Monthly Archives: October 2016

Grilled Romaine With Bacon, Fresh Corn Aioli And Ricotta Salata + Cider!

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The perfect entrée salad recipe for autumn…grilled romaine and charred fresh corn… yummy smokey taste…like a happy little picnic in your mouth.

For an entree size portion:

1 head romaine lettuce. Wash and trim off any brown spots on the romaine lettuce. Leave the end of the romaine intact.

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4 pieces black pepper thick cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, reserve the bacon fat.

1 ear fresh corn, grill until tender and lightly charred.  Take the ear of corn off the grill and remove kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife.

Roasted corn aioli  for garnish.

Heat the grill.  Brush romaine lettuce with bacon fat on both sides.

Place romaine on hot grill and grill until it is slightly wilted and charred (approximately 5 minutes over medium heat).  Turn romaine over and char on the opposite side.  Remove from heat and place on a serving plate.  Cut off the stem end of the romaine and discard.

Heat the corn kernels in the remaining bacon fat. Heat over high heat so that the corn browns just a bit. Pile the corn on either end of the grilled romaine on the serving plate.  Sprinkle the grilled romaine with crumbled bacon and finely grate Ricotta Salata cheese over the bacon. Dollop a small spoonful of corn aoili on top of the salad. (I used Private Selection brand Roasted Corn Aioli but you can make your own…here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aioli-recipe.html)   Serve immediately.

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Virginia Cider Week is right around the corner!  November 11 – 20, 2016.

On Saturday we visited Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar for a  Foggy Ridge Cider Tasting.

http://mrbillswinecellar.com

The lovely Devon Steiner, representing Foggy Ridge Cider provided tastings of their cider…here’s the lineup:

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Devon explained that their cider contains apple juice, yeast and Co2 and no other additives.  I enjoy the light effervesce of this cider that tickles my nose and I love the rich apple flavors that are so unique in each cider.

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If you want a cider that’s fruit forward and has a tang of fresh apples this is the cider for you. Although it is perfectly lovely on its own, I prefer a tiny bit of sweetness to my “sippin’ cider” so I would tend to pair this cider with food. Foggy Ridge suggests pairing their Stayman Winesap with spicy foods.

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The First Fruit Foggy Ridge cider was sweeter than the Stayman Winesap.  I declare it just fine for sippin’! Foggy Ridge website suggests browning a pork roast in bacon then roast in First Fruit cider and stock, with apples and onions…yum!

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The Foggy Ridge Handmade Cider is bottled in baby champagne bottles…adorable! Devon explained that this cider is dry like champagne…crisp with a smooth finish.

Here’s a link to a lovely article including an interview with Diane Flynt, the orchardist (as well as picker, presser, and cidermaker) at Foggy Ridge:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-cider-press-foggy-ridge-cider-in-dugspur-virginia.html

And a link to  the Foggy Ridge newsletter sign-up:

http://foggyridgecider.com/category/inspiration/

Devon shared with us that there is a lot to look forward to during Virginia Cider Week including:

Annual Roanoke Foggy Ridge Cider Cocktail Competition
The gloves are off as local restaurants and bars vie to see who can make the best cocktail using Foggy Ridge Cider brands. Joining the competition once again is Local Roots, Lucky, Fortunato,  River and Rail, and the newest competitor added this year Blue Apron.  The public votes by purchasing cider cocktails from any or all of the Cider Cocktail locations. At the end of Cider Week, we see who sold the most cocktails and they are named the winner. Many of these cocktails have gone on to further fame in other competitions across the state and country. It’s a great way to see how versatile cider really is in the masterful hands of our participants. Come out and “vote” for your favorite.

Foggy Ridge’s website…http://foggyridgecider.com/events

And for dessert? Here’s a recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts from Food and Wine Magazine:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/apple-cider-doughnuts?xid=NL_DAILY103116

And Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold Cider… made with apple brandy…a dessert style cider with a higher alcohol content (18%). Delicious and perfectly fabulous with dessert.  Foggy Ridge recommends  peaches soaked in Pippin Gold served with homemade pound cake.

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Chocolate Goes With Wine!

