Monday, December 28
Out with The Old and In With The New
It seems like it was just yesterday we ushered in 2009 and here we are now at the start of another New Year.
This is the time of year we think about making resolutions. I'm not one to make resolutions since I realized at an early age that I was never successful. So I changed my way of thinking.
Every year my goal is to be adventurous and try new things, nothing crazy or exotic. Things that I normally would shy away from I now make a serious effort to try. It's a learning experience and it can be fun because I've found that not only did I enjoy most of the new things I tried, but I've expanded my horizons (whatever that is :)).
So on this New Year's Eve of 2010 let's start by celebrating and make a toast to the good ol' year and welcome the New Year with sparkling wine or Champagne.
New Year's Eve celebrations is a great time to serve these wines with all the high-fat meats and cheeses; salty prosciutto, smoked salmon, caviar and seafood. These are all great food pairings.
Sparking wines come in a variety of styles. This list can help you choose one to fit your menu or personal taste.
Blanc de blanc is made from white grapes and is a lighter wine.
Food Pairing: Try with the Italian style cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano; salty prosciutto; popcorn; raw oysters, scallops and lobster ravioli.
Blanc de noirs is made from red or black grapes and is a heavier or more full-bodied wine.
Food Pairing: Meats such as baked ham, pork. If you are serving brunch with kippered salmon or eggs benedict this is one style you can serve.
Rosé sparkling wine is also made from red or black grapes. This wine is more full-bodied than the blanc de noirs.
Food Pairing: Ham, veal, chicken, fried oysters, grilled salmon.
These sparkling wines and Champagnes may be labeled as Brut or Extra Dry.
Brut is the driest style of sparkling wine and is an excellent choice for all types of meals. Though this should not be served with dessert.
Extra Dry sparkling wine has a touch of sweetness to it. This would be the style of sparkling wine to serve with fresh strawberries and cookies. It is also the style of wine for those who do prefer a sweet wine. I always have this on hand to serve with fresh fruit.
Sofia Blanc de Blancs (California) $19
Domaine Saint Michelle Blanc de Noir (Washington State) $10
Sofia Rosé (California) $17
Shingleback N.V. Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz (Australia) $25
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad (Spain) $20
Roederer Estate Brut (California) $20
If you are celebrating and toasting a very special event you may want to celebrate in style with these Champagnes.
Louis Roederer Cristal
Veuve Clicquot NV-Brut
Louis Roederer Cristal
Perrier Jouët-Fleur de Champagne-Rosé
Sparkling wine or Champagne is always a good choice for any occasion. So be adventurous, try something new, and make a toast to peace, harmony and a healthy New Year.
Monday, December 21
What's For Dessert?
Four days and counting to Christmas and if you are like me you still have plenty of prep to do. My shopping is done, but I'm on a 'clean-up the mess and start baking' mission. Not much time left for all that but I'm going to give it my best shot.
I don't know why, but my first thoughts are what am I going to serve for dessert. Somehow I don't think of serving my home baked cookies as an after dinner dessert. I like them for snacking.
Easy, no-fuss desserts are what I aim for when there's the hustle and bustle of the holidays. With all the homemade candy and fresh baked cookies I like dessert to be fresh and easy.
The last few years I began serving dessert wine after our dinner. Everyone enjoys it with the fresh fruit and nuts while we relax and reminisce about our favorite childhood memories.
These wines are easy drinking with lower alcohol levels, though they might have a bit more calories from the sugar (only if you're counting).
2008 Retro Muscat of Alexandria ($10) by Sutter Home -- This is a delicious wine that can be "the" dessert. It has aromas of ripe juicy peaches and honeysuckle and you can taste the delicious flavors of melons and peaches.
2008 Sutter Home Moscato ($6.00) by Sutter Home Vineyards -- Another delicious wine that can be your dessert. It has a luscious creaminess with fruity peach and honeydew melon flavors. Think peaches and cream for a delicious dessert.
This particular wine is a light-bodied dessert wine that can be served as an aperitif and with light cheeses. For the dessert course serve it with fresh fruit, fruit tarts or sorbets.
My motto -- "Serve Dessert First" Who knows you could beat out Santa as the star of the day!
Sunday, December 20
I guess you're wondering what in the world is a refrigerator roll.
In keeping with my mission to prepare easy recipes that turn out tasty and hopefully look good enough to eat, I want to share with you a recipe that is on the box of the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cookies -- the "Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll."
When I was a youngster in the late 50's our cousin would always serve this "refrigerator" cake along with all the Italian pastries.
