Yummy Holiday Cocktails

Looking for something new and different to serve at this year’s party? Here are a couple of holiday cocktail ideas that will have your guests singing your praises, in addition to carols.

gingerbread-martini-sl-xGingerbread Martini

Ingredients
Ginger liquer (for rim)
Crushed gingersnaps (for rim)
2 tablespoons ginger liqueur
2 tablespoons vanilla-citrus liqueur
1 1/2 tablespoons coffee-flavored rum
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons whipping cream
1 cup ice cubes
Garnish: partially split vanilla bean brushed with liqueur and rolled in sugar (optional)
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Preparation
Dip glass rims in ginger liqueur and crushed gingersnaps. Store glasses in freezer up to 2 days. Stir together ginger liqueur, vanilla-citrus liqueur, coffee-flavored rum, honey, and whipping cream in a cocktail shaker. Add ice cubes; cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish, if desired.

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merry-berry-sl-xBerry Christmas “Mocktail”

Ingredients
5 fresh raspberries
4 fresh blueberries
2 fresh blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons light agave nectar
5 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup crushed ice
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ginger ale
Garnish: halved fresh raspberries and blackberries (optional)
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Preparation
Muddle 5 fresh raspberries, blueberries, 2 fresh blackberries, light agave nectar, mint leaves, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Stir in crushed ice and water. Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (7 to 10 seconds). Pour mixture into a 16-oz. glass, and top with ginger ale. Garnish, if desired.

•   •   •

hot-buttered-rye-sl-xHot Buttered Rye

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup rye whiskey
6 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons ginger liqueur
Freshly grated nutmeg
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Preparation
Beat heavy cream and maple syrup with an electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until consistency of softened butter. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours. Pour rye whiskey, hot water, and ginger liqueur into a 6-oz. heatproof cup. Top with about 1/4 cup maple-cream mixture and freshly grated nutmeg.
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Recipes and photos courtesy of Time, Inc.

Cherry-Smoked Turkey
on the Grill

Thanksgiving feast

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Lydia Pursell

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start talking turkey. If you’re looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition this year, here’s a recipe that’s worth the time and effort. If your turkey is frozen, give yourself time to thaw it in advance. This recipe calls for a 12 lb. turkey, which should take 2 to 3 days to defrost in the refrigerator, plus an extra day to marinate per the recipe below. Please adjust defrost and cooking times as needed for a larger bird. Also, please note that the bird will need to stand at room temperature for 1 hour prior to placing on the pit, which will add to your prep time.

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (12-pound) turkey
2 cups cherry wood chips, divided
Cooking spray
.  .  .

preparation

1. Whisk together the dry seasonings (first 5 ingredients) in a small bowl. Trim excess fat from turkey. Remove giblets; set aside for another use. Loosen skin from breast by inserting fingers and gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub dry seasoning mixture evenly under and over skin. Place turkey on a pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight.

2. After the marination period, remove turkey from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.  Meanwhile, soak wood chips in water 1 hour; drain well.

3. Light one side of grill, heating to medium heat (350°); leave other side unlit. Place 1 cup wood chips in an aluminum foil packet, and place over charcoal or heating element. Place a disposable aluminum foil pan under grill rack on unlit side. Pour 2 cups water in pan. Coat grill rack with cooking spray, and place turkey on unlit side of grill.

4. Grill turkey, covered with grill lid, 2 hours and 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°, turning turkey and adding remaining 1 cup wood chips halfway through cooking time. Remove turkey from grill; let stand 30 minutes before slicing.

Photo and recipe courtesy of time, inc.

Gourmet Backyard Tailgating,
the New Orleans Way

Football season is outdoor kitchen season! Time to light the pit or Belgard brick oven and prepare to kick off an afternoon or evening of backyard tailgating. And, although the traditional fan favorites of hamburgers and hotdogs will always have a place at the backyard tailgate bash, today’s gourmet outdoor cooks are always looking for unique ideas to take tailgating to the next level.

The above chargrilled recipes were cooked using Schwing’s SOS Shells on a gas pit. From left are chargrilled oysters, veggie medley, and shrimp.

For gourmet outdoor tailgating fare straight from the food mecca of New Orleans, try grilling or baking with Schwing’s SOS Shells. The idea for SOS Shells was born from the New Orleans tradition of chargrilling oysters on the halfshell over an open flame. A popular dish in many New Orleans restaurants, the practice was time-intensive and difficult to duplicate at home until local restaurateurs, the Schwing family, created their stainless steel version of the oyster shell.

Highly conductive, dishwasher safe, oven safe, grill safe and reusable, SOS Shells offer the opportunity for really interesting outdoor kitchen creations, limited only by the imagination. Originally designed for chargrilling oysters, they can actually be used for all sorts of recipes and work extremely well in tailgating situations by allowing for individual portion sizes to go directly from the pit to the plate.

Now, for some New Orleans-style chargilling!

The traditional chargrilled oyster recipe is fairly easy to duplicate — the secret is in the sauce, which can be made ahead of time and even refrigerated or frozen for future chargrilling. On a stove, combine equal amounts of butter and olive oil with lots of pressed garlic and your favorite seasonings. Originally, the recipe called for simple Italian seasoning, but many restaurants have put their own unique spin on the concept by experimenting with different seasoning combinations. Feel free to mix it up with your own favorite flavors. For a lower-fat version, reduce the butter and oil by half and replace with beer. Cook the sauce over medium high heat for a few minutes to allow the flavors to fuse and any alcohol to cook out.

