Archive for February 22nd, 2009

How did we ever get the idea for this party theme?  Well, let me tell. First, Ted and I love wine tasting events.  We really enjoy the experiences we’ve had when pairing foods with wine. It gives one an entirely different outlook on wine tasting. Amazing how food can change the taste of wine and vise versa.  However, the thought came about because FoodBuzz does an event called 24,24,24 where it features a different blog site every month that comes up with a fantastic theme and write up. No, I wasn’t picked but that didn’t stop me. You should check out some of those featured sites that were picked because they do a terrific job on so many flavors, themes, food/drink subjects, you name it.  Maybe one month I can tell you all -It’s ME!  But not this month. So lets get a move on.

 We decided that our event would feature participation from all of our friends.  Every couple would bring a favorite food and a wine of their choice.  Invitations were sent out and when I found out what the guests would bring, I simply decided to complement by my own choices which were:

  • San Francisco Sour Dough Bread
  • Hawaiian Sweet Bread
  • Chips and Champagne (BRUT) for our greeting venue.
  • Coconut Shrimp with Apricot Dipping Sauce as an appetizer
  • Warm Salad of Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil
  • Two Cheese and Leek Tart
  • Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes
  • Chocolate POPROCK Truffles.

If you skip further down, you will get stuck right into the party happenings, this first section of the blog is the pre-party events and my own recipes.

I’ll begin with the San Francisco Sour Dough bread because I made it from scratch. Even the sour dough starter – 2 weeks ago.  I followed the recipe from “The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook” so I won’t list the recipe.  The title of the book is misleading in regards to this recipe because only the kneading is done in the breadmaker.  However a GREAT site, if you embark on the sour dough endeavor yourself, to refer to is: http://www.sourdoughhome.com/startingastarter.html.    The texture was perfect. 

Next, I made the Hawaiian Sweet Bread, this was a mix from a box:  Classic Hearth International Collection, Royal Hawaiian Sweet Bread. A wonderful moist, sweet bread.


 The chips and champagne:

We offered a “salty” selection of assorted nuts, and “Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips”. The chips weren’t salty enough and proved very hard. 

On the Friday evening, we cooked the 2 Cheese and Leek Tart as well as the Molasses Whipped Sweet Potato. 

2 Cheese and Leek Tart:

  • 2 deep dish pie shells. Pre bake 10 minutes. Still pale in color.
  • 4  Leeks, cleaned and chopped – use only the tender paler ends.
  • 2 oz minced, Sun Dried Tomatoes (the ones packed in oil)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 TBS flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz Blue Cheese (crumbled) and 4 oz Monterrey Jack (shredded)
  • 4 whole eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter in pan over medium heat and add leeks. Let cook for 5 minutes, add tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add flour, stir constantly for 1 minute, add milk  and boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. When cooled (after 10 minutes), add cheese and all other ingredients. Pour into pie shells. Sprinkle extra nutmeg on top of pies if you want and cook 50 minutes.

Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, microwave 15 minutes and let cool. Peel skin and put “meat” in bowl. Mash with fork.
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 TBS dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TBS Black Strap Molasses
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 TBS Pure Maple Syrup

Whip all the ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste and heat up when ready to eat.

Earlier in the week, I made the  truffles:


There were “Chocolate POPROCK Truffles”

  • 16 oz Semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 TBS Unsalted Butter
  • 5 packets or more of “PopRocks”
  • cocoa powder and/or coconut flakes

Place the chocolate in a glass bowl that will fit in a pan with water (double boiler). Set on low heat and stir until about 1/2 melted. Remove from heat and set aside.  Heat the cream on low heat until you see little bubbles around the edge of your pan. Remove from heat and pour over your chocolate*.

*It’s VERY important not to let any moisture (water) come in contact with your chocolate.

Beat the cream and chocolate until well blended. Place in the fridge until it becomes firm enough just to shape. OR… you can take it out when it has cooled, but only slightly flowing and squeeze through a pastry bag to make different tiny (key here is TINY) shapes. 

Once the chocolate mixture has sufficiently cooled (nolonger wet), add your PopRocks to the shaped balls, or the variety of forms you have created. Now the mixture can’t be too wet because the moisture will trigger the popping.  You can either top the rocks with more chocolate or form the slightly more cooled chocolate around the rocks.  Roll in coconut or cocoa powder to finish.


Wine and Food Pairing Menu

The Details:  Choosing a wine to pair with a favorite homemade dish.  Please taste the wine and note it’s qualities (fruitiness, earthiness, tannins, acidity…).  Now taste the food.  Lastly, take a small bite of the food and a sip of wine, what happens?    Use the buckets on the table to dispose of any wine which is not to your liking.

