appetizers

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Scallops And Firecracker Shrimp

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

I wish you could have smelled the aroma of this smoky soy sauce in my kitchen as I was searing the scallops ~ it was heavenly! As promised here is one of my favorite recipes using the Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce that I bought at Fresh Market (also available on-line). This is a SUPER easy recipe!

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

2 appetizer size servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce + 1 teaspoon for finishing

6 large (10 scallops to a pound) sea scallops

2 crisp celery stalks, but into strips on a mandoline slicer

1/2 lime

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Place vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a medium size saute pan. Heat until sizzling. Place scallops in hot oil and sear on one side. When the scallops have a nice caramelized sear on one side, turn the scallops and sear on the other side. Place strips of celery on top of the scallops and drizzle some of the oil over the celery. Spritz the scallops with the juice of the lime. Placed the scallops on appetizer plates for service.

Tips for searing scallops:

  1. Make sure the oil is sizzling hot.
  2. Use dry sea scallops. They have enough surface area for a nice sear.
  3. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels before searing.
  4. The scallops will stick to the pan until they are ready to turn. Nudge the scallop with a metal spatula and if it doesn’t easily give then it is not ready to turn.

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Firecracker shrimp are super easy to make!

Firecracker Shrimp

Firecracker Shrimp

2 appetizer size servings

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 pound peeled deveined shrimp (26-30 count)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (I like Grama’s sweet chili sauce for this recipe – available at Fresh Market or on-line)

Juice and zest of 1/2 lime

Place flour and Old Bay seasoning in a plastic bag, seal and shake the bag. Place the shrimp in the bag, seal and shake to cover the shrimp.

Heat the oil in a medium size saute pan to sizzling. Add shrimp and cook until lightly browned then flip the shrimp to brown the other side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and discard the oil. Return the shrimp to the pan and cover with Asian sweet chili sauce. Stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce. Spritz the shrimp with lime juice and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve on appetizer plates.

Super Dips For The Super Bowl

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I just posted lots of yummy dip recipes to serve at your Super Bowl party ~ February 3 ~ on the Roanoker Magazine (Behind the Page) Blog: theroanoker.com https://theroanoker.com/blogging

Monte Cristo Dip ~ Jarlsberg cheese with raspberry habanero, Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip, Italian Artichoke Dip with crispy bacon on top. Plus one of my favorite “man cave” dips ~ Sausage Queso Dip that has only 4 ingredients…so easy and delicious!

Today I found a recipe on The Novice Chef Blog for Hot Crab, Corn and Bacon Dip. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make and the flavors are fabulous! This will be another super dip for the Super Bowl!

Here’s the link to the Novice Chef Blog: https://thenovicechefblog.com/

COOK TIME: 20 MINUTES

HOT CRAB, CORN AND BACON DIP

TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large jalapeño, minced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 lb lump crab meat
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • crackers, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 1 (or 1.5) quart casserole dish with non stick spray, set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Add jalapeño, garlic and shallots, cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (including the crab) — saving a little cheese to add on top of dip. Add in jalapeño mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Transfer dip to prepared casserole dish. Top with the cheese you set aside.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling at the edges. Serve hot with crackers (it’s great with Ritz!).

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Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

man wearing black dress shirt holding a flute glass and black wine bottle

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Champagne Thought Of The Day ~ The Whisper Of Love

The sound of air slowly releasing from the Champagne bottle when de-corked is called ‘the whisper of love’. To hear this noise, place your thumb on the muselet, the wire cage that fits over a bottle of Champagne, and gently turn the bottle left. (Under pressure, the longer a cork stays in the bottle, the smaller and more narrow it becomes.)

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

I love small plate dinners especially during the holidays. Wine pairing is easy with tiny bites of flavorful foods and no one gets overstuffed with huge portions. Here’s my recent menu from a festive champagne small plate dinner with friends.

We greeted our guests with Charles de Cazanove 2000 Stradivarius Brut Champagne. I served the champagne with delicate Boursin cheese palmliers. These cheese pastries are easy to make, light and airy that compliment champagne.

