Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Deep Fried Chocolate?

So lately I've been trying to come up with a way to use all of those horrible chocolates we receive for Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day. You know the ones I'm talking about, those "boxed" chocolates with their strange creamy centers, and even those awful chocolate covered cherries. Well, I think I have the answer.

Driving home I passed a KFC and it got me thinking how we here in the south just love to fry everything. We'll fry turkeys, oysters, Snicker Bars, Twinkies, even icecream... the list goes on and on ad nauseam. So why not fry up chocolate covered cherries? Sometime later this week I plan on breaking out my deep fryer and frying up a box of chocolates. I need to find the right batter that will hold the chocolate and keep it from becoming a total mess. Also, I need to try different oils. Would peanut oil heat and taste better than lets say a vegetable oil? Should be a fun experiment and I will definitely keep you posted on my progress. If you have any tips I would much appreciate them...hey you might even make it in my next blog. 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Roasted Beets & Fried Goat Cheese Salad

Came home the other night in a truly horrible mood, a real stinker, but with one whiff all of that went away. Adrianne was in the kitchen cooking up one of my all time favorites, roasted beets, Panko fried goat cheese and a fresh arugula spring mix salad served with a 2006 Blackstone Pinot Noir....heaven! It's amazing how the right meal can melt the daily grind right off me and fix everything. So, I thought I would share with you this wonderful salad. 

Fresh beets at the market are rather easy to come by so start by getting a couple of them. Slice off the tops, next get all the hairy bits off, then cut into thick wedges. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, crushed black pepper and a little sugar (the sugar is crucial!) Roast on a sheet pan in the oven @ 425 until they're crispy on the outside, stir them around every 10-15 minutes so they cook evenly.

Goat Cheese: 
4 oz of Goat Cheese and 2 of cream cheese mixed together, rolled into 1 oz balls and then flattened into a disc. Put in refrigerator so they'll get really cold. Heat olive oil in skillet to sizzling, medium high I guess. Dip the goat cheese in a beaten egg, then coat with Panko (we fry everything in Panko but any other type of breadcrumbs will do the job). Cook in hot oil until nice and golden brown on each side.

Adrianne likes to serve it on fresh spring greens w/ toasted walnuts (or pecans :) with a warm balsamic dressing. I actually prefer not to use any dressing since the arugula has enough punch of flavor. The Blackstone pinot noir with hints of cherry and tobacco was perfect for the salad. Plus, it's a wine that won't break the bank (under $15.00). -Thanks Adrianne! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You STOLE IT Cindy McCain

Well once again we have some embellishing going on in the ranks of our politicians. First it was Hilary Clinton and her 96' trip to the front lines of Bosnia, and how she landed under sniper fire in the war torn country. But now, now we have something that's even worse in my opinion. Sen. John McCain's wife was recently busted for posting so-called "family recipes" on her website. These recipes were actually lifted from the Food Network!

The Huffington Post reports the page featuring Cindy McCain's family recipes has been taken down. The campaign is blaming an intern for posting them without attribution, CNN and TMZ.com reported. Just one problem with that, the Post noted. The Republican presidential contender's wife submitted the recipe for Passion Fruit Mousse as her own for a New York Sun article in January.

Ok, if you have a recipe that's not yours, fine, since most of them are already in the Joy of Cooking. However, please please don't pretend it's from your family when it's not. I mean come on...... she had an intern come up with some recipes that would make her cool and appealing to the public. Well, I'm offended! There are so many people in the food industry working their asses off to come up with ideas and different recipes. They sure don't deserve this kind of behavior nor should they tolerate it! I don't mind simple embellishing but to outright lie about it, well that's another story. Phoooie on you Cindy and your intern! 

Monday, April 14, 2008

2007 Pinot Grigio-Fish Eye

Wine of the Week

This weeks showcase is Fish Eye, a 2007 pinot grigio from California. Ok, I really shouldn't call this a showcase, since it's hardly worth the write up. However, since I promised to write you a review once a week and find a decent chocolate pairing to go with it, well, here you go.

Now as you all know I love pinot grigios....simply love them. Especially during the spring and early summer when the air is clear and cool. As far as whites go I rank pinot grigios pretty high up on the flavor scale. Now with that said, I did not like the Fish Eye. First of all the thought of drinking something like a fish's eye isn't very appealing. It conjures up images of mechanical grapefruit spoons and flopping fish. Second, the finish was way too sweet for my taste. It was more like swilling a Boone's Farm outside of the high school dance with my fly down, shirt untucked and tie thrown over my shoulder. I read one review saying how "the aromatics in this bottle were like a tropical adventure"....yeah right, more like an adventure in a third world country jail cell where malaria was somehow involved!

