Tag Archives: cooking

Celebrating Dining In Cookbook With Taittinger Champagne

Tattinger champagne

Taittinger Champagne ~ lush and silky, notes of ripe pear and a touch of citrus, freshly-baked brioche with lots of tiny bubbles bouncing around the flute.

I recently entered a contest sponsored by Taittinger Champagne and I won this lovely cookbook, personally signed by the author.

Here’s Alison Roman’s bio from her book:  …the author of Dining In, is a contributor at Bon  Appétit magazine.  Formerly the Senior Food Editor at Bon  Appétit and BuzzFeed, her work appears regularly in the New York Times and has been featured in GQ, Cherry Bombe, and Lucky Peach. The author of Lemons, a Short Stack Edition, Alison has worked professionally in kitchens such as New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar and San Francisco’s Quince.  A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn.

In her new cookbook Alison Ramon encourages us to cook at home with recipes that are fun and fresh.  “…for me there is nothing more special or satisfying than cooking for your friends, family, lovers, or, perhaps most important yourself.” And she loves going to the grocery store (one of my favorite places on this planet!) The first recipe I made out of her cookbook was this delicious salad, using as many fresh herbs as I can find this time of year. It reminds me that Spring is right around the corner!

Vinegared Romaine with Sour Cream, Bacon and Herbs…thick cut smoked bacon, crisp green romaine lettuce, fresh herbs…parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and/or dill…drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

Dear Readers, what is your favorite cookbook? I would love to hear from you…

“Now and then it is a joy to have one’s table red with wine and roses.”                                                                                                                            ~ Oscar Wilde

lemon

My bubbly sister-in-law Gwen sent me this delightful idea.  I put some “grated lemon” in my hot tea this morning and it is absolutely delicious!  I plan to keep grated lemon in my freezer from now on.

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.
Sprinkle  it to your vegetable salad, ice cream, soup,  cereals, noodles, spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi,  fish dishes, whisky… the list is  endless.
All  of the foods will unexpectedly have a wonderful  taste, something that you may have never tasted  before.  Most likely, you only think of  lemon juice and vitamin C. noodles.
What’s  the major advantage of using the whole lemon  other than preventing waste and adding new taste  to your dishes?
Well,  you see lemon peels contain as much as 5 to 10  times more vitamins than the lemon juice  itself.  And yes, that’s what you’ve been  wasting.
But  from now on, by following this simple procedure  of freezing the whole lemon, then grating it on  top of your dishes, you can consume all of those  nutrients and get even healthier.  

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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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In The Southern Tradition ~ Country Ham Pretzel Rolls

My “go to” for holiday hors d’oeuvres? Country Ham Biscuits of course!  Did you know that the perfect size for a country ham biscuit is the circumference of the top of a champagne flute? (1 3/4 inches round).  Coincidence, I think not.  Salty country ham and a chardonnay predominant champagne make a perfect pairing!

I am always looking for creative ways to change up my traditional hors d’oeuvre menu. When I saw these yummy pretzel rolls I immediately thought filling them with country ham.

To make these yummy Country Ham Pretzel Rolls, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I split the pretzel rolls in half lengthwise and spread on side with Duke’s mayonnaise and the other side with Pommery whole grain mustard.  Then I topped the mustard side with shaved Smithfield (country) ham and slices of swiss cheese, placing the mayonnaise side on top of the cheese.  Then I brushed the rolls with melted butter and sprinkled the tops with black sesame seeds (optional). Bake the rolls for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and cut into 4 slices horizontally. Serve warm.

Jeeper champagne

As soon as we devoured the pretzel rolls we sat back and enjoyed a tasting of Jeeper Champagne.  60% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier handpicked grapes. $60 range.

The story of this champagne begins in 1949.  It was then that Armand Goutorbe, son of Victor Goutorbe, on his return from the Second World War, decided to produce and sell his Champagne.

Armand Goutorbe christened his brand Champagne JEEPER, with an eye to making himself stand out from the many wine growers of the region also named Goutorbe and in reference to the Jeep bestowed upon him (he returned from the war to his native Champagne disabled)  by the local authorities to help him ascend the vineyard slopes with ease.

