Friday, August 31, 2007

Healthy Kick

Now that I am back in Key West and surrounded by all of my lovely cookbooks, I decided to get healthy with some grains. Thursday is my grocery day. To me, I know Deb get a life, this is like a social event. I get to cruise up and down the aisles of glorious foods and chat with an acquaintance, as there is always someone at the store that you know even if it is chatting with the cashier that I see every week. I actually look forward to my grocery day. I usually start preparing for my outing on Fridays! Yep, the day after I have just went grocery shopping. Friday's I start marking recipes in my cookbooks or pick up the magazines that I subscribe to and start listing the recipes I want to prepare the next week. Actually I have a hugh binder with all of the recipes listed I want to make sometime in the future that I refer to also. Then I make 2 lists. One list is recipes and where they are located. Second list is the ingredients that I will need to make the dish. I study my recipes and try to visualize, or maybe I should say "tastealize" what the dish will be like. Then I decide if I will make it my way or the books way. Then I go back over the recipe and my list to make sure I did not forget an ingredient because it makes me CRAZY when I get ready to cook and I realize I am missing one of the pieces! I am not the only one who gets "nuts" over this, as when I was over at Jenn's site the other day, she was talking about going shopping for her ingredients also. She made me chuckle as I know how she feels about the ingredient list!

OK, back to the grain subject! I was feeling like I needed a healthy kick this week so I picked up three packages of Arrowhead Mills brand of different grains to try this week. The one I chose for today is "wheat berries". Actually the package says Whole Grain Wheat, but these little gems are the berries of that grain. Wheat berries are the Mother Grain from which pasta, bread and flour are derived. When cooked, these little wheat berries pack a nut like flavor and are pleasantly chewy. Here is a chili that I made today and I got the recipe from Eating Well Magazine. This chili was very easy to make and was packed with tons of flavors!

Zesty Wheat Berry Black Bean Chili

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper chopped
5 cloves of garlic minced - I added extra, I love garlic!
2 teaspoons of chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 - 15 oz cans black beans rinsed
2- 14 oz cans diced tomatoes with their juice
1 to 2 canned chipolte chili's in adobo sauce minced - note: these are HOT so be careful
2 cups veggie broth
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
2 cups cooked wheat berries
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, chipolte, broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 25 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through. Stir in lime juice. Serve with a garnish of cilantro and avocado. Delicious!

Now we had this for lunch so I did not serve a wine with it. In fact I am not posting about a wine today, can you believe that! Sorry. The wines we have had this week were ones that I have already told you about. But no worry - I will be back tomorrow with a weekend wine for you!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Lovely Ladies

No food or wine today:( Deb's Art:) A few months ago Holler noticed in my section "about me" that one of my past times is painting. Along with food and wine, one of my passions is painting. Being in an old home in Key West, there is always something that needs to be painted, like shutters, walls, woodwork, etc. Yes, I do enjoy that aspect. But where I really feel good is in front of a canvas. I paint mostly with acrylics but have dabbled in oil. I got into painting after I was "burnt out" on photography. I was doing black and white film and developing all of my own prints. At first I found this very creative as I could manipulate the photo in the dark room and I felt really great because I totally developed my own prints. I even bought a mat cutter and started doing my own framing. This was all well and good except I found myself in the dark room for many hours. Why am I spending all of this time in the dark room when I moved from Ohio to Key West to be in the sunshine!!! So I put that type of photography on the back burner and headed to the canvas. I took a couple of classes at the community college here and got hooked. I mostly paint abstract as I feel you can really express yourself in that medium. In one of my classes, we had an assignment to do a portrait of ourselves. I was not excited about this assignment but went at it. That is how my abstract ladies series was born. I painted myself in an abstract manner. From there....

