WARM, SWEET, AND SPICY PUNCH FOR HAPPY HOLIDAY TOASTING

Latin-Twist-cover-300Authors' photo

 

As a food blogger, my aim is to share those tasty bites and sips I think you will find as delightful as I do. I recently had the pleasure of meeting two exceptional authors and food bloggers at a presentation at Melissa’s Produce in Los Angeles (Melissas.com). Vianney Rodriguez and Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack teamed up to create a true thirst-quencher, Latin Twist, a gorgeous book filled with 97 traditional cocktail recipes from 18 Latin countries plus Spain.

At Melissa’s I was sampling five delicious “mocktails,” that is, the cocktails without alcohol. After tasting Ponche Navideno, I was enthralled with the flavors imparted by the exceptional combination of fruits, some familiar and some exotic. Not only did this festive beverage taste great, but it also emitted irresistibly sweet, spicy, and fruity aromas throughout the room. This was a recipe I knew I must share.

Don’t let the 20 servings discourage you from making this wonderfully satisfying punch. If you’re not serving a large group, you’ll have plenty for a cozy gathering of celebrants to enjoy seconds and thirds. You’ll need a large stockpot, about an 8- to 10-quart size.

PONCHE NAVIDENO

Ponche Navideno(Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)

 Ponche Navideño is a hot punch served with or without alcohol during the holiday season and most generally during Las Posadas. On those chilly nights this fragrant infusion warms you from the inside out. The intoxicating aroma and perfumed air in your home will certainly entice your guests to give the drink a try. After that, they’re hooked. Brandy or tequila can be added, making it Ponche con Piquete (punch with a sting).

Makes 20 servingsCinnamon sticks

16 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

5 long tamarind pods, husk removed, and seededTamarind pods

1/2 pound tejocotes or crab apples, left whole

6 large guavas, peeled and cut into large bite-size chunks

2 red apples (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

1 pear (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

2 (4-inch) sugarcane sticks, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 cup pitted prunespiloncillo

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 orange, sliced

8 ounces piloncillo, chopped, or 1 cup dark brown sugar

1 ounce brandy or tequila per cup (optional)

Directions:

Ponche NavidenoPlace the water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, tamarind pods, and tejocotes or crab apples in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. After it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tejocotes are soft.

Remove the tejocotes or crab apples from the pot with a slotted spoon, peel, remove hard ends, cut in half, and deseed. Return them to the pot.

Add the guavas, apples, pear, sugarcane, prunes, raisins, orange slices, and piloncillo. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. Discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

To serve, ladle into coffee cups or mugs, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit. If desired, add 1 ounce of brandy or tequila to each cup.

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The two charming authors generously shared another warm, fruit-filled punch recipe from from Latin Twist that’s typically enjoyed at Christmas. Ponche de Frutas is similar to Ponche Navideno but has a few additional exotic flavors such as coconut, plantain, and a hint of ginger. Both can be sipped and thoroughly enjoyed with or without alcohol.

PONCHE DE FRUTAS

Makes 15 servings

16 cups waterhandful allspice berries

3 cinnamon sticks

4 whole allspice

1-inch piece fresh ginger

5 whole cloves

2 (8-ounce) bags dried fruit mix

1 pineapple, husked, cored, and diced

1/2 medium papaya, diced

4 red apples, diced

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup prunesplantains

1/2 cup raisins

3 plantains, diced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark rum (optional)

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil with the cinnamon sticks, allspice, ginger, and cloves.

Add dried fruit mix, pineapple, papaya, apples, and coconut. Follow with prunes, raisins, plantains, and sugar. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. When the fruit is cooked and sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and pour in the rum (if using).

Serve hot with some of the diced fruit.

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I SAID CHEEZE! AND PUMPKIN CHEEZE-CAKE APPEARED!!!!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake 2Recipe Below

First, allow me to whet your appetite with Laura Theodore’s delicious holiday dessert- PUMPKIN SPICE CHEEZE-CAKE. The recipe is one of many luscious dishes found in Laura’s new cookbook, Vegan-ease.Vegan-Ease by Laura Theodore

Let’s Take a Peek Inside the Cookbook

Vegan-ease:

An easy guide to enjoying a plant-based diet

By Laura Theodore

Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC

Hard Cover $26.95

No, it’s not the salad dressing Vegenaise! It’s a cookbook called Vegan-ease filled with well-crafted vegan recipes that won’t keep the home cook in the kitchen for hours. Laura Theodore, the Jazzy Vegetarian, has done it again by creating a colorful and charming cookbook that will wow her many fans and draw a crowd of newcomers to the plant-based kingdom.