You can see why this champagne appealed to me, knowing that I love Jeeps. My own Jeep Overland is named “Dolly D”, for Dolly Dawn who was known as the “Champagne of Big Band Singers”!

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/dolly-dawn-mn0000172847/biography

Jeeper Champagne has a light golden color with tiny bubbles dancing around the flute.  Elegant with glazed apple notes.  This champagne lends itself to pairing with food and we found a fabulous pairing…

crisps with package

crisps

Adams Reserve New York Extra Sharp Cheddar (made in upstate New York) paired with Virginia Gold Orchard Asian Pear Marmalade. The marmalade was a special gift from my bubbly friend Cindy.  Their Asian Pears are homegrown & handpicked in Rockbridge County, Virginia and they are delicious! I put a smear of the marmalade on top of the cheddar cheese on a Apricot and Ginger Raincoast Crisp Cracker. Oh la la…it was a “pearfect” pairing with the Jeeper champagne.

apples

http://www.virginiagoldorchard.com

mug with ginger beermug

Roundng out the weekend…these crisp Fall days are perfect for a chilled Moscow Mule made with BundAberg Spiced Ginger Beer.

Here’s a link to BundAberg Brews Cocktail Recipes:

https://www.bundaberg.com/en-us/mixology-2/?mixer=ginger-beer&alcohol=

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Celebrate National Deviled Egg Day ~ November 2, 2017

egg Bacon and Balsamic Deviled Eggs 

Follow this easy recipe (originally published in The Roanoke Times ~ Gretchen Mckay  Pittsburg Post Gazette – TNS)  to make the most delicious Deviled Eggs…

Bacon and Balsamic Deviled Eggs

12 hard-cooked eggs

The original recipe called for 1/2 of the amounts of the following ingredients. I doubled the amounts because I LOVE bacon and I found the original recipe for the filling to be just a bit dry.

10 bacon slices, cooked crisp and crumbled

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon very finely chopped shallot (the original recipe called for onion. I find shallot to have a bit less of a bite than onion which I prefer for this recipe)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cornichon or sweet midget pickle for garnish, sliced into thin slices

paprika for garnish

To cook the perfect hard-cooked egg:  Fill large pot with water (enough to cover the eggs you are going to cook). Add a little salt.  Bring water to a rolling boil.  Place eggs in boiling water and cover pot. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain water out of pot.  Add ice to eggs to immediately stop cooking and allow to cool quickly for peeling.

Peel eggs and rinse well to remove any bits of shell.  Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks. Put yolks in separate bowl and mash.  Add bacon, mayonnaise, shallot, mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture in the egg halves evenly. Garnish each egg half with a slice of cornichon and sprinkle with paprika.

Makes 24

  • reference: The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook, by Arsy Vartanian (Page Street Publishing)

tailgate eggs

SC fried deviled eggs

Fried Deviled Eggs!

Thank you to Chef Roger Light, Executive Chef, Shenandoah Club, Roanoke, Virginia, for sharing this perfectly delicious and unique Deviled Egg recipe:

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 ME and eggs

Go ahead and ask, you know you’ve always wanted to ask…

What Champagne Should I  Serve With Deviled Eggs?!

Baron champagne

Champagne Pairing For Deviled Eggs:

Baron-Fuenté Esprit Champagne Grand Cru

92 points Wine Spectator

30% each of  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes resulting in a creamy, rich brioche, lemon curd and almond flavors.  Delightful and elegant. $30 range.

happy-refrigerator

“Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes, the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge.”
― Hester Browne

cats two

cat artie

These Fall days are getting a bit cooler and Daylight Savings Time is right around the corner, so our days are getting less productive by the minute!

Happy Deviled Egg Day!

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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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Perfect Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Dinner ~ Virginia Wines and Spiced Pear Cocktail

mr bills VA wine sign

mr bills VA wines

These are the wines that our neighbors make.

