Wine Wednesday – Kris Pinot Grigio

IMG_6898Happy Wine Wednesday! Today, in honor of some warmer weather and summer on the horizon, we’ve got a white wine on the table. Kris Pinot Grigio might be one of my all time favorite white wines. It’s crisp, light and goes well with lots of summer foods -fish, veggies, burgers, well just about everything! Try it, it will become one of your new favorite summertime wines too!

  • Price: $14
  • Varietal: 100% Pinot Grigio
  • Region: Delle Venezie, Italy (Northeast)
  • Wine Characteristics: Pale yellow in color with brilliant greenish reflections, enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, and hints of apricots and almonds. Kris is lean and refreshing on the palate with hints of blossom and honey.
  • Food Pairings: Recommended with salad, roast vegetables, risotto, lightly flavored pastas, omelettes, quiches and grilled white meats or salmon.
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Foodie Heaven – Friday Favorites

photo-252Happy Friday! But really TGIF… If I see another photo on Facebook or Instagram of someone on a beach, I might have to make myself a pina colada, turn my heat up to 90 and walk around in my bathing suit. I am just so glad it has finally stopped snowing. So is this moose that was in my front yard eating some fresh grass. Now its sunny and feeling like spring! This week I found some fun and entertaining articles, quizzes and recipes about food around the internet for you to enjoy!

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√ Happy the weather is finally warming up? Check out these 9 spring superfoods that not only taste good but will boost your immune system and even ward off hangovers!

√ Can’t survive the morning without your coffee? Take this quiz and see just how much you know about your morning (or afternoon) cup of joe.

√ I’d like one of these right now. Melon Rumballa.

√ Love going to the ball park? Check out this list of the 16 most insane stadium foods money can buy– who wouldn’t want to eat a 24-inch beef brisket quesadilla, lying on a pile of Doritos while watching a baseball game?

√ I’ve got to try making these Gluten free/ vegan treats, they look amazing! Puffed Quinoa Peanut Butter Balls.

√ Need another reason not to eat fast food? This Utah man found a McDonald’s hamburger in his pocket from 1999 and it almost looks new.

√ Look how a regular ice cube tray can help you drop some pounds for summer.

√ If you bought too much cheese this week due to my Cheese & Charcuterie post- here’s a great way to store all that fancy cheese so it doesn’t go bad!

√ These are pretty cute baby duck pictures. Its almost like mother natures version of the “octomom” in duck form.

Hope you have a happy weekend!

“Appy Hour” Cheese & Charcuterie Boards and Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rounds

photo-85I’m a huge fan of appetizers, tapas, small plates… basically anything you can share. There is something satisfying and social about ordering ‘family style’ and taking little tastes of each cheese or meat plate. Talking about the food in front of you actually requires you to stop and TASTE it, rather than shoveling it in to your mouth as quickly as possible because you’re distracted by the TV, or the dog, or the other chaos going on in your house during dinner time.photo-84 I love cheese boards. Growing up when we would visit my grandmother in France, they would bring out a cheese cart full of the most divine stinky blue cheeses, creamy goat cheese, mild brie, you’d have 25 different options- the smell was overwhelming. Then you add the meats, Prosciutto, Soppressata, Salami and my favorite… Tartufo Truffle Salami! Served with a crispy baguette, some French stone ground mustard and Blood Orange Pepper jelly…I’m drooling on my keyboard. Check out the jelly aisle in your grocery store or Whole Foods, they usually have some interesting compotes and jellies that go nicely with cheese- fig preserves, jalapeno jellies or even honey work well! photo-85From left to right here are the cheeses we sampled with our meat board. Far left is the Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog Chevre which is a mild goats milk cheese. The thin layer of edible vegetable ash give this cheese a subtle tangy flavor which goes nicely with pepper jelly. The Second cheese from the left is a Valdeon Blue Cheese which is strong flavored cow and goats milk blue cheese that is a bit stronger than Stilton. Valdeon is wrapped Sycamore leaves which gives it a rich and complex flavor. If you’re not a huge fan of stinky blue cheese this might not be the best blue to start with. The third cheese is the Fromager d’Affinois which is a rich and creamy cows milk cheese. d’Affinois is a double-cream cheese and positions its self between a traditional brie and a triple-cream like Saint Andre (not picture here but another amazing cheese… I can already see another cheese board post in the works..) d’Affinois goes great with honey or any fruit/pepper jelly. The last cheese farthest to the right is creamy Gorgonzola which is a blue cheese made from cows milk. This cheese is more mild than the Valdeon and is good ‘gateway’ blue cheese. Try both the Valdeon and Gorgonzola with out any jellies or honey to start, their rich flavor can be overwhelming at first with too many additions. You should be able to find most of these cheese in your local grocery store and will have not problem find them at Whole Foods or specialty food shops. photo-86

Next in the Appy Hour… Smoked salmon and Boursin cheese on cucumber rounds. This is a really easy, light summer appetizer (Gluten Free too!) and its a huge crowd pleaser. All you need is-

  • One English cucumber
  • One 5.2oz box of Boursin Garlic & Herb cheese
  • Small package of smoked salmon or lox
  • Lemon

Slice the cucumber into bite-size rounds, between 1/8″-1/4″. Spread Boursin cheese onto cucumber rounds and top with a few small pieces of smoked salmon. Squeeze a few lemon wedges over the salmon and serve! Don’t forget to make extras, they’ll be gone in a flash. Enjoy!

