Showing posts with label pineapple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pineapple. Show all posts

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mulled Pineapple Cocktail

It’s holiday time, the weather is nice and cool, and the book Winter Cocktails is fitting nicely into this state of affairs. As I started looking at my review copy of the book, I marked pages of each cocktail I wanted to try. Then, I realized I was just marking every single page. The Rosy Cheek is a Winter White Hot Chocolate made with steeped macadamia nuts, crushed pink peppercorns, and lemon juice for brightness. The Cup of Thai is warm coconut milk flavored with lemongrass, ginger, and lime peel and spiked with rum. The Nutella Melt is hot chocolate with Nutella melted into it and added hazelnut liqueur with a garnish of espresso-flavored whipped cream and chopped hazelnuts. There’s also Classic Eggnog, Pumpkin-Bourbon Eggnog, and Butterscotch Eggnog. I want to curl up on the couch and sip these concoctions one after the next. And, these options are just from the chapters for Hot Toddies and Mulled Drinks and Eggnog, Hot Chocolate, Coffee and Tea. There are also Punches and Pitchers and Chilled Winter Cocktails as well as a chapter for infused liquors and syrups and one for snacks to go with the cocktails. I couldn’t decide where to start with the hot chocolate and eggnog options, so first I opted for Liquid Gold: Pineapple Juice, Spiced and Spirited. 

I’d never thought of making a warm, mulled cocktail with pineapple juice, but I loved the idea. Tropical fruits are always a good antidote to cold weather, and it was unusually cold here. To start, fresh pineapple was cubed and seasoned with sugar, Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, and salt. Then, it was broiled for a few minutes per side until slightly caramelized. The pineapple was set aside until cool and then skewered on picks. For the drink itself, allspice berries, peppercorns, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks were warmed in a saucepan before pineapple juice, rum, brandy, and a scraped vanilla bean and seeds were added. It was left to simmer for about 15 minutes before being poured through a sieve for serving. 

The mulled juice smelled as lovely while it simmered as it tasted in the mug. Warm spices with sweet pineapple juice mixed well with brandy and rum. And, the spiciness of the caramelized pineapple chunks was a good contrast to the sweet flavors. I served some toasted macadamia nuts with the cocktails and imagined a view of sand and surf and tall, swaying palm trees. Mele Kalikimaka! 

Liquid Gold 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Winter Cocktails.
serves 4 

Though it calls to mind a tropical setting, the pineapple is in fact a winter fruit. It is also an iconic symbol of hospitality. Warm your home and your friends with this mulled pineapple drink that showcases both its sweet and tart flavors. 

Pineapple Garnish 
12 or more (1⁄4-inch) cubes fresh pineapple 
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
1⁄4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper* 
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1⁄8 teaspoon salt 

Mulled Pineapple Juice 
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries 
1 tablespoon black peppercorns 
1 tablespoon whole cloves 
2 cinnamon sticks 
4 cups pineapple juice 
6 ounces dark rum 
2 ounces brandy 
1 vanilla bean pod, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out 

*Piquant and vibrant, Aleppo is a type of crushed red pepper native to Syria. It is available at specialty markets. 

For the Pineapple Garnish: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange pineapple cubes in a single layer. Combine sugar, Aleppo pepper, ground cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle pineapple cubes with sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly. Rearrange pineapple in a single layer and broil until caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer tray to cooling rack. When cool enough to handle, skewer at least 3 pineapple cubes onto each of 4 short skewers or sturdy toothpicks (see page 156 for Sources). 

