Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Product Review: Wine Glass Writer A Wine Lovers Gift

Well, the holiday party times are approaching so quickly, and I have found an amazing gift to attach to a bottle of wine, add to a wine lovers gift basket, give as a party favor or use as a stocking stuffer. The Wine Glass Writer is a pen that can be used to write your guest names, distinguish wine varietals or use on ceramic platters to identify foods. This pen now comes in holiday colors, like silver, gold, merlot and green.

You can allow your guest to be artist and let the fun begin! To get everyone in the mood, you could have a glass decorating contest; who has the best Christmas design on their stem. The winner would get a prize! Just have a few sets of pens so your guest can share and get to know each other. We do like to compete, and this is a fun way, because we get to drink wine after we color. When we we in elementary school, we just got a nap! So, there are some perks to being a grown-up. I just wrote my name in gold and made a Christmas tree in gold with a silver star and merlot ball ornaments. I know I can get a bit more clever, but I'm a little tired today. I'll experiment until I am a pro!

 The pens ink stays on when you follow the directions on the back of the package. You have to wait 30 seconds or a bit more before using them. Write above the pour line if you are drinking chilled wines, to ensure that the writing and or design will stay intact. The writing washes off easily with a sponge and soap and water or the dishwasher, and it is non-toxic.

When the holidays roll around we tend to really enjoy our wine, so if we get a little tipsy, we still remember our name. This keeps things sanitary, no drinking from someone else's glass or having the host or hostess to have an arsenal of stemware, because you forgot which glass is yours. So, this item is a wonderful gift for yourself as well as your friends. These pens make wonderful stocking stuffers for those wine lovers on your list. Note: This was a sample for my review from The Wine Glass Writer http://www.wineglasswriter.com The SRP for the holiday set of pens is $7.95, and the other colored pens are $6.95 a set.

Also, wine shop merchants, you can contact the site to see about pricing in bulk for your wine stores!

Happy Holidays; let the parties begin!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wine Review: Rutherford Ranch 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

This wine is a deep dark garnet color. The nose has aromas of rich dark fruit, a hint of herbs, dusty cocoa notes, a bit of earth (terrior or "sense of place"), and a bit of vanilla oak. The palate has those same flavors along with a sense of complexity, all the elements seemed to work in harmony on the palate. This wine has some firm tannins, but yet when the wine had time to breath they seemed to behave and work so well with the steak and over stuffed potato that I served with it. I feel this wine would age well, and is great to serve now. The finish has a nice length, and this wine definitely should be labeled Reserve. It would be great with beef roast, all cuts of beef steaks, lamb prepared with a rub of garlic, fresh sage and fresh rosemary. This wine would also be great with cheeses, like aged cheddar, Cahill Porter and blue cheese. Note: This wine was a sample provided by the Rutherford Wine Company. http://www.rutherfordwine.com SRP $48.00

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wine Review: Landers Jenkins Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, spirit hawk

This wine is a straw color. The nose is very fragrant with ripe juicy tropical notes. Aromas of apricots, peaches, citrus, and a hint of pear. The palate's flavors mirrored the nose; with an addition of a full mouth feel, but yet still had a nice amount of crispness and acidity. There is a hint of oak integrated with the ripe fruit flavors, but it did not overpower the ripe juicy flavors of the fruit. The finish was filled with those citrus notes and a hint of oak. This wine would pair well with seafood, especially grilled shrimp, crab cakes, and grilled fish. It would also pair well with chicken and light cheeses. This wine is also great to sip alone as an aperitif.

I would also pair this wine with a bruschetta ( a thin slice of baguette that has been lightly brushed with Ecco Extra Virgin Olive Oil http://www.rutherfordwine.com/products/product.php?productid=16154&cat=258&page=1 and placed in the oven for about five minutes or so) topped with a thin icing of fig preserves, fresh goat cheese, a few drops of reduced balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and crumbled fried prosciutto or thinly sliced prosciutto.  Note: This wine and olive oil was a sample provided by the Rutherford Wine Company http://www.rutherfordwine.com for my review. SRP $15.00

Wine Review: Lander Jenkins Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, spirit hawk

The Ah Ha moment.....

