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Oct 22, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Recipe: Diwali Desserts

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

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Hindus around the world light up the night next week during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that takes place Oct. 19 this year. The holiday celebrates good triumphing over evil and light overcoming darkness with firecrackers, homes decorated with elaborate designs of colored rice flour and flower petals, and an abundance of sweets.

Some of the fancier, heavier desserts include gulab jamun (milky doughnuts balls in sugar syrup), jalebi (chickpea-flour fritters also soaked in sugar syrup) or ras malai (cottage cheese dumplings steeped in milk syrup). You can purchase them, of course, but many Indians like to make lighter desserts at home and distribute them in boxes to family and friends.

Cows are considered holy in Hinduism, and many people in ancient times owned cows or had access to their milk. There are 150 or more milk-based desserts made for Diwali, and I’m sharing two of my South Indian family’s favorites.

Historically, most Indian homes didn’t have ovens (and many still don’t), so Diwali desserts are often made on the stovetop with lots of stirring and patience. Prior to the days of condensed milk, chefs it cooked down, which took hours of constant stirring. Now, the recipes are a bit more simplified but still require 20 to 30 minutes of stovetop mixing.

This results in lightly sweetened milky desserts, like burfi (also known by sandesh or peda depending on the region) adorned with some finely chopped pistachios or almonds. This burfi recipe is just a base. Many households adapt it to suit their family tradition, adding mango puree, saffron, cardamom or cocoa powder.

Another common dessert is yogurt-based pudding called shrikhand. This is typically made by straining whole-milk plain yogurt through cheesecloth for several hours, but my mother discovered that using Greek yogurt saves all that hassle. I’ve included her recipe for a lovely, sweetened shrikhand perfumed with cardamom and saffron.

 

 

Milk Burfi
20 to 30 pieces

Customize this recipe with your favorite flavors. Add ¼ cup mango puree or 3 tablespoons cocoa powder with the dairy at the beginning of the recipe, or mix a few strands of saffron or ¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut with the cardamom.

1 15-oz. package ricotta cheese
1 14-oz. can condensed milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ tsp. cardamom ground
Handful pistachio or almond slivers

• Line a baking sheet with parchement paper.
• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a rubber spatula to constantly stir the ricotta, milk and butter 20 to 30 minutes until it comes together. Add the caradmon and reduce the heat to low.
• Place a small piece of dough on the baking sheet. If it does not shift of spread, transfer the dough onto the baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll the dough to ½-inch thickness.
• Use a cookie cutter to make shapes and decorate with pistachio and almond slivers, or use your hands to make small balls of dough, then flatten a bit between your palms. Make a small indentation in the center to fill with the pistachio or almond slivers.
• Refrigerate and serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

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Shrikhand
6 to 8 servings

½ tsp. saffron
1 tsp. milk
1 32-oz. containter plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1 16-oz. container sour cream
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. cardamom
Dried fruit or nuts like pistachios or almonds, for garnish (optional)

• Soak the saffron in the milk.
• In a large mixing bowl, beat the yogurt, sour cream and sugar on medium speed until the sugar dissolves and mixtures isn’t grainy.
• Add in the cardamom and the saffron and milk. Taste and adjust the spices and sugar as needed.
• Serve in bowls and top with dried fruit and nuts, if desired.

Photos by Amrita Song

Amrita Song is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine who blogs at A Song in Motion

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Drink This Weekend Edition: 4 beers styles for your St. Paddy’s feast

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

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When I think of St. Patrick’s Day, I yearn for rich corned beef and braised cabbage. Use the leftovers for corned beef hash and whipping up a hearty Irish beef stew, and my holiday weekend is close to complete – close.

Beer makes a great pairing partner with all of these delicious eats. However, due to the salty, fatty nature of the typical St. Paddy’s Day grub, not all beer styles should be treated equally. While perusing the shelves or a beer menu, look for more medium-bodied, malt-forward styles to balance the saltiness of corned beef and to enhance the sweetness of all those braised and stewed root vegetables.

Tried and true Guinness, Murphy’s and Smithwick’s will always provide you with proper pairing beers for these feasts, but if you want to shake it up, try these fun and locally available options.

1. Irish stouts are to corned beef as peanut butter is to jelly. Roasted malt, satiating body and a drier finish help balance your meal. Give Square One Brewery’s Dry Stout or Schlafly’s Irish Extra Stout – and keep an eye out if either is pouring on nitro or cask.

2. Irish red ales generally boast light to medium body, light nuttiness, toasted toffee and sweet caramel malts. Change it up by trying those from Ferguson Brewing Co. and Boulevard Brewing Co. Both are beautiful renditions of the style.

