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Holiday Balsamic







Christmas is one of the most beautiful holidays of the year. From decor to dishes the colors of Christmas are vivid reminders of the festive season. A favorite color we use again and again for our Christmas decorations on the tree, at the table or as an ingredient in the kitchen is the deep color of balsamic vinegar.


Traditional aceto balsamico gets its rich dark color from the sugars caramelizing during the cooking process as the vinegar is being reduced and concentrated. Oxidation, evaporation and the aging of the vinegar in a battery of wooden barrels (oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper, mulberry or acacia) gradually refines the vinegar over a period of years developing a sweet, pungent flavor with a jewel-like color that captures the holiday light beautifully. A perfect ingredient to celebrate the colors Christmas.


Starting with the deep red color and sweet savory flavors of Cherry Balsamic and Ricotta Crostini.


Ingredients

  • 4 cups cups cherries, halved and pitted

  • 1 t Maletti Aged Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 15 oz container fresh whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 23 tsp mild floral honey

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

  • coarse sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

  • 810 slices (about 1/4-inch thick) of rustic Italian bread toasted or grilled


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 degres F. Toss the cherries with the olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Spread a dollop of ricotta on toasted slice of crostini and top with roasted cherries, torn basil leaves and honey, for drizzle.


This Cranberry Sauce with Figs, Rosemary and Balsamic is like opening an edible jewel box at your Christmas table. The colors are stunning and the aroma and flavors have been described as "tangy, sweet, herbaceous and a bit boozy" a perfect holiday sauce with beef, ham or turkey. Makes approximately 2 cups.


Ingredients

  • 4 ounces dried mission figs, each fig de-stemmed and chopped into 6-8 pieces

  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • 1 1/2 cups ruby port

  • 1/4 cup Maletti Aged Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  • coarse ground black pepper


Instructions

Bring figs, rosemary, port, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the cranberries.Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced and most or all of the cranberries have burst. Remove from heat. Discard the rosemary sprigs and leaves and stir in cinnamon and a pinch of pepper. Serve warm or cold. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.


An everyday vegetable fancied up for Christmas - Roasted Balsamic Baby Carrots. Shades of red, orange and green for the holidays.



Ingredients

  • 1/4 c Aged Maletti Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1/4 c.extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp.maple syrup

  • 1/2 tsp.crushed red pepper flakes 

  • 1 1/2 lb baby carrots

  • coarse sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper

  • chopped fresh parsley


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, syrup, and red pepper flakes. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place carrots on a large baking sheet, being to sure not to overcrowd. Roast carrots until fork-tender and slightly carmelized about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate and garnish with parsley to serve.


And for dessert a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries. Serves 6.



Ingredients


Panna cotta:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (preferably organic)

  • 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin

  • 2 cups buttermilk



Balsamic strawberries:

  • 1 pint ripe strawberries , hulled and quartered

  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (preferably organic)

  • 2 tablespoons Maletti Aged balsamic vinegar


Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until hot. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water; let stand 3 minutes or until soft. Add gelatin to hot cream and stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove pan from heat; stir in buttermilk until well blended. Pour mixture into each of 6 dessert cups or bowls. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.


To make the balsamic strawberries, combine strawberries, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in a bowl; toss to coat berries. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight. To serve, spoon strawberries and juices over panna cotta.




Read more about the making, tasting and traditions of balsamic vinegar.














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