Ho Ho Ho Christmas Bevys

Call it what you want: escapism, indulgence, recklessness, a waste of money, fun, good times…. all of that and more. Whatever your stance, I love a well-made drink. There is nothing like a beverage that has time, love, skill and passion infused into the making of. From the long-term dedication of a winemaker or beer brewer, to the creativity of a barista or cocktail mixologist, they all have one thing in common: the enjoyment of making something delectable and unique for our drinking pleasure.

With every change of season, I am on the hunt for that seasons definitive drink. Something new, something I get to learn about and something I get to share. My level of interest may well be weird to some, but not to this hospitality lover.  I call it “broadening my horizons”; developing my craft. If I want to be a great hostess, then I need to make sure I have done the research.

So, with the changing of seasons, the research is done and these are my picks for the coming summer:

Good Morning Sweet Thai Bellini (Serves 8-10)

The best parts of history have a way of staying in style. Just like the Bellini, an Italian creation that is known, loved and enjoyed all over the world. In this recipe, the timeless classic has a 21st century update. What a way to welcome your guests at your Christmas champagne breakfast!

1 bunch Thai basil leaves (keep the stems)

120g peeled and sliced ginger

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup peach schnapps

Bandini Prosecco

4 cups of peach nectar

4 peaches, thinly sliced

Ice

To prepare
Place the basil stems, ginger, sugar, and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-8 min. You want the liquid to be reduced by half. Cover and chilli. This can be made the day before.

To serve

Place the basil syrup, schnapps and peach nectar in a 4L pitcher. Stir to combine. Top with peach slices, basil leaves and ice.  Serve in a coupe glass topped with Prosecco. Sit back, relax and celebrate the silly season for a drink or two.

BBQs and White Summer Sangria

This is a must have during the warm months. You can disagree, but I find there is such a thing as too much wine. That doesn’t mean I want to stop drinking it; my tastebuds just need a change of pace. Which is why I love sangria! Refreshing, great for groups, impeccably elegant and super easy to make. Just be sure you have more than one bottle of Pinot Gris in the cupboard. One jug is never enough.
750ml Spy Valley Pinot Gris
90ml Stolen white rum
30ml St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
30ml Pear brandy
Slices of pear, apple and cucumber
Ice

Use a 1 litre jug and half fill it with ice. Add all the liquid ingredients. Stir. Add the slices of pear, apple and cucumber and gently stir through. Best enjoyed with good friends and great food. Add this recipe to your shopping list the next time you’re organising a BBQ!

Perfect for the Christmas Table: A very special Rosé

‘Home’ Rosé from Black Estate in Waipara is a firm favourite in my home, and I’m certain it will quickly become yours, too. A blend of four varietals, all from the home vineyards of Waipara Valley’s’ Black Estate, join together in co-fermentation bliss to form this delectable rosé. Refreshing, balanced, full-bodied. Perfect for appeasing both red and white wine drinkers: Home rosé starts on crisp, floral white wine-esque notes, before ending on the deliciously tannin/tart, berry notes traditionally found in a full-bodied red wine.

Learn all about Black Estate at their website or Facebook page and grab a glass at Snug Lounge before you commit to buying a case!

Top Drop: Four Pillars Gin with Tonic

Nothing kicks off a lively afternoon of socialising like a perfectly balanced gin and tonic. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling gin from all around the world so forgive me for considering myself an authority on the topic. On that note, I currently only have one gin in my personal cabinet: Four Pillars.

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

Four Pillars Gin is an award winning classic London Dry gin, handcrafted in Australia using copper reflux stills that were custom-made in Germany. What started as a labour of love for exceptionally crafted cocktails has resulted in a gang of Aussie blokes winning the most prestigious gin awards in the world. With their array of gin’s the Four Pillars team consistently take on and take over the world’s oldest and best distilleries. Go figure.

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin has been awarded medals at three prestigious international competitions in 2014: Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Silver in the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, and most recently Gold at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition.
Join millions of gin drinkers around the world and fall in love with Four Pillars. Do your homework here, then buy it here.
Serving suggestions: Let that gin shine by adding it to a glass (pick a glass, any glass) full of ice, top with tonic and add a couple of slices of your favourite citrus fruit.

Christmas in a glass

It’s always nice to finish a celebratory get together with a nightcap. Not only will you have a good night sleep, but it will give that lingering visitor a politely subtle hint. Best served with dimmed lighting and relaxed music, interspersed with talk about tomorrow’s early morning plans.

Start with a thick glass tumbler, preferably with a handle.

Add:
1 part Drambuie
3 parts hot apple juice
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
Stir with a cinnamon stick, leave in

Dumpling Love: Why Go Gyoza?

