Winter Light: A Fresh Party for the New Year

Come January I crave a cool, winter white backdrop, smoky one-and-done meals, clean cocktails, and old- fashioned desserts. Sound good? Hey, what do you say, we clear the decks, post all the holiday zhush, recharge and launch into 2020! You with me?

Cool Scene

Set a cool scene with pure white tulips spilling over a simple glass container, glass candlesticks with natural beeswax tapers, and crisp white- and blue-striped linens. 

Winter Tonic — Gin, Bay, and Lime

This simple and clean herbal cocktail hits the spot on a cool winter night. Cheers to those big plans in 2020 — get it!

Ingredients 

2 ounces gin

Fresh bay leaf ice spheres, made in sphere
ice molds

4 ounces tonic water

Squeeze of fresh lime

Method

Pour the gin in a cocktail glass, add the beautiful bay ice sphere, top with tonic water and a generous squeeze of fresh lime.

Smoky, Roasted Tomato Soup with Swiss Chard, Mushrooms, and Bow Tie Pasta

Heat up the new year with a deliciously rich and smoky tomato soup that’s packed with all kinds of goodness. Best of all, it’s a one-pot-meal that feeds the winter soul.

Ingredients

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise into four pieces

Granulated sugar 

Smoked salt

Smoked paprika

Cumin

¼ pound bow tie pasta 

4 cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 shallots, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

8 stalks of Swiss chard

4 cups mushroom broth

1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, with juice

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 teaspoons smoked paprika 

3 teaspoons cumin

3 tablespoons cognac

Method

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Grease a metal oven rack and place in pan. Arrange quartered tomato slices on the rack. Dust each tomato slice with sugar, smoked salt, smoked paprika and cumin. Lightly drizzle slices with olive oil. Roast for 1 hour 45 minutes. Allow to cool on rack.

Cook bow tie pasta, heat through and serve. Drain, toss with olive oil and set aside. 

In a soup pot, sauté the sliced mushrooms and shallots in olive oil, until just tender. Set aside.

Using the same pot, add more olive oil and sauté the garlic and Swiss chard until wilted. Set aside
the chard.

In the same pot, bring the mushroom broth to a boil. (I use truffle mushroom bouillon cubes for this.) Add roasted tomatoes and whole canned tomatoes with juice to the pot. Pull the pot from the heat and purée the tomatoes, using an immersion blender. Return the pot to the stove and add the tomato paste, paprika, cumin and cognac. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Just before serving, add the bow tie pasta, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss chard to the pot. Heat through and serve.

TIP: These roasted tomatoes are amazing as an
appetizer, on a slice of grilled bread, and topped with herb goat cheese.

Old Fashioned Molasses Pudding Cake

We will call this dessert a cross, between a pudding and a spice cake. Whatever it is, it’s yummy and perfect on a cold winter night. Think, earthy molasses, vanilla bean and cinnamon, topped with good vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Spoon out and dig in.

Ingredients

½ cup of softened unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing

¾ cup baker’s sugar, infused with vanilla bean seeds

2 large eggs

1¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 teaspoons baking powder

1¼ cups whole milk

Vanilla ice cream

Caramel sauce

Method

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix until combined. Add the milk gradually and continue mixing until you get a smooth batter. Pour into a greased pie dish. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the dessert is set but still a bit soft in the middle. When serving, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Wishing you a sweet 2020!

Sourdough Toast with Herb Goat Cheese 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut the crust off of several slices of sourdough bread and cut each slice into rectangles. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for three to five minutes. Flip the slices and run under the broiler for 30 seconds, so both sides are nice and toasty. Top with pats of herb goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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