The warming fragrance of a brewing stockpot of hot apple cider, spiced with cinnamon sticks, citrus peel, and a copious handful of cloves. . .
The thick, chocolately scent of a mug brimming with steaming cocoa, with an aquiline-arched candy cane propped against the rim, permeating a strong infusion of peppermint essence in the intoxicating beverage, and all topped off with melting marshmallows, joyfully bobbing up and down like pillowy balloons. . .
The smoky, buttery aroma of roasted chestnuts smoldering in glowing and ashen coals. . .
These are the smells of the holiday season. Now I need to give you a visual.
As we are in the midst of Christmas and the holidays, I want a share two recipes that get you in the holiday mood by showcasing the classic colors of Christmas time: bright holly berry red and rich pine tree green. These recipes are easy for a hurried chef to make during the bustling holiday season.
Pestoed Angel Hair Pasta with Prawns and Cherry Tomatoes
3 cups of fresh basil leaves, firmly packed with stems discarded
1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted in a non-stick pan (without oil) until lightly browned
1/2 cup of fresh parmesan cheese, grated with the small holes of a cheese grater or with a microplane
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic, with papery skins and woody ends removed and cut in half
1 lb pkg of angel hair pasta, cooked al dente according to directions, in salted, boiling water
1 lb of large prawns, peeled and deveined
1 box of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
Puree the pine nuts, cheese, and garlic in a food processor, adding the basil in batches and slowly drizzling in the olive oil in the large "pouring spout" opening in a food processor. Continue to process until achieving a relatively-smooth consistency. You can either leave the food processor "on" button pressed while you slowly drizzle the olive oil, or alternate with "on/off" switches of the "pulse" button.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in wide-brimmed, non-stick skillet on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the prawns and pan fry, tossing the shrimp frequently until the prawns are opaque, pink, and firm to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked angel hair pasta and cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt and soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the pesto mixture, and stir the pasta until the noodle strands are evenly coated with the pesto.
Serve the pasta on holiday-themed dinnerware and enjoy! For dessert, try:
Honeyed Fruit Salad with Mint
3 kiwi fruit, sliced
1/4 cup of dried cranberries or 1 plastic container of red raspberries
3 sprigs of fresh mint, hand-leafed with stems discarded
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp of orange juice (optional)
Mix the ingredients together in a large, glass mixing bowl, and serve in a large bowl emblazoned with repeating patterns of snowmen or Santa Claus on a sleigh. Enjoy and happy holidays!