New Cheese Find

When at (one of) food shopper’s heavens the other day, Trader Joe’s, I was actually shopping for cheese.  Yes, cheese.  I was initially just going to grab some Manchego but then decided to see how many labels I could read to determine which ones had sheep’s milk (vs cow’s).  After going through a good bit of the cheese case, I did find several that I could eat, being lactose intolerant.  I found this new (to me) one that looked intriguing.  One of the Crew Members walked by and I asked if he’d had it before to get his thoughts.  He said…not yet.  He took it back to the sampling area and opened it open so we could both try it.  Awesome customer service!  And, amazing cheese.  A bit softer than Manchego but a bit harder than cheddar.  It’s Mini Basque Cheese from France.  Totally buy some.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Screw Top Art

I can get crafty on the side and the past few years have been having fun.  For awhile I was making cork wreaths.  I sent notes out to all those I know to save those precious things some throw away when they open their lovely adult beverage and also went around to restaurants to collect them.  I made one wreath for myself and then was given 3 enormous bags of corks from a restaurant and gifted and gifted wreaths after hours of labor.  Also make cork trivets after buying the frames.

But, there is more fun…screw top wreaths.  First, though screw tops are becoming more common, when you try to collect/gather them, they don’t come nearly as quickly as corks.  It took me a long to gather enough to make a wreath.  Then, when wreath making began, *($%^.   There is not nearly the surface area of a cork!  This was not as much fun as I thought.  After a couple hours, I decided putting cotton balls in the screwtops would give me more surface area.  After many months of (more) off and on labor hours, the screw top wreath is complete!  I did this tonight while enjoying some great South African wine after just booking a trip to South Africa…there will be many food and wine reports to come in a few months.  The wine I enjoyed was one of my favorites, the Wolftrap Red Blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier.

 

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And, the original wreath I worked on a couple years ago…good old fashioned corks.

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Asparagus Hummus

Just made this recipe. Delicious!! The only changes I made were that I used a little bit of tahini instead of the olive oil. I also made half the recipe vs the whole. Great, unique flavor!! Thanks for the recipe, Homemade Delish!

Homemade Delish

Processed with Rookie

My family and I love purchasing and making fresh hummus in our house.  I was interested in trying to make  a new flavor. So I went ahead and made an asparagus hummus to enjoy with some crackers and veggies.  The flavor of the asparagus really comes out.  I think this is just another way to add more nutrition to your hummus.  This hummus has a refreshing finish too.  Enjoy as a snack or with your next get together.

Ingredients:

2 (15.5 oz) Can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

10 Asparagus Spears

3 Garlic cloves

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1/2 to 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive oil

Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon

 

Preparation:

In a medium pot bring water to a boil and add asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. In a medium bowl with cold water and ice add asparagus. This will stop the cooking…

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Loster Tail!

The other day I was flipping through the grocery store ad and they had lobster tail in there.  For some reason that just jumped out at me.  Hadn’t had lobster for awhile and it sounded so good.  Did some quick thinking and determined some good food to match with it and had a delicious basic dinner of lobster tail, asparagus and home fries.

Just picked up some red and sweet potatoes and tossed them with rosemary, S&P and garlic powder.  Baked them at 425 for about 40 minutes.

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For the asparagus, decided to just blanch it.  So put it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes then rinsed with cold water (you can be really good and dunk it in ice water, but this can be just as effective for a quick method).  For the lobster tail, I boiled them for about 5 minutes and it was perfect.

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Come the end, paired this with a nice French white wine — Sancerre.  Absolutely delicious dinner.  Might just have to make it again.

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Zentan

Was treated to a very nice lunch the other day at an Asian restaurant near Thomas Circle in DC.  The venue, Zentan.  Per their own description, they are a modern Asian restaurant featuring award-winning cuisine, focusing on Japanese-inspired small and shareable plates.

The restaurant is very ‘sharp’ — that’s the best way I can think to describe it.  Lunch was at 1 on a Thursday, so it wasn’t packed but busy enough.  Nice decor, cool tables, overall good atmosphere.  We get the menu.  What to order?  Too many choices!  (sorry for the shadow on the picture, odd light in the restaurant)

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I finally opted for the Rainbow Don Bento Box — tuna, salmon and whitefish sashimi, cooked shrimp sashimi (I can’t quite get why it’s sashimi if it’s cooked), sushi rice and seaweed salad.

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I don’t really like seaweed and this salad was a knockout!  Wow, so good.  The whitefish was unreal.  The waiter said what it was and I can’t totally remember the Asian name he mentioned.  Melt in your mouth.  Absolutely amazing lunch.  Will totally have to check this place out for dinner, too.  Add it to your list if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try in DC.

