Category:  Holidays

Home » Archive by category "Holidays" (Page 7)

Quince Preserves (Dulce de Membrillo)

In Fruit and Jams, Holidays, Preserves On November 22, 2013 0 Comments

Every year, in early November, quince fruit is in season. This is what it looks like:

Image.QuinceMedium

What shall we make of all this quince? On my end, I’m changing up the usual condiment of “cranberry sauce” served with Thanksgiving turkey. Instead, I’ll make Quince Preserves. In Spanish, this is known as dulce de membrillo. The Spaniards have long been experts at making dulce de membrillo . Of course, they didn’t get the turkey until after Columbus went back and forth a few times from America to Europe.

However, we’ve got both the bird and the quince. Delight and surprise your guests this year when you serve Quince Preserves alongside that yummy turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Active prep time: 40 minutes (for cooking the quinces) & 45 minutes (for cooking the strained fruit with sugar)
Inactive prep time: 45 minutes (cooling time)
Makes: 1 to 1-1/2 cups preserves

Ingredients:
3 large quinces
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups organic, granulated, unbleached sugar

1. Place quinces in a 5 to 6-quart sauce pot, covered with cold water.

2. Cover sauce pot and bring quinces to a boil.

3. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the quinces are tender – test by inserting a pointed knife into center of one fruit.

4. When tender, drain and cool the quinces for about 45 minutes.

5. When quinces are completely cool, peel and quarter them.

6. Remove seeds and finely grind the quince fruit in a food processor.

7. Transfer the processed quince pulp through a sieve.

8. Place the strained quince pulp in a heavy-bottomed skillet or sauce pot.

9. Add 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups sugar to the quince pulp in skillet or sauce pot and mix with a wooden spoon.

10. Cook the quince-sugar mixture over lowest heat setting for about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thickened.

11. Pour the quince paste into a heatproof glass jar or bowl and cool. Serve or cover tightly and refrigerate.

Note: Quince paste keeps for 2 to 3 weeks in refrigerator. Serve with turkey. Alternatively, as an appetizer, quince paste can be served alongside cheese and wine.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Bloody Halloween Punch for Kids & for Adults

In Drinks, Holidays On October 11, 2013 16 Comments

This hassle-free and cost-efficient punch requires very few ingredients. Can’t believe your bloody eyes? Neither will your guests. Happy Halloween and stay safe!

Prep time: Less than 5 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients (for kids):
Juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups pomegranate or cranberry juice, chilled
2 liters ginger ale, chilled
2 to 4 drops red food color (optional)
One package plastic Halloween eyeballs

Ingredients (for adults):
Same as above, plus 5 to 6 shots of Vodka (adjust, according to taste)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

2. Pour the lime juice and sugar mixture into a large punch bowl.

3. Stir in the juice and ginger ale and red food color.

4. For the adult version, add vodka and stir.

5. Decorate punch with plastic eyeballs (they will float) and serve.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Note: The cupcake design was inspired by Wilton Icing Decorations®

Leprechan Pudding Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Holidays On March 7, 2013 0 Comments

For Saint Patrick’s Day this year, I feel like cake – but a healthy kind. Along the lines of carrot cake, I decided to use a neutral vegetable that would also serve as a natural colorant. You got it – spinach!

The end result is a moist cake with a texture as smooth as pudding. Moms – when your little Leprechans eat this delicious cake, they’ll have energy to play for hours. Just be sure to serve this cake early in the day – lol!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 35 minutes
Makes One 9-inch round cake

Ingredients:
2/3 cup thawed spinach, packed (thaw a package of frozen spinach first, drain it and then measure)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup cold water
1-3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower preferred)
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2% milk fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
Candy sprinkles (nonpareils)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan; set aside.

2. In a blender, purée the spinach with 1 egg and 1/3 cup water until mixture becomes creamy and uniform. If needed, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons water until spinach mixture is uniform. Set aside for later use (you will only need 1 cup of this spinach mixture).

2. In a 1-quart bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a stand mixer or in a 4-quart mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat together 1 cup of the spinach mixture, sugar, cream cheese, vegetable oil, milk and vanilla.

4. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and beat until batter is smooth.

5. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

6. Place the pan on a rack positioned in center of oven.

7. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, insert a knife in center of cake. If knife comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and test doneness again.

