From a cranberry cocktail to a very coastal casserole, Coast Monthly food stylist Alicia Cahill serves up the perfect recipes for a seaside holiday soirée.
Rudolph’s Cranberry Cocktail
Yields: 1 drink
4 fresh cranberries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3⁄4 ounce maple syrup
2 ounces gin
3⁄4 ounce cranberry juice
3⁄4 ounce sweet vermouth
Topo Chico Mineral Water
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
Muddle 4 of the cranberries and the rosemary sprig with the maple syrup in a shaker. Add the gin, cranberry juice and vermouth; vigorously shake with ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Top with a splash of Topo Chico.
To make reindeer marshmallow garnish: Place 2 rosemary sprigs into the marshmallow to create antlers. Pop the back of the marshmallow with the toothpick, pushing it through so it sticks out of the front of the marshmallow. Attach the remaining cranberry to the end that’s sticking out for the nose and place 2 cloves between the nose and antlers to create eyes.
Shrimp & Grits Casserole
Servings: 6-8 as a main dish; 10-12 as a side dish
4 cups chicken broth
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup regular grits
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (8 ounces)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack pepper cheese (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
6 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds of fresh medium shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon pepper
Bring the chicken broth and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan; stir in grits. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add green onions, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and sauté 5 minutes, or until tender.
Stir together green onion mixture, grits mixture, shrimp and next 3 ingredients.
Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 medium basil leaves, chopped
1 (24-ounce) can tomato sauce
1⁄4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the basil, tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper to the pan and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender and process until smooth.
Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the soup into small glasses and serve with cheese cracker.
Spicy Cheese Crackers
Yields: 48-60 crackers
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1⁄2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
Using a stand mixer, beat together the cheese and butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder.
Remove the bowl and using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour 1 cup at a time, until the ingredients are well combined and a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a 1-inch-diameter log. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap to seal. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a cutting board. Cut the log into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the crackers to cool completely.
3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
2 cups julienned carrot
1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons ginger, peeled and minced
1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup toasted almonds
Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk the ginger, lime juice and olive oil together. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and top with almonds.
Homemade Chocolate Pudding
21⁄4 cups whole milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream, for serving
Cookies, for garnish
Sprinkles, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk with 1⁄4 cup of the sugar and the salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the unsweetened cocoa powder and the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar until blended. Add the remaining 1⁄4 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk the whole egg with the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot cocoa pudding into the eggs until thoroughly incorporated, then scrape the pudding back into the saucepan. Cook the pudding over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to boil, about 2 minutes.
Strain the pudding into a medium heat-proof bowl. Add the chocolate, butter and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and incorporated and the pudding is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the pudding to six, 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until chilled. (If you’re not in a hurry, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding in the bowl and refrigerate.) Serve with whipped cream, cookies and sprinkles, if desired.
Spiced Wine-Poached Pears
2 cups dry red wine,
such as cabernet or merlot
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, juiced (about 1⁄2 cup)
1 (1-by-3-inch) strip orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
4 firm, ripe pears
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Slice 1⁄2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom.
Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm. Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears upright in pan.
Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.