Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Visitors come and go in the summer – and maybe they’re too hot and bothered for a full-on meal. For those instances, where just a pit stop is needed (not a pit BBQ!), this southern style charcuterie board comes to the rescue. I’ve arranged mine with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. To wash it down, I toast ya’ll with a prickly pear inspired tequila drink I dreamed up, strolling through last week’s farmer’s market.

But first, here’s how to put together Jorj’s Southern Style Charcuterie Board

Turkey Roll Ups:

1 pound deli roasted turkey breast medium sliced

8 ounces goat cheese

¼ cup red pepper jelly

Ham Roll Ups:

1 pound deli ham medium sliced

8 ounces cream cheese

½ cup spicy dill pickles, drained and finely chopped

Deviled Eggs:

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoon Dijon-Style mustard

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Millionaire’s Bacon

1 pound center cut bacon

1 cup brown sugar

Seasoned Crackers:

1 sleeve soda crackers

½ cup butter, 1 stick melted

½ packet ranch dressing

Pimento Cheese:

3 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 cup

4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese, about 1 cup

½ cup homemade or prepared mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained

2 to 3 green onions, sliced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

Cilantro Shrimp:

1 pound cooked shrimp

⅓ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chili powder

For Turkey Roll Ups: Combine the goat cheese and jelly. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of turkey. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Ham Roll Ups: Combine the cream cheese and chopped pickles. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of ham. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Deviled Eggs: Place the yolks of the eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to mash. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and dill. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place a spoonful of the filling into each of the egg whites.

For Millionaire’s Bacon: Preheat the oven to 350°. Dredge one slice of bacon through the brown sugar coating both sides. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet.

For Seasoned Crackers: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the ranch dressing and butter. Place the crackers onto a baking sheet. Brush the top side of the crackers with butter. Bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

For Pimento Cheese: Combine the cream cheese, cheeses, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the pimentos, onions and spices and season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Cilantro Shrimp: Stir together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a large bowl. Add the shrimp. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

And now to drink!!!

Here’s The Prickled Pink Cocktail – everything you need to mix one up for a friend. Isn’t it gorgeous? I honestly can’t believe that bright fuchsia color. The flavor is more subtle than you might think, and may need a bit of sweetening up. I suggest a teaspoon of honey. For garnish and extra flavor, whole cinnamon sticks make for a nice stirrer and look good in the glass.

Just do a yourself a favor and mind the outside of this cocktail fruit as you cut into it. They don’t call it a prickly pear for nothin’! Oh, and if at all possible, ask the guys at the farmer’s market to strip the cactus fruit of its serious spears before you buy it. I did and I still got pricked, but I’m glad I added it to my Saturday haul.

Cheers, everybody! It’s gonna be a long summer….

THE PRICKLED PINK

1 shot tequila
2 tablespoons grenadine
Juice of 4 prickly pears (blended to get rid of seeds)
Twist of lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

Top off with pineapple juice and mix with a cinnamon stick stirrer. Sugar around the rim optional

 

 

For Mother’s Day, Why Not Experiences Instead of Things?

For Mother’s Day, Why Not Experiences Instead of Things?

I wish every day was Mother’s Day. We don’t need an excuse to honor the most special women in our lives, or bask in love ourselves. Moms come in all shapes and sizes… whether they are your Mom, someone else’s mom, a best friend who acts like your mom, a neighbor who’s mom to the whole block……Whatever the case, here is my suggestion for a better Mother’s Day:

Get mom (or persuade your loved ones to get you) an experience rather than a thing. There are so many ways to spend time together. To my mind, doing it over good food and art is the best way to go about it.

This global database of food and wine festivals is worth taking a look at. If you surprise mom with tickets for an event that’s further down the road in 2019, it’ll give you something to look forward to. You’d be amazed at how many foodie fests are happening in your own backyard. My food blog editor just went to a Mixology event in an art museum, where food and alcohol vendors had their best wares laid out around the Picassos.

As for me….I found a really cool event out in Phoenix this spring. Check out the slide show below! I will definitely go to the Nirvana Food and Wine Festival again – and I’d be over the moon (hint, hint, my children) if someone arranged to take me next year as an ahem…Mother’s Day gift???

Food Nirvana happened the last week of April, so for me, it was kindof a belated birthday treat.  Attending was a happy accident. I happened to be staying in the hotel where Food Nirvana was taking place. As part of our reservation, I received complimentary tickets to one of the events. I chose the Rosé Parté, an event housed in the famed Wriggly Mansion overlooking the city of Phoenix on one side and Camelback Mountain on the other. The views were breathtaking, even in 100° plus heat!