Today, October 28, 2016,  is NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY!  In anticipation of this delicious day I sauntered downtown to find some fabulous chocolate…

elisMy first stop was Eli’s Provisions right in the heart of the market…one of my favorite places to purchase products made in Virginia. They were sponsoring a wine – featuring Virginia wines available at Eli’s – and chocolate tasting.  https://www.facebook.com/elisprovisionsroanoke

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Virginia is for chocolate lovers too!

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Pictured above chocolate samples from Chocolate Paper, Downtown Roanoke. This adorable store gets its name because they sell chocolate and greeting cards (plus lots of gifts that are perfect for any occasion).

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Melissa, one of the owners of Chocolate Paper offered us samples of chocolate to pair with our wine. She is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet…is she so sweet because she owns a chocolate store or does she own a chocolate store because she is so sweet….hmmmm…

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Our first pairing was Veritas Chardonnay (unoaked) with Graffiti Zoo, Tropical Tucan...creamy white chocolate with a tropical twist of pineapple and macadamia nut.  Melissa said that she really likes citrus paired with unoaked chardonnay and she is right, this pairing is decadent.

Veritas Winery, Charlottesville, Virginia:

http://www.veritaswines.com/

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Our next taste of wine was Blanco XOCO ~ grape wine with natural flavoring added.  We did not pair it with chocolate because the chocolate flavor was already infused into the wine! Sweet white wine made with Rkatsiteli and Vidal Blanc grapes and chocolate essence.

One of the guests at the wine tasting said that she would make a “Tres Vinos Cake” like a “Tres Leches Cake” except instead of soaking the cake in Tres Leches she would soak the cake in the Blanco XOCO! I like how this lady thinks and may have to try this sometime!

Horton Vineyard, Gordonsville, Virginia:

http://hortonwine.com/

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Our third tasting was Trump Meritage paired with a Lindt Bittersweet chocolate which was a delightful combination. One of my favorite pairings is dark chocolate with a bold red wine.

Trump winery, Charlottesville, Virginia:

http://www.trumpwinery.com/

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Our last sip was Chateau Morrisette 2011 Heritage After Dinner Red Wine.

Winemaker’s Notes: Entrancing aromas of plum and black cherry presage the intensely fruity entry, layered with the character of black tea, baking spices, vanilla and cocoa. The texture of this deep ruby colored full-bodied wine is silky and emollient; lingering aromas will persist on the palate. Like all Port-style wines, heritage is fortified and finished sweet.

Chateau Morrisette Winery, Floyd, Virginia

http://www.thedogs.com/

My last bite was a Asher’s Raspberry Cream. Asher’s is made by a family owned business in Pennsylvania.  Another reason to love Asher’s chocolates…they have a chocolate blog!!!

http://www.ashers.com/blog/

Halloween and Thanksgiving  Chocolate Goodies Abound At Chocolate Paper!

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Candy corn chocolate bar and Peeps!

pumpkin-1Beautifully crafted milk chocolate pumpkins!

turkey-1Cute little chocolate turkey!

Whenever I stroll through our downtown market I find delightful handcrafted goodies such as these beautifully crafted gourds…

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Happy Hokies! Virginia Tech Basket handmade out of a gourd!  Created by The Gourdian Angels, Goodview Virginia. I found this beautiful basket on the market in Downtown Roanoke.

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Happy Halloween!

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Christina Nifong Presents ~ Fabulous Fall Recipes

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Life is short…eat dessert first…Christina’s  fabulous apple cake…so moist…the secret ingredient is cream cheese!

This past weekend my bubbly friend and I enjoyed Christina Nifong’s (local writer and gardener extraordinaire in Roanoke, Virginia) Local For Lunch, Featuring Fall cooking class at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op.

It’s easy to find out more about the Co-Op’s cooking and health classes, just sign-up for their newsletter using this link:

http://roanokenaturalfoods.com/co-op-classes/

Here’s the link to Christina Nifong’s Fabulous Fall Recipes:

https://christinanifong.com/category/recipes

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Christina prepared her delicious recipes with ingredients from the Co-Op and her own garden. The appetizer she served was a yummy Blue Cheese Herb Spread.  (Goat cheese or feta cheese can be substituted for the blue cheese.)

