A Yuletide Farewell
New York City at Christmas is spellbinding and enchanting. This time of year, the city gets all dressed up in sparkly lights and the vibrant colors of Christmas, and the magic captivates us once again. So, when invitations went out for our annual Christmas party at our apartment, we must have seemed crazy to deck the halls and host a big soiree in the final countdown to our adventure. But we actually found it quite comforting to keep tradition alive and bring our friends together before everyone departs for the holidays…and us on our yearlong journey.
Admittedly, this party is always a little unlike us in that we relegate all the locally grown, organic and healthy foods we normally prepare to the cupboard and pile our table with Christmas delights from our childhood, dishes we often made together with our families. There are frosted sugar cookies, classic Chex mix, holly clusters made of cornflakes and marshmallow, cheese-filled sausage balls, southern-style pimento cheese, and more (lots more!). And of course, we keep glasses filled with champagne, wine, and holiday whiskey punch, a party favorite.
We promise to go back to posting about the sustainable and the organic, but for one day a year, we hope you will indulge with us!
Holiday Whiskey Punch
Adapted from Garden & Gun
For the oleosaccharum:
1 cup sugar
For the punch:
1 750-ml bottle of rye whiskey
12 hard shakes of Angostura bitters
Large block of ice
Peel the lemons with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Combine the lemon peel and sugar in a bowl, and muddle them together with a cocktail muddler or a heavy wooden spoon. Allow the mixture to rest, covered, for an hour or more, or until the sugar has melted. Stir again before using. (We like to make this the night before and let it set, sealed, for a good 12-hours or more and stirring 2-3 times, especially if you are increasing the amount to make more punch.)
Add the oleosaccharum to your punch bowl, including the peel. Add the whiskey and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Add bitters, stir, then stir in 750 ml of very cold water. (We tend to half the water amount per batch because the ice also dilutes as it melts.) Add the ice, and stir a few times to further cool the punch. Ladle into glasses to serve.
For the ice, we love to layer lemons and oranges in the block. To make, line a cake tin or any container that will fit into your punch bowl with sliced lemons and pour water to cover just the fruit. Let freeze. When frozen, line the container with sliced oranges and pour water to cover the fruit as before. Let freeze. Repeat until the full block of ice is shaped.
Southern-style Pimento Cheese
By Nick Fauchald in The Kinfolk Table
1lb sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup drained Peppadew peppers, finely chopped
½ cup chopped garlic dill pickles, plus pickle juice to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise, plus additional as needed
½ small shallot, finely grated
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 scallion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Crackers or crostini
Combine the cheese, peppers, pickles, mayonnaise, shallot, crème fraiche, and scallion in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. Add more mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon at a time, to adjust consistency to taste. The mixture should be thick but spreadable (We find we need to add 2-3 tablespoons more in order to get it creamy.) Season with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and pickle juice to taste (Typically 3-4 hard shakes of the Tabasco and 2-3 teaspoons of pickle juice). Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperate to serve.