Tag Archives: wine

Carrabba’s Sausage And Lentil Soup Recipe For Father’s Day

Potatoes Picante, Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches, Charred Corn Burrata Salad…find fabulous tapas recipes on the Roanoker Magazine blog. Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/it%E2%80%99s-time-for-tapas/

Did someone say SOUP?!

Here’s the most delicious soup you can serve Dad on his special day.  Tastes like a yummy chili with the spicy addition of Italian sausage.  Our bubbly friends Judy and Bill served this to us for an Italian themed dinner and I loved it so much I made it for dinner the very next evening!  Bill found the recipe on Copykat.com:

Carrabba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 48 ounce package low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown lentils (I used red lentils)

Directions

In a large pot add onions, carrots, garlic, and celery and either butter or vegetable oil. Saute until the onions are transparent. Add sausage, and cook until browned. If the sausage is fairly lean drain the excess oil.

Add chicken broth, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and brown lentils. Cover with lid. And simmer for about 1 hour. You may want to add some additional water if too much water cooks out during the cooking process.

We found this 2016 Izadi Blanco Rioja to be an excellent pairing with the sausage and lentil soup. A blend of 80% Viura and 20% Malvasía grapes. Creamy texture with a fruit-driven freshness that balances well with the spicy flavors in the soup. Available on-line or locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

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Sparkling Strawberry Shrub Cocktail ~ Just In Time For The Weekend!

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

 A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup, referred to as “Drinking Vinegar”. Drinking vinegar is vinegar which is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.

I was so happy to find the recipe for Front Porch Chillin’” Sparkling Strawberry Shrub in the April/May 2018 issue of Chilled Magazine It is absolutely delicious and fruity. Do not let the idea of vinegar in a cocktail stop you from making this fabulous drink this weekend!

I was very happy to find the Cava that the magazine recommended for this cocktail in my local grocery store. You can always substitute your favorite rosé cava.

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

The wine tastes of sweet strawberry, cherry and citrus and has lots of fun bubbles. In the $15 range.

Situated on an estate that dates back to the 11th century, Segura Viudas draws on its rich Spanish heritage, blending its legacy with modern winemaking practices to create sophisticated yet approachable Cavas.  Its award winning Cava uses distinct méthode champenoise sparkling wine by the Ferrer family of Sant Sadurni d’Anola (near Barcelona). Segura Viudas is part of the Freixenet Group, a world leader in sparkling wine production. 

To make a very good sparkly shrub:

  • Invest in a muddler. You can find a muddler for around $5. It will help you muddle up the fresh fruit with sugar and vinegar to make the shrub.
  • Plant fresh mint in your garden to use for cocktail garnishes – I particularly enjoy pineapple mint and spearmint. Fresh rosemary sprigs also make a flavorful and aromatic garnish.

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

To make the shrub:

1 cup strawberries, chopped

1 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar (I like to use extra fine sugar for this recipe because it dissolves very quickly, but granulated sugar works just fine too.)

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

Muddle the strawberries in a large mason jar. Add water and sugar and stir to combine. After the sugar has begun to dissolve,  add the rice wine vinegar and stir to combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate. The shrub can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To make the Strawberry Shrub Cocktail:

Makes one cocktail:

1 ounce strawberry shrub

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

2 large ice cubes

Rosemary Sprig or Fresh Mint and Strawberry for garnish

Place all ingredients into a snifter and add ice cubes. Stir and top with Rosé Cava; give it another little stir,  garnish with rosemary sprig or mint and a strawberry.

Saludos!

 

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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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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Why I love Pink Peppercorns and Pink Champagne On National Margarita Day!

Today is National Margarita Day ~ February 22, 2018. Please keep reading to get my favorite margarita recipe ~ Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas!

But first…let’s talk about another one of my favorites…pink peppercorns and other funky color seasonings…

Love Salt and Pepper!

Fun facts about Pink Peppercorns:

  1. Always good to have pink peppercorns on hand because they add a pop of spicy peppery flavor to any savory dish.  They are available on -line if you can’t find them locally. Frontier Co-Op grinder bottle is one of my favorites.
  2. They may seem expensive ($8 to $12 for a .80 ounce bottle)  but they last forever, a little grind goes a long way.
  3. Pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all.  They are a dried berry of the shrub Schinus molle, commonly known as the Peruvian peppertree. They do look like peppercorns and they have a peppery flavor.
  4. A word of warning...pink peppercorns are members of the cashew family, they may cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis for persons with a tree nut allergy. I had no idea until I read about this yesterday.   Over the years I’ve developed a tree nut allergy (not severe thankfully) so there goes my  love of pink peppercorns. For those of you who do not suffer this allergy please enjoy pink peppercorns for me!

