Archive for the ‘Desserts’Category

PINK SPARKLING ITALIAN WINE for Your VALENTINE! Paired with Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Cacao Nibs and Pink Himalayan Salt

‘All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt…’
Lucy Van Pelt, Peanuts 

How do YOU celebrate Valentine’s Day?

How about a delicious Wine and Chocolate Pairing along with juicy strawberries and whipped cream!

PINK,SPAGO AREGENTO by RIONDO USA~ A fresh,light bodied sparkling Italian wine with floral essences and strawberry aromas~ IS A PERFECT MATCH WITH SALTED CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES with Cacao Nibs

I have found the key to the beginning of any celebration!

Always start off  your evening with a flute of CRISP,SPARKLING WINE.

Valentine’s Day (or night) is no exception. Creating a perfect gourmet meal for your sweetie or a batch of Valentine-themed Chocolate Shortbread Cookies to share and you will be a big hit for Valentine’s!

Have you tried to pair Chocolate and Wine? Do you know which wines pair with chocolate?

Who doesn’t love Shortbread Cookies ESPECIALLY when you add rich chocolate and the subtle crunch of Himalayan salt or another coarsely ground salt. Admittedly,I am in love with the sweet/salty combination of foods. When I found this recipe,I just knew I had to make these cookies;rich and intense chocolate combined with butter and a hint of crunchy salt-YUM!

I could not resist.

About a year ago,I first served PINK to my guests for dinner party. Everyone LOVED the crispness of this fresh and fruity,pink sparkling wine. It is dry with light effervescence “FRIZZANTE” and intense floral and fruity aromas with distinct strawberry notes which makes it a perfect aperitif wine AND dessert pairing wine.

PINK is not too sweet,not too dry,just soft and fruity. 

Pink Spago Argento is produced in Veneto,Italy-the same region where Prosecco is produced. Pink a delightful combination of non-vintage floral and fruity grapes from this region and leaving the grape skins in a little longer produces a beautiful CLEAR pink color. The Varietal Blend is 100% Uverosato. The alcohol content is %10.5.

When pairing wines with chocolate,match the intensity of the chocolate and sweetness of the dessert with the sweetness and fruitiness of the wine.

Pink really pairs well with the buttery and intense chocolate in this shortbread cookie as well as the subtle crunch of the cacao nibs and salt. The floral aromas and strawberry fruitiness enhances the deep chocolate flavor and the nice the crunch of salt and cacao nibs.

A Savory Pairing:

Soft,rich and creamy cheeses such as a French Brie or Italian Taleggio served with toasted,buttered crostini are also a perfect match with PINK,SPAGO ARGENTO.

If you are so inclined and want to see how delicious this pairing can be, HERE IS THE RECIPE:
Yield : Makes about 3 dozen 1 by 2½-inch shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cacao nibs, crushed with a rolling pin
1 teaspoon fine or coarse sea salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Combine the nibs and sea salt in another small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy, stopping as necessary to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla. Add about half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Add the remaining flour-cocoa mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape the bowl. Once incorporated, mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the nibs and salt. (The dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.)

On a lightly floured board, or between two pieces of parchment paper, roll the dough into a square ¼ inch thick. Cut into 1 by 2½-inch rectangles or other desired shape, by hand or with a cookie cutter, and place on the prepared pans about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through baking. It is sometimes difficult to know when chocolate cookies are done. One of the best indications is the scent of baked cookies in the air. And when these shortbread cookies are gently nudged, they shouldn’t feel soft but the bottoms should seem crisp.

Remove the pans from the oven and transfer the shortbread to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

THANKS to  COOKSTR and Elizabeth Faulkner for the fabulous recipe!

***NOTE: I used PINK HIMALAYAN SALT AND SPRINKLED THE COOKIES WITH RED SUGAR-THE KIND YOU BUY AT CHRISTMAS…..That was another nice subtle flavor added to the cookies.

***We used a 3 1/2 inch Valentine’s Heart Cookie cutter which produced about 14 cookies.


Roll out the dough and use your favorite cookie cutter

Make sure the cookies are about 1 inch apart

If you decide to make the chocolate shortbread cookies,I highly recommend a bubbly glass of PINK during the cookie-making process!



01 2012

Succulent Short Ribs Roasted with Pomegranate Molasses and Pears Poached in Riesling,Honey and Cardamom and a Perfect Chiroubles Beaujolais Wine Pairing

 “The success of the dinner depends as much upon the company as the cook.”
                                        Ward McAllister, (1890)


New Year’s Resolution for 2012-MORE Couples Dinner Parties at my house.

Not what you expected?
I already exercise enough and don’t watch too much TV anyway. Being the self-proclaimed FOOD REBEL that I am,sticking with this resolution should be easy. Short Ribs are one of my winter time favorite comfort meals. What better way to share that comfort than with 4 couples celebrating friendship with food and wine on a cold Saturday evening. I planned the meal and asked everyone to bring a a side dish for sharing with our dinner.

