Monthly Archives: March 2016

Sparkling Lemon Strawberry Springtini!

springtini

Cheers to Spring!

Sparkling Lemon Strawberry Springtini

For each drink:

Place martini or margarita glass in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill the glass.

Place 3 ounces (1/2 of a 6 ounce cup) Strawberry Italian Ice in the bottom of the glass.

Pour 1 ounce Limoncello over the Strawberry Italian Ice

Fill the glass with sparkling wine or champagne. Stir gently, garnish with a lemon slice, strawberry and mint. Serve with a small spoon to scoop up the Italian Ice.

You can make this drink sweeter by using a sweet sparkling wine. Rosé sparkling wine is fabulous in this “tini” as well!  I like Aimery Cremant de Limoux Brut  Rosé for this “tini” – available at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar in Roanoke, Virginia.

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Bacon and Balsamic Deviled Eggs

egg

My mother’s deviled eggs were the BEST!  It takes a practically perfect deviled egg for me to even give a second glance to anyone else’s deviled eggs.  Well, these Bacon and Balsamic Deviled Eggs deserve a second and third glance…they are fabulous! Just in time for Easter dinner, here’s the recipe that I found in our local newspaper, The Roanoke Times (Gretchen Mckay – Pittsburg Post Gazette – TNS) with a few of my little twists:

Bacon and Balsamic Deviled Eggs

12 hard-cooked eggs

The original recipe called for 1/2 of the amounts of the following ingredients. I doubled the amounts because I LOVE bacon and I found the original recipe for the filling to be just a bit dry.

10 bacon slices, cooked crisp and crumbled

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon very finely chopped shallot (the original recipe called for onion. I find shallot to have a bit less of a bite than onion which I prefer for this recipe)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cornichon or sweet midget pickle for garnish, sliced into thin slices

paprika for garnish

To cook the perfect hard-cooked egg:  Fill large pot with water (enough to cover the eggs you are going to cook). Add a little salt.  Bring water to a rolling boil.  Place eggs in boiling water and cover pot. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain water out of pot.  Add ice to eggs to immediately stop cooking and allow to cool quickly for peeling.

Peel eggs and rinse well to remove any bits of shell.  Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks. Put yolks in separate bowl and mash.  Add bacon, mayonnaise, shallot, mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture in the egg halves evenly. Garnish each egg half with a slice of cornichon and sprinkle with paprika.

Makes 24

  • The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook, by Arsy Vartanian (Page Street Publishing)

Spicy Sausage Mushrooms ~Let’s Pour Châteauneuf-du-Pape!

 Châteauneuf-du-Pape  (we call this wine “CDP” for short) roughly translating to “The Pope’s new castle (house)”, is produced in France’s Rhône valley and generally contains a blend of three grape varietals:  Grenache is the prominent grape variety in  Châteauneuf-du-Pape blended with Syrah and  Mourvèdre grapes (13 grape varietals are allowed in the wine by the INAO, Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). 

I always know I am drinking a CDP because it makes my mouth taste wet…not an overdose of salavia, but a wet mouth feel. Duiring our Chateauneuf du Pape tasting this weekend we determined that the wet mouth feel most likely is due to the high glycerin content in the wine. Our purpose for the wine tasting was to pair the  Chateauneuf du Pape with dry rub ribs which was a huge hit with our guests. Another pairing that was equally as well received was this spicy mushroom dish:

Optimized-mushrooms

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms With Aged Gouda Cheese Sauce

Makes 10 appetizer servings (2 stuffed mushroom caps per serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1/2 pound mild pork sausage

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced red onion

Place vegetable oil in a frying pan.  Place pan over medium heat and add sausage. Brown sausage and crumble in pan.  Add red onion and cook over medium-low heat until onion is soft and transparent.  Remove from heat.

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 egg

Add panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese to sausage. Stir to combine all ingredients. Whisk egg into sausage mixture. Make sure all ingredients are well combined.

