Hot Mulled Cider

Ring in your New Year with a steaming mug of cider! Adult and kid friendly versions available!

hot-mulled-cider

Hot Mulled Cider

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

½ gallon freshly pressed apple cider

3 sticks cinnamon, plus more sticks for garnish

1 medium orange, unpeeled, sliced thinly

2 whole cloves

½ vanilla bean, seeds and pod: slice down the length of the pod, spread open, and scrape out the flesh by pressing with a butter knife

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

⅓ cup brandy, optional

 

In a large saucepan or small pot over low heat, add all of the ingredients, and mix together. Stir occasionally until very warm. Serve in mugs with slices of orange.

Notes:

  • If the mulled cider will be sitting for an exceptionally long time, remove the cloves when the flavor is to your liking.
  • If you are a big fan of spice, combine 3 star anise and 1 inch of peeled, roughly chopped fresh ginger and put them into a tea strainer or mesh bag to steep along with the other ingredients. Much like steeping tea, remove the tea strainer or mesh bag of ginger and star anise when the desired flavor is achieved.

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Fresh Goat Cheese and Honey

It’s another meatless Monday dish – this time, a hearty veggie sandwich perfectly suited for this cold time of year when sweet potatoes are plentiful!

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Goat Cheese and Honey

Yield: 2 sandwiches

 

For Sweet Potato

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut width wise into ¾-inch rounds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on onion slices

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

kosher salt, for seasoning

freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch rounds

Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on onion slices

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the sweet potato, olive oil, thyme, cinnamon, and a healthy dash of salt and pepper. to a large bowl. Toss until well combined.

Place sweet potato in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Place onion rounds on the same sheet tray (use an additional sheet tray if needed) and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides of the onion. Using a brush or your finger, rub a small amount of balsamic vinegar on each of the tops of the onion rounds, just enough to cover and coat the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until potato is cooked through and onion is soft.

 

For Sandwich

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small bunch of mixed greens

1 small loaf of walnut (or any other nut or seed bread), cut into 4 sandwich slices

¼ fresh cup goat cheese

1½ tablespoons honey

 

Whisk to combine vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Gently toss some greens in a small bowl to lightly coat with the vinaigrette.

Spread goat cheese on sandwich slices and drizzle honey over the goat cheese. Place a layer of roasted sweet potato on the bottom slice of bread. Add a layer of roasted onions (the more the better!) and top with some of the dressed mixed greens. Top with remaining slice of bread and enjoy.

 

 

 

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Here’s another Thanksgiving dish idea using sweet potatoes and carrots. A delicious sweet and spicy (from ginger and cayenne) soup topped with my candied spiced pecans. Great vegetarian recipe that is easy to make and easy when it comes to cleaning up as it is all prepared in one pot. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (3½ cups)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly (3 cups)

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped roughly (2 cups)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Candied Spiced Pecans (recipe below), for serving

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped roughly, for serving

Combine the carrots, sweet potatoes, apple, and stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until both the sweet potatoes fall apart and the carrots are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.

Blend the mixture to a smooth texture carefully with an immersion blender.

Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice and olive oil to the saucepan and continue to blend. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper; add more cayenne pepper for heat and more cinnamon for sweetness.

Serve in soup bowls topped with candied spiced pecans and chopped parsley.

Candied Spiced Pecans
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pecan halves

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

Mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few good grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until hot.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and the nuts, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds to cook evenly.

Working quickly, add the spice mix to the sauté pan and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring once every five seconds.

Add the maple syrup very carefully, as it will bubble up, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the nuts, and if they begin to smoke, turn down the heat a little and stir more often.

Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Working quickly, using two forks, separate the individual nuts, then allow to cool completely. Seriously. They’re going to be hot.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Cold day. Warm Soup. Enough said.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (2½ cups)

4 stalks celery, chopped roughly (2 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

½ pound fresh spicy Italian or fennel sausage (pork or turkey), removed from casing, approximately 2 to 3 links

1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

3 small dried bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1⅓ cups green (Puy) lentils, rinsed and picked over for small pebbles

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop roughly. You should have approximately 6 packed cups of kale.

Add ¼ cup olive oil, the onions, carrots, and celery to a small pot set over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the celery begins to soften.

Add the garlic, curry, and sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until the sausage is mostly cooked through, 5 minutes. At this point your kitchen should smell insanely good.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, lentils, kale and the stock. The stock should just barely cover the kale. Stir it all together.

Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. The consistency should be like a thick soup, so add a bit of water to thin it out if the lentils are not quite cooked at this point.

Once the lentils are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and vinegar. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls, and shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top with vegetable peeler. Grab a spoon and go crazy.

Note: If your sausage is on the spicy side, add a dollop of crème fraîche to take the edge off the heat.