Hot Mulled Wine with Orange, Spices, and Scotch Whisky

Hot Mulled Wine

Hot Mulled Wine
Orange, Spices, Scotch Whisky
Amarena Cherries

Whether on the slopes or off, Hot Mulled Wine is guaranteed to ward off that winter chill.

A fruity orange juice reduction has a touch of sweetness, warming spices of cinnamon and clove, the exotic flavor of star anise and the unique herbal fragrance of bay. A hearty Cabernet Sauvignon (that’s not too oaky or tannic) is simmered with the orange spice mixture until piping hot.  The wine is fortified with a generous splash of scotch whisky for an extra kick.

When it comes to hot mulled wine, the garnish is important! We jazz it up, otherwise, it just looks like murky fermented juice in a glass. Orange slices and cinnamon sticks are a traditional garnish. Additionally, we skewer luscious amarena cherries to enhance the dark fruit characteristics of the wine. Skol!

Hot Mulled Wine Recipe

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Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini
Feta, Kalamata Olives, Oregano, Red Chile Flakes

These large plump shrimp have a striking golden hue. Here, the exotic flavor of saffron – that heady spice derived from the dried stigmas of a crocus – takes a simple shrimp and pasta dish to another level.

Traditional Greek ingredients – kalamata olives, oregano and feta play supporting roles as lemon “two ways” adds bright tangy notes and red chile flakes bring piquant qualities.  And while spaghetti or linguini shapes would work just fine, those robust bucatini noodles magically weave this super-satisfying dish together.

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini Recipe

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Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!
Beggar’s Purses
and
British Cheese Toasts

Happy New Year Friends! May it be filled with dazzling and delicious dishes. And no shortage of exceptional adult beverages either. We are ringing in 2018 with a couple fabulous appetizers…pairing them with outstanding Champagne and Single Malt Scotch.

Champagne, smoked salmon, and caviar are an undisputed flavor trifecta. Here, premium smoked salmon is stuffed with a dollop of creme fraiche, then tied into an adorable bundle and topped with caviar.  Toasted brioche is the perfect vehicle for serving these little beggar’s purses, although a knife and fork are required. Forever elegant NV Billecart-Salmon Rosé is totally enchanting, with flavors of sweet spice and wild strawberries, it continues to be the Champagne that should be married to smoked salmon. And not just because of the name.

Our second appetizer is designed to pair with Scotch Whisky. Rich salty cave-aged English cheddar heightens the sweet notes in the Scotch. Peppery arugula and pickled watermelon radish offer the perfect counterpoints. Talisker Single Malt is from Carbost, Scotland on the Isle of Skye, it’s full-flavored and wonderfully peaty, with compelling flavors and brisk scents of the seashore in every luscious sip.

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Beggar’s Purse and British Cheese Toast Recipes

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Holiday Drink Contest and Party Planning Tips

Holiday Drink Contest

Holiday Drink Contest

This year’s chic party theme was “Le Holiday en Blanc” where guests were fabulously dressed in winter white, the decorations were white with sparkly gold and silver accents, and the signature drink, of course, was white.

The ingredient list was posted a week prior so everyone had the opportunity to secretly submit their festive ideas for the name of our workplace holiday party’s Signature Drink. The prize was dinner for two at our favorite Southbay restaurant, Baran’s 2239. The contest created quite a buzz leading up to the party…

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Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes

Happy Hanukkah and Kasha Varnishkes

Roasted Whole Grain Buckwheat, Bow Tie Pasta,
Caramelized Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms, Walnuts, Parsley

The dish never fails to bring back sweet memories of my Nana and Aunt Edythe. My 2017 version of Kasha Varnishkes includes mushrooms and walnuts. It has more pasta and vegetables in relation to the buckwheat, and uses plenty of heart-healthy olive oil.

I remember that Auntie Edythe would prepare hers with lots of kasha in proportion to the bows and no doubt used plenty of schmaltz. It was more of a buckwheat dish than a pasta dish. She was such a terrific cook. It has been decades since her passing, but none of us will ever forget her cooking, especially her banana cake…and that she served real whipped cream made from scratch in the 60s when everyone else’s whipped cream came out of a can.

Feeling nostalgic with Hanukkah approaching, I was looking through boxes of my mom’s old photographs and came across the one below. Sadly, everyone in the photo except my cousin Robert has passed away. This image, taken at the iconic Palmer House in Chicago c. 1956, is a true treasure.  I believe that we bless them and they, in turn, bless us each and every time we think of them. Our memories keep the people who have passed on forever close to us.

Kasha and Bows
The Palmer House Chicago c. 1956 Left to Right: Dad Leonard, Mom Joyce, Cousin Robert, Auntie Edythe, Uncle Sydney, Uncle Syd’s Mother Rose, Papa Irving, Nana Fanny.

My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev, Russia 1894. The family fled to Canada to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl. Her birth name was Vitte but she took her sister’s name, Fanny, after Fanny was killed in some sort of machine accident that was never explained to us as children. And now that there is no one left to ask, it will remain a mystery.

She met my Papa (paternal grandfather) when they were teenagers. Their families were living in the same apartment complex in Montreal. His name was Yitzcok when he was born in Romania in 1891 but changed it to Isadore upon arrival in Canada when he was 13 years old. They said he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on the boat.

Fanny and Isadore married then made their way to the United States and settled in Chicago where Papa took the more American name of Irving, and they raised their children, (my aunt) Edythe and (my dad) Leonard.

I remember one day when we were kids, my Dad asked us if we knew Papa’s real name. I thought about it and said “Is” because that’s what Nana called him. Then I fell into a fit of giggles, “What kind of name is Is, Dad? That’s a verb!”

Our extended family always called Papa by the name Izzy (from Isadore) and Izzy is now my nephew Jett’s middle name. Jett celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in Chicago this past summer. Jett’s older brother Stone has Leonard as his middle name. Leonard sadly passed away in 1971 when he was just 49 years old. Stone, his would-be first grandson, was born in 2001. By keeping their names alive, we bless them.

Kasha Varnishkes Recipe

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Totally Captivating Yuzu Tea

Yuzu TeaTotally Captivating Yuzu Tea

We harvested the last of this year’s yuzu fruit today. It is a neat fruit to grow in the garden because it can be used in so many different recipes and is edible when young and green all the way into the late fall when it is ripe and yellow. An extremely aromatic fruit – a basket of yuzu perfumes the whole room. And it makes an equally aromatic tea: a heady floral elixir with notes of mandarin orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.

The yuzu tea recipe is quite simple. Cut the fruit in half around the equator and remove the seeds. The seeds are large and plentiful but easy to extract. I use the skinny end of a teaspoon to pop them out. Slice the fruit into slivers. Without taking too much trouble, remove as much pith as possible. Place cut fruit in a bowl and muddle with a good amount of sugar. Once well-muddled, place the yuzu/sugar mixture in a teapot and pour in boiling (filtered) water. Steep only briefly then pour the sweet citrusy tea into mugs, along with some of the soft rinds and flesh which are edible too.