So Holler, per your request, here are a few of my ladies that keep me company every day. Please feel free to give me your honest opinion about my gals as I am always open for criticism. To me that is the best teacher of all. The funny thing about my ladies is they are faceless and nameless. So if you would like to suggest a name for one of them, please feel free to leave me a comment!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

White Wine With That Jambalaya

Now here is a wine label that is "out there"! And of course, I could not resist. But on opening Joe Blow, a pleasant surprise popped out! Lots of ripe fruit aromas and nice floral notes. Usually I am sceptical about wines with all these crazy labels, but I have not come across one that is really terrible. There have been a few that I will not purchase again and I tell you that when I post them. One thing I found, which most wine lovers cringe when they hear this, if I am not totally satisfied with the wine I just fill up the glass with ice and enjoy the rest of the bottle. Not bad if it is 100 degrees outside! OK, let me tell you a little bit about my experience with Joe Blow.
2005 Joe Blow Wine Cellars White Wine from Manteca, California is a fun tropical blast of ripe fruit, nectarines is what I tasted, and crisp citrus. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay from their San Bernabe vineyard in Monterey and an addition of Viognier and Chenin Blanc from their vineyards located in Lodi. The Viognier added the floral touch and the Chenin Blanc added a bit of sweetness to it, although I do not like to use the word sweet, so lets say very ripe fruit! For under $10.00 is was a great summer sipper that went very well with my Shrimp Jambalaya.

Yep, being back south again, I had an urge for the lovely shrimp that is available here. Being tired of grilling the shrimp, although I really enjoy a good piece of grilled shrimp on a skewer with some fresh pineapple, I decided to use it in my Shrimp Jambalaya. Do you ever get that craving for tomatoes in a dish? Well, I was craving shrimp and tomatoes and figured this dish would satisfy both cravings! It did!

Shrimp Jambalaya

2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 jalapeno chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped - I love garlic!
1 sweet onion chopped
About 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried thyme or you could use fresh
1 Large Bay Leaf
1-3/4 cups of veggie broth or chicken broth
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes with their juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup raw white rice
1-2 teaspoons of hot pepper sauce - or more if you like it spicy
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lbs. medium size shrimp shelled and devained

Saute the celery, onions, peppers, garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, bay leaf, thyme and stir for about a minute. Stir in broth and tomatoes, sugar, hot sauce and rice. Heat to boiling, then cut heat to simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook till shrimp is pink. Salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is really easy and that kind of comfort food that you need during the summer months once in awhile. Corn bread would be good with it, but I save that for a cooler month. I try not to use the oven too much during these hot days.

One note to you - if you need to hold this dish, say you are having company but you want to get things prepared before hand so you can enjoy a glass of wine with them as they arrive, I would omit the rice and cook it separately. Otherwise the rice will absorb all of your juice while you are waiting to serve. Then you can just put the rice in the bowl and top with the Jambalaya sauce with shrimp.

Sounds good ? You bet ya it is!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wine, Fish, Back In Key West

It is always a nice thing to come home again after being away for a lengthy stay. On the drive home, all the familiar sights and colors seem new again. Brings a tinge of excitement into your tummy. Then all of your neighbors and friends are happy to see you and "catch you up" on all the neighborhood news. But one of the best things about coming home to Key West is the fresh fish. I could not wait to head to our local fish market and pick up some of their "catch of the day" which was Mutton Snapper. Our son Chris, who is a chef, is still in Key West and while sharing a few bottles of wine with us last night, he whipped up a great feast for us using the Mutton Snapper.

I found a new French Chardonnay at the wine shop! I picked up a 2005 Petit Bistro Chardonnay from the Languedoc Region of France. It is bottled by Laboure ROI who gets their grapes from the Central Massif to the Mediterranean Sea area. This was a nice French Chardonnay with a lovely touch of melony fruit and a hint of pineapple on the nose. The taste was fresh and clean with no heavy oak but lots of long citrus flavors. The alcohol volume was 13% and the price was under $10.00. It was a perfect match for the mutton snapper Chris prepared.

Chris seared the snapper on both sides over high heat and then finished it in the oven to keep the moisture in. He laid this fish over a serving of collard greens sauteed with bacon, shallots and garlic. On top of the fish he served a warm tomato sauce that he constructed from olive oil, shallots, fresh oregano, freshly chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped garlic and finished off with a touch of butter. We also had wild rice and freshly sliced Italian Country bread with a fruity olive oil to accompany the fish. It was a great meal!
Here are a few of my favorite sights driving down the Keys!

