Spanish Bellini

I am personally a fan of bubbly cocktails; the Spanish Bellini with Cherry, Saffron and Tequila is a complex, floral, smokey, sweet, delicious, sparkly beverage Mmmm…..

CherrySaffronTequilaBellini--

Cherries remind me of where I grew up; eating them until your teeth and lips were stained dark red!  Cherries are so good with bourbon or a anejo tequila which is what i chose for this bubbly cocktail. SpanishBellini

 I love cooking fresh fruit with a little sugar, water and spices to get a yummy syrup for mixing with drinks it’s fun and gives you a chance to be creative.  Try these delicious cocktails with a Spanish Style Cheese Board.

Recipe:                                                                                                              Profile:  Original/Smokey Sweet

  • 1oz El Tosoro Anejo Tequila
  • 1oz* Cherry Saffron Syrup
  • 4oz Prosecco

Glass: Champagne Flute

Garnish:  No garnish necessary but if you want one I recommend an orange twist

Instructions: 

Add Tequila, Cherry Saffron Syrup to a mixing glass, add ice and shake for 8 seconds.  Pour into champagne flute and add the Prosecco slowly so it doesn’t bubble over.

*Cherry Saffron Syrup

  • 1 Cup De-Stemmed Fresh Cherries
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Purified Water
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Sweet Paprika
  • Small Pinch of Saffron

Instructions:

First de-stem the cherries.  In a small saucepan add whole cherries, sugar, water and herbs; turn to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the cherries start to break down.  Stirring continually, smashing the cherries while they are cooking; I like to use a muddler to mash the cherries.  Once the cherries are soft and broken up turn heat off and let cool.  Using a spoon remove the cherry seeds.  Add mixture to food processor and blend well.  Strain cherry mix through a fine mesh strainer.

Oven Baked Round Purple Fries + Vegetarian Chili Fries

Oven baked fries are so easy and much healthier for you than fried!  The thinner you cut them the crispier they become, like potato chips.

Oven-Baked-Fries-

Robby and I have made this dish for a while.  I would make the chili and he would fry the fries in grapeseed oil; but now I bake them, which in my opinion, is way better.

 I first discovered chili fries at a dive called Bunny Snacks.  I was attending  junior high at John Adams Junior High school at the time.  I had P.E. 3rd period and we had to run laps around the baseball back stop that was at the south-west corner of the school.  A few of us would hide behind the back stop until the class would go inside the gym.  We would then sneak out under the fence and run across the street to Bunny Snacks for their amazing chili fries.  I have been a huge fan of this dish ever since!

Oven-Baked-Round-Purple-Fries-+-Chili-Fries This is great with the beer of your choice.  For a red, try it with a Rioja or Pinot Noir.  For a white, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or even a Riesling.

Oven-Baked-Round-Purple-Fries-+-Vegetarian-Chili-Fries Recipe: 1 potato per person

  • Small Purple Potatoes – depends on how many people
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Recipe Spicy 4 Bean Vegan Chili ( you can make a half batch or freeze half)
  • Jack Cheese – shredded (optional)

Instructions:

Slice potatoes into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices, add to a bowl of water, toss around and let sit for 10 minutes to remove starch!

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Dry potatoes well then toss with a tablespoon olive oil, lay onto a cooling rack, lightly sprinkle each slice with salt.  Place rack onto a baking sheet then put on middle rack and bake for 15 minutes then flip and bake for another 15 minutes.

* I usually make a whole batch of the chili, freeze half and serve it for dinner.  Then I have it ready for the next night to make chili fries.  I love to have some in the freezer for those nights I just don’t feel like cooking!

Oven-Baked-Purple-Fries-+-Chili-Fries

Health benefits:

Purple potatoes are originally from their origins in Peru and Bolivia.  They contain 4 times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes. The deep blue or purple color produces an flavonoid antioxidant called anthocyanin which helps boost the immune system, the same that can be found it blueberries, blood oranges,  pomegranates and black rice.  They are high in potassium and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Purple potatoes have a high concentration of phytochemicals and one called chlorogenic acid and has been linked to lowering blood pressure.  They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, folic acid and iron.

Coconut Roasted Butternut Fennel and Leek Pureed Soup

This is a heart warming healthy soup to start off the new year right!   The roasted veggies gives it a nice richness.  It has a nice buttery flavor  and a wonderful creamy texture without any butter.  I added the tiniest amount of curry powder, however it really doesn’t taste like curry but it adds a great depth of flavor!  You can add a little crunch with the addition of pomegranate seeds.

Pureed-Coconut-Butternut-Squash-Soup

I am so excited about the new year, partially because I’m getting married in March!  Yayyy married… I can’t believe it will be here before I know it. : D               Yes, it’s going to be a great year, I can just feel it, how about you?

  Roasted-Butternut-Fennel-Leek-PureedSoup

This soup goes best with a white wine like a Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Roasted-Butternut-Fennel-Leek-Soup copy

 Recipe: 4 – 6 servings

  • 6 Cups Butternut Squash – cubed
  • 1 Leek
  • 1 Fennel Bulb
  •  3 Cups Coconut Milk (about 2 cans)
  • 1 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1/2 Onion – Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus some for veggies
  • 1 Vegetable Bullion – unsalted
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Lemongrass
  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Curry Powder (I used Simply Organic)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardomon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Fennel Fronds  (optional)

Instructions:

 Cut  the stem and bottom off the squash then peel the squash with a peeler, slice and cube into about 1 inch cubes, measure and add to a baking sheet.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Wash the leek really well.  There is always dirt on the inside.  Watch this how to video if you have never cooked with leek before.  Cut the roots off, cut in half length wise and cut the halves in half length wise.

