From Cake to Castle

Weekend=great wine.  I met once again with my great friends who last time hosted the epitome of wine tasting.  This time it was at my place so I had to work my wine rack magic to attempt to match what they offered.

Though none of us seek out whites, sometimes you just have to go off the beaten path.  To attempt to match reds, I opted for the well-known name of Cakebread and the nice varietal of Sauvignon Blanc.  A refreshing way to start the evening.

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After the white, we moved onto the more important stuff (RED!) with Chateau St. Jean.  The most important thing to remember is not to get fancy with the name.  Yes, the first one is french for castle.  But, for the last word, think of denim, don’t go french, make it simple!  The red we enjoyed first was the 2010 Pinot Noir…nice and smooth!










I was initially going to serve another Pinot Noir but opted instead to stick with Chateau St. Jean and one of their blends.  It’s Cinq Cepages.  It brings together five of their varietals for an amazing taste.  Can’t do it justice in writing!









And to pair with the wine, cheese it always nice.  The other day at Trader Joe’s I found a lactose intolerant’s dream — a package of 3 cheeses that we can eat — the Tapas Sampler!  Non-cow milk delights.  One of them did have a part of cow milk (with two others — so it had to be minimal), and at least for me, I didn’t have a problem.

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So, come the end of the night, had another great time of friends, wine and food.

Manchego Madness!

I was debating what to do for dinner last night and had a craving for the one cheese I can eat — Manchego!  Then, what to do with it?  My creativity got going on my way to the store, yes Trader Joe’s, I came up with two ideas:

-Manchego Nachos, aka Manche-chos

-Manchego Popcorn

When discussing these options with the as-eager-food-lovers at TJ’s, all of decided both had to be tested.


For the ‘chos, I wanted to start out simple – nothing but cheese!  I used the blue corn tortilla chips as they nicely contrast the color of the Manchego and used the microplane grater/zester to finely grate the cheese to adorn the chips with the lactose-free treasure.  Since I was making a small bit, I just threw the chips in the toaster oven — perfect for small bits of nachos!

For the popcorn, I used my microwave popper and when done, tossed the popcorn with more finely grated cheese, S&P.

To complement these, I served them with some prosciutto and grape tomatoes.



Ok, a picture doesn’t do it that much justice.  They were pretty good.  The cheese doesn’t look as pretty as expected, but it was a unique taste.  The prosciutto would taste very nice under the melted cheese!!

For the popcorn, the cheese melted just a bit and it was a nice addition.

I would give this 7.5 out of 10 stars, especially for a first try.  With 2.5 to go until perfection, that definitely means more testing is in order!  Darn.



From Green Peas to Red Wine

I am the type of kitchen person who does not like to waste anything/throw it away. I won’t keep and keep, then keep and keep things forever in an attempt to use them, past their pull dates or until they’ve grown various levels of fuzz, etc. just to attempt to use them — that would qualify me for Hoarders (SO not going there) — but aim to make the most of my money.

So, from Supper Club on Sunday, I had leftover fresh mint.  As I’m typing this, I realize I could have saved cooking and just made Mojitos, darn…next time.  Anyway, one of my favorite quick, and beyond simple, recipes that I found years ago to use mint in is Mint Bruschetta.  What do you need?

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-Frozen Peas (thawed — I defrost them quickly in the microwave)
-Fresh Mint leaves
-A bit of olive oil — maybe 1-3 tsp
-Sometimes, to taste, I add garlic and lemon juice


Just throw all of it in the food processor and blend to desired  consistency.  Season to taste.  How much easier could it get???




End result? Green mush, right?  But GOOD green mush.




IMG_1067Then, after making this delicious mush, had to enjoy some wine.  Went to my wine rack and found a bottle.  I saw my scribble of $8 on the back of the bottle.  That works.  OH MY GOD, what am I drinking?  Smokey, deep, heavenly bliss.  Do peas merit this, does this merit peas?  Well, the only thing that matters is that I deserve both.  What am I enjoying?  Calina Carménère.  For only eight bucks, AMAZING.  Check it out!