8. If needed, bake for an additional 5 minutes.

9. Cool Leprechan Cake completely.

10. Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons milk to make a glaze. Pour it over cake and decorate with candy sprinkles.

Text and Cake Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Valentine Asiago with Cranberry-Cherry Coulis

In Appetizers / Starters, Holidays On February 6, 2013 0 Comments

This savory/sweet appetizer is a perfect intro to a romantic evening. I’m sure you won’t forget to complement the Asiago cheese with a yummy flatbread and a nice wine (see suggestion below). Happy Valentine’s Day!

Prep time: 45 to 55 mins (for the coulis)
Makes: 3 to 3-1/2 cups

Ingredients:
3 cups unsweetened cranberry juice (not to be confused with cranberry juice cocktail)
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark Balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup dried, pitted cherries
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl
One 6-ounce Asiago cheese wedge
3 to 6 fresh cherries (for garnish)
Flatbread or your favorite crackers

1. In a 4-quart saucepot, stir together the cranberry juice, sugar and Balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for approximately 45 to 50 minutes or until mixture reduces to about 2-1/2 cups.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir to combine the dried cherries with 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Add the cherry mixture to the cranberry juice and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until cherries puff up.

3. Gradually stir in the cornstarch-water mixture and cook for about 1 minute or until the coulis has thickened. If a thicker sauce is desired, stir in an additional teaspoon of cornstarch premixed with cold water.

4. Set the hot coulis in the saucepot aside, covered, on a kitchen counter to cool completely. Refrigerate the coulis for at least 4 hours or overnight.

At serving time, place cheese wedge on a plate and drizzle the coulis over it. Garnish the plate with fresh cherries; serve with flatbread or crackers and lots of wine!

Red Wine suggestion: Bordeaux or Brunello
Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Panforte di Siena (Italian Christmas cake)

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Holidays On December 10, 2012 0 Comments

A few hundred years ago in Italy and other European countries, imported and exotic spices were linked to nobility – they were expensive!

Going back to the Middle Ages, panforte (it literally translates to “strong bread”) is  a rich fruit and nut cake. It is a specialty of the Tuscan city of Siena. Made with “strong” spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and black pepper, panforte is traditionally made at Christmastime.

However, you don’t have to go to Siena to enjoy panforte because I’m sharing my favorite version of this delicacy with you. Happy Holidays to all my Friends!

Active prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes: one 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter (to lightly grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan)
Parchment paper, trimmed to a 9-inch round to fit in bottom of cake pan
2/3 cup dried figs, minced
2/3 cup dates, pitted and minced
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup candied fruit (a mix of lemon and orange rinds and citron)
-or-
1 cup mixed white raisins and dried cranberries
3/4 cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped (preferably skinned and roasted)
3/4 cup unsalted hazelnuts (roasted first, then skinned), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Vin Santo or Sweet Vermouth
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Butter the bottom of a springform cake pan and cover it with the parchment round. Set cake pan aside.

3. Place the figs and dates in a 1 to 2-quart saucepot. Add enough water to barely cover the dried fruit. Add the honey, brown sugar and the spices.

4. Cook the fruit-spice mixture on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. NOTE: TO PREVENT BURNING OR SCORCHING OF THE FRUIT MIXTURE, DO NOT OVERCOOK. IF IT BEGINS TO “SMELL” BURNT, YOU MUST DISCARD IT AND START ALL OVER AGAIN.

5. When the fruit mixture has cooked and reduced for 5 minutes, transfer it to a medium bowl. the fruit mixture should be sticky.

6. Stir the candied fruit and nuts into the hot fruit-spice mixture, mixing well. Stir in the flour and Vin Santo or Vermouth and mix until the mass is sticky.

7. Carefully spoon the panforte mixture into the springform pan. Place the pan on a rack set in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes.

8. After 30 minutes, check to see if the panforte is too soft (undercooked) or if it is firm. If it is too soft, bake the panforte for an additional 5 minutes.

9. Remove the panforte from oven and place it on a counter to cool. When the panforte has cooled but is still a little warm, remove it from pan by releasing the sides. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter and peel off the parchment paper.

10. Cool the panforte completely. When cool, generously sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar and serve the panforte in tiny wedges.

Note: Panforte can be stored, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, up to two weeks.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real