Northwest NEWS

December 10, 2001

Home & Garden

Dining In: Celebrate the holidays with good cheer

Cranberry Apple Wassail
   8 c. cranberry juice
   3 c. cider or apple juice
   5 small cinnamon sticks
   1/3 c. sugar
   3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
   1 tsp. whole cloves
   5 orange slices
   3 lemon slices, seeded
   In a saucepan, bring first 6 ingredients to a boil over medium high heat.
   Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 10 minutes. Strain into heat-resistent punch bowl. Add fruit slices.
   Makes 13 9-oz. servings.
   Cider Egg Nog
   1 egg (or egg substitute)
   1 banana
   3/4 c. cold milk
   3/4 c. cold cider or apple juice
   Mix first four ingredients together in an electric blender. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
   Makes 2-4 drinks.
   Melon Cider Cordial
   2 c. mixed melon pieces
   2 sprigs fresh mint
   1/4 c. ice
   3 Tbsp. lime juice
   Sparkling cider
   Process ingredients (except sparkling cider).
   Divide among 4 champagne flutes and top off with sparkling cider.
   Cranberry Ice Aperitif
   1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
   1/2 c. sugar
   1 tsp. grated lemon peel
   1 Tbsp. lemon juice
   1 bottle chilled sparkling cider
   Fresh mint sprigs, rinsed
   Sort cranberries, discarding any bruised or decayed fruit; rinse and drain berries. In a 1 or 2- quart pan over high heat, bring cranberries and 1/2 c. water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until skins pop on berries, about 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 c. cold water, lemon peel and lemon juice. In a blender, whirl half the mixture at a time until smooth. Pour puree into a 9-inch pan. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours or up to 1 week (cover when solid). Cut cranberry ice into 1-inch cubes. With a wide spatula, lift cubes out of pan and drop three into each champagne flute or wineglass. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 c. sparkling cider over cubes. Garnish each glass with a mint sprig and serve immediately.
   Brie Amandine
   1 wheel (14-15 ounces) Brie cheese
   3 Tbsp. apricot preserves
   2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
   1/4 c. sliced almonds
   Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place cheese on parchment paper or foil-lined baking sheet. Combine preserves and mustard in small bowl; mix well. Spread on top of cheese, sprinkle with almonds.
   Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is soft and topping is warm. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving. Transfer cheese to platter. Serve with crackers.
   Makes 8-10 appetizer servings.
   Hot Artichoke Spread
   1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cut into quarters
   1/2 c. mayonnaise
   1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped
   1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
   1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
   1/3 c. sliced ripe olives
   1/3 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
   Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place cream cheese in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds or until soft; stir until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise. Add artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese and ground red pepper; mix well. Transfer spread to 9-inch shallow baking dish or pie plate.
   Bake 10-12 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with olives and bell pepper. Serve with crackers.
   Makes 8 to 10 servings.
   Salmon Pate Stuffed Vegetables
   4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
   1 c. canned pink salmon, picked through and skin removed
   1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
   2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
   2 Tbsp. very finely minced red onion
   2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
   Freshly ground pepper
   Fresh vegetables suitable for stuffing: large cherry tomatoes, small new potatoes, stalks of celery hearts, peeled cucumbers.
   Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in bowl until soft. Add salmon and mayonnaise and beat until mixture is creamy and fluffy. Mix in dill, onion and lemon juice. Season to taste with black pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate, tightly covered, up to 24 hours.
   Prepare vegetables for stuffing. Cut tops off tomatoes, scoop out flesh and cut thin slice off bottom if necessary so they stand upright. Boil or steam tiny new potatoes until just tender and cut in halves if not very small. Cut thin slice off bottoms so they will stand upright. Using melon baller, scoop out about half of the flesh of each potato. Cut cucumbers in half crosswise, then lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on size. Using tip of small spoon, create deep groove down center, removing seeds. Make fresh cut at bottom of celery stalks.
   To stuff vegetables, use small pastry bag or improvise one with waxed paper rolled into cone. Pipe pate into cavities of vegetables, mounding to form slightly rounded tops. Serve immediately or refrigerate a few hours ahead of time, bringing them back to room temperature before serving. Crackers can also be used to serve pate.
   Makes 1-1/4 c. enough for about 24 stuffed items, using various vegetables.