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We enjoyed a roasted beet salad that was as colorful, crunchy and delicious!  It lived up to it’s name Beautiful Beet Salad. Most beet salads have the goat cheese sprinkled on top of the beets but this salad mixes the cheese with the other ingredients resulting in a creamy dressing.

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Christina served us Thai Butternut Squash Soup for our second course. One of the ingredients in the soup was “Hen of the Woods Mushroom”, known as a Maitake mushroom in Japan which translates to “Dancing Mushroom”. These mushrooms grow at the base of trees (particularly fond of oak trees).

Chistina recommended using a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds out of the butternut squash. The fresh ginger, jalapeno, lime juice and Thai basil give this soup a pleasant spiciness.

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We gobbled up these Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins (Gluten-free)!

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I enjoy buying my dried herbs and spices at the Co-op because they sell them by the pound. I purchase just what I need. I no longer have to throw away herb and spice cans that have gone out of date.  These items seem to be more fresh than the grocery store dried herbs and spices…especially the vanilla bean! Honey is also available by the pound.

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I was so inspired by Christina’s class that I purchased some Delicata squash (pictured above) at the Co-op. This squash lives up to it’s name…delicate taste, easy to roast…here’s a lovely recipe to try:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250176/roasted-delicata-squash-onions/

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I picked up a copy of Christopher Kimball’s MILK STREET magazine at the Roanoke Co Op. They have a nice selection of culinary magazines.  MILK STREET  may remind the reader of Cook’s Illustrated magazine which is more than a coincidence…Kimball founded Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  The charter issue, Fall 2016 includes an article about champagne glasses, which of course caught my eye:  The Trouble with Champagne Flutes.  

They recommend not the classic coupe or traditional flute, but the sturdy wine glass:

The classic red or white wine glass – with its broad, stable foot and a bulbous-bottomed bowl – is just about perfect.  The bowl allows the wine to be agitated and aerated with a motion of the wrist (swirling!)…the pros ditch them (flutes) when tasting and judging sparkling wines. They know flutes are for orchestras, not fine wine.

Sounds good to me except that I have dozens of champagne flutes that I can’t bear to toss out. I do look forward to tasting some finer champagnes in a chardonnay glass just for the taste experience.

Quinoa?

One of our fellow guests shared this website:  http://www.simplyquinoa.com/

I shared with the group that the liquid that is drained off canned garbanzo beans can be whipped like egg whites to use in recipes such as this began meringue:

http://www.thekitchn.com/this-gorgeous-vegan-meringue-is-made-from-the-most-surprising-ingredient-220651

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Since we’re celebrating local and Fall today, I am happy to shard a very happy occurrence at Sweet Donkey Coffee a local coffee shop in Roanoke, Virginia.  The Pumpkin Latte is back!  They make their own fresh pumpkin puree for the lattes.  Fabulousity!!!

Happy Fall!

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Friday Farm Favorites

Shelter kitties have their month too…June! Thank you Tonya for reminding us about October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog-Month…an opportunity to give a dog a Forever Home and they give us tons of love in return!

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Our beloved Clementine Kitty and Dash are both rescued pets, and they have brought an immeasurable amount of love and joy into our lives.  They never cease to amaze us with their intelligence, sensitivity, humorous personalities, and affection toward us as well as each other. Because of our positive experience with shelter pets, I would like to share that October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog-Month.  If you have time or the inclination, please consider visiting your local animal shelter. They are always grateful for food donations, towels, beds, and monetary contributions.  And, of course, they certainly appreciate your support, even if it’s a visit, your time, or a smile and a thank you.

Have a great weekend!

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Fun and Frolic At Rose’s Luxury, Washington, D.C.

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After my Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites Challenge adventure we relaxed with a martini. We always ask for an odd number of olives (preferably 3) because we have heard that it’s unlucky to have an even number.  The superstition may have started with bartenders trying to displace the amount of gin in the glass ~ the more solid objects in the glass the less volume is needed. And olives are less expensive than gin. Our bartender that evening said that she always serves 2 olives in a martini because “2 is a garnish and 3 is a salad”.