As I sampled this wine, my first thought was, " This would be a great Cabernet Sauvignon to serve as an introductory Cabernet Sauvignon, for those who say they don't like big red wines, or Cabernet Sauvignon."

Wine Review

This wine is a deep garnet color. The nose is filled with ripe dark fruit flavors, like blackberries, dark cherries, dark plums and a hint of spice. The palate has those same ripe dark fruit flavors, with a smooth texture and supple tannins. This Cabernet Sauvignon was a pleasure to sample, due to it being easy to drink alone, or to pair with cheese, especially an aged cheddar or Cahill Porter cheese. I would also pair it with a panini that is filled with pastrami, roasted red peppers, black olives and provolone or Fontina cheese, and burgers or steaks off the grill. This wine would also pair well with appetizers prepared with puff pastry, filled with a beef or sausage mixture. I consider this wine a crowd pleaser, due to its versatility as a drink alone wine or a wine that pairs well with food, and it's price point is great for entertaining.  I consider this wine a "bang for the buck" wine, especially if you take advantage of the club saving price noted online.  Note: This wine was a sample provided by Rutherford Ranch Wine Company. http://www.rutherfordwine.com SRP $15.00

Hint: Try using mini muffin tins to make wonderful small bites, and fill the puff pastry with a meat and cheese mixture and bake until they are lightly browned; these can be baked open faced or cut the puff pastry in larger squares to bring the corners to pinched points, for a fancy presentation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition by Jodi Rhoden

The Book Cover of Cake Ladies by Jodi Rhoden

The Cupcake Fairies
AKA My Cousins from New Orleans, LA

I want to first thank Jodi Rhoden for taking the time to research, locate and tell the stories of these extraordinary women, not only in the world of "cake", but in the South! I am a native of New Orleans, and food is very important to us; it is what people love about New Orleans, the food. But the South has a reputation for cooking some of the best food and baking some of the best sweets in the United States. There is an honesty about the food, just as the women featured in this book; their stories are true and honest; they express their struggles and their joys. I believe what really made this book special to me was the common threads that held all these women together;  the love of cooking (the secret ingredient), the love of family and community. We southern women love to see a smile on some one's face when they sink their teeth into our food; it feeds our spirit, and the spirits and stomachs of those feast on our food.

As I began reading this book, I began to cry. Hurricane Katrina has impacted the people of New Orleans in a way that really can't be explained. Many New Orleanians whether they returned to New Orleans or not, are still in the process of rebuilding their lives and yes, reinventing themselves. Southern women are strong and resilient, so this book really spoke to that aspect of "dusting yourself off and starting all over again", in this case my cousins dusted off with flour! Sometimes something bad has to happen for us to open our eyes to see our true purpose in life. I have realized that if you don't experience true pain, you can't experience true happiness.

I am so sentimental, and I can remember my uncle Frank cooking away in the kitchen. My uncle Frank is Melissa Woods and Michele Burton-Oatis's father. He loved to experiment in the kitchen. He would use liquors, spices or whatever he thought would make a dish have his "signature touch." He and his wife, my Auntie Lynn would cook together, dance together and before you know it, the holiday meal would be done. I also read all the stories of each cake lady; all of them rich in spirit, honesty and great southern recipes that they have decided to "give up" as we say from New Orleans (some recipes go to the grave). Well, Southern women don't like to give away their recipes, so feel privileged readers, because our "touch" is our trademark, and who wants to give that away! I guess we were taught how to share, and I think that is a good thing.

