it’s time to reclaim the champagne cocktail, from the syrupy, insipid, cliche’ it has become. This is springtime in a glass!
Begin by making a strawberry rhubarb syrup-
1 bag frozen strawberries(if you have some just past perfect strawberries you can use them, dont waste strawberries at their peak of strawberryness for this.
4 stalks rhubarb, scrubbed and sliced up
2/3 cup sugar
Bring it to a boil and then simmer until all the fruit is disintegratingly soft. While still hot, pout through a mesh sieve. Give it an occasional stir until all the liquid has passed through, if you notice it getting too thick as it sits(rhubarb is chock full of pectin, so it might) stir in some very hot water until its a pour able consistency. Set aside to cool. To serve- pour about an ounce of your red syrup of sweet tart nirvana into a glass(for heavens sake not one of those coupe’s- that’s not enough fluid for a hamster and these are swiggingly good…) top up with cold sparkling wine. You can go pretty cheap for this, although you don’t want anything labelled as being very sweet.
These cookies go together in about 2 minutes- assuming your butter is room temperature. They are lovely with a cup of tea, and a very nice accompaniment to any sort of fruit dessert.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter- much has been written about the superiority of unsalted butter when baking. I find it to be hogwash. I use salted butter with impunity and it’s totally fine if you do too. Must be very soft, but not melted.
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt.
You could sift everything, but I just bash it all together with a wooden spoon, until it comes together.
Line a cake pan(8 or 9″) with a circle of parchment paper- do not skip this. Get a small bowl of water. Press the dough into the pan, if your hands are getting too sticky, dip them int the water. Smooth the top of the dough. Bake at 300* convection for about an hour. It should be firm and the tiniest bit golden. While it’s still hot take a fork and prick all over the surface. Score into 8(or 16 if you are of a stingy persuasion or assembling a cookie basket) Allow it to cool before raking out of the pan.
I am not inclined to gild the lily, but dunking one end of the wedge into some melted dark chocolate is something I can get behind. Or swirl a lemon glaze over the top. Or just enjoy the simple perfection.
These delicious babies are sometimes(incorrectly) called rosti potatoes. The secret behind their tastiness is that the cutting part way through increases surface area, which increases crunch. Crunch is always a net positive.
So being with smallish potatoes- I favor Yukon gold’s but red skinned ones work too, although they will never crisp up quite like older spuds. Lay your potato in the bowl of a wooden spoon, using a sharp knife make 5-6 vertical cuts. The bowl of the spoon will prevent you from slicing all the way through. Toss with some olive oil- by far the best way to do this is with your hands. Roast these puppies- they are flexible in that you can use a variety of temps and times. So work around your protein- if you are making a roast, they can go for 45 minutes at 350* They could also do 30 minutes at 400*. While they are piping hot- season with salt, pepper and microplaned garlic. Rosemary is good, too.
Alright- boil your pasta in a reasonably big shallow put, I use a dutch oven for this. When properly toothsome drain the pasta into a colander. Thoroughly spray your pot with Pam. Melt 1/2 stick of butter, stir in 1/8 cup of flour and whisk until roux forms. Add two cups of milk, (whole is best- but if you only have skim, use 1/2 cup less milk and add 1/2 cup butter. Stir contantly until it thickens up. Season your white sauce with a nice scraping of nutmeg, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Stir in about 2 cups grated cheese- I favor some sharp cheddar and some montery jack. As soon as the cheese is melted, pour your pasta back in and fold into the sauce. Top with some grated cheese and put in a hot oven until the top is browned and crusty. This is a streamlined version, but if time allows top with some panko bed creams. Crunch is always a net positive
4-8 pears, you want them to not be too soft. Not rock hard, but you need them firm enough to withstand their winey jacuzzi. Peel them with a potato peeler. Use a small paring knife to cure the pears from underneath. If necessary cut a sliver so that the pears can stand upright.
about 2/3 a bottle of wine (your basic soft red that goes for about 10$ a pop, will do perfectly here)
1 cup white sugar
1 sliced lemon
2-3 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 cloves, and about a quarter of a nutmeg(I lay the nutmeg on my cutting board and whack it with a small heavy saucepan.)
Combine everything in a saucepan. bring to the boil, Lower the heat and occasionally turn the pears so that they get equal color on all sides. After about 10 minutes, remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove the spices and citrus and allow the wine to cook down into a syrup. When you have about 1/2 cup of winy syrup(which I think I might use as the name of my mid life crisis, punk rock group) drizzle it over your pears. Serve at room temp. Accept the applause graciously!
I for one love comfort food. The air gets the slightest nip and I start braising, stewing and pot pieing. There is a fine line between stodge and succor. We are going to blast that line right off the playing field.
A food processor with a shredding blade makes this a snap- however, using a grater is hardly a hardship. You will need:
red cabbage, carrots, apples, (i’d start with 1/2 head of cabbage, 3 carrots and 1 apple) 1/2 bunch scallions, freshly grated ginger, a dollop of honey, balsamic reduction and a mild oil- I like walnut. Also nice to have is jicama, radishes, walnuts
This involves a lot of eyeballing- Shred your veg and the apple. Immediately drizzle your white balsamic reduction. You are trying to protect the apple from browning. Begin by adding finely minced ginger(the tool for this is a microplane grater) add oil a tablespoon at a time, as well as dashes of salt. TASTE. TASTE.TASTE. If you are using walnuts, or any nuts- add them prior to serving. This is all about the crunch and mealy walnuts have no place here!