Many TV viewers and radio listeners know the Jazzy Vegetarian and take delight in her programs and books.

Laura’s home cooking energies took off when she moved from the scurry-flurry of New York City to a quiet country spot in New Jersey. Without the convenient, close-to-home shops of the big city, she had to be resourceful and began to create her own tasty dishes and convert non-vegetarian standards into plant-based versions. She convincingly says, “If plant-based food looks and tastes scrumptious, everyone will welcome it!”

A quick browse through her colorful new cookbook with its abundance of delightfully SQUASH LAURA ZELenticing, full-color photos is attractive enough to bring curious folks to the table–even better–maybe, even lure them into the kitchen to cook.

The author makes a strong case for going “veggie” because she knows that decision supports the environment, reduces greenhouse emissions, protects animals, and enhances the health of the human species. She stresses the “ease” in finding ingredients, preparing the dishes, and making money go further. For those new to cooking or to the vegan kitchen, she covers basic ingredients and shopping guide, kitchen tools and equipment, and nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet.

The recipe section, the main part of the book, is an adventure for the senses beginning with Fast Appetizers and Fun Beverages that introduces starters that novices can confidently prepare. Appetizers like Raw Veggie Kabobs threaded in combinations of colorful veggies on a skewer or Mini Sweet Peppers sliced in half lengthwise and stuffed with Hummus appeal to experienced cooks, too.

Breakfast dishes like Oat and Blueberry Breakfast Cake and Spinach-Tomato Vegan Omelet are so eye appealing they sell themselves and the enticing Muffins, Quick Breads, and Baked Delights are seductive. The beautiful Giant Cookie-Coffee Cake, studded with chocolate chips and chopped walnuts, is perfect for breakfast or brunch guests with its hearty base of rolled oats, bananas, and whole wheat flour. If not that recipe, then perhaps bake the Walnut-Orange Quick Bread with its rich, dark color and spiced whole-grain ingredients.

The Quick Sweet Potato Soup is definitely quick to fix with its bright chunks of sweet potatoes, celery, and cabbage. The Quick Red Lentil Curry Soup is truly vegan-ease where everything is added to the soup pot at once and simmered until the veggies are tender. Both make delicious and satisfying meals during cold-weather season along with the remaining eight recipes in the Soup section.

Vegan-ease is filled with an abundance of mouth-watering salads, dressings, pastas with flair, creative pizzas, and innovative main dishes that become a feast for the eyes. The beautiful Oven “Fried Rice” Casserole, for example, lets the oven do most of the work.

 The dessert section is divided into two parts–first come the “easiest desserts ever” like mousse, puddings, bars, and cookies followed by Fancy Finishes with fussier sweets like Blueberry Cheeze-Cake Squares and Lemon “Buttermilk” Cake with Maple Glaze.

Stress-free Holiday Recipes include all categories featuring breakfast items, soups, salads, mains, and desserts and bring the book to conclusion with menu-planning tips and a dozen special-occasion menus comprised of recipes in the book.

Vegan-ease succeeds in making vegan cooking uncomplicated. Novice cooks and old timers will find this compendium of recipes an inspiration for making colorful and tasty meals.

 Laura Theodore is truly a master of making home cooking easy on the cook, yet she doesn’t shortchange on featuring wholesome, unprocessed ingredients. Throughout the pages are simple-to-make recipes perfect for everyday meals and slightly fussier dishes for company or holiday feasting with a bright splash of color.

About Laura

Laura Theodore is an award-winning jazz singer and songwriter and actor who became interested in vegetarian cooking over 20 years ago. She is the on-camera host and co-producer of the Jazzy Vegetarian Cooking Show on PBS, a show in its third season where she dishes up gorgeous plant-based recipes. Laura also hosts a weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio on Blogtalkradio, sharing tips, recipes, and celebrity interviews with a touch of upbeat jazzy music to give it verve.