Fun facts about Himalayan Pink Salt:

Himalayan pink salt is used to flavor food.  It is also used to make salt lamps which are illuminated with an electric light or candle inside. Both the salt used on food and the salt lamps are said to have health benefits, but I’ll let y’all decide on your own about that.

Blocks of Himalayan salt are also used as serving dishes. These blocks of salt can be heated (heat on the grill to serve grilled meats) or chilled to serve sushi, fruits and cheese. The salt blocks give the food a delicate salt flavor.

Fun facts about Green Peppercorns:

  1.  These peppercorns are packed in a vinegar brine.
  2.  They are meant to be eaten whole.
  3. My Mom popped a few green peppercorns (whole) in her Bolognese Sauce. Gave her sauce a little peppery punch which was delicious!
  4. Green Peppercorns are perfect in Steak au Poivre.  Here’s a link to a Food Network recipe for Steak au Poivre with a mushroom, green peppercorn and Dijon sauce:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/steak-au-poivre-with-a-mushroom-green-peppercorn-and-dijon-sauce-and-pommes-frites-recipe-2124423

green peppercorn bowl

green peppercorn ingredients

Green Peppercorn Boursin Green Bean Salad

One of my favorite salads ~ so much flavor with so little effort!

Yield: 3 servings

1 pound fresh green beans, stems removed, cut in half

1 teaspoon green peppercorns (packed in brine) mashed with a mortar and pestle

5. 2 ounces Shallot and Chive Boursin Cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1 heaping teaspoon grated frozen 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.

1/8 teaspoon salt

Fill medium size stockpot half way full of water. Bring water to a boil.  Add green beans and cook until crisp tender (do not undercook or overcook the green beans) 8 – 10 minutes.  Immediately drain the water off the green beans and “shock” them by dropping them in  ice water so that they will stop cooking. Quickly remove them from the ice water and pat dry. Place the beans in a salad bowl and mix in the Boursin cheese.  Add the mashed green peppercorns, tarragon, grated frozen lemon and salt.  Stir with large spoon to combine all of the ingredients.  The Boursin will become creamy and will coat the green beans.  Cover the green bean salad and place in refrigerator until service.

 

The book What to Drink with What You Eat recommends rosé champagne to pair with black pepper.  Here’s my suggestion for a rosé sparkling wine that will be good to splash on top of the Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas (recipe below):

Chandon Rosé California Sparkling Wine ~ strawberry and ripe cherry flavors.  $22 range.

Now on to the Margaritas!

I often take food/drink photographs on my kitchen floor because the sun beams onto the floor perfectly for photos.  I have 4 very curious kitties and they often wander into the photo. Today “Ziggy Elman” (named after the Jazz trumpeter) wandered into the photo of my Pink Lemonade Champagne Margaritas. It looks like he took a lick of my margarita. He did not. He was just licking his lips anticipating getting a lick of it  (which I would never allow).

margarita kitty

Pink Champagne Lemonade Margarita

One of the fun things about this cocktail is that when you finish the cocktail you get to eat the blackberries that have been soaking in the margarita…yum!

Rim margarita glasses by dipping them in lime juice and then rolling the edges in fine sugar (“Extra Fine” otherwise known as “Fine” sugar is best for rimming cocktail glasses because it has the smallest crystal of all white sugars.  It has a delicate appearance and dissolves easily into cold drinks). Locally I purchase fine sugar at Fresh Market or it is available on-line.  Place margarita glasses in the freezer to chill  while preparing your cocktails.

12 ounces frozen pink lemonade, thawed

(use empty lemonade can to measure water, tequila and orange liqueur)

1 can water

1 can tequila

1/4 can orange liqueur

Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine ~ a splish splash for each drink (optional)

Blackberries and limes for garnish

Lime slices and fine sugar to rim the margarita glasses

Place the pink lemonade, water, tequila and orange liqueur in a large pitcher. Stir with a big spoon until all ingredients are combined.  In batches, place margarita mixture and ice in a blender container. Blend until ice is finely crushed.  Serve in chilled margarita glasses.  Top each cocktail with a splash of Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine. Drop a few blackberries into the margaritas and then cut slits in some blackberries to set on the sides of the glasses.  Place one thin lime slice in each glass. Place any unused portion of this cocktail in a freezer container and place in freezer to keep cold for refills.

pink lemonade magaritas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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