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Monday, November 28, 2011

A Loaf a Day...

This bread is sooo easy to make, no proofing and only 45 minutes in the oven. Thank you bread gods. Bonus: this little cider loaf is quite tasty as well.  It's only slightly sweet, super soft on the inside with a great crunch in the crust. Mmm.

Cider Bread & Gingered Butter 
 All You Need For Bread:
  3 cups All Purpose Flour 
     1 1/2 Tbsp.  Baking Powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
  2 Tbsp. sugar 
  4 Tbsp. melted butter, unsalted

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
-Butter a 9x5 in. loaf pan and set aside 
-Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt 
-Using a wooden spoon, slowly pour in the cider, stirring carefully as you go
-Spread the dough into the pan and pour melted butter over the top 
-Bake the bread in the lower half of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown

Butter it up:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. finely diced crystallized ginger 
1/4 tsp. baking spice (or simply cinnamon) 

Using a fork, simply blend together the ingredients until well combined. Spread over bread, devour.

Simple, quick, and delicious! After snacking on this all day yesterday, we made french toast out of the rest of the loaf today and it was way good. Think about the bragging rights you can get out of making this, they don't need to know how easy it was, go on and talk yourself up. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanks Be to Giving

  A couple days later and I'm still riding a little high from my Friendsgiving dinner party. This Friday I had a small group of good friends over in spirit of the holiday and created a feast. Naturally I managed to incorporate cider into nearly every dish. One of my friends even created her own Crispin Wild Rice Pilaf to share at the dinner (and of course with all of you beautiful people too). 
Dinner was fantastic! We had food to eat and cider to drink for days. After the food coma set in, I sat back and realized; nothing beats this feeling. Seeing everyone sitting around the table, laughing, drinking, eating, it's moments like those that make me feel like I'm living the good life. 
I hope that you all have the same feeling over the holiday, celebrating with friends or family. We all have things to be thankful for and I wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Do Ahead Recipes: 

Wild Rice & Mushroom Pilaf With Cranberries (courtesy of Sacha Casillas-thank you!) 8-10
-1 1/2 c. long-grain and wild rice blend, cooked
-3/4 c. dried cranberries
-3 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 lb. mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake), sliced
-1/2 c. Crispin Browns Lane Cider
-1/2 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

1) Fold the cranberries into the cooked rice, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2) Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 min. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 6-8 min. more. Add the cider and simmer until evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and tarragon.
3) Add the mushroom mixture to the rice and toss to combine.

Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider Cranberry Sauce (serves 10-12)
-2 c. Fox Barrel Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider
-1 lb. fresh cranberries 
-1 1/2 c. sugar
-Juice of half a lemon

1) Rinse cranberries with cool water and remove any stems or blemished berries.
2) Heat cider, lemon and sugar to boiling in a large saucepan over medium heat.
3) Stir in cranberries, heat to boiling, stir occasionally and continue cooking until the cranberries begin to pop and break down. About 10 minutes (and look out, the liquid pops a bit when the berries do). Pour into an airtight container, let cool before covering. Store for up to a couple days in the fridge or cool at least 3 hours before serving.

 Pear Upside Down Cake (serves 8-10)
*So I made this cake straight out of Bon Appetit, followed the recipe to a 'T' and it did not turn out to my liking at all. I had to mess with it quite a bit to make it taste good. So instead of the original recipe I was going to use, I've adapted a pineapple upside down cake to to be my pear cake. And I promise it's delicious!

 For glaze:                                                                       For the cake:

¼ cup unsalted butter                                                    1 ½ cups cake flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar                                    1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey                                                                  ¼ tsp salt
2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced 1/8 in. thick                  1 cup sugar                       
                                                                                      2 large eggs
                                                                                      1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
                                                                                      1 tsp vanilla extract
                                                                                      3/4 c. reduced to ½ cup
                                                                                      Fox Barrel Pacific Pear Cider

1) Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and line the bottom of a 9-in cake pan with 2-in high sides with parchment paper.
2)  For the glaze, in a saucepan, cook the butter, brown sugar, and honey for about 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth, stirring often.  Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Place the pear slices neatly on the glaze, completely covering the bottom and overlapping. Set aside.
3) To mix the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together onto a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl and set aside. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in half of the flour to incorporate it. Mix in the reduced pear cider. Mix in the remaining flour to incorporate it. Scrape dollops of batter from the bowl over the pears, then spread evenly.
4) Bake for about 50 minutes, until the top feels firm when touched lightly, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
5) Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a small sharp knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Place a wire rack against the top of the cake and invert it onto the wire rack to cool. The cake can be cooled for 20 minutes and served warm, or allow to cool, wrap and store at room temperature up to one day in advance.   

