Friday, December 31, 2010

Thinkin' about Drinkin'

Well, ladies in gents, it seems as if New Years Eve is upon us, known as 'Silvester' here in Czech Republic (and a handful of other nations). All thoughts are pointed in the direction of this evenings festivities. Namely, what libations will be headlining? A recent post over at Small Measures had a great idea for hosting a party using a spin on the mixology theme. At the moment though, I'm totally into my 'winter drink mode', which translates to copious amounts of mulled wine. For some reason, in English, mulled wine sounds a bit, oh I don't know, stodgy. In Czech, there's one word, svařák. This inspires headlines like, 'Svařák Season is Here' and in general is simply perceived as a whole lot hipper than mulled wine.

While there's a lot of variations on the components of svařák, my favourite basic way is this:

Mulled Wine

One bottle cheapish red wine
1 big cinnamon stick
7 cloves
1 star anise
Strips of peel from one orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum (if you want that extra kick)

Remember to keep an eye on it so it doesn't come to a boil. The longer it simmers, the better, but I usually partake after about 10 minutes.

Another bevie we tried this year was cream liquors. Really easy to make at home, and great to give away.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Liquor
Makes 1 bottle
Adapted from Apetit magazine (December 2010, p96)

1 1/4 cup (300 ml) whipping cream
2/3 cup (150 ml) milk
3 1/2 oz (100 g) dark chocolate bar or chips
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 big teaspoons of cinnamon
7 fl oz (200 ml) vodka

Heat the milk and cream until quite warm (careful not to boil - it gets there quickly). Add chopped chocolate pieces and whisk awhile until smooth. Add the sugar, cinnamon and vodka, again whisking, and take off the heat. Stick in the fridge and eventually poor into a pretty bottle. Gets better after a few days, and keeps for a month I'm told (we're on week two and its perfect!) Whisking a lot pays off, as our first batch was a bit lumpy. Drink over ice or a splash in coffee.

Whatever you end up imbibing tonight...Dobrou Chut'/Enjoy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Out with the Old...

In wanting to bring in 2011 with a clean slate, I'd like to share some pics taken in the last few months. I'm not about to go rummaging around in the brain for recipes from way back when, but I promise that future posts will include more of a 'how to' element than these. Just to whet the appetite then:

love, love, love orange salads!

Eggplant Dip
Caribbean-y Pork Roast


Grown-up Tuna Salad

Grilled Chicken Salad

Ready for Chocolate Cake

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy :)


I'd like to think I know a thing or two about transitions. I, for one, am a 30 year old (it's the new 20, right?) who has catapulted myself through various identities and landed in, what the academics like to call, a post-transition country (Czech Republic). Not that I'm claiming expert status on this notion, but I feel the word is important. Especially now.

Now is the time of year of Great Transitions. Sandwiched 'tween Christmas' wanton over-indulgence and New Year's prim resolutions, we struggle with the desire to continue our new pattern of calling chocolate truffles with coffee our breakfast, and then feel instantly guilty with such a cliché wanting...and then feel guilty about the guilt. On and on we go, all week. Or at least I have tended to. This year I thought I'd mix it up a bit and accept the truffle-breakfast

while focusing on real dinners (even though the Czech sweets from my mother-in-law sitting on the table technically could do the fill-the-belly job as well!) - sans guilt.

(See exhibit A: real dinner - even enough meat and potatoes to satisfy the hubs!)

Here is a Spanish flavoured pork/chorizo dish I barely adapted (read: added a heaping teaspoon of a smoked Spanish paprika) from a Delia cookbook. It turned out lovely, and made excellent leftovers.

This inner-declaration to maintain food balance this week then evolved into into a New Year's resolution: to make public both my attempts at improving my food photography and continuing to cope with pleasing my palette while living smack dab in the middle of Europe - in a country that somehow has not soaked up the myriad culinary traditions surrounding itself and maintains a reputation for somewhat bland and heavy food (more, muuuuch more, on this later!)

So here it is people, the birth of a new food blog. If you are reading this very first post, thank you, and I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on the photos, or future topics, or anything really! Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy :)
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