This photo was taken on the longest bridge that you must cross to get to Key West. It is called the 7 Mile Bridge. The first bridge, which you see here, was constructed by Henry Flagler and was just a little over 1 lane wide! That bridge is not in use now as they built a new bridge to handle the traffic. I always find this bridge amusing as I have watched this tree grow over the years on that old bridge with no dirt!

Another stop we always make on the way in is Baby's Coffee. Mike is the coffee drinker of the family and this place ships their coffee all over the world! Baby's is the southernmost coffee roaster in the U.S. They roast several different types of coffee and we buy it as a whole bean. It's great to grind up those beans for a fresh cup every morning. The aroma is awesome!

This is a photo of a house that is about half way down the Keys. It is hard to see the house due to the palm trees, but it looks like it would be a really nice place to live!

The trip up north was wonderful and I especially loved the Farmers Market. I already miss Lucy and Eugene from Boulder Belt Eco Farm's array of fresh organic veggies, especially those "Fairytale" eggplants that I showed you last week. But, Hey it's good to be back home again! (Wasn't that a line in a song by John Denver!)


Friday, August 24, 2007

Back In Key West

Hello to all of my blogging friends! The drive was LONG, but we are back home in Key West. I do not have much info today, as I am having trouble staying on line. Technical difficulty, one moment please! So I plan on being back with you all soon. In fact, just got home from the grocery store and a major wine stop. So food and wine tasting will begin tonight about 7. Hopefully more for you tomorrow, if I can get the computer to cooperate!

Looking forward to catching up with everyone! I cannot believe I missed a whole week:(

Cheers till tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pack Up The Wine, Eat The Veggies...We Are Heading South!

I am clearing out the frig of wine and veggies. Time to head home to Key West! Hopefully Hurricane Dean will stay south of us and I will not have a stressful drive back. But today is absolutely beautiful in southern Ohio, so it is a good day to clean up the place, clear out the frig, and pack up. Last night I pulled all the veggies left from last weeks bounty and made a pasta sauce. I used all of the goodies in this bowl, but my favorite item last night were these cute little "Fairytale" eggplant.

They were just so cute and very tasty! I am not going to list a recipe for the pasta sauce, as it was everything you see here plus garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaf, white wine and salt and pepper. Just sauteed everything in a big skillet with a glug of olive oil and mixed with pasta. I then baked it with Fontina cheese, Parmesan cheese and more sliced tomatoes on top with the leftover cheese sprinkled over all. It was very yumptious! As for the wine, well we finished off a couple of the bottles that I have already posted a review, so I will not go back to them.

This weekend we will pack up the car and head south to my brothers house for a day in Knoxville, then down to Gainesville for business and a day with friends, then down to Lake Wales for a day of business and then on home to Key West. I will not be posting for the next week due to the traveling. But...I will be back and visiting with all of you blogging friends next Friday. Hopefully I will find some new and interesting wines on the way home to tell you about and of course, the wonderful food that accompanied those wines. Have a good week everyone!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wine And Garden...

Well my time in Oxford, Ohio is about to come to an end. Time to head back home to Key West where the hurricane season is starting to kick in. I have had such a wonderful extended stay here in Oxford and will miss my little garden here, the birds, squirrels, deer, raccoons, my wonderful neighbors and most of all the Oxford Farmers Market. So today and tomorrow it is time to get really creative and use up all the veggies I have collected this week. Also the daisy's accompanying my wine today were picked fresh at dawn this morning. We have little bouquets of daisy's all over the house today which makes it so summery. And, if you step outside today, you definitely know it is the "dog days" of summer, as temps are going to hit the mid 90's this afternoon. Time to pop another bottle of white wine in the frig to chill for this evenings summer sippers.

Last nights sipper was an enjoyable 2006 Arca Nova Vinho Verde. This wine is produced in the Northwest corner of Portugal and the region is Vinho Verde. This Branco Seco, which means dry white wine, was terrific. I do not know the exact grapes that went into this wine but their grapes do not reach the point of ripening where there is great doses of sugar. Low sugar means lower alcohol and the Arca Nova had only 10.5% alcohol volume. Nice flavors of crisp apple with soft hints of lime found their way to my palate. The acidity of this wine put a nice little sparkle on my tongue which made this wine really refreshing on the warm evening that we had last night. I highly recommend this little gem from Portugal especially with a price tag of under $10.00!