The festival featured all types of vendors with tastings of rosé wines and champagne. Local restaurants offered delicacies that included foie gras mousse wrapped in cigarette shaped tortillas, displayed in what appeared to be a garden of grass with edible flowers on the end of each roll.

There were individual deconstructed blood orange cakes, pastries of all shapes and sizes, and a Bloody Mary bar that rivals any I’ve ever seen. The Nirvana version of a charcuterie board was assembled on a gigantic dining table (which had to seat 20 or more) and laden with cheeses, meats and the most gorgeous loaves of bread I’ve ever seen. I tasted the Pâte à Choux, filled with salmon and topped with caviar and the tri-colored beet terrine. Oh, so special!

Yes, I saw celebrity chefs! Robert Irvine is cute, and as well-muscled in person as he is on TV! His dish consisted of a corn husk laid onto a plate, topped with beef short rib, splashed with the sauce and topped with what looked like an avocado cream and crunched tortilla chips.

Foie Gras Mousse with Edible Flowers

Pâte à Choux served on beet, carpaccio style

Blood orange cake with a sweet glaze & lavender ice cream

Nirvana version of a charcuterie board

The most epic Bloody Mar Bar you have ever seen

The pictures say it all. I had a blast and encourage you (with or without your Mom) to attend a food and wine festival if you get a chance. It is a HAPPENING! But, seriously… Mom is really the most special person on Earth, and if you need any food or entertaining advice helping her realize that, I am here. Email me at Jorj@Jorj.com and I will reply before May 12th!

 

How to Create the Ultimate Wine & Cheese Board for Your Dinner Party

How to Create the Ultimate Wine & Cheese Board for Your Dinner Party

Charcuterie boards are trending! Traditionally, this platter is filled with aged cheeses and cured meats. Much like an antipasti platter, you arrange bite size treats, and your guests choose morsels to place on their plates.

My board, is a mixture of both charcuterie and antipasti. It’s not shy on cheese or meats, and has a special stuffed fig recipe you’ll find at the bottom of this post. I had a lot of fun arranging this platter. What would be the first thing you’d reach for? Marinated olives, crunchy bread sticks, radishes rubbed in sea salt, chunks of fresh shaved Parmesan, prosciutto or Italian salami?

For all offerings on my buffet table, I keep portion size at 2 to 3 ounces of meat per person, and 5 to 6 ounces on all the other appys.

What Do You Drink with Charcuterie?

Wines that taste best with charcuterie boards are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux style wines – any vino that is low alcohol, fruity and higher acid. For whites, I recommend champagne or sparkling wines. There should be one bottle for every pair of guests.

For the cheese – arguably the best part of any charcuterie board – sheep’s milk cheeses tend to go best with red wine. A good rule of thumb is that the older the wine, the firmer the cheese should be. Unless it’s truffle infused, I don’t think brie is necessarily the right choice. Gouda and aged cloth-bound cheddar are what go into my shopping cart when I’m planning a romantic evening.

As you go to assemble the board, little bowls of marinated olives, the little pickles known as cornichons, nuts and dips are always welcome – as are the occasional edible flower: think roses, deep purple sage flowers, pansies and violets. Hibiscus flowers are also as pretty to look at as they are to nosh on.

So many excuses to have a cozy little dinner party this winter season – happy entertaining!

Fresh Figs Appetizer

Ingredients

8 ripe figs

4 ounces Blue cheese, crumbled, room temperature, about 1 cup

2 tablespoons sour cream

Honey for drizzling

Directions:

Cut each fig in half, horizontally. Use a spoon or fork to mix softened (room temperature) blue cheese with sour cream. Use the sour cream to make the blue cheese spreadable. Spoon the blue cheese onto the figs. Drizzle with a bit of honey.

Serve the figs at room temperature.

A Dinner Party, Featuring Recipes from CANVAS AND CUISINE

A Dinner Party, Featuring Recipes from CANVAS AND CUISINE

You know I LOVE to entertain, and you know I live to share recipes and cooking skills. What’s better than to combine my loves into an evening of dining and shared cooking? Nothing.. nadda.. this is the best FUN!