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Since the competition did not leave us much time to nosh, we decided to enjoy a delicious handmade Paradiso pizza … http://www.eatyourpizza.com/our-story/… that we paired with Margerum Riviera Rosé 2015.  Blend of Grenache, Counoise and Cinsault grapes.  Refreshingly crisp and dry rosé wine. Aromas of raspberry and spice abound on the nose with a long and refreshing finish.  The color is a delicate pale salmon.

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The next morning we went back to Jackson 20 Restaurant where we enjoyed Peach Bellinis on the patio outside. The Bellinis were especially effervescent. They were prepared with Segura Viudos Reserva Heredad Cava.  As soon as we arrived back home I made a “Be(llinni) Line” to Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar to pick up a bottle. This cava is made using the méthode champenoise, aged in the bottle for 30 months. Notes of honey and brioche. Delicious in a Bellini and equally as tasty on its own.  http://www.seguraviudasusa.com/our-cavas—reserva-heredad

For dinner we treated ourselves to a dining experience at Rose’s Luxury in Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

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http://www.rosesluxury.com/

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We were seated at the Chef’s table where we could see the chefs in action.  Warm soft potato bread served with butter topped with chives and fried potato skins is a fun take on traditional sides of bread and baked potatoes.

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We delved into the menu with the help of Executive Sous Chef Tyler Teass….wanted to order everything because every bite sounded so delicious…but finally narrowed our choices down to a few of the favorites that have earned rave reviews.

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Thackrey and Co. Pleiades was the perfect accompaniment to the rich flavors we were enjoying on the plate.  Well balanced with notes of red berries and a hint of spice.  Old-vine fruit, mixed black varieties like sangiovese, zinfandel, petite sirah, and pinot noir  grapes.

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The service at Rose’s Luxury was attentive and gracious.  I took this photo of our waitress’ tattooed arm “Always One More Time”.  From Maya Angelou’s quote:  “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

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Salad course:  Pork sausage, habanero, peanuts and lychee salad.

We also enjoyed grilled romaine heart, duck egg, crispy potato, herbs and buttermilk. This dish was so delicious…smokey cheeseburger flavor that tasted just like a picnic!

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Fish course: Blue catfish, crispy bread, green tomato relish and saffron aioli.

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Pasta course: Rigatoni with tomato, eggplant, anchovy and mint. A second peppery pasta course (pictured right) was served as an extra treat.

A sample of smoked brisket, white bread, horseradish and slaw.

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Dessert course:  3 flavors of ice cream for dessert!  My favorite was the ice cream made with coconut milk (center photo).

…finishing with a lovely glass of port…and house-made sesame candy…

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Celebrating Hard Cider~ Apple and Pear

 

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And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

— W. B. Yeats, The Wind Among the Reeds

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One of my favorite hard ciders is a cider my bubbly friend introduced me to…Bold Rock Granny Smith Apple Hard Cider.  Available most anywhere this cider is sold in 330 ml bottles. Made with apples picked in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Crisp, nice effervescence, just the tiniest touch of sweetness to take the edge off of the tart apple.

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A west-coast style dry-hopped cider featuring Ahranum, Citra, and Centennial hops to compliment the bite of local Granny Smith apples.

I tend to enjoy the Hard Rock Granny Smith Apple Cider with creamier mild cheeses such as Havarti, but a mild Gouda may be more to your liking.  Country ham biscuits a perfect pairing with this cider.

Here’s a link to cheese and cider pairings to enjoy with your cider:

https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/easy-pairings-hard-cider-and-cheese

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Best way to greet Autumn?  Sip hard cider!  This week we attended a dandy cider tasting at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  I tend to like a fuller, rounder taste to my cider (maybe just a light touch of sweetness) so my favorites were: Daufresne Pear Cider and Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap cider. Each of the ciders we tasted are available 750 mL bottles.

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com

The lovely Kristen from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar greeted us with a chilled glass of Castel Hill Terrestrial cider. The Castle Hill Terrestrial  ($19 range) Crisp, crystal clear, semi-tart, green apple notes, very dry.

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Our next sip was Potters Oak Barrel Aged Reserved Cider ($17 range).  Love the label on this one…it reminds me of Halloween! Aged in oak barrels, notes of caramel, vanilla and toasted oak. Very dry with a quick finish, crisp apple, pear and brandied cherry notes add the complexity of the flavor of this cider.

