recipe

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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The BEST Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe!

buttermilk

Is there anything more yummy than homemade Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing?  Wait ’til you taste it made with Homestead Creamery Buttermilk!  This buttermilk is so rich that it won’t immediately pour out of the bottle. You can see in the photo above that it coats the spoon, like the texture of sour cream. I have to admit I never liked buttermilk before I tried the Homestead Creamery brand and now I am a fan! I am planning to make Southern Cornbread with this buttermilk too. YUM!

Homestead Creamery is our local dairy located in Wirtz, Virginia:

https://www.homesteadcreameryinc.com/

buttermilk dressing spinach

Bubblybee Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Makes 2 cups

2 cloves black garlic, minced (regular garlic can be substituted if black garlic is not available)

1 cup Homestead Creamery Buttermilk (if Homestead Creamery brand is not available in your area substitute 1/2 cup good quality buttermilk and 1/2 cup sour cream)

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise (or your favorite brand of mayonnaise)

1/2 teaspoon medium peri-peri sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 shallot grated

In a mixing bowl combine black garlic and buttermilk. Allow to stand while prepping other ingredients.  Add mayonnaise, peri-peri sauce, chives, basil, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice and shallot to the buttermilk and garlic mixture.  Stir to combine all ingredients.  Chill until service.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is especially delicious on a fresh spinach salad with crispy peppered bacon!

salad

I also drizzled some of the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing over our BLT’s (actually BST’s since I replaced lettuce with spinach on the sandwiches) for dinner this evening.

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Tempting Tailgating Recipes

My husband and I recently attended a Tailgating Extravaganza Cooking Class at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia.  Chef Roger Light shared with us his favorite tailgating recipes.  And this was no “mess o’ chicken wings”…this was fancy tailgating with surprisingly simple recipes! Thank you Chef Light!

sangria

We were greeted with our choice of Sangria:  Traditional Red Wine and Fresh Fruit Sangria or Falling Pear Punch.

Here’s Chef Light’s recipe for his fabulous Falling Pear Punch ~

Falling Pear Punch

20 ounces GREY GOOSE®  La Poire (Pear)

15 ounces Sparkling Wine

5 ounces Grand Marnier ®

5 ounces Pear Puree

5 ounces Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

7.5 ounces Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients in a punch vessel and chill using a large block of ice. Stir gently. Serve in cocktail cups with pear slice garnish/ground cinnamon on top.

This would produce a punch that has a volume of 57.5 ounces.

sangria cup

I consider Sangria to be the 5th food group since it has so many ingredients that are good for us! So I was very happy to get Chef Light’s recipe:

Sangria

1 bottle Red Wine

1/3 bottle Orange Juice

1/3 bottle Vodka

1/3 bottle B&B Brandy

1 Green Apple, diced

1 Orange, zested

1 Cinnamon Stick, cracked

1 cup Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Cover and chill for several hours in the refrigerator. Pour sangria into a pitcher and serve ice-cold in chilled cocktail cups.

shrimp

The first tailgating tidbit we were served was pickled shrimp. Perfect for stand-up snacking at the game. Followed by delicious deviled eggs, warm bar nuts, ham and gruyere baguettes with mustard butter and avocado and bleu cheese dip with apples.

tailgate eggs

 

Then came the GRILL! We feasted on grilled beef tenderloin and salmon. One of the most delightful treats of the evening was the Texas Barbecue Dry Rub Ribs ~ grilled over charcoal.

tailgate ribs

…here’s Chef Light’s recipe ~ serve with Harvest (Vinegar Based) Slaw

Texas Barbecue Dry Rub

2 tablespoons Chili Powder

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 teaspoons Black Pepper, freshly ground

1 teaspoon Dry Mustard

1 teaspoon Cumin, ground

1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper, ground

tailgate sea salt carmel peanut browniesCoffee with hearts

And for dessert ~ moist chocolately caramel sea salt peanut brownies.

tailgate chilitailgate chili jar

Chef Light sent us home with “Chili-Cornbread Jars” to  enjoy at our leisure.  What a fabulous idea – spicy chili layered with homemade cornbread topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onion. Perfect for a hearty snack before the big game!