My Mike loves Fried Green Tomatoes. In fact, when we grow our own tomatoes I have to keep on eye on him or he will pick the tomatoes while green so they can hit the skillet. But with our Farmers Market still in full swing with a bounty of tomatoes, it is not hard to find Mike some Green Tomatoes. So he is a "happy camper"!

Fried Green Tomatoes

A couple of green tomatoes that are really hard to the touch. If they are already starting to ripen, they just do not have the same tart acidity as the very unripe ones.
1 egg mixed with a little water or milk
A plate full of flour with salt and pepper
Olive Oil for frying

Heat skillet to medium with a good slug of olive oil.
I slice the tomatoes fairly thick so they still have some body to them after cooking.
Add slices into egg wash, add them to the flour, shake off excess flour and put into skillet.
At this time I sometimes sprinkle on a Cajun seasoning, like Emerils that I make myself or one like the brand Konriko produces called Creole Seasoning. This is optional but it really adds a nice kick to the tomatoes.
Fry tomatoes until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towel and serve HOT!

Last night we had these with BBQ chicken and corn on the cob from the grill. I made an apple pie for dessert from local apples. The Tastes of Summer Bounty !!!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spanish Wine And Fresh Corn Salad

I must tell you, I am really enjoying the wines from Spain this summer. They are light, crisp, aromatic, with balanced acidity and pair so nicely with grilled, lightly marinated chicken or a nice piece of fish. My last evening summer sipper was a 2006 Inspiracion Pampano from the winery Agricola Castellana, in the D.O. of Rueda, located in La Seca which is in the South of Valladolid, Spain. This wine was made from the Verdejo grape which produces a nice light crisp wine that graced my palate, along with tastes of pear and a hint of grass. This Verdejo wine had an alcohol volume of 13%, which surprised me as I did not smell or taste any alcohol. It was a nice medium bodied, elegant, soft wine with a nice little bite at the finish. A lovely wine for under $10.00.

This past weekend, Mike and I paid a visit to our good friend Al who had a birthday last week. So a celebration was due! Of course we chilled the wine, fired up the grill, and enjoyed a summer evening on his deck. The guys took care of grilling out some nice strip steaks and I was in charge of the side dishes. I made my "cannot go wrong" Southwest Potato Salad and tried a new recipe for a potato salad that had BBQ sauce in it. Both of these I will feature soon on my site, but for now I want to tell you about a Corn, Cucumber & Pepper Salad that used many of the veggies that I purchased at the Farmers Market on Saturday.

Corn,Cucumber And Pepper Salad

4 ears of fresh corn, husks left on and microwaved for 3-4 minutes just to get it a little cooked, then cool corn
1 bunch of green onions, I did a big bunch as we like green onions
1 large jalapeno pepper chopped, I took out some of the seeds
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup roasted red pepper chopped, you could use the ones from the jar if needed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, I also added a shake of dried
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste.

After the corn has cooled, shuck and remove silk. Slice corn into a bowl.
Add the rest of the veggies and toss.
Make the sauce of mayo, mustard, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce and stir into the corn mixture.
Chill for about 2 hours or so before serving.

This was such an easy and very tasty salad to make for a summer BBQ or picnic. All the fresh veggies give it a nice crunch! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Farmers Market Tips But No Wine Today:(

Sitting here this afternoon, reading everyone's blogs, I came across a great article that Lucy at Boulder Belt Eco Farms posted a link. Lucy & Eugene's booth at the Oxford Farmers Market is one of my favorite. They are very hard working dedicated folks and have a variety of vegetables that will "knock your socks off"! The article is from Plenty Magazine and gives some very good tips about shopping at your Farmers Market. The article may answer some of your questions regarding shopping local. Tomorrow I will have a wine review and a recipe for Corn and Cucumber Salad containing all the goodies from the market this past weekend.


Monday, August 13, 2007

South African Wine With A Penne & Vegetable Gratin

Just seeing the label on the 2006 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc suggested a wine that had to be racy, bold and exotic! It was right on! The 2006 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc is from the Western Cape of South Africa. On popping this cool plastic cork, layers of fresh citrus fruit and a subtle hint of peach, maybe apricot was on the nose. These flavors followed onto my palate with a full bodied punch of balanced acidity and towards the end a hint of mineral texture. Lip smacking good! As you can see, so good that I did not even get a photo of the bottle until...all gone! Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc had an alcohol volume of 13.5% and was priced at under $10.00. Definitely on my list of quality wines for a great price!

