Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK!

OK, maybe we’re a little excited about this week around these parts, but it’s a fun one, and we have a beautilicious beverage to kick things off — Cranberry-Gin Cocktail with Candied Cranberries. Darcie’s original recipe has a great sweet-tart kick that’ll keep the party spirits high. And can you imagine a more Christmasy-looking beverage? Another nice thing — since the recipe makes loads of candied cranberries, you can snack on them by the handful, something I’ll personally vouch for, since I didn’t get to sample this drink until AFTER we’d finished shooting for the day. Those candied cranberries sustained me.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Cranberry Cocktail | Amy Roth Photo

Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

Serves 1
Meal type Beverage
Occasion Casual Party, Christmas
Get festive with this ruby-red cranberry-gin cocktail with candied cranberries. Tart & a tiny bit sweet with the scent of rosemary, it's holiday in a glass!

Ingredients

Candied Cranberries

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Cocktail

  • 2oz gin
  • 2oz cranberry juice
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Pellegrino Melongrano e Arancia soda (to taste)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • candied cranberries

Directions

Candied Cranberries
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup sugar with the water until fully dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour in the rinsed cranberries and allow to sit for 1 hour. Remove the berries with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack for 1 hour. Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. In batches, roll the cranberries in the sugar. Return to the wire rack and allow to dry for at least 2 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Cocktail
Mix the gin, cranberry juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and top up with Pellegrino soda. Garnish with rosemary and candied cranberries and serve.

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

Could this holiday weekend be off to a better start? There’s no snow in the forecast and it’ll be warm enough to ditch my coat! SPRING IS HERE, and not a moment too soon!

To celebrate, here’s a little gluten-free treat that’s appropriate for both Passover and Easter, which overlap this year. I’ve posted about macaroons several times, but these Lime-in-the-Coconut Macaroons are a delicious spin on the original. The lime zest and reader-recommended tablespoon of juice are a perfect complement to the coconut shavings and put me in a tropical state of mind, which this glorious weather only encourages. Spring fever: Catch it!

And really, how gorgeous are these eggs from Nina’s Red Barn Farm? They’re practically ready for Easter without any dyeing at all.

Holiday Treats, Part II

…and a side of insulin.

I’ll continue to post about pralines every year because they really are one of my favorite things of the season. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have my first bite. After my 20th bite, it just feels like I need a nap.

Creamy Pralines

After making several batches of these in one weekend, I have a few tips to ensure success. First, spray the waxed paper very well; these are sticky suckers that need the lubrication. Second, don’t bother with the candy thermometer until about 5 minutes after you’ve added the pecans; it really just gets in the way and the mixture won’t come up to temperature before that. Third, after you’ve added the vanilla extract, beat the praline batter vigorously until it really begins to thicken and your arm is getting tired. If you spoon them out too soon, they’ll spread too much, which leads to thin pralines that take up far too much counter space.

2 cups white sugar
1 stick butter
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
finishing salt

Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F. (I always go to 240 degrees. The end result is much better at the higher end of the range.) Remove from burner. Add vanilla and beat until mixture thickens. Drop by tablespoon or two onto greased waxed paper. While still hot, sprinkle with finishing salt.

Yield: 48 small pralines or 15 large.

Amy’s first risotto

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So… yeah. It’s been a while. How’ve you been? You’re looking great — have you lost weight? My apologies for abandoning this site, but things got seriously out of hand at work those last few weeks leading up to Christmas, and I couldn’t find time to do any cooking at all, and what’s a food blog without food? Keeping quiet seemed like the way to go.

The weekend before Christmas was a little less hectic, so I did manage to cook something before taking off for Louisiana — a risotto. Actually, my FIRST risotto. (Oh, stop your gasping.) I’ve always avoided it because the thought of standing in one spot stirring for so long didn’t appeal, but it was snowing and I had a bunch of mismatched ingredients in the house that didn’t add up to much else, so hey. Why not? It was that or shovel the driveway.