3. Want to get away from the Irish styles? The Civil Life Brewing Co. is a great place to start for more malt-forward brews that pair nicely with any Irish fare. The British Mild is a beautiful choice, full of toasted malt and biscuit on the palate and a crisp, clean finish.

4. Maybe you want to increase the ABV a little bit. At 8 percent, Oskar Blues Brewery’s Old Chub is a Scottish strong ale is complete with massive amounts of toasted grain, some toffee sweetness, a tiny bit of smoke and great body.

Now my St. Patrick’s Day is complete – sláinte, St. Louis!

The Weekend Project: Figgy Pudding

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

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“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding/Oh, bring us some figgy pudding/Oh, bring us some figgy pudding/And a cup of good cheer!” Most everyone knows that verse from the classic carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” but few of us have actually eaten the heralded figgy pudding.

This dish started as a savory first-course pudding in medieval times, but by the Victorian era, it had evolved into the fruit-centered, brandy-driven dessert that was commonly brought to the table en flambé, decked with holly berries and served with whipped cream or a boozy hard sauce.

 

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This basic steamed pudding consists of breadcrumbs, flour, butter, sugar and eggs. It is then left to the cook to spike the dessert with alcohol, spices and dried or candied fruits like dried figs, raisins or currants. While cooking times can range from two to six hours, less time will produce a moister, less cakey pudding.

 

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Figgy pudding can be served immediately, but it shines best when the fruit has had a chance to soak up all the booze for at least a week or two. In fact, Anglican families in Britain know the last Sunday of Advent as Stir-it Up Sunday, when the traditional Christmas pudding was prepared for the holiday in a week’s time. Each family member gets a chance to stir the pudding from East to West in honor of the Three Wise Men and make a wish before it is steamed and left to rest for Christmas Eve.

This is a great weekend project because with a little preparation, this dish can simmer away on your stove all afternoon while you decorate or wrap presents. It also produces a lovely spiced holiday aroma while you enjoy a nip of brandy and a carol or two. Best of all, dessert is done and ready to enjoy all 12 days of Christmas.

 

The Shopping List*
12 dried figs
½ cup raisins or currants
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried dates
1 cup cream
1½ cups brandy, divided
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1½ tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs
1½ cup brown sugar
12 Tbsp. (1½ sticks) butter
½ cup dark rum or spiced whiskey
Whipped cream for serving
4 Tbsp. brandy

*This list assumes you have all-purpose flour and salt at hand in your kitchen. If not, you will need to purchase those, too.

The Gameplan**
Active Day 1:
Prepare the Figgy Pudding.
Active Day 2: Resteam the Figgy Pudding. Prepare the Brandy Hard Sauce.

**This recipe is best after at least 1 week in the refrigerator, but it requires just two active cooking days.

 

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Figgy Pudding
12 servings

12 dried figs, roughly chopped
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 cup dried dates, pitted, roughly chopped
½ cup raisins or currants
½ cup cream
1½ cups brandy, divided
2 cups bread crumbs
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
½ cup dark rum or spiced whiskey
Whipped cream for serving
Brandy Hard Sauce for serving (Recipe follows.)

Active Day 1: Coat a large bundt pan, pudding mold or bowl with nonstick spray and set aside. Fold 2 paper towels into a thick rectangular pad about 4-by-6-inches and place it in the bottom of a large stockpot. Pour 1 quart water into the pan.
● In a saucepan, combine the figs, apricots, dates and figs with the cream and ½ cup brandy over medium heat. Let the fruit absorb most of liquid, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
● Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the bread crumbs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves. Set aside.
● In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until a thick, creamy froth forms, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the butter and rum until combined. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a stiff batter forms. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
● Gently place the bundt pan in the stockpot, making sure the paper towel stays between the bottom of the pot and the pan to prevent burning. Add more water until it reaches two-thirds up the side of the pan.
● Place the stockpot over medium-high heat until reaches a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and steam 2 to 2½ hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Add more water as needed.
● Carefully remove the pudding from the pot and let cool. Refrigerate 1 to 4 weeks.
Active Day 2: To serve the pudding, place the pudding back in a stockpot lined with paper towels. Fill the stockpot with enough water to reach two-thirds up the side of the pan. Place the pot over medium heat and steam 1 hour, until warmed through. Invert the mold onto a wide serving platter with a lip.
● Optional: To serve en flambé, warm the remaining 1 cup brandy in a saucepot over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully use a long-handled match to light the brandy, then remove from heat. Carefully pour the flaming liquid over the pudding in view of your guests, then wait for the flames to die before slicing.
● Serve with whipped cream and brandy hard sauce.