What dish did I serve with this wine? I was in the mood for pasta, but still needed to use the fresh veggies that I picked up from the local farmers at the market. A Penne & Vegetable Gratin sounded comforting. Also I have been drawn back to my French cookbooks, which are my favorites. South African Wine and French Food...time to travel the world!

Penne Pasta & Vegetable Gratin

1/2 lb of penne pasta
Depending on the size, I used 2 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced into about 1/2 inch slices.
3 or 4 medium size fresh tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 or 2 tomatoes sliced to put on top of gratin
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup packed fresh basil chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley finely chopped

Then I make a sauce which includes:
2-3 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but if I have a fresh pepper around I use it, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 lb. mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups of milk, I used plain soy with no flavoring
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Topping of 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix these in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cook pasta and drain

Put the zucchini, tomatoes, first bunch of chopped garlic, cheese and herbs in a big bowl. Toss together and then add the pasta, tossing again.

For the sauce, melt butter in a large heavy pan, add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and salt to taste and cook until mushrooms are tender and give off their liquid. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add milk, tomato paste, nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, whisking for about 30 seconds, simmer for just a moment until sauce is somewhat thick. Pour this sauce over the pasta mixture, toss till coated and transfer to your gratin dish.
Put sliced tomatoes on top of pasta mixture and sprinkle your breadcrumbs over the whole top.
Bake in the middle of your oven for about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Oh yum!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wine & Vegetables Can Make A Great Combination

I am at the local farmers market. It is early Saturday morning. I have not had breakfast yet. I am starving. So what do I do? I go from vendor to vendor and everything is looking so wonderful that I start filling up my market bag with fresh tomatoes, patty pan squash, corn on the cob, zucchini, eggplant, onions, green beans, herbs such as basil, dill and cilantro. I keep moving on to the fresh eggs, rosemary bread and goat cheese. Now the bag is so full I make a trip to the car and start over again this time heading for fruit. After purchasing a nice parcel from each vendor and having wonderful conversations with the farmers, I decide to head home.

Now my kitchen counters are loaded to the brim with all of the above goodies and I think – now what am I going to do with all of these lovely veggies. So the brain goes into high gear creative mode and dinners start swimming around in my head. Ok, have some great ideas for dinner, but one of the most important facts leap to my thoughts – what WINE am I going to serve with these veggies?

Pairing wine with veggies is not rocket science. Just think about the flavors in the vegetables and herbs and then think about the flavors in the wine.
Let’s start with my all time favorite, tomatoes. Since they have a high acid content, I think the crisp acidity in a Sauvignon Blanc would be a match.
The sweetness of corn or sugar snap peas would pair with the dry fruit of a Chenin Blanc.
The earthiness of a fresh mushroom from the forest floor would be lovely with a Pinot Noir.
How about a dry, snappy white like a Sancerre or bright Sauvignon Blanc with those fresh snappy green beans, asparagus and bell peppers.
Since fall is around the corner, soon those big orange pumpkins and sweet potatoes will be hopping onto the dinner table. Sweet root veggies shine with the fruitiness of a Riesling from Washington State or hey, how about a German Riesling Spatleses with those carrots.

Another thing to think about is how you are preparing those veggies. Since we are still in the sweltering summer months, grilling out is the method most used at my house. Zucchini, eggplant and summer squash are sorta bland on their own, but popping those guys on the gas or charcoal grill lends a savory flavor that can be enhanced by a Merlot, Syrah or even a Zinfandel. How about a sauce that you may prepare with those pronounced herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro or dill. I think a sassy Sauvignon Blanc would pair well. And if you are one of those folks who love to slather butter on all of your grilled or sautéed veggies, you know a stand up wine like a Chardonnay would be the call.
In case you fix your veggies with a theme such as spicy Mexican or the flavorful Asian cuisines, a super fruity wine such as a Riesling or Torrontes from Argentina would be fun.
For dessert, bring out that chilled watermelon! And along with it let’s have a full bodied white wine that has lots of intense floral aromas and flavors to them. Good choices would be Gewurztraminer, Marsanne or a lovely Viognier.
If you must have a red wine for those summer sippers, I would go with a light tannic, fruity wine. Ones that come to mind are Beaujolais, Barbera, or Valpolicella.

