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  • New Years Eve Cocktails – Part Deux (The Champagne Run)

    There is NO drink more synonymous with New Years Eve than Champagne. And while a straight up champagne toast if traditional at the stroke of midnight, it can be a bit boring. And we all know that the RogueChef does not do “boring”…

    Background
    Champagne is a sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine to effect carbonation. It is produced exclusively within a region of France from which it takes its name. California Champagne is NOT Champagne, it is sparkling wine, not that is any less of a wine.

    Champagne first gained world renown because of its association with the anointment of French kings. Royalty from throughout Europe spread the message of the unique sparkling wine from Champagne and its association with luxury and power. The leading manufacturers devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine, associating it and themselves with nobility and royalty. Through advertising and packaging they sought to associate Champagne with high luxury, festivities, holidays and rites of passage.

    To reduce the risk of spilling Champagne and/or turning the cork into a projectile, a Champagne bottle can be opened by holding the cork and rotating the bottle, NOT the cork. By holding at a 45 degree angle, the surface of the Champagne has the maximum surface area, thus minimizing the excessive bubbling. The cork can ease out with a sigh or a whisper rather than a pop. The whispering noise made while opening the bottle is sometimes named th loving whisper. (It is VERY uncouth, to just pop the cork out, this is something professional athletes do.)
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  • New Years Eve Cocktails

    Ok, we’ve done a couple of posts for appetizers, but a face it, drinks make a New Year’s Celebration a smash.

    Background

    To quote the earliest definition of a cocktail circa 1806

    Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.

    A cocktail is a style of mixed drink. Originally a mixture of distilled spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, the word has gradually come to mean almost any mixed drink containing alcohol. Today a cocktail usually contains one or more types of liquor and one or more mixers, such as bitters, fruit juice, fruit, soda, ice, sugar, honey, milk, cream, or herbs.

    Here are a couple of top shelf ideas.
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  • New Years Traditions – Collard Greens

    As I have said prior:

    The traditional New Years meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

    As I am from the South, I tend to like Collard Greens, and I’ll take a run through on how to prepare them. A couple of notes though :

    • Select bunches with smaller, dark green leaves
    • Soak the greens in cold water for at least 15 minutes
    • Wash / swirl / shake the greens in the water
    • Rinse them completely
    • Do this at least three times
    • If you feel grit at the bottom of the sink, repeat the Wash / Rinse

    • Stem and chiffonade them and soak / rinse once more
    • Dry thoroughly, I use a salad spinner

    Background
    Collard greens are a staple vegetable of southern U.S. cuisine, often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in “mixed greens”. Typically seasoned when cooking with smoked or salted meats (ham hocks, bacon, ham or similar meats), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and pepper (black, white, or crushed red).

    Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year.

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  • New Years Traditions – Black-Eye Peas

    Black-eyed peas, also called “Cajun” or “Cowboy Caviar” are eaten on New Year’s Day and according to Southern tradition bring prosperity and wealth. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.

    Background

    The “good luck” traditions of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, where they are viewed as symbols of good luck, and the accepted custom is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day. In the United States, Sephardi Jews moved to Georgia around 1730s where the practice was apparently adopted by the locals around the time of the Civil War.

    The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

    I’ll do a once over on the peas, and I’ll touch on greens and cornbread in following posts…

    We’ll start by preparing the peas by sorting, rinsing, soaking overnight and rinsing again. See my post on Soaking Beans and Peas.
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  • Bacon Cheese Spread / Dip

    Again a favorite for late night snacking, the crumbled bacon is the flavor hit of this creamy cheese dip made with cream cheese, blue cheese and sour cream. I made this for our last night of Christmas, as we are all rolling back to the city for a couple days of “work”, before heading back out for New Years Eve. This dip will also work well for that as well.

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  • Christmas Dip

    A bit of a favorite on the mountain here. With the green of the veggies, the red of the roasted peppers, the white of the sour cream, and the crunch of the bacon..

    This is a bit of a twist on the standard artichoke and mayo dip, I’ll add spinach, and bacon, then substitute half the mayo for sour cream, to add some Christmas red I’ll mince some roasted red peppers and add them to the dip.

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