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Category Archives: vegetarian

Let’s Drink Champagne And Celebrate With The World’s Most Expensive Sandwich!

August is National Sandwich Month. Let’s celebrate with champagne and sandwiches!

2005 Dom champagne

Facts about the world’s MOST EXPENSIVE SANDWICH:

  1.  In 2014 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the “Quintessential Grilled Cheese” as the world’s most expensive sandwich.
  2. This sandwich was created by Joe Calderon, Chef at the Serendipity 3 Restaurant, New York City.
  3. This sandwich is made with two pieces of French Pullman champagne bread which is made with Dom Perignon champagne and edible gold flakes, with white truffle butter and the very rare Caciocavallo Podolico cheese. The sandwich is served with South African Lobster Tomato Bisque for dipping.
  4. Price: $214
  5. The Quintessential Grilled Cheese has to be ordered 48 hours in advance in order to source the ingredients needed to make such a fancy-dancy sandwich.
  6. The Serendipity 3 Restaurant has been the scene of several films, including one of my favorite romantic comedies that came out in  2001: Serendipity.

Here’s a link with cool photos of this expensive sandwich:

The most expensive sandwich in the world!

sandwich

My favorite summer sandwiches which pair perfectly with bubbly are fresh tomato and cucumber sandwiches. If you live in the South as I do, then you know the elements of these sandwiches are extremely important…just sayin’

Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread

Thinly Sliced Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Thinly Sliced (sliced on a mandoline) peeled cucumbers

Fresh dill, chopped (for the cucumber sandwiches)

Duke’s Mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper

Spread each piece of bread liberally with mayonnaise.  Top mayonnaise with a good sprinkling of black pepper and either tomato slices or cucumber slices. Top the cucumber slices with chopped fresh dill. Top the tomato slices and cucumber slices with another slice of mayonnaise slathered bread.  Cut each sandwich in half to make two triangles, then cut the triangles in half to make small triangle sandwiches. Place sandwiches on a chilled platter.   Serve immediately.

Champagne is a perfect pairing for potato chips and potato chips are the perfect accompaniment to sandwiches. This was one of Marilyn Monroe’s favorite flavor combinations.

potato chip

I recommend Baron-Fuénte Grands Cepages Chardonnay Champagne NV to pair with these summery sandwiches.   This champagne is composed of 100% chardonnay grapes. I love the shape of this bubbly bottle.  $45 range.  Notes of citrus (lemon zest), creamy, nice tiny bubbles dancing around the flute, finishing with a touch of toasted almond. Dill pairs very well with chardonnay so the cucumber dill sandwiches will be a treat paired with this champagne.  Cheers!

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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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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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Homemade Potato Chips And Rosé = Happy Summer!

potato chip

Summertime is Potato Chip Time!

Love, love, LOVE homemade potato chips! So easy to make. I use my 4-sided mandoline box grater (has a mandoline on one side, graters on the other three sides) to slice (or Yukon Gold) potatoes very thinly (no need to peel the potatoes). Many years ago my husband bought this box grater for me and I thought I would never use it…wouldn’t you know it is one of the most useful gadgets I have in my kitchen!

grater

raw potato chip

After slicing the potatoes, soak the slices in cold water for 30 minutes (soaking removes excess starch).  Lay the potato slices in a single layer on paper towels then cover with another layer of paper towels. Press the paper towels lightly on the potato slices to absorb excess moisture.

Place enough vegetable oil in a large heavy pot (make sure the pot has high sides to avoid spattering or spilling any hot oil) to cover potato slices (about 1 inch) and heat until potatoes sizzle when they hit the oil (350 degrees Fahrenheit).  (Test hot oil by placing one potato slice in the oil to see if it sizzles.) Place potatoes in single layer in oil to fry. Potatoes will begin to turn light brown and float in the oil when they are finished cooking.  Remove potatoes with slotted spoon onto plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool just a bit and then serve as quickly as possible.  (Chips straight out of the hot oil need a minute or two to “crisp up”.)

rose om fence

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosato 2015

I love rosé with potato chips! We thoroughly enjoyed this rosé on a warm summer’s eve sitting on the porch.  As the winemaker so eloquently explains about this lovely Italian wine:    The rosé that has the body of a white and the soul of a red.  A wine that’s joyful without being frivolous; that has tension, but is not austere.

Notes from the manager of my favorite local wine store: Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar:

Here is a little write up from the vineyards website. My rep loves this wine and even said it may be her favorite rosé! It’s from Mt. Etna, made of two indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. The production is always changing because the vineyard lies on an active volcano. This is actually a rose that you could lay down for a year or two. 🙂

Delicious notes of strawberry, pink and white flowers, with a slightly creamy texture. $25 range.

http://www.tenutaterrenere.com/en/wine-etna-rosato-doc-wines-grapes-nerello-mascalese-cappuccio-sicily.php

gouda

rose in a bucket

J. Mourat 2016 Collection Rose Val de Loire, Loire Valley

Made from a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Negrette grapes.  Dry, crisp, refreshing.  $14 range.

