Recipe of the Month: Traditional Wassail

iStock_000001436037MediumIf you’ve ever celebrated the holidays with someone of English ancestry, you may have had the pleasure of sharing a pot of delicious wassail. Wassail was originally considered a symbol of greeting and celebration. Drinking was often accompanied by caroling and general merriment, which makes it perfect for the winter season. Wassail, which means “be you healthy” or “be whole,” is a hot mulled cider traditionally enjoyed with others as an ancient southern English ritual intending to ensure a good cider apple harvest the next year.

So how exactly does one go about concocting this drink from olden days? It may have a rich history, but it’s very easy to whip up. You only need six ingredients, none of which require traveling back in time to the English courts:

  • 2 quarts of apple cider
  • 2 quarts of pineapple juice
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Start by combining the apple cider, pineapple, orange and lemon juices in a large pot over low heat. Add the cloves and cinnamon sticks, bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves and serve.

You can serve wassail hot or cold, though it is traditionally served hot. If you’d like it to be less tart, you can quarter the lemon juice or add more cider. Feel free to modify the recipe to suit your palette. (Ghosts from King Arthur’s Court are not going to come haunt you for breaking tradition.)

And voila! Fresh, homemade wassail. Enjoy!

Outdoor Entertaining Tip of the Month: Orange-Scented Mulled Wine

mulledwine

Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from enjoying your outdoor space this winter — all you need is a few blankets and a tasty beverage to keep you warm. This Mulled Wine recipe is one of our favorite remedies for frosty nights. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 8 to 9 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 bottles (750 ml. each) dry red wine
  • ¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • Thin orange slices (optional)

Preparation

  1. With a vegetable peeler, pare 8 thin strips zest (4 in. by ½ in.) from orange. Juice orange, and reserve juice.
  2. Wrap cardamom, coriander seeds and ginger in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.
  3. In a nonreactive saucepan, crush orange zest and 7 tablespoons sugar with a wooden spoon to release oils from zest. Add reserved orange juice, wine, and spice packet. Cover and bring to a simmer over high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 30 minutes. Discard spice packet and orange zest.
  4. To serve, heat wine, covered, over medium heat just until steaming. If you like, stir in liqueur and more sugar to taste. Ladle into heatproof glasses. Garnish with thin orange slices.

From Sunset 2009

 

Outdoor Entertaining Tip of the Month: Holiday Pears

As friends and family begin filtering in for the holiday season, or as you travel to their homes, we invite you to indulge in this recipe for Holiday Pears that will awaken your taste buds. With a decadent mix of spices, this dish will surely become a staple in your holiday traditions.


Ingredients
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
4 firm-ripe pears such as d’Anjou or Bosc (about 2 1/2 lb. total)
1/2 rinsed lemon (about 2 oz. total), thinly sliced (ends discarded)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation
1. Sort cranberries and discard stems and any bruised or decayed fruit. Rinse and drain berries. Peel pears; cut in half and core. In a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish, combine cranberries, pears, and lemon slices.

2. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/2 cup water until mixture boils and sugar is dissolved. Pour over fruit. Cover dish tightly with foil.

3. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until pears are tender when pierced, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From Sunset December 2001

Chocolate Caramel Apples with Sprinkles

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as taking a bite out of a juicy, sweet and sticky caramel apple. Put a twist on caramel apples this fall with a mix of chocolate and caramel that even the best dieter can’t resist!

Ingredients
5 apples (we prefer Granny Smith and Fuji varieties, 6 to 8 oz. each)
Butter
14 ounces (about 50 pieces) unwrapped soft caramels (such as Kraft)
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sprinkles (your choice of color)

Preparation
1. Rinse and dry 5 apples (we prefer Granny Smith and Fuji varieties, 6 to 8 oz. each). Insert a craft or popsicle stick halfway into the stem end of each apple. Line a baking sheet with plain parchment paper or wax paper that has been generously coated with butter.

2. In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine 14 ounces (about 50 pieces) unwrapped soft caramels (such as Kraft) and 2 tablespoons water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.

3. Holding the stick, dip each apple one at a time into the caramel about three-quarters of the way. Swirl to coat evenly.

4. Hold stem side up and use a knife to scrape excess caramel off the bottom of apple back into bowl. Place apples on the parchment paper or buttered waxed paper and refrigerate until caramel is firm, about 5 minutes.

5. Return pan of water to a boil; remove from heat. Place 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in another bowl and set over pan. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and smooth.

6. Dip the bottom half of each apple in chocolate, turning to coat evenly. Hold stem side up and use a knife to scrape excess chocolate off bottom of apple and back into bowl. Place each coated apple on the parchment paper or buttered waxed paper and refrigerate until chocolate is slightly set, about 10 minutes.

7. Place about 1 cup sprinkles (your choice of color) on a plate. Roll bottom third of each apple in sprinkles to coat. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes.

From Sunset October 2005

Old Glory Cherry-Blueberry Pie

If you’re hosting an outdoor get-together for the 4th of July, fresh summer berries are the perfect treat. Both festive and delicious, this Old Glory Cherry-Blueberry Pie will delight guests young and old.
7.1.13
Ingredients
5 cups fresh sweet, dark cherries, rinsed and pitted, or frozen pitted cherries (see notes)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained, or frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Flag pastry
2 teaspoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preparation
1. In a large bowl, mix cherries with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, mix blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Combine sugar and cornstarch; gently stir 1 cup of the mixture into cherries and 1/4 cup into blueberries.

2. Spoon cherry mixture over 3/4 of the pastry in pan, leaving 1 quadrant free. Spoon blueberry mixture into unfilled area. Scatter butter evenly over fruit.

3. Top filling with stars and stripes as directed for flag pastry. Set pie in a foil-lined 13- by 17-inch baking pan.

4. Bake on the bottom rack of a 400° regular or convection oven until fruit is bubbling in the center and pastry is well browned, about 1 hour. If pastry edges brown too quickly (check after 40 minutes), cover loosely with foil.

5. Let pie cool on a rack at least 3 hours; let stand at room temperature up to 8 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Note: If using fresh cherries, buy about 1 3/4 pound; if using frozen, you’ll need about 1 1/2 packages, 16 ounces each.

From Sunset July 2001

The Party Starter Watermelon Tequila Cocktail

The summer state of mind has us ready for a party! Get the party started with this recipe for Watermelon Tequila Cocktails. For a nonalcoholic version, skip the tequila and add a little water to help blend the mixture.
The Party Starter Watermelon Tequila Cocktail
Ingredients
1 seedless watermelon (about 6 lbs.)
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups silver (also called blanco) tequila

Preparation
1. Cut melon into chunks and discard rind. Purée chunks in batches in a food processor. Pour mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Pour 4 cups into another bowl; whisk in lemon juice. Save any remaining watermelon juice for another use. Pour juice mixture into 4 ice cube trays* and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

2. Make drinks: Whirl half the watermelon cubes in a food processor until broken up, then add 1 cup tequila and whirl until blended. Pour into a pitcher and repeat with remaining ingredients.

*A standard ice cube tray has 14 cube slots.

From Sunset July 2011