"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wine Wednesday - Campogrande Orvieto Classico

It has been a while since my last Wine Wednesday posting!  But, I recently tried Campogrande Orvieto Classico 2007 and had to share about it.  We actually bought this wine at Whole Foods over a year ago.  It has just been sitting in our wine cabinet for a while.  I got it out when I needed to add a little white wine to something I was cooking.  We tend to prefer red wines and rarely even open white wines.  Since I was cooking with it, I thought it would be nice to have with dinner.  This has quickly become one of my favorite white wines.  Many white wines are either to buttery or too crisp tasting to me.  This one is so light and fruity - not at all overpowering.  It goes well with seafood, light courses, vegetables, and many Mediterranean dishes.  Like one of my favorite red wines, Chianti, Orvieto is also made in Tuscany and Umbria.  Italians are not traditionally known for their white wines, but wine critics, like Kevin Zraly, believes that Italians are trying to become better known for some of their white wines.  The designation of "classico" that describes some Chianti, Orvieto, and other wines denotes that the wine is produced in a region where that type of wine has traditionally been produced.  Not all wines produced in Italy are eligible for the "classico" distinction.  Orvieto, traditionally grown between Florence and Rome is sometimes called "the Pope's wine" as it was commonly drunk by Popes in the early 20th Century.  To learn more about Orvieto, visit this website.  Campogrande Orvieto Classico can be purchased for $12-15 in some retail locations or on-line.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crispy Asparagus

This is the other wonderful recipe that I have tried from my new The Greeks Have a Recipe for It cookbook.  I can't wait to try others!  I made this dish because I love asparagus but always cook it the same way.  It made a great side to the stuffed eggplant that I posted last time.  I will definitely be making this often!

Crispy Asparagus
3 lbs. asparagus
1 tbsp. grated Kefaloteri cheese*
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
3 tbsp. dry white wine
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim off tough ends of asparagus stalks.  Dip stalks first in flour, then in egg beaten with wine and then into bread crumbs, that been combined with cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Saute in oil for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.  More grated cheese may be sprinkled on top when serving.  

*I used Parmesan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stuffed Eggplant

I'm making a switch from some of the German recipes that I've been posting to a few recipes from the Greek cookbook that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  Kent and I went to the Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Birmingham with our friends, Caroline and Franklin, in September.  I bought the church's cookbook, The Greeks Have a Recipe for It.  I've been wanting to try some of the recipes and chose two to try recently.  They were both wonderful!  I love eating eggplant, but it can take a long time to cook.  Since the eggplant is sauteed in this recipe, it doesn't take as long to cook as it might in other recipes.  It's also nice that this recipe uses ground chuck instead of more expensive ground lamb like many Greek recipes.  This meal is great to cook for two any night of the week, but guests will also love it since it's a little fancy!

Stuffed Eggplant
2 long, medium sized eggplant
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground chuck
2 tbsp. tomato sauce
 3 tsp. parsley
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated Kasseri cheese*
Salt and ppepper to taste

Wash eggplant and cut in half lengthwisee.  Scoop out pulp and set aside.  Reserve shell.  Saute onion and garlic in oil until golden (add the garlic after the onion has cooked a few minutes so that the garlic with not begin to burn).  Add meat and continue to cook until brown.  Add tomato sauce, parsley, water, pulp from eggplant, salt and pepper and cook 15 minutes longer, or until most of thee liquid is absorbed.  Remove from stove and fill eggplant shells with meat mixture.  Place in casserole and sprinkle each shell with cheese.  Add water, about 1 cup, to casserole and bake in 350 degrees until shell of eggplant in soft.

*I used Parmesan cheese, which is similar to Kasseri.  Kasseri could probably be found at Greek or Mediterranean grocery stores.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beer Bratwursts

This is definitely a guy food!  But, many of the girls at Oktoberfest were surprised how much they like bratwursts.  I assumed they would be cooked just like hotdogs, but Kent did a lot of research to find out the best method.  This is the method he used for the party, and I have to say that were pretty good!

6 fresh bratwursts (not precooked) from the butcher (use a fork to poke holes in the casing so that they can absorb the beer)
3 onions, sliced
Beer - any kind will do
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons butter
6 hotdog buns from the bakery

Pour beer into a pot - enough to cover the bratwursts.  Add the onions, butter, red pepper flakes, and bratwursts.  Bring the pot to a boil.  Turn it down and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Take out the bratwursts, but leave the onions in the pot to continue simmering and to allow the sauce to reduce.  Grill the bratwursts on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Serve the bratwursts on buns using the onions for a topping.  No condiments are necessary, but mustard can be used.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

German Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the Martha Stewart recipe for German Chocolate Cupcakes that I used for the Oktoberfest Party.  I actually made them into minicupcakes and didn't split them like it shows in the picture here.  This recipe makes 24 large cupcakes or about 48 mini cupcakes.  The cupcakes were very moist and the icing was amazing!  This would be a great recipe for the fall and winter.  Enjoy!

Photo from MarthStewart.com
German Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for tins
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with cake flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in chocolate until combined.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Run a small offset spatula or knife around the edges to loosen; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

To finish, use a serrated knife (and a gentle sawing motion) to split cupcakes in half horizontally. Spread a heaping tablespoon of frosting on top of each bottom half; replace top halves. Spread more frosting on top of each cupcake. Serve immediately.

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
3 large egg yolks
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans. Let cool completely. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This weekend, Kent and I invited lots of our friends over to celebrate Oktoberfest.  We'd been wanting to host a big party since we moved into our house.  We thought we'd take a cue from our last name and go with a German theme!  It was such a great time!  We had homemade pretzels, bratwursts and onions cooked in beer, hot potato salad, German chocolate cupcakes (yes, I know they aren't actually German) - and, of course, German beer!  I've already posted the pretzel recipe, but I'll be posting a few of the other recipes this week along with pictures from the event.  I think this might become an annual party!

Photo: Funthemepartyideas.org

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip - from Kate M.B.

I got this wonderful recipe from my friend, Kate M.B. (I have two friends named Kate B who have submitted recipes to the blog and three friends named Katie who follow the blog and frequently leave comments or submit recipes!)  I was so excited to see this Kate yesterday and meet her brand new baby boy!!  He's so precious and slept the whole time I help him!  Kate made this dip from a Junior League Cookbook last fall when she hosted Supper Club at her house.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and finally asked her for the recipe.  I can't wait to try it next time we have friends over for dinner.

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Soften cream cheese in a mixing bowl.  Add mayo, Swiss cheese, and green onions - mix well.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Top with bacon and crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with crackers.  (Kate uses Carr's wheat crackers and says this is a great Fall and Winter recipe.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Honey Chicken Tenders

Kent found this recipe that is modeled after a recipe used at Cracker Barrel.  We had never tried the chicken fingers at the restaurant before, but the on-line reviews were really good.  So, tonight we gave it a try!  I was very pleased with the results.  I love eating chicken but get tired of the go-to casseroles and marinades.  They were sweet and tangy - so different from anything else I've tried. 

Honey Chicken Tenders
1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey


Mix dressing, lime juice and honey.  Pour over chicken tenders.  Marinate for 1 hour.  Cook tenders in a non stick pan or grill until golden in color, but not dry.
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