cooking

Champagne And Pizza!

Italy champagne jean

Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne.  A lovely sparkly to begin our weekend before we delved into the serious business of eating pizza.  Just a kiss of pink color in this rosé bubbly.  Notes of tangerine and red berry fruits.   $47 range.

pizza pepperoni

National Pizza Day was on Friday, February 9, 2018 so that gave us the perfect excuse to eat pizza all weekend!

One of my favorite bloggers Talk-A-Vino shared a new concept from Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO) that we’ve been enjoying at our house too ~ theme box of wine.  This month we chose the pizza pairing box to celebrate National Pizza Day. Here’s the link to Talk-A-Vino’s post that explains the theme box concept:

How To Expand Your Wine Horizon – With Wine Til Sold Out Weekly Tasting

Pippin Hill Vineyard Wood-Fired Pizza ~ red sauced thin crust topped with Tasso Ham, Artichokes, Bell Peppers, Cabbage, Arugula and Parmesan.

We recently visited Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards in North Garden near Charlottesville, Virginia.  http://www.pippinhillfarm.com

italy entrance pippin hillitaly pippin hill outside

italy pippin hill vineyard

pippin hill wine bottle

This bottle of the Pippin Hill Viognier wine has a painting of their vineyard inside.

pippin hill menupippin hill red wine

The Pippin Hill Petite Verdot with notes of plum, black cherry and tobacco was the perfect accompaniment to the wood-fired pizza.

pizza-final

italian wine tasting

italy wine red wine

One of the wines from our WTSO pizza theme box:

Virna Barbera D’Alba San Giovanni 2013 Virna Barbera comes from the Piedmont region of Italy.  Red and garnet in color with a deeper hue and notes of red berries, cranberries, black plums, truffles, mushrooms, forest floor and black earth (think the same char flavor as when your pizza dough gets those little black spots and tastes so good). Medium body, fresh, bright acidity and subtle but fine tannins, this is a wine to pair alongside pizza with cheese, truffles, and mushrooms. Also enjoy with speck or prosciutto. 

pippinhill meats

We enjoyed a Charcuterie Board at Pippin Hill Vineyard. The grainy mustard and arugula pesto were delightful accompaniments to local and internationally cured meats. Tasso ham was my favorite…a south Louisiana favorite hot-smoked with cayenne pepper and garlic.

mostardo cookingmostardo

That delicious treat inspired me to create my own Charcuterie Board at home.  I love serving fun variations of condiments with cured meats.  I found this recipe for Mostarda ~ Northern Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup ~ in Food and Wine Magazine.  This recipe has crystallized ginger in it which gives it a little “zing”.  Locally crystallized ginger can be found at Tinnell’s Finer Foods on Crystal Spring Avenue in Roanoke, Virginia.  (Keep any leftover ginger in the freezer to use in other recipes.)  Don’t expect the Mostarda to be sweet, it most definitely has a mustard taste to it with fruity undertones.  Spicy Capicola Ham and Italian Soppressata Salami are two of my favorites on a Charcuterie Board.

Yield : makes 1 1/4 cups

How to Make It

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, cherries, shallot, ginger, wine, vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the liquid is absorbed and the fruit is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dry mustard, Dijon mustard and butter. Simmer until the mostarda is jamlike, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve the mostardawarm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The mostarda can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Notes

Best Uses Serve the mostarda alongside charcuterie or cheese, or spread on a sandwich. The mostarda is also delicious with grilled chicken, steak, pork, lamb and sausages.

 

Italy champagne sign beer

Love the signs outside my favorite local wine shop… Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar http://mrbillswinecellar.com

italy champagne sign

Heart in sand

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Fun Recipe Contest ~ Applesauce + Champagne

I was writing an e-mail this morning (entering a recipe contest) and our landline phone rang, so I got up to answer it in the other room.  When I returned to the computer this is what I found on the screen:

eeeeeeeeeeeeeee521111111111111111111111111111110pppppppppppppppppppppppppppp——————————————————————–jmn

And this is what was sitting on my computer chair:

kitty

Apparently Ziggy the kitty had been walking on the computer keyboard for the few seconds that I was out of the room. Little rascal!

I love to enter recipe contests. The Simply Wholesome Foods Applesauce contest recently caught my eye. Simply Wholesome is based in Russell, Massachusetts.

