Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup

Enjoy this summery yummy Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup recipe by my friend Christina Nifong…and while you are visiting her blog check out her delicious Cucumber Peach Salsa recipe!

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I’ve been making cucumber soup for as long as we’ve had a garden, which is going on 16 years now. One of the challenges of growing your own food is finding a way to turn lots and lots of veggies into breakfast, lunch and dinner. So anytime I can take an armload of produce and make them into a main course, I’m sold. I’ve tried five? seven? ten? different recipes over the years and learned a few things along the way: I don’t like chilled soups that cook any ingredients: I want the bright, fresh taste of my raw veggies to really shine. I also don’t like versions that call for stock. I find them too soup-like. This meal at its best is spoonfuls of juice and crunch and green. Here, find my favorite combination of summer flavors, one that’s sure to make you close your eyes and say ummm,ummm.

Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients

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Eggplant Paté Recipe For Your Summer Enjoyment!

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A friend of ours has a lovely garden and he generously shares his gardens bounty with us including fabulous fat purple eggplants.  I created this recipe to use these splendid “garden eggs” in my traditional small plates style…a lovely pairing with champagne or rosé wine.

Eggplant Paté

Note:  I puree the ingredients in my blender. A food processor may also be used.

1 cup pureed eggplant (cut eggplant in half and roast in oven, scoop out eggplant pulp with spoon and discard eggplant shell. For one cup pureed eggplant you will need 2 eggplants)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, cored, roasted and peeled, pureed (place cored pepper under the oven broiler and blacken all sides of the pepper. Place pepper in a paper bag, close the bag and allow the pepper to cool.  Remove the pepper from the bag and scrape off the peel with a sharp knife.

1 tablespoon butter

2.25 ounces pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons medium peri-peri sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 ounces goat‘s milk cheese (little log)

Firehook Mediterranean Baked Crackers – sea salt variety (In Roanoke…Tanglewood Kroger deli section in clear plastic container at the back of the cheese section of the deli or Downtown Roanoke Eli’s Provisions.)

  1. Melt butter in small sauté pan. Add pine nuts and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (monitor carefully because pine nuts will burn quickly) until pine nuts just begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place the eggplant puree, red pepper puree, oregano, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, peri-peri sauce, tomato paste in a blender or food processor . Blend until all ingredients are combined and the mixture has a relatively smooth consistency.  If the mixture is too thick to blend a little more olive oil can be added.
  3. Place half of the eggplant mixture in a small serving dish. Crumble the goat cheese over the eggplant mixture. Top the goat cheese with the other half of the eggplant mixture. Top the eggplant mixture with the pine nuts.
  4. Serve with crisp flatbread crackers.

eggplant pate

 

 

 

Sealed With A Kiss…Enjoy These End Of The Summer Wines

pepper 2” Pepperzilla” Cayenne pepper fresh from the garden! 12 inches long.  I always know that summer is in full bloom when the peppers start to ripen.

Summer, 2016 ends on September 22.

Though we’ve got to say, Goodbye for the summer, Baby, I promise you this, I’ll send you all my love
Every day in a letter, Sealed with a kiss

Sealed With A Kiss… teen love song was composed by Gary Geld and lyricist Peter Udell.

tavel

The summer of 2016  has been a fabulous wine experience. All of the wines listed here can be found in our local wine shops in Roanoke, Virginia.

As Autumn approaches I will remember fondly Alain Jaume 2015 Le Crétacé Tavel.  I adore this wine!  Alain Jaume Tavel Crétacé  Rose Le  is made from 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre grapes. $20 range Beautiful ruby-red, velvety smooth with bright red berry flavors. Perfect wine to share with friends when dining al fresco.

memories rose 2

Memoires Rosé de Provence 2015.  The name of this wine is perhaps a bit fortuitous ~ ah…the memories of summer…precious pink color in a sweet dimpled bottle. $12 range. Crisp peach aromas. Great acidity.