My parents sent me back to Jersey with about five pounds of frozen shrimp and crab meat the last time I visited. All that was left in our freezer was one container of crab, so I set my sights on turning out a delicately-seasoned risotto. (Going easy on seasonings isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but crab requires a light hand.) It couldn’t have been easier, really. I sweated some onion in a decent amount of olive oil and butter with 4 bay leaves, added a little garlic once the onion was translucent and cooked it for 30 seconds or so, then added a cup and a half of arborio rice, stirring it in the fat until the grains were just starting to look chalky. Then the laborious process (or so I imagined it would be) of adding liquids and stirring, stirring, stirring started. I began with 1/2 cup of dry white wine, cooking until it was absorbed, then added warmed shrimp stock one ladle at a time, until the rice was creamy and cooked through.

At this point, I stirred in about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, then folded in the crab and some finely chopped green onions. And you know what? It blew my mind. I really thought that making a passable risotto would be beyond me, but when you start with great ingredients, I guess it isn’t so hard.

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Of course, I made extra so we could have arancini with the leftovers the following day. To start, I made a quick tomato sauce with another freezer find — a Ziploc bag containing about half of a large can of crushed tomatoes. (I don’t throw anything away if I can help it.) I added it to some sauteed onions and garlic, then hit it with a shot of sherry vinegar, a pinch of sugar and some crushed red pepper, before setting it aside to simmer while I finished up the rest of the meal.

The spinach was simply wilted with some olive oil and green onions. It would’ve been heavy on the garlic if only I had some in the house, but no. Rassafrassin’ snowstorm.

For the arancini itself, I mixed in a little more cheese and some milk to the cold risotto and formed it into golf ball-sized portions, stuffed with a small piece of cheese. (Which I think was taleggio, but can’t say positively. We always have a few types of cheese in the fridge at any given time.) The rice balls went into flour, then egg wash, then panko bread crumbs before spending about 15 minutes in the freezer to firm up.

Now, for someone raised on deep fried foods, I have a distinct fear of frying on two fronts: leaden, soggy food and an oily smell permeating the house. So this was the first time in maybe 20 years I’ve actually fried anything in more than a few tablespoons of oil. Heating the oil to 375F helped with the leaden aspect, and the fact that each batch took only a minute or so to fry didn’t leave my house smelling like a fast food joint. Can’t say deep fried stuff will appear on the menu very often, but I’m much more comfortable preparing it now.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Due to circumstances beyond my control, there wasn’t much in the way of cooking at Christmas, either. My parents are renovating their kitchen (and it looks AMAZING), but the appliances didn’t make it on time, so we ate out. A lot. Not a problem if you like fried seafood (which I do), but let’s just say it’s good to be back in my own kitchen, reacquainting myself with green vegetables and whole grains.

It was a difficult Christmas, to be honest. Everyone was “off,” as we had an unexpected death in the family just a few weeks ago and, as always in such a large extended family, someone’s going to be in terribly poor health. But it wasn’t all bleak by any means and there were many bright spots to be found — laughing with my cousin over her mother-in-law woes, watching a young cousin pulling a flaming barbecue pit on a toy wagon tied to a modified big wheel (no, seriously, I was crying with laughter and yes, I have pictures, but I’m pretty sure his mom would kill me if I published them), talking food and dogs with one of the best cooks in my family (who promises to give me his recipe for pickled mirliton, mmmm). But the icing on the cake was seeing two of my oldest and dearest friends from high school again, one for the first time in about 20 years. I can’t even tell you how happy Facebook makes me at times.

Because we ate out so much, I have almost no food pictures, but did snap a few of my dad shucking oysters on Christmas Eve. Good stuff.

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Hope you all had a great holiday. Here’s to 2010 and wishing you all a happy turning of the page. Thanks for stopping by in 2009!

Season’s greetings from the Roths

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Hi all, and happy Hanukkah! We had slightly non-traditional latkes (fried in duck fat) for breakfast this morning as a late start to the festivities, but there’s been a distinct lack of cooking going on around here otherwise. I’ll try to do better by you, but can’t promise anything until next weekend.

Instead, you get cute holiday pictures of the dogs after the jump!

Continue reading “Season’s greetings from the Roths”