boost. You could also use cherry brandy. I served them over Honey Almond ice cream and they were spot on! (VQ)
Courtesy of Paula Wolfert, from, The Food of Morocco
The following is a treatise on how to make preserved lemons from Paula’s magnificent book, which contains her fifty years of experience with Moroccan cuisine and culture.
For all of us who can’t have gluten, here’s a quick-and-easy solution for breadcrumbs to add to casseroles or extra crunch to salads.
Thanks a seed-crop indigenous to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, we have nutrient-rich quinoa, which is very high-protein.
A good simple syrup is the base for sodas, ice cream sodas, fresh “Cows” (your own home version of the Brown Cow), sparkling fruit ades, iced teas and tisanes and bar drinks. You can prepare a simple vanilla simple syrup as your base or you can add herbs such as mint, lemon verbena, lavender or thyme, spices such as cinnamon stick, cloves or allspice, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries or rose petals to create an infusion. If you add any of the extras, follow the instructions below and then allow to cool.
If you’re allergic or sensitive to dairy products or are vegan, finding a good alternative to heavy cream can be a challenge. Enter the humble cashew! Cashews aren’t actually nuts. They’re a seed attached to a pseudo-fruit and look like a small boxing glove. Follow this link to learn more.
Cashews make a great alternative to cream. The recipe below has the consistency of heavy cream. If you want a thicker cream, add less water. The flavor is delicate and very good served over cake slices and with fruits. You can also substitute it for heavy cream in recipes.
Courtesy of Lauren Groveman
Ready and waiting to be used as a flavor-packed addition to your quick breads and cookies, this dry spice blend is a real comfort, especially when you want to get something sweet and aromatic in and out of the oven, in a hurry. In addition to the suggested uses in the title of this recipe, this mixture tastes great when sprinkled on sautéed apples, in applesauce, fresh apple or pear pies, in whipped cream and even in cooked sweet potatoes or winter squash, mashed or drizzled with little softened butter and maple syrup.
Courtesy of Didi Davis: www.dididavisfoods.com
This relish is a remarkable union of chunky pears, whole raspberries and fragrant vanilla. The vanilla adds a deep layer of flavor, while it bridges and connects the pears and raspberries. The raspberries are added after the pears have cooked and cooled a bit so they maintain their shape, yet the warmth of the relish is just enough to extract some of their juice to give the dish a lovely rose hue. The raspberry vinegar adds a welcome note of tartness. Bosc pears are best because they hold their shape when cooked. If not available, try Forelle or Anjou, but make sure they are under-ripe. Serve with all types of pork dishes, chicken, duck, hamburgers or turkey burgers. Try it with a rich fish such as salmon or bluefish. It makes a refreshing side dish with meat or poultry sandwiches and it’s delicious on yogurt. The relish keeps well for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
(adapted from Gerard Vives)
Lemon curd is one of those incredibly versatile recipes that can be used in so many ways! If you can keep from eating it by the spoonful out of the bowl or jar, it’s perfect as a jam on toast, biscuits, scones, waffles and pancakes. You can blend 1/2 cup of lemon curd with some fruity olive oil to use as a sauce for salmon or scallops. Blend lemon curd with whipped cream to fill meringue shells, then top them with blueberries or raspberries. And, of course, it is absolutely divine in Sicilian Lemon Tart. The best part is that it’s not difficult to make and lemons are available even during the winter months. Nothing quite like the bright, tart taste of lemon to lift our spirits!