Casual,warm and Rustic Meals shared with my friends is my favorite way to entertain. And,there is nothing better than enjoying a great glass of wine or two that is in harmony with the food I am serving. The meal,the food,the wine and the friends were especially all in harmony this Saturday night.

The Menu:

Oven-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Pomegranate Glaze

Lazarolli’s Raviogi~ Their version of Italian-style Pierogies~Filled with Yukon Gold Potatoes,Caramelized Onions and Gruyere

Riesling Poached Pear Salad with Spicy Pecans and Cranberry-Ginger Dressing

Sweet and Sour Green Beans with topped with Crispy Benton’s Bacon

Warm Artichoke Dip with Olives and Pita crisps

Mezzaluna Bread

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream


First Course: CAPION  1C 2008 White Wine Blend of Chardonnay,Roussanne,Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc from the Languedoc Region of France

Second Course: Chiroubles 2010 100% Gamay from Beaujolais,France.

Dessert: Chateau La Fleur Des Pins 2007  Sauternes Blend from France


*LAZZAROLI’S PASTA SHOP is a local pasta shop located in the Germantown Area of Nashville.Tom Lazzaro makes Old World,hand-crafted small batch pasta and ravioli. You have to check this place out! Some of the best artisan pasta I have ever had and is available with many unique fillings and styles.


Beef Short Ribs with Pomegranate Glaze Recipe as follows:

Serves 8 to 10 guests

20 custom cut short ribs- Thanks to Fresh Market for providing amazing high quality short ribs
3 fresh Bay leaves
Garlic-2 Tablespoonful minced
Onion-1 large,small dice
Carrots-3 brunoise cut
Celery-3 stalks-small dice
Tomato Paste-2 Tablespoonful
Brown Sugar- 1 heaping tablespoonful
Fresh Thyme-8 springs
Beef Stock-1 large box
Wine-about 2 cups

Veal Base-1 container MORE THAN GOURMET BRAND
Pomegranate Molasses-about 1/2 bottle *This can be purchased at any Middle Eastern Grocery
Soy Sauce-2 Tablespoonful
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce-2 Tablespoonful
Pomegranate Seeds for garnish
Flour for Dredging
Olive Oil


Thoroughly season the short ribs with salt and pepper and coat all over with flour.Remove the browned ribs and add to a large and deep roasting pan.

Heat a large pan with olive oil and brown the ribs in batches on all sides. Start with about 1/2 cup of oil and add more as necessary.

In another pan with olive oil,sauté carrots,celery and onions until lightly browned.Add garlic during the cooking process to prevent over-cooking the garlic. Once cooked,add to the roasting pan with the ribs.

Once all of the ribs are browned,transfer to a large roasting pan.

Add the wine and beef stock to the warm pan that the short ribs were browned in, scraping up the bits with a wooden spoon.

Add the veal stock,bay leaves,fresh thyme,tomato paste,soy sauce,brown sugar and reduce till slightly thickened.

Add reduction to the large pan with the short ribs and sautéed vegetables.

Tightly seal with aluminum foil and bake for 4 hours until thick and bubbly and the meat has fallen off the bone.


salt,pepper and flour the short ribs

brown in olive on all sides and transfer to a large roasting pan

saute’ the chopped vegetables


reduce the wine,beef stock and veal stock with the herbs,brown sugar, tomato paste and Pomegranate Molasses

pour the reduction over the short ribs

add the sautéed veggies and gently combine


I always greet my guests with a fun cocktail to begin the evening. Tonight it was a blend of chilled pomegranate juice,gin,homemade lime simple syrup and a splash of Prosecco topped with pomegranate seeds

Amy’s warm artichoke dip-delicious appetizer to start off an evening with friends

While everyone was talking and enjoying their appetizers,I prepared the first course.


Chilled Poached Pears in Riesling,lemons,honey and cardamom
Field Greens salad tossed with Walnut Oil
Balsamic glaze drizzle
Sweet and spicy pecans-Trader Joe’s
Cranberry Ginger Vinaigrette-Tart Cranberries and Spicy Ginger were a perfect accompaniment to the spicy Poached Pears and continued the tart-sweet Pomegranate dinner theme!

Over the holidays,my trip to Charleston,SC lead me to Magnolia’s Restaurant. I was inspired by the pear salad that I had there and wanted to recreate this first course for my friends. I doubled the recipe from Food Network and added 2 lemons and their zest and 2 TB of honey.

The Wine: CAPION 1C 2008 White Wine Blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon of France. This elegant wine was chosen to complement the pears that were poached in Riesling and lemon. The fruit was fresh and floral with hints of tropical fruits and the lively acidity really made a great match with the salad.

This is the salad I had at Magnolia’s in Charleston. It was so delicious I just knew I had to try to make it myself when I got home!

How did I do?