Paleo Brownie Bliss

I make birthday cookies for all my friends.  The friend on the roster last week is gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant, so it always makes it even more fun to bake something using gluten-free flour, xantham gum and/or other random goodies and no butter, milk, etc.  Well she told me she’s on the Paleo diet now and asked if I could make something based on that and mentioned there are good brownie recipes out there.  To the search engines I go…what I ended up deciding on were some Paleo Brownie Bites (aka bliss, heaven, death by chocolate), which I found from a great food blog, The Lucky Penny Blog.  They don’t require baking, have no crazy ingredients.  The only thing you need is to think a little bit ahead (for refrigeration).  And based on my tastes and the folks I knew they were going to, I made very few changes.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup raw walnut halves and pieces
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping cup soft medjool dates, pitted (about 17 – 20 medium sized dates — I bought the small tub at Safeway)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut milk OR any liquid sweetener, like honey, agave, or maple syrup if you want your brownie bites to be sweeter — I used Maple Agave Syrup from Trader Joe’s
2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut to roll them in (I’m not a fan of coconut so I rolled half of them in crushed walnuts, the others half I left plain)

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Directions:

Place pitted dates in a bowl of warm water for a minute to soften

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Add unsweetened cocoa powder and walnuts to food processor, blend until walnuts become fine crumbs.

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Drain dates and place in the food processor with the cocoa walnut crumbs. Add vanilla. Process until mixture starts to combine. It may not fully combine until liquid is added. Add coconut milk or liquid sweetener (if desired) half a tablespoon at a time. Pulse. You will know the consistency is right when the dough combines into a ball in the middle of the food processor.  If dough is too runny add a tablespoon or more cocoa powder to bring it back to a dough like state.

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Transfer dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I cooled mine overnight, you could also freeze it for faster results.

Once dough is cold, put coconut crumbs (or in my case, walnut crumbs) from earlier into a shallow bowl. I used the great Pampered Chef Chopper to get them nice and finely chopped.
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Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll them between hands to form balls. Roll balls in crumbs, pressing the crumbs gently into the ball. Continue until all dough is gone. You can moisten your hands with water if the dough begins to stick to your palms as you roll.

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I made some smaller balls and bigger ones.  When done, kept them in the fridge.  Took them to my friend the next night for the party.  They were a huge hit!  Amazing!!  None left.  I might add a bit of flavor kick next time with a little spiced rum (as long as Paleo followers don’t mind) or hint of cinnamon.  But, I am so glad my friend requested something like this because it was an awesome recipe for me to find.  I also love that this recipe has no dairy in it so those who are lactose intolerant can easily enjoy some brownies.  Heaven, bliss, chocolate.

Dip & Sip

I have a passion for baking and whipped up some Cappuccino Chocolate Chip biscotti last week.  My friend and I finished dinner and we needed dessert so I went and found the remaining pieces of the goodies I’d baked.  As we were sitting there enjoying our red wine, as well, I said…try dipping it in there.  She looked at me for a second, went ahead with the suggestion and never turned back.

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Many people equate biscotti with coffee, but find the right wine and the right flavor of treat to dunk and you have an amazing match!  At this point in the night we were on my local ‘Two (or three) Buck Chuck’ since I can’t get Trader Joe’s wine because I live in MD.  I get Pepperwood Grove (Pinot Noir for this circumstance) for $4.44 down the street at Rodman’s.  Love it!

 

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I work on savory biscotti, as well, that pairs nicely with a variety of white wines.  Give them a try, dip & sip away!

I actually ate…

…goat cheese.  Yes, it happened.  I admit it, I did it.  I normally can’t stand the stuff.  I used to not touch it because of lactose intolerance, then I found out lactards (love the name my friends gave us) can tolerate all milk but that from cows.  But then I tried goat cheese and it’s just gross…the taste, the texture.  I’m saving it for the lovers of the stuff.  Then the other day my friends offered some that is dangerous.  Trader Joe’s does it again, hurting one’s wallet and waist.

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The full, fancy name — Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese – Blueberry Vanilla Chevre.  What’s in it, not a ton — pasteurized goat’s milk, wild blueberry (wild blueberries, grape juice), salt, vanilla extract (vanilla beans, water, bourbon), cheese cultures, vegetable rennet, natamycin (natural yeast and mold inhibitor).

It pretty much tastes like blueberry cheesecake.  Melts in your mouth.  You can eat it on a (graham) cracker, right off your finger or a fork.  Would be great with some extra berries, too.  Definitely check it out!

Roti

I have walked by, read and heard about Roti for quite awhile.  Finally got to have it the other day at a catered event.  Lives up to the hype!  From hummus to salad to pita to all else, stuffed forever!  Very fresh, you can see/tell everything that’s in your food and absolutely delicious.  I’m a big Mediterranean food fan so was loving all of this.  Highly recommend checking it out if you can.

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Beef & Rice

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Greek salads, mostly devoured

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Pita chips

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Hummus

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Couscous

Italian Find

I will admit, I lean hard towards new world wines.  I have no problem with others but don’t seek them out.  Had some friends over recently who brought a nice Italian vino and wow, that is what reminded me I need to remember where wine started.  We enjoyed Savuto Odoardi, which is a blend of Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nerello Cappuccio, Magliocco Canino and Sangiovese.  Just great tastes all around, and it didn’t even breathe much.  Looking online, retails for $13-$18, depending on where you live.

 

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