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Our next sip was Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap. ($17 range)  Traditional hard cider (apple) taste. Considered “off-dry”. Full apple flavor with green apple skin notes and smooth finish.

Foggy Ridge Cider was highlighted in the “Best American Hard Cider” article in Bon Appetit magazine:

http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/article/best-american-hard-cider

Stayman Winesap, Foggy Ridge Cider
Dugspur, VA

Somehow, sweetness is considered a bad thing in today’s dry-leaning cider world, but subtle sweetness and fruit are just as satisfying as the crispness of a dry cider. Here the Stayman Winesap apple has notes of cherry and ripe apple, dropping you somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains, without actually having to hike there.

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Our next sip was Le Brun Organic Cider. ($11 range).  Nice aroma of Fall spices and apples…like “drinking apple pie”.  Just a touch of sweetness. This was the perfect pairing with the appetizers that River and Rail served that evening, especially the grilled pork belly and coleslaw petite sandwich and the Gruyère cheese puff.

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Pictured above, left to right:  Grilled Chicken Sausage Biscuit, Flat Bread with Pear, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion, Grilled Pork Belly and Coleslaw Petite Sandwich and Gruyère Cheese Puff.

During our discussion of cider and food pairings we noted that cider (with it’s hint of sweetness) is a very good pairing with Thai food.

Our next sip was Daufresne Pear Cider.  ($14 range) My favorite cider of the evening!  I commented “The pear cider is a very good pairing with the Pear, blue cheese and caramelized onion hors’ d oeurve!” …and thought I was very clever.

Located in the lower part of Normandy, France, is the cidery Daufresne.  Made from small ripe pears it has sweetness that is balanced with acidity. I would enjoy this cider as an Apéritif or with a light creamy dessert or just to sip on on.

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We completed the evening with a Pippin Gold Cider made with apple brandy that was a dessert style cider with a higher alcohol content (18%). Delicious and the perfect way to end a fabulous cider tasting.

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It’s Time To Celebrate Cider!

“Will Garden For Cake” is a wonderful place to visit…this blog will take you on a fun frolic from garden to kitchen with fabulous stories and tons of delectable recipes. My fellow Virginian and  blogger friend Alisa Huntsman is the author of this spectacular blog:

https://willgardenforcake.com

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Alisa is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has been baking professionally for over 30 years She is the author of Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes and Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe. Photos of her lovely cookbooks are pictured above.  It would be worth taking up sky diving just to dive into her Sky High cakes! I urge you to delve into her Loveless Cafe cookbook to find treasures including blue-ribbon pies, country cakes, crisps, cobblers, short cakes and tea cakes…oh my!  Besides baking, Alisa is a Master Gardener, Beekeeper and a Chicken Herder and can be found at willgardenforcake.com and @janeofmanytrades(Instagram).

Please visit and follow her blog…you’ll be glad you did!

Her cookbooks are available on Amazon.com and here’s their review of Desserts From The Famous Loveless Cafe:

Delicious Southern sweets and treats from a Nashville favorite. Renowned for its Southern charm and superb comfort food, the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, serves some of the best desserts below the Mason-Dixon line. Aficionados of country cooking travel from near and far to sample the restaurant s extraordinary sweets. In “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe,” pastry chef Alisa Huntsman takes the most beloved Southern ingredients and flavors from sorghum to buttermilk, persimmons to pecans and masterfully combines them to create desserts with a modern appeal. Big Momma s Blackberry Jam Cake, Honey Chess Pie, Bourbon Peach Shortcake, Blueberry Skillet Cobbler, Coconut Chews, and Lady Lemon Bars are just a handful of the more than 100 irresistible recipes included in this ultimate guide to Southern desserts. Easy to make and even easier to eat, all of the favorite Loveless dessert recipes are included. With a foreword by bestselling author Lee Smith, essays extolling the virtues of the Southern palate, and full-color photos showing the delicious confections, this book will help anyone who can t travel to Nashville or wait two hours for a table at this popular restaurant enjoy a taste of the Loveless at home.”