Now it is time to fire up the grill and chill those superb summer wines that will go with the beautiful bounty of vegetables from those hard working farmers at the market! Hey, do not forget your local winery’s as well. I am sure if you pay a visit they will be more than happy to help you match your veggies with their selection of wines. Enjoy!


Friday, August 10, 2007

Wine Shop & Farmers Market

Saturday morning off to the Farmers Market and then the Wine Shop!

Catch you all when I return!


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wine And Tomato Tart With Patty Pans!

I love to say the words "patty pan". That along with my all time favorite "swirl" are pleasing mouth movements. Just like the wine I featured yesterday during WBW#36, which was very pleasing in the mouth and excellent when I paired it with this palate pleasing "Tomato Tart" that I made with a few left over "patty pan" squashes and fresh garden tomatoes. Good thing the farmers market is coming up soon, as I am running low on the fresh veggies!

The wine I am speaking about is the 2005 Louis Pierre & Fils Chardonnay. You can see all of the details of this lovely wine in the post below this one, but it was the perfect accompaniment to the tomato tart, in that the acidity was balanced enough to match with the tomatoes and cheese in the tart. When I purchased the Louis Pierre & Fils Chardonnay I bought two bottles, as the price was right! I am glad I did as I served one bottle last week and another one this week to pair with all the great fresh veggie dishes I seem to be whipping up lately. Let me tell you about the tart.

Fresh From The Garden Tomato Tart

- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 lb. or so of squash - I used the patty pans that I had plus a small zucchini
- 1 large onion sliced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
- Salt and pepper
- A tad of butter
- 4 or 5 good size mushrooms, whatever you have, I used baby portabellas
- 2 good tablespoons of prepared pesto
- 5 oz. of goat cheese softened
- Flour for dusting
- 1 package of puff pastry - ours comes 2 pkgs. in one box and I used both but did trim off part of one to fit in the pan
- Sliced fresh tomatoes to fit the top of the tart
- 1 egg mixed with water, egg wash, to brush sides of pastry before baking

Preheat the oven to 425

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onions, squash and garlic with some salt and pepper. Cook until soft.

In a small skillet, add you pad of butter and cook mushrooms over low heat until soft.

Take a small bowl and stir your goat cheese with the pesto.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your puff pastry, prick the pastry all over with a fork and invert onto baking sheet. Now here is where I put one sheet down and then added a second sheet pressing the seems together to form one big sheet. I trimmed off one end of the pastry so it would fit the whole pan.

Spread the goat cheese mixture on the pastry leaving about a 1 to 2 inch border. Top with mushrooms, squash mixture and sliced tomatoes. Top all with salt and pepper. Fold up the sides of the pastry pressing the corners together. Brush sides and corner with egg wash.

Bake in the lower 3rd of your oven for about 45 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and the bottom is cooked through.

Cut tart into squares and serve immediately! It is sooo good! Just add your glass of wine and a salad. You are good to go on a super summer evening!


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

WBW #36 "Naked"! - Unoaked Chardonnay Wine!

Congrats are in order for Lenndavours on this 3rd Anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday! And now with the new team and new site for WBW it will be a one stop place to hang out for the day. I must say I really enjoy WBW, as all the wine bloggers I visit get together for a wine adventure with the same theme. It’s one heck of a blogging party!

First of all in this month's adventure, to be honest with you, I am not a big fan of U.S. Chardonnays. But French Chardonnay’s are another story. I truly enjoy them. What is the difference? Oak. Personally, I do not like the heavy oak taste that so many U.S. Chardonnays contain. Without oak, Chardonnay generally produces a soft wine, often with lots of fruity flavors. So searching out an “Unoaked” Chardonnay, a French unoaked Chardonnay, was an a real trip especially by just checking out the labels. The French do not put “unoaked” on their labels. In fact, I think they could use some help in the “information on label” department. So I went to the all informative wine shop clerk and he led me straight to what I was looking for.