They sent me a case of the most delicious applesauce to use while I create recipes to submit to their contest. The case included unsweetened applesauce ~ made of local apples and lemon juice (which could pass for sweetened applesauce it is so delectable), touch of honey applesauce and touch of cinnamon applesauce.  Their brand is still very young – they’ve only been producing applesauce for slightly more than one year – so their brand is evolving.  The applesauce has a limited availability at this time and I will keep you posted as they expand their market presence.

Today I entered this yummy recipe in the contest. Very little effort needed to put together this flavorful fun appetizer:

Apple Honey Puffs

How we ladies say it in the South,  “This is pure heaven in a biscuit!”

Makes 12 puffs

Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed

Roll out puff pastry sheet on a cutting board. Using a 2 1/8 inch biscuit cutter cut pastry dough into 12 rounds.

Spray baking sheet lightly with vegetable oil spray.

Place puff pastry rounds on baking sheet. Poke a couple of holes in the rounds with a fork.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.

Remove puff pastry rounds from the oven and allow to cool.

Peel one half of a small Honey Crisp Apple.

Cut the apple half into 12 thin slices.  Cut the slices to make 24 thin pieces.

¼ cup Honey Roasted Cashews, chopped fine

6 teaspoons Simply Wholesome Touch of Honey Applesauce

12 small slices ripe Brie Cheese

Ground Pink Peppercorns

Honey for drizzling

Separate tops and bottoms of the puff pastry puffs.  Place brie cheese on bottom of each puff. Top the brie with ½ teaspoon applesauce on each puff,  two thin apple pieces and 1 teaspoon honey roasted cashew pieces on each puff.  Grind pink peppercorns over the cashew pieces.  Drizzle with a little honey before putting the top back on the puff.

If nothing else please purchase a grinder jar of pink peppercorns. They have wonderful pepper flavor with a little punch (and they are pretty too!). I find myself grinding pink peppercorns on almost everything I cook these days.  I found my pink peppercorn grinder at Earth Fare grocery and the grinders are also available on-line. 

January champagne

Apple Honey Puffs are a perfect accompaniment to champagne.  We enjoyed a glass of Jean Vesselle Reserve with our puffs.  80% pinot noir, 20% chardonnay. Notes of peach, crisp apple and toast. Perfection!  $40 range.

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Dinner In 10 Minutes ~ PORK AU POIVRE ~ With Champagne Pairing

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I don’t have time to do all of the chopping and mixing and fussing to make a delicious dinner, so I look for shortcuts.  I’ve found the roasted pork tenderloin at Fresh Market to be a saving grace in dinner preparation. Here’s one of my favorite “go to” recipes that takes 10 minutes to prepare and plate:

pork

PORK AU POIVRE

Serves 4

4  (1/2 inch thick) slices pork tenderloin (I purchase the pork loin already roasted in the deli section of Fresh Market)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon salt (or a little more to taste)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cognac

1/3 cup heavy cream

  1. Melt butter in a frying pan.  Place pork tenderloin slices in the pan and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Heat the pork over medium heat, turning once, for 2 or 3 minutes, until pork is browned.
  3. Carefully remove the pork slices from pan and place on a plate.  Add cognac to pan and warm slightly. Add cream to cognac and stir, warming for a minute or two.  Place the pork back into the pan and spoon the sauce over the pork. Serve warm.

To complete my Pork Au Poivre dinner I serve a Fresh Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing (also purchased at Fresh Market).  Minimal cooking with maximum flavor!

With less time in the kitchen I can enjoy nap time with these two little rascals…

cats

The champagne pairing which was absolutely fabulous with the Pork Au Poivre was Francoise Bedel  Dis, “Vin Secret” Champagne.  Beautiful golden color with a delicate bead of fine bubbles. Ripe fruit and baked apple, with hints of tropical fruit.  86% Pinot Meunier, 8% Pinot Noir and 6% Chardonnay, the earthiness of the Pinot Meuneir makes this champagne a lovely pairing for roasted pork.  My husband proclaimed it a “Perfect Pairing”!  $50 range. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar or on-line.  http://mrbillswinecellar.com

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Rosé

I  found this gem at one of our local grocery stores, Tinnell’s Finer Foods ~ http://tinnells.com

A lovely weekend sparkling!  It’s fresh, it’s pink, it’s peachy, it’s fizzy, and it’s only $13.99.  A blend of Syrah and Chardonnay from the Yakima Valley in Washington State.  http://www.trevericellars.com

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Holiday Appetizer Recipes + Fried Deviled Eggs!