Laura is the author of exceptional cookbooks; Jazzy Vegetarian and Jazzy Vegetarian Classics that contain recipes featured on the Jazzy Vegetarian Television Show. She shares a delicious holiday-ready Pumpkin Cheeze-Cake recipe from her new cookbook Laura Theodore’s Vegahn-ese. The beautiful cookbooks are truly a feast for the eyes with a blast of full-color photos, jazzy tips, and menu plans.

To discover more information about Laura’s television show, radio podcasts, recipes, and cookbooks visit http://www.jazzyvegetarian.com.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake 2

PUMPKIN SPICE CHEEZE-CAKE

Makes 8 to 10 servings / Ease Factor 3

This delicate yet rich-tasting cake makes the perfect dessert for any winter holiday event. Served with a generous dollop of Vegan Whipped Topping (page 201), this cheeze-cake will be dressed to impress!

CRUST

1¾ cups cookie crumbs (ginger cookies work well)

¼ cup vegan margarine, melted

FILLING

2 tablespoons rolled oats

14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu

1 can (about 16 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin purée

2⁄3 cup dark brown sugarPumpkin Spice Cheesecake 1

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

TOPPING

3 tablespoons cookie crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally coat a 10-inch round springform pan with vegan margarine.

To make the crust, put 13⁄4 cups cookie crumbs and the melted margarine in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. Pat the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.

To make the filling, put the rolled oats in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Add the tofu, pumpkin purée, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and allspice and process until smooth and creamy.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes, then carefully run a table knife around the perimeter of the cake to ensure it does not stick to the side of the pan.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cookie crumbs evenly over the top of the cake, gently pressing them into the top, so the crumbs adhere. Release the side of the springform pan to unmold.

Cover the cake very loosely and refrigerate 3 to 24 hours before serving. Serve with Vegan Whipped Topping (page 201) on the side, if desired. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover cheeze-cake will keep for about 2 days.

Nutritional Analysis: Amount per serving, based on 10 servings: 154 Calories; 7g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 5g Protein; 62mg Sodium; 20g Total Carbohydrate; 15g Sugars; 2g Fiber

Recipe © 2015 Laura Theodore, published by Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC, reprinted by permission.

HATCH CHILES BRING SPARKLE TO THE HOLIDAY TABLE!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes 2

vvplogoYour roasted sweet potatoes will practically dance with holiday spirit when they’re drizzled with the zesty nature of this mild chile sauce. And I promise the sauce has just enough mojo to put a magic touch on your festive meal. The sauce can be prepared a day or two ahead and served warmed, chilled, or at room temperature. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for at least 4 or 5 days.

To create a creamy, smooth as velvet sauce, it helps to have a high-speed blender, but with patient soaking and longer blending it should work just fine with a regular blender.

I experimented with this dish for Thanksgiving for the first time. It was such a big hit, I felt it could be a terrific side dish any time during the holiday season.

Then, the following year, I decided to bring more colors to the platter with multi-colored sweet potatoes. In addition to the familiar orange yams, my local Korean market had yellow sweet potatoes and a delicious variety of purple ones called Okinawan sweet potatoes. The lighting wasn’t at its best for a great photo, but I think the result is so appealing I wanted to share it.

Multi-color potatoes 2

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH SIZZLING CHILE SAUCE

Yield: 6 servings

Sweet Potatoes

5 or 6 medium yellow or orange sweet potatoesRoasted Sweet Potatoes

Sizzling Chile Sauce (recipe below)

Parsley sprigs, for garnish

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped purple cabbage, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Gas Mark 6) and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  1. Scrub the sweet potatoes, put them on the prepared baking sheet, and roast for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they are soft when gently pressed. Prepare the Sizzling Chile Sauce while the sweet potatoes are baking.
  1. When the sweet potatoes are done, peel them and cut them into 1-inch thick slices. Multi-color Sweet PotatoesArrange them on a large platter, overlapping the slices. Garnish with the parsley and cabbage. Alternatively, drizzle some of the sauce over the center of each potato slice.

