Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Juniper Berries, a taste of the forest.

I enjoy the flavor of these gingerbread cookies with juniper berry glaze and their festive winter look. I use a recipe from Epicurious for the cookies and glaze but if you have a favorite gingerbread recipe you could use that and just add this glaze. 

For the glaze:
3/4 cup half and half
1/3 cup juniper berries
1 pound powdered sugar

* If you want to color the glaze, you'll need food coloring and if you want to decorate your cookies then you'll also need whatever colored sugar or candies etc. you want to use to decorate, since the juniper flavor lends itself well to gingerbread trees I chose to add green food coloring and use green decorating sugar. 

Lightly crush the berries and add to half and half in a pot on the stove, bring to a simmer, remove from heat and chill for 5 hours. Strain. Add the flavored half and half to the powdered sugar a bit at a time and whisk until the glaze is smooth and spreadable. Frost and decorate cookies then allow to sit out until glaze sets before storing. 

If you're looking for a festive mocktail try making virgin gin. I found a recipe for it from the Seattle Times that I tried.  

4 cups of water
1 Tablespoon juniper berries
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lemon (you'll also use the juice)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
12 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Put the water in a pan, cover and bring to a boil. Add all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. 
Whisk in sugar and lemon juice. When sugar is dissolved, you can put the "gin" in a jar and keep refrigerated. 

If you prefer some alcohol with your juniper you can try out a tincture or the recipe I tried can also be used to make a simple syrup.

3/4 ounce crushed juniper berries
1 teaspoon lavender flowers
1/2 cup neutral grain spirit, I had schoharie shine on hand which I wasn't a huge fan of on it's own so I used it for this tincture

Put all 3 ingredients in a mason jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake. Store in a dark place in your kitchen and shake daily for a week. Then strain. Add tincture by the drop to your drinks for added flavor.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kale and Squash Risotto

Tonight's dinner came via a food network recipe with a few of my own adjustments and additions

butternut squash cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons butter
2 shallots
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron
1 cup grated parmesan 
I added:
pomegranate seeds 

Preheat the oven to 400
Toss the squash with the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast about 30 minutes until tender. 

Heat the chicken stock in a covered pan and then leave on low. 

To start cooking the risotto, melt the butter and sauté shallots and fennel until tender.
Add the rice and stir for about two minutes. Add the wine, stir, once absorbed begin to add chick stock a bit at a time as it is absorbed add more. After about 20 minutes add chopped kale and continue to cook another 10 minutes or so until rice is cooked through and liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the roasted squash, cheese and pomegranate seeds. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

brussels sprouts

Today I tried out a new brussels sprouts recipe from Martha Stewart.

1 pound of sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup walnuts
salt & pepper
pomegranate seeds (not part of the original recipe)
grated pecorino cheese

Preheat the oven to 375.
Toss the sprouts with all the ingredients except pomegranate seeds and cheese, place on rimmed baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese then add pomegranate seeds.