Greetings:    Chips and Champagne


Coconut Shrimp Lollipops  (Joanne and Ted)  paired with:J.Roget American Brut Champagne

Eggplant Roll (Janice and Fred) paired with:Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc


Warm Salad of Zucchini, Cherry Tomato, and Basil (Joanne and Ted) paired with:Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc


Old Fashioned Italian Style Lasagna (Sue and Sam) paired with:Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti

Kibbe Bis-Sayniyyi  (Jackie and Rock) over Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes paired with: Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon

2 Cheese and  Leek Tart (Joanne and Ted) paired with: Georges DuBeuf Beaujolais

Cauliflower Bake (Mary Ellen and Gene) paired with: Anheuser Riesling


Fruit Tart (Jeanne and Paul)  paired with: Abby Rose Red

Strawberry Cream Cake (Jeanne and Paul) paired Abby Rose Red

Amaretto Liquor Cake (Nancy and Bob) paired with: Raffaldini Chiari

Extra Treats:

Assorted Cheeses and Olives (Nancy and Bob) paired with: Columbian Wines Gewurztraminer and Glenora Riesling

Chocolate POP ROCK Truffles


The Table Setting for 14 People:

dscn0207Let me just say that every one of our guests made this party a wonderful event. We all had a great time. We began at 6PM and the last guest to leave was out the door at 11: 15pm.  This last departing guest was Rocko who insisted through out the evening that we should turn the party into a sleep over.  This suggestion was seriously considered when, upon leaving, Shane expressed his extreme disappointment in the departing of Fred and Janice, the first to leave.  Sorry about that Fred.  Let’s all blame Ted?! 🙂

As guests arrived, the wines were noted and coupled with the appropriate dish.

We began with the Greeting of Champagne and a salty snack.

We then went to grab our wine glasses off the table to enjoy the many varieties of cheeses, crackers, and stuffed olives that Nancy and Bob brought. 

It has to be mentioned, because we are so proud of him, that Bob had a book on NY State wines published in 1980.  “New York Wine Country: A Tour Guide”.  This was when there were all of 62 Wineries in New York State. Now there are well over 100. The book is still available on Amazon.com.

The Assorted Cheese Offerings:


  • Bulgarian Feta:  Also known as “Brindza”, made from pure sheep’s milk from the Rhodope Mountains. Creamy, crumbly, not too salty, it is BY FAR one of the best Feta’s I’ve ever tasted.
  • Oud Brugge:  Named after a Belgian town. Ripened for 12 months to develop taste and texture. Mild, complex and similar to Extra Aged Gouda.
  • Atalanta Crumbly Blue:  Atalanta is the Greek Goddess of hunt, travel, and adventure. The name is thus inspired and appropriate for this blue cheese from Wisconsin. It is bold and was enjoyed by everyone, even people willing to try it who don’t like blue cheese.
  • White Stilton with Fruit:  Extra creamy, tangy and much like yogurt with the introduction of fruit. Pears and apples added the right amount of fruit so as not to over sweeten the cheese. My favorite by far!
  • Frantal Emmental: Referred to as Swiss Cheese, but not from Switzerland. It is from the heart of a ski resort in the French Alps, Chamonix.
  • Cahill’s Farm Cheddar:  Using a base of tangy Irish Cheddar, Irish Whiskey allows an interesting finish to this cheese.
  • Stuffed Greek Olives:  A large Hakidiki olive, smooth and buttery, stuffed with blue cheese. Great addition to our cheeses and wines.

As you can see, there were so many cheeses which began the ultimate endeavor to fill ourselves with wonderful foods and delicious wines.  There were 2 wine pairings with the cheese. Some people however hadn’t finished their champagne. I agreedwith Bob that the Columbian Winery Gerwurztraminer was the best with the cheese selections.


Upon gathering our selves together and sitting at the table, we enjoyed the Coconut Shrimp Lollipops displayed and served in a fresh pineapple. 

We then had an OUT OF THIS WORLD Eggplant Bread from Washington Mills ROMA’S Deli brought by Fred and Janice. Thanks Fred and Janice. That Eggplant bread was too good to be served to the pure of heart. 

Back to the shrimp, this recipe was really good. BUT… a very poor choice for such a busy party.It was a hassle to make – both Ted and I were hands on over hot oil.  Ted donned an apron and oven mitts.  Should’ve taken a picture … he looked too cute!!!!  Love-maker:9693If you have the time, I recommend the recipe.  If you are going to be busy hosting the party and serving, forgo the coconut shrimp for some other time.  If interested, email me and I will forward the recipe.

Foods and wine were already moving fast. So far so good. Ted was keeping up with pouring the wine as the food was being served.  We were enjoying the wines we were tasting and reluctantly putting them into the dump buckets so as not to drink too much.  Umm, some of us were.   dscn02132

We next enjoyed the Warm Salad of Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil with a Lemon Olive Oil Dressing.  A very easy recipe because you can take care of the “warm” version early and hold in the oven until ready to serve.

  • 2 Zucchini, cut in 1/2 and qtred.
  • 2 TBS EVOO
  • 8 Green onions, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Large Container of Mixed Salad greens.
  • 14 Large Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Sharp Provolone Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Pine Nuts
  • 7 TBS Olive Oil
  • 8 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

Heat the 2 TBS oil and saute the zucchini, onions, peppers for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Put the salad greens in bowls, top with warm veggies, top with basil, cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, pepper to taste, and drizzle the lemon-olive oil on top.

dscn0214Sorry about that salad picture. It actually looked kind of pretty but, as I said, things were getting a bit out of hand with the wine and the wine, and the WINE… I forgot to take the picture before chowing down.

