Category Archives: appetizers

Roasted Red Pepper And Artichoke Tapenade Toast Rounds

I was recently asked to try some Wisconsin Cheese recipes and write a review on the results.  The first recipe that caught my eye was a Tapenade recipe that I knew would be perfect for one-bite hors d’oeuvres.

The original Recipe for the Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade can be found on the Eat Wisconsin Cheese website:

http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/recipes/3062/roasted-red-pepper-and-artichoke-tapenade

Here’s the review I wrote for the Wisconsin Cheese website that explains how I made the tapenade toast rounds.  Delicious!

I love to serve one-bite hors d’oeuvres that my guests can pop into their mouths without having to put down their glass of wine. When I found this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade I knew it would be delightful on little toast rounds as the perfect one-bite. I made the tapenade according to the recipe instructions, then I made little 1 ½ inch bread rounds out of ordinary white sandwich bread (cut rounds with a cookie cutter). I put the bread rounds on a cookie sheet and brushed them with a little melted butter.

toast rounds

Then I toasted the bread rounds in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 8 minutes (until they were brown and toasted on the bottom). After removing the toast rounds from the oven I topped each round with a teaspoon of the tapenade and sprinkled them with Wisconsin parmesan cheese. I put them back in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 more minutes and then I broiled them for 1 minute to make sure the cheese was melted and beginning to brown.   Serve warm. Cheesie perfection in one bite!

The red peppers and garlic make this recipe zesty and the capers, green olives and lemon juice give the tapenade a citrusy tang. And cheese, glorious cheese, such a welcome ingredient in tapenade. Love this recipe. It will be one of my “go to” recipes for my cocktail parties. 5 Stars! Fabulous served with champagne!!!

sign sparkle like champagne

lizard

I surprised this little gecko when I started digging around in my potted plants last evening.

sign enthusiast

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Shishito Peppers Stuffed With Fontina And Prosciutto

Shishito Peppers ~ local Farmer’s Market, fresh from the garden or Fresh Market

15 Shishito Peppers

6 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 5 slices and then cut each slice into 3 strips

3 ounces prosciutto, cut horizontally into 15 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Rinse and dry Shishito Peppers. Cut a slit in the side of each pepper (lengthwise – keeping the stem end in-tact) and remove the ribs and seeds.  Wrap the cheese with prosciutto and stuff into peppers (wrapping the proscuitto around the end of the cheese will help the cheese to stay in the pepper as the cheese melts).  Arrange the stuffed peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and lightly with sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the peppers start to brown and the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

To stuff peppers: Rinse and dry peppers. Slice peppers lengthwise to split open (leaving stem end intact).

pepper

snack sign

Alfred champagne

Alfred Basely – Champagne Brut

  Alfred Basely is a smaller producer based near Epernay.  Ripe lemony citrus with notes of white flower, mineral and freshly baked bread. Fine bubbles with a long, clean finish.  $30 range.

corn on grillfeta mayo

Grilled corn is one of my favorite summer treats.  Here are links to two of the most yummy spreads to top grilled corn on the cob…Spicy Taco Butter and Feta Lime Mayonnaise:

https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/grilled-corn-on-the-cob-with-spicy-butter/45ecbca2-a940-441a-bcd1-9ace22a2090c

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/grilled-corn-with-feta-cheese-recipe-1918855

squash

Scenes along the Greenway…Squash Blossom

senda verde alberino wine in glass

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Lemony Herbed Fresh Ricotta Recipe + Dhondt-Grellet Brut Grand Cru Champagne

Tōgarashi is the Japanese name for chili peppers. The Nanami Tōgarashi that I purchased at a local Asian food market is a combination of chili peppers, white and black sesame seeds, ginger, orange peel and seaweed. It has a nice little kick of spiciness to it.

To serve my fresh ricotta I generously sprinkled the serving plate with freshly ground gourmet peppercorns (pink, black, white and green) and Nanami Tōgarashi so that the cheese would pick up the little bits of pepper and spice as each guest spread the cheese on toasted baguette slices.

Fresh Ricotta is super easy to make. I tried several recipes made with lemon juice (that did not have enough acidity to make the milk curdle) that failed before I found Ina Garten’s recipe (uses vinegar, not lemon juice) which works perfectly.