Boursin Cheese Palmiers

The palmiers can be prepared a day ahead of the party.  Prepare the palmiers, do not bake,  place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Bake them just before service.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 (5.2 ounce package) package Boursin herb and garlic cheese

1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone, Parmesan,Fontina, Romano and Asiago)

Melted butter

Place puff pastry sheet on a cutting board that has been dusted with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square. Spread the puff pastry sheet evenly with the Boursin cheese.  Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the Boursin cheese. Roll each short end to the center of the pastry, making sure to roll tightly and evenly. Freeze rolled log for 20 minutes, until very firm but not frozen. Slice crosswise into 3/8-inch slices. Place the palmiers on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Brush tops of palmiers with melted butter. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned. (Watch carefully so that they do not burn.)

champagne lobster

Our first course was Lobster Mashed Potatoes in a cocktail spoon paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. The lobster mash is super easy to prepare. Marinate lobster tails in Sprite or ginger ale and sprinkle the meat side of the lobster generously with Old Bay seasoning in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Broil or grill the lobster until the meat starts to pull away from the shell. Cool the lobster the remove the lobster meat from the shells and chop it into little pieces. Mix a little whipping cream into deli mashed potatoes, place a dollop of the mashed potatoes in appetizer spoon, top with chopped lobster meat, melted butter and chopped fresh chives. Broil until bubbly. Let the spoons cool a little before serving so they will not be too hot to handle. I bought two small lobster tails to serve 14 spoons (2 for each guest) along with 1/2 pound mashed potatoes from the Fresh Market deli.

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Our second course was Braised Pork Ragout With Pearl Onions And Mushrooms.  The recipe is in the Roanoker Magazine Blog and here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/how-the-french-warm-up-in-winter-ragout/

We paired the ragout with Isiri Barolo.

Our third course was mini shrimp and grits and fourth course was mini cheeseburger sliders with caramelized onions paired with Silver Oak Alexander Valley.

Pre-dessert is to dessert as amuse bouche is to hors d’oeuvre.  A small dessert-like course served before the main dessert. I served a tiny almond cake with espresso topped with sweetened whipped cream. I found both the cakes and the espresso coffee beans at Fresh Market.
The presentation is a metal electrical box I bought at Lowes covered with decoupage paper.

dessert

And the grand finale…Flourless Chocolate Cake with Sweetened Whipped Cream and Amarena cherries paired with 2004 Haut Charmes Sauternes. Here’s the recipe for this lovely cake. The cherries are available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke or on-line. 

https://bakerbynature.com/flourless-chocolate-fudge-cake/

The next day we had a 14 inch snow. Our cats were fascinated when snow fell off the roof!

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Zesty Italian Artichoke Dip

Zesty Italian Artichoke Dip

…rich, creamy, spicy dip to serve with kettle cooked potato chips during the holidays. I made this dip last weekend and my guests loved it! Super easy to make too! (Make the day ahead and add the bacon on top right before serving.)

2 (12 ounce) jars quartered marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

.6 ounce Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix

8 ounces sour cream

8 ounces shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

2 ounces diced pimento

16 ounces bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Kettle cooked potato chips

Place artichokes, cream cheese and salad dressing mix in a mixing bowl. Mix these ingredients together.  Add the sour cream, Monterrey Jack cheese and pimento to the cream cheese mixture. Mix well to make sure the cream cheese is completely blended with the other ingredients.  Place in serving bowl and top with crumbled bacon. Serve with kettle cooked potato chips.

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For Bourbon Lovers On Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving gives us the  opportunity to use earthy, rich, spicy flavors in our food and cocktails. Think smokey, honey, cherry, bourbon and a twist of winter citrus in front of a roaring fire.

alcohol bar black background close up

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First, the appetizer…

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 and mound 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.

Old Fashioned

It is so easy and delicious to mix a cocktail with hand-crafted Bittermilk Cocktail Mixes (available on-line or at Fresh Market).  We’ve invited friends to Thanksgiving who love Whiskey Sours so I am going to surprise them with Bittermilk Smoked Honey Whiskey Sours served over an ice sphere with  Fabbri Amarena Cherries. These cherries are a dark red variety with a sweet and slightly bitter flavor that are preserved in a rich syrup made from the juice of the same fruit. They are sold in a decorative pottery jar on-line or locally (Roanoke, VA) at Tinnell’s Finer Foods. Seriously delicious!

We’ve revived this old classic by smoking honey over bourbon barrel staves. Bitter orange peel and lemon make for a slightly tart and smoky cocktail. Honey adds a nice frothy head when shaken vigorously. Mixes best with bourbon but swap it out for tequila to make a slightly smoky Honey Margarita. Shake equal parts Bittermilk No.3 + Whiskey with heavy amounts of ice. Fresh Lemon Juice, Water, Bourbon Barrel Smoked Georgia Honey, Florida Golden Cane Sugar, Fresh Orange Peel

food cherries fruits sour

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National Cheese Day ~ Comeback Cow!

