Brighten New Year's party with Valley-grown food [The Fresno Bee]By Robert Rodriguez, The Fresno BeeMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 26--If you are looking for some ideas for your New Year's Eve party, local experts have some suggestions for how to include seasonal foods and flavors.
Nancy Vajretti, owner of Love & Garlic in Fresno, likes the idea of appetizers because they are easy to grab, easy to serve and can pique people's interest in local foods.
She says the winter months can yield a bounty of potential finger food ingredients, including pomegranates, nuts, apples and citrus. She also likes to use local sausage when she can. Vajretti recommends:
-- The Meat Market for their fennel/anise sausage.
-- The Market for their lamb sausage.
-- Sam's Deli for their unique New York style coil sausage with beef and pork.
-- Renna's Meat Market for their German sausage.
-- Saladino's spicy Italian, that can be found at most area grocery stores.
"There is so much out there to work with," Vajretti says.
Local cheeses are another tasty food to incorporate into your party plans.
Cheesemaker Barbara Martin, of Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese in Lemoore, says her spreadable cheeses that range in flavor from spicy to sweet can be used on crackers or crusty bread. Her flavorful Central Coast cheese is good with smoked salmon on a cracker and the spicy Azores works well stuffed in mushrooms and then popped in the oven until warm.
Dairy Goddess Cheese can be found at several locations, including Whole Foods Market at Fig Garden Village in Fresno.
Blue cheese maker Bill Boersma, of 9th Street Cheese in Fowler, likes to top a lavosh cracker with a light spread of his Bravo Bl'u and a dollop of Fig jam. Boersma sells his blue cheese at his small factory, 128 N. Ninth St. in Fowler.
Mushrooms stuffed with California walnuts, smoked bacon & goat cheese
48 mushrooms (11/2 inch in diameter), stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces smoked bacon, chopped
3 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces of goat cheese
1 cup chopped California walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with oil to coat. Arrange in single layer, rounded side up and bake in 375-degree oven about 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender.
In large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat for 7 to 8 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. In same skillet, add shallots, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook another minute. Transfer to large bowl and cool to room temperature. Add goat cheese and walnuts. Mix well. Stir in parsley. Place heaping teaspoon of filling in each mushroom.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until heated through.
Option: Garnish each mushroom with a walnut half before serving.
Tips: For a lighter version, replace goat cheese with mixture of 4 ounces each of low fat cream cheese and goat cheese. Filled mushrooms can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 6 hours. Bake just before serving.
-- California Walnut Commission
Tangerine ginger champagne cocktail
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
Rind and juice of 6 tangerines
Add sugar, water, ginger and tangerine rind to a saucepan. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Add tangerine juice and stir. Divide mixture between six glasses. Fill each glass with champagne!
Makes 1 serving
1/4 teaspoon tangerine zest
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tangerine juice
1 lime wedge
Add tangerine zest, ginger and tangerine juice to a champagne glass and stir. Top off with sparkling cider and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
3 cups juice from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or 3 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup arils from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or 1/2 cup POM POMS Fresh Arils
1 tablespoon POM Molasses
3 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
POM Molasses: 1. Prepare fresh pomegranate juice, if necessary.--2. Combine pomegranate juice, sugar and juice from one lemon in a saucepan; bring to a simmer. 3. Reduce until a very thick syrup forms that can thickly coat the back of a spoon, then cool to room temperature.
Relish: 1. Prepare fresh pomegranate arils, if necessary. (see notes)
2. Place the shallots, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and let sit 5 minutes.
3. Whisk in the POM Molasses and then the olive oil.
4. Stir in the fresh arils and the parsley. Taste for balance and seasoning.
Suggest serving on toasted crostini with brie.
Notes: For 3 cups of juice, cut 6-9 large pomegranates in half and juice them with a citrus reamer or juicer. Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve. Set the juice aside.
To prepare fresh arils, score 1 large pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)
-- Source: POM Wonderful
Sausage hors d' oeuvres
5 pounds of sausage, several varieties
Garnish, such as rosemary, pomegranate, raisins
Slice apples into rings or wedges and oranges into slices leaving the skin on both. Using your barbecue or ridged pan, grill the fruit slices. Then grill sausages on all sides to develop the flavors and seal the juices. Transfer the sausages in a baking pan and cook in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes.
Once the sausage has cooled, slice into bite-size pieces and arrange in rows in an oven-safe serving dish, alternating with the grilled apples and oranges. Garnish with the golden raisins. Warm the sausages and grilled fruits in a preheated 300-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
Remove and garnish.
-- Nancy Vajretti, Love & Garlic
Baked brie topped with orange apple cranberry chutney
7 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
3/4 pound butter
3/4 cup water
Melt the butter. Proof the yeast. Place the ingredients in a large food processor with the blade attachment. Mix thoroughly until the ingredients form a ball. Reserve the dough in a plastic bag. Roll the dough within one hour. Do not allow this dough to double in size.
Note: This dough will freeze. Use what you need, place in a zip lock. Remove from the freezer and allow to rest and rise for the next baked brie or savory pie.
Citrus apple cranberry:
2 1/2 cups each oranges, apples, 1 cup fresh cranberry or local dried cherries
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange peel zest
1-cup wine sweet Quady Essencia
4 cardamom seeds (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 quarter-sized crystallized pieces of ginger (most grocery stores)
Combine and simmer until consistency thickens.
Wrap any size brie with homemade brioche, folding the edges back and forth to make look like a fruit pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Serve warm, topped with fruit mix.
-- Nancy Vajretti, Love & Garlic
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