Here’s the link to Ina Garten’s Fresh Ricotta recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-ricotta-recipe-1923290

I like to mix into to the ricotta:

8 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

4 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced into tiny rounds

10 chives, chopped fine

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon + 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Serve on toasted baguette rounds that have been brushed with melted butter. Garnish with tiny basil leaves and (if in season) chive blossoms.

 

Dhondt-Grellet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Prestige du Moulin — N.V.

A perfect pairing for my lemony herbed fresh ricotta.  100 % of Chardonnay from two Grand Crus villages (Cramant & Chouilly).  $55 range.   Golden color with delicate consistent bubbles in the flute. Elegant with notes of white flowers, quince paste and freshly baked pastry.  A grower champagne, only a handful of cases are brought into the United States each year.

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Summer Snacks ~ Chive Blossom Dip

In the “good-ole summertime” I love creating recipes that are simple to prepare and will hold up in the heat when we entertain outside.  Here’s one of my new favorites Chive Blossom Dip:

Pink rose blooming next to chive blossoms in my herb garden.

Chive blossoms in bloom in my herb garden.

Chive Blossom Dip

Easy prepare in two minutes!  In a small bowl, combine 5.2 ounce package Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese with 3 to 4 tablespoons milk. Mix each tablespoon of milk into the cheese and add more milk as needed to make the dip smooth and dip consistency. Put dip in a pretty serving bowl.  Garnish with fresh chopped chives and a chive blossom in the middle of the bowl. Serve with Terra Exotic Potato Chips or your favorite kettle cooked potato chips (kettle cooked potato chips are usually heartier and stand up to the humidity in  the summer better than other types of potato chips).

Boursin Cheese

Creamy, spreadable cheese flavored with garlic and herbs.  Other flavors are now available:  shallot and chive, pepper and cranberry and spice.  (You can make dip out of these flavors too – just change the garnish to crumbled crisp bacon for the pepper boursin and chopped toasted pecans or walnuts for the cranberry and spice boursin.)

To learn more about Boursin Cheese, please visit:  http://www.cheese.com/boursin

Easy recipes that do not require cooking are especially important to me right now…our kitchen/dining room remodel is about half-way completed. Granite countertops are being installed today. Can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and start cooking again!

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Poutine Poppers, Butter Chicken Spring Rolls…Appetizers In 10 Minutes!

As we head towards the lazy days of summer,  I am always looking for ways to get out of the kitchen and outside to the deck to visit with my guests.  Trade in my spatula for a glass of wine and reeeeelax. I have always been a proponent of homemade appetizers since frozen appetizers are usually tasteless and boring. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Private Selection frozen appetizers at Kroger that are actually quite delicious.  http://www.privateselection.com/about-us/

The Poutine Poppers are cheese curds, shredded potato and rich gravy in a deliciously crispy potato breading.  These little pops of yummyness are inspired by the rich flavors of Quebec cuisine.

So what the heck is “Quebec Cuisine”? From Wikipedia:

In Quebec, Poutine are French Fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.

Quebec’s traditional cuisine is as rich and diverse as the province of Quebec itself. The historical context of ‘traditional’ Quebec cuisine is from the fur trade period, and many dishes have a high fat content. The strongest influences on traditional Quebec cuisine come from the cuisines of France and Ireland.  

Crispy without frying!

Butter Chicken Spring Rolls are inspired by the fragrant flavors of India and East Asia.  Beginning with chicken, vegetables and sweet and creamy Butter Chicken Sauce, this unexpected twist on the classic spring roll is a perfect way to add global flavor to your entertaining.

The Hatch Chili and Cheese Puffs (16 count) came in their own little bake-able tray (to help keep their shape) and took 25 minutes to bake. Buttery puff pastries filled with rich cream cheese and Monterrey Jack cheese blended with hot Hatch chilies and green chilies.  These little puffs do have a little bit of a bite to them!

This Notorious Pink Rosé wine was a very nice compliment to the Hatch Chili and Cheese Puffs.   The Notorious Pink is a Grenache Rosé with lovely strawberry notes.  I love the pink glass top and the wine has a very light pink tint as it is poured into the glass. $19 range.

