A wine & cheese party is a great way enjoy time with friends. They can be as simple and easy or elaborate as you want.....
Some pics to get your interest....in my next blog...a "how to video"...
Monday, February 27, 2017
Friday, February 24, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017
If you want to have a fun...and simple… dinner…then invest in a fondue pot!
First..for the “newcomers”…what is fondue? Traditional fondue is a sauce, either chocolate or cheese melted in the pot. For either one, you put all the ingredients in the pot and heat until melted. Once it is completed melted and creamy, you use the long narrow forks that come with the pot to dip your favorite “dipper”. For a chocolate fondue, which is often used as a dessert, typical “dippers” are fruit..strawberries, apples, ripe peaches..basically any fruit that would be delicious covered in chocolate. You can also use chucks of pound cake. For cheese fondue, the typical “dippers” are chucks of crusty bread (I cut up chunks of large soft pretzels), sausages and vegetables…broccoli, cauliflower, etc. You can get as creative as your imagination and taste buds allow.
The fondue pot is placed in the center of the table and everyone picks from the plates of dippers. It’s a perfect treat for a small group of friends or a very enjoyable family meal. We tend to enjoy fondue in the cold weather months in front of our warm fireplace, but fondue really knows no seasons.
I described the basics above. You can get creative and create a variety of sauces. The internet is loaded with ideas and recipes and all are simple and delicious! Remember to keep the recipe simple..no need to get complicated or your pot will sit in the pantry and collect dust.
Don’t forget a nice chilled bottle of wine!
Now for the fondue pot….
Fondue pots come in many different styles and materials. Many are quite attractive and can look like “a work of art”. They can be ceramic, stainless, ”heavy metal” and a variety of shapes and colors. As with all cookware, your personal budget and desire to use the pot will determine your investment. You might consider two…one for the cheese and one to go right away to the chocolate dessert!
The pots come in two different cooking types..”fuel” burning..candles or the traditional “flame can’ that you see keeping buffet trays warm and electric. My preference is the electric model…more even and easier to regulate heat. The fuel burning is more “mood setting” while the electric is more functional. Again, personal preference.
You’ve got your pot..now some incentive to get started. Here’s your first recipe for a slight variation on a classic Swiss cheese fondue:
6 tbsp. butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups light cream can substitute ½ & ½ ..just as good)
5 tbsp. flour
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute “regular” Swiss cheese..cheaper version)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup white wine (sweet or dry)
½ cup white wine (sweet or dry)
¼ tsp (heaping) cayenne pepper (don’t worry..just adds a little zing)
Mix cream (or 1/2 &1/2) and flour and set aside. Melt butter and bouillon cubes in pot on high (that’s why electric pot better…more control) stirring to dissolve cubes .Reduce heat to medium then add cream mixture stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheese gradually blending until smooth.
Start dipping when melted and creamy.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Monday, February 6, 2017
If you love to cook…and I do….then having the right spices on hand is essential to great
The list could be longer depending on your enthusiasm, but here are the “basics”:
Cinnamon-Mostly used in desserts, baking and drinks. But you can sprinkle it on buttered toast or in plain yogurt for some flavor…TIP…it has health benefits by helping to control blood sugar…so do sprinkle it on that toast or in your morning yogurt. Also a sprinkle is great on fruit..apples…bananas…vegetables…sweet potatoes…squash. Cinnamon is a staple in Mediterranean recipes.
Cayenne-Not for every taste bud if you don’t care for some “heat”…but a ‘must have’ if you’re cooking Mexican dishes...another health tip…helps stimulate digestion. Also I’m told (because I am one)..as you approach your “senior” years..you’ll prefer spicer tasting foods.
Chili Powder-Doesn’t have the heat of cayenne but does add that extra zip…made from hot peppers. Use it in barbecue sauces, chili and any other Mexican dish you enjoy.
Garlic (Powder or minced in a jar) - a true essential for Italian dishes. Sprinkle powder or spread minced on buttered bread, then toast in oven to go with your pasta dishes. It’s also great in dips, cheese spreads, stews and the always popular Bloody Mary! Another health tip…helps lower blood pressure.
Gloves-What’s a good pumpkin pie or baked ham without gloves. Obviously for your pies…powered glove. Be careful as cloves can be overwhelming so use sparingly.
Oregano-A spice with many uses….always used in pizza or pasta sauces..mix into meatloaf recipes. Add to vegetable soup or a fish stuffing.
Paprika-Use in soups, all types of chowders and on fresh vegetables. Frequently used as topping on deviled eggs or a garnish on any kind of salad.
Parsley-While a frequent ingredient in recipes, it is best known as a garnish. Use it in soups, fish and casseroles. Sprinkle on top of a good cheese omelet.
Rosemary-Has a very woody fragrance. Great in marinades for grilling meats. Fresh sprigs…the best way to get rosemary…can be use a garnish…very decorative.
Bay Leaves-Most common in soups, stews and sauces. Flavor goes along way so use sparingly…usually one or two in a recipe. Useful household tip..they make great bug repellent in your pantry !
Basil-Its best known for its aromatic appeal. Main ingredient in making fresh pesto. Also used to add fresh flavor in a variety of dishes from sauces to fish.
That’s a good primer on the “basic” spices to have on hand.
A couple tips….
Often you can use either the fresh or dried version of the spice.
When cooking with fresh and dry herbs, there is a general rule when it comes to the ratio of fresh to dry. Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you'll need less -- typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only 1 teaspoon of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.
Storage…. Fresh-cut herbs can be wrapped in a paper towel, stored in re-sealable plastic bags, and then put into the refrigerator. Dried herbs should be stored out of the light and in a cool, dry place. Keep an eye on how long your herbs have been open -- if they've been open for too long, they'll smell and taste less potent.
For quality cookware to use in your kitchen, visit my website @ EnamelCookwarePlus.com. We offer a variety of enamel coated pot, pans, sets and specialty items from such noted brands as Rachel Ray, BergHOFF, Fancy Cook Lodge and Reston Lloyd.