The choice I brought home was a 2005 Louis Pierre Et Fils Chardonnay Vin de Pays d’Oc. This Languedoc region wine is produced in the South of France and made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. The region is blessed with a fine sunny climate overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This sunshine was bottled in this lovely wine that had loads of refreshing aromas of citrus on the nose which then transferred to the palate. Lemons and hints of melon were dancing on my palate with a nice balance of acidity ready for pairing with my favorite light summer fare. The wine had a 12.5% alcohol volume to it which made the wine not so overpowering. At a price of under $13.00, I found it to be an “Unoaked” Chardonnay that I would pick up again.

On leaving the wine shop, I just had to swing through the Australian aisle. On glancing at one of my favorite wines produced by Villa Maria, I noticed that they had an “Unoaked Chardonnay”. Cool! I’ll just have to try this one as I really enjoy their Sauvignon Blanc. Unfortunately, my excitement ended when I opened this wine. The 2005 Villa Maria Unoaked Chardonnay is produced in the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand. This wine had an alcohol volume of 14% and that was the problem.

On unscrewing the cap, which I totally enjoyed due to the descriptive label informing me about the value of the screw cap, a heavy alcohol aroma was the first thing to hit my nose. After that cleared, I did start pulling out the fruit aromas. OK, over that, now for the taste. The alcohol was very prominent on the palate which gave the wine a somewhat bitter taste to me at first. All was not lost though, I did pull out ripe peach flavors on this full bodied, intense wine and it had a long finish. Part of the reason for the long finish was due to the alcohol warmth I felt as the wine went down my throat. The price of this wine was under $15.00, but I will not pick this one up again. That is too bad, as I really enjoy their Sauvignon Blanc:(

I must say I surely enjoyed my journey searching and tasting these "naked" Unoaked Chardonnays on WBW #36. Thanks Gang!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Nomade Wine & Farmers Market Soup

Gosh, I cannot believe how fast these weekends travel by us! It was Friday, now it is Monday! Well of course my Saturday morning was spent at the Farmers Market collecting bags full of fresh produce. And wow, did they ever have the variety! Everything is coming ripe at the same time! Now what am I going to do with all of this fresh food - eat! But I cannot even begin to prepare my dish until I have selected a wine to accompany me on my cooking journey.

I enjoyed a 2006 Nomade Torrontes produced by Tomas Achaval Wines and Vineyards which is located in Cafayate, Calchaqui Valley, Salta, Argentina. This wine was made from 100% Torrontes grapes. Torrontes is the most distinctive of all Argentina wines. Being the only country to produce this grape, it is considered a wholly Aregentina variety. This superb wine was born in a beautiful and super high vineyard at 5,445 feet located in Cafayate in the middle of the Calchaqui Valley which is the best and most famous Andean Valley for Torrontes. On the nose on uncorking was tons of floral aromas and they sorta reminded me of a Riesling with that distinct floral bouquet. On the palate of this full bodied white, which by the way has a 13.7% alcohol volume, was loads of fruit, such as oranges and pears. These flavors were very intense and full in the mouth, almost coating the palate, producing a terrific long finish that was smooth and satisfying. This wine paired very well with my "throw together veggie soup", as I made it spicy with fresh cayenne peppers from the farmers market.

It was fun making the "throw together soup". I decided to use one of everything I purchased at the market for a soup. One vendor even had dried beans and I added a handful of them. The only thing not from the market was the veggie stock, wine and garlic. With my fresh soup and lovely wine, what a better way to start the end of the day!


Friday, August 3, 2007

Wine & Amanda's Squash Soup

After looking at the bucket loads of all types of squash that I purchased at the Farmers Market last Saturday, I decided that soup was going to be the order of the day. I was over visiting Amanda at Figs, Olives, Wine the other day and she had posted a lovely looking soup that she called "Pattypan, Basil & Chevre Soup". Since I seemed to have all of the ingredients in the frig, I decided I would give this one a try as hers looked so great. Even though the temps outside were pushing the high 90's, this soup was a perfect summer evening dish! The flavors just jumped out of the bowl. So rich and creamy even though there was not a spot of cream in the soup. The chevre was the little gem of an ingredient that made this soup so luscious. I am not going to give you the recipe as I would like you to visit Amanda at her site!