 20 baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed and center (stem side) hollowed out with a spoon

Stuff  mushrooms with sausage mixture, gently pressing sausage mixture into the hollowed out stem end of the mushroom, mounding the mixture on top of the mushroom.  Place stuffed mushrooms in a shallow baking pan. Bake stuffed mushrooms in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes.

While stuffed mushrooms are baking, prepare Aged Gouda Cheese Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1/4 pound aged Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon medium Peri-Peri Sauce or your favorite hot sauce (more may be added to taste – but add carefully…more can always be added, but once it’s in the sauce it cannot be removed!)

Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour.  Whisk in one half of the milk.  Add red chili flakes, aged Gouda cheese, Peri-Peri Sauce and the rest of the milk. Stir to combine all ingredients.  Continue to heat over medium low heat and stir until cheese melts. Once the cheese melts remove from heat.

Once the mushrooms have finished baking, remove from oven. Place mushrooms in individual ramekins.  Pour aged Gouda cheese sauce over the mushrooms. Place ramekins under the broiler until the cheese sauce is lightly browned and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Optimized-CDP wine

 Our original pairing for the spicy sausage stuffed mushrooms was Domaine Lou Frejau  Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1986. According to the Wine Spectator: “There’s an elegant concentration of fresh, ripe, tannic fruit but the raspberry, cherry, earth and spice flavors offer depth and complexity. The finish is coarse and tannic, but balanced. Drink now through 1998.”  We found this wine to be, unfortunately, past it’s prime. Fortunately we always have a back-up and that evening the fall back was Domaine de Morcoux Chateauneuf du Pape 2003.

Robert Parker tasting notes:  The 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape is superb and one of the best regular cuvees Marcoux has ever made. This wine, which tips the scales at 15% alcohol, has great intensity, a dense ruby/purple color, no shortage of tannin, but wonderful sweetness, a huge tactile impression due to high glycerin, gorgeous layers of fruit, and a pure, long finish of 45+ seconds. It is a brilliant cuvee of Chateauneuf du Pape that will benefit from 1-2 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 12-15.

Signs of Spring

The Daffodils sunny reminder…just 5 more days until Spring!

fourth generation farmgirl

“Daffodils”

~William Wordsworth

(1770-1850)

I wander’d lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretch’d in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in spritely dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And…

View original post 4 more words

Champagne Tasting…Stradivarius!

Stadivarious champagne

What could be better than a wine tasting at one of our favorite restaurants ~ River and Rail in Roanoke, Virginia…a champagne and sparkling wine tasting! This restaurant was the perfect setting for a bubbly tasting…”An intimate bistro featuring local, seasonal, southern fare and craft cocktails in a stylish modern space.”

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com/

Bill Phillips, proprietor, Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, in Roanoke, treated us to  a series of sparkling wine and champagne.  To our delight, one of the champagnes he served that evening was 2000 Charles de Cazanove Stradivarius with raw oysters on the half shell.

http://mrbillswinecellar.com/

http://www.champagnedecazanove.com/uk/house/index.php

oysters

Charles de Cazanove describes their Stradivarius Brut Champagne, “a symphony of meaning and passion; its unique flavor reflects the finesse of the vintage and provides an original harmony. The bouquet opens on ripe fruit, walnut, toffee and almond aromas.  A powerful, hearty finish for an outstanding wine.” This champagne brings back memories of when we visited the Charles de Cazanove champagne house in Reims, France. Such an impressive grand “masion” (mansion in French) and sipped the Stradivarius champagne for the first time. I fell in love with the beautiful musical label on the front of the bottle. I found the bubbles inside to be delicate with a creamy mousse, seventy percent chardonnay, 30 percent pinot noir.  The 2000 is toasty with notes of pear, walnut, almonds and a full finish.

Over the weekend we also enjoyed a 1998 Stradivarius. Beautiful golden color. Notes of brioche and buttery toasted nuts. Fabulous lingering finish.

lily

champagne sign dance

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Welcome

Just in time for Spring…Christina Nifong’s new website. Please enjoy following Christina’s garden, family and kitchen adventures!

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