 

Sizzling Chile Sauce (Makes about 3 cups)

Chile Sauce2 ounces (56g) Melissa’s dried Hatch chiles or California chiles (about 8 to 10 dried chiles)

3 cups (720 ml) boiling water

2/3 cup (160 ml) chopped onions

5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup (80 ml) coarsely chopped almonds

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) rice vinegar or other mild vinegar

  1. Prepare the Sizzling Chile Sauce while the sweet potatoes are baking. Using kitchen scissors, cut the chiles open and discard the seeds, ribs, and stems. Snip the chiles into coarse pieces and put them in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chiles to cover. Set aside to soften for about 1 hour.
  1. Meanwhile, combine the onions, garlic, and olive oil in a 10-inch (25 cm) skillet. Cook and stir over high or medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water if needed to prevent burning the onions and garlic.
  1. Add the almonds and sesame seeds to the pan and cook another minute or two.
  1. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender and add the salt, brown sugar, and vinegar.
  1. When the chiles have softened, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the blender. Add 1 cup (240 ml) of the chile soak water and process for a full minute or two until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings, if needed, and serve the sauce on the side.

Alternative serving suggestion: Spoon a line of the sauce down the center of the overlapped sweet potato slices and add a pinch of minced parsley over the sauce. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

 

This recipe is part of a fun blogging chain that includes about 96 innovative bloggers sharing amazing holiday recipes. You can easily move backward or forward through the Potluck chain to explore a banquet of tantalizing recipe posts crossing many continents.

To venture over to the blog that precedes mine in the Potluck, click on the go back buttongo_bck-300x257

 

 

 

 

go_forward-300x243To venture over to the blog that follows mine in the Potluck click on the go forward button

 

 

To start at the beginning of the Potluck, click on the stay calm button

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Enjoy the fun holiday recipes and have a holiday blast!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Can You Make Apple Crisp Blush?

HOLIDAY READY APPLE CRISP

A venerable, time-honored dessert as homespun as they come, this old-fashioned apple crisp spruces up for the holiday with a blush of cranberries and a touch of citrus zest.

applecrispWhile the name “apple crisp” may evoke a ho-hum response when you tell guests what’s for dessert, you’ll find them nodding and mmmmm-ing after they’ve taken the first taste. Honest, it’s a winner! Thank the cranberries and blow a sweet kiss to the dried apricots for making this apple crisp zing and dance with exceptional flavor. This yummy dessert is one ofVegan Holidays highres the special gems in my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook.

When you take the baked crisp out of the oven, it doesn’t look especially enticing–all brown and lumpy. So, if you’re dishing it out at the table, try putting the pan on a colorful placemat or napkin and toss a few fresh cranberries over the top. Each time I make the crisp, I play a little more with garnishing.

applecrisp2Truthfully, how it looks may seem unimportant to some people who are much more interested in how it tastes. But when I bring a dish to the table looking like a knockout, I know it stirs excitement and anticipation–and this little flavor-infused dessert really delivers.

After a large, festive meal guests will welcome this dessert. Because it’s mostly fruit, it’s lighter than a cake, sweetly satisfying, and leaves everyone with a smile.

It’s so easy to prepare you might even convince the family to pitch in and help put it together while you prepare another dish. And, taking part in the dinner or dessert preps has a special reward for the host–it makes the participants so much more appreciative.

I like to make the crisp a day or two ahead and warm it a bit before serving. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and pop it into to warm for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can also serve it room temperature. If you’re an ice cream nut, you might include an indulgent scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream on top.

HOLIDAY READY APPLE CRISP

Yield: 6 generous servings

Filling

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and sliced

1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup Turkish apricots, snipped into quarters

1/2 teaspoon orange or lemon zest (optional)

1/3 to 1/2 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

ToppingHoliday Ready Apple Crisp copy

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and have ready an 8-inch square baking dish.

  1. TO MAKE THE FILLING, combine the apples, cranberries, raisins, Turkish apricots, and orange zest in a large bowl and toss together.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the organic sugar, flour, and cinnamon, mix well, and add to the apple mixture. Mix thoroughly until well combined and spoon the fruits into the baking, dish. Set aside and prepare the topping.
  3. TO MAKE THE TOPPING, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the margarine and use a pastry blender or your hands to work it into the topping mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the topping loosely over the apple mixture, forming a crumbly, uneven, lumpy topping. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are soft when gently pierced with a fork. Cool 15 minutes and serve warm or cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note:

If you prefer your apple desserts a little more toward the tart side, use the 1/3 cup measurement of organic sugar. Those with a die-hard sweet tooth will be happier with 1/2 cup of organic sugar.