MARTINI MONDAY – (enjoy the first evening of the week with a cool cocktail and a easy snack!)
Baileys Minty Mistletoe
Combine the following in a martini glass and enjoy! 2 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream and .25 oz. Rumple Minze
THE HISTORY OF MISTLETOE
We are all familiar with at least a portion of the mysterious mistletoe’s story: namely, that a lot of kissing under the mistletoe has been going on for ages. Few, however, realize that mistletoe’s botanical story earns it the classification of “parasite.” Washington Irving, in “Christmas Eve,” relates the typical festivities surrounding the Twelve Days of Christmas, including kissing under the mistletoe:
“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”
We moderns have conveniently forgotten the part about plucking the berries (which, incidentally, are poisonous), and then desisting from kissing under the mistletoe when the berries run out!
Along with the Christmas holly, laurel, rosemary, yews, boxwood bushes, and, of course, the Christmas tree, mistletoe is an evergreen displayed during the Christmas season and symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. But perhaps more than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. One day we’re kissing under the mistletoe, and next day we’ve forgotten all about it (the plant, that is, not the kisses).
When the Christmas decorations come down, mistletoe fades from our minds for another year, receding into the mists of mythology, rituals and enigma. Particularly in regions where the plant is not native (or is rare), most people do not even realize that mistletoe does not grow on the ground, but rather on trees as a parasitic shrub. That’s right: as unromantic as it sounds, kissing under the mistletoe means embracing under a parasite….
But what about the origin of kissing under the mistletoe? Tracing the history of mistletoe-induced kissing means going back to ancient Scandinavia — to custom and the Norse myths: “It was also the plant of peace in Scandinavian antiquity. If enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day.” This ancient Scandinavian custom led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. But this tradition went hand-in-hand with one of the Norse myths, namely, the myth of Baldur. Baldur’s death and resurrection is one of the most fascinating Norse myths and stands at the beginning of the history of mistletoe as a “kissing” plant.
Baldur’s mother was the Norse goddess, Frigga. When Baldur was born, Frigga made each and every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to harm Baldur. But Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant — and the mischievous god of the Norse myths, Loki, took advantage of this oversight. Ever the prankster, Loki tricked one of the other gods into killing Baldur with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. The demise of Baldur, a vegetation deity in the Norse myths, brought winter into the world, although the gods did eventually restore Baldur to life. After which Frigga pronounced the mistletoe sacred, ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world. Happily complying with Frigga’s wishes, any two people passing under the plant from now on would celebrate Baldur’s resurrection by kissing under the mistletoe.
It goes without saying that, if we were to peel off the layers of custom and myth surrounding “kissing under the mistletoe,” we would find ourselves in the midst of ancient erotica. Mistletoe has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb.
1/2 to 2/3 pounds brie cheese (wedges are fine)
1 (17.3 ounce) box frozen puff pastry
Hot pepper jelly
Cut the brie into 1/2-inch squares (leave the rind on if you like). Place on a dinner plate and put the cheese in the freezer while you thaw the puff pastry for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Unfold the thawed pastry, press together seams and roll lightly with a rolling pin to smooth it out. Cut each sheet into fourths, then cut each fourth in half. Cut the halves in half to make 16 squares per sheet.
Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with nonstick spray. Fit a piece of dough into each cup, pushing into the cup but leaving the edges sticking up. Place a dab of pepper jelly in each cup, then top with a piece of cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm. (Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake, or you can bake them and re-warm about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F before serving.) Makes 32.
Make some martinis, bake up some brie kisses, stand in your kitchen and smooch the holidays away. Sounds like a lot of fun to me…
Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!