Last week my bubbly friend and I attended a spectacular cooking class  at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia.   Chef Roger Light shared his favorite holiday appetizer recipes with us.

SC cornbread

Crawfish Cornbread

This cornbread is a fabulous appetizer and would also be a delicious stuffing to serve beside your Thanksgiving turkey.

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3  scallions, chopped

1 pound Andouille sausage, diced

2 pounds crawfish tailmeat

To taste Cajun seasoning

To taste cayenne pepper

1/2 batch (9″ x 13″) of your favorite cornbread recipe

Saute onions,  bell pepper,  celery  and scallions in a little butter, cooking until onions are transparent. Add Andouille sausage, mix together.  Add crawfish tailmeat and cornbread batter, stir to combine all ingredients.

Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes (check center of cornbread for doneness).

SC fried deviled eggsSC ME and eggs

My bubbly friend and I love to cook and her birthday was last week, so we decided a cooking class was the perfect way to celebrate her birthday!

Fried Deviled Eggs!

SC eggs

sc chef Carlos

Super Delicious!!! Chef Carlos demonstrated how to make fried deviled eggs, starting with hard boiled eggs. Cut the eggs in two and place the yolks in a mixing bowl.  Place the white halves on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Blot the egg white halves gently with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

Grind panko bread crumbs in a food processor or blender to make the crumbs more like the consistency of flour.  Place flour in one bowl, egg whites mixed with a little water in another bowl and panko bread crumbs in a third bowl. Dip the egg white halves into flour, then egg white wash, then panko bread crumbs.  Place them on the paper towel lined baking sheet (replace paper towels if the towels are moist). Press the crumb mixture into the egg so that it adheres well.

Heat canola oil in a large pot on the stove.  Fry the egg white halves in hot oil until they are light golden brown. Remove the eggs from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and place on the paper towel lined baking sheet.  Allow to cool.

Using the hard-boiled egg yolks, prepare a deviled egg filling the same way you prepare your favorite deviled egg filling recipe. Add mayonnaise, pickle relish, mustard, or balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle some crisp crumbled bacon in each fried egg half and then fill with the deviled egg filling. Garnish with smoked paprika or chopped chives.

sc mary ellen and eggs

Chef Carlos added sugar to his deviled egg filling which  was so yummy.  That got our group to talking about southern cooking traditions. Sprinkling sugar, salt and pepper over fresh garden tomato slices for instance. I shared the name of one of my favorite southern cookbooks with our group ~ “Being Dead Is No Excuse ~ The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting The Perfect Funeral. ”  by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. Here’s their recipe for “Sweet Stuffed Eggs”:

tailgate eggs

Sweet Stuffed Eggs

You’ll need a big egg plate for this recipe ~ it makes twenty-four servings.  By the way, it’s tasty but not fancy ~ notice we use plain old French’s mustard instead of some rarefied moutarde.  These are what we call peckerwood eggs. 

Ingredients:

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs

sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish (start with 2 teaspoons and continue to taste)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 teaspoons French’s (!) yellow mustard

1 teaspoon onion, finely minced

2 tablespoons Durkee Famous Sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Paprika for garnish

Makes 2 dozen servings.

 

SC lots of bacon

Billionaire’s Bacon

Double or triple this recipe ~ it will be gone in a flash! The perfect combination of salty, sweet and crunchy! (Use medium to thick cut bacon for this recipe.)

http://www.thevspotblog.com/2013/07/brown-sugar-dijon-candied-bacon.html

SC Miss L

“Miss Luan” shows off her fabulous Shrimp Lettuce Wraps served with Thai Peanut Sauce.

SC peanut sauceSC spring rollssc spring roll wrapper

Ingredients for the Shrimp Lettuce Wraps/Spring Rolls:

3/4 pound shrimp, cooked

2 heads butter lettuce

1 each carrot, peeled, grated

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

1/4 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup peanuts chopped

1 package cellophane noodle

Spring roll wrappers

Ingredients for the Thai Peanut Sauce:

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Porchetta

SC chef rolling porkSC pork

Ingredients for Porchetta seasoning:

2 tablespoons fennel seeds ~ Chef Light showed us how to toast the fennel seeds in a saute pan on the stove, then crush the seeds to release the flavor and aroma of the toasted seeds.

