Author Archives for Becky Ellis

About Becky Ellis

Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm Becky or "Bubblybee" as I'm known on Facebook. (Bubbly = champagne and BEE are my initials) My passion is champagne and my quest is to find perfect small food pairings for bubbly. Don't wait to celebrate! When you visit my blog you will find unique recipes that pair wonderfully with champagne, sparkling wine, cava and prosecco. I personally taste each sparkly that I write about...life is good! If you are looking for a $10 Cava to drink at the lake you will find it here. If you are looking for a nice sparkling wine at a decent price to serve at a wedding you will find it here. If you are looking for a fabulous champagne to serve on your wedding anniversary you will find it here. Enjoy and cheers! Please visit my facebook page: Bubblybee Follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Flavor, Next Level – Beyond Salt And Pepper

I can’t wait to try the champagne soaked cedar planks…thank you Talk-a-Vino!

Talk-A-Vino

I love cooking. Cooking allows you to be creative, and you are only limited by your own imagination in what will show up on the table in the end. That and maybe some skill – but skill, of course, can be learned and mastered.

While creativity, imagination, and skill are important, one quality will separate success and failure in the final dish – flavor. Of course, the situation is not that dramatic in real life – this is what “not too bad” and “interesting” descriptors are for, but the flavor rules. This for sure is true in the home cooking. If dish on the table looks great – excellent, definitely a bonus. The texture typically is important too – if the rice more resembles mashed potatoes, that is not really cool. But flavor rules – once we take the first bite, the presentation becomes secondary and the flavor is what…

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A Visit With Gloria Smiley ~ Food Stylist Extraordinaire

Atlanta Gloria

I felt like I won the lottery when my friend Kate asked me to join her on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a cooking class taught by Gloria Smiley.

Gloria is an independent food stylist for print and film.  She has taken classes at Cordon Bleu and LaVarenne in Paris and with Lydie Marshall in Nyons, France.  Some of her most memorable clients include Julia Child,  Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.  She is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, IACP and AIWF.

 We were very excited to take a fish and shellfish cooking class taught by Gloria at the Cook’s Warehouse in Atlanta.  Gloria was warmhearted and welcoming as she shared tips about how to make sure we purchase fish and shellfish that is fresh and delicious.  Then we rolled up our sleeves and joined her into the kitchen to prepare some of her prize recipes including:

Scallops Baumaniere with Vegetables

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Roasted Salt and Pepper and Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce

Seared Swordfish with Lemon Garlic Cream

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Red Snapper! Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!

Here’s Gloria’s recipe for Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon ~ my favorite recipe from her cooking class…

This preparation is good with any mild white fish. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 six-ounce red snapper fillets without skin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces creme fraiche

3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard without grains

2 tablespoons shallots

2 teaspoons capers, packed in salt, rinsed and dried

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Optional:  1/2 cup panko crumbs, toasted

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a USA pan (coated with silicone) or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Spread the sauce evenly  over the fish fillets making sure the fish is entirely covered.  (This can be done an hour or so in advance of cooking and placed in refrigerator.)  Put lemon slices on op of the fish in decorative pattern.
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets or until they are barely done.  A thermometer should read 135 degrees – no higher.  It is important not to overcook the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted Panko crumbs, if you like – adds a nice bit of crunch – Serve fillets hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned on top.

Gloria’s tips for cooking fish:

  1.  Get everything in the recipe ready before cooking the fish so that the process moves quickly once the cooking begins.
  2. Heat a dry pan then put a little oil in it, then put the fish in the pan. It will stick but the fish surface will caramelize and then you can easily turn it over in the pan.
  3. After filleting fish, make your own fish stock ~ it freezes very well.
  4. After marinating fish or meat, pat it dry with paper towels.  The dry surface will encourage browning.  Browning gives the food another layer of flavor.  If food is touching in the pan (such as scallops), they won’t brown where they are touching, so keep them apart in the pan.

That’s me on the left, Gloria Smiley in the center and Kate on the right.

Gloria explained to the class that cooking classes at the Cook’s Warehouse are a very good way to discover the type of knife you like best since we used several types of knives that evening.  She also shared a superstition about knives with us: “Don’t give knives as gifts because it severs the relationship.”

Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables

The scallops were so pretty as they simmered in Noilly Prat Vermouth under the watchful eye of my friend Kate. Gloria loves this recipe. The first time she had Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables was in Provence, France, such a delectable memory. 

A hint: purchase “dry” sea scallops.   Wet scallops are shucked and placed directly into a container filled with cold water to help preserve them for a longer period of time.  These scallops absorb water and plump up, giving them a less pure flavor and a tougher texture.  After Dry scallops are shucked  they go into a dry container with no water or preservatives. Their flavor is  concentrated and fresh.

