Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Sangria

Another sangria, this time modeled for the winter holidays. The juices in this version are sweeter so little to no sugar is needed, but feel free to add it if you like a sweeter drink. It goes together very quickly; if you’re short on time or need something last minute for a party, this is perfect -- you may even have these ingredients at home!

I love the orange slices and cinnamon -- they add fresh flavor and a bright burst of color. I decided to throw in some cranberries at the last minute for a little extra visual appeal, but they won’t add any flavor since they’re still whole. These could potentially be a choking hazard, so when I put it out to serve, I either serve in a pitcher with a straining lid, or remove them all together.

I love this served warm as well, as a mulled wine on a chilly evening – not that we get that many in Florida!

winter sangria

 

Winter Sangria

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 orange, sliced

2 large cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

1 750 mL bottle of medium bodied red wine (Merlot works well)

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 1/2 cups cranberry juice

1/2 cup brandy

1/4 cup triple sec

1/2 cup sugar, optional

Additional cinnamon sticks as garnish, optional

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher (at least 64 oz.). Chill at least 4 hours, though it may be served immediately if needed. Keeps for up to 4 days, so it may be prepared well ahead!

Serve over ice with a cinnamon stick for garnish, or add sparking water to make a lighter drink. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or more for larger parties.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Mustard, and Pecans

I love the fall and winter for the abundance of produce available. There are so many combinations of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains that the weather turns warm again before I run out of ideas!
In the last few years I've re-discovered Brussels sprouts. When I was growing up, my mom loved Brussels sprouts but boiled them to death, so I only knew them as army-green balls of nastiness. Because of that, I avoided them for a long time, until I had them browned instead of boiled. Caramelizing the Brussels sprouts brings out the natural sweetness and cooking for a shorter period of time reduces the amount of sulfur compounds released and increases the amount of vitamins retained during cooking. Since Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family, they benefit from similar treatments – broccoli and cauliflower are delicious when roasted, and cabbage itself is best when cooked over a short time.


An easy way to try out Brussels sprouts on those who are uncertain about them is to shred them. I clean and trim the sprouts and run them through the slicing blade on the food processor. In one of my favorite recipes, I like to pair what I think of as "typical" fall flavors with Brussels sprouts, so I add mustard, pecans, and a touch of maple syrup. The mustard also compliments the sprouts as they are in the same biological genus (Brassica).

shredded brussels

Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Mustard, and Pecans

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

Shred sprouts using the slicing blade of a food processor. This can also be done by hand using a very sharp knife. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add pecans. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove pecans to a dish, then heat olive oil in the skillet. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add sprouts and thyme, and cover for 1 minute. Remove cover, turn heat to high, and cool for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining ingredients and reserved pecans, and heat through, adding salt and pepper to taste.