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 each orange zest

The seasoning was rubbed into the pork tenderloin, then the tenderloin was wrapped in bacon and baked. Then slice and serve, delicioso!

SC smoked salmon and chefSC smoked salmon

Smoked Salmon With Cream Cheese, Capers and Red Onions

8 ounces cream cheese, softened mixed with:

2 ounces capers, roughly chopped

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1 lemon, juiced, zested

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon dill, chopped

Kosher salt, fine crack of black pepper

Spread the cream cheese mixture over lightly toasted baguette.

Top the cream cheese mixture with 8 ounces smoked salmon.

Thank you and Cheers to Chef Light and the Shenandoah Club Culinary Team!

SC 2 kittens

SC kitty cat

SC kitty

SC kitty in sink

Our new kittens are so happy in their forever home!  As you can tell from the photo above, “Ziggy” never stops moving until he falls asleep. I took them to the vet to get their “well baby check” and Ziggy jumped in the sink, then jumped in the trashcan. We had to give him a bowl of baby food to slow him down enough to give him his vaccination.

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These potatoes are on FIRE! Sparkling Wine Quenches The Heat

This morning I decided to include Potatoes Picante on my Sunday brunch menu.  This spicy Spanish red sauce on top of crispy potatoes is on FIRE with the addition of cayenne pepper.  It can be as spicy as you like it depending on how much cayenne pepper you add…and a tiny pinch of this spice goes a long way! 

Potatoes Picante

For the Picante Sauce:

2 large tomatoes (preferably fresh out of the garden for the best flavor)

12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, chopped into very small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 pinches cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

2 tablespoons butter

For the potatoes:

3 Russet potatoes, peeled.

2 cups Vegetable oil

To prepare the sauce:  Cut the tomatoes in half.  Place a box grater in a bowl.  Grate the cut side of each tomato so that the tomato pulp falls into the bowl.   Discard the tomato skin.

Place the olive oil in a pan and warm it gently over low heat. Add the tomato pulp, chopped red peppers, sugar, salt, paprika and cayenne pepper to the olive oil.  Stir to combine all ingredients.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until butter is melted. Return sauce to heat and keep warm over very low heat while preparing the potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, making 4 strips of potato. Cut each strip into 4 pieces which will make cubes of approximately one inch.  Put the vegetable oil in a deep frypan and heat until sizzling. Carefully add potatoes in one layer and fry over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Check to make sure the potatoes are tender and continue to fry for 5 more minutes until potatoes are crispy and lightly browned.  Remove potatoes from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil off the potatoes.  Sprinkle with a little salt if desired.

Serve warm potatoes on small plates drizzled with the picante sauce. Buen Provecho!

bubbly

I paired the potatoes with Charles Bove Sparkling Wine…tiny bubbles dancing in the flute, the pairing tasted “buttery” to me which was quite pleasing to the palate. The bubbles are created by  long-aging on its yeast via methode traditionnelle practice of secondary fermentation in the bottle.  This dry and festive wine is made from grapes primarily grown in he superb white chalk soils of the central Loire Valley.  Nothing fancy, just light and refreshing. $15 range.

Later I will quench the summer heat at Blue Cow Ice Cream Shop. Homemade ice cream in Roanoke Virginia! bluecowicecream.com

Blue Cow Ice Cream Flight…flavors (front to back) Chocolate Cayenne, Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl, Peach Ginger, Banana Pudding.

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Chilled Jumbo Lump Crab And Corn Bisque Paired With Uriondo Txakoli Bizkaiko Txakolina

soup

Jumbo Lumb Crab and Corn Bisque

6 servings

Place shallow soup bowls and soup spoons in freezer to chill.

3 tablespoons butter

1 small shallot, chopped

2 tablespoons Italian parsley

1 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 ears of corn, cooked and kernels removed from the cob (save kernels from 1/2 ear of corn for garnish)

2 Russet potatoes, peeled, boiled until tender and chopped

1 cup vegetable stock

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Jumb lump crabmeat and chopped chives for garnish

Fresh peas, cooked with a little butter, for garnish (if available)

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add shallot and saute over medium heat until the shallots are translucent.  Remove from heat and add the parsley, Old Bay Seasoning, pepper, corn and potatoes. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Place mixture in a food processor or blender. Add vegetable stock, cream and salt to the mixture.  Process/blend until the mixture is pureed.  Pour pureed soup through a fine sieve, pressing the soup through the sieve with a large spoon. Discard any bits that are left in the sieve.  Chill soup until ready for service.

