Written by RALPH VINCENT
A Hygge Inspired Celebration
Winter is full upon us with the usual snow and frigid temperatures we experience each year. While the weather may be the same as in years past, many other aspects of our lives have changed as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. For safety, we have had to rethink and reimagine many of our social activities such as home entertaining. At-home gatherings are smaller in size and limited to household members only. However there is an upside to this dilemma which can be found in the concept of Hygge.
Hygge, (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is a Danish term that expresses a sense of coziness and contentment at home with our household members. So, as we move through this challenging time lets embrace this concept and celebrate our homes and those we share them with. I have put together a Hygge inspired celebration with easy to prepare comforting dishes perfect for a winter evening.
The festivities begin with a cocktail hour that features a time tested libation that is making a comeback – the classic Whiskey Sour. This sweet and sour drink is delicious and easy to mix. Add some well paired nibbles and your cocktail hour is complete!
For many folks, meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food which makes it a great choice for a cozy celebration at home. My meatloaf recipe has an interesting twist in that it is made with a plant based meat substitute. Over the past few years plant based meat substitutes have come a long way, and products like “Beyond Beef Plant Based Ground” provide taste and texture very close to that of beef. So please give this a try, I do not think you will not be disappointed.
Simple side dishes round out the main course. Seasoned Red Potatoes are roasted along with the “meatloaf” in the same pan. Sesame Roasted
Asparagus is a delicious quick to prepare side that cooks in the oven with the other dishes.
Dessert can be anything you want it to be. Keep it simple for yourself and let someone else do the preparation. Maybe some biscotti from Healthy Living Market served with hazelnut flavored Frangelico Liqueur. Or maybe something special from Mrs. London’s, Putnam Market or another of our excellent local food shops.
Ingredients per cocktail:
2 ounces of whiskey
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce water
1 ounce simple syrup (found in most local
supermarkets where cocktail mixers are located
Lemon slices and Maraschino cherries to garnish
• Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in the ingredients and shake well for 20 to 30 seconds to chill and blend the ingredients. Strain into an ice-filled “rocks” glass, garnish with a lemon slice and a Maraschino cherry or two. Enjoy!
• To accompany your drinks, assemble a platter with a wedge of pungent blue cheese or sharp cheddar, crackers and seedless red grapes. Add a bowl of salted roasted almonds and you are ready to party!
Many folks only know Whisky Sours made from packaged sour mix, but making this cocktail “from scratch” is simple and produces a much more enjoyable drink.
About 3 pounds of red potatoes scrubbed under cold running water and dried well.
1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
• Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a
microwave safe dish with a tablespoon or two of water.
• Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the microwave,
carefully remove the lid and gently stir the potatoes.
• Microwave for an additional 3 minutes or until they are barely fork tender.
• Let the potatoes cool uncovered for about 15 minutes then
carefully drain any remaining water.
• Add the olive oil and seasonings, gently stir to combine and
set aside while you prepare the Meat less Meat Loaf.
One 16 ounce package of “Beyond Beef Plant Based Ground”
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
• In a large mixing bowl lightly beat the egg. Add the breadcrumbs, ketchup, thyme, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
• Add the “Beyond Beef Plant Based Ground” to the bowl and with very clean hands work the ingredients together until evenly combined.
• Form the mixture into a large ball, place in the baking dish and pat into a loaf shape. Surround the loaf with the red potatoes and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through and the potatoes are lightly browned.
• Cover with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer the loaf and potatoes to a serving platter.
1 and ½ to 2 pounds of fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
• Wash and dry the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. Place on a large baking sheet and combine with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread as close as possible into a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
• Return to the oven and roast 3 - 5 minutes more
depending on thickness or until tender but slightly crisp.
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