I served this soup with a nice 2005 Louis Pierre & Fils Chardonnay. It paired so well bringing out the citrus in the wine from the lemon in the soup. I am not going to give you any more details on the wine right now as it is one that I will be reviewing for our next WBW. We are focusing on Unoaked Chardonnays this month so tune in for some great selections!

Well it is Friday again and time to get those notebooks out with all the recipes you have been wanting to try with fresh veggies from the Farmers Market. See you after my bountiful purchases on Saturday!


Thursday, August 2, 2007

French Wine From Vaucluse & Mesh Restaurant

France. Ah, I love that country and have enjoyed their wines for many years. I discovered this little gem in the bin at the wine store with a sale tag of $8.99! I am speaking about the Verget Du Sud 2004 Vin De Pays De Vaucluse. Vaucluse is a department of France in the region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur. Valcluse is bordered by the Rhone to the west and River Durance to the south. The blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay grapes in this wine make for a lovely, fresh and delicate wine with flavors of apple, pear, and a hint of citrus on the palate. It is a bright simple wine even though there is a 13% alcohol volume. Nice clean fresh fruit acidity danced on my palate and continued on the finish. Ah, those French folks can make some very pleasing wines to sip on a sultry summer evening.

Dined last evening with my friend Lee at a new restaurant in West Chester, Ohio. Mesh , is owned by Paul and Pam Sturkey and is the place we choose for a girls night out and oh!, what a wonderful treat! As we opened the wine list and were reading each and every one of their offerings, I noticed on the wine by the glass page for white wines was a wine that I reviewed yesterday (look below this post)! The Sherwood Estate Sauvignon Blanc was listed and recommended. I felt pretty confident, at "that moment", that my palate education, after years of tasting, was finally coming to fruition. I must say I was thrilled!
We started our evening with a bottle of 2006 Eola Hills Pinot Gris from Oregon that paired very well with our Marinated Beet Salad. The salad was a mix of very finely chopped greens, goat cheese, spiced pecans, little tiny pieces of orange, red and yellow roasted beets served with an orange truffle vinaigrette. Lee had the Pepper-Crusted Ahi Tuna served with quinoa risotto, wasabi peas and a gingered pinot noir demiglace. I had the Pan Roasted Veal Tenderloin with artichoke ratatouille, crisp polenta and reggiano spinach. We finished with Pam Sturkey's award winning Chocolate Bailey's Cheesecake Cake served with a vanilla buttercream sauce and "slices" of chocolate! Oh my gosh! I was full but surely happy! Thanks Lee for a fun girls night out!


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sherwood Estate Wine & Ceasar Salad

Well it's time for my weekly tasting of one of my favorite wines, Sauvignon Blanc! And my weekly tasting always includes a wine from New Zealand. It thrills me to see so many new ones on the shelves these days and especially at affordable prices. Stopping in the Australian wine aisle at the wine store, as I was looking for my entry in Great Grape Day and Wine Blogging Wednesday, my eyes caught a simple looking wine bottle label. Good deal, it was a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and under my $12.00 a day weekly wine budget!

Last evening I unscrewed the cap on this chilled bottle of 2006 Sherwood Estate Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Since 1987 Dayne & Jill Sherwood have been producing wines from their own vineyards in Marlborough and Waipara, South Island, New Zealand. And I must say, they are doing one nice job on their Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose was the scent of gooseberry's and a soft hint of spice. Even though there was 13% alcohol volume, the wine aroma was soft and inviting. On pouring into my glass, I noticed the wine to be a nice crystal clear very light straw color. Those gooseberry's moved over to my palate with that wonderful slight grassy flavor that I have only really noticed in a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The finish of this medium bodied wine was nicely balanced in the acidity department and lingered long enough for me to want another sip. The Sherwood Estates Sauvignon Blanc is a wine that I will pick up again, as it was a great way to start the end of my day!

Fresh greens of all sorts are on the menu at my house every day, as the farmers markets are loaded with them right now. The other night I was craving a Caesar Salad. Romaine topped with my dressing of anchovies, Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, croutons and freshly grated Parmesan cheese served with a side of freshly picked cherry tomatoes hit the spot on a hot summer evening!