Once the sauce is prepared, load the shells with oysters, shrimp, veggies, or whatever ingredients you like. Place the shells on the grill at medium to high heat, spoon sauce into each shell, and cook until done. For shrimp, look for a warm pink color. For oysters, look for the edges to get curly. Throughout the cooking process, you may want to purposely spill some of the sauce onto the fire to get it to flame up and touch the food. This is what will give your recipes that chargrilled flavor. To follow the traditional recipe, when the oyster edges become curly, top each one with shredded parmesan cheese and allow it to melt before removing it from the pit. Some restaurants also finish with finely chopped scallions or parsley. Again, feel free to get creative.

Remember that once the shells have been placed on the pit, they will quickly become extremely hot and cannot be handled by hand. For safe handling, use tongs to move your shells around the pit or to place them onto a plate. Remind your guests that the shells will be very hot to the touch.

For a finishing touch for your chargrilled creations, have some warm French or Italian bread on hand to dip in the sauce left in each shell once the prepared dish has been eaten. After all, the New Orleans way is to never waste a drop of the sauce.

Recipe of the Month:
Grilled Dessert Pizza

Looking for a new and different idea for this year’s Labor Day celebration? While the grill is still hot, throw on a Grilled Dessert Pizza for a sweet ending to your cookout. Smokey, fruity, flakey, nutty, and chocolaty..a winning combination for any family gathering. For a fun family activity, let the kids help place the fruit toppings in step 4. But you might want to have a little extra on hand, in case they’re tempted to sample while they work!

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup drained canned mandarin orange segments
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted, optional

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to medium. Lightly mist a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and dust with flour. Place white chocolate in a bowl and set over a small pan of simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch water). Cook, stirring often, until white chocolate has melted.

2. Press and stretch dough to form a 14- to 15-inch round. Place dough on prepared sheet, place on grill, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until crust is puffed and golden. Using tongs, flip dough over and cook for about 3 minutes longer.

3. Sprinkle dough evenly with chocolate chips, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover grill and cook 2 minutes, until chocolate chips have melted. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread chocolate evenly over dough. Using tongs or spatula, transfer pizza to a large cutting board.

4. Scatter berries and orange segments over pizza. Sprinkle with almonds, if desired. Dip a fork into bowl with melted white chocolate and drizzle over pizza.

Photo: Kate Sears; Styling: Susan Vajaranant (courtesy Time Inc.)

Keeping it Cool with
Crisp Summer Cocktails

As the temperature gauge continues to creep up, here are a few simple and refreshing ways to cool down.

mimosas-cl-389743-xHoneydew Mimosas

A traditional breakfast fruit, honeydew melon is used as the base for this frosty brunch cocktail.

  • 1/2 medium honeydew melon (about 4 cups cubed)
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle chilled sparkling wine
  • Garnish: Lime wedges

Preparation

Combine the first three ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour mixture into a large pitcher, and add sparkling wine. Pour into glasses and garnish.

•  •  •

mojitos-sl-1194648-xTequila Mojitos

This recipe uses tequila instead of rum for a new take on a classic mojito.

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint sprigs
  • 2 cups chilled lemon-lime soft drink
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • Garnish: lime slices and additional fresh mint sprigs

Preparation

1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add mint sprigs, and let stand 2 hours or until mixture is completely cool.

2. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher, discarding mint. Stir in lemon-lime soft drink, lime juice, and tequila. Serve over ice and garnish.

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sangria-su-523029-xQuick & Easy Sangria

All the flavor and refreshment of traditional sangria without the wait.

  • 1 cup vanilla-flavor syrup
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 bottles (750 ml) dry red wine
  • ice cubes

Preparation

1. In a large pitcher (at least 3-qt. size), combine syrup, orange slices, lime slices and orange juice.

2. Add wine to the pitcher, mix, and pour into ice-filled glasses.

•  •  •

pimms-cup-ck-686196-xPimm’s Cup

A light a refreshing drink made with a gin-based liqueur and garnished with cucumber. To infuse more cucumber flavor, muddle cucumber slices in the bottom of each glass.

  • 3/4 cup Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 cups chilled ginger ale
  • 1 1/3 chilled cups sparkling water
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into spears

Preparation

Pour 3 tablespoons of Pimm’s into each glass. Pour 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1/3 cup sparkling water into each glass; stir to combine. Garnish with lemon and cucumber and serve immediately.

Images courtesy of time, inc.

Summer Recipe:
Cedar-Planked Salmon with Mango Kiwi Salsa

cedar-planked-salmon-ck-xGrilling salmon on a cedar plank is a simple and elegant way to prepare a light yet full-flavored summer dish. The salmon stays incredibly tender and moist, while picking up smoky flavors from the grill and woodsy flavors from the cedar, along with whatever was used to soak the planks. With this recipe, the smoky Cedar Plank-Grilled Salmon stands up nicely to the spicy sweetness of the tropical Mango Kiwi Salsa. Prepare the salsa before the salmon, or even the day before, so the flavors have time to meld.

Ingredients

1 large cedar plank
1 cup finely diced peeled ripe mango
1/2 cup diced peeled kiwifruit
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 for salsa, 1/4 for salmon)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1/4 for salsa, 1/4 for salmon)
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets

Preparation

1. Soak plank in water for 25 minutes. (For additional flavor, try soaking the plank in wine, cider, or sake.)

2. Combine mango and next 5 ingredients (through chile). Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

4. Sprinkle salmon with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place plank on grill rack (without salmon); grill 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Turn plank over; place fish on charred side. Cover; grill 8 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Place each fillet on a plate; top each with 1/3 cup mango salsa.

Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl (Courtesy Time, Inc.)