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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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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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The Valencia Champagne Cocktail

I love to find Cocktail Cookbooks with cocktail recipes from the “golden age of libation”.  I found this fabulous Valencia Champagne Cocktail recipe in Cocktail Hour by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel:

naan cocktail

Valencia

This delightful champagne cocktail was an international favorite.  It cast its golden glow on Europe between the wars, and was a popular specialty of the house at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. One sip and you’ll understand why.

2 ounces Apricot Brandy

1 ounce chilled Orange Juice

4 dashes Orange Bitters

3 ounces ice cold Champagne

Pour brandy, orange juice, and orange bitters into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.  Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute or wineglass. Immediately top with cold champagne.

bitters

Orange bitters are a cocktail flavoring made from the peels of Seville oranges,  cardamom,  caraway seed, coriander and burnt sugar in an alcohol base. These bitters have a definite orange flavor with a bit of an evergreen taste to me. Pungent but pleasant, adds the perfect “pop” of orange to orange based cocktails.

And here’s a yummy, easy to prepare appetizer to pair with your Valencia Champagne Cocktail…I’ve fallen in love with these Naan Dippers. I call them “Baby Naan” because they are so cute.

naan bacon

Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Baby Naans

Toast the baby naans lightly and allow to cool to room temperature.  Spread mayonnaise on each baby naan. Spread each baby naan with fresh ripe avocado.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Top with crumbled crisp bacon and one thin slice of Roma tomato.  Cheers!

naan strawberry

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naan kitty

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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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