Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary AlmondsI’ve been dreaming about these almonds for over a year now. The last winery we visited (Robert Sinskey) during our trip to Napa last year had wonderful food pairings with their wines. All of the food was amazing but the almonds are the only thing that I kept thinking about (probably it was the only thing that I could figure out how to make on my own). Anyway, so with the extra rosemary that I had from the Italian Greyhound I posted yesterday, I decided that it was time to give this dish a try. So I did, and then I proceed to eat the whole bowl. Yum!

Fried Rosemary Almonds 

Ingredients

1 cup blanched almonds*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
coarse salt

Directions

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the blanched almonds to the oil and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes to ensure the almonds don’t brown to much. Remove the pan from the heat, add the rosemary and salt the almonds to taste. Cool before serving and store in an airtight container for a week or two.

* If you can’t find blanched almonds, you can easily make your own. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add raw, unsalted almonds to the water and let them cook for about a minute (not any longer or they will soften too much). Immediately strain the almonds and place them in an ice bath or run them under cool water. Once cooled, simply peel the skin from the almonds (they almost pop out of the skin if you squeeze on one of the ends). Place the blanched almonds on a paper towel to remove any excess water before frying them.

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

A Feteful Life: Fried Rosemary Almonds

 

 

 

Dining Al Fresco… Greek Style

If I could pick one place in the whole world to visit, it would be Greece. I’ve never been and I’m absolutely dying to go. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Athens… I don’t care, I want to go and soak up the culture and food. Since that dream isn’t happening anytime soon, I think it’s time for me to bring a little bit of Greece to me. Here are some of my favorite ideas to throw a Greek inspired al fresco dinner. Fete on!

A Feteful Life: Greek Inspired Al Fresco Dinner1. Nothing screams Greece to me more than the combination of blue & white and these beautiful dishes from West Elm are no exception. I love their modern yet organic feel.

2. Candles are essential when it come to al fresco dining. There are a lot more ornate or detailed lanterns on the market these days but these simple wood ones from Crate & Barrel would be perfect!

3. Start out with a simple mezze platter of dolmas, olives, feta & hummus like this one from PopSugar. Add some chicken souvlaki and some greek yogurt with berries and you’ve got yourself a meal!

4. While dining under an olive grove would be best, I’ll have to settle with creating my own grove of olives by using olive branches as the centerpiece.

5. Keep things casual but elegant by decanting some greek white wine in a decanter and serving the wine in tumblers rather than wine glasses. I love this rustic blown glass set from VivaTerra.

 

Fete Local: Cork Market

Fete Local: Cork Market

When we first moved back to DC from the Bay Area we had an awesome loft apartment in Logan Circle. I loved that apartment and neighborhood so much. A lot of growth and development has happened there since we left and it all seems to have started with the opening of Cork Wine Bar.

The wine bar was opened by Diane Gross & Khalid Pitts who happened to be our next door neighbors in that cool Logan Circle building. When we moved in, they were in the design and development phase of getting Cork open. It was so exciting to hear them talk about their new venture and how they were taking the risk of leaving their jobs as lawyers to follow their passion for good wine and food. It’s something that Rebecca and I find particularly appealing since that’s exactly what we’re starting to do now!

And the risk sure has paid off for them – within two years of opening the wine bar they opened Cork Market, which has an amazing selection of wine, cheese, gourmet ingredients, charcuterie, etc… Pretty much your one stop shop to throw a killer cocktail party or wine night. Here are our top 10 picks to do just that…

Fete Local: Cork Market

1. Baguettes – They had a great selection of artisan bread but these baguettes are the perfect food for a party. Slice at an angle, toast with some olive oil and coarse sea salt and you have the perfect base for any topping.

Fete Local: Cork Market

2. Oil-Cured Tomatoes – And speaking of toppings, you can’t get much better than these house made oil-cured tomatoes. Leave them out to come to room temperature and then spread them on that crostini you just made. Your guests will be in awe.

Fete Local: Cork Market

3. Cheese – Cork Market has an amazing selection of artisan cheeses and their staff can help you pick the perfect cheese for your taste. This Lenora goat cheese is right up my and Rebecca’s alley.

Fete Local: Cork Market

4. Charcuterie – They have a very interesting selection of pre-packaged charcuterie (i.e., Wild Boar Salumi) but how often can you get the good stuff sliced fresh for you? That’s definitely our pick!

Fete Local: Cork Market

Cork 12

5 & 6. Staff Picks of Red & White Wine – Their selection of wine is extensive. You can definitely ask a staff member for help but I love how they have “staff picks,” all at a reasonable price. Pick up a few bottles of the red & white!

Fete Local: Cork Market

7. Lemonade Syrup – Definitely pick up some of this house-made lemonade syrup and mix it with some club soda to give your guests a refreshing non-alchoholic alternative. You could also spike it with some bourbon and make an awesome boozy Lemonade.

Fete Local: Cork Market

8. Dolcezza Gelato – We’re a bit obsessed with gelato over here at AFL and Dolcezza is our gelato of choice. It’s SO good and it’s local! Buy a lot, it won’t last long.

Fete Local: Cork Market

9 & 10. Vin Santo and Biscotti – When Jim and I were traveling through Italy before we moved back to DC, we spent some time in Tuscany and fell in love with this classic Tuscan combo. Serve the Vin Santo chilled and dip the biscotti in this sweet dessert wine as you sip it. Molto Bene!

Fete Local: Cork Market

 

 

 

Wine Soaked Strawberries with Basil

A Feteful Life: Wine & Basil Soaked StrawberriesStrawberry season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier about that – they are by far my favorite fruit. I’ve been buying them in bulk lately so finding new ways to use up all of those berries before they go bad is my new mission in life. And, this recipe for wine soaked strawberries is the easiest way to make use of a few pints while making one elegant and delicious dish. I served mine over some amazing vanilla gelato but they would be equally good with some marscapone cheese or fresh whipped cream. However you choose to serve these berries, I promise they won’t disappoint!