Partial Do-Aheads:

Cider Glazed Carrots (serves 8-10)
-2 1/2 lbs. julienne-cut carrots
-1/4 c. Crispin Original Cider
-1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
-2 Tbsp. butter
-1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

-Cook carrots in boiling water until tender. This step can be done the night before or earlier in the day.
-Just before serving, in a large saucepan combine the brown sugar, butter and cider over low heat. Cook until butter is melted and then bring to a boil.
-Reduce the heat to medium, add the carrots, and cook 3-5 minutes, or until the carrots are glazed and heated through.
-Garnish with mint and serve immediately.

Turkey Roulade (serves 8-10)

-3/4 c. large-diced dried figs, stems removed
-3/4 c. diced dried apricots
-1/4 c. Calvados (or just one cup Crispin)
-3/4 c. Crispin Brut Cider  
-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
-1 1/2 c. diced yellow onion
-1 c. celery, diced
-3/4 lb. ground medium pork sausage
-1 1 /2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
-3 c. herb-seasoned stuffing mix
-1 1/2 c. chicken stock
-1 large egg, beaten
-1 or 2 turkey breasts, skin on or off, boned and butterflied (5 lbs. total)
-3 Tbsp. butter, melted
-Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

-Place the dried figs and apricots into a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and Crispin Cider.
-Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
What a beautiful sight

-Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs, apricots, and chopped thyme with the liquid and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

-Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)
-Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.
-Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll.
-Place the leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.
-Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.
-Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center (test in a few places.) Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing. You could make these earlier in the day or the night before!
**I did not pre-order my turkey breasts from the butcher so I ended up doing two small turkey rolls out of two sets of breasts.  I butterflied the boneless, skinless breasts and pounded them out a bit so that the meat was an even sheet. I overlapped them a little before I put the stuffing on, then carefully rolled them up and tied them. I cooked them together for about just under 2 hours. They turned out great!
 (Adapted from Ina Garten, pictures and how-to video here, varies from this recipe)   

Mulled Cider Glazed Ham (serves 8-10) So easy!! So good!!

-1 boneless fully cooked ham (3 pounds)
-1 3/4 c. Fox Barrel Mulled Cider
-1/4 tsp. ground cloves
-1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
-1/4 c. honey 

-Place the ham in a slow cooker.
-In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, whisk, and pour over ham.
-Cook on low 4-5 hours.
-If you'd like to make a gravy out of the juices (trust me you do), just transfer the cooking liquid to a small saucepan. Make a roux out of 1 Tbsp. melted butter and 2 Tbsp. flour. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower to a simmer and then add the thickening agent, whisking constantly, until the gravy starts to thicken. Remove from heat, pour on other delicious things.

That's all there is to it! Just make sure that you have plenty of cider to drink for your gathering and I assure you will have happy guests. So much of this meal was able to be made ahead of time, it left me calm and able to enjoy the party as much as everyone else. The only things that really needed to be done last minute was the carrot glazing, the gravy, and the meat carving. It was wonderful to have everything come together so easily and all on time.

Cider and Thanksgiving, made for each other
Chris & Alex
Brendan and Annie!

Jamie & Chris dishin' up
Jamie & Me

Boozy Cider Punch-ask and I'll give you the recipe!

Aaron & Sacha, clownin'
Thank you to everyone who came, it was such a joy! Thank you for taking a look, these are some really great, really delicious recipes and I hope you give them a try. Good luck and good cooking!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fox Barrel Mulled Cider Pumpkin Cookies

Oh yum. Gimme one...or three. 

I think deciding to make pumpkin cookies with mulled cider was the best idea I had all week. I have a lot of good ideas so that's actually a substantial statement. But seriously, these turned out pretty delicious, you should probably make them and share with friends. Or not. 

You will need:
1 cup Fox Barrel Mulled Cider, reduced to 1/2 cup
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened + 1 Tbsp. melted
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg 
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar 

Start by reducing the cider in a small pot over low heat, this will take about 15-20 min. You can start on the cookie batter or do what I did and drink the cider you poured when it was just hot and then have to start over. 