The quote on page eleven in the book really touched my soul; " As I listened to the cake ladies tell their struggles and  their joys, I found over and over that it is love, the first and foremost, that motivates them, and that love is the one essential ingredient to baking beautiful and delicious cakes." Jodi Rhoden said a "mouth full" when she wrote this quote! The stories from all the women, from her own personal story to Betty Compton of Cedar Grove, North Carolina to Pearl Teeter of Williamston, North Carolina, and all the other cake ladies in the delta noted in between, all warm your heart and provide you with recipes that are a part of their culture. The recipes for pound cakes, cupcakes, Red Velvet Cake, Mississippi Mud Cake, and the list goes on and on, are recipes that will be the star of any event. These cakes help celebrate life's special occasions, whether it be the birth of a baby, a birthday cake for your best friend, a holiday, a repast ( a tradition of providing food for funeral attendees after a funeral in New Orleans and other parts of the South), a party, a wedding or a church fundraiser, they will feed the spirit, soul and bellies of all in attendance.

I like to have a fresh baked cake or cupcakes in my kitchen, especially during Fall and Winter; it is a symbol of southern hospitality and sharing some of yourself with other people who enter your home, and please remember don't forget the coffee, tea or ice cream.

This is not just a cookbook; it is a combination of the chronicling of wonderful women who were willing to share their lives and recipes to all that read this book. I say thank you to the author and all of the wonderful cake ladies; Let there be cake !

PS There are lots of basic cake making information to assist you in making the best cakes, and hints from the cake ladies that are well, just special! This cookbook can be purchased at Amazon http://www.amazon.com and http://shortstreetcakes.com/ I think this book would be a great Christmas gift or a "just because" gift for anyone who loves baking and peeking into the lives of courageous women.  Note:  This book was a sample provided for review by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Product Review: Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves

I love all things French, and these preserves are made in France. These  Cherry Preserves are made from cherries, sugar, natural cane sugar, concentrated lemon juice and fruit pectin; this was the ingredients noted on the back of the label. These preserves have nice size pieces of cherries, along with a nice cherry flavored syrup. The taste is not overly sweet, just right; it also makes for a wonderful glaze! Note: This was a sample provided for my review by Andros Foods USA, Inc. http://www.bonnemaman.us SRP $5.49

I developed a glaze with these cherry preserves that I used on a pork loin, but it would be great on chicken, lamb, or salmon.

Lorrie's Cherry Provencal Glaze

2 tsp Victoria Taylor's Herbes de Provence http://www.vgourmet.com
1 tsp of finely chopped rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 and  1/4 tsp good Dijon mustard (I used Maille Dijon Mustard)
1 cup Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves


Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. I used this glaze on a pork loin that was tied with kitchen string, seasoned with Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning , and I pan seared the loin on all sides in a heated cast iron skillet with a little canola oil. Then I cooked my pork loin in a preheated 350 degree oven until my desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to get your best cooking results; I just cook my pork for about 45 minutes. I like my pork done, but not dry.  I begin to glaze the meat 15 minutes prior to my final cooking time. This is a wonderful glaze, and a wonderful cherry preserve to put on your biscuit for breakfast or on a croissant for brunch. Try it, and tell me what you think. Try this with your favorite Pinot Noir!

Wine Review: Rutherford Ranch 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

This wine was a light straw color. The nose has a light tropical aroma, but was predominately filled with notes of grapefruit and lemon zest. The palate mirrored the nose with flavors of grapefruit, lemon and some grassy notes. The wine was clean, crisp and had great acidity and a lemon laced finish. This wine would pair well with oysters, grilled or fried fish, shrimp, crab cakes, appetizers with artichokes, spinach and Parmesan cheese in puff pastry, a  simple green salad with disc of "well" chilled fresh goat cheese coated in egg whites and rolled in seasoned Panko Bread crumbs and pan fried in olive oil, Ecco Olive Extra Virgin Olive Oil http://www.rutherfordwine.com/products/product.php?productid=16154&cat=258&page=1 until lightly browned, then drizzled with a light salad dressing. I paired this wine with fresh goat cheese on Town House Flatbread Crisps, the Sea Salt & Olive Oil variety. Note : This wine was a sample provided by Rutherford Wine Company for review. http://www.rutherfordwine.com  SRP $15.00