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Kumquat Champagne Cocktail With Candied Kumquat Garnish

Kumquats may look like miniature oranges but make no mistake they are very different…

Kumquats have an edible rind which is tender and sweet.  Oranges have inedible rinds.

Kumquat flesh is dry and very tart.  The flesh of an orange is sweet with a bit of tartness.

Kumquats are more expensive than oranges. I paid $6.99 for 12 ounces. Oranges would have costed me 99 cents for a pound.

Both kumquats and oranges are rich in vitamin C.  Both fruits have seeds.

For sweet cocktail lovers please note…this cocktail is NOT SWEET!  It has the tartness of kumquat with just a hint of sweet and lots of fun bubbles.

Kumquat Champagne Cocktail

This recipe is from Epicurious.com.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups thinly sliced kumquats

1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup sugar

1 750-ml bottle brut Champagne, well chilled (I used sparkling wine for this recipe since I rarely use true champagne to make cocktails.)

PREPARATION

    1. Using back of large spoon, mash first 3 ingredients in bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain mixture through fine sieve set over bowl, pressing on solids.
    2. Pour 2 tablespoons kumquat syrup into each of four 6-ounce Champagne flutes. Fill each with 2/3 cup Champagne.

Garnish with candied kumquats.  (I saved the kumquats from the cocktail kumquat syrup to make the candied kumquats.)

Candied Kumquats

12 ounces sliced kumquats

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to combine.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kumquat slices and stir to coat the slices with sugar water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

I also served the candied kumquats with Roasted Pork Loin finished with Oliveto Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil…divine!   So easy, I just put a small pork loin in a baking pan, drizzled it with some of the wood smoked olive oil (gives the pork a little hint of smokey flavor)and sprinkled it with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  Baked in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.   After I took it out of the oven I drizzled it with some more of the smoked olive oil and served each portion of pork with a spoonful of the candied kumquats.

 

I always love the signs outside our local wine shop Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar…

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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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Champagne And Beef Tenderloin…Yes Please!

Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by someone I do not know…

                                                                                                                                                                 ~ John Keats

I love champagne and I love beef tenderloin, but up until now I did not pair the two.  Recently I was happy to find that Philippe Fourrier Rosé pairs extraordinarily well with beef tenderloin. Since it is made of 90 percent pinot noir grapes (and 10 percent chardonnay grapes), with notes of red cherry and juicy raspberry,  it can stand up to the bold flavors of the beef.

Champagne Moussé Fils 

Blanc De Noirs Noire Reserve

This lovely champagne is primarily made from Pinot Meunier grapes.  80% pinot meunier, 16% pinot noir and 4% chardonnay.  With notes of black currant, brioche and lemon curd and a long sustained finish, this champagne is a wonderful compliment to beef tenderloin.

Thinking about delightful pairings…my bubbly friend Mary Ellen gave me some festive shot glasses.  I filled them with a lobster salad served with a chilled cocktail fork so that guests could get every last piece of yummy lobster out of the glass.  Frozen lobster meat (for us locals it is available at Tanglewood Kroger) is perfect for this salad recipe. Chop the lobster meat and mix with a little sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Old Bay Seasoning and chopped fresh dill. Don’t add too much of any of the creamy ingredients ~ remember you can always add more but you can’t take any out once it’s mixed in.  Chill and serve icy cold.  (Put shot glasses and cocktail forks in the freezer to chill before service.)

We paired the lobster salad appetizer with Laurent Perrier Rosé.  The mid-March snow on my flowering quince tree made the perfect perch for our rosé champagne bottle. 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes.  Notes of strawberry, hazelnut and brioche. We call this champagne “Easter Wine” because a bubbly friend of ours told us that her mother always wanted a “pink wine” to match her dining room drapes for Easter dinner.  $76 range.

My bubbly sister-in-law Gwen sent me this…“My doctor told me that because of my age I should install a bar in my shower…done!”

 I recently found some Roka Cheese Crispies at a local store ~ some of my favorite “Cheesie Poofs” as I call them. I bought 40 boxes!

On Sunday, this little critter, Ziggy, somehow got out of our front door (he is an indoor cat) and was out “catting around the neighborhood” all day. We looked everywhere and said lots of prayers, especially with a snowstorm on it’s way and finally around 5 o’clock that evening he came walking up on our back deck. We were so happy to see him!  He ate a big dinner and fell asleep in front of the fire.

 

Ziggy’s brother Artie Shaw was so happy to see him!

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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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