Virginia Wine Class ~ Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar ~ Roanoke, Virginia

mr bills VA wine 2mr Bills VA rose

 

Ox-Eye Winery Riesling and Shy Ox Rosé  and were my favorite of the wines we tasted in the Virginia Wine Class.    $20 range.  The Riesling  was smooth, clean and bright with crisp apple notes. The Shy Ox Rosé has a lovely pink color and tasty crisp apple notes that seem to  give the wine a bit of effervesce.

 

The Ox-Eye Riesling will be a lovely pairing for Thanksgiving turkey.

mr bills apple 2mr bills apple 1mr bills apple

A yummy pairing to begin a holiday meal ~  Ox-Eye Riesling or Shy Ox Rosé served with this little nosh ~ Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (balanced sharpness, slight nuttiness, caramel sweetness), Murray’s Heirloom Apple Butter on Firehook Cinnamon Baked Crackers.

champange Shenandoah Club

Grande Réserve Brut, Héritage Familial NV

66% Pinot Noir
33% Chardonnay

Smooth mousse with rich pear, brioche and spice notes.  A delightful aperitif leading into Thanksgiving dinner.

http://www.champagne-barnaut.com

Here’s my favorite recipe for green beans ~ always on my Thanksgiving table…enjoy!

Parmesan Prosciutto Green Beans

A family favorite! You’ll find this dish on my holiday table often.  Easy to prepare and full of flavor. Here’s the recipe:

1.5 pounds fresh green beans
3 oz prosciutto (I use the packaged Boar’s Head brand.  Prosciutto sliced in the deli may not fry very well)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup shaved Parmesan
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 stick butter, cut into small pats

Wash green beans and remove stems. Place in large pot of boiling water (no need to add salt since this recipe has lots of salty ingredients).  Cook beans until they are just tender.  Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place olive oil in a frying pan and place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot place prosciutto slices in the pan and fry, turning once, until prosciutto is crispy. Remove slices from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a bowl combine parmesan and panko bread crumbs.  Place green beans in a baking dish and sprinkle with panko bread crumb mixture, toss to combine.  Dot the green beans with the butter pats.  Crumble the prosciutto and sprinkle it over the green beans. Place green beans in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

And a lovely cocktail to sip as all of the Thanksgiving frivolity has begun to curtail…

.

Spiced Orchard Pear

Recipe from the Culinary Institute of America ~ as published in the October 18, 2017 issue of The Roanoke Times

Scotch is the star in this crisp Fall cocktail recipe!

Servings 1

2 ounces blended scotch

1/4 ounce pear puree

1/2 ounce orange liqueur

1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 ounce Winter Syrup (recipe below)

1 cinnamon stick for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the scotch, pear puree, orange liqueur, and syrup.  Add ice, then shake until well-combined.  Strain into a rocks glass, over fresh ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Chef’s note:  If desired, lightly burn on end of the cinnamon stick with a torch.  Invert the rocks glass over the cinnamon stick on a heat-safe surface or plate while you prepare the cocktail.)

Bubblybee note:  This will envelop the interior of the glass in cinnamon smoke which will give a cinnamon spicy note to the cocktail.

Chef’s note:   You can find pear puree in the freezer section of some grocery stores, but if not, just put 3 to 4 pears in a saucepan with about 1/4 cup of water. Cook until the pears are soft, then blend them to a smooth puree.

Bubblybee note:  To make pear puree I put the peeled and cored ripe pear in my blender with the other ingredients and pureed the mixture until very smooth.  Then I put the mixture in my cocktail shaker with ice to complete the recipe.

Winter Syrup

Makes about 3 cups syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

the peel of 1 orange, white pith removed (I used the peel of 2 clementines. Then I used the clementine segments as a garnish for the cocktail.)

1 star anise (note: star anise and cardamom pods can be quite expensive when purchased by the jar.   I purchased mine by the ounce at our local natural foods co-op, purchasing only what I needed, which was much less expensive.)

3 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

5 cardamom pods

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until mixture is simmering and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside until cool, then strain.  Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

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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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