Way back then the now popular Cool Whip whipped topping was not yet created so fresh whipped cream was used.
It looked so nice when it was cut I thought it must have taken special skill to make this cake. Little did I know it only takes minutes to prepare.
There is no special skill needed to put this together -- here is all you need to do:
- Just coat each cookie with whipped topping or whipped cream,
- sandwich them together & place the cookies standing on their edge to form a roll
- cover the cookies with a coating of the remaining whipped topping or whipped cream
In our stress-filled, over-scheduled lives, this is one recipe that can make a difference when it matters most. You know, when you are having unexpected guests, or need to bring a dish when you're short on time, or . . ., I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.
This will make you the star of the day if you want to serve something delicious, make a nice presentation, and is definitely easy to prepare. Everyone will be asking you for your secret recipe!
You can be as creative as you want to make this cake stand on it's own for any occasion. For the Christmas holiday you can add peppermint extract to the whipped topping or whipped cream and sprinkle crushed candy canes on the top.
For the chocolate lover, make chocolate mousse for the filling and topping. The possibilities are endless.
I've shared this with:
Tried & True Recipes #12
Monday, December 14
Like Santa and his sleigh, wine and cheese are a perfect match. This time of year we find ourselves so busy we become overwhelmed. We want to have friends over but we tell ourselves it's just too much trouble.
I've been over-whelmed, over-cooked, and over-chauffeured, and I'm here to tell you that it's really not that much trouble. I invited four of our neighbors this weekend and it didn't take more than an hour for shopping and prep.
This is the time of year when we should spend time with friends. Sometimes it can be just what we need to relax. A few laughs and sharing stories about our pre-holiday stresses is good for the soul and can re-charge us to keep on going.
Try to remember that your friends are not expecting much more than a fun evening with you and a few laughs.
I plated the cheese and crackers so everyone can help themselves. I opened a jar of green olive tapenade and added crackers which is a great compliment to the cheeses. In the center of the table I placed a bowl of fresh pears and apples. This is a great way to make everyone feel at home and comfortable.
For an unexpected fun pairing to the Champagne or sparkling wine put out a bowl of buttered popcorn. It's easy to do and it's a great for snacking. You'll be surprised at what a fun pairing that is.
The cabernet sauvignon is a great match for dark chocolate. Buy either Hershey's kisses or the 60% cacao chocolate squares from Hershey's or Ghiradelli.
It can't be any easier with this list of wine and cheese pairings so you don't have to think too much about what to buy.
I've chosen the most popular cheeses which can be found in any local gourmet market or supermarket in your area. Buy a combination of your favorite cheeses to total one pound which will serve 4 people especially if you have fresh fruit and additional snacks.
Now, all you have to do is relax, enjoy the company and you'll have the best time with very little effort.
Cheeses to Pair With White Wines
Mild Cheddar, Colby -- Chardonnay from California
Edam, Gouda, Feta -- Riesling
Boursin, Brie, or Camembert -- Champagne
Fontina, Muenster -- Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio
Cheeses to Pair With Red Wines
Gouda, Camembert, Sharp Cheddar -- Cabernet Sauvignon
Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Fontina -- Barolo, Nebbiolo or Prosecco (white sparkling wine)
Manchego -- Tempranillo, Rioja, or Spanish Cava (sparkling wine)
Pepper Jack -- Syrah, Zinfandel
This is the holiday season and a time for celebration so don't be shy about buying a Champagne or sparkling wine. I know you must be saying "Champagne?, I'm on a budget!" You are right, you don't have to go over budget for this fun evening. Cava from Spain is an excellent sparkling wine that is very budget-friendly (under $10). Or try a Valdobbiadene Prosecco brut which is a light sparkling wine sometimes labeled frizzante, and also very affordable.
Monday, December 7
Our Thanksgiving was really fun though it was only our immediate family. We were expecting several others but they were under the weather and didn't want to share their germs with everyone. That's always a good thing when friends are not willing to share! : )
Then on Sunday night I received a call that my dad was in the hospital so I had to fly out of town to be with him and get him settled when he got home. I was so busy while I was there for the week I didn't get a chance to think about blogging and I didn't have access to a computer while I was away. A double whammy!
Now that I'm back I'm trying to get out from under all the mail and holiday ads. WOW! lots of sales. I have to get myself out shopping or Santa won't be leaving much under the tree.
I'm working on a wine and cheese post and wine pairings for the upcoming holiday gatherings. Stop by for great ideas and tips to help with your holiday planning.
Everyone loves sweets, so I have a couple of easy, so easy you won't believe it, desserts. I'm sure you'll like them.
I look forward to your visit!