For the Mulled Pineapple Juice: Place allspice, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple juice, rum, brandy, and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. To serve, place one pineapple skewer in each of 4 heat-proof cups. Ladle juice into cups. 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Healthier PiƱa Colada

I've always been fond of rum, and fruity, rum cocktails are delightful whether they come with an umbrella or not. The only, little problem, as I see it, with these kinds of cocktails is that they tend to have very high calorie counts. I used to make pina coladas at home from time to time, and they usually ended up being dessert. I would combine frozen pinapple chunks, some Coco Lopez cream of coconut, rum, and ice and blend until smooth. Served with a wedge of fresh pineapple and maybe a spoon if it was extra thick, it was always deliciously sweet. These days, I pay more attention to how many calories I'm consuming in beverages, so when I saw an idea for a lighter, healthier pina colada in the August issue of Living, I had to try it. The recipe isn't available online, but it's very easy as I'll describe below. For this version, rather than using cream of coconut with added sugar and stabilizers for maintaining a consistent texture, all-natural coconut water is used instead. The result is much less sweet, and the flavor is purely of pineapple and coconut.

I chopped a whole pineapple into chunks and placed the chunks in the freezer for a few hours. You don't actually need to freeze the pineapple, but it adds to the icy appeal. To make the cocktails, just add two cups of pineapple chunks, three quarters of a cup of pure coconut water, one half cup of ice cubes, one tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and one half cup of rum to a blender. Puree until smooth, and garnish with toasted coconut.

They were frothy and smooth and just sweet enough. Full of tropical flavors, this was just as fun as a traditional pina colada. And, with about a quarter of the calories, I can once again make these cocktails as often as I like.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ambrosia with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

When you think of Southern food, a few classic dishes like biscuits, chicken and dumplings, pimento cheese, and shrimp and grits always come to mind. A new book called Quick-Fix Southern by Rebecca Lang sets out to make those classics and several new dishes doable when time is lacking. I received a review copy of this book, and in it I found recipes for snacking, picnics, salads, parties, casseroles, and of course, Southern sweets. There are cooking tips like chopping greens into thin ribbons to speed up cooking time or cooking everything for shrimp and grits together in the oven instead of separately on top of the stove to reduce active time. And, there are some classics like fried green tomatoes and okra fritters that don’t take long to prepare anyway. Beyond the Southern classics, there are also dishes like catfish tacos, warm curried fruit, and a key lime martini. When I got to the sweets chapter, I was drawn to the ambrosia since citrus is still in season. It’s a simple salad with supremed ruby red grapefruit and navel oranges, pineapple chunks, and a layer of whipped cream.

In the book, the ambrosia is composed as a trifle, but I served it in individual portions. I also took the liberty of garnishing with pomegranate seeds because I still had a couple of homegrown, tiny pomegranates on hand. I have a dwarf pomegranate shrub which actually produced fruits, albeit very small fruits, this year, and those fruits were packed with delightful seeds. So, to begin making this dessert, fresh pineapple was cut into chunks, and navel oranges and red grapefruits were cut into segments. The fruits were placed in a sieve and allowed to drain. Be sure to save the juice that collects for another use or mix it with a little vodka for a quick cocktail. Next, white chocolate was melted and allowed to cool, and cream was whipped. There was no added sugar as the white chocolate added just enough sweetness to the cream. The whipped cream was whisked into the melted white chocolate in two steps, and then it was time to layer it with the mixed fruits.

Coconut usually makes an appearance in ambrosia, and I missed it here a little. Some freshly grated coconut pieces that had been toasted would have been a nice addition, but that would have made this a slightly more complicated and time-consuming dish. As it was, there were certainly no complaints. The layers of fruit and rich, white chocolate whipped cream made for a Southern-style dessert full of fresh flavors with just enough decadence.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hawaiian Snowballs

Snowballs, meltaways, and wedding cookies are very similar in style and deliciousness. My grandma used to make a pecan snowball kind of cookie which I loved, but then I discovered the Hawaiian snowball and that changed everything. Last weekend was our Austin food bloggers’ cookie swap, and there were more varieties of cookies than should be legal in one house. We each brought six dozen cookies and then chose from the whole collection which ones we wanted to take home. Deciding what kind of cookie to take to the event was difficult. I had to try a couple of new recipes and one old favorite and ended up making three kinds of cookies for the swap. I’ll show the other two soon, but these Hawaiian snowballs were my first choice. The idea came from the December 2003 issue of Living magazine, and I’ve made them several times since that issue appeared. For the sugar cookie dough itself, I used my favorite recipe of all time which happens to make the best sugar cookies ever.