…and may I suggest a little bubbly to enjoy with the seafood…

Champagne Pierre De Bry Brut Reserve

Primarily pinot noir grapes with a splash of chardonnay. Elegant and sophisticated.  Notes of golden apple, apricot, lightly toasted bread and lemon curd. Does not skimp on the bubbles! Perfect pairing for the Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce that we learned how to make in Gloria Smiley’s class.

After class we shopped in the Cook’s Warehouse. I bought some of these fish spatulas, just the right size to turn fish fillets.

I continued my seafood extravaganza when I returned home…this appetizer shrimp recipe has just the right amount of spicy kick. So easy to prepare…ready in minutes!

Giada’s Spicy Shrimp

Calabrian Shrimp

Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Spicy Shrimp was in the Sunday, April 8, 2018 issue of Parade Magazine. I knew as soon as I opened the oven door that it was going to be delicious because the aroma wafting from my oven was fantastic!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste or red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Add one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails intact), toss to coat.  Marinate 10 minutes at room temperature. Spread shrimp evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 4 – 6.

And to serve with the spicy shrimp…Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Champagne. 100% chardonnay grapes.  Brilliant pale yellow with a fine, persistent mousse.  Delightfully fresh, citrus, orchard fruit and brioche fill the glass.  $40 range. The perfect aperitif, wonderful choice to serve with seafood.

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Cava’s big steps towards the sparkling elite

💖 Cava!

VINO INTERIANO

Fine bubbles, subtle yet complex. Toasty notes, rich texture, berry and floral notes and a mineral, almost steely finish.   Vintage champagne?  Close… though actually I’m describing high-end Cava.  Cava?

Yes. For most consumers, the word “cava” usually brings to mind cheap, simple, inoffensive mass-produced sparkling wines from Spain. Millions are sold every year and most of them fit the descriptions above.  However, a handful of quality-driven producers, working with very high standards in the vineyard and in the cellar are in the process of slowly shifting this reputation via exceptional, terroir-driven, world-class wines.  So what makes high-end cava so distinctive?

First of all, it’s the traditional grapes is made from, primarily Xarello complemented by Macabeo (known as Viura in Rioja) and Parellada.  Xarello is grown almost exclusively in Catalonia and when farmed appropriate it expresses terroir and a sense of place. Second, it’s the care and oversight of their vineyards…

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Kumquat Champagne Cocktail With Candied Kumquat Garnish

Kumquats may look like miniature oranges but make no mistake they are very different…

Kumquats have an edible rind which is tender and sweet.  Oranges have inedible rinds.

Kumquat flesh is dry and very tart.  The flesh of an orange is sweet with a bit of tartness.

Kumquats are more expensive than oranges. I paid $6.99 for 12 ounces. Oranges would have costed me 99 cents for a pound.

Both kumquats and oranges are rich in vitamin C.  Both fruits have seeds.

For sweet cocktail lovers please note…this cocktail is NOT SWEET!  It has the tartness of kumquat with just a hint of sweet and lots of fun bubbles.

Kumquat Champagne Cocktail

This recipe is from Epicurious.com.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups thinly sliced kumquats

1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup sugar

1 750-ml bottle brut Champagne, well chilled (I used sparkling wine for this recipe since I rarely use true champagne to make cocktails.)

PREPARATION

    1. Using back of large spoon, mash first 3 ingredients in bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain mixture through fine sieve set over bowl, pressing on solids.
    2. Pour 2 tablespoons kumquat syrup into each of four 6-ounce Champagne flutes. Fill each with 2/3 cup Champagne.

Garnish with candied kumquats.  (I saved the kumquats from the cocktail kumquat syrup to make the candied kumquats.)

Candied Kumquats

12 ounces sliced kumquats

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to combine.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kumquat slices and stir to coat the slices with sugar water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

I also served the candied kumquats with Roasted Pork Loin finished with Oliveto Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil…divine!   So easy, I just put a small pork loin in a baking pan, drizzled it with some of the wood smoked olive oil (gives the pork a little hint of smokey flavor)and sprinkled it with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  Baked in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.   After I took it out of the oven I drizzled it with some more of the smoked olive oil and served each portion of pork with a spoonful of the candied kumquats.

 

I always love the signs outside our local wine shop Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar…

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Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

 

 

 

Wine News and Updates From Around The World

$10,000 champagne bath?! Exciting news in the wine world from Talk-a-Vino!

Talk-A-Vino

I’m happy to live during the times when wine is getting more and more popular – at least if you look at the wineries popping up all over the place, everywhere in the world, new wines coming out from the places where grapes were never planted before, and winemakers everywhere experimenting with new grapes, new tools (when did ceramic egg became “the thing”, huh?), and new styles (bourbon barrel-aged wine, anyone)? There is a tremendous amount of information available to the wine lovers everywhere, so I wanted to bring to your attention some of the latest news and developments in the world of wine which I found the most interesting.