Lazzaroli’s Pasta
delicious pillows of pasta filled with caramelized onions,Yukon Gold potatoes and nutty gruyere cheese

Sweet and Sour Green Beans topped with Smoky Benton’s Bacon

2 packages Fresh Green Beans steamed and then cooled. Place in a large bowl.
8 pieces of Benton’s Bacon Cooked Crisp,crumbled and set aside
2 small shallots
2 Tablespoonsful brown sugar
1 Tablespoonful red wine vinegar
Soy Sauce – a few shots
Olive Oil
After the bacon is cooked,pour out most of the bacon fat,reserving about a tablespoonful or so. Saute’ the shallots until soft,then add the sugar,soy sauce,olive and vinegar. Simmer on medium until thickened slightly and pour over green beans,toss and top with the bacon. This made a fabulous side dish and the flavors paired well with the savory and tangy ribs.

Rachel’s Freshly Baked Herbed Mezzaluna Bread

Rachel and I have been inspired by many recipes from The Dairy Hollow House SOUP and BREAD COOKBOOK-A Country INN-Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon. A must-have cookbook full of delicious rustic bread and soup recipes from the inn located in the Ozark Mountains.

You can make the dough from the scratch recipe in the cookbook OR use the refrigerated tubes of rustic bread dough from the refrigerated section of the grocery store OR use purchased pizza dough from the store.
Simply roll out circles and spread with a mixture of butter,olive oil,pressed garlic cloves and a combination of fresh herbs such as rosemary,basil,savory,thyme and oregano.
Drizzle the dough circles with olive oil,top with the herb mixture and fold circles in half. Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Put the bread in a basket and pass,letting your guests tear off what they want. This is a delicious bread for sharing.

The Wine:
Chiroubles 2010 Beaujolais

This Beaujolais wine pairing with the Pomegranate Beef Short Ribs was magnificent! This intense wine made from the Gamay Grape from the area of Burgundy,France known as Beaujolais is refreshing tart,fresh and full of juicy raspberries. Its great acidity and structure were a perfect match with the intense savory short ribs with the tart and sweet flavor of the Pomegranate Molasses. There is something about earthiness of this wine and it’s minerality paired with the RUSTIC Beef Short Ribs that just worked. It was Delicious!


Deb’s Warm Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping

The wine:
Chateau La Fleur Des Pins 2007 Sauternes a Grand Vin of Bordeaux,France

Dessert wine with the Apple Pie,vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce

The next time you serve warm Apple Crumb Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce,you might want to consider a dessert wine pairing.The warm,apple pie spiced with cinnamon and topped with caramel sauce was a match made in heaven!

This luscious sweet and delightfully acidic botrytis-affected blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion grapes was  well-balanced with it concentrated flavors of sweet and acid. The  flavors and aromas of orange marmalade,caramel,creme brûlée and tropical fruits were the right pairing with the apple pie. Another hit with my guests!

I sure hope one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to enjoy wine and food with your friends. I am glad I did!


‘Tis the Season for Celebrating Friendship in Franklin,Tennessee

“Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.”
– Jacques Delille  French poet.

Celebration of the Season~Tables lined with
platters of delicious seasonal
Culinary Creations,
Sparkling Decorations, Laughter, Reminiscing ,Friends
Family ,Thankfulness…..This is what comes to my mind during the holiday season.

Reconnecting and cherishing friendships……..Deb and Amy

Deb and Dale hosted a lovely Christmas Season Celebration. Thank you for opening your lovely home to us and sharing such a delicious meal,laughter and music.

You both are so gracious,kind and a whole lotta fun!
We have set the bar for our future dinner parties and I know we are all looking forward
to seeing what we can cook up in 2012!

Denise & Bobby

Looking forward to fun with you two in 2012!

So glad to know you! What a lovely couple!

Amy & Brett

I predict 2012 will be the year of dinner parties! I can’t wait to start planning the
Spring Fling!

Diane,looks like we have many dinner parties ahead and even more True Blood Fans! YAY!

The dining table is set in Holiday Style! How beautiful!

Cocktails are chilling…..

Time for the party to begin……

The highlight of the evening was listening to the awesome music by the The PANCAKE TURNER BLUES BAND. We all enjoyed listening to a mix of traditional blues and classic rock.

And,several of the members are from Louisiana. We are looking forward to our spring party
with these guys.
Dale,THANK YOU SO MUCH, for making the evening extra special with live music!

Buck rocked the harmonica!

Candace and Deb enjoying the evening

Dale is putting the finishing touches on the lovely dinner that is about to be served.

 The main course was Succulent and tender Roasted Pork, full of flavor.  Dale slow cooked the pork
in the cast iron dutch oven and it was simply delicious.

Lovely trays of delicious appetizers provided by Denise….DELICIOUS!

Dinner is served!

Sharing a delicious meal,wine and laughter with close friends during the Holiday Season:
It doesn’t get much better than that!


Delicious Desserts….

How about this! Old Fashioned New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce topped
with Blue Bell Ice Cream! The recipe is in my previous posting.

Thanks to all of my closest and dearest friends and to my new friends for being a
part of our lives. You make it all worth while.

Looking forward to the next year of fun,laughter,dinner parties,wine pairings and a
Spring Fling!

“Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.”
– Jacques Delille French poet.




12 2011