HAPPY TAILGATING!

wine not sign

Kittens

Kitten Update:  Ziggy Elman (grey kitten) and Artie Shaw (tabby kitten) are lovin’ life in their new forever home (day 3).  They are devouring their food, ignoring kitten toys because the other kitten’s tail and my fingers and toes are much better to chew on! Ziggy likes to put both feet in his water bowl (go figure)!

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Balsamic Vinegar Pearls Bruschetta ~ Flavor Bomb!

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls…Bursting with flavor!  

balsamic container

balsamic caviar

Looks like caviar!

Available on-line…black,  white, lemon (yellow), white truffle and pomegranate balsamic vinegar pearls…

balsamic brushetta

Tomato Burrata Bruschetta with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar Pearls

Burrata means “buttered” in Italian. I like to describe it as fresh cream and curd (like a fresh ricotta) wrapped in mozzarella cheese and it is fabulouso!

barrata cheese

These flavor bomb appetizers are so easy to prepare.  Spread burrata cheese on toasted French bread rounds (I purchased my toast rounds from Fresh Market).  Top the cheese with chopped fresh tomato and julienned fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Top with a few balsamic vinegar pearls.  Enjoy!

beets

Dinner this evening will include roasted fresh golden beets with baratta cheese sprinkled with  balsamic vinegar pearls.

bee

I found this little guy enjoying my pink Dragon’s Breath plant (Celosia) in the garden this morning.

dragon fruit

Speaking of dragons…we enjoyed slices of dragon fruit this morning for breakfast ~ tastes like pear and kiwi…yum!

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My Favorite Recipe For Baba Ganoush

My wonderful husband presented a champagne tasting as a surprise for me this week…Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV and Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV.

I love it when I walk in the kitchen and find this sitting on the island which means we are about to commence to tastin’…

My favorite was the Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV.  Consists of 100% pinot noir grapes. $25 range.  We tasted notes of lemon meringue and green apple.  Bright without being too acidic.  Fresh and crisp. After my first sip I exclaimed:  “I love this!”

champagne tasting 1

The Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV was also delightful. 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir grapes.  $28 range.  We tasted orange blossom and meyer lemon flavors in this champagne.  Lots of fun bubbles dancing in the flute!

champagne tasting 2

Eggplant is in season!  This is my husband’s favorite appetizer, much like a  Baba Ganoush with some fun taste twists that enhance the flavor of the eggplant:

Eggplant Paté

Note:  I puree the ingredients in my blender. A food processor may also be used.

1 cup pureed eggplant (cut eggplant in half and roast in oven, scoop out eggplant pulp with spoon and discard eggplant shell. For one cup pureed eggplant you will need 2 eggplants)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, cored, roasted and peeled, pureed (place cored pepper under the oven broiler and blacken all sides of the pepper. Place pepper in a paper bag, close the bag and allow the pepper to cool.  Remove the pepper from the bag and scrape off the peel with a sharp knife.

1 tablespoon butter

2.25 ounces pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons medium peri-peri sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 ounces goat‘s milk cheese (little log)

Firehook Mediterranean Baked Crackers – sea salt variety (or serve with your favorite flatbread cracker)

  1. Melt butter in small sauté pan. Add pine nuts and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (monitor carefully because pine nuts will burn quickly) until pine nuts just begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place the eggplant puree, red pepper puree, oregano, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, peri-peri sauce, tomato paste in a blender or food processor . Blend until all ingredients are combined and the mixture has a relatively smooth consistency.  If the mixture is too thick to blend a little more olive oil can be added.
  3. Place half of the eggplant mixture in a small serving dish. Crumble the goat cheese over the eggplant mixture. Top the goat cheese with the other half of the eggplant mixture. Top the eggplant mixture with the pine nuts.
  4. Serve with crisp flatbread crackers.

tim tam packagetim tams

Love these irresistable chocolaty happiness in a biscuit Tim Tams!  Dark mint is my favorite. 

limenchello

sparkle

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A Toast To Summer…Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast + CAVA

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pea toasts and lemon

Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast

toast

Bakery fresh baguette slices toasted.

pea toasts

Cook fresh green peas until almost mushy.  Add butter, sea salt and a dash of fresh cream.  Mash peas. Top baguette slices with mashed peas.  Top peas with mandoline thin slices of radish, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper.

pea toast

Serve with a lovely Spanish Cava…

Cava F

Freixenet Brut Blanc de Blanc

This bubbly Cava is produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual summer sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A sparkling value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

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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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