Next up was supposed to be the Lasagna, but it was too warm and we had to let it cool. We skipped to the 2 Cheese and Leek Tart served with Mary Ellen and Gene’s Cauliflower Bake. 

This seemed to get a few boisterous comments regarding a change in agenda which mixed everyone up.  You see what happens when just a few people over indulge?  Such a ruckus over the littlest things! Geesh!!!!    Cheers:11710


Cauliflower Bake:  Preheat oven to 350 F

  • Steam a large head of cauliflower until fork tender.
  • Grease casserole dish with EVOO.
  • Arrange florets in dish and season with salt, pepper, parsley (or oregano) to suit your taste.
  • Sprinkle with grated Romano Cheese and bread crumbs.  Drizzle with more EVOO  and bake until golden brown.

The cauliflower was welcomed with “Oohs and Ahs”.  A super way to serve this vegetable.  The wine choice, Anheuser Riesling was very good and the bottle was really cool looking. My picture didn’t do it justice so I won’t post it. Take my word.

Sufficient time had past and now the Old Fashioned Italian Lasagna was ready.  Look at this recipe page my sister brought: (If you can’t read it and want the recipe, please contact me and I will email it to you.)

dscn0224Isn’t she ALMOST perfect?!  I say almost because she put meat in her lasagna. Boo hoo – ’cause you know who couldn’t eat it. 😦   I’m going to try her recipe but without the meat because, as full as everyone was getting, this dish was consumed whole heartedly. Not a scrap on anyone’s plate. It was a hit.


Also… we have to declare Sue and Sam the WINE WINNERS with their Barbera D’Asti.  It was the most velvety, flavorful red wine we have enjoyed in a very long time. It was also the only bottle that was completely finished. Pick up this wine if you can. Great pairing.  Great choice.

It may have been during this time, I was busy in the kitchen and missed the story about Bob catching on fire as he served as an Altar Boy when he was young.  Interesting.  Guess no one told him “don’t lean on the candles”.

Burning B:9036

Moving on….

The Kibbe Bis-Sayniyyi, a wonderful Lebanese dish which traditionally uses lamb as the meat.  Jackie and Rocko however, made this wonderful dish using ground beef and everyone loved it.

  • 2 lb 90% Ground Beef
  • 2 cups crushed wheat (Bulgar)
  • 2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBS basil
  • 4-5 TBS pine nuts
  • STUFFING:  1/2 lb ground beef, 1 medium onion (diced), pepper & salt to taste, 1/2 tsp allspice.

Soak the wheat in cold water for 10- 15 minutes and drain well. Mix the meat, wheat, onion, and spices until well blended.  Brown the pine nuts for the stuffing. Saute the stuffing meat, onion and add S & P and allspice.  ASSEMBLY:  Form 1st layer of meat using 1/2 of the mixture ( about 1/2 ” thick). Put on your stuffing mix, spread evenly. Add the 2nd layer on top of the stuffing. Drizzle top with 1/4 cup EVOO and bake at 400 F for 25 – 30 minutes.

Jackie and Rocko picked a wonderful red wine to pair, Gato Negro. 

At this point, Ted began to slow down in getting the wine with the correct food. At this point, no one noticed.

dscn0217 Dessert anyone?…Ugh! We’re all so full! But …what are those scrumptious looking delicacies?

How could we think of dessert at this point? Well, one couldn’t resist because the offerings looked too delectable.  We had:

  • Amaretto Liquor Cake, from Bob and Nancy.
  • A Fresh Fruit Tart, from Jeanne and Paul
  • A Strawberry Cream White Cake, from Jeanne and Paul
  • The Chocolate Pop Rock Truffles.

I believe everyone sampled all desserts without disappointment. We were pretty much “wined” out however did try the Abby Rose red from Jeanne and Paul.  It was a good dessert wine, light, subtle, fruity.

Amaretto Liquor Cake

Amaretto Liquor Cake










Fresh Fruit Tart

Fresh Fruit Tart





Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Whipped Cream over an Angel Food Cake: Heavenly!

Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Whipped Cream over an Angel Food Cake: Heavenly!



The Wine and Food Pairing Attendees:










dscn0223It was a very fun evening spent with friends.  Gene and Fred needled Rocko and Paul most of the evening. Rock and Paul had their own humorous additions.  Rocko was declared the “shrimp thief”.  I never did catch him!  However Fred was accused of pocketing some knick-knacks. I’ll have to take inventory.  In my book, it’s the accuser trying to redirect the blame…GENE! 

Sam, Bob and Ted were deep in conversations and laughter everytime I returned to the table.

Sue, Janice, Mary Ellen, Jeanne, Nancy, and Jackie looked stunning as ever.  Ted and I couldn’t have done this party without their tremendous help.  Thanks to all for a great time, great food, great wine!  

Now I have to embark on making wine sauces this week because there is too much wine left to drink!  I’ll be back with you again on Tuesday. Untl then…take care!


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