That best ever sugar cookie dough, Ethel’s sugar cookies from the 1960 Betty Crocker cookbook, was mixed and then left to chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I let the dough come to room temperature and turned it out onto a floured surface. The dough should be flattened somewhat into an oblong shape. Chopped macadamia nuts and chopped, dried pineapple were layered on top of the dough, and then the dough was folded and kneaded until the nuts and fruit were incorporated. Then, you just pull off pieces of dough, roll them into one inch balls, and place them on lined baking sheets. I baked them for about 13 minutes at 400 degrees F, but they should be checked after 10 minutes and then watched. After they cooled, they were dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and I put the sugar in a sieve and shake it over the cookies so no lumps land on the cookies.

The result is a tender, little cookie with a snowy top. The roasted, salted macadamias are a nice contrast to the chewy, sweet pineapple, and I already explained that this sugar cookie dough is the best there is. It really is. And, what can I say, I like Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka,” and these cookies go perfectly with that song.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grilled Salmon Sandwiches with Pineapple-Mustard Glaze and Green Chile-Pickle Relish

I’m cheating a little with this post because I have, sort of, made this before. But, it was before I started this blog, and I changed things up this time. This is a Bobby Flay meal from way back, and I admit to being a long-time fan. Anybody else remember his early shows with Jackie Malouf and the always-present, odd tension between them? I’m not sure if this meal is old enough to be from that show, but it’s pretty old. Say what you will about Flay’s attitude, personality, whathaveyou, but I’ve always liked his food. I’ve made several of his dishes over the years, and they’re always fantastic. In true Flay form, this meal is all about big, bold flavors. And, there are a lot of those bold flavors going on, but they somehow manage to work together really well. The original meal, still posted on the Foodnetwork site, and what I made several years ago, was tuna burgers with great things mixed into the chopped tuna. The burgers were glazed as they were grilled and then topped with the relish. This time, I wanted to make a sandwich of grilled salmon filets, so I made some alterations.

This time, the mixture that was to have seasoned the tuna was used as a marinade for salmon. Dijon, chipotle puree, honey, oil, and green onions were combined with salt and pepper, and I spread that over the salmon and left it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. I made the glaze the same as before by combining pineapple juice, white wine vinegar, grated ginger, and soy sauce in a pan. This was brought to a boil and reduced to half its volume which took about 30 minutes. There was supposed to be some brown sugar in that mixture, but the pineapple juice was sweet enough for me, and I omitted it. For the relish, poblano chiles were roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced. They were combined with diced dill pickle, finely chopped red onion, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and olive oil. Honey should have been added, but there I go again not liking things too sweet. So, the honeyless relish was seasoned with salt and pepper and was ready to go.

The marinated salmon was grilled and glazed twice with the reduced pineapple elixir. The side dish for this meal was seasoned grilled fries, and they couldn’t be simpler. Potatoes were cooked on the stove until almost tender, then chopped into wedges, basted with oil mixed with ancho chile powder and salt, and then grilled. The best part is that they don’t stick to the grill. The potato surface instantly crisps and they finish cooking through quickly while acquiring that irresistible grill flavor. I served the marinated, grilled, pineapple glazed salmon topped with the green chile-pickle relish on toasted sesame-semolina sandwich rolls. Have you ever noticed how long the names of Bobby Flay dishes are? Long names, lots of components, bold flavors, but delicious food. This is a completely opposite food philosophy from that of allowing simple, fresh flavors to shine individually, but it has its place on my table. It’s a fun combination of spicy, sweet, sour, tangy, smoky, fresh, and I recommend it.

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