Dessert wines are a delicious way to conclude a meal, either on their own or paired with food. Here are five of the most common types.
1. Ice wine
Making ice wine, or eiswein as it’s called in Germany, involves allowing grapes to freeze on the vine. The fruit gets harvested and pressed while still frozen so that the juice released is concentrated and sweet. The best ice wines are crisp, intense and elegant.
2. Noble rot
This style of dessert wine is highly prized. To make it, dehydrated grapes covered in the fungus Botrytis cinereal are carefully harvested and pressed. The most famed noble rots are Sauternes from France.
3. Late harvest
Making this type of wine involves leaving grapes on the vine until they are extremely ripe and sweet. This wine has higher sugar and alcohol levels than other wines and a more complex aroma.
4. Dried grape wine
The traditional way to make this type of wine is to let the harvested grapes dry on straw mats. In some regions, however, they’re dried right on the vine. In either case, the resulting wine is imbued with flavors of cooked fruit, honey and spice. The most well-known type of wine in this category is Amorone della Valpolicella.
5. Fortified wine
This variety of wine has a distilled sprit added to it — usually brandy — either during or after fermentation. These wines can be sweet or dry and contain more alcohol than other dessert wines. Common types include port, sherry, grappa and vermouth.
If you’re pairing your dessert wine with food, aim for balance and flavors that complement rather than overpower each other.
6 crowd-pleasing dishes to bring to a potluck
Do you plan to attend a potluck this holiday season? If so, it’s a good idea to choose dishes that are easy to transport and can be prepared ahead of time. Here are some ideas.
Potato, quinoa, and couscous salads are easy to make in advance and don’t need to be warmed up once you arrive.
Season ground pork, beef, or chicken and roll it into balls. Then, bake them in the oven with your favorite sauce. When you arrive, simply reheat the meatballs in a microwave.
3. Marinated shrimp
These crustaceans are quick to prepare, keep well for a couple of days in the refrigerator, and can be served with crackers, bread, and various kinds of sauces.
White, brown, and wild rice make great sides. Add toasted nuts, herbs, or dried fruit to elevate this dish.
These sweet and light cookies can be made in a multitude of colors and flavors. Opt for gingerbread, candy cane, and eggnog varieties to keep in the spirit of the season.
6. Nanaimo bars
This no-bake layered dessert is perfect for sharing. You can make it a few days ahead of time and cut it into bars before serving.
Visit your local markets and grocery stores to find all the ingredients you need.
With its unique blend of textures and flavors, this appetizer may just steal the show at your holiday party.
• 12 whole walnuts
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 green onion, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
• Zest of half a lemon
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1 cup feta cheese, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and cut into 12 equal squares
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes. Let cool and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, green onion, and spices. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, making sure to thoroughly break up any big pieces. In a bowl, pour the spinach mixture and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
3. In the bowl with the spinach add 1 egg as well as the parsley, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, feta, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and adjust the seasoning as desired.
4. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the 12 squares of puff pastry. On each square, put about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture. Pull the corners of each square toward its center, and seal it with a walnut.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg. Brush the egg mixture over the puff pastry and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25 minutes.
Ice palace cocktail
This bright blue cocktail combines an array of tropical ingredients to warm your soul on a cold winter night.
• 1/4 cup coconut cream
• 2 tablespoons shredded sweet coconut
• 12 ice cubes
• 1/4 cup pineapple juice
• 1/4 cup blue curaçao
• 1/4 cup white rum
1. Dip the rim of 2 cocktail glasses in coconut cream and then in the shredded coconut. Set aside.
2. In a blender, pour the remaining coconut cream, ice cubes, pineapple juice, curaçao, and rum. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until smooth. In the 2 glasses, pour the blended cocktail and serve.
How to safely deep-fry a turkey
Deep-fried turkey is actually a Cajun tradition and is an increasingly popular way to cook the main course.
It’s not the safest way — in fact, many people have burned their houses while attempting to do it. The number of burn victims from deep-frying reaches into the hundreds each year. The National Fire Protection Association and the American Burn Association discourage cooking a turkey in this manner, but because it produces a more flavorful bird with crispy skin, people continue to deep-fry.
Some advice from Underwriters Laboratories:
* Get a sturdy turkey fryer with four legs and a built-in thermostat, so the oil maintains the proper temperature.
* Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry, or you could be spattered with oil and severely burned.
* Fry outside and far away from your house.
* Follow instructions on the size of turkey to put into your fryer and how much oil to use. Splashing oil can ignite and turn your fryer into a flamethrower.
* Wear gloves designed for deep-frying.
* Never leave the fryer unattended.
Raking leaves? You might be missing a treat
Autumn leaves are a beauty — and a chore to rake — in autumn, but in Japan’s city of Minoh, they are also a snack.
According to legend, around 1,300 years ago, a traveler to the Minoo Taki waterfall in Osaka’s Hokusetsu region was so enamored of the beauty of autumn maple leaves that naturally, he decided to fry them. Thus, a new treat was born.
Maple leaves are picked from the tree, soaked in salt water for a year, then coated with a tempura batter, sesame seeds, and sugar before they’re fried in oil.
The first maple leaf store opened in 1910 in Minoh, 10 miles north of Osaka.
Turkish delight: A timeless treat
If you can’t make it to Istanbul to pick up their version, you can try it yourself at home and impress your holiday guests with Turkey’s favorite candy. You may want a second set of hands to help you with this challenging but worthwhile recipe. Make sure to follow each step carefully to ensure that your Turkish delight sets up correctly.
4 cups granulated sugar
4-1/2 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/4 cups cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 tablespoons rose water or orange flower water
2 drops red or orange food coloring (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
Line a 9 by 9-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the sugar, 1-1/2 cups of water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture boils. With a wet pastry brush, brush down the sides of the pan to discourage crystallization and insert a candy thermometer to track the temperature. Allow the sugar to continue boiling, but do not stir, until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer, which will take up to an hour. Meanwhile, gather the rest of the ingredients and start cooking the other components when the sugar reaches about 225. Combine the remaining 3 cups of water with the cornstarch and cream of tartar in a larger saucepan and whisk until the starch dissolves and no lumps remain. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil while constantly whisking — the mixture will become thick and paste-like.
When the sugar syrup reaches 240, remove it from the heat and immediately start slowly and carefully pouring it into the cornstarch mixture while whisking to incorporate. Slow whisking will help you avoid lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer on low for about an hour, whisking every 8 to 10 minutes until the candy turns a light golden color and the consistency is thick and gluey. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rose water or orange flower water and the food coloring. Pour the candy into the prepared pan and leave it uncovered to set overnight.
The next day, dust a clean counter or cutting board with powdered sugar, then lift the candy from the pan using the foil to help you. Flip it facedown into the powdered sugar, then peel the foil away and dust with more sugar. Slice the candy into small squares with an oiled knife and dust the sides of each square with additional powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Eat as soon as possible. Store in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.