Now the fun part, the part where I tell you just what chocolate would go nicely with this wine. Generally the rule of thumb is to choose a chocolate slightly sweeter than the wine being served. In this case it's nearly impossible! But, if I had to make a decision I would say milk chocolate, or maybe even a white chocolate. I tell you what, if you have any Easter chocolate wrapped in foil or better yet a chocolate bunny left over bite off the ears and pour yourself a tall glass (for this isn't your sipping beverage). At 8 dollars this screw top wine with its catchy blue-green label should be low on your wines to try list. That's my taste and I'm sticking to it...until next week. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hot Chocolate Rainy Day Dreams

I was going to save this recipe for the fall and winter months, but since it's been raining here non-stop I thought I would go ahead and post it. There's something about those mornings when I wake up to rain taping on the window and there's a slight chill in the house that I like a good cup of hot chocolate. Don't get me wrong I love my coffee and teas like I love the air we breath, but for chilly wet weather I'll take a hot chocolate any day. 

Ever since I learned the art of making the perfect cup I have a hard time opening that packet of Swiss Miss with those poor excuse for marshmallows stuck in there! Usually when I have an order of truffles to fill I will save any scraps of chopped/shaved dark chocolate and put them in a ZipLock baggy. Also, if I have any left over vanilla beans I will set them aside too. 

1 Cup Milk 
1 Cup of Half n Half
2 oz of Dark Chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
1 Vanilla Bean (split) or (1/2 tsp of extract if you don't have a bean available)
3 tbs of Sugar
1 tbs of Brown Sugar

Heat the vanilla bean (or extract) and the cup of milk in a saucepan on medium. 
Remove the bean and simmer.
Slowly stir in the Sugar and Brown Sugar.
Next add the chocolate being careful not to burn it. 
Blend the Half n Half blender until frothy and then add it to the saucepan.
Stir once more and serve. Bliss

For a bit of heat add a dash of cayenne pepper to the mix. 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

2006 Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva

Wine of the week. 
As you all know I love pairing wine and chocolate. It doesn't matter to me if it's at a dinner party or just a quick snack on a Sunday afternoon, I absolutely love the stuff. Yeah yeah so I've heard it's all the rage and trendy blah blah blah.....but have you actually tried pairing the two? 

Once a week I'm going to showcase what's on my wine rack and offer up a good chocolate to go along with it. Usually during the springtime I like a chilled pinot grigio, something very light and airy with hints of.....well, spring. However, Adrianne just brought home a Malbec and our rack is devoid of wine, so this week you get a Malbec! 

Malbec's are a dark-skinned grape with a rich color and thick or robust tannins. I really enjoy the varietal from the Argentine region of Mendoza. That's not to say the French varietal is bad. It's just that I think the Argentines have a way with Malbecs, must be the soil and all of that heat. 

Ok, with that said, this weeks feature is a 2006 Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva. At 13 bucks a pop it's not the most expensive of the Malbecs but definitely not the cheapest. It comes off as a strong red straight from the cork but settles down after breathing for 20 minutes or so (which I highly recommend). Once settled it tastes rather plumy with a hint of smoke. I would definitely pair this wine with a dark chocolate truffle, one that had some sort of cayenne pepper or smoke chipotle infused in it. But that's just my opinion and my taste buds in action. I give it a thumbs up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March - "Royal Foodie Joust"

Once a month The Leftover Queen puts on a cage-match cook off for her loyal members. The Royal Foodie Joust as it is known is a come-one come-all battle of culinary skills using 3 ingredients provided at the beginning of the month. You are allowed to do what you like as long as you have incorporated those 3 key ingredients into your recipe. Winners get bragging rights and a chance to pick the next months ingredients. 

This months challenge was to use lime, coconut and something from the sea. I came up with a Coconut-Lime chocolate truffle sprinkled with Fleur de Sel. Since it was my first challenge I was a tad bit excited to get started. So, here's my recipe: 

2 1/2 ounces of 38% milk chocolate (chopped)
2 1/2 ounces of 64% dark chocolate (chopped)
2 1/2 Tbs. of Coconut Cream (canned)
2 Tbs. of Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Tbs of Squeezed Lime
3 Tbs. of Salted Butter (soft & cubed)
A pinch of Fluer de Sel for toppings

1. In a sauce-pan gently stir the cream, coconut milk and lime juice over medium heat until simmer, then slowly bring to a boil.
2. Once the mixture reaches a boil pour directly over the chocolate (the 5 ounces of 38% and 64%). Stir slowly until the chocolate has ALL melted.
3. Add soft butter and stir gently.
4. Let cool until firm but not hard.
5. Scoop out small portions and roll into balls.
6. Let sit over night to harden.
7. Dip balls into tempured dark chocolate (75%) and place on parchment paper
8. Sprinkle with Fluer de Sel

OK......now go an vote for my dish!