There seems to be quite a bit of research pointing to the health benefits of the moderate wine consumption. More often than not, the health benefit is attributed to the red wine, not so much to the white, Rosé or…

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A Toast To Italian Wine ~ Molto Bene! ~ A Favorite Mamma Leone Recipe

Our recent Italian wine experience with the Angelini family at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia brought back many “bei ricordi d’Italia” (fond memories of Italy).

I love Italian cooking so naturally one of my favorite cookbooks is  Leone’s Italian Cookbook.  The author Gene Leone dedicated his cookbook“to the memory of my beloved mother”.  He was the owner operator of Mamma Leone’s restaurant, which was founded by his mother in New York City’s theater district.  I love the simplicity of the recipes in this book ~ fresh ingredients of the best quality tossed together resulting in amazing flavors. Here’s one of my favorite Mamma Leone recipes…

Mother Leone’s Green-Bean Salad

from Leone’s Italian Cookbook printed in 1967…

1 medium size baking potato

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, mashed

2 whole green scallions, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 fresh parsley sprigs, leaves only, chopped

6 thin slices of prosciutto, diced

Boil the potatoes in its jacket. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice, but keep warm.  Trim beans and cook in boiling salted water for about 20 minutes.  Test to avoid overcooking.  Drain well. Place warm beans in a salad bowl and add potato over top.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper. Mix well.  Discard bits of garlic.  Pour dressing over warm  beans and potatoes.  Add chopped parsley and diced prosciutto and toss at the table. Serves 6 to 8.

“Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.”  ~ Graham Greene

An evening with the Angelini family at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia. Roberto Angelini is the patriarch of the Angelini family and the founder of Enoteca Properzio, a family-owned exporter of fine food and wines located at the base of Monte Subasio in the heart of Central Italy.

At the event we were greeted with a bubbly aperitif.  Cantina Novelli Blanc de Blanc NV.  Crisp with notes of apple and citrus peel.  A classic Italian sparkler made with 100% Trebbiano Spoletino grapes.

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.” ~ Diogenes

Our Italian Dinner Adventure begins…

Poderi Morini ‘Nadel’ Ravenna Rosso IGT, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Longanesi and Centesimino grapes.  Blackberry, cherry and currant flavors later emerge along with elegant spice notes. This lovely red wine was paired with lovely Charcuterie…prosciutto in the shape of roses, miniature ripe cantaloupe balls drizzled with olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper.

Sassicaia Bolgheri 2014

Sassicaia Bolgheri 2014

Sassicaia means “the place of many stones,” and refers to the region’s gravel soil.  This Super Tuscan is so successful it was granted its own appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, as of 1994.

Cabernet Sauvignon 85%, Cabernet Franc 15%, aged for 24 months in French barrels before bottling.  Paired with a rich lentil vegetable soup. 

Tili 1997 Assisi Rosso

Only 1000 bottles of Tili Assisi Rosso were produced in 1997.    Red Cherry fruit with some notes of vanilla. Medium bodied with a smooth finish. Blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Merlot grapes.

Paired with a creamy Pasta Carbonara with bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese…

Montefalco Sagrantino 2012 Arnaldo-Caprai

100% Sagrantino grapes.  Complex flavors with hints of blackberry jam nutmeg, pepper, pine resin to mint and cocoa.

Paired with the main course…sliced filet mignon served with oven roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted pepper strips.

Pre-dessert…Strawberry Balsamic with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese.  Paired with…

Kurni 2015 Red Wine

Complex and full-bodied, with notes of candied black fruits, vanilla and blackcurrant.  100% Montepulciano grapes.

And the Fioritura Finale…paired with…

Per la salute!

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champagne Taste On A Cremant Budget!

Celebrate the bubbles with Larry The Wine Guy! Crémant has all the fun bubbles of champagne without breaking the bank.

Larry The Wine Guy

I Love Veuve

It’s Popular. It’s on every restaurant wine list. I CAN’T AFFORD IT…. but I can afford this VEUVE… Veuve Ambal one of the prestigious producers in Burgundy, France of Sparkling Wine made in the Method Traditionelle  is not a Champagne but a Cremant De Bourgogne.

What The Heck Is A Cremant

Crémant is a wine word that you see on some sparkling wine labels. … Crémant is a word that describes a certain type of French sparkling wine. Crémant wines are not made all over France but only made in certain officially designated areas.

A

Cremant-wines-of-France-mapAs you can see by the map, these are the areas in France that make sparkling wines in the same method as Champagne. There is a lot made in Loire valley but my personal favorite is Bourgogne, that uses the grapes that Champagne uses/  The biggest production area is in the Macconais…

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