Holiday Cheer: Cocktails

Classic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres get a modern makeover just in time to toast the season.

South of Medford Nogg
Years ago, Medford, Massachusetts, was the center of the U.S. rum industry. This nogg moves south, using fragrant Jamaican rum (Appleton V/X, Reserve, or 12 are good choices) and picking up Madeira from a Baltimore nogg.

1 ounce Cognac 
1 ounce Jamaican rum
1 ounce Bual or Malmsey Madeira
3 ounces whole milk
1 ounce demerara syrup*
1 small, fresh egg
dash Fee’s Old
Fashioned Bitters

Before adding ice, shake all ingredients hard, then add ice and shake well. Strain into two cups and serve with a dusting of nutmeg.
Classic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres get a modern makeover just in time to toast the season.


Bitter Yak
A bracing, spicy glass, the Bitter Yak uses three ingredients vital to any liquor shelf: spicy rye whiskey (Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond or Wild Turkey 101), complex Fernet Branca, and mysterious Benedictine.

1 ounce rye
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
1/4 ounce demerara syrup*

Stir all ingredients and then strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Squeeze the oil from an orange oval over the top (hold it between your fingers and thumb with the colored part facing the surface of the drink and pinch), rub the peel on the rim of the glass and drop it in.


Some Hors D’Oeuvres by Julie Ramos. Executive Chef, Eleven Forty Nine Restaurant.

Antipasto Skewers
Be creative — add foccaccia cubes, pepperoni, and different kinds of cheese.

12 caper berries, stems removed
4 long-stem roman artichokes in vinaigrette,   
   quartered
12 cherry tomatoes
12 pitted kalamata olives
12 small mozzarella balls (Ovolini)
12 1-inch cubes of salami
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons XVOO
12 8-inch bamboo skewers

Place one of each item onto skewers. Just before serving, add salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.


Smoked Salmon Wrapped Scallops
A play on scallops wrapped in bacon. Here you get the smokiness without the heaviness of bacon.

12 scallops (size 10/20)
24 slices smoked salmon
salt and pepper
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 3-inch bamboo skewers

Wrap the scallops with the smoked salmon and secure each with a skewer. Season with salt and pepper. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil and butter. When it begins to bubble, sear scallops on both sides until brown, 2 minutes per side. Let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.


Lamb Croquettes
Time consuming, but worth it. The croquettes freeze well, so go ahead and double — or triple — the recipe.

Lamb Marinade:
pinch cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon XVOO
1 sprig thyme or rosemary, rough chop
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 lamb top round

Combine all ingredients, except lamb, and place in a one-gallon Ziploc bag. Add lamb and seal, letting as much air as possible out of the bag. Toss and refrigerate for three days. Toss every three hours or so.

Braising Liquid:
2 tablespoons XVOO
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
¼ cup onion, diced ¼-inch
¼ cup celery, diced ¼-inch
¼ cup carrot, diced ¼-inch
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup diced fresh tomato
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup red wine

Remove lamb from fridge and drain marinade. Dry the top round with paper towels. Put a thick bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sear the lamb on all sides. Once browned, remove lamb from pot and set aside.
Add garlic, onion, celery and carrot to the pot. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes while stirring. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Add lamb to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and braise for 1 ½ hours until very tender. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the liquid and reserve. Cut lamb into 2-inch cubes, mix with the solids from braising, place in a bowl.
Using a meat grinder with the large-hole die attachment, grind the lamb/veggie mixture. Form into lollipop size balls with your hands. If mixture is dry, add a little braising liquid. Once the balls are formed, refrigerate.

Breading:
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs
1 cup parmesan

Whisk together eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dip croquettes into egg mixture then coat with the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture.
Fry at 350º in canola oil until golden brown. Skewer each with a lollipop stick and serve lukewarm.
 
Mint Pesto
1 cup mint leaves, picked, washed and dried
½ clove garlic, sliced thin
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup XVOO
salt and pepper

Using blender, combine all ingredients and, with motor running, drizzle in the oil. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Reserve in a container in the fridge.

Sundried Pesto
½ cup sundried tomatoes, diced ¼-inch
½ clove garlic, sliced thin
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup XVOO
salt and pepper

Using blender, combine all ingredients and, with motor running, drizzle in the oil. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Reserve in a container in the fridge. If too thick, add a little XVOO or water to thin.

 

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