 

Brandy Hard Sauce
1 cup

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup cream
¼ cup butter
4 Tbsp. brandy
1 egg

Active Day 2: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the brown sugar, cream and butter until melted and combined. Add the brandy and stir about 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat.
• In a small bowl, whisk the egg until frothy, then add it to the saucepan and stir until combined.
• Return the saucepan to the stove over medium-low heat and continue stirring until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon and starts to set, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with Figgy Pudding.

 

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Cooking the Classics: Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

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Nothing says love like a big bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. Every family has its favorite rendition of this classic dish, and even the pros disagree about some things. Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. and Sidney Street Cafe, prefers a rough mash of partially peeled, small red potatoes or fingerlings. Gerard Craft, chef-owner of Niche Food Group, goes for a smooth puree of russet potatoes. Nashan seasons his water; Craft doesn’t. But lumpy or whipped, fingerlings or russets, milk or cream, there are some things all good mashers can agree upon. Here, 6 steps to the perfect mash.

1. Cut about 3 pounds potatoes (such as russet, fingerling or small red potatoes) into equal 1½ – to 2-inch cubes.

2. Place those spuds in a very large pot of cold water and give them room to dance with 1 inch of water above them. Set the pot over medium-high heat.

3. Put a fork in it. Three pounds of potatoes cooked over medium-high take about 30 to 35 minutes. When a fork goes in easily or breaks the potato, drain immediately. If the potatoes fight back, continue to cook, checking every 5 minutes. Pay attention: Overcooked potatoes make a soupy mash.

4. Burn calories while you mash. The paddle attachment on a stand mixer works, but it is easy to go from perfection to glue when using appliances. Keep it old-school with a wire masher and leave some lumps, if you’re into that. If you like a silky-smooth texture, use a potato ricer.

5. Use about 1 stick melted butter and ½ cup milk, half-and-half or cream for every 3 pounds potatoes. Always warm the butter and liquid before adding them.

6. Don’t be bland. Add salt and white pepper to taste – start with 1 teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of pepper and go from there. Other additions may include roasted garlic, creme fraiche or sour cream and, of course, cheese. Try mascarpone, goat cheese, cheddar or Parmesan. You can also add a little chicken or beef stock diluted in warm milk.

Pro tip: Making your potatoes ahead of time? Hold them up to 4 hours in a slow cooker on low. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter and ¼ cup warm milk into the slow cooker insert before adding the mashed potatoes, then cover. Stir well before serving.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Sauce Holiday Countdown: Piccione Pastry Holiday Treats

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

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Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s rude to arrive without a gift? Show up with homemade Italian pastries and cookies from Piccione Pastry in the Delmar Loop. For only $10, you can get a 1-pound tin of delectable Italian cookies. Or if they’re the pastry type, treat them to our personal favorite, the pannetone: candied fruits wrapped in soft, billowy brioche topped with sugar crumbles. Three muffin-sized cakes are just $8. Piccione is open until 3 p.m. today, so swing by on your way to the party. The treats will be the hit of the night (as will you).  Piccione Pastry, 6197 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.932.1355, piccionepastry.com 

And now…

For our last holiday giveaway, we have a $10 gift certificate to Piccione Pastry so you can pick up some goodies for yourself, too! Click here to enter!

 

 

Sauce Holiday Countdown: Bottle Slumpings from The Painted Pot

Friday, December 20th, 2013

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Reduce. Reuse. Regift. The Painted Pot in St. Charles offers bottle slumping, a gift more beautiful than its name implies. Bring your old wine bottles to the shop, and the staff at The Painted Pot melt them down into stylish spoon rests, decor or cute olive oil dipping trays. So gather up all those empty wine bottles hiding around your house (Don’t be ashamed; we have them, too.), and turn them into works of art. $10 per bottle. The Painted Pot, 3772 Monticello Plaza, St. Charles, 636.300.2665, thepaintedpotstl.com 

And now…

We’re giving away five bottle slumpings from The Painted Pot in St. Charles! These fun, personalized gifts only require that you polish off five bottles of your favorite wine (tough job, we know), and bring them to the shop to give them new life in your kitchen. Click here to enter!

 

 

Sauce Holiday Countdown: Balaban’s Gift Baskets

Monday, December 16th, 2013

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Gift baskets from Balaban’s include a wide range of themes like a chocolate dessert basket filled with chocolate-dipped treats and bars, or an antipasto basket with pimento-stuffed olives, artichoke hearts, salami and more. Baskets can also be customized to your foodie’s favorite tastes, from wine to cheese to olive oil. $20 to $134. Balaban’s Wine Cellar & Tapas Bar, 1772 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.449.6700, balabanswine.com 

And now…

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Today we’re giving away a private olive oil tasting at Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation, located on Ladue Road. At this after-hours, private tasting, you and five of your friends will get to sample an assortment of international extra-virgin olive oils, flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars, wine and fruit vinegars and honeys. This tasting would make for a great pre-dinner activity for you and your favorite foodies.  Click here to enter!