Cheese Glorious Cheese!

In celebration of National Cheese Day – June 4, 2018 – I am tasting a new cheese and it is delicious!

Dorothy’s Comeback Cow Soft Ripened Cheese

A pleasant surprise!

Dorothy was known to work tirelessly or, as they say, until the cows came home, perfecting her soft-ripened cheeses. Comeback Cow is one of her most unusual cheese –– a true creation. Nestled in the shape of freshly sprung flowers—this bloomy rind cheese is tinged orange with age. It’s made from cow’s milk with rustic, fragrant notes in every bite.

Behold, a tasteful artisan brie that surprises A lovely blend crafted with sheer love Flavor with a kick (that just keeps kicking) And creaminess that will keep you coming back… Until the cows come home!

I paired the Comeback Cow Cheese with Runamok Maple Syrups.  Made in northern Vermont these maple syrups are fabulous drizzled over soft-ripened cheese, in cocktails, and in many sweet and savory recipes. Here’s a link to Runamok’s recipes on-line: https://runamokmaple.com/recipes/

We found the Smoked with Pecan Wood Maple Syrup to be especially delicious.

Holmsted Fines Peach Chutney was another amazing pairing with the Comeback Cow cheese. It tastes so much like my mom’s homemade peach chutney, yum!

 

Holmsted Fines Chutney is uniquely different from other chutneys on the market. It is an English based recipe that Owner and Creator Rebecca Williamson developed after graduating  Le Cordon Bleu. The balance between sweetness and acidity make Holmsted Fines the perfect condiment for any meats, cheese and vegetables even can be added to cocktails or desserts.  https://holmstedfines.com/

I am always looking for quick and delicious appetizers to serve with wine and these syrups and chutneys paired with cheese was the perfect combination ~ so easy to prepare and serve.

Comeback Cow!

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Enjoy Special Club Champagne With Chili-Lime Crab Salad

One of my favorite Spring recipes by Sue Zemanick, Food and Wine Magazine (with a few little twists that I enjoy with this salad).

I chill appetizer bowls and appetizer forks in the freezer for serving this salad.

Chile-Lime Crab Salad With Tomato And Avacado

4 servings

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeno

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper (I substitute the black pepper with ground pink peppercorns for an extra kick)

1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced (1/2 inch)

1/3 cup minced red onion

1 large heirloom tomato , cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices (if tomatoes are not in season I omit the tomatoes)

Tortilla chips, for serving (I substitute lime tortilla chips)

I add these two garnishes for the top of the salad ~ 1/2 cup cooked fresh corn kernels off the cob and 1/3 cup finely diced red radishes.

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper (a good grind of pink peppercorns).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
  3. Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro.   Garnish with fresh corn kernels, finely diced radishes. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with lime tortilla chips.

A fabulous pairing with the Chili-Lime Crab Salad ~

2011 Roland Special Club Blanc de Blancs Champagne

I purchased this lovely champagne locally at Tinnell’s Finer Foods, Roanoke, Virginia.  tinnells.com  It is also available on-line.

100% Chardonnay grapes.   One of the consummate symbols of quality in Champagne, the “Special Club” label is allowed only on the best wines from top vintages if they pass muster after a series of blind tastings and all the other producer-members of “The Club”  (an elite group of growers formed in 1971) unanimously agree. Roland Champion’s 2011 Special Club Blanc des Blancs earned that distinction. $65 range.  Beautifully balanced and buttery with lovely bubbles.  Excellent with lobster and crabmeat.

Information about the “Special Club” from timelesswines.com:

To be a member of this Club, Champagne producers have to elaborate their Cuvées in their own facility, meaning the pressing, bottling, ridding, disgorging, etc., have to be done at the domaine/estate. Then, only the Recoltants-Manipulants are accepted. Everybody has to respect the Club’s rules to ensure the quality. These rules include: * Only vintages * Two tastings to control the quality: the first one after the blending, when the wine is still “Vin Clair” (juice) and another after the 3 years (or more) of ageing “sur lattes”. There are 26 members, each of whom can produce his Special Club with his own techniques: * blending or “monocru” (only one grape variety) * “blanc de blancs” or “blanc de noirs”; ageing from 3 to 10 years, brut or extra-brut. 4 year ageing minimum Strict selection of plots only made out of our old vineyards.

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