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Rosé with Grapefruit.  An upside surprise! A lovely light grapefruit flavor with a tee-tiny bit of sweetness. $12 range.

vinho verde gato

Gatao Vinho Verde.  A blend of trajadura, loureiro, azal tinto and avesso grapes.  Just a tiny bit of sweetness, perfect for summer sippin’.  Citrus notes with a touch of pineapple and a nice little bit of effervescence. $11 range.

Two of my favorite rosé summer sparklers:

Royal Provence Rivarose Brut Rosé, from France, a nice summer sparkler, Syrah and Grenache grapes. $14 range.

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 Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé.  $14 range. Blend of Grasparossa and Pinot Nero grapes.  Raspberry and Strawberry notes are no surprise in this wine. The real surprise is the smooth finish…no acidic bite or tannins at the end of the sip…just a touch of refreshing lingering lemon at the very end.

champagne aivery

From the Serious Eats article: Ask A Sommelier What’s Your Favorite Sparkling Wine:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/12/sommelier-recommended-non-champagne-sparkling-wine-cremant-franciacorta-vouvray-sekt-cava-best-budget-sparkling-wine.html

Cremant is where it’s at! The word refers to sparkling wines made in France that come from specific regions; specifically NOT from Champagne. Cremants are a great way to start to learn the rules of which grapes grow in which regions: Cremant d’Alsace (Pinot Blanc), Cremant de Bourgogne (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Cremant de Loire (Chenin Blanc), Cremant de Limoux (Mauzac!), and on and on and on. Oftentimes, you’re getting similar quality and on-par deliciousness without the scary price tags that come with Champagne.” —Theresa Paopao (Ribelle) Boston, MA

Aimery Crement Brut Rosé is one of my favorites. Ribbons of bubbles and sparkling notes of berries just like your favorite champagne, without breaking the bank.  Delicate, fresh with a long, mouth-filling finish. The color of this sparkling blushes just slightly and  tiny bubbles consistently rise to the top of glass.

Just heard this…

Real Simple magazine’s weblog recommends dropping a raisin into a bottle of champagne that’s lost its effervescence and give it a couple of minutes before pouring. The last gasps of carbon dioxide left in the wine will stick to the raisin’s ridged surface and release as bubbles.

My suggestion…drink the whole bottle of champagne and that way it won’t go flat (I personally do not like raisins so I cannot imagine plunking one of them in my champagne!)

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How Many Ways Can You Chill Champagne?

Very good advice on chilling champagne from PREMIERCHAMPAGNE. The Connoisseur comment is of special interest…the nuances of some vintage champagnes become apparent as the champagne “warms” a bit outside the ice bucket.

premierchampagne

how-many-ways-can-you-chill-champagnePutting a block of ice in a champagne glass is akin to slathering your truffles in ketchup, but a humble ice bucket isn’t always enough to chill that bottle in good time. Bubbly drinkers in a rush have long depended on the trusty freezer compartment, and although champagne has a low freezing temperature, forget about that bottle at your own risk. It will explode if it reaches below 15 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping it at a constant 40 to 60 degrees is ideal if you want to preserve its alcohol level, bottom and top notes. If you’re in a hurry, though, science can help you to get a warm bottle to the right temperature faster.

The Magic of Salt

Salt might be an impedance if you’re trying to boil water, but it’s a boon when you need temperatures to go in the opposite direction. It disrupts water molecules…

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It’s All The Rage In Paris! Grapefruit Rosé!

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Yum! This wine is HUGE in Paris Right Now!

At the end of the summer it’s fun to find some lighthearted sips to help alleviate the heat. The sweet bubbly lady at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia, told me that when you open a bottle of the Rosé with grapefruit ($12 range) you will think that you’ve just cut into a fresh ruby-red grapefruit. It’s easy to see why this is all the rage in Paris…a lovely light grapefruit flavor with a tee-tiny bit of sweetness.  I added a bit of sparkling wine to it to add a bit of fizz…LOVE IT!

