wine

Put Sunshine In Your Champagne Flute This Weekend! Champagne Snockered Watermelon!

If you LOVE melon, you are going to LOVE this idea!

Champagne Snockered Watermelon!

The Wall Street Journal July 14/15, 2018 issue:

Drunk on Summer… recommends matching your favorite melon variety with a sympatico spirit.” The article, written by Aleksandra Crapanzano, makes these melon/spirit combinations:

Cantaloupe (Sugar Cube, Serenade Cavaillon or Savor melons may be substituted) with Ruby Port

Honeydew (Snow Leopard, Honey Whites, Diplomats or Honey Orange melons may be substituted with Prosecco, Champagne, Cava, White Rum or Gin

Seedless Baby Watermelon with Vodka, Sambuca, Cachaca or a mix of Silver Tequila and Cointreau

I cut my baby watermelon (Fresh Market) in half and made a little hollow in it. Then I poured champagne into the hollow and ground some pink peppercorns all over the watermelon flesh. You can use your favorite champagne, cava, prosecco or sparkling wine to make this melon.  We dug into it with a spoon and drank the liquid that was left in the hollow after we devoured the flesh. Super Tasty and Boosy!

 

It would be grand to walk outside to find an orange tree full of bright juicy oranges, but not all of us have that luxury. For the rest of us freshly squeezed orange juice is the next best thing to plucking oranges from a tree. I like to use my “Juiceman” juicer to squeeze my juice:  http://www.juiceman.com/

Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange.”

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

This classic cocktail dates back to the early 1920’s when a drink called “Buck’s Fizz”  (two parts champagne to one part orange juice) was invented at the Buck’s Club in London.   Later in 1925, a bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris named Frank Meier invented the classic half champagne half orange juice Mimosa that we’ve grown to love.

Freixenet Brut Blanc de Blanc

This bubbly Cava is perfect in Mimosas.  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

Try Blood Orange juice in your Mimosa for a splash of color!

Codorniu Anna Brut Rosé Cava is another fun choice to make Mimosas.  Available at Earth Fare locally or on-line. 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Lots of bubbly berry flavors ~ raspberry, strawberry and cherry. $15 – $20 range. 

Here’s a link to the most  DELISH Mimosa recipes:

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2720/mimosa-recipes/

Here’s some more sunshine to put in your wine glass.  Blood Orange First Press. Fun French Rosé Wine with Orange & Other Natural Flavors. The orange flavors balance the sweetness of the wine.  So pretty in the glass.  Easy to sip in the sunshine.  I would call this a “girlie” wine since I would drink it with my girlfriends by the pool or on the patio.  Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar or on-line. $12 – $15 range. 

 http://mrbillswinecellar.com/

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Summer Time Sparkles … Sangria + Rosé + Dragon Fruit Salsa

Visit Roanoker Magazine to find Fun Summer Appetizer Recipes

including Dragon Fruit Salsa with Baked Wonton Chips Sprinkled with Sea Salt and Pink Peppercorns

Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/magazine/features/healthy-summer-appetizers-with-an-asian-flair/

Happy Summertime Sippin’!

 Peachy Rosé Sangria

This Peachy Rosé Sangria is a lighter, fruity version of classic Sangria. The Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach is a blend of the natural flavors of succulent European raspberries and rare red peaches from Ardèche in the south of France, combined with the world-renowned Grand Marnier…makes any get together a FIESTA!

1 bottle Rosé

5 ounces Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach

6 ounces fresh raspberries

12 fresh strawberries, capped and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

3 small fresh peaches, pitted and chopped

1 cup seltzer water

Ice for service

Place strawberries in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, stir to combine. Set aside.

Place Rosé in sangria pitcher.  Add Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, raspberries, sugared strawberries and peaches. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator overnight.  When ready to serve, add seltzer water and stir lightly to combine with other ingredients.  Serve in glasses over ice.

This recipe was originally published in the South Roanoke Living Magazine, July 2016 issue.

First Press Blood Orange Rosé is a fun little summer wine.  I think it’s perfectly OK to put ice in my wine glass when the temperature outside is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  So pretty in the glass, this rosé is made in France with blood orange and other natural flavors.  $15 range. Available at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar locally or on-line.  http://mrbillswinecellar.com/

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Happy Orange Blossom Day!

“A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged’, said he, pushing the plate aside, ‘I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills.’ “

                                                                                                                                                                         ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 is National Orange Blossom Day!

