Wednesday, December 10, 2008
holiday party snacks
As promised, here are two recipes designed with LDGTYILA's holiday party in mind. Mint juleps (like the one above) are typically served in the summer around derby time, but their minty sweetness makes them very holiday-appropriate too. The other recipe, parmesan-pepper popcorn, is the perfect thing to scatter around the house in small bowls. Just be sure to have extra popcorn kernels on hand because it will be gone before you even lick the cheese off your fingers. (For more snack ideas, check the archives.)
Most recipes for mint juleps instruct you to bash the mint and sugar together in a cocktail shaker, but I prefer to make a mint-infused simple syrup and garnish the drinks with a mint spring. This unorthodox technique might get me in trouble in Kentucky, but I think it's a more efficient way of making these drinks for a crowd (you can easily serve it in a punchbowl this way). Plus, you won't get little bits of mint stuck in your teeth.
(Serves 6 people)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 large handfuls of mint sprigs
1 liter club soda
6 shots bourbon whiskey
In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and 1 handful of mint. Turn the heat on medium-low, and stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for about an hour, so the mint really infuses the syrup. If you don't have an hour, let it sit until it comes to room temperature. Pour one shot of whiskey into each glass, add two to three spoonfuls of the mint syrup, then top off each glass with the club soda. Stir, add ice, and garnish with a mint sprig in each glass.
Dan and I recently tried out a new restaurant in our neighborhood on opening weekend. The meal was pretty much a disaster except for the pre-dinner snack: a cigar box filled with chile-dusted popcorn. It reminded me of how good freshly-popped corn can be. It's such a simple thing, but feels retro and fresh at the same time. I think it's a nice surprise over the typical guac and chips or bowl of pretzels. Especially when you add parmesan and lots of freshly ground pepper (a la Gourmet). Someone asked me if I sprinkled crack over it, and I have to say, it was pretty addictive.
(Makes about 8 cups)
2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (asiago or romano would also work well)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Heat oil with a few popcorn kernels in a tall, large saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan until you hear the kernels pop. Quickly add the remaining popcorn, then cook, covered, shaking pan frequently, until kernels stop popping, about 3 to 5 minutes. When the popcorn is done, take it off the heat and toss it with the butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Taste and readjust the seasonings before serving. But try not to eat all of it.