Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall is in the air!

This morning, I woke to cloudy skies and a little chill in the air. And did I actually see a hint of orange on the topmost leaves of the maple tree, out back? Yahoo! The Autumnal Equinox comes this week, a cold front is on the way - time to get the hoodies out of storage and make way for Fall!

My own recipe - perfect for a Sunday afternoon open-house in the Fall, or post-sledding party in wintertime.

1 gallon brown apple cider - clear cider will do, in a pinch
3-4 cinnamon sticks (about 3” in length)
1 Tbl. whole allspice
2 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. star anise, optional
1 Tbl. dried orange peel ( ¼” cut)  OR
1 whole orange lightly studded with cloves*
½ cup brown, white, or Demerara sugar, to taste.
(Cider can vary in sweetness - test it out!)

Mix all ingredients in a large pot or crockery cooker. Heat almost to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 to 45 minutes.  Test-taste along the way, to make sure the spice proportions suit you. Strain and serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick.  Adding rum is very optional!
* If using a fresh orange, omit dried orange peel and 1 tsp of the cloves.  Float the orange in the cider while simmering, 
Also, if you will be holding the cider at a simmer for a long time - as in a crock pot, for a party - the spices will get stronger and stronger. Either strain them out after 45 minutes or be prepared to add a little hot, unspiced cider, periodically. 


This is an absolutely gorgeous cheese ball. The pomegranate seeds look like rubies against the green of the chopped cilantro, and the inside is a deep Fall gold. It's also delicious - a little bit sweet, a little dash of curry, a hint of heat. 

From The Herb Companion magazine, Oct./Nov. 1998 issue
16 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbl butter
4 Tbl chopped crystallized ginger
1 bunch (4 to 8) green onions with some green tops, chopped
1 Tbl hot curry powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper (or more, to taste)
2 tsp paprika
3 Tbl medium-dry sherry or white wine vinegar
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (substitute Italian parsley if you don't care for cilantro)
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (optional)

Process all ingredients except cilantro & pomegranate seeds in a food processor until blended.  Turn out onto plastic wrap, cover, and refrigerate overnight. (Can be formed into balls, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for later, at this point.)
When firm, form into a ball and roll in the chopped cilantro.  Stud generously with pomegranate seeds if desired.  Serve immediately, or rewrap with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until about 20 minutes before serving.  Serves 12 as an appetizer.

Coming on next week's radio show... Herbal Comfort Food!

Enjoy, and stay Snug. ;)