Almost every cuisine in the world has it’s own version of dumpling. They all look and taste deliciously different; are usually an integral part of a region’s history; tell a compact story of their lands traditional foods, and can be found everywhere from street stalls to high society restaurants. But it doesn’t stop there.

Around the world we can find dumplings being steamed, grilled, baked, fried, boiled, hidden in stews, added to soups…the list goes on. So how does one qualify as a dumpling?

It’s actually pretty easy: First you need any kind of dough: flour, cornmeal, even starchy vegetables make a good dumpling dough. Then find a filling: sweet, savoury, vegetables, meat; or all of the above if you’re keen on a sweet and sour pork dumpling! Wrap said filling in said dough, decide on how you want to cook your wee bundle of food, and voila! #dumplingheaven

They say food can bring nations together, or divide them. There is one dumpling that has gone the extra mile (you could call it the overachiever of the food group) and done both.

During the worldwide mayhem that was World War 2, the Japanese invaded China (again). Whilst there, the Japanese soldiers were introduced to a delicious and conveniently wrapped food morsel called a jiaozi. The war ended with Japan surrendering and the soldiers retreating from China. Apparently the rule of “take only photographs, leave only footsteps” didn’t apply back then, so the Japanese returned home defeated in war but triumphant in their new knowledge (and probably backpacks stuffed full) of the Chinese dumpling.

And they named him: Gyoza.

Fast forward a few decades and gyoza are well known and loved all over the world. As far as we’re concerned the crescent shaped morsels tenderly wrapped in paper thin dough are the bee’s knees. And Snug Lounge is the perfect place to start your own dumpling love affair!

Maybe you want something to share with your mates over a cold Tiger beer or bespoke Snug Lounge cocktail, or perhaps you’re ‘get your own these are my gyoza!’ type (I belong to the latter group, don’t judge us); either way, there is only one question you need to answer: Steamed or fried? The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Here’s the lowdown on your gyoza:

Steamed Gyoza
Nutrients are preserved better with steam cooking, as are the flavours. The super hot temperatures required to turn water into steam mean your gyoza cooks very fast, which results in a light, juicy dumpling that focuses on the filling as the star ingredient. Try our favourite steamed gyoza recipe here!

Fried Gyoza
Pot-stickers (like fried only better) are just-as-healthy versions of steamed dumplings. The main difference is the steaming happens after the tiny wee things have been browned in a pan for a few minutes. Water is then added to the pan and evaporated, leaving a delectable crispy-chewy bottom, which enhances the flavours of the filling. Here’s an awesome recipe for pot-stickers.

Still not sure what you’d go for? The best way to decide is simply to try them both!

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Here are two of our favourite gyoza recipes to get you in the mood.

Steamed: Prawn, Chicken and Garlic Chive Gyoza

Ingredients

20 dumpling wrappers (buy from any asian supermarket)

To serve: brown rice vinegar and sesame seeds

Dumpling filling

400g prawn meat; coarsely chop 200g and fine chop 200g

100g minced chicken

10g garlic chives

¾ tsp sesame oil

¼ caster sugar

½ tsp salt reduced soy sauce

Pinch of white pepper to taste

Directions

  • Mix the meat together with the chives, ½ tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Spoon one heaped teaspoon onto the centre of each wrapper
  • Brush the edges of the wrapper with a little water and fold to enclose. You can try pleating the edges with your fingertips (check out this video for pointers)
  • Stand the dumpling up on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate til needed
  • Line your bamboo steamer with baking paper
  • Place the dumplings in your steamer, making sure they don’t touch each other
  • Rest your steamer over pot or wok of boiling water and steam 3-4 mins til cooked

Serve with the brown rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Yum!

Pot sticker: Pork and Ginger

Ingredients

20 dumpling wrappers (buy from any asian supermarket)

1 tbsp light cooking oil (sunflower works well)

100ml water for cooking

To serve: 80mls black vinegar with 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh red chilli

Dumpling filling

200g pork mince

4 spring onions, white and green ends finely chopped

2 tsp finely grated ginger

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tsp reduced salt soy sauce

Pinch of white pepper to taste

Directions

  • Mix together the pork mince, spring onions, ginger and garlic with the soy sauce
  • Spoon one heaped teaspoon onto the centre of each wrapper
  • Brush the edges with a little water and fold the wrapper to enclose (check out this video for pointers), pleating the edges with your fingertips
  • Stand the dumpling on a baking paper lined tray and refrigerate until needed
  • Heat the cooking oil over a medium high heat
  • Arrange dumplings bottom side down in the pan
  • Cook for 2 to 4 minutes until the bottom is golden
  • Pour in 100ml water and quickly cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until most of the water is evaporated (around three minutes
  • Remove the lid and allow the rest of the water to evaporate

Serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!