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December 19, 2014
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community living

Leftover Champagne?


On the rare occasion when you have leftover champagne, there are an amazing number of ways to use this special wine, and not only for cocktails, mimosas, or champagne punch.
Over the years, I have seen recipes for:
Champagne cake (and cupcakes), where the bubbly is one of the liquid ingredients in the batter and is also stirred into the icing. (BTW: You can find this and all of the recipes that follow on the Internet. Just Google the word “recipe” along with the key word and the word “champagne.”
Sorbet, where sugar and water are combined with a fruit juice or a homemade fruit syrup and put in an ice cream maker, or make a granita—a kind of icy slush—right in your freezer.
Dessert sauces, made with sugar, a splash of lemon juice and optional, discriminating use of spices (cinnamon or cloves); thicken with some arrow root.
I confess I have never tried this, but champagne jello (I know; don’t laugh) doesn’t it sound intriguing? Dissolve unflavored gelatin powder in heated water, and then add some sugar, champagne and ginger ale; refrigerate until it’s thick like pudding (but not set firmly), stir in strawberries and refrigerate until it’s set.
Now this one I have tried (often), and it’s mighty tasty: French Onion Soup. Nicely brown a lot of onions, so you get plenty of caramelization on the bottom of the pan, and then pour in some Champagne and cook until its almost evaporated; next, add a small can of beef bouillon and a large can of chicken broth. Serve with a piece of stale crusty bread in the bowl and melt some cheese on top.)
Champagne vinaigrette? Say “no” to bottled salad dressing and make your own from scratch.
Speaking of vinaigrette, you can also make your own vinegar with leftover champagne. Here’s how:
Pour into a well-washed mason jar and cover with a couple of layers of cheesecloth (to keep out dust or bugs). Store it in a cool, dark place for four to six months. Taste from time to time to determine when it has turned to vinegar. When it’s ready, transfer to a bottle with a stopper and store in the pantry. After you’ve made vinegar, you can flavor it, heating it enough to dissolve a little sugar and then adding fresh raspberries or a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
Finally, my all-time favorite use for leftover champagne is in risotto. (Be sure to use Arborio rice, an Italian rice that makes risotto creamy; it won't be real risotto if you use any other kind of rice.)
RECIPE
Risotto
Serves 4 to 6 as a first course
6 cups chicken broth
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup leftover champagne
2 cups Arborio rice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, heat chicken broth and keep it at a very low simmer.
Heat olive oil over medium-low heat with bay leaf. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add rice and cook 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and add champagne; cook until liquid has been absorbed. Add heated stock 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. Repeat this until the stock is gone; this will take 17 to 20 minutes. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.