Here’s how to make Kentucky champagne.
In a champagne flute, add one part of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, then add 3 parts chilled sparkling apple cider. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Eatin’ in and eatin’ out with Sharon Thompson
One of President-elect Barack Obama’s favorite candies is salted caramels.
What? Salt sprinkled on caramel?
Read what The New York Times has to say about salted caramels, then try this recipe at home.
It’s from The Nibble, the magazine about specialty foods.
1 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons sea salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
Bring the cream, butter and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.
Boil the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan; then cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 248 degrees, the firm-ball stage.
Carefully stir in the cream mixture—the mixture will bubble up. Simmer, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. The temperature should not go higher than 250 degrees.
Tip: To get the caramel consistency you want, test by dropping a spoonful of caramel into a bowl of cold water. It will form a ball, which you can test with your fingers. Stop cooking when the ball is the consistency that you want.
Pour the mixture into the baking pan and cool 2 hours.
OPTIONAL: You can enrobe your caramels in tempered melted chocolate; sprinkle the top with some grains of sea salt (pretty salts make a difference); or press in some culinary lavender buds.
Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, folding ends or twisting to close like taffy.
ALTERNATIVE: Pour the caramel into individual candy cups.
Note: You can use any sea salt, which is available at fine supermarkets and specialty food stores. You’ll need an 8-inch square baking pan, parchment paper, candy thermometer and wax paper or paper candy cups.
Many restaurants still have reservations open for New Year’s Eve. Here are some places to ring in the New Year.
Brian Bosemer wanted to make cheeseballs to take to a Christmas celebration in Louisville. He couldn’t find a recipe that suited his taste, so he created this one.
Chipped pastrami cheese ball
(Makes 4 medium cheese balls)
11/2 pounds peppered pastrami, chopped into small squares
4 tablespoons butter
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup chopped green olives with pimento
6 green onions, very finely chopped
4 stalks celery, very finely chopped
In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add pastrami and stir. Cover skillet, sitrring occasionally, until pastrami appears cooked. When cool, place pastrami in a large bowl with paper towels in the bottom.
Place cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, and allow to soften at room temperature for about an hour. To softened cream cheese, add 2/3 of pastrami, horseradish, mustard, Parmesan, pepper, Worcestershire, garlic, mayonnaise, chopped green olives, and chopped celery. Mix ingredients with fork until thoroughly mixed.
Spread foil sheets on counter top and make four mounds of cream cheese mixture. In the center of a 12- by 12-inch piece of cellophane, sprinkle pastrami, about the size of the mound. Place a mound of the cream cheese mixture on top of the pastrami. Sprinkle pastrami over cream cheese mound and press in for uniform coverage. Wrap cheese in cellophane and shape into a ball. Refrigerate until 1/2 hour before serving. Makes 4 cheese balls.
Chipped pastrami cheese ball
5 ounces peppered pastrami
1 tablespoon butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons horseradish
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped stuffed olives
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
Chop pastrami into small squares. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add pastrami and cook over medium heat. Stir well. Cover skillet, stirring occasionally until pastrami appears cooked. When cool, place pastrami in large bowl with paper towels in bottom.
In a large mixing bowl, place cream cheese and allow to soften at room temperature for about an hour. Add pastrami, horseradish, mustard, Parmesan, pepper, Worcestershire, garlic, mayonnaise, chopped green olives, Cheddar, green onions, and celery. Mix ingredients together with a fork until thoroughly mixed.
On foil, mound cream cheese mixture. In the center of a 12- by 12-inch piece of cellophane, sprinkle pastrami about the size of the mound. Place cream cheese mixture on cellophane. Sprinkle pastrami over cream cheese and press in for uniform coverage. Wrap cheese ball in cellophane and shape into ball. Refrigerate until 1/2 hour before serving.
While the youngsters are on Christmas break, let them make special gifts for friends and neighbors.
Pound cake snowman
2 Sara Lee pound cakes
1 large egg white
1 1/3 cups sifted powder sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup coconut flakes (optional)
2 small candy canes (for arms)
3-4 gum drops (for buttons)
2 peppermint bites (for eyes)
5-6 strands red string licorice (mouth, scarf and hat)
Ice cream scoops (1 of each size: large 4 ½” medium 3 ½” small 2 ½”)
1 wooden skewer
Place three ice cream scoops on top of the pound cake to set up location. Using the largest ice cream scoop, cut a circle out of the pound cake. Next, use the medium size scoop to make a second circle, and lastly use the smallest scoop to cut the third and final circle. Using a small knife smooth any edges to make the ball.