Red & Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce with Sausage Over Fresh Pappardelle

photo-78For my birthday this year I received the ultimate Italian cookbook- “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan. After flipping through this book a few times and seeing REAL Italian recipes that I’ve only seen made in Italy, I knew she was legit. I was so excited to start testing out some of her recipes, I actually crawled into bed one night with the cookbook and started making notes on things that looked good- only problem was, everything looked good!photo-82

I decided to start with pasta since I could happily eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the rest of my life. I’ve never made fresh pasta before, so I decided to challenge myself and give it a whirl. After making fresh pasta, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat boxed pasta again. photo-79

After making the dough and rolling it out with a pasta machine (I would highly recommend using a pasta machine- doing it by hand would be nearly impossible and very time consuming) I tossed the fresh Pappardelle with butter and Parmesan before mixing it with the bell pepper sauce with sausages.

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The pappardelle pasta is fantastic with this sauce, the thickness gathers all the yummy ingredients so every bite is just as good as the last. If you’re not into making your own pasta, I would suggest searching for pre-made fresh pasta like fettuccine, in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, it really does make a difference!

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This sauce is very easy to make- like only 5 ingredients kind of easy. Although, it does takes a bit of time to simmer once all the ingredients are combined in the pan, it only takes 20 minutes.

Here I am pretty excited my first batch of fresh pasta is edible!

I made a few adjustments to the recipe. The original recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons of onion- I think the onion gives the sauce great flavor so I used the whole thing. Also, instead of draining the tomatoes I used all their juices which created a little more sauce to toss with the pasta- plus why would you ever throw away all that great juice!

This is definitely going to be a staple dish around our house from now on! Serve with a fresh baguette, red wine and ENJOY!

Red & Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce with Sausages (Click for printer friendly version)

Ingredients:

  • 3 meaty bell peppers, 1 red, 2 yellow
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped
  • 4-5 sweet sausages without fennel seeds, chili pepper or other strong seasonings (I used sweet Italian turkey sausage and it turned out great!) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large can (28oz) Italian San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • Fresh pappardelle pasta (recipe below) or 1 1/2lbs boxed pasta

For tossing the pasta

  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus additional cheese at the table

Directions:

  1. Split the peppers into 4 sections, discard the seeds and cores, and peel them using peeler (I forgot this step and it was fine!) Cut them into 1-inch square pieces
  2. Put olive oil and the chopped onion in a saute pan and cook over medium to medium high heat. cook and stir the noion until it becomes translucent/gold.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  4. Add the sausage to the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, add peppers, and season with salt and pepper. Cook them for 8-10 minutes turning them occasionally.
  5. Add the entire can of whole tomatoes and their juices to sausage and peppers. Using the back of a wooden spoon breaking up the whole tomatoes so there are no large bits left.
  6. Allow sauce to cook at a “lively” simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the oil floats free of the tomatoes.
  7. Fresh pasta only needs about 5 minutes to cook, make sure you time whatever kind of pasta you are making so its fresh and hot when the sauce is finished simmering.
  8. Toss pasta with butter and Parmesan, then pour entire contents of the pan over the pasta, tossing one more time to coat.
  9. Serve immediately with fresh Parmesan on the side.

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If you’re in a hurry- I would buy pasta from the store- leave yourself about 1 hour total to make pasta dough from start to finish. (aka making this on a week night would be a nightmare)

Fresh Pasta Dough (Click for printer friendly version)

For the Pasta (Make ahead of time before the sauce, its OK if the pasta dries a bit before cooking it)

Ingredients (Yields 3/4 pound home made pasta- about 3 portions. I doubled the recipe)

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Pour flour onto clean work surface, shape it into a mound and scoop out the center so it looks like a volcano.
  2. Crack the eggs into the flour mixture and using a fork, beat the eggs lightly.
  3. Draw some of the flour over the eggs into the center, mixing until the eggs are no longer runny.
  4. Keep working the flour and eggs with your fingers and palm of your hands, adding more flour if your mixture is too sticky.
  5. Once you feel the dough does not require any more flour- wash your hands and prepare to knead the dough
  6. Knead the dough by pushing away from you and folding dough over onto its self, stretching and pulling the dough with the palms of your hands- be sure to keep extra flour near by as you’ll need it for your hands and work space. Knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth.
  7. Cut dough into smaller equal parts and prepare to roll the dough with your pasta machine.
  8. Start with the machine on the largest setting and roll the dough through the machine twice at each setting, decreasing as the dough gets thinner.
  9. Flour a clean dry work space to lay fresh dough on the counter until you are ready to cut. Pappardelle is hand cute into 1-inch thick strips that are about 12-inches long. Don’t worry about them looking perfect, once they are cooked its hard to tell! Or use the attachments from the pasta maker to cut perfect fettuccine or spaghetti.
  10. If you’ve made enough pasta to save for a later date, hang the pasta on a pasta drying wrack or on the counter, wrap in plastic wrap or zip lock bag once it has fully dried and save for your next pasta party!

Both recipes originally from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”

Rum Chocolate Mousse

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We recently started receiving a few wedding gifts in the mail, which as been like Christmas on steroids. One of the most recent gifts that would make any chef swoon… Fire engine red Le Creuset baking dishes, complete with 4 mini cocottes. I’ve died and gone to culinary heaven. Every time I open a new kitchen item I jump up and down like a little kid while Jake looks at me all confused. Anyways… The second I saw these little cocottes I thought chocolate- Chocolate souffle, chocolate mousse, chocolate molten cake- slightly obsessed with chocolate. But seriously, what is better than your very own mini dish coming out filled with chocolate? photo-245This mousse recipe is very special to me, as it belonged to my grandmother Harriet and I remember her making this for dinner parties when I was growing up. It’s extremely easy, super rich and the flavor of the rum comes through nicely, which makes the recipe a winner in my book. This is a family favorite, so I hope you ENJOY!

Rum Chocolate Mousse (Click for printer friendly version)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (Myers is my favorite)
  • 4 eggs, separated

Directions:

  1. Separate egg yolks and whites into two bowls
  2. Beat egg whites with an electric hand mixer or kitchenaid until stiff fluffy and peaks form, set aside.
  3. Put chocolate chips and boiling water in a blender and blend until smooth, about 10 seconds.
  4. Add yolks and rum to blender, blend until fully incorporated
  5. Using a rubber spatula, transfer chocolate mixture into a medium bowl.
  6. Fold whipped egg whites into rum chocolate.
  7. Pour into ramekins, chill at least 1 hour.

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Salad Nicoise

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Salad Nicoise is one of my all time favorite dishes. This classic French salad is perfection on a plate. The Nicoise (pronounced ni’swaz) salad is named for the South Eastern region in France where the nicoise olive is grown, near Nice located in the Cote d’Azur. The Cote d’Azur is so gorgeous, crystal blue Mediterranean water, palm trees and sea side restaurants selling more fresh fish, wine and Salad Nicoise’s than you can imagine!   536252_594992732777_919795956_n

Its a light and refreshing lunch and perfect in the summer when its hot an humid and you’d prefer not to feel like a beached whale after stuffing your face with a huge sandwich. Even sitting in snowy Utah, making this salad with its fresh ingredients, always brings me back to this beach- its a little vacation on a plate. Hope you enjoy!

Salad Nicoise (Click for printer friendly version)

Serves 6:

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

  • 2-3 cans of tuna
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
  • 10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered (I used purple, red and yellow new potatoes because I had them on hand and I love the color they added to the salad)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths (I used cherry tomatoes since the larger ones are’nt as sweet this time of year)
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 8 ounces haricot vert (green beans), stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
  • 1/4 cup niçoise olives (or kalamata olives) pittedphoto-238

Directions:

  1. Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Bring potatoes and 4 quarts of water to boil (do not boil the water first and then put potatoes in- bring to a boil with potatoes in the water already- this prevents your potatoes from being too mealy). Cook until potatoes are tender about 8-10minutes. Remove potatoes from water with slotted spoon. Keep the boiling water.
  3. Toss potatoes with 1/4 of the vinaigrette and set aside.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking toss lettuce with 1/4 of vinaigrette and arrange on to plates. Mound tuna in the center of the lettuce and group tomatoes, olives and hard boiled egg and separately around the plate. Once potatoes are cooked and dresses, arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
  5. Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and hericot vert. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans and quickly transfer to an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Toss beans and onion with a small amount of dressing and arrange with the rest of the ingredients on the bed of lettuce.
  6. Drizzle another 1/4 vinaigrette over the top of the plated salad and season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining salad dressing on the table for guests to dress their salad to their liking.
  7. Serve immediately with French bread and preferably a glass of wine!  photo-241

Wine Wednesday- Chateau Pesquie

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Last wine Wednesday we visited the vineyards of Mendoza Argentina for one of my favorite Malbec’s, Alamos. This week’s featured wine under $20 a bottle is from the Ventoux – Rhone Valley region, which is where my grandmother lives. This is one of my parents favorite table wines and at $15 a bottle you’ll see why. The Grenache/syrah blend makes for a big and bold, well balanced red that pairs easily with food. From simple dishes like pizza or pasta to fish and poultry- you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Chateau Pesquie Cuvee des Terrasses Cotes du Ventoux Rouge 2011
  • Price: $15
  • Blend: 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
  • Winemaker Notes: Dark red in color. Intense nose with notes of black berries and spicy aromas like pepper. The mouth is medium to full-bodied yet still very fresh and elegant tannins and flavors of red and black berries with a touch of spice.
  • About the Ventoux Region: The poor limestone soil of Côtes du Ventoux gives a fruity red wine, easy to drink and to appreciate. A good value wine.   
  • Grapes grown in Ventoux: Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre