Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mulled Wine & Garlic and Parsley Hearthbread

These two items have been a staple on my Christmas menu for years now and this morning, I cooked-up these two as a last minute contribution to a pot luck Christmas party. The hostess was serving lamb and another guest was bringing mince pies, so I thought the hearthbread would be good to mop up the lamb drippings while the mulled wine is excellent with mince pies. Wish I had photographed them better and individually but I was pressed for time this morning.
Let's start with the Mulled Wine. I love to use Merlot for this because it's a light enough wine to complement the spices, orange and tea. A Sauvignon is too overpowering for "mulling" but this is just my personal opinion. Plus, I usually reserve the Sauvignon for Sangria ;-). It really is very easy (or you won't see me doing this every year). Dump everything into a pot and heat it up. I let it simmer and not over boil it  because I like to have a teeny tiny element of alcohol left in it instead of letting it all evaporate. Then turn off the heat, drink warm and be merry!
Next is the Garlic and Parsley Hearthbread. I have since renamed this to Garlic and Cheese Foccacia. Everything's the same as the recipe, except I lightly saute the chopped up garlic in olive oil instead of the whole fiddly garlic preparation in foil and processor. We prefer to be able to taste the garlic. Spread the garlic oil all over the bread dough AND sprinkle finely-grated Parmesan. If I happen to not have Parmesan, I sprinkle salt flakes. That makes the hearthbread yummy even on its own. Yes, I also find that foccacia is more understandable to my guests than hearthbread.

Passionfruit Cheesecake

I thought I'll never get a chance to do this cheesecake because I haven't seen any passionfruit being sold in our local grocer. When I chance upon them last week at a supermarket, I grabbed a box of 6 fruits. I knew how they looked like inside but had no idea how the whole fruit looked like. I haven't seen them before! I even had the impression that passionfruit was an imported fruit until my dad and cousin enlightened me when they were over for the cheesecake. Apparently, the fruit is rarely found now because no one grows them as much as they used to umpteen years ago. One can still see them once awhile in a wet market. Nonetheless, I doubt I'll do much with passionfruit in future. It is a very sour fruit! The cheesecake base was great made with the passionfruit juice I yielded using the food processor. Only complain I have is that the the double cream called for in the recipe resulted in a very soft centre. I couldn't bake it any longer because the top was browning too much. I did bake a little longer than the stipulated time but the centre still didn't set enough. The cheesecake tasted light and un-cheesy. Pleasant to the palate actually -sans the extra passionfruit on top of the cheesecake!