To make the frosting beat 1 egg white, 1 1/3 cups sifted powder sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract on medium until firm and can maintain stiff peaks. Frost each circle with white frosting.
Build the snowman by sliding the skewer through the largest ball so its positioned at the bottom, then the medium and finally the smallest ontop. Decorate your snowman with the candies for arms, eyes, nose, mouth hat and scarf. Finish with the buttons. Add coconut to the bottom of the platter for extra snow.
Peppermint chocolate cookies ‘n cream bites
1 container Sara Lee cookies n’ cream cheesecake bites
2 cups white chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1 cup peppermint candies, chopped
Heat the morsels and butter in microwave safe bowl at medium-high power for 1 minute. Stir until morsels are melted and creamy. Stir in peppermint extract.
Dip each cheesecake bite into the chocolate and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Immediately top each bite with the chopped peppermint candies and place bites into freezer to set at least one hour before serving. Makes 40 bites.
Holiday cheesecake presents
1 container Sara Lee cheesecake bites
2 cups white chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons butter
1 tube each red and green decorating gel
40 mini muffin cups
Heat the white chocolate morsels and butter in microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute on medium-high power. Stir until chocolate is melted and creamy. This can also be done in a
double boiler on the stovetop.Remove chocolate from heat and dip each cheesecake bite into the chocolate. Place into mini muffin cups on a cookie sheet.
Using the decorating gel, draw two lines and a bow to turn bites into mini presents. Candy canes, polka dots, snowmen or colored sugar. Place bites into freezer to set, at least one hour. Makes 40 bites.
Steve Walton, co-owner of Varden’s Cafe, Specialty Foods, & Emporium in Paris, made this recipe for a holiday party. “It is wonderful,” he said. Varden’s is at 509 Main Street. Call (859) 987-4700 or go to www.vardens.com.
2 8-ounce tubes of crescent rolls
1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of dill
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 cups of broccoli florets (freshly chopped)
1/2 cup of celery (finely chopped)
1/2 cup of sweet red pepper (finely chopped)
1/2 cup of stuffed green olives (thinly sliced)
Cilantro or celery leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the crescent roll dough from its packaging (make sure you don’t unroll it). Cut each tube into eight slices and then arrange the slices in a circle (about 11 inches in diameter) on a well greased pizza circle, or in springform pan.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the dough turns a nice golden color. Cool for 10 minutes before gently removing your crescent dough wreath to a serving platter. Cool completely.
In a mixing bowl, beat the sour cream, cream cheese, garlic powder and dill until smooth. Spread mixture over wreath, top with the chopped veggies.
Surround with cilantro or celery leaves. Garnish with tomatoes.
One of the best desserts in Lexington is Huckleberry’s Death by Chocolate pie.
It was served at Huckleberry’s restaurant in the early 80′s and it’s been a secret for decades.
Actually, it was created by Barbara Harper-Bach who sold it to Louie Bickett for $100.
“I’m telling you the secret,” Harper-Bach said. “It’s the Shaker recipe for chess pie and I added 3 tablespoons cocoa.”
Here’s the recipe for Shaker transparent pie (also called chess pie) from Welcome Back to Pleasant Hill.
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup cream
Unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, flour and cream. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 45 minutes or until set.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have a tea party for your friends without having to decorate or clean your house?
All God’s Children has a Christmas tea each year that is community-wide, but still very personal.
This year’s event was held at NorthEast Christian Church and tables were set up in the gym for hostesses to decorate and invite seven guests. Each table was decorated with everything from fine china and tea pots to holiday paper plates and napkins.
There was a contest for the most whimsical, creative and elegant tables. I was asked to be a judge along with Bobby Branham, owner of HomeScapes on West Tiverton Way. Some of the women made a variety of desserts and tea sandwiches, while others brought cookies and chocolates.
Becky Mackey, who serves on the board of directors for All God’s Children, hosts a table each year and uses a different theme. Her table at Tuesday’s event was blue and silver and white and she served pecan tassies, Oreo truffles, cashew bars, and mystery cookies (Her guests were to guess the secret ingredient.)
Theresa Martin hosted a table for her co-workers at St. Joseph Hospital. The out-patient surgery nurses were served chocolate ooey-gooey bars (Paula Deen’s recipe) and strawberry trifle.
Charlotte Carty involved her guests. Carty’s daughter Julie Sexton made a chocolate meringue cake and her mother Julie Combs made Christmas stockings for favors.
Tea was poured by men who serve as AGC board members, or husbands of board members. Teas were donated by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.
Several businesses donated items for the silent auction and proceeds go to All God’s Children which offers temporary shelter and programs for pregnant or parenting teens and their children. Click here to learn more about services offered by All God’s Children and volunteer opportunities.
