Tag Archives: entertaining

A Toast To Italian Wine ~ Molto Bene! ~ A Favorite Mamma Leone Recipe

Our recent Italian wine experience with the Angelini family at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia brought back many “bei ricordi d’Italia” (fond memories of Italy).

I love Italian cooking so naturally one of my favorite cookbooks is  Leone’s Italian Cookbook.  The author Gene Leone dedicated his cookbook“to the memory of my beloved mother”.  He was the owner operator of Mamma Leone’s restaurant, which was founded by his mother in New York City’s theater district.  I love the simplicity of the recipes in this book ~ fresh ingredients of the best quality tossed together resulting in amazing flavors. Here’s one of my favorite Mamma Leone recipes…

Mother Leone’s Green-Bean Salad

from Leone’s Italian Cookbook printed in 1967…

1 medium size baking potato

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, mashed

2 whole green scallions, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 fresh parsley sprigs, leaves only, chopped

6 thin slices of prosciutto, diced

Boil the potatoes in its jacket. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice, but keep warm.  Trim beans and cook in boiling salted water for about 20 minutes.  Test to avoid overcooking.  Drain well. Place warm beans in a salad bowl and add potato over top.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper. Mix well.  Discard bits of garlic.  Pour dressing over warm  beans and potatoes.  Add chopped parsley and diced prosciutto and toss at the table. Serves 6 to 8.

“Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.”  ~ Graham Greene

An evening with the Angelini family at the Shenandoah Club in Roanoke, Virginia. Roberto Angelini is the patriarch of the Angelini family and the founder of Enoteca Properzio, a family-owned exporter of fine food and wines located at the base of Monte Subasio in the heart of Central Italy.

At the event we were greeted with a bubbly aperitif.  Cantina Novelli Blanc de Blanc NV.  Crisp with notes of apple and citrus peel.  A classic Italian sparkler made with 100% Trebbiano Spoletino grapes.

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.” ~ Diogenes

Our Italian Dinner Adventure begins…

Poderi Morini ‘Nadel’ Ravenna Rosso IGT, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Longanesi and Centesimino grapes.  Blackberry, cherry and currant flavors later emerge along with elegant spice notes. This lovely red wine was paired with lovely Charcuterie…prosciutto in the shape of roses, miniature ripe cantaloupe balls drizzled with olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper.

Sassicaia Bolgheri 2014

Sassicaia Bolgheri 2014

Sassicaia means “the place of many stones,” and refers to the region’s gravel soil.  This Super Tuscan is so successful it was granted its own appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, as of 1994.

Cabernet Sauvignon 85%, Cabernet Franc 15%, aged for 24 months in French barrels before bottling.  Paired with a rich lentil vegetable soup. 

Tili 1997 Assisi Rosso

Only 1000 bottles of Tili Assisi Rosso were produced in 1997.    Red Cherry fruit with some notes of vanilla. Medium bodied with a smooth finish. Blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Merlot grapes.

Paired with a creamy Pasta Carbonara with bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese…

Montefalco Sagrantino 2012 Arnaldo-Caprai

100% Sagrantino grapes.  Complex flavors with hints of blackberry jam nutmeg, pepper, pine resin to mint and cocoa.

Paired with the main course…sliced filet mignon served with oven roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted pepper strips.

Pre-dessert…Strawberry Balsamic with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese.  Paired with…

Kurni 2015 Red Wine

Complex and full-bodied, with notes of candied black fruits, vanilla and blackcurrant.  100% Montepulciano grapes.

And the Fioritura Finale…paired with…

Per la salute!

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Guinness Black Lager Corned Beef Hash ~ Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’ll be cooking my favorite Corned Beef Hash this weekend…reminiscing about sitting in my favorite pub with my guy enjoying our hearty breakfast!