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two large sheet pans.
2) Mix in a small bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside. 

3) In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until the butter is lighter in color and fluffy. As you can see I did a poor job creaming. Just make sure that your butter is not too cold nor melty, just soft. If your butter is cold, cut into 1/2 in. pieces and set out or microwave for 10-15 seconds. The temperature does matter here!
4) Add the egg, pumpkin, 1 tsp. of vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. of the reduced cider. Mix until well blended and then slowly incorporate the flour.
5) Scoop by rounded tablespoon (buy a mini scoop, best thing I bought all year) onto the sheet pans and bake for 15-20 min. or until the cookies brown just slightly along the edges.
6) Let the cookies cool a minute on the sheet pans and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. <--this may be the hardest part
7) While the cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze. Combine 1 Tbsp. melted butter to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla and the remaining mulled cider.  Whisk till smooth.

8) Once the cookies have cooled, pour the glaze over the tops. You can get as fancy as you'd like here, I just went for the giant gob of icing method to assure my sugar fix was met. Also, to make the whole process a bit cleaner and easier, I left the cookies on the cooling rack and placed it over the sheet pan to do my glazing. 
Quick, easy and very tasty little cookies. The style is an old fashioned cookie so it's super soft, almost like eating a little mini cake. I brought them into work to share with my friends and everyone loved them. My only disappointment of the experience came when I ran out of mulled cider. Lesson learned, next time I'll buy two bottles!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cider Chicken Stew

Stop what you're doing, go to the grocery story and make this for dinner. If there was one dish I could have any day there was a chill in the air, it would be this: Crispin Cider Stew with Mashed Potatoes. 

The List: 
1 can Crispin Browns Lane Cider (16.9 oz) + extra for drinking
1 1/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 1 in. chunks
3/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into 1 in. chunks
3 c. unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 c. parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 in. chunks
2 c. acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1 in. chunks
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
4 ribs of celery, sliced thin
4 medium carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped 
3-4 cloves garlic, minced 
Small bundle of fresh thyme
3-4 bay leaves
1/3 c. flour (for dredging chicken), plus 1 tbsp. 
5 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp. heavy cream
3 Tbsp. butter 

Do your prep work! Getting all of your veggies and chicken prepped before you begin will assure that you do not scorch your pot (wait to dredge the chicken though).

Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat with 1 Tbsp. oil.  Toss in your sliced mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes until tender. Remove from pan into a bowl and set aside. 
Smell the magic of the mirepoix
Add another 2 Tbsp. oil to the pan and toss in your shallots, garlic, carrots, and celery. Add a 1/2 tsp. each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir occasionally until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a bowl and set aside. 
Dredge the chicken bits in the 1/3 c. flour, shaking off excess. Working in two batches, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in the pan and cook chicken until browned and fully cooked, about 6 minutes each batch. Add a little salt and pepper to season.  Remove and set aside. Your pan may get a lot of brown bits on the bottom, this is good, don't worry. Just don't let them burn,  those bits are great flavor!
Pour in the whole can of Crispin Browns Lane. Using a flat edged spatula, gently scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and sides. Add the thyme and bay leaves.

In a small bowl, combine 1 c. chicken broth and 1 Tbsp. flour, whisk until there are no lumps. Add to pot along with another 2 cups chicken broth. Bring the pan to a boil and add back in the chicken and cooked veggies (not mushrooms though). Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook 40 minutes.

Ok, so now you've got 40 minutes to kill, crack open a cider, set a timer, and take a load off. 
So once the 40 minutes is up, stir in the squash, parsnips, and mushrooms. Simmer uncovered for about an hour.  What you should be looking for after an hour is a thicker sauce and tender veggies.

When your stew is close to finishing up, start your potatoes. Peel and chop your pots and place them into a large pan, add 1/2 tsp. salt, cover with water. Cover pot and bring water to a boil; cook until the potatoes are very tender, 20 minutes or so.  When finished, pour out water (I like to leave just a teeny bit of the cooking water in my pot), add butter, cream, salt and pepper (to taste), and mash away. You could also use a hand mixer to get super creamy, fluffy potatoes.

Now you're ready to serve! Make sure that you get all your thyme stems and bay leaves removed so they don't end up on someone's plate. Serve up a big scoop of potatoes and smoother with delicious stew. Pour yourself another cider and bon app├ętite!