Herbs de Provence

…flavors that will take you to Southern France this summer…

I like to get my favorite dried herbs at our local natural foods co-op (sold in bulk) to make my own Herbs de Provence.  My favorite way to enjoy this herb mixture is sprinkled on pizza right before I toss it on the grill.   Also delcious on grilled or roasted chicken, potatoes and fish (sprinkle on before cooking, not after).

Herbs

(All herbs in this recipe are dried)

Mix these herbs together and store in an airtight container in the pantry.

2 tablespoons Savory

3 tablespoons Oregano

1 tablespoon Rosemary

1 tablespoon Basil

2 tablespoons culinary lavender

2 tablespoons thyme

1 tablespoon sage

1 bay leaf crumbled

Herbs de Provence

lamp

When my friends were in the islands recently they enjoyed Veuve Clicquot champagne served out of this gorgeous lamp/champagne bucket. They sent me this photo…I have the bestest bubbly friends!

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

.

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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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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Arugula Strawberry Spring Rolls With Honey Lime Dipping Sauce ~ Vegetarian Delight!

kobari

Its Spring signOn Saturday I popped by our local Grandin Village Farmer’s Market and picked up some Kohlrabi.  One of the farmers offered the purple variety of this vegetable that looks like a turnip with a nice crunch and a little bit of a peppery flavor.  Kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip” and it’s a member of the cabbage family.  To make a yummy Kohlrabi Slaw, peel Kohlrabi then cut it in matchstick pieces, toss with julienne strips of peeled apple and carrot and a bit of coleslaw dressing, then sprinkle with crispy crumbled bacon or sunflower seeds (or both!)  Cover and chill until ready to serve.

What do you call a sad strawberry? ….A blueberry!

Why was the little strawberry sad? … His mom was in a jam!

Christina with salad

Culinary Teacher Extraordinaire Christina Nifong

Displays Her Greens and Berries Salad

Spring rolls on plate

Christina Nifong is a food writer well known in our region for the stories she’s written about the Virginia food scene and the recipes she creates and shares during the culinary classes she teaches. The class I attended on Saturday at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op was Local For Lunch: Berry Bonanza. I always walk away from Christina’s class with a new favorite. This time my new FAV is Arugula Strawberry Spring Rolls.  So easy to make and as Christina explains , “These are basically a fresh and delicious handheld salad.”   Here’s her recipe:

Makes 10 – 12 spring rolls

Ingredients

Brown Rice Wrappers (available on-line or at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op)

4 cups lettuce, spinach or other green, torn or chopped into bites-sized pieces

4 cups arugula, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

4 ounces plain chevre (Curtin Dairy is a good choice), softened

2 pints ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

Mint leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat large bowl of water. Dip one brown rice wrapper into hot water. Hold it there for 30 seconds.
  2. Set damp wrapper onto cold, dry, flat surface. (Make sure the surface is non-porous, granite is a good choice; do not use wood because it is porous.) Add row of lettuce in the center of the wrapper.
  3. Top with arugula, then a slight smear  of goat cheese. Then stack a row of strawberries.
  4. Fold top of wrapper down. Then fold bottom of wrapper up (about an inch). Then roll from the left, tucking and rolling until spring roll is closed.

spring rolls roll upspring rolls

  1. Set onto serving dish. Repeat until all ingredients are gone.  Make sure not to let spring rolls touch on serving plate as they will tear.
  2. Refrigerate until time to eat. Garnish with mint. Serve with honey-lime dipping sauce.

Honey Lime Dipping Sauce ~ Juice of one lime, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 garlic clove minced, salt and black pepper to taste, dash of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint. Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Here’s another spring roll recipe with a yummy peanut dipping sauce on Christina’s website…christinanifong.com

http://christinanifong.com/2017/05/vegetarian-spring-rolls/

The  brown rice wrappers are more sturdy (gives the spring roll a nice bite) than the white rice wrappers and they have a lovely nutty flavor.

Rosalee

My bubbly friend made some awesome spring rolls!

VA sign

spring rolls granitaLooking for the perfect palate cleanser between courses or a light dessert to serve al fresco? Raspberry Lime Granita!

Christinas raspberries

Christina made the granita with fresh raspberries from her garden!

Makes 12-15 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup organic granulated sugar

1 3/4 cup water

Juice and zest of 2 limes

2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh mint leaves

2 pints (4 cups) fresh, ripe raspberries, pureed (force raspberry puree through a fine sieve to remove seeds, discard seeds).

Instructions

  1. Bring sugar, water, lime zest and juice and mint to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute.
  3. Let the syrup cool. Strain out mint leaves (optional). Mix together syrup and berry puree.
  4. Pour into 9 x 13 freezer-safe baking dish. Freeze overnight or up to 24 hours.
  5. To serve, remove from freezer and let thaw for 10-20 minutes. Scrape with cold ice cream scoop into serving dishes.

Thank you Christina! Looking forward to your next class!

Christinas blueberry salad

GREENS AND BERRIES SALAD

carrotsturnips

 

lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce Fresh From The Garden

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