The orange blossom  is Florida’s state flower.  National Orange Blossom Day celebrates the flower which is used in culinary dishes, desserts, teas and honey worldwide.  They add a slight citrus flavor to any dish. This special day also celebrates the Orange Blossom Cocktail.

Here’s a fabulous Orange Blossom Cocktail recipe from Foodviva.com:

Makes one cocktail.

Ingredients:

1 ounce London Dry Gin (vodka is also delicious in this cocktail)

1/3 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau

1 ounce fresh orange juice (I used blood orange juice)

1/3 ounce fresh lime juice (optional)

1 dash grenadine syrup (optional)

orange wedge

crushed ice

Directions:

  1. Frost the glass rim and put it in freezer to chill.
  2. Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice.  Add first 5 ingredients to the shaker and shake well.
  3. Strain and pour chilled mixed drink into chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with orange wedge and serve

I’ve always loved the way shadows play with wine glasses on a table.

My bubbly friend Cindy and I recently enjoyed a special event at Rockfish Restaurant in the Grandin Village, Roanoke, Virginia.  Every third Thursday of the month they offer a flight of tapas paired with a wine flight. https://www.rockfishfood.com/

The first tapa we enjoyed was a goat cheese and cherry tart…puff pastry round topped with creamy mild goat cheese and fresh cherry compote.  We savored every morsel, absolutely delicious paired with Miquel Pons Cava Brut NV.

The second tapa of the evening was a scallop ceviche…refreshing and delicious! Paired with:

  

Viña Cartín Albariño Rías Baixas 2017.

One of my favorite Albariño wines is Lagar de Cervera. Please visit the Roanoker Magazine:  https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/what-to-sip-this-summer-spanish-wine/       to find tasting notes and other fun facts about Spanish wines to enjoy sipping this summer.

Cherry Glazed Pork Belly

paired with Genio Español Monastrell Rosado

and for dessert…

Dark Chocolate Creamux with Szechuan Peppercorn Streusel paired with La Greña Rioja

We finished the evening by sharing a couple of appetizers…my favorite…Fried Green Tomatoes wrapped in Pimento Grit Cake with Comeback Sauce and Spicy Greens. Comeback Sauce is a spicy remoulade sauce ~ a Southern favorite!

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Happy Orange Blossom Day!

Carrabba’s Sausage And Lentil Soup Recipe For Father’s Day

Potatoes Picante, Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches, Charred Corn Burrata Salad…find fabulous tapas recipes on the Roanoker Magazine blog. Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/it%E2%80%99s-time-for-tapas/

Did someone say SOUP?!

Here’s the most delicious soup you can serve Dad on his special day.  Tastes like a yummy chili with the spicy addition of Italian sausage.  Our bubbly friends Judy and Bill served this to us for an Italian themed dinner and I loved it so much I made it for dinner the very next evening!  Bill found the recipe on Copykat.com:

Carrabba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 48 ounce package low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown lentils (I used red lentils)

Directions

In a large pot add onions, carrots, garlic, and celery and either butter or vegetable oil. Saute until the onions are transparent. Add sausage, and cook until browned. If the sausage is fairly lean drain the excess oil.

Add chicken broth, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and brown lentils. Cover with lid. And simmer for about 1 hour. You may want to add some additional water if too much water cooks out during the cooking process.

We found this 2016 Izadi Blanco Rioja to be an excellent pairing with the sausage and lentil soup. A blend of 80% Viura and 20% Malvasía grapes. Creamy texture with a fruit-driven freshness that balances well with the spicy flavors in the soup. Available on-line or locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

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Sparkling Strawberry Shrub Cocktail ~ Just In Time For The Weekend!

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

 A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup, referred to as “Drinking Vinegar”. Drinking vinegar is vinegar which is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.

I was so happy to find the recipe for Front Porch Chillin’” Sparkling Strawberry Shrub in the April/May 2018 issue of Chilled Magazine It is absolutely delicious and fruity. Do not let the idea of vinegar in a cocktail stop you from making this fabulous drink this weekend!

I was very happy to find the Cava that the magazine recommended for this cocktail in my local grocery store. You can always substitute your favorite rosé cava.

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

The wine tastes of sweet strawberry, cherry and citrus and has lots of fun bubbles. In the $15 range.

Situated on an estate that dates back to the 11th century, Segura Viudas draws on its rich Spanish heritage, blending its legacy with modern winemaking practices to create sophisticated yet approachable Cavas.  Its award winning Cava uses distinct méthode champenoise sparkling wine by the Ferrer family of Sant Sadurni d’Anola (near Barcelona). Segura Viudas is part of the Freixenet Group, a world leader in sparkling wine production. 

