January Fortifications with Spicy and Aromatic DIY Infused Vodkas

I know, I know…it’s now January and “we” are supposed to show a bit of restraint. All those resolutions and all. Well it’s cold outside and the sun has not been seen here in Nashville much lately. It’s damp and dark. We need fortification!

Personally I like dark, Winter days. I call this time “hibernation with intent”. I enjoy puttering about and making stuff, such as  these incredible infused vodkas. “Blackberry-Thyme” and “Rose Petal and Pink Peppercorn”. One more full-bodied and hearty, the other more delicate and subtle. Both easy to make and very fortifying indeed.

Delicate rose petals and spicy pink peppercorns….vodka.

Juicy blackberries and herbal-scented thyme….and vodka.

Put jars in cool dark place such as closet. Shake every now and then. If you start the process on a Friday your flavored vodkas will be ready to decant for happy hour the next Friday.

Chilled, like the weather, until icy cold.

Stay cozy, Prost….Cheers…..Saluti….Skal.

DIY Boozy January

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vodka
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried rose petals (food grade)
  • 1/4 cup whole pink peppercorns

 

Directions:

  1. Pour 2 cups of vodka into 2 clean glass jars.
  2. Add to one jar the blackberries and thyme leaves. Push down into the vodka. Cover with tight-fitting lid.
  3. To second jar add rose petals and pink peppercorns. Stir. Cover with tight-fitting lid.
  4. Put both jars in a cool, dark cabinet or closet for 5 days. Shake each jar once a day.
  5. Decant each flavor of vodka by pouring through a fine mesh strainer into a measure cup. Then pour each one into glass bottles with tight-fitting lids. Stick in the freezer for a few hours. A shot will warm you up! I promise.  You can also use to make your favorite vodka cocktails.  How about as a gift? So many options.

Teresa Blackburn.     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Gelukkig Niew Jaar met Oliebollen – Happy New Year with Oliebollen

Every culture, country and region has special foods that are made for special celebrations throughout the year. For New Years the Netherlands  has Oliebollen, a wonderful, puffy fritter studded generously with currants or raisins and fried until golden brown and then dusted with powdered sugar and eaten warm. The real translation of “oliebollen” is “deep-fried doughnut balls”.  All over The Netherlands you can buy olibollen from street carts and restaurants as part of a continuing edible tradition for the winter and for New Year’s Eve in particular. Wouter always makes a batch for us to enjoy around the New Year and today was the day. So crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside with that touch of sweet.  I look forward to sharing this part of his Amsterdam right here in Nashville every year.

English version in printable recipe below! This is Wouter’s old handwritten recipe in which he doesn’t use an egg or salt, although both are an ingredient!

Fried, drained, ready for powder sugar.

Here….have a bite….Happy New Year, Gelukkig New Jaar..see you in 2019.

Oliebollen

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3/4 cup currants
  • enough vegetable oil for fry oliebollen in a deep cast iron skillet or small deep fryer
  • powdered sugar to finish

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl with the warm milk sprinkle over the yeast powder. Allow it to sit until “melted” into the milk and the top begins to get foamy.
  2. Place the flour in a mixing bowl and add the milk-yeast mixture along with the currants mixing until well blended. Set aside in a warm place for the dough to rise for about 1/2 to 1 hour.
  3. When dough has risen heat oil for frying to 350 degrees.
  4. Drop the oliebollen dough into the hot oil by tablespoons gently taking care not to splash hot oil.Work in batches and fry until puffy and golden brown. Drain well.
  5. Serve warm dusted generously with powder sugar.

Thanks to Wouter Feldbusch for sharing his recipe.

Teresa Blackburn.    www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com                     instagram @foodonfifth

Leftover Cranberry Sauce and Pink Peppercorn Cheater Ice Cream – E.A.T. # 34

I hope you have had a good and peaceful holiday. I hope you enjoyed doing whatever you did to celebrate. Maybe the festivities are still going on? It’s pretty quiet here at Food on Fifth this late Christmas Day afternoon. We have had our family dinner party and are going to enjoy some leftovers for dinner. Leftovers…I hate to toss food out so I am forever turning one thing into another. Such is this little recipe for turning that leftover cranberry sauce, whether homemade or store-bought, into one yummy ice cream. It’s got the sweet, the tart and the spicy in every bite.

