It’s time to ring in another year!
I hope you are all planning a night filled with friends, family, and of course, some delicious local food and wine to celebrate 2015 in wine country.
Vancouver food writer Cassandra Anderton from Good Life Vancouver and I share common favourite appie — stuffed dates!
Here are a couple of our favourite recipes for the new year.
Blue Cheese and Pecan Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto. Makes 20, takes 30 minutes-ish.
• 20 pitted Medjool dates
• 10 slices Prosciutto cut in half lengthwise
• 4 oz. crumbled Blue Cheese (we suggest Upper Bench King Cole Blue)
• 10 pecans halved
• 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
• 3 tablespoons Honey
Program your oven to hit 375 degrees.
Cut dates lengthwise to the pit — don’t go all the way through and remove pit. Stuff with a small chunk of the blue cheese and half a pecan. Wrap Prosciutto around the date and secure with a toothpick. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment to catch drips as this gets messy. Place an oven-safe wire rack atop baking sheet and place dates on rack to bake for 20 minutes. While baking dates, reduce balsamic vinegar and honey by 75 per cent (leaving 25 per cent) and then drizzle over dates once arranged on a platter. Can make all ahead and bake whenever you need to as guests arrive.
Crostini is so easy and versatile. Toast some baguette rounds and then top with delicious combinations like this fig tapenade with Carmelis Goat Cheese.
• 1 cup chopped,
stemmed dried figs
• 1/3 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tbsp drained chopped capers
• 1.5 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
• 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pine nuts
If the figs are hard, steep them in boiling water for an hour until soft. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl (can be kept in fridge for a few days).
Oysters and bubbly always scream celebration – so head to your local fish shop and grab some oysters to make this delicious dish. Pair with a bottle of any of our local sparkling wine.
This delicious recipe comes straight from the sea from my friend, Brent “The Oysterman” Petkau, an Oyster Farmer on Cortes Island.Serves 12 — 1 oyster per person
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes
• 12 medium to large Oysters, rinsed and scrubbed
• 1 cup Mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup Green onion or chives, finely chopped
• 1 Tablespoon Shiro or Light Miso (Nature’s Fare will have these)
• 1 Tablespoon of Chili Garlic Sauce (Sambal Oelek)
• Juice from 1 lemon
Directions: Shuck the oysters and lay out on a baking dish. You can use either the top shell or rock salt as a stabilizer. Make sure to keep as much of the oyster liquor in the oyster shell. Heat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Mix together the mayonnaise, miso paste, chives, chili sauce and lemon juice. Slather each oyster with approx two tsp of miso-mayo mixture per oyster. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately with wedge of lime or lemon.
Create a signature cocktail for the evening! I love Aperol –an Italian aperitif made with sweet and bitter oranges. Bright and fun, it will take your glass of celebratory bubble to the next level.
• 2 ounces (40ml) Aperol
• 3 to 4 ounces (60ml-90ml) Prosecco or any local sparkling wine (I recommend local 8th Generation Frizzante)
• Sparkling water
• Orange slice
Fill glass generously with ice cubes.Pour in Aperol then add Prosecco.
Add a splash of sparkling water and a slice of orange. Cheers!
Local writer and social media maven Alison Markin on what she likes to drink on New Years Eve:
“Honestly, my favourite NYE “dish” is a shot of good Russian vodka, followed by a chaser of the following: a tiny sliver of lemon (with rind), with a tiny bite of hard cheese (like a strong white cheddar), wrapped in a piece of butter lettuce. Wrapped tight like a little bite-sized package. It’s a Siberian thing and is the BEST way to enhance cold vodka. And also, I enjoy Cheetos.”
My friend Betty Cherkaoui is a fabulous Lebanese cook/caterer and owns Saj Common Kitchen in Kelowna where she also offers lessons. I am in love with the flavours of her food and this gorgeous dip is a perfect addition to serve at your NY party!
Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts)
• 2-3 roasted Red Peppers or 500ml jar
• 1-1/2c. toasted Walnuts
• 1 tbsp. crushed Red Peppers (or to taste)
• 2 tbsp. Pomegranate Molasses (or to taste)
• 1/2 tsp. Salt
• 1/2 tsp. Cumin
Prepare the red peppers by roasting on BBQ or, if used from a jar, rinse and drain well. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse mixture until blended and walnuts are still a bit chunky.
Place in a bowl or spread in a small platter and serve with veggies or pita chips.
This can also be used as a sauce for BBQ kabobs or tofu.
“Suhtayne!” (translation: To your health many times).
Jennifer Schell is the editor of Food & Wine Trails