It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ

2015 Archives

Champers countdown for New Years

As traditional as Champagne is traditional for New Year's, it's nice to mix it up now and then with a few champers-based cocktails. My favorite affordable bubbly is Chandon Blanc de Noir, a Napa Valley California sparkling wine made by the French house Moet et Chandon.

[Copyright 2015 Jorj Bauer, Marsha Wirtel, all rights reserved]

  1. Kir Royale: This classic was my first champagne cocktail, and remains a favorite. Creme de cassis, bubbles.
  2. Kathleen: Limoncello and bubbles. Very refreshing.
  3. Elderflower: A bit of Elderflower syrup topped by bubbles. Have you noticed a theme here?
  4. Aperol Sprizz: Aperol and then bubbles on top. If you prefer a drier champagne, this will balance any sweetness.
  5. Champagne cocktail: Drop a cube of sugar at the bottom a flute, drop with Angostura bitters, top with bubbles, stir to dissolve sugar.
  6. Blini: Peach juice or juice blend, top with bubbles.
  7. Black Velvet: Stout beer and bubbles.
  8. Jade: From my friend Jack Persico. Shake 1/4 oz blue curacao, 1/4 oz Midori, 1/4 oz lime juice, dash of Angostura bitters over ice. Pour into flute, then top with bubbles.
  9. Chicago cocktail: Brandy, triple sec, bitters, bubbles.
  10. French 75: This is our current house favorite and what I'll serve this New Year's Eve. It's is slightly more complex: gin, lemon, sugar syrup, shake with ice, then bubbles on top.
Happy New Year!

N things about me

Professionally, I am a database-backed web site developer, not a baker.

I have a degree in math.

This is unrealated to my ability to multiply metric conversions in my head; that comes from having to calculate sales tax on my book purchases as a pre-teen.

My soft serve cone has jimmies on it; worder comes from a fawcet; Kandy Kakes and Krimpets are delicious; 55 is only a suggestion for the Sure-kill aka the Expressway. In short, I'm a Philadelphian.

I hate to cook.

I'm not thrilled with Thanksgiving, either.

Christmas has been my favorite holiday since childhood; I wrote my Confirmation Class term paper on it.

Valentine's Day is least favorite. Those expectations will mess you up for life.

I am a massive nerd. I've been a Dr. Who fan since my mother turned it on when I was nine, and now I go to conventions and cosplay (that's me in L.A. dressed as Sarah Jane Smith). I game. On line.

When I lived in Germany, I learned to drive a manual transmission, and much prefer it over an automatic.

Since 2008, I've had my motorcycle license. I ride a 125 cc scooter.

I also bike.

Other drivers make me very, very nervous.

Favorite way to kick it up? Crystal Hot Sauce.

Favorite way to spice it up? cardamom.

Favorite nut: my wacky family.

Favorite nut, non-family, actually edible: hazelnuts, in cookies and cakes.

Least favorite nut: I try not to discuss fringe politics.

Least favorite nut, edible: walnuts. For years I thought I hated nuts. No, I just hate this bitter, nasty thing.

Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

Tone deaf. This physically pains my husband, who had perfect pitch before he listened to all that metal in high school.

I do 99 percent the work on the website.

I rarely drink soda, but when I do, it's San Pellegrino Chinotto, which tastes like sweeter, non-alcoholic Campari.

How to make Rinderrouladen

On the day your son is pre-testing for his junior black belt, stop by Rieker's in Fox Chase for some Langjäger, one of his favorite snacks. (He won't actually eat the snacks, but you'll feel better, knowing you did all you could and put every kind of snack he likes in his bag.) While you are there, also get some sausages, cold cuts, ham salad … chocolates … two brands of chocolates … is that the October issue of Tina: Kochen & Backen? And notice the pre-made Rinderrouladen, which you remember from childhood and still have no idea how to make. Buy two.

There! That's dinner sorted.

Drop kid off at karate school for three hours of testing. Dead head some flowers. Housework. Get kid ("I put Mr. Luis in a headlock!"). More housework. Drink a beer with husband on the patio in the cooling September afternoon. While husband returns to the photography mines, er, darkroom, in the basement laundry area, consider cooking those Roladen for dinner. Read Twitter.

Get Rouladen out of fridge. Stare at them. Remember you bought them because your grandmother never taught you how, and you have no idea how to cook them, let alone assemble them. Stare some more.

Get out the ceramic-coated, cast iron small Dutch oven usually used to bake bread. Add a tablespoon or two of oil, and heat over high heat. Quickly brown the rouladen on each side. Wonder how to make a sauce. Sauce is not your thing. Cooking is not your thing. Cooking without a recipe is really not your thing.

Remember the crappy Riesling in fridge that you can't bear to finish drinking because it is that crappy, and, oh God, what will you do with the second double bottle but never mind, let's try a splash, about a quarter to a half cup of wine into the pot. Reduce heat to medium and braise for half an hour or more until the Rouladen are cooked through. Traditionally, Rinderrouladen include uncooked bacon, so be sure they get to 140 or 150 degrees, unless you want soggy bacon.

Remove Rouladen to a plate. Consider a sauce. Reconsider your dinner choices, if not your life choices. Stare at the pot of wine and juices.

Add about 1 teaspoon of mustard and 2 Tablespoons of sour cream to the pot. Whisk in. Shake in some flour or other thickener. Turn heat to high, and whisk until sauce combines.

Do not worry about salt, Rieker's has done an excellent job of pre salting. Serve with Knödel, Spätzle, noodles or potatoes. And the crappy Riesling

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