Strawberry Balsamic Sangria

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Strawberry balsamic sangria is the answer to your sweltering summer sorrows. Summer is here in New York City, and it brought sangria weather with it this year. This is my second summer in NYC and it is even more scorching and sweat-inducing unlike the last. For some reason it seems hotter in Manhattan than it does in my hometown of Miami. Maybe it is the towering totems to big business, the hustle and bustle of the hoi polloi, or the stagnant air ripe with piles of rotting garbage that wafts on street corners and makes you yearn for the fresh air of the country side. You take your pick- New York is just hot and stinky in the summer.

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Fear not though- with summer heat comes nature’s sweets. Some of the best fruit grows in the summer season. I am lucky to live close to the Union Square Farmer’s Market where all of the best local fruit is available direct from the farm. Straight-from-the-farm strawberries are unlike those in the super market. They are brighter, softer, sweeter, fresher, and their seeds are somehow sparse and less noticeable. Strawberries are one of my summer favorites and they are perfect for sangria- summer’s signature cocktail.

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Sangria is the best summer drink for several reasons:

  1. Sangria can be made in advance for summer parties and barbecue
  2. Summer is berry season…I’m talking blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and black berries galore( oh and did I mentioned peaches, apricots, cherries, melons, plums, figs, and GUAVA!?!?)
  3. It is oh-so cold, sweet, versatile, ,refreshing and EASY

I could keep going on about the merits of sangria, but I’ll let you be the judge. Enjoy the summer heat with some sangria in hand and your feet in the sand because remember…winter is coming.

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Strawberry Balsamic Sangria

  • 3 cups sliced ripe strawberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio, Soave, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer
  • ¼ cup port or brandy
  • ¼ cup aged Balsamic vinegar (sweeter than regular balsamic)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Mint or basil to garnish
  • 1 bottle sparkling rose or prosecco (I chose dry)
  • ½ cup orange soda (optional)

Wash the strawberries well, remove stems, and slice. Let the strawberries macerate with sugar and aged balsamic vinegar for an hour. This brings out all the natural strawberry juice and sweetens more naturally. Pour in the bottle of wine and port (or brandy). Allow all of the ingredients to combine together in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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 When ready to serve the strawberry balsamic sangria fill the rest of the pitcher up with sparkling rose or prosecco and stir. I added ½ a cup of orange soda and it really tasted great making me think grand marnier would be a great substitution for port or brandy.  Another option is to prep individual glasses on trays to pass out to guests and then top off with the prosecco or sparkling rose right before serving for parties and entertaining. You can prep this the morning of any gathering or party, and I think you could technically do this a day in advance but I don’t like when the fruit is too soft.

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Garnish the strawberry balsamic sangria with a lime wheel, strawberry, fresh mint, or basil- whatever you have on hand and enjoy!

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese

braised-sprouts

Brussels sprouts braised in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar topped with creamy goat cheese makes for a simple and flavorful side dish. The soft and tangy goat cheese will perfectly complement the sweet vinegary glazed sprouts. I love Brussels sprouts, but I am tired of dining out and ordering Brussels sprouts only to find that they are doused in soy and oil or sprinkled with loads of bacon and you guessed it- more oil.

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The air filled with the scent of balsamic vinegar as it steamed up from the hot pot, bubbling around the seared Brussels sprouts. Braise the tiny cabbages until al dente with onion, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water. Top with goat cheese when finished and- BAM! Your taste buds will be treated to an explosion of flavor and deliciousness. Balsamic Brussels sprouts with goat cheese makes for a great side dish for the holidays, or you can enjoy them for dinner paired with grilled pork chops and a nice glass of wine.

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Braised Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese

Serves 4

  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Goat cheese for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pot over medium to high heat. I used my Fontignac cast iron dutch oven. You want the pot to be hot to sear the sprouts and get some nice brown color on both sides. I did this in two batches as to not overcrowd and steam the sprouts instead. Set the sprouts aside and toss the sliced onions in to cook for 3-4 minutes (when I made this recipe I used diced white onions, but I decided thinly sliced onions would have been more optimal!).

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Add the Brussels sprouts back in and pour in the balsamic vinegar first. The vinegar should steam and bubble. Add the water, brown sugar, and some salt and pepper. Stir and scrape up of the brown goodness from the bottom of the pot.

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Reduce the heat to 3-4 and cook for 15 minutes or until reduced. If the liquid is taking too long to reduce then turn the heat on high. Top with creamy goat cheese and enjoy! The goat cheese will melt and soften the sweet balsamic glaze. Balsamic Brussels sprouts are an easy fall side dish that can be made in advance for a holiday or dinner party, simply top with the goat cheese after reheating.