Echoes and Mementos

Thoughts and pictures about cooking, eating, reading, writing, and living.

Tag: apple

Kiss-Winter-Goodbye Sangria

Perhaps you are familiar with the rain dance. According to legend, some Native American tribes would, when their cornfields were thirsty for water, don tribal masks and vestments and dance wildly. The hope was to invoke the presence responsible for rain and, for the price of a dance, buy a watery drink for the parched fields. Why would a similar dance fail in 2012? From this half-baked thinking follows my strong belief that we can chase the winter by swilling summer drinks and pitchers of sangria in March.

The winter elements of this sangria are cold-weather fruits (apple, pear), a few fingers of brandy (for inner warmth against the frost), a shade of vanilla, and a half-teaspoon of cinnamon. Here we use the shock of cinnamon to stand in for sugar or simple syrup. The absence of sugar makes this an unsexy sangria, and thus a perfect drink for 40- and 50-degree weather. In the same modest spirit, we can use a cheap bottle of wine; the brandy alters the drink’s personality, making the purchase of good wine a bad decision. (For this reason restaurants have a sky-high profit margin on sangria). The hint of warm weather, the brightness with which the sangria summons spring, comes from, what else, citrus.

Makes 4-6 drinks

1                apple

1                pear

⅓               lemon

1 bottle      cheap Spanish red wine (I used Tempranillo)

¼ cup        brandy

½ tsp          ground cinnamon

A few drops of vanilla extract

1 cup         club soda (refrigerated)

1) Core the apple and pear. Discard the cores. Chop the pear into small pieces. When for sangria I cut a pear into crescents, the fruit becomes strange after soaking in the wine, so chop those white wedges to bits. (Other fruits do better; check back in 3 months.) Chop the apple as you did the pear, but leaving a few slices large if you wish. Put the chopped fruit into a large pitcher.

2) Cut the lemon-third into wedges. Remove the seeds. Over the pitcher, squeeze each lemon wedge into submission, then toss the juiceless lemons onto the chopped fruit.

3) Pour the wine and brandy into the pitcher. Add cinnamon. Pour in a whisper of vanilla extract. Stir well. For the night, let the pitcher sleep in the back of your fridge.

4) The next afternoon or night, add the cold club soda, stir, and drink the pitcher with a friend or two.

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Fennel Salad with Apple + Black Pepper

Pepper brings this winter salad to life; I twisted my grinder 15 times. That’s probably too many, and you will need less of the spice should you omit the parsley. Use good olive oil. Eat with something funky, like Chinese.

Serves 2

1        Fennel bulb

2/3   Apple, cut into matchsticks or thin wedges

3       Sprigs parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped (optional)

Pinch of salt

2       Tablespoons olive oil

1/4   Lemon

Black pepper

1) Remove the fennel bulb’s stalks and fibrous base. Half the bulb lengthwise from top to bottom. Cut each of the halves crosswise into thin, c-shaped ribbons. Put these into a large bowl.

2) Add apple, parsley, salt, and olive oil. Toss.

3) Squeeze lemon over the bowl. Toss.

4) Grate pepper over the salad. Toss well. Taste. If desired, add more pepper and toss again. Eat.