Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pecan Toffee Bars



Simple ingredients and an uncomplicated recipe yields a pan full of yummy treats. Chewy/crisp caramel taste on the bottom, a thin layer of chocolate and a sprinkling of nuts combine in a wonderful harmony of flavours.
 

These bars keep well at room temperature in a sealed container for about a week, or freeze them for longer storage. If they hang around that long.

Pecan Toffee Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan. 
Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Stir in flour until well blended. 
Spread dough evenly in pan - it will be thin. 
Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned. 
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return pan to oven for no more than 2 minutes. With an off set spatula spread the now melted chocolate evenly over the base. Sprinkle with pecans. When cool, cut into bars.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Salsa, Medium Hot




Tomato salsa with jalapeno and sweet bell peppers is a staple condiment around here. It's delicious as a usual companion of tortilla chips and tacos, but also wonderful on eggs, baked potatoes, added to soup for a zesty punch and more. 

I started with the recipe found in the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving and have adapted the recipe to suit our tastes. The jalapenos mellow and don't add a lot of heat. That comes through the addition of chipotle pepper powder and cayenne pepper. 

Salsa, Medium Hot

8 cups of peeled, chopped tomatoes (Blanch the tomatoes, peel and core them, and roughly chop by hand or in the food processor)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
8 jalapeno peppers, cut in half and seeded
1/2 medium green pepper, seeded
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, seeded
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup of fresh parsley sprigs
1/4 cup of fresh oregano leaves
1 can tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the tomatoes and onions in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. 
Put the jalapeno peppers, green pepper, and sweet red pepper into the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Add to the pot.
On a cutting board, finely mince together the garlic cloves, parsley springs and oregano leaves. Add to the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and keep at a gentle simmer, uncovered, for about an hour and a half, or until the mixture is thickened and dark red in colour. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Sterilize 5 pint jars and lids. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top rim. Wipe the rim with a damp cloth to clean, then seal with lids and screw tops. 

Place in a canning pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then process at a steady boil for 20 minutes. Remove from water with tongs and place on a towel covered countertop to cool completely. Check that all jars have sealed. Store in a cool, dark location.

Yields: 5 pints or so

Note to self: Made 4 recipes in 2014.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sausage, Green Bean and Sweet Potato Medley



The garden is bursting with green beans these days. I looked on line for some recipes using green beans. I wanted something that would feature vegetables since I love them so much. After reading quite a few recipes, I came up with this combination. It was good for dinner and I froze another dish of it for the future. I hope it thaws reasonably well. We'll see.

Sweet potatoes, green beans and Italian sausage combine with sauteed onions and peppers to make a very satisfying dish. 

Sausage, Green Bean and Sweet Potato Medley

1 pound mild (or hot) Italian sausage (I used turkey sausage)
3 cups of cut green beans (cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch lengths)
3 cups of cubed and peeled sweet potato
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium sweet red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the Italian sausage either by baking or frying, let cool, then slice 1/2 inch thick. 

Place the prepared green beans in a saucepan, add an inch of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes until crisp tender. Drain and set aside.

Place the prepared sweet potato cubes in a saucepan, add an inch of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife, but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. If you fry the sausages, you could use the drippings from that instead of the olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper and saute until tender but not brown. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the oregano.

Combine the sausage, green beans, sweet potatoes, and sauteed onions and peppers in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in an open baking dish and pour the chicken broth over top. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover if baking longer. 

S

Friday, August 15, 2014

Zucchini Soup Base



Too much zucchini? It's the time of year when I go out to the garden and hope that I don't find another giant zucchini lurking under a leaf. Fortunately, there are many wonderful zucchini recipes out there for eating now and later. Making a soup base to freeze for later is one thing I do to cope with the glut of zucchini. It's fast and easy.

Zucchini Soup Base

1-2 medium onions, chopped
1 head (about 15 cloves) of garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
10-12 cups (roughly) cut up zucchini
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for several minutes. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for another minute. Add the carrots, the zucchini, the chicken stock and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. 
Remove the bay leaf (don't forget this step!). Puree the vegetables and broth with a stick blender or countertop blender. Cool and pour into containers to freeze.

I divided the amounts given in this recipe into three and froze it in quart jars, leaving space for expansion, so I'm guessing there are about 3 cups, maybe a little more, in each jar.

To serve, thaw the soup base, place in a saucepan and heat through. Add more chicken stock to thin the soup to your liking, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add about 1/2 cup light cream just before serving.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Mint and Feta



Several years ago I printed out a list of 101 Simple Salads written by Mark Bittman from the New York Times. The list offered suggestions, not actual recipes. Brilliant. How many of us actually measure salad ingredients anyway? In the interest of precision, though, I'm writing out a rough recipe for my own memory. Perhaps you'll find it helpful, too.

