Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Last-Minute Tasty Bites and A Smoky Sipper

Let's send 2014 off properly with these delightful nibbles and sips (scroll down for recipes). 
See you all on the other side….. xxxooo

Fried rosemary potato chips

Caramelized onion, thyme, and Gruyere puff pastry bites

Calvados, Lapsang souchong, Champagne cocktail

Fried rosemary potato chips
makes a large bowlful

11/2 lbs or so of mixed sweet and russet potatoes*, scrubbed, knobs or ends trimmed, and sliced thinly on a mandoline
distilled white vinegar, for boiling
good flake sea salt, like Maldon
peanut oil, for frying
3 sprigs rosemary, torn into smaller sprigs

*I had red potatoes available and not russet, and did okay. General consensus is that russets produce a more consistent potato chip.

Soak the sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water. This will help them release their starches, the enemy to a good fried potato chip. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Drain and rinse sliced potatoes and boil for 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove slices, lay out onto tea towels, and pat them dry to be thorough.

In a large skillet, pour in about an inch of peanut oil and heat on medium high. Add potato slices in batches, a few handfuls at a time. Turn with a slotted spoon every 20-30 seconds, up to 5 minutes, until the potatoes stop "fizzing". When they have stopped releasing bubbles, there is no more water in them and it is this key moment in which they will retain their crispness, before they start to burn. Keep in mind smaller chips will finish sooner than larger ones.

Transfer finished chips to a large bowl lined with paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat this process until you have completed the lot, tossing them for even saltiness.

Add the rosemary sprigs and turn as you did the potatoes until they stop fizzing. Add them to the chip pile, scatter a final pinch of salt on them, and toss to coat. Allow to cool fully.

Great alone or dipped into crème fraîche. Store remaining chips in a resealable bag at room temperature for one week.

Caramelized onion, thyme, and Gruyere puff pastry bites 
serves 20-30

4-6 large onions, peeled and sliced
1 cup Gruyere, finely shredded
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 package good puff pastry - I used Dufour
good olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Over medium heat in a heavy skillet, cook onions in a glug of olive oil, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. Lower heat to low and cook onions until they have softened to collapse and become caramel in hue, about a half-hour. During this time, stir occasionally: you do not want them to brown, but they don't need babysitting. Add the thyme at the end and give a stir to incorporate.

Heat oven to 400 degrees (F). Roll out puff pastry between two layers of lightly floured parchment to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the pastry into one-inch lengths, and into one-inch widths. At this size, there's enough to feed 20-30 people, so adjust scale (2-inch segments, for instance), if you have fewer mouths to account for. Chill on parchment-lined baking sheets for 5-10 minutes.

Score a square inside the perimeter of each pastry using a pairing knife. Pile a little caramelized onion mixture inside that square, topped with a pinch of shredded cheese, followed by freshly cracked pepper, and place into oven.

Start to check after 15 minutes, baking pastries until deeply golden. Rotate pans from bottom-to-top and turn front-to-back as they bake. Cool for a few minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer to a wire rack.

Serve warm. Store leftovers between layers of parchment in a sealed container, frozen or refrigerated. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator for a day. Reheat in a toaster oven or oven for same flaky texture as when first baked. Keeps for 2 weeks refrigerated, one month frozen.

Calvados, Lapsang souchong, Champagne cocktail
serves 2

2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz smoky Lapsang souchong-infused neutral spirit - I placed 8 teabags in 1 cup good vodka for one week, then discarded the teabags - keeps indefinitely
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
juice from one lemon
Champagne to top off

Place all but the Champagne in a shaker and top with ice. Cover, seal, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into two coupe glasses and top with Champagne. Cin Cin!!!

I have loved sharing the fun and adventure of this year with you. Thank you for being here. 

Here's to many more adventures in 2015!!!!! 

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