And the Swan Song for the oven in my current kitchen before starting remodeling tomorrow…will it be Duck à l’Orange, Beef Wellington perhaps?  No…Tater Tots!  ( Alexia Garlic and Black Pepper Potato Puffs from Fresh Market which are actually yummy for a quick treat.)  http://www.alexiafoods.com/products/potatoes/crispy-seasoned-potato-puffs

Photo of the inside of a ruby-red tulip that greeted me on my walk this morning.

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Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Paired With Raclette

smoked-trout

Saturday night was full of bubbly fun.  Our small plates dinner began with one of my favorite appetizers: Smoked Trout Dip With Sweet Onion Vinaigrette…here’s the recipe from Food and Wine Magazine:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/smoked-trout-dip-sweet-onion-vinaigrette

We paired the smoked trout dip with a rosé champagne ~ Champagne Louis De Sacy Brut Rosé Grand Cru and served the dip with rustic potato chips. This champagne is in the $60 range. Lovely salmon pink color. Notes of toasted almond and brioche. Creamy and balanced with the freshness of rich ripe fruit.

louis-champagne

 

And then a  pleasant surprise..Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2014…so different than traditional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…

Traditional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…wine aficionados either love it or hate it. Personally I hate it.  I usually find New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to be grassy and green bell peppery and why would anyone put that in a glass?

But, the  Supernatural wine had such a cool label…I just had to try it!

supernatural-wine

supernatural-wine-label

The Supernatural (the name refers to the estate’s viticultural practices) is farmed organically, vinified naturally and estate grown in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country’s leading producers of wine. $25 – $30 range.

 The smoky and spicy notes of this wine are characteristic of the sun-drenched south sea days Hawke’s Bay is famous for. The Supernatural is complex with layers of citrus, passion fruit and honeysuckle.

This lovely wine was a fabulous pairing with Raclette cheese melted over buttered “one bite” tiny Yukon Gold potatoes.

raclette-machine

 Pictured above ~ Raclette cheese melting in a Raclette broiler.

Raclette is an ancient Swiss dish that dates back to the time when Herdsmen would pasture their cows high in the Swiss Alps. Once they had set up camp they would cut open their wheels of cheese and warm them on a rock by the campfire, scraping the edge of the cheese as it melted over cooked potatoes, sour pickles and baked ham to create a hearty meal.  Raclette comes from the French verb racler, to scrape.

raclette

Accompaniments to Raclette included tiny Yukon Gold “one bite” potatoes, cornichons, watermelon radish pickles and pickled pearl onions, homemade hot sauce,  artichokes with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.  Served with my favorite Bok Choy Salad:  http://www.food.com/recipe/bok-choy-salad-184840

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Lovin’ Avocado Toast ~ Happy Healthy New Year!

avacado-toast

Lately I’ve been craving Avocado Toast…rich ripe mashed avocado on toasted baguette…it’s like butter baby!

Here’s “the rules” for making Avocado Toast which is an easy and healthy way to make dinner in a hurry:

  1.  Purchase a good quality baguette from your local bakery (Big box store baguette won’t give you the yummy toasty goodness required for this recipe).  Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/2 slices and place on baking sheet.  Broil the baguette slices in the oven until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.  (No butter or oil required!)
  2. Spread toasted baguette slices with ripe avocado.  Keep avocado, tomatoes, red onion and other Avocado Toast ingredients in your refrigerator along with a baguette or two in your freezer so  you will always be ready to make Avocado Toast.
  3. Have fun being creative with toppings ~ my personal favorites are chopped fresh tomato, finely chopped red onion, arugula and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Many more ideas for toppings include balsamic vinegar drizzle, crumbled bacon, finely chopped hard boiled egg, chiffonade of fresh basil, squirt of lime juice, fresh corn off the cob, chopped green onion, crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.  There are hundreds of ideas to top Avocado Toast on Pinterest too. https://www.pinterest.com/
  5. The important thing about the toppings for Avocado Toast is that they are fresh. I tried topping the avocado with a pre-made bruschetta topping instead of fresh tomatoes and it just tasted mushy. Embrace fresh for this toasty treat!
  6. Avocado Toast is easy to pair too…equally delicious with a chilled bubbly, red wine or fruity Sangria.

CHEERS TO A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

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