This sweet/salty mixture of crisp watermelon cubes, chunks of juicy tomatoes, some salty feta cheese, and a sprinkle or two of chopped mint doesn't even need a dressing. I drizzled a little olive oil over top and called it quits. Delicious! Tim ate the leftovers from dinner just before going to bed last night. I'd call that a success.

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Mint and Feta

4 cups cubed watermelon (1-inch cubes)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, cored and cut into rough cubes
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 - 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Toss everything gently. Put into a bowl and serve. Easy peasy. 

I served it alongside grilled pork chops, potato salad and a grilled vegetable mixture (eggplant, red pepper, onion, mushrooms). 

edited: I've made this twice recently, once as above and once without the cheese, and using basil in place of mint, with a drizzle of basil garlic vinaigrette. Also a winner. This is a very adaptable salad.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables



Several years ago a co-worker brought a similar dish to a potluck. It's a bit of a different twist on roasted vegetables. A balsamic vinaigrette is poured over the vegetables before they are roasted, resulting in more depth of flavour. This dish is great warm, cold, or hot. I'm planning on taking it on a camping trip soon.

The amounts given here are generous and will serve 8 - 10 people. Add or subtract vegetables as you like. I think butternut squash, sweet potatoes, yellow summer squash or mushrooms would be fine additions. You may have to adjust the baking times depending on the vegetables chosen.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

2 medium sized zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into a 1 inch dice
2 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into a 1 inch dice
1 large red or white onion, cut into a 1/4 inch dice
2 sweet red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil or parsley

Combine the zucchini, eggplant, onion and peppers in a large bowl. 

Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables. Hold about 1/4 cup back, for dressing the vegetables later, if desired. Use enough to coat the vegetables, but they shouldn't be sitting in a puddle of dressing

Spread on two rimmed baking sheets. Roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then stir and continue roasting 10-15 minutes. The vegetables should be lightly browned and beginning to caramelize around the edges. 

Cool. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh minced parsley or julienned basil just before serving.  
 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Strawberry Tart







Strawberry season is short. Oh, I know that I can buy those crunchy, tasteless, beautiful looking imported strawberries for many months of the year. I usually succumb once a year, then vow to never buy them again. Real strawberries are worth the wait: soft, juicy, impossibly sweet and flavorful.  And the scent - almost as sweet as the taste.

This tart showcases the best of local strawberries. There's little to distract from the intense berry flavor. A shortbread crust and some cream with a hint of lemon curd enhance the strawberry's true nature. This tart is best served the same day it's made, although if you have some leftover, it's not bad for breakfast. 

Strawberry Tart

1 baked and cooled shortbread crust (I used this recipe) in a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/2 cup lemon curd
fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried, stems removed (about 2 cups, plus extra for garnish)
4 Tablespoons peach jam 
fresh mint (for garnish and for chewing on)

Whip the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks start to form. Add the lemon curd and continue whipping for 15-20 seconds until incorporated. The mixture should retain its shape when a spoon is dragged through it.
Spread 1/2 of the cream and curd mixture onto the crust. 
Cut the strawberries in half from top to bottom and lay them in concentric rows on top of the cream, beginning with the outside of the crust.

Heat the peach jam slightly and strain it to get about 2 tablespoons of peach jam liquid. Drizzle the liquid over the berries.

Spoon the remaining cream/curd mixture around the top of the tart. Use extra berries and fresh mint as a garnish. Place in the refrigerator and chill for an hour before serving.  

Crisp Vegetable Slaw







One of summer's delights is lots and lots of salads. Crisp, crunchy, fresh. I make them every day. The one thing I dislike is chopping cabbage. Actually, it's not the chopping I dislike, it's the clean up. Whether it's done in a food processor or on a cutting board, it makes a mess. All those little bits seem to fly everywhere and wiping them up gives me a feeling mildly related to nails on a chalkboard. Weird, I know. 

I do have to chop cabbage for this recipe, but not too much because the cabbage is on equal grounds with other vegetables. Snap peas, carrots, red pepper, radishes, and cabbage provide lots of color and texture. No onions in the mix because the onions are in the dressing which has a hint of sweetness, a hint of mustard and those onions. A few toasted almonds added just before serving add a final bit of crunch.

Get out a big chopping board and bowl and use your mad knife-wielding skills to make a salad that will delight your senses and keep for several days in the fridge. 