Tasting notes from “Winesearch”: Steely pink color. Citrusy, fresh aromas and flavors of ruby grapefruit and cherry with a silky, vibrant, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, amusing, medium-length apple sauce finish with fine, fruit tannins and no oak. A nice tangy, grapefruit flavored wine.

Here’s a link to more fun info about grapefruit rosé in France:

http://www.eater.com/2016/4/19/11456746/wine-rose-cocktail-grapefruit-france

Just for fun…here’s some smashing rosé cocktails:

http://vinepair.com/wine-blog/rock-instagram-4-amazing-rose-wine-cocktails/

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Summer Fun With Cherry Gazpacho!

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Happy Champagne Summer ~ enjoying sitting outside and celebrating all things bubbly!

Champagne Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne Brut Grand Cru, NV

$48 range. 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay grapes. Nice acidity and hints of white flowers with strawberry.  Underlying light apple notes with a touch of mineral and toast. Crisp and elegant.

gazpacho

I found this lovely summer recipe for Cherry Gazpacho in one of our neighborhood magazines The South Roanoke Circle in an article by David Lake Cook’s Nook, Liquid Pleasure = Liquid Salad. The cherries add a surprising zing to this Spanish chilled soup.  Don’t forget to chill your serving bowls and soup spoons in the freezer before service which will help to keep the soup nice and chilly as your guests enjoy it.  The tomatoes, peppers and herbs in the photo above were freshly picked out of my garden.

Cherry Gazpacho

Three 1-inch-thick slices of a rustic white sandwich-style bread

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 garlic cloves, 1 thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 pound fresh bing or sweet cherries, pitted, set aside 12 cherries and finely dice them

3 ounces tomato juice

1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 thyme sprig

Tabasco sauce (I used Peri-Peri medium hot sauce)

4 basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Cherry gazpacho mixture:  Drizzle 1 bread slice with olive oil on both sides – do not cut it up yet.  In a medium skillet, fry the bread over moderate heat, turning once or twice, until golden, about 4 minutes. Rub the bread on one side with 1 whole garlic clove. Cut the bread int 1-inch cubes and transfer to a bowl. Add the sliced garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber, whole pitted cherries, tomato juice, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Croutons:  Meanwhile, cut the remaining bread into 1/2 -inch cubes and toss with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the bread cubes to the skillet along with the thyme and the remaining garlic clove and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently until the croutons are browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the croutons to paper towels to drain. Discard the garlic and thyme and season the croutons with salt.

Working in batches, puree the cherry mixture in a blender until smooth.  Strain the gazpacho through a fine sieve.  Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco.

Ladle the gazpacho into shallow bowls. Garnish with diced cherries, croutons and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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Hallelujah It’s Peach Season!

peaches 2

Peaches In Prosciutto Over Lemony Ricotta And Herb Salad

The Local Palate Magazine …Food Culture Of The South

I made this fabulous salad for dinner this evening. The recipe is in one of my favorite food magazines…find the recipe using this link:

Peaches in Prosciutto Over Lemony Ricotta and Herb Salad

Of course, as usual, I did not have all of the exact ingredients that the recipe called for so I substituted Marcona almonds for the hazelnuts and honey for the maple syrup. I drizzled a bit of honey over the completed dish also…and the mint is fresh pineapple mint from my herb garden.

champagne rose

To pair this lovely peach and prosciutto salad I turn to my “go to” wine and food pairing book What To Drink With What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page and they suggest a rosé champagne…may I suggest Laurent-Perrier  Cuvée Rosé Brut NV 

Notes from The Champagne Guide 2014-2015:

Laurent-Perrier macarates its rosé for 12-72 hours, depending on fruit ripeness, until the color is fixed and the aroma resembles freshly picked raspberries.  So crucial is timing, legend has it that the first Chef de Cave, Edouard Leclerc, slept by the tank to stop it just in time! This wine has achieved that elusive ideal of volume and finesse, the world’s best-selling rosé champagne epitomizes the ultra-restraint of  rosé’s finest expressions.  All the more remarkable for the challenging  saignée method.

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