To make a very good sparkly shrub:

  • Invest in a muddler. You can find a muddler for around $5. It will help you muddle up the fresh fruit with sugar and vinegar to make the shrub.
  • Plant fresh mint in your garden to use for cocktail garnishes – I particularly enjoy pineapple mint and spearmint. Fresh rosemary sprigs also make a flavorful and aromatic garnish.

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

To make the shrub:

1 cup strawberries, chopped

1 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar (I like to use extra fine sugar for this recipe because it dissolves very quickly, but granulated sugar works just fine too.)

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

Muddle the strawberries in a large mason jar. Add water and sugar and stir to combine. After the sugar has begun to dissolve,  add the rice wine vinegar and stir to combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate. The shrub can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To make the Strawberry Shrub Cocktail:

Makes one cocktail:

1 ounce strawberry shrub

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

2 large ice cubes

Rosemary Sprig or Fresh Mint and Strawberry for garnish

Place all ingredients into a snifter and add ice cubes. Stir and top with Rosé Cava; give it another little stir,  garnish with rosemary sprig or mint and a strawberry.

Saludos!

 

Spring Fun With Champagne And Chocolate Lace Cookies!

It’s Spring…time to get out of the house and have some FUN!

Oatmeal Lace Cookies are THE BEST COOKIES!  Perfect for a Spring picnic.  The recipe is compliments of Gloria Smiley, Food Stylist Extraordinaire.  She served them for lunch when we visited her in Atlanta, Georgia and I didn’t want to look like a piglet, but I just could not stop eating them. They are so GOOD!  Thank you Gloria for sharing your recipe! 

OATMEAL LACE COOKIES

        These cookies are adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Lace Cookies.  There are many variations and substitutions, such as ground nuts instead of oatmeal; maple sugar instead of regular sugar, and sandwiched with bittersweet chocolate, yum.

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup rolled oats, finely chopped – pulse in a food processor

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, stir together melted butter, oatmeal, maple sugar, salt, egg, vanilla extract and orange juice.  Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  1. Using a½ teaspoon measure, drop the batter onto sheet pans either lined with Silpat or buttered foil.  The cookies will spread, so leave at least 2 inches between each cookie.
  1. Bake the cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and slide the Silpat or foil onto a cooling rack.
  1. When the cookies are cool, lift them off the Silpat or foil and store in between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a container with a tight fitting lid.
  1. To make sandwiches, melt 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and spread on the bottom side of half the cookies; then cover with another cookie, top side up.  Store in the same manner as above.

Chambong!

$35 on-line or locally at Wine Gourmet in Roanoke, Virginia.  What is it?!  The Chambong is used for the rapid and enhanced
experience of sparkling wine / champagne consumption.  http://www.chambong.co/about/

Here’s their story from their website…they say it’s magical!

The origins of the first Chambong came about in early 2014, during a moment preempting the Super Bowl. We had an epiphany the week prior of the big event to create a “Super…Bowl.” The resulting device of our imagination harnessed an ability to hold an extraordinary amount of cannabis, however was sadly non-functional as a smoking apparatus. Fortune would prevail several evening later, while onlookers examining the piece remarked at how it looked like a fantastic wine “shooter”.  They promptly filled it with Champagne and experienced the resulting magic…And thus was born the glory that is — The Chambong.

Pop A Ball!

https://popaball.co.uk/

These fun little balls are made in the UK. I found the peach and strawberry flavors to be delightful. I enjoyed watching the balls dance around in my glass, but the set only came with one straw which would be awkward if serving more than one flute at a time. Fun for a one time party trick if you want to spend around $15 for a pack of two. I purchased them on eBay since Popaball in the UK does not ship to the United States.

MIMI ROSÉ SPARKLING WINE 

Grenache varietal. Notes of white flowers, fleshy white fruits, and citrus too. Serve as an aperitif or with dessert.  Perfect for porch sippin’ on a warm sunny day. Available on-line and locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar in Roanoke, Virginia.

River and Rail Restaurant

Cure For Sorrow Cocktail

Coconut Infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Bonal QuinQuina, House Tepache, Banana-Cream Syrup, Lime, Tiki Bitters. Pineapple, Coconut, and hints of spice. Shaken and served over a large ice cube. Grated cinnamon and pineapple wedge garnish. YUM!

Pop over to the Roanoker Magazine blog to enjoy my Beets, Bacon and Blue Salad (blue cheese and blueberries) recipe. Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/beets-bacon-and-blue-salad-with-ingredients-from-grandin-vil/

Happy Spring!