 3 ingredients. 15 minutes active time. A bit of stirring and swirling and sprinkling. It really is as easy as this.

Soften good quality store-bought ice cream. Add in whole cranberry sauce and pink peppercorns. Swirl around. Cover and refreeze. Scoop. Eat.

The creamy sweetness of the ice cream along with the tart cranberry sauce and spicy pink peppercorn bits are a pretty dreamy Holiday dessert. Maybe for that New Years Eve celebration?

Leftover Cranberry Sauce and Pink Peppercorn Cheater Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of good quality vanilla ice cream or gelato softened to where it will swirl
  • 1/2 cup leftover whole cranberry sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Scrape softened ice cream into a metal loaf pan.
  2. Top with cranberry sauce and pink peppercorns.
  3. Using a knife, swirl the cranberry sauce and peppercorns into the softened ice cream. Smooth out the top. Cover with a plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream mixture then cover pan with aluminum foil.
  4. Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Scoop and enjoy. Top with additional peppercorn if you like. Sweet,  Tart,  Spicy!

Teresa Blackburn. http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Aromatic Roasted Pears and Plums with Star Anise, Vanilla, Balsamic and Maple Syrup E.A.T #34

Hey there December…..Welcome. Time for cozy cooking.

A  shallow baking pan, a sheet of parchment, Pears and Plums pitted, whole vanilla beans and star anise,  maple syrup and balsamic reduction…that’s it…you’re done. Is it a dessert? Is it a savory side? It can easily be either one. Your choice.

I split and used the vanilla bean seeds earlier for making a custard, but I always save the split beans for other uses.  There are a few teeny seeds still inside and they added just the right hint of vanilla to the roasted fruit. Real maple syrup and a balsamic reduction drizzled over the fruit making sure to fill the pitted part.  Is there anything like the aroma of star anise when roasted? It’s all a rather special blend of ingredients that leave the roasted pears and plums a bit caramelized and very aromatic.  This can be a desirable fruit dessert topped with a scoop of ice cream or gelato, or eaten as a side with roast pork or turkey. Add this to your winter go-to easy everyday recipes. It’s as easy-as-this.

Aromatic Plums and Pears

Ingredients:

  • 4 plums, cut in half & pitted
  • 4 pears, cut in half and pitted
  • 1 to 3 split vanilla beans
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup balsamic reduction glaze
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread fruit out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle fruit with balsamic glaze and maple syrup. Scatter vanilla beans and star anise over fruit. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until fruit is just fork tender, not mushy. Bake time may vary.
  4. Serve in fruit in bowls topped with a scoop of ice cream or as a side dish with roasted chicken or pork. Also great as a holiday side with a roasted turkey.

Note: You can also do this with crisp apples or peaches.

Teresa Blackburn Food Styling.

Deliciously Easy Chocolate Meringue Tarts

Life can get crazy hectic this time of year can’t it? One day it is summer weather all casual and laid back and the next thing you know it is wintry weather with lots of layers needed for venturing out. Along with that,  “The Holidays”.  I try to keep this time of the year as laid back as possible. I have never been a perfectionist and for that I am thankful.  This works well during the Holidays.  When it comes to Holiday cooking,  I go for delicious and simple, not fussy. These little chocolate meringue tarts are all of those things.

The tart shells were store-bought then filled with a simple dark chocolate pudding and topped with a meringue. That’s it. I try to cut down on the “crazy” any way I can.

Sometimes you just can’t wait.

Deliciously Easy Chocolate Meringue Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 10 pre-made mini tart shells (fresh, boxed or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs – yolks and whites separated carefully – 4 yolks for pudding
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites for meringue
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Note: or you can used meringue powder and whip according to pkg directions

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan whisk together the 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and egg yolks until well blended.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened. This takes about 6-8 minutes. Remove pudding from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for gently push pudding through the sieve.
  3. Immediately add butter and chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Add vanilla extract and blend well.
  4. Place mini  tart shells out on a flat tray and fill with warm pudding. Turn oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Whip egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks and then slowly add in sugar. Beat a few more minutes. Spoon meringue onto filled tarts. Place in oven and bake just until meringue starts to brown. Remove from oven to cool on a rack until ready to serve.

Note: If you have pudding left over cover and chill for later!

