Tag Archives: appetizer

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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Crispy Smashed Herbed Potatoes To Celebrate National Potato Lovers Month

February Is National Potato Lovers Month

Sometimes it’s just plain fun to play with our food.  Smashed potatoes are the perfect example.  Make lots because they will disappear fast!

Smashed Lemon Herb Crispy Potatoes 

Fill a large stock pot with lightly salted water. Bring water to a boil.  Place small Yukon or Red Skin Potatoes in boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.  The potatoes can be prepared immediately or place them in a plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight.

To smash and top potatoes:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Spray cookie sheet lightly with vegetable spray

Cut potatoes in half and smash with bottom of a can (wash bottom of can before smashing the potatoes)

Drizzle 1 teaspoon melted butter over each smashed potato

Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Top with a mixture of finely chopped basil, chives and parsley. Drizzle each potato with 1/2 teaspoon (or a little less depending on the size of the potato) olive oil. The olive oil will help crisp up the potato.

Top herbs a sprinkling of frozen grated lemon and 1 tablespoon finely grated sharp cheddar cheese per smashed potato

To make frozen grated lemon:  Place a washed lemon in the freezer section of  your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get  your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need  to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your  foods.  The lemon seeds catch on the grater so there is no need to worry about seeds getting into your grated lemon.

Bake smashed potatoes for 8 – 10 minutes in 450 degree Fahrenheit oven. (Watch carefully so that the potatoes do not burn.)  Potatoes should be very crispy on top.

Serve warm with a bit of sour cream and/or ketchup.  Applesauce and sour cream is also a delicious garnish for this dish.

Have fun playing around with the toppings on the smashed potatoes ~ try a variety of herbs and grated cheeses or spreadable cheeses.  Delicious for lunch, dinner, a snack, even breakfast!

The definition of Bon Vivant is:  A person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink.

To pair with the smashed potatoes I served Bon Vivant Sparkling Wine from California.  California Sparkling Wine made in the French style,using the traditional méthode champenoise. This sparkler is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Several sources compare it to Veuve Clicquot, but I think that is more true for the yellow label rather than the bubbles inside. I am glad I tried it, but found it be just an average sparkling wine.  $20 range.

So I finished the glass of Bon Vivant and moved on to Pinot Noir.  As the weather gets warmer…we’ve had record-breaking warm weather in Roanoke, Virginia during February, 2018…the warmest it’s been in 100 years!  …my taste turns towards Pinot Noir. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside on the deck with a glass of Pinot Noir.  Although potato dishes are not necessarily classic Pinot Noir pairings, I found the earthy herbs and pop of lemon in the smashed potatoes to pair with the Pinot Noir quite well. Plus, I was just in the mood for a nice Pinot.

Sojourn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2011

Lush, rich cherry flavors with spice and cola notes.  Balanced with a long finish.  $45 range.  Our source for this wine, Wines ‘Til Sold Out  recommends Sojourn:  “This is the kind of Pinot that California Drinkers dream about!”  On the palate you get ripe cherries, cranberries, cola, nutmeg, vanilla and shitake mushrooms.

This is what the kitties were up to when I innocently turned my back to start cooking in my kitchen this morning!  Empty brown paper bags are a particular favorite around our house.

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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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Champagne + Truffles = Amazing Evening With Friends

This winter has been extraordinarily cold in Southwest Virginia so a warm fire in a cozy kitchen surrounded by good friends, truffles and champagne was especially welcoming. andre-champagne-and-bag

We toasted the evening with…

NV André Clouet Champagne 1911

Only 1911 bottles of this Champagne are made each year.

Each bottle is numbered by hand. My bottle number 224 and it was disgorged on April 4, 2016.

Produced in the Bouzy village in the Champagne region (the village name is pronounced “Boozy” which tickles me!) with 100% Grand Cru  Bouzy and Ambonnay Pinot Noir grapes by winemaker Jean-Francois Clouet.

Cuvée 1911 commemorates the year riots broke out in the Champagne region as the local farmers rebelled against the larger houses.  The bottle is wrapped in straw, the same way Jean-Francois Clouet’s great grandfather delivered the champagne to Maxim’s in Paris, France in 1911.

Bottle wrapped in straw makes for a fun conversation piece. We found this bubbly to be an “upside surprise”.  Consistent tiny bubbles that danced around my flute.   Elegant and smooth with a fine mousse.  Notes of hazelnuts, lightly toasted brioche and just a touch of ripe pear. This champagne is reminiscent of the Bollinger style.  André Clouet uses an old Champagne tradition which blends multiple vintages together, in this case 2005, 2002, 2000 vintages were blended together to create this fabulous champagne.  $100 range.

1911 champagne

…accompanied by Beef Tenderloin and Gratin Dauphinois Appetizer Spoons. (topped with horseradish cream sauce and fresh thyme sprigs) Gratin Dauphinois are classic French Potatoes Baked in  whipping cream with grated gruyere cheese. These fabulous potatoes remind me of a very rich variation of scalloped potatoes.  Here’s a link to Julia Child’s recipe for Gratin Dauphinois:

http://www.recipetineats.com/julia-childs-potato-dauphinois-gratin-potato-bake/

beef

White Truffle Imported From Italy

pasta truffle shaver

Truffle Shaver

pasta with truffles

pasta truffles and porcini mushroomspasta

Perfect Pasta ~  Porcini Mushroom And White Truffle Fettucine

pasta wine

Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco 2004. Italian Barolo.   Earthy spices, smoky tobacco, chocolate, orange peel, black cherries, sweet prunes, slight vanilla oak.  Great balance and terrific acidity that paired perfectly with the pasta.

And to top off the evening…

champagne top 1-18champagne turgy

Michel Turgy Champagne ~ Blanc de Blancs ~ 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru of Mesnil, the same village that brought us Salon, Krug Clos de Mesnil and Launois. Well balanced with citrus and pastry aromas.

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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

.

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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