Friday, November 28, 2008

Got Champagne?

Raise your holiday cookie glass, but hold the milk and the spicy hot chocolate?


As it turns out, there are plenty of alternatives for washing down those holiday cookie treats this year. And according to the good people at the Culinary Institute of America here in New York, there are some totally unexpected (as well as interesting) cookie and drink pairings. Geez, who knew?

Anyway, instead of thinking warm, fuzzy, and homogenized, try the following at that upcoming holiday bash:

Rum balls with a Dark and Stormy cocktail: "Rum in the drink and rum in the candies, what else do you need?" says Douglas Miller at the CIA. To make a Dark and Stormy, mix 2 ounces of dark rum with 3 ounces of ginger beer. Serve over ice.

Snickerdoodles with cream soda: The cinnamon sugar sprinkled on the cookies pairs well with the vanilla in the soda, especially when the cookies are dunked.

Shortbread and sparkling wine: A dry Champagne cuts through the rich, buttery flavor of the cookie.

Molasses cookies with hot spiced apple cider: In this combination, the spices in the cider stand up to the rich molasses in the cookie.

Lace cookies with a late-harvest Riesling:
Like lace cookies, a late-harvest Riesling is light and delicate. The wine's peach and apricot flavors also work well here.

Maple oatmeal cookies with an oatmeal stout beer: "The oatmeal adds a touch of sweetness to the beer, a nice match for the sweetness of the cookies," says Miller. The cookies themselves have a chewy texture, which also pairs well with the rich texture of the beer.

Gingerbread with Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur: This liqueur stands up nicely to the dark molasses and ginger in the cookies. Serve the liqueur over ice or in coffee.

Sugar cookies with Demi-sec Champagne: The bubbles in this sweet sparkling wine go wonderfully with the crunchy sugar coating on the cookies.

Linzer cookies with Clear Creek Loganberry Liqueur: The fruity flavor of the liqueur goes well with the nutty flavor of the cookie dough and the berry filling. Serve the liqueur chilled.

Popcorn balls with a farmhouse Belgium ale: "This is a play on the baseball classic popcorn and beer," Miller says. A farmhouse Belgium ale, which has a fruity flavor and aroma, would cut the sweetness of the popcorn ball without over-powering it.

And after that...what can I say? Except:

Happy cookies and alcohol!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turkey Talk

Yes, it's that time of year again.

So sit back and watch Epicurious editor-in-chief, Tanya Wenman Steel, as she whips up a Thanksgiving meal for 8 people on a budget of less than $80. (Wine *not* included.)

And for more Turkey Day tips, be sure to check out the Epicurious complete Thanksgiving Guide.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama's D.C. Kitchen

These days even in the culinary department, it's clear that there's a new Commander-In-Chief in town.

Outgoing President George W. Bush, who notoriously wouldn't eat anything "green" or "wet" is being replaced by one who loves his meals leafy, as well as straight from the garden.

"Apparently he is not into carbs," says Denver chef Daniel Young, who cooked for President-elect Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. "I made lots of fresh, healthy foods."

And though the family's been dutifully sampling local specialties like cheese steaks, fried chicken and pizza for the past year on the trail, word is the White House fridges will be stocked with noticeably fresher fare. Guaranteed.

But... there's even bigger news. In addition to the new White House menus to come, there are three top cooks on the short-list for the coveted title of White House Chef:

Art Smith:
Personal chef to Oprah Wnfrey. (Above right)

Daniel Young:
Personal chef to Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. (Above center)

Rick Bayless:
Owner of Topolpbampo and Frontera Grill in Chicago. (Above left)

But then again... like many others, I can't help wondering why no female chefs appear on this list. And this is especially on the heels of First Lady Laura Bush's very successful appointment of White House chef Cristeta Comerford back in 2005. Hmmm....

Friday, November 07, 2008


Talk about sheer kitchen ingenuity? Just check out these floating utensils, consisting of ceramic forks, knives, and spoons. They're shaped with an empty ball in the center so that they will bob up and down rather than sinking to the bottom of your sink (and ending up in your garbage disposal).

The gastronomic buoys might also make for an interesting way to serve food. Just imagine them floating in a container of just about anything brined or, perhaps, in a bowl of floating chilled peaches in brandy. The utensils' creator, Seongyong Lee, has also designed a plastic ladle that, like the forks and knives, floats upright.
Okay, sound terrific so far? Yes, it does. But unfortunately...don't expect to run out your nearest Williams-Sonoma for these nifty little items any time soon. Both designs only appear to be concepts at this point. And it's only through a rather mesmerizing video of the ladle in action, that we can even see it on YouTube.

Nevertheless, I'll be watching this new concept *very* closely. Hear that Williams-Sonoma? You're on notice. I for one, have been totally waiting for something like this to come along.

Check out the video: