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October 29, 2013

October Wine Dinner

Here are a few food and wine pairings that have been tested by a panel of experts. The findings were overwhelmingly conclusive.

Our food and wine club has been meeting monthly for about 3 years now. We have enjoyed some amazing pairings and these can be added to the list.

The theme for the evening was Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Included was a 1006 Clos du Bois from Alexander Valley; 2008 V. Sattui from Napa Valley; 2003 Kenwood from Sonoma Valley. We enjoyed a sparkling wine as a greater and a delicious dessert wine. Thrown into the mix for the white wine drinkers was a 2011 Beringer Chardonnay from Napa Valley.

Pairings:
The Chardonnay was paired with Salmon with Orange and Paprika rub
The Clos du Bois was paired with Mushroom Empanadas

The V. Sattui was paired with Stuffing Sausage Balls

The Kenwood was paired with Grilled steak, fries and green beans

You can never go wrong with steak and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Posted by terri at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2013

PASTA!

To me, pasta is that go to food when I’ve had a long day at the office, I’m looking for something simple and quick or I just want to kick back, open a bottle of wine and enjoy a delicious meal. With the different shapes and varieties of pasta you can create a different menu for any day of the week.

Even though pasta has long been the symbol of Italian cooking, it definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyed all around the world. But because I love the history of food, I have to share a little food trivia, and it’s an interesting way to learn about different countries. For example, the State Archives in Genoa contain documents stating that as early as the 1300’s a written contract was drawn up for a lady named Maria Borgogno whose profession was a pasta maker. The State Archives also contain documents that refer to macaroni at least 50 years before Marco Polo was said to have brought noodles with him to Italy from China. Any country could claim the fame since many have their own form of pasta. The Germans enjoy spaetzle, the Polish have pierogi and throughout the Orient there are dozens of noodles usually made with rice or soy flour. In Italy the word pasta means paste and refers to the dough made from durum wheat flour called semolina. There are dried and fresh versions, all of which are wonderfully delicious.

Deciding what pasta to use though can sometimes be a little overwhelming. But don’t let that prevent you from exploring. With all the choices you might use the same pasta every time but don’t be tempted to stick to just spaghetti. By experimenting, you can create new and exciting pasta dishes anytime. Start by following these simple tips and become a pasta adventurer.

  • Read the labels when buying pasta

  • Dried pasta is best when made with only semolina which doesn’t absorb water, resulting in a firmer pasta that holds it shape and texture better.

  • Fresh pasta usually contains egg and is usually referred to as noodles

  • When selecting what type of pasta consider the sauce that will be used. For heavy sauces select sturdy pasta like penne, fusilli or farfalle. Lighter sauces work well with angle hair.

  • When stuffing pasta consider the stuffing. Is it heavy and bulky? If so go with larger shells or canelloni, but when using a light cheese stuffing, a small shell or tortellini works well.

    Cooking pasta can be the next challenge but not if you stick to a couple of tips found here under cooking tips.

    One other tip not mentioned on this link is something I tried when making pesto. To enhance the green color of the basil I always dip the leaves into boiling water prior to processing. I noticed the water was slightly green and had the most wonderful aroma. I strained it to get any grit left behind from the basil and used the water to cook my noodles. The result was just what I thought it would be; slightly flavored pasta that was extra wonderful served with the pesto I just made.

    Now you’re ready to create a few new recipes for your next delicious meal.

    Basil Pesto

    Simple Spaghetti

    Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

    Linguine with Onion, Bacon and Parmesan

    Pasta and Bolognese Casserole with Spicy Meatballs

    Posted by terri at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

    October 14, 2013

    Mexican Pinwheels

    These little pinwheels are great for kids to make. They can add the ingredients they like and create a neat snack to boot. The best part is that the adults like them too.

    Serves 12

    Ingredients:

  • 1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked, drained and cooled.
  • Other optional ingredients: refried beans, finely minced onions, red or green bell peppers.

    Garnish with sour cream, salsa and additional cheese.

    Instructions:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Separate out the two sections of the crescent rolls. Work with one section at a time. Roll out the first section into a rectangle, pinching the seams together very well.

    Layer with ingredients of choice.

    Beginning with the long side roll up jelly roll style. Slice about 1/4 of an inch thick and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other section.

    Bake at 400 until pastry is golden brown.

    Serve with salsa, sour cream and additional cheese

    Create your own:
    Use Italian ingredients and make Italian pinwheels (mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, pepperoni, sausage, etc.)

    To make a veggie version, spread the crescent roll with cream cheese. Top with finely chopped vegetables and cheese of choice)
    Ideas include, broccoli, shredded carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. Use any cheese like goat, cheddar, Swiss, etc.

    Posted by terri at 02:45 AM | Comments (0)

    Kids in the Kitchen

    When I was asked to teach a cooking class for the daughter of a co-worker, I jumped at the opportunity. Teaching kids how to cook is a hoot. They are so eager to learn. Soon I realized that they listened to and believed everything I said. It’s not often I have such a trusting audience. Plus we had a great time and I felt like I had accomplished something meaningful to boot.


    There were 7 little girls ranging in age from 5-9. We hit it off immediately. I started out asking them if they liked to cook. All hands went upward towards the sky. I thought, ahh this is going to be easy. We talked about washing our hands before starting, not eating while we cook unless of course we were making something just for ourselves, and how to hold and use a knife. Their knives were from Pampered Chef and are safe for kids.

    Each little girl was given an apron to decorate and a chef’s hat.
    I could see that they were very creative and I was going to have to up my game to keep up with them. I was glad I brought my own chef coat; at least I was going to look the part. It must have worked because they decided to call me Chef Terri.

    We started with Mexican Pinwheels, a great recipe for kids. But if the truth be told the adults were eating them faster than the kids could bake them. What surprised me was how they modified the recipe to adapt to their skill level. Slicing the pastry proved to be a challenge for them so they rolled them up into little balls. We had a few who mastered the slice. All in all the pinwheels/balls looked and tasted fantastic. I even got caught sampling one and was called out by a very observant 7 year old. “Chef Terri, I thought you weren’t supposed to eat while you cook.” As I swallowed the last bite, I explained that I wasn’t cooking at the time. But she wasn’t fooled for a minute.

    Next on the agenda was cookie decorating 101. I gave each of them a pastry bag with a tip and white icing. They had the option to color the icing red, green, yellow or blue. Since the birthday girl’s favorite color is blue most of the cookies were blue. We had one that mixed red and blue and she ended up with brownish black. That didn’t seem to faze her a bit, she went on to decorate her cookie with a very elaborate 6 inch high mound of icing.

    I gave each of my little chefs a certificate and a recipe book.
    I hope they learned a few skills and will be inspired to continue to cook.


    I am amazed at how many families don’t actually sit down to the family meal like I did when I was growing up. I hope that more moms, sons , fathers and daughters will get back to cooking and sitting around the family table spending quality time together. So here’s to Kids in the Kitchen, our future chefs.



    Posted by terri at 02:16 AM | Comments (0)

    October 10, 2013

    Stuffed Breakfast Sandwich with Cinnamon and Jam

    A deliciously simple brunch idea

    Serves 2

    Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 4 frozen waffles
  • 2 tablespoons jam (any flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

    Instructions:

    Combine cream cheese and goat cheese with confectioner’s sugar and mix well.

    Spread 2 waffles with the cheese mixture and top with the jam. Cover with the remaining waffles.

    Melt the butter in a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until golden and crisp, flip over and cook on the other side. Add more butter if needed.

    Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of sandwich. Cool for 1 minute before serving.

    Create your own

    Posted by terri at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)

    October 06, 2013

    Nut Balls

    My Dad’s Favorite Christmas Cookie
    My mom made them every year when I was growing up. Now I make them every year for Dennis.

    Makes 2 dozen


    Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (use good quality extract)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ¼ cup self rising flour
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 2 cups powdered sugar- use more as needed

    Instructions

    Measure flour into a large bowl and add sugar, whisk to mix.

    Add vanilla to butter and add to flour. Add pecans.

    Pinch off dough and roll into balls whatever size you like. I usually make them about the diameter of a quarter.

    Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes depending on size and your oven, until lightly golden.

    Remove from oven and cool slightly but while still warm roll into powdered sugar. Serve warm or save for the next day if they last that long.

    Cooking Wiser

    Sift powdered sugar, it will make the sugar coat the cookie better.
    Color the powdered sugar with food coloring to coordinate with Holidays; red and green for Christmas, Blue and red for 4th of July, etc.

    Posted by terri at 04:55 AM | Comments (0)

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