Crisp Vegetable Slaw

2 cups thinly sliced snap peas
2 cups chopped cabbage (I like to slice it thinly, then give it a rough chop with a big knife, resulting in narrow strands rather than an actual chop)
2 - 3 carrots, coarsely grated
1 - 2 sweet bell red peppers, thinly sliced (about 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches)
1/2 - 1 cup sliced radishes
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (either in the oven or in a skillet on the stove top)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and mix well. Season to taste. Add the almonds and toss. 

Dressing

1 small red or yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons honey (maple syrup also works)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Place all ingredients into a blender and process for about 30 seconds.
 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yogurt Cake



This recipe has become a regular around here. It comes together quickly with ingredients I usually have on hand, tastes wonderful warm or cool, and is a great background for a variety of sauces and toppings. Oh, and it keeps well, too, covered, on the counter. Credit for the recipe goes to Chocolate and Zucchini, a cookbook written by a French author. (She also writes a blog by the same name.) I've altered it slightly.

Yogurt Cake

1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use grapeseed), plus what's needed to oil the pan
1 cup plain yogurt (unsweetened), full fat or 2%
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon rum (optional)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon salt 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and oil the sides of the pan. OR, use a 10-inch springform pan and just oil the sides. I use a springform pan.

Whisk together the yogurt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, the rum and the oil. Whisk again. 

In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to yogurt mixture and whisk or stir lightly just until combined.

Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean. Cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then loosen from pan and turn out onto the rack to cool. 

In the above photo I served the cake with a raspberry sauce made with frozen berries from last summer. It's equally good with any fruit sauce, or fresh fruit and whipped cream, or chocolate sauce.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Pie




Rhubarb's early appearance in the garden is a welcome sight after a long winter. Early settlers to North America considered it an aid to digestion and good health after a winter of eating preserved foods. 

The creamy baked topping on this pie is a perfect foil for the tart, fruity rhubarb filling. Although the recipe calls for an unbaked pie crust, I used a graham crust since I didn't feel like making pie pastry. We'll see how it turns out when I cut the pie. (edited to add: turned out just fine)

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).

1 uncooked pie crust (10 inch)

Line a deep 10 inch pie plate with the pie crust and set aside. 

Filling:

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
3-4 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces)

In a medium saucepan mix the sugar and cornstarch. Add the water and stir to combine. Stir in the fresh rhubarb. Cook over medium high heat, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns clear.

Pour rhubarb mixture into pie shell and bake for 10 minutes.

While the pie bakes, prepare the topping.

Topping:

1 package (8 oz) softened cream cheese 
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth.
Pour over the hot rhubarb.

Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The topping should be golden brown. 

Cool thoroughly and serve with freshly whipped cream.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Endive Ham Rolls aka Endives au jambon



Several years ago I found this recipe on a French language site, Les Fruits et Les Legumes Frais (Fresh Fruits and Vegetables). Actually, the site was then called 10 par jour or 10 per day. Regardless, I've enjoyed making this classic and simple dish from time to time. 

At the deli, I ask for the ham to be cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Thinner slices could be used, but you may want two or three per roll. The dish can be prepared ahead, refrigerated, and baked just before serving. As I prepared this dish today, I thought that two or three stalks of asparagus would make an equally good vegetable to roll up into the ham. I've adapted the recipe slightly from the original

Endive Ham Rolls

6 endives, washed, with outer leaves removed and ends cut off
6 slices ham, either from the deli or from a leftover baked ham, about 1/8 inch thick
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup finely grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese

Steam the endives until tender, about 15 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, place them in about 1/2 inch of barely simmering water. Drain and let cool. This could be done ahead and the endives stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Cut the endives in half lengthwise. Cut the ham slices in half crosswise. This step will depend greatly on the size and shape of your ham slices. You want the ham to mostly cover the endives and to wrap around them with a bit of overlap.

Wrap the endives in the ham. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Let cook until barely golden. Do not let it get overly browned. Stir in the mustard, if using. Whisk in the milk and cook the sauce until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour about half of the sauce into an 11 x 8 inch baking dish. Arrange the ham and endive rolls on top in rows. Pour the remaining sauce over each row. Sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the rolls are hot throughout. The ham may brown a little on the edges. 

Enjoy with a green salad and some white wine. ooh la la
 

  

Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies



Faced with a quantity of egg whites in the fridge, I made these meringue based cookies. They are light, but addictive. I think it has to do with the way they melt in your mouth, with the added flavors of almonds and chocolate. Easy to make, and they are gluten and dairy free (depending on the chocolate chips used.) 

Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies

2 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate (I used a combination of both)
1 cup sliced almonds, blanched or not

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Begin adding the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate and almonds with a silicone or wooden spatula. 

Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets. Allow for some spreading. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the parchment, then carefully remove. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bavarian Apple Torte







I posted this over on my main blog, but wanted it here, too, for referencing.


Apple desserts - yum! I first tasted this torte at the home of my cousin Caroline and was happy to see it show up in a family cookbook a few years later. Not overly sweet, but just sweet enough. Apples, cream cheese, cinnamon, and almonds on an easy crust. This really is easier than apple pie. 

Layer One:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour to make a soft dough. Spread or press on bottom of 9 inch springform pan.

Layer Two:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Pour onto pastry in pan.

Layer Three:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used three Spartan apples and had just the right amount to fit on the pan - I didn't measure them)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Combine the sugar and cinnamon, add the apples and toss together. Arrange on cream cheese layer and sprinkle almonds on top. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then increase baking temperature to 400 degrees and bake until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes more. If the almonds begin to brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Cool slightly. Remove from pan, loosening edges with a knife first. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.




Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bacon and Date Snacks



These little morsels are sweet and salty at the same time. Easy to make, easy to eat. Barely a recipe with just two ingredients.

Dried Pitted Dates
Bacon Slices

Cut bacon slices so that they can be wrapped around the dates. I cut my slices in half, then ended up trimming a little of the fatty end off of the bacon before wrapping the dates. 

Wrap the dates, slightly overlapping the bacon ends, and fasten with a toothpick. 

Place on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Use the top third of the oven so the bottoms don't burn. Turn the rolls over about halfway through. Cool slightly before eating so as not to burn your mouth.

If you like, stuff an almond into the date before wrapping it in bacon. I prefer them without the almond - the crunch of the bacon and the melting sweetness of the dates are enough for me.   

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares



One of the things I enjoy most about planning a party or event is deciding what food to make. Our third grandchild's baby shower recently was a morning event, so savoury things appealed to me more than sweets. These polenta squares, based on a photo, were easy to make with much prep done in advance, and they tasted so good. The softly caramelized onions, the melting Brie, the crunchy salty bacon and the cornmeal base all melded together wonderfully. 

The polenta can be made the day before and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. Caramelize the onions ahead of time, too, and keep them in the fridge. I also baked the bacon, cut it into pieces and refrigerated it (stuck waaay back in the fridge so I wouldn't sneak bits.) The topping recipe follows the polenta square recipe.

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares

polenta:
4 cups of chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 cups of polenta corn
2 teaspoons of pizza spice or herbes de Provence, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt


olive oil for greasing baking sheet and brushing on top

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta corn. Add the spice/herbs and salt. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until very thick, about 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

While the mixture is cooking, oil a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. When the mixture is thick, pour it into the prepared baking sheet. Level out the mixture with a flat metal spatula. I found an off-set spatula very useful. Spread the mixture 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You want the squares to be able to hold the toppings without being floppy when picked up. 

Let the polenta cool. Brush the top with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, cut the polenta into squares, about 1 1/2 inches square. Top each with a spoonful of caramelized onions, a small wedge of Brie cheese, and a few pieces of crisp bacon.

Bake the squares at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through and the Brie is softened and slightly melting. Serve hot or warm.

toppings:
2 large yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and gently saute them until softened. Add salt to taste and the thyme. Continue stirring and cooking the onions until they are very soft and just beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, or make ahead and refrigerate until needed.

Brie cheese (one small wheel), cut into small wedges

Bacon, about 8 slices, baked until crisp at 350 degrees, drained, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
 
 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eggnog Panna Cotta



Many European cultures claim variations on milk desserts. Crème Brulée for the French, Custard for the English, Flan for the Spanish. The Italians have Panna Cotta, which I'd never made or tried until recently. It's been on my mind to try recently, but I wanted to get past the sugar glut of Christmas. 

When I saw the carton of eggnog in the fridge, I had an aha moment. What if I used eggnog for the panna cotta. Well, I wasn't the first to come up with the idea, when I did a search on the internet. So I carried on, adapting this and that until I came up with this dessert. It's refreshing, surprisingly light, and carried just the right post-festive flavour with the eggnog. I'll be making this again with regular milk, or maybe coconut or almond milk. Hmmm. More possibilities.

Eggnog Panna Cotta

1/2 cup cream
1 envelope (2 teaspoons) unflavoured gelatin
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cream in a small saucepan. Heat gently and stir until the gelatin is completed dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the eggnog, vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg. Strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove any possible lumps.

Pour into individual dishes and chill until set, at least 4 hours. Serve with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce. Here, I've added a dollop of Blueberry Sauce that I canned last summer.