Sunday, December 30, 2012

Champagne Punch {#SundaySupper}

Over the  years, we've picked up a few different traditions for New Year's.  I don't usually go out on New Year's eve... mainly because I don't like to brave "the crazies".  That probably  means that I'm getting old.  But really, I just love being home surrounded by my family, waiting to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve.

A couple of years ago, we started "the grape tradition".  Have you heard of it?  Each person gets 12 grapes.  When the clock starts to strike 12, you have to start gobbling your grapes.  You need to (at least partially) chew each grape and be done with all of them by the time the final stroke rings out.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  A mixture of giggling and gagging never ceases to ensue.  Especially from my daughter of the extreme-gag-reflex.  But of course, she may be the biggest fan of the tradition!  Each grape signifies a month (in order)... so, if your grapes are particularly sweet or sour, you should watch for particularly good or rocky months (the month corresponds with the number of the grape, as in the first grape you eat = January, etc...).

And then there is New Year's day.  I almost always cook some variation on Hoppin' John.  Since the black-eyed peas and the greens represent good fortune in the new year (coins and dollars), I wouldn't want to invite disaster by not making it... making them.  This year I'm going for a casserole-style variation.  Watch for it in the new year!

But perhaps the most consistent tradition is the drinking of Champagne.  That one has been the most enduring.  And that started way back before kids... before husband... before becoming a real adult.  There's nothing like the sound of corks popping in unison to voices counting down to the new year.
But even this tradition has evolved over the years.  In college, numerous bottles were passed around, poured into plastic champagne flutes, and raised to the sound of noisemakers.  As a young mom (and wife), a bottle was opened at midnight, poured into some sort of glass, and clinked against those around me.  And there was always a bottle of sparkling grape or apple juice for the kids, as well.  Let's call it early initiation.  Sometimes there was some left over - we corked it and I had mimosas for breakfast and/or brunch.

And now, a little bit older, a little bit wiser (and maybe I shouldn't admit this)... I rarely pop the cork on New Year's eve anymore.  {sucking in air.}  I know, I know.  But I don't last much past midnight these days.  And drinking champagne right before crashing would only give me heartburn and restless sleep.  So, now that champagne comes in the form of mimosas that last throughout New Year's day.  And I LOVE it that way!  It's usually a free day, anyway.  I don't go anywhere.  I make brunch.  I drink mimosas.  I watch movies.  I drink mimosas.  I play in the snow.  I drink mimosas.  I eat dinner.  I drink mimosas.  You get the point.

I'm guessing this tradition will continue to evolve as the years pass.  And you know what?  I look forward to it!  Maybe once the kids are all older and wanting to do their own things, the hubs and I will start joining friends more often for celebrations.  And maybe I will bring the champagne.  Or better yet, something fun (and evolved) like this beautiful Champagne Punch from Emeril's Potluck!  Grand Marnier, triple sec, and Cognac join the party to kick this Champagne up to a whole 'nother level.  It's not called punch for nothin'.  But you don't have to wait for New Year's to make this refreshing, super-leaded punch!

Champagne Punch

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes + 1 hour to chil
Cook Time: n/a
Keywords: beverage alcohol fruit New Year Christmas

Ingredients (serves 12-16 / ~3 qts.)
  • 1⅓ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 c. superfine sugar
  • ½ c. Grand Marnier
  • ½ c. Triple Sec
  • ½ c. Cognac
  • ½ c. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 (750 ml) bottles Champagne or sparkling wine
optional
  • orange slices
  • lemon slices
  • fresh strawberries (whole, sliced, halved)
Instructions
Combine lemon juice, sugar, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Cognac and orange juice in a large glass bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add Champagne and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, ~1 hour.

Pour into a decorative bowl or pitcher. Garnish with orange or lemon slices and fresh strawberries, if desired. Serve in Champagne flutes, wine glasses, or punch cups.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, Emeril's Potluck, William Morrow Publishers, New York, 2004 and used with permission

notes:
I stirred together everything but the champagne early and kept it in the fridge until ready to serve. Then I poured it over an ice ring and topped it off with the Champagne - for ultimate fizz factor.

If you're serving this in a punch bowl, make a pretty ice ring the day before by adding sliced fruit and/or berries to a bundt pan and add complimentary flavored water or juice; freeze until solid. Likewise, if you're serving in a pitcher, you could do this in an ice cube tray (use small or cut up berries or quartered citrus slices).

I like to leave my fruit in the juice/sugar/liquor mixture while it is refrigerating so that it soaks up the liquor - makes an awesome treat to tip into your mouth when your glass is empty.  Also, I love adding in a little chiffonaded mint just before serving for a bit of freshness.
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I guess I'm really starting this year, even if it's only virtually.  Why, you wonder?  Well, that's because I'm bringing this Champagne Punch to our #SundaySupper New Year's Potluck with Emeril today, which is hosted by the found of the Sunday Supper movement, Isabel of Family Foodie.  That's right, a whole potluck full of Emeril Lagasse recipes to close out 2012 and ring in 2013 with a bang!

But before you get lost in the recipes, I want to let you know that we are giving away a lot of copies of Emeril's Potluck and Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches during our LIVE TWITTER CHAT tonight!  Here are the other Emeril dishes at our potluck this week... scroll down to see how you can win a copy of one of these great Emeril Lagasse cookbooks.

Drinks
Starters
Dishes and Sandwiches
Desserts
GIVEAWAY
Okay, you want to know how to win a copy of one of Emeril's books now, don't you!?  I knew it.  First of all, you MUST join in the live #SundaySupper TWITTER CHAT tonight at 7pm Eastern.  For a chance to win one copy of Emeril's Potluck, you can tweet the phrase below (exactly), spaced out, up to 6 times during and immediately following our chat (from 7-9 pm Eastern).  Any entries over 6 will not be counted.

tweet this: I want to win a copy of Emeril's Potluck by @Emeril from @girlichef to ring in the New Year! http://www.girlichef.com/2012/12/ChampagnePunch.html #SundaySupper
OR
Any tweet during this time period using the #SundaySupper hashtag and my handle @girlichef will also be counted (as long as it pertains to our chat).

This contest is open to residents of USA and Canada only.  My winner (for one copy of Emeril's Potluck) will be drawn via random pick from the number of qualifying entries received.  Winner will be notified via twitter and will have 24 hours to respond with your shipping information.  If winner does not respond within 24 hours of notification, another winner will be chosen.  For more chances to win a copy of this book (or the other book, Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches), please visit the other participants by clicking through the links above.
*update 12/31/12: winner, chosen from all qualifying twitter entries (numbered in order - 18 total - and then plugged into random dot org) was #2 (@frogger097) has been contacted - congrats!

So tell me - WHAT ARE YOUR NEW YEAR'S TRADITIONS?

disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I received a free copy of Emeril's Potluck.  All opinions stated in this post are my own.