“Drinkable Food” for the Holidays

“Drinkable Food”…beautiful beet juice cocktail with pear & star anise garnish….

In a few days it will be December….D-e-c-e-m-b-e-r!  November went by in a flash. I remember returning from a trip to Mexico…lots of food styling shoots…and the last Third Thursday Dinner Party of the year…and…oh, yeah…Thanksgiving. If anything could send you running to the home bar I believe November would be it. The need for a very deep red, but somewhat wholesome cocktail comes to my mind this time of year. A cocktail that will give you vitamins & minerals while creating a sense of well-being & unreality!  Basically a perfect cocktail to fortify one for what is to come between now and the New Year. A cocktail perfect for a party small or large.

“Drinkable Food” recipe for Good Health & Mental Fortification for the Holidays  (makes 2 quarts)

1. Make a simple syrup using 1 1/2 cup water, 5 or 6 whole star anise & 1 cup dark brown sugar. Bring water & sugar to a low boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Toss in star anise and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until mixture is syrupy. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool completely.

Strain mixture to remove star anise. Put in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and chill until ready to use.

2. Peel 3 medium size fresh beets. Chop into large chunks. Puree using a food processor. You will probably have to work in batches.

3. Strain pureed beets over a bowl, pressing pulp with a wooden spoon to release most of the juice. Don’t toss out that beet pulp! Fresh beet pulp is great in breads & cakes. See Nigel Slater’s Book “Tender” or wait for my next blog to see how to make a killer chocolate cake using beet pulp. Freeze the pulp.

As with most of my cocktail recipes this one is not an exact science project, but more a mix & taste project until I hit the “sweet spot”. Is there any color of red more delicious than fresh beet juice? I think not.

4. I had about 3 cups of beet juice when all my beets were pureed & pressed. To this juice I added 1 cup of the Star Anise & Moscovado Sugar Simple Syrup…

…..1.5 liter pure apple juice…..

….and 1.5 cups Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Bulleit Rye Whiskey

Taste & adjust to your liking. Decant into glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Chill until ready to drink.

Add a label…or not. Great over ice with a star anise & slice of pear to garnish. Get ready, get fortified!

It’s almost December….get your red on!

Take a Holiday Break / Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread

No, these are not some new fangled Christmas ornament!  They are “Hachiya Persimmons” &  although they are certainly pretty enough to be Holiday ornaments, I have another plan for them.

“A Simple Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread for when you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Holidays”

When I was a young girl I loved the persimmon fruit from a tree that grew wild at the edge of our yard. It was gangly, never-pruned, pretty much ignored tree that went unnoticed all year until sometime in mid-December when the persimmons would begin to ripen taking on a soft yellowy custard color. The fruit very lush, short-lived and much appreciated. I do not remember Mother ever using them in recipes. We just ate them off the tree like apples.

The “Hachiya” persimmons that have been in the markets lately are not local nor are they the type that grows wild in the South. These persimmons are vibrant red-orange and are very hard, not ready to be eaten. Recently I purchased 5 of these for a photo shoot. We did not use them so I brought them home to ripen in a bowl on the kitchen counter. I got busy and forgot about them for a few days and during this time they ripened to perfection. Curiously I bit into one and was rewarded with an incredibly lusciousness. If I had to describe the flavor I would say it was somewhat like a very ripe mango or papaya or mamay crossed with a banana?

“Hachiya Persimmons”

My tea bread version is adapted from a recipe in Tammy Algood’s mangum opus to Southern cooking, “The Complete Southern Cookbook”.

“A Simple Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread”

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks of butter softened (I used Kerrygold)

1/2 cup Sorghum or Molasses

2 eggs

1 cup Persimmon pulp from very ripe persimmons (core, peel & puree pulp in processor)

2 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1/2 cup ground flax seed & 2 tsp baking powder

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease & flour a loaf pan.

2. In a bowl combine the flour, ground flax seed, baking powder mixture with the walnuts & dried cranberries. Set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer cream the butter & sorghum together. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

4. Stir in the persimmon pulp until well blended.

5. Add the egg-persimmon mixture to the flour mixture stirring just to combine. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle top with a 1/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar to add crunch.

6. Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.

7. This bread is best served warm or toasted along side a cup of tea or hot milky coffee when you need to sit down, take a break and a deep breath and relax for a  bit. Happy Holidays.

“A Little Holiday Image Gallery”

Little Figurines from Sweden
Amaryllis & Orchid
Food Magazine Paper Chain
Little Glitter House
Squirrel Nutcracker
“Know when enough is enough!” homemade  gift tag from recycled Holiday catalogs.
“Santa Claus with Beer” image from the Santa Pub, Nashville, TN…..don’t forget the cookies!

Enjoy. Share. Keep it Light. Be Helpful……..