 

 

 

 

 

Sauce Holiday Countdown: Cooking Classes

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

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Shake off those boring dinner date doldrums. Kitchen Conservatory offers romantic Date Night cooking classes. You and your lovely will create a romantic meal together under the instruction of a skilled chef. From rolling sushi or steaming mussels to rustic French cuisine or the tastes of Tuscany, Kitchen Conservatory offers a number of options to fit every couple’s taste.

But if you’re a couple of homebodies or have mismatched schedules, check out these online cooking classes from the Culinary Institute of America. Choose from a menu of classes in Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian and American cooking and baking. You’ll attend eight classes from the one of the world’s finest culinary institutions in your own kitchen.

Date Night classes: $125 to $150 per couple.  Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665, kitchenconservatory.com; Online classes: $50, cookingschool.epicurious.com

And now…

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Want a preview of what you could create at Kitchen Conservatory classes? We’re giving away A Passion for Cooking, a compendium of recipes that local culinary luminaries shared with Kitchen Conservatory during its first 20 years. Click here to enter!

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Surviving holiday shopping at the mall

Friday, December 13th, 2013

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Something terrible has happened. Your plans to solely shop online have backfired. You must go to the mall. You have no other choice.

What to do? Hitch a ride to your mall of choice and start your shopping with a drink. If after visiting a store or two, you’re already feeling like an Angry Elf, stop what you’re doing and go get another. Repeat as often as necessary until your ride returns to rescue you. So what if you drunkenly bought yourself an Xbox instead of that Ann Taylor sweater for your mom? At least you made it through the day without strangling someone.

While not inclusive to every shopping center, here are my mall-drinking picks. Add your suggestions in the comment section below; after all, we’re in this holiday giving business together. The only rule is that the drinking establishment must be within the mall’s walls; no one needs to be walking around a parking lot filled with shopping-induced, stressed-out South Pole Elves – that’s just dangerous.

The Galleria: BlackFinn American Grille – Greyhound
This classic features Grey Goose vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Simple, fresh and sure to put a spring in your step.

The Meadows at Lake Saint Louis: BC’s KitchenDinner With The In-Laws
While not technically within a mall’s walls, BC’s is certainly within the parameters of an outdoor mall (and it has some of the best cocktails in town). Dinner with the In-Laws features Orangerie scotch, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, white crème de cacao and lemon. The spiciness of the scotch is tempered and balanced by the crème de cacao and the curaçao, while the lemon gives it a clean finish. If you stop at the outlet malls on your way to The Meadows, reward yourself with a second round.

Plaza Frontenac: Canyon CafeTop-Shelf Conmemorativo margarita
Fresh limes, Grand Marnier and Sauza Conmemorativo tequila make up this straightforward and just about perfect margarita. The menu says there is a limit of two, which I normally find annoyingly kitschy, but with this one, The Canyon errs on the side of wisdom. The drink is served with an extra shaker, so really, one margarita turns into two and a half. Go for two of these bad boys, and the next thing you know, you’ll be sitting on Santa’s lap. Since Plaza Frontenac employs the real Santa (Have you seen this guy? Best. Santa. In. Town.), this will undoubtedly land you on the naughty list.

Chesterfield Mall: Houlihan’s ­– Boulevard Double-Wide IPA
While not a cocktail, at 8.5 percent ABV, this large-format hoppy IPA will have you feeling relaxed in no time. The menu calls it a sharing beer and ‘tis the season, but when you’re holiday shopping, all bets are off; order one for yourself.

West County Center: J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & SeafoodJ. Gilbert’s barrel-aged Manhattan
Everyone’s doing Manhattans these days, and there’s a good reason why: They’re not only delicious, they’re perfect for cold weather. And stiff. That’s always nice, too. In this one, Maker’s Mark, sweet vermouth and orange bitters are house-aged in oak whiskey barrels and topped with Amarena cherries.

Sauce Holiday Coundown: Dragées and Luster Dust

Friday, December 13th, 2013

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Help the bakers in your life take their holiday cookies up a notch. Forget icing and sprinkles; spruce up their sweets with baubles like silver, gold or pearl dragées and a sprinkle of luster dust. After all, Christmas stockings are always better with a little bling. Dragées: $2.25 per ounce. Luster dust: $4. Karen Ann’s Supplies, 11553 Gravois Road, 314.842.0886, karenannsupplies.com

And now…

 

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Pokey LaFarge fans, this one’s for you! We’re giving away two tickets to the sold out Dec. 20 show at the Casa Loma Ballroom. Want to rock out with Pokey? Click here to enter!

 

 

 

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