A Feteful Life: Wine Soaked Strawberries with Basil

A Feteful Life: Wine Soaked Strawberries with BasilWine Soaked Strawberries with Basil (by A Feteful Life)

Ingredients

1.5 cups of red wine (I used a Cabernet but a fruity Zinfandel or Merlot would be great as well)
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest from one lemon
5 large basil leaves

Directions

In a large bowl add the sugar and one large basil leaf. Slightly muddle to release some of the basil’s flavor. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and wine. Slowly whisk to combine. Add the strawberries to the wine mixture and let the them soak at room temperature for 30-60 minutes and then transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour. Don’t let the strawberries soak for more than 2-3 hours or they will start to become too mushy. Before serving, garnish the berries with chiffonaded basil and some of the remaining lemon zest.

 

 

Cocktail Hour: Classic Spanish Sangria

A Feteful Life: Classic SangriaThere are few things that make me as happy as a cold pitcher of sangria just waiting to be served (especially on a warm spring or summer evening). Last year for my birthday Jim actually gave me a case of wine with a gift certificate for 12 batches of sangria anytime I wanted. It was a lovely and thoughtful gift which resulted in many an impromptu bbqs with our neighbors just because we had some sangria to celebrate with. So, now that the weather is finally starting to heat up I made my first batch of sangria of the season.

I’ve been fiddling around with perfecting my recipe over the last few years. This recipe isn’t very sweet but just sweet enough. While a lot of sangrias use brandy in addition to the wine, I have started using dark rum. It kinda happened by accident the first time because I didn’t have any brandy on hand, but I was so happy with how it turned out that I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It is also equally good with or without the addition of some sparkling water. Since you all know that I am addicted to sparkling water, I can’t help myself but it definitely isn’t necessary.

Classic Spanish Sangria (by A Feteful Life)

2 lemons
1 orange
1 1/2 cups dark rum (spiced rum would probably work as well)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 (750ml) bottle of dry red wine
1 cup orange juice
1 liter sparkling water (optional)

Directions

Thinly slice the orange and lemons. In a large pitcher combine the rum, orange juice, wine and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sliced fruit to the pitcher and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

When you are ready to serve crush the fruit lightly with a large spoon. You can either add the liter of sparking water to the entire pitcher or mix it into each glass individually. Cheers!

Simple Wine Club

A Feteful Life: Simple Wine ClubEvery month a group of my neighbors and I get together to drink wine and catch up about our ever changing and busy lives. I look forward to this night every month and here’s how it works…  Each month a different person hosts and the host is in charge of the wine and food while the rest of the group just shows up to enjoy. Since we have eight women in our group each person is only responsible for hosting once or twice a year. Awesome, right?

It was my turn to host this month and here are my easy steps to hosting a simple wine night…

A Feteful Life: Wine Club SuppliesShopping List

  • Wine – Don’t go overboard. Get 2-3 bottles of your favorite white and 2-3 bottles of your favorite red (you’ll probably have extra but since it’s your favorite wine, you won’t mind taking care of those leftovers).
  • Cheese – all you need is 3 cheeses to create a pretty nice cheese board. One soft, one semi-soft, and one hard.
  • Crunch – Add some crackers and/or breadsticks to go with the cheese. Nuts would also be a great addition but aren’t necessary.
  • Fruit – Fruit and cheese are meant to go together. I always like to have grapes on hand because they’re also easy to snack on. In addition, some sliced apples or pears always pair nicely with cheeses. And don’t forget one fruit spread like fig jam (mango chutney and quince paste are also great options).
  • Sweets – Keep it small and definitely have chocolate. I love the chocolate covered caramels from Trader Joe’s and mini mexican chocolate chip cookies from Carla Hall (I find mine at Whole Foods).
  • Extras – Totally optional. I love a good Italian prosciutto parma and some marinated olives to give some option other than cheese.

A Feteful Life: Simple Wine Club

A Feteful Life: Simple Wine Club30 Minute Countdown Set-up

  • 30 minutes – Leave the cheese out to bring it to room temperature & uncork the red wines to let them breathe a little bit.
  • 20 minutes – Set up a little wine bar area where guests can easily help themselves to wine when they arrive and can easily get more during the course of the evening.
  • 15 minutes – Set up the cheese plate. Be sure to leave enough space around your cheeses so you can easily cut into the cheeses. Arrange the meat and fruit in bite size portions (I cut the long slices of proscuitto into 3rds so it would be easier to place on a cracker or eat on its own). Add a fruit spread to the tray where there’s room.
  • 10 minutes – Take your packaged food (crackers, cookies, olives) out of their containers and put them in bowls around your cheese plate.
  • 5 minutes – Pour yourself a glass of wine and have a seat because you’re done 5 minutes before your guests arrive!

This is about as easy as entertaining can get so hurry up and email some friends to get your own wine club started! Fete on!

 

Cocktail Hour: Mulled Wine

Mulled WineMulled wine is one of my favorite holiday traditions. The wine, the spice, the warmth, the aroma, the wine. It’s just so delicious. I particularly love Ina Garten’s recipe because she adds some apple cider to the mix. I’ve made mulled wine in the past with just wine and spices and it gets a bit heavy. The apple cider adds nice flavor while lightening it up.

Mulled Wine (adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients
4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle of red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
1/4 cup honey
10 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, sliced for garnish

Directions
Combine the cider, wine, honey, 2 cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange slice and cinnamon stick to each mug and serve. Serves 8.