Guinness Black Lager  Corned Beef Hash

Makes 6 hearty servings

Place raw corned beef brisket (approximately 2 pounds) in a slow cooker. Cover with Guinness Black Lager (2 – 3 bottles) and sprinkle with spice packet that is included in the corned beef package. Cook on high for 4 hours or until corned beef can be cut easily with a knife.  Turn off heat and allow to cool. Cut corned beef into small cubes (cut off any fat) and set aside.

1 small onion, diced

24  fingerling potatoes sliced into thin slices

4 ounces butter (+ more butter if needed)

freshly ground black pepper

12 eggs

Rye, whole wheat or French bread toast

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Add fingerling potatoes and spread evenly across the bottom of the skillet. Allow to cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft and lightly browned. Add more butter if needed to keep the potatoes from sticking to skillet.  Sprinkle potatoes with freshly ground black pepper.  Keep potato onion mixture warm while preparing eggs.

Prepare over-easy/medium or poached eggs to serve with corned beef hash and serve with your favorite type of toast.

Somebody is looking forward to Corned Beef Hash!

We’ve had an unusually cold March in Southwest Virginia, so we often wake up to a pile of kitties cuddling on the bed.  They get in some fun poses!

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Irish Cheddar And Potato Gratin + Guinness Stout

Irish Cheddar And Potato Gratin

A hearty dish that can be served as a main dish or a side. Perfectly paired with Guinness Stout. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Recipe compliments of Murray’s Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 lbs. russet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced (soak in water to prevent browning)

2 1/2 cups Murray’s Irish Cheddar, grated

1/2 TBSP Murray’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 tsp thyme, minced

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

(I added some freshly cracked black pepper to the onion mixture)

1/4 lb. bacon, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

(I added a little chopped fresh parsley on top)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Butter a square baking dish.  Layer 1 lb of sliced potatoes into the pan. Next add 1/4 cup of grated Murray’s Irish Cheddar. Repeat until all potatoes and cheese are used.

3.  In a medium saucepan sauté onions and thyme in Murray’s extra virgin olive oil.  Once the onions are caramelized, add the heavy cream. When warmed, pour over the potatoes.

4. Place in oven (I put my pan on a baking sheet to catch any cream that bubbled over)  and bake for an hour until the potatoes are tender and cheese bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with bacon and scallions.

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Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day brunch…Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail made with Green Peppercorn Vodka…

Green Peppercorn Vodka

1 cup vodka

2 tablespoons green peppercorns

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Place vodka in a mason jar.  Put peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.  Grind peppercorns with pestle until most of the peppercorns are broken apart.

Place mashed peppercorns in the vodka. Seal the jar with a secure lid. Shake jar and place in refrigerator.  Keep the jar in the refrigerator for a couple of days (or longer), shake jar every day for the first couple of days.  After the vodka is infused with the pepper flavor which takes a couple of days, strain the peppercorns out of the vodka and return the vodka to the jar and refrigerate (I like to keep a few peppercorns in my vodka just to spice up my Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail).

Bloody Leprechaun Ice Cubes 

Place olives and cornichons in various size ice cube trays (I like the oversize square ice cube trays because extra-large ice cubes last longer in my cocktail).  Cover with water and add a drop or two of green food coloring. Give the water a little stir and freeze the cubes.

Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail

1.5 ounces green peppercorn vodka

11 ounces tomato juice

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

6 splashes Worcestershire sauce

3 drops hot sauce (green hot sauce is perfect for this recipe!)

Squeeze one wedge of fresh lime

2 Bloody Leprechaun Ice Cubes

Garnish with green ~ celery, cornichons, green pimento stuffed olives, lime slices.

Place ice in cocktail shaker, filling halfway full.  Pour green pepper vodka and tomato juice to shaker then add horseradish,  Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. (Add more horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste.) Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a highball glass over Bloody Leprechaun ice cubes. Add a few of the peppercorns from the vodka to the cocktail if desired. Garnish with celery stalk, cornichons, green olives and lime slices.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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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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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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