 

 

A Visit With Gloria Smiley ~ Food Stylist Extraordinaire

Atlanta Gloria

I felt like I won the lottery when my friend Kate asked me to join her on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a cooking class taught by Gloria Smiley.

Gloria is an independent food stylist for print and film.  She has taken classes at Cordon Bleu and LaVarenne in Paris and with Lydie Marshall in Nyons, France.  Some of her most memorable clients include Julia Child,  Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.  She is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, IACP and AIWF.

 We were very excited to take a fish and shellfish cooking class taught by Gloria at the Cook’s Warehouse in Atlanta.  Gloria was warmhearted and welcoming as she shared tips about how to make sure we purchase fish and shellfish that is fresh and delicious.  Then we rolled up our sleeves and joined her into the kitchen to prepare some of her prize recipes including:

Scallops Baumaniere with Vegetables

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Roasted Salt and Pepper and Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce

Seared Swordfish with Lemon Garlic Cream

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Red Snapper! Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!

Here’s Gloria’s recipe for Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon ~ my favorite recipe from her cooking class…

This preparation is good with any mild white fish. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 six-ounce red snapper fillets without skin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces creme fraiche

3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard without grains

2 tablespoons shallots

2 teaspoons capers, packed in salt, rinsed and dried

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Optional:  1/2 cup panko crumbs, toasted

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a USA pan (coated with silicone) or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Spread the sauce evenly  over the fish fillets making sure the fish is entirely covered.  (This can be done an hour or so in advance of cooking and placed in refrigerator.)  Put lemon slices on op of the fish in decorative pattern.
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets or until they are barely done.  A thermometer should read 135 degrees – no higher.  It is important not to overcook the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted Panko crumbs, if you like – adds a nice bit of crunch – Serve fillets hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned on top.

Gloria’s tips for cooking fish:

  1.  Get everything in the recipe ready before cooking the fish so that the process moves quickly once the cooking begins.
  2. Heat a dry pan then put a little oil in it, then put the fish in the pan. It will stick but the fish surface will caramelize and then you can easily turn it over in the pan.
  3. After filleting fish, make your own fish stock ~ it freezes very well.
  4. After marinating fish or meat, pat it dry with paper towels.  The dry surface will encourage browning.  Browning gives the food another layer of flavor.  If food is touching in the pan (such as scallops), they won’t brown where they are touching, so keep them apart in the pan.

That’s me on the left, Gloria Smiley in the center and Kate on the right.

Gloria explained to the class that cooking classes at the Cook’s Warehouse are a very good way to discover the type of knife you like best since we used several types of knives that evening.  She also shared a superstition about knives with us: “Don’t give knives as gifts because it severs the relationship.”

Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables

The scallops were so pretty as they simmered in Noilly Prat Vermouth under the watchful eye of my friend Kate. Gloria loves this recipe. The first time she had Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables was in Provence, France, such a delectable memory. 

A hint: purchase “dry” sea scallops.   Wet scallops are shucked and placed directly into a container filled with cold water to help preserve them for a longer period of time.  These scallops absorb water and plump up, giving them a less pure flavor and a tougher texture.  After Dry scallops are shucked  they go into a dry container with no water or preservatives. Their flavor is  concentrated and fresh.

…and may I suggest a little bubbly to enjoy with the seafood…

Champagne Pierre De Bry Brut Reserve

Primarily pinot noir grapes with a splash of chardonnay. Elegant and sophisticated.  Notes of golden apple, apricot, lightly toasted bread and lemon curd. Does not skimp on the bubbles! Perfect pairing for the Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce that we learned how to make in Gloria Smiley’s class.

After class we shopped in the Cook’s Warehouse. I bought some of these fish spatulas, just the right size to turn fish fillets.

I continued my seafood extravaganza when I returned home…this appetizer shrimp recipe has just the right amount of spicy kick. So easy to prepare…ready in minutes!

Giada’s Spicy Shrimp

Calabrian Shrimp

Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Spicy Shrimp was in the Sunday, April 8, 2018 issue of Parade Magazine. I knew as soon as I opened the oven door that it was going to be delicious because the aroma wafting from my oven was fantastic!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste or red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Add one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails intact), toss to coat.  Marinate 10 minutes at room temperature. Spread shrimp evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 4 – 6.

And to serve with the spicy shrimp…Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Champagne. 100% chardonnay grapes.  Brilliant pale yellow with a fine, persistent mousse.  Delightfully fresh, citrus, orchard fruit and brioche fill the glass.  $40 range. The perfect aperitif, wonderful choice to serve with seafood.

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