(or why we need to make resolutions)
The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years found me in the kitchen even more than planned. I wrote up a list of what I was planning to cook/bake, and when, if only to minimize the time I’d be cooped up, and maximize the tastes and aromas that speak Christmas so much more than words can convey.
My favorites this year, turns out, are recipes that have little to do with Christmas, or family traditions at all!
First off, The 12 days of cookies newsletter found it’s way into my in-box, the Chocolate Chip first caught my eye, mostly because it was a simplification in terms of prep (and touted ease – have the kids come help) so I envisioned time with my little one, rolling out sheet after sheet of cookies.
My new mixer (Oh, how I still love thee) really simplified prep. A triple batch in one bowl! Lets make two! (so I did).
In the end, most of my cooking was done solo – too much in the house, (primarily the 25 days of Christmas countdown on ABC family) to catch and hold the attention of the little one.
This left me time to improvise a bit. The addition of espresso powder to the basic dough, combined with two kinds of chocolate chips (whether semi-sweet and Bittersweet or white) turned out to be an inspired one.
And a new holiday, no, year round staple was born.
Also on the cookie front, AB inspired me to make up a batch of his sugar cookie pinwheels – again, I thought I’d have some “help” with cookie cutters, but in the end, a roll was made, to slice and bake, but in lieu of peppermint, I added Baileys. Yum!
My favorite new discovery, I have to say, also courtesy of Food TV, was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti. These were a lovely salty/sweet counterpoint to all the sweet I’d been noshing thus far.
Having my fill of cookies, and needing a break from them, I decided to start off the new year right. Soup sounded like it would fit the bill, so for New Years Eve, I managed to perfect the two recipes I left Bermuda with. I tried my hands at making a Fish Chowder reminiscent of the one I had on our Oct vacation (cruise). (The conch fritters that rounded out that meal would have to wait.)
Vegetarian or not – being a good New Englander, chowder must have a nice creamy base, at least where Clam and seafood chowder is concerned (sorry Manhattan, San Fran…). But, that said, the tomato broth of this Fish chowder works for me. Not being such a big seafood person, my wife was a little uneasy when I first brought up making the recipe (especially with no side dishes for her to fall back on), but the addition of the hot sherry peppers sauce had its appeal. I replaced the water and beef consomme of the recipe with equal parts chicken stock and vegetable broth, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. I would have doubled the recipe (I almost did) but fortuanately I decided against, as the recipe nearly came to the brim of my 8 quart pot!
The verdict – a winner!
Speaking of rum. I’ve been making myself a nice (very nice if you ask me) Dark and Stormy since October. The recipe hasn’t changed, but I perfected the preparation, and somehow, that has made all the difference. I smuggled two bottles of Black Seal Rum and 2 liters of Ginger Beer (not the same as Ginger Ale, as one patron at the Grocery Store informed us. “That is not Jinjah Ale, that is Jinjah.”)
The simple recipe is to take 1 glass, fill with Ice. Add 2 oz rum, 6 oz Ginger beer, and a twist of lime. Enjoy.
I’d combined the rum and ginger beer in a measuring cup, poured over the ice, only to have it form a foamy head atop the drink.
After finding inspiration in various places (Food Network mostly), I’ve learned to modify the drink as follows:
1. take a tall beer glass, fill 2/3 with ice.
2. Squeeze lime juice (1/2 lime) over the ice
3. add 2 oz. Dark rum (Black Seal, Baby!)
4. add 6 oz. Ginger Beer (Barritt’s if you’ve got it, can’t vouch for any others, yet…)
5. add a slice of lime
6. try to drink just one!
*note to any federal agents, or legal types reading this post, I only use the smuggling term in jest, a pirate reference, having been to sunny bermudy on a boat and all that… I got my two bottles all proper and duty free like, with the knowledge that this Rum was described as “hard to find”… outside of the NH liquor store that is… So 1/2 of the equation is taken care of – futurewise, that is. As for some nice Jinjah beer, that is another story.