Eat, Drink and Be Merry (Then Eat Some More)

Who doesn’t love this time of year? With all the festive gatherings and food galore, it’s the best time to be a lover of all things delicious. (And aren’t we all?) With the holidays just around the corner, we turned to expert and Kansas City food blogger, Jenny Vergara to ask her advice for the upcoming, delectable festive season.

Spaces: How does someone who’s not a foodie make holiday meals easy?

Vergara: The easiest and most obvious way is to let a professional handle the cooking for you by ordering your meal from a local catering company or restaurant. If you do plan to cook a meal at home, pick recipes you’ve made before and are sure you can execute with ease. This is not the time to try a new and untested recipe on the family! Finally, ask for help. Divvy up the side dishes between family members and ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine and something for the table.

Spaces: What’s your favorite part about a holiday meal?

Vergara: As much as I love food, it’s not about the food for me. It is simply being together with all of my family. Both of my parents have passed, so getting together with my brothers and their families is really important.

Spaces: What’s your no-fail, go-to appetizer to bring to holiday gatherings?

Vergara: Pão de Queijo or Brazilian Cheese Bread. The entire recipe is all done in the blender and whips up in minutes, bakes in the oven and then is ready to eat. It’s a light and fluffy cheese roll that has a crisp outside and soft, chewy inside made with real Parmesan cheese. It’s even gluten-free. Everyone always raves about it.

Want to include a Kansas City favorite in your holiday spread this year? You’re in luck—Vergara created a Chai-Spiced Tea Cake using Boulevard’s Nutcracker Ale just for us!

Spaces: What was your inspiration behind the cake you created with Nutcracker Ale?

Vergara: Nutcracker Ale has a lovely deep-roasted caramel sweetness to it that also has a hint of spice, so I used the flavors I was already naturally tasting in the beer to make my Spiced Chai Tea Cake even better. A simple, but powerfully spicy cake you can serve with freshly whipped cream. Perfect with your morning coffee or for dessert when it’s cold outside.

Spaces: Cake for breakfast?! Sign us up!

Chai-Spiced Cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream Made with Boulevard’s Nutcracker Ale

Cake:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup turbinado sugar

3 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon of cardamom

1/4 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon finely ground anise or fennel seeds

1 cup molasses

1 cup Nutcracker Ale from Boulevard

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting, serve with freshly whipped cream

Whipped cream:

1 pint of heavy whipping cream

2-1/2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and fennel or anise.

In a third bowl, combine the molasses and beer and stir to dissolve. Add the dry ingredients and beer mixture alternately to the egg mixture, beating after the addition of each.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the whipped cream, pre-chill a stand mixer bowl. Pour cream, sugar and vanilla into the chilled bowl and begin whipping until soft peaks form.

Sprinkle cake with confectioner’s sugar, add a dollop of vanilla whipped cream and serve.


Find Vergara’s blog here. Her advice on learning the way around the kitchen? “All it really takes is practice, practice and more practice. You do something enough times you’re bound to become an expert at it.”

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