If you would like to have dinner at Cleveland’s in Versailles this holiday season, you should call ahead.
The restaurant is booked for several holiday parties, and dinner reservations are limited. Lunch seatings are available, except for Dec. 13. Call (859) 879-6062 or go to www.woodfordinn.com. Cleveland’s is at 140 Park Street.
Season’s eatings at Holly Hill
Holly Hill Inn, 426 North Winter Street in Midway, is serving a holiday lunch menu during December. Entrees are Mediterranean Christmas cod, Camille’s Baltimore crab cakes, chicken marsala with sage and cremini mushrooms, old-fashioned Stone Cross Farm ham steak with cranberry chutney, and gratin of winter vegetables. Desserts include Kentucky jam cake and eggnog chiffon pie. Call (859) 846-4732 or go to www.hollyhillinn.com.
Lovers Leap Winery wants you to stop by
Lovers Leap Winery will have a holiday open house from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The winery, 180 Lanes Mill Road in Lawrenceburg, will have wine tastings, live music and gourmet food gifts for sale. Call (502) 839-1299 or go to www.loversleapwine.com.
Get your Bulleit signed
Tom Bulleit, creator of the Bulleit Bourbon brand, will be at the Thoroughbred Shop, 2005 Versailles Road, from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday to sign bottles. Call (859) 254-0358.
Inside at the Farmers Market
Even if it is cold outside, you can pick up local products at the Lexington Farmers Market. Vendors have moved indoors to Victorian Square, 401 West Main Street. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Products include beef, chicken, shrimp, tilapia, quail, potatoes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, winter squash, greens, onions and garlic, goat cheese, breads, chocolate truffles, jams, jellies, lilies, fresh wreaths and dog treats.
Shaker Village is serving teas
Celebrate the holiday season with friends at an old-fashioned Shaker tea. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg, is serving holiday teas this month at the Trustees’ Office Dining Room. The menu features assorted tea breads, muffins, sandwiches and miniature desserts. Cost is $10.95. Tea is served 2 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call (859) 734-5411, Ext. 360, or 1-800-734-5611, Ext. 360.
Varden’s gets into the Christmas spirit
Paris’ Christmas parade begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, and Varden’s is serving hot drinks and a dinner special.
The restaurant, at 509 Main Street in Paris, is serving bottomless chili, salad and freshly baked bread for $10. Also available are hot chocolate, spiced cider, latte, wassail, wines, steamed Christmas pudding, cookies, fruit cake and mincemeat tarts.
Varden’s will have a holiday tea at 4 p.m. Dec. 20. The menu includes scones; soup; chicken salad cup; olive nut, Benedictine, and country ham sandwiches; Christmas cookies; and mincemeat tarts. The cost is $30. Call (859) 987-4700.
Chocolates here, bourbon there
Liquor Barn stores will offer samples of Godiva chocolates at the Beaumont Centre and Richmond Road locations. The Hamburg store will have a Woodford Reserve bourbon tasting. Hours are 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. All locations will have tastings of Jameson Irish whiskey and Kahlua from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday.
‘Mistletoe’ and a meal
Bluegrass Mystery Theatre is teaming with Heirloom Restaurant and Thoroughbred Theatre in Midway for a performance of Murder Under the Mistletoe on Thursday. Tickets are $49 and include a meal at Heirloom, the show and dessert at the theater.
The troupe also will perform at Portofino, 249 East Main Street in Lexington, on Dec. 20. Tickets are $45 and include a three-course dinner, parking and show. Call Dana Edison at (859) 494-2877.
Santa starts the day with breakfast
Feed the kids and let them share their wish list with Santa on Dec. 13. The Daughters of the Nile Dancers/Pageantry Unit will have Breakfast With Santa from 8 a.m. to noon at Oleika Shrine Temple, 326 Southland Drive. The breakfast features pancakes and sausage. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children younger than 12.
Even though there’s no way to beat the great taste of a burger or steak on the grill, many of us turn to soups and chowders for our cold-weather dinners. While the soup simmers, curl up by the fireplace and dream about those great summer dishes and write an essay.
The Crisco Sprays Grilling Hall of Fame contest is inviting grillmasters to share their favorite recipe and write an essay explaining why they created the recipe and why they should be inducted into the Crisco Grilling Hall of Fame. The recipe must incorporate a Crisco cooking spray (original, butter or olive oil) and include an image of the recipe. Rules are at www.GrillingHallofFame.com.
You could win a $5,000 backyard makeover. Deadline for entries is Dec. 15.