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Winter Squash Roasted with Pomegranate Molasses and Thyme E.A.T. #33

 

 I am enjoying how we just slipped into Fall…no whimper, no bang…hardly a notice…just an opening of the eye and here we are. Fall foods are abundant. The deep green skins of acorn squash with a brush stroke of orange here and there.  Butternut squash so sweet when roasted turning to a deep rich gold.  Aren’t you glad Fall is here?

This bowl of roasted squash would be great for a holiday side.

 A couple of acorn squash and one butternut squash is quite enough for 4 people. Some fresh thyme scattered about and pomegranate molasses drizzled over before and after roasting gave the squash an amazing glaze with just right crisp edges. . The skin on both squash was soft enough to eat as well.  The key was using smaller size squash, which are easier to cut and naturally sweeter.Are you familiar with pomegranate molasses? It is pretty easy to find these days at larger supermarkets, but more often at import markets. I purchase it in Nashville at K & S Market on Charlotte Avenue.

There is no real recipe, just an easy how-to that can be prepped ahead of all the hustle and bustle. Add an easy roasted chicken, recipe here. It’s all as easy-as-this.

Pomegranate Molasses and Thyme Roasted Winter Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 smallish acorn squash
  • 1 smallish butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate  molasses
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme
  • large flake sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Carefully cut all squash in half and scrape out seeds. Cut acorn squash into rings and then cut rings in half. Trim top from butternut squash and cut into pieces lengthwise.
  2. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil. Spread out flat on a sheet pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Drizzle squash with 1/4 cup of the pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle on sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss fresh thyme leaves over all.
  5. Roast for about 20 minutes. Squash should be fork tender, but not mushy. Remove from oven. Cover loosely if not serving immediately.
  6. Right before serving drizzle with remaining pomegranate molasses and additional fresh thyme sprigs. Double or triple recipe for a crowd.

Teresa Blackburn    www. teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

A Day in the Life of a Cookbook Shoot – “Little Everyday Cakes”

A day in the life of this particular cookbook photo shoot started out with many layers of cakes of all sizes and shapes baked and cooled and ready for their moment in front of the camera.

Before: Early morning Spice Cake getting “dressed”……
After: Spice Cake all  “dressed up and ready” for the camera.   Photo by Danielle Atkins Photography

Have you ever been on a food photo shoot? It’s probably not exactly what you might expect. Here are some images of behind-the-scenes from the shoot earlier this year for Candace Floyd’s “little everyday cakes” with photographer Danielle Atkins shot at Food Sheriff Studio here in Nashville.

Cookbook food shoots involve lots of schleping….not my favorite thing to do…but it’s a must. Props, props and more props. There are never, ever enough and it is a flow of “more” into the studio or location every day. I started with around 15 boxes and ended on wrap day with more than 20!  Not to mention my food styling kits armed with special items for making these cakes look casually pretty and delicious.

For this “one subject” cake cookbook we needed lots of cake stands of all sizes, scads of small plates and saucers,  tons of little bowls……..

…dessert forks, regular forks, cake servers…knives…..

…..spreaders,  spoons of all types, did I say hundreds of napkins of all colors?….blues, greys, whites and chalky colors, soft reds and pinks…vintage prints….all laid out on many fold up tables to choose from with all of us contributing.

A typical day for us started at sunrise with many cake layers, tubs of frosting, fresh fruits and sauces. A good strong cup of coffee or two as well.

There is nothing quite like “following the light” as you work during a day on set where all the images are to be shot with natural light.  You actually learn a lot about the sun and clouds, soft and hard light, which cake works best in a kitchen window or on a table a few feet away. It is a study in working with nature, not against.  It is capturing what is there at any given moment and using it to enhance. It is a lovely thing when done well.

Scenes from behind the finished photos….beautiful light through old studio kitchen window…

                         

…setting up for future images……

….photographer, Danielle Atkins and author, Candace Floyd.

Images from Dani’s screen as we adjust, shoot, adjust and shoot until it’s just the way we want it. Many days, lots of laughs and collaboration, lots of hard work, cakes to bake and every now and then a bite or two!

    

To see the finished images and get the recipes to make these little everyday cakes pick up a copy of “little everyday cakes” from your local bookstore, Amazon or Spring House Press.

For more information and a recipe from the book, “Mexican Chocolate Cake” see my last post here, “Look Honey I Shrank the Mexican Chocolate Cake”.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com