Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheese Log

This Cheese Log is a Christmas Brunch tradition in my family.  It's quick and easy to make, and quite toteable.

I make it rolled in crushed pretzels instead of nuts, which is great for those who are allergic to nuts.

Holiday Cheese Log (makes 4 medium-sized logs):

2 x 8oz blocks of cream cheese (lite or regular)
4 cups grated cheddar (2 cups sharp white & 2 cups orange)
the juice of 1/3 medium onion, grated
1/3 cup sour cream
Dijon or honey mustard to taste (1-3 tbsp)
Worcestershire sauce to taste (3-7 drops)
Salt & pepper to taste (I use ground mixed peppercorns)
1 oz Brandy or Bourbon
Coarsely crushed pretzels

In a food processor, whiz up the cream cheese and grate in the cheddar, or mix all by hand in a large bowl.  Add the onion juice and sour cream, then season to taste with the next 4 ingredients.  Add the Brandy or Bourbon and combine.

Let sit, covered in the fridge, for at least 2 hours or overnight to combine flavours.

Divide into 4 portions; roll into log shapes and then roll in the crushed pretzels to cover.  Wrap and refrigerate till needed.

These will keep in the fridge for several days, which is perfect to take visiting over the holidays.  You can also make some of it into a cheese ball instead of a log, plus you can also make it up into little balls and freeze them; they defrost quite quickly this way (on counter for 1/2 hour), which is great for just one person.

Alternate recipe:

Use 3 cups sharp white cheddar, then mix everything up.  Divide the mixture in two, then add 1/2 cup orange cheddar to one half of the mixture, and add 300 g of blue cheese to the other half, and make 2 orange logs and 2 blue cheese logs.  Roll the blue cheese logs in parsley to differentiate them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mulled Wine for 1 - Oliver style

I love mulled wine, but how can one person enjoy this holiday fare without wasting most of the bottle?

The answer:

Jamie Oliver's recipe for Mulled Wine  involves making a spice-infused wine syrup then adding the wine to it just before lightly warming it.

His recipe (you can just Google it) is for 2 bottles; simply divide the amount in half for one bottle, make the syrup, and add just enough of it to one glass of wine at a time, then warm the wine gently so as not to evaporate the alcohol. 

Brilliant!  Now I can come home, take my boots off, put up my feet, and enjoy a hot wine toddy without wasting a drop of wine!

Mini Crab Cakes

The week before Christmas I like to prepare & freeze several appetizers to take to my family's get-togethers.  This recipe is one of my favourites:

Mini Crab Cakes: - appetizer

Bake: 400 – 15-20 oiled steel baking pan
or fry in lightly oiled pan, turning once, for 8-10 minutes

Makes 16 mini crab cakes

½ lb crabmeat (or 2 x 120g tins – rinse then squeeze the moisture out first)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs for cakes, plus
1/3 cup half-panko, half-breadcrumbs for breading
1 egg
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3 minced green onions
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp all purpose seasoning or seafood seasoning
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp mustard powder (or 1 tsp Dijon, ½ tsp hot mustard or 1 tsp horseradish)
¼ tsp salt  & ¼ tsp pepper or Spanish paprika
1 tbsp minced orange pepper

Beat egg, add mayo & Worcestershire sauce.
Add crumbs, mustard powder, baking powder, onion & pepper, seasonings & crabmeat.
Shape into mini-patties, coat w/crumbs.
Cook & serve.  (you can also freeze then cook later - just add a little bit more cooking time)

Vodka Raisin Remedy

This is touted as an ancient arthritis remedy from middle Europe.

There are many versions of this out there, but all I can find lately are ones that recommend soaking the raisins then discarding the vodka and eating the raisins.  The version I have always used involves soaking the raisins then straining them out, drinking the vodka (not all at once!) and nibbling on the raisins.

Whether it works for you or not, it is fun to do and fun to try, and helps keep you warm at night:

Vodka Raisin Arthritis Remedy:

8-oz canning jar
golden raisins


Half-fill the jar with raisins; add 2 tsp sugar or warmed honey, then fill up with vodka almost to the top of the jar.  Top with screw-on lid, invert & shake gently, then store in cool place, repeating the inverting & shaking twice daily for 3 days.  On the 3rd day, strain the vodka-soaked raisins to store separately; return the raisin-infused vodka to the jar, cover, and store both in the fridge.

Take 1-2 tablespoons in the evening along with a few raisins; repeat throughout the following several evenings. It was originally recommended to take this 3 times a day, which is good if you don't have to work!