To serve, place approximately 1/4 cup of soup into each chilled shallow soup bowl. Garnish each bowl of soup with 2 heaping tablespoons jumbo lump crab meat, 2 heaping tablespoons corn kernels, chopped fresh chives and fresh peas. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning.

soupwine

Uriondo Txakoli Bizkaiko Txakolina
Fresh green apple notes.  The flavors on the palate are refreshing and almost salty which makes this wine a perfect pairing for crab.
Txakoli Uriondo is a small family winery founded in 1987 located in the Basque Region of Spain.

$19 range.   This light and crisp wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and bottled with residual carbon to give it its signature natural spritz.  70% Hondarribi Zuri, 20% Mune Mahatsa, and 10% Txori Mahatsa grapes.

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Black Garlic And Champagne

cat

Under the watchful eye of Maxine AndrewsTHE CAT

These days we are enjoying dining al fresco on our backyard deck…in 80 degree Fahrenheit weather with a slight breeze…

“Champagne makes you feel like it’s Sunday and better days are just around the corner.” ~ Marlene Dietrich

champagne bottlechampagne top

 Pascal Lallement Champagne À Chamery Premier Cru Brut 

  This artisanal small batch farmer produced cuvee is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.  This vineyard sits on the mountain of Rheims where the grapes receive plenty of sunshine as they grow on the vines.
  I love the top of this bottle…Champange! Champagne! Champagne!  Notes of apple, honey and toast.  Fresh and creamy with a long mineral driven finish.   $35-$40 range.

My  brother is always discovering fun ingredients for me to try.  He and his lovely bubbly wife live near Blacksburg, Virginia where they found this black garlic.

http://www.obisone.com/

black garlic

black garlic on plate

ObisOne is a family owned business associated with the Virginia Tech Research Center.  Here’s a link to their story:  http://www.obisone.com/about-us

Some fun facts about black garlic from the ObisOne website and some of my notes:

  1.  Nothing is added when we make artisanal batches of organic black garlic. Heat, humidity and vacuum create an environment that lets the natural sugars and enzymes within the garlic do its own thing. 
  2. Black garlic adds a smokiness with just a tiny bit of sweetness and underlying notes of molasses to recipes, all the while maintaining the rich garlic flavor.
  3. The shelf life of our black garlic bulbs and cloves is a minimum of 6 months at room temperature.
  4. Twice the Antioxidants of Raw Garlic.  All natural, no additives.
  5. No Garlic Breath!

Their website includes some fabulous recipes using black garlic.  Black Garlic Recipes link:  http://www.obisone.com/Recipes

Deviled Eggs Black Garlic

Black Garlic Deviled Eggs

Makes 18 deviled eggs

9 fresh eggs (I enjoy getting my eggs from a friend who has chickens…these eggs taste so rich and delicious compared to run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs), hard-boiled, cooled and peeled.

5 cloves black garlic, minced

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Duke’s (brand) mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chunky sweet pickle relish + 1 tablespoon pickle relish juice

1 tablespoon stone ground mustard

Garnish: crumbled crispy bacon and chopped fresh chives

Here’s a link with a recipe for perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs….it works every time and the eggs are easy to peel!  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/

  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; place egg yolks in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork; stir in  mayonnaise, mustard, black garlic,  pickle relish and juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in a food processor or blender and blend until black garlic is incorporated into the mixture.  Add more pickle relish juice if needed to blend, being careful not to add too much juice.
  2. Arrange egg white halves on a serving platter; spoon yolk mixture into egg whites. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, garnish with crumbled crispy bacon and chopped chives.

 Italian Rose

Lady Lola Rosé. I admit, I bought this Italian rosé for it’s pretty bottle.   $12 range.   The Lady Lola Rose NV is a wine that’s begging to be brought to a garden party.  Inexpensive, perfectly drinkable (not remarkable) wine.  Peach, raspberry and strawberry notes. Crisp and fresh.  It’s peachy pink color told me it would be light and the grape blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Indigenous Veneto varietals promised a not too sweet wine.

cava with cheese wafers

Whisps!  Cheddar Cheese Crisps (like the parmesan crisps, but these are made with cheddar cheese). Delicious and yummy with champagne! Available at Walmart in the deli section or on-line.

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