Add the leek to the baking sheet.

Cut stocks off the fennel bulb, cut bulb in half, then cut out the core, slice the halves into halves and add to the baking sheet.

Drizzle all the veggies with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

With your hands toss the oil and the squash and rub onto the leek and fennel.

Bake on middle rack for 30 – 40 minutes or until slightly brown on the edges.

While veggies are roasting; dice the onion, mince the garlic and add to a 3 or 4 quart soup pot or dutch oven along with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Saute on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until garlic is slightly golden.  Add the wine and bullion.  Mash the bullion to desolve and cook until wine is syrupy.

Add the coconut milk and spices then cook on medium-low until veggies are done.

Add the veggies and coconut base to a food processor in batches or use a immersion blender and puree until smooth.  Put back into the pot and cook for 10 to 15 minutes to incorporate the flavors.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds and fennel fronds.

* You can also garnish with cilantro.

Health benefits:

Butternut Squash is a great source of fiber and folate making it heart and bowel healthy it has an abundance of carotenoids that is great for eye health and also helps protect against heart disease and very high levels of beta-carotene.  It regulates blood sugar levels helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and increasing energy levels.  It has a significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 which is great for the nervous and immune systems.  A 1-cup serving gives about half the recommended amount of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.  Winter squash also helps in the prevention of prostate, colon, lung & breast cancers.

Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood.  The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation.  It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration.  There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain.  The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Leeks allicin content reduces cholesterol production, blood pressure, blood vessel stiffness and protects the lining. Leeks help chronic low-level inflammations like in diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis. They contain polyphenols that are known to be strong antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which help with chronic disease and aging. They are a good sources of vitamin-A, C and K.

A Spanish Style Cheese Board

Here is a fun Spanish style cheese board idea for your next party!  So many great flavors to be had with the Manchego, Imberico, Mahon and Chèvre cheese.

Spanish-Style-Cheese-Board

I made this for a our friends Swedish christmas party and it was a big hit!  I know… I brought a Spanish cheese board to a Swedish party.  I wanted it to be Swedish, but I could’ t find cheese from Sweden anywhere.   It turned out that it was good that I didn’t because Erika the host had swedish cheeses she had gotten from Ikea.  Ikea?  Duh… I never would have thought of going there!  I find it strange that you basically can’t find cheese from Sweden anywhere else.

This is mostly Spanish influenced minus the chèvre cheese and some of the crackers but it all works together nicely!

If you want a bigger spread you could add some more to it, like quince jam, fig jam, pear slices, apple slices, green grapes, fresh bread or crostini.

Spanish-Cheese-and Cracker Board-

This is great with any Spanish wine of your choosing, like a white or red Rioja, Crianza, Verdejo,  Albariño, or a Cava.

Spanish-Cheese-Board

Serves: Approx. 20 people

  • Manchego Shortbread Cracker
  • Spanish Piquillo Pepper Pesto
  • Chèvre Cheese Log – with pomegranate seeds
  • Iberico Cheese
  • Mahón Cheese
  • Water Crackers – plain and black pepper
  • Cranberry Hazelnut Crackers – by Raincoast crisps
  • Marcona Almonds – with olive oil and salt
  • Red Grapes
  • Pomegranate – for chèvre (optional) – add the rest to a bowl and serve if you want
  • Fresh herbs for garnish – sage, thyme and/or rosemary sprigs.

Instructions:

Start by making the Manchego crackers and while they are baking start the pesto.

Cut the pomegranate in half and pick out seeds.  Place them on a paper towel to remove any juice and wetness.

Arrange them on the chèvre log and press them in carefully.

Arrange cheese on a cutting board or platter, add some herbs around the cheeses then fill in the extra space with crackers and fruit.

 You will need; a cheese knife for each cheese, a spreader knife and small bowl for the pesto and the same for jam if you decide to add it, a small bowl for the nuts and a platter for the water crackers.

Manchego Marcona Almond Shortbread Crackers

These are little morsels from heaven!  You get the flakiness of the shortbread, great texture from the almonds and whole wheat flour and cheesy goodness from the Manchego.

Manchego-Crackers These are a great addition to any kind of party spread.  I brought them to a Christmas party along side a great Spanish cheese platter.

Manchego-Shortbread These go great with a white Rioja, Verdejo, Txakoli or Cava.

Manchego-Shortbread-Crackers Recipe: 24 – 50 crackers (depends on size)

  • 1/2 Cup Ground Marcona Almonds
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter – at room temperature
  • 1 Cup Manchego cheese – grated
  • 3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions:

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the almond, mix with the flour in a separate bowl and set aside.

Make sure the butter is at room temperature.

Cream butter, cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor or mixer until creamy, then add the flour almonds mix in and mix well.  If it is too crumbly you can pulse in a teaspoon of cold water until it sticks together.  (careful not to add too much)

Pour out the dough onto a flat surface, you can either form with hands or dump onto plastic wrap and press together by pulling in the edges and pressing into a disk.

Form dough into a flat disks.

 Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick, it might crack when you roll one way, just press the cracks down.

Press the edges together closing the cracks.  Sprinkle a little flour on top and roll it again it will still crack, just roll in all directions and it will seal itself up but you still might have to press it together.

Cut with a cookie cutter of your choice and place cookies on a baking sheet.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

 Baking time depends on the size of the cookies and humidity.  The smallest sizes take about 9-10 minutes and the medium take about 12 to 15 minutes, just check on them.

Pull them out of the oven when they are golden brown.

Be careful when transferring to cooling rack, they are fragile until cooled.