We started with cocktails and some appys that covered the bases from bacon wrapped crackers (hey who doesn’t love bacon?) to roasted shrimp with avocado green goddess dressing. I also offered a lovely tuna tartar that was spiked with bits of ripe pear. Delish!

Everyone sat down to a first course of jalapeno corn chowder and freshly baked focaccia bread; both recipes are in Canvas and Cuisine. I then asked the ladies to join me in the kitchen where we created the salad, AND a stack of heirloom tomatoes on a toasted crouton, with a dressing of lemon and white balsamic vinaigrette and a garnish of warm panko crusted goat cheese. Yumm, oh yumm!

After we enjoyed our salads, the guys, divided into two groups, joined me to grill marinated pork tenderloins that were rested in an herb and garlic board sauce, and then smothered with caramelized onions and a cilantro vinaigrette.

Team two prepared green beans and new potatoes cooked with sun-dried tomatoes and lemon. (These are also recipes from Canvas and Cuisine.)

Dessert was my decadent tropical carrot cake, slathered in cream cheese frosting and a few just-baked chocolate chip and hazelnut biscotti. The absolute piece de resistance was my after-dinner treat: a take on a White Russian cocktail. Mine had glasses rimmed in black walnut bourbon sugar and included a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

Yes, we did it up, and I can confidently tell you that everyone had a great time. I can tell you this, because it was me that had the most fun of all!

Enjoy the scrumptious possibilities by incorporating dishes like these into your future dinner parties…

 

 

Ramp up the Holiday Cheer with this Christmas Punch

Ramp up the Holiday Cheer with this Christmas Punch

My favorite movie of all time is Christmas Vacation – it stars a hapless Chevy Chase as Clark W. Griswold. He drains the Midwest’s entire power grid when he plugs in his holiday lights. When he toasts to his house full of guests, it’s from a moose cup filled with egg nog.

Maybe I’m not the only one who thinks Christmas kitsch is so much fun. In the spirit of that movie, comes the Miracle Pop-Up Bar – with over-the-top X-mas decorations and menus printed off to look like lists to Santa.

It got my mind whirring for a party of my own. The environment of the one I dropped in on had an office party feel to it – it made me nostalgic for my favorite gaudy sweater.

Florida’s got a handful of Miracle bars, all serving holiday craft cocktails that figure it must be five o’clock somewhere in the North Pole.

Call me old-fashioned…that was a joke!…I’ve started noticing that my favorite restaurants pride themselves on creating drinks with culinary value. They embellish on classics like the Negroni, Gimlet and Old-Fashioned with super fresh ingredients, and a whole heck of a lot of technique. Watch the bartender work on your drink, and you’ll see it’s quite an enterprise. They’re finishing off orders with crème Brule torches, and ringing glass tops with sugar and spice and everything nice.

The craft cocktail menu at the Miracle bar closest to me in Palm Beach, Death and Glory, had cinnamon bourbon for the naughty kids. Rum, peppermint and chocolate went to the good little boys and girls.

The main menu was a blast, too! For the Home Alone fans, there was a jerk chicken dish called LOOK WHAT YOU DID YOU LITTLE JERK, entrée salads that harken back to Seinfeld, A FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US and, naturally, many a Christmas Vacation reference. Save the neck for me, Clark!

But the craft cocktails were the reason for the season!

What I kept noticing were the hints of cranberry, rosemary, orange and wormwood bitters, butterscotch, absinthe mist and coconut rums – it was all beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

So many of the drinks were almost too pretty to consume, so I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka!

So without further ado, here’s the Hawaiian way, to say Merry Christmas to you!

EXTREME X-mas Margarita Punch

Yields: about 6 drinks

For the punch

1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk

8 jiggers (or shots) silver tequila

5 jiggers (or shots) triple sec

Juice of a lime, about ½ cup

2 cups crushed ice

 

For the garnishes

Cranberries or pomegranate seeds

Sanding sugar

Rosemary sprigs, 6 to 8

In a blender, combine the coconut milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice. Blend until smooth.

Pour contents into a punch bowl, and garnish with sprigs of rosemary. Cranberries don’t float at the surface all that well, so for a beautiful colorful contrast, I suggest red cocktail napkins with this drink.

To prepare glasses, dip the rims in sugar and drop a few cranberries at the bottom. Accent each glass with a fresh lime wedge.

EXTREME PARTY PLANNER NOTE: Repeat recipe if it’s a large punch bowl that holds more than one yield from blender.

And, as they say at the Miracle Bar, Yippee Ki Yay!