This long-awaited cookbook offers recipes for all of the famous cakes, pies, puddings, and crisps that the Loveless Cafe serves daily to throngs of hungry diners. The recipes highlight traditional Southern flavors such as peaches, pecans, bourbon, buttermilk, and sorghum. Including fruit, nut, and custard pies, layer and pound cakes, cheesecakes, pudding, bars, and cookies, the recipes are easy to follow, but the updated flavor combinations make them suitable for even more experienced bakers. Derived from Southern traditions, the recipes come with interesting stories, which are conveyed in chapter introductions and recipe head notes. Essays extolling the virtues of Southern ingredients and food customs are scattered throughout the book. The down-to-earth charm of the Loveless Cafe is reflected in the full-color photos and the design of the book.

Now Let’s Celebrate Cider With Alisa Huntsman!

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Celestial Merret is a locally produced sparkling apple cider

Fermented cider has a long history in Virginia that can be traced back to the colonial era and Thomas Jefferson is said to have favored a cider made from crabapples.  A quick search on cideries in Virginia will show that there are nearly a dozen around the state.  We happened upon Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, just outside of Charlottesville, and were hooked at the first sip.

Cider is made from apple juice and it is fermented, either in tanks or the bottles and depending on which variety of apple used, it can vary greatly in sweetness and flavor.  At Castle Hill, they use a variety of methods to ferment the cider and if you visit the tasting room, not only can you taste them, you will learn all about the methods and the apples used to make the cider.

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Freshly picked apples sit in the event space waiting to be pressed.

Ranging from dry to sweet, each one is unique.  Personally, I preferred the dry varieties, specifically Terrestrial, but Levity, another dry variety, is a bit more unique.  While both are made with Albermarle apples, Levity is 100% Albermarle while Terrestrial is a blend that also uses Winesap, Levity is the only commercially produced cider in the world that is fermented in a clay amphorae known as a kvevri.

Levity is actually a sparkling cider and is one of two sparkling varieties available, the other being Celestial Merret.  These two ciders are considered dry but are probably a little sweeter than you might expect and while they are “hard,” neither has the alcohol content that a more formal sparkling wine and both come in around 8.5% ABV.  This lower alcohol content still packs a bit of a punch, so drink responsibly.

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The large event space with its stunning view is a popular wedding venue.

Visit the tasting room and ask to sample the ciders, they do charge for the tasting but if you sign up for the cider club, you will get the tasting for free and a generous discount on every bottle you purchase.  Be sure to try the Black Twig and the 1764;   Black Twig gets its name from the variety of apples used and is aged in whiskey barrels from Tennessee, while 1764 is made from a blend of apples and crabapples and is aged in French oak barrels to give it a flavor and alcohol content that is similar to a fine Port.

Whichever you prefer, do go and visit, sit and sip a glass indoors by the fireplace or outdoors, either way, the view is beautiful.  Be sure to grab a couple bottles to take with you!  To learn more about cider in Virginia, visit the Cider Week Festival website.

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Celestial Cranberry Kir Royale

Kir Royales are traditionally made layering cassis and sparkling wine in a fluted glass.  Since cider is made from apples, using cranberries seemed like the obvious choice for this drink.

1 bottle Celestial Merret or Levity cider, chilled

Cranberry coulis, recipe follows

Frozen whole cranberries, for garnish

Place 1 tablespoon at the bottom of a fluted glass.  Carefully pour in 5 ounces of cider taking care to pour it slowly down the side of the glass so that the coulis does not get stirred up.  Drop 2-3 frozen cranberries into the drink to float on top.

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Cranberry Coulis

makes ¾ cup and is also wonderful over ice cream.

6 ounces, half of a bag, fresh cranberries-can be frozen

½ cup ruby port (water or juice may be substituted)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ of a vanilla bean, split and scraped-seeds added to the mixture along with the pod

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise pod

1 green cardamom pod

Place all of the ingredients in a pot and place over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent the sugar from scorching, reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Dump the contents of the pot into a mesh strainer which is set over a heat proof bowl.  Using a spoon, scrape as much of the mixture through the mesh as possible.  You are doing this to remove as many of the seeds ,as well as the skin, as possible so be sure to leave them in the strainer!  Whisk the mixture to combine it and allow it to cool to room temperature.

https://castlehillcider.com/

http://ciderweekva.com/

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