Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Sippers to Drink in the Season

Monday Morning Blog

Halloween will soon be here and there's no reason to leave the grown-ups out of the festivities.

A few adult beverages will warm a chilling evening.

Perfect for parties. Enchanting for two.

Black Cat Cocktails
An adult ice cream float.

Orange sherbet
A jigger of vodka
Root beer
Whipped cream
Chocolate sprinkles

For each serving, put 2 scoops of sherbet into a tall glass. Add vodka. Fill glass with root beer. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Black Cat Coolers (non alcoholic): Prepare Black Cat Cocktails omitting vodka.

Beguiling and bewitching.

Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup apple cider (fresh or hard)
1/3 cup Guinness Extra Stout (other beers or ales not recommended)

Fill a tall, frosted glass with cider and stout. Stir. Served very cold.

Hot Orange Cider Toddy
Makes 1 serving

1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple cider (bottled, fresh or hard)
Cinnamon stick
A jigger of apple schnapps, Southern Comfort or bourbon.

Put juice and cider into a heat proof mug and microwave till steaming. After heating, add a jigger of spirits and a cinnamon stick.

Hot Orange Cider (non alcoholic): Prepare Hot Orange Cider Toddy omitting spirits.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October is Wine Month In Virginia And You Won't Go Hungry

Moday Morning Blog

The Vintner's Chef Cooks Up Perfect Food To Pair With Virginia Wines

It may not the best economic time to start a business but that didn't stop Pamela Zacha from following her dream. She left the security of a full time job to start the Vinter's Chef - and even got her old boss to put up the seed money.

Vintner's Chef is a niche catering business that focuses on food prepared especially for Virginia wineries. There are two parts to the Vintner's Chef, Plat du Jour and Extraordinary Events, both of which will pop your cork.

Plat du Jour (Plate of the Day) is run by Zacha who prepares upscale, individual servings of prepackaged, fresh gourmet food for local wineries to sell to their customers. Each item is paired with a specific wine for the diner's tasting pleasure.

Zacha got the idea for her niche business after hearing people complain about the lack of food at Virginia wineries.

"Virginia Farm wineries, because of their tax status, are not allowed to have full service restaurants and serve meals. They're allowed to sell prepackaged food and most sell cheese and crackers but not much more." said Zacha. "That's where I come in. I prepare elegant food to flatter their wines."

Extraordinary Events is the full service catering arm of the Vintner's Chef. It's run by Altovese McClung. The two whisk their passion for food and wine together like a gossamer hollandaise.

And, like Plat du Jour, catering at wineries is the specialty.

She must be on to something because it took Zacha only two and half months to get the entire operation up and running.

"The right food with the right wine makes everything pop! " says Pamela Zacha.


Want more info?

The Vintner's Chef
Exquisite Food to Flatter Wine

Plat du Jour - Prepackaged Winery Fare
Extraordinary Events Catering




Savory Pesto Cheesecakes
Complements of The Vintner's Chef

Nice with your favorite rose.
Best served at room temperature but these can be refrigerated for several days.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 16 - single serve, individual cheesecakes baked in a standard size cup cake pan

(You can use 3/4 cup of prepared pesto from a jar and skip this step)
1 package fresh basil, about 1/2 cup
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Finely chop first three ingredients in food processor. With motor still running, pour olive oil slowly down feed tube. Process until well incorporated. Add parmesan cheese. Blend well.

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup dry Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook's tip: Panko crumbs are coarse grated, Japanese style bread crumbs. They are available in grocer stores everywhere.

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, butter and the dried basil. Spread onto baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until golden. Watch carefully, these crumbs cook quickly.

Line a cupcake tin with papers. Spoon baked crumb mixture into bottom of cupcake papers. Press down into paper firmly. Set aside and make the filling.

16 ounces cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pine nuts

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, salt and cayenne in a large bowl until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of mixture to medium bowl. Mix pesto mixture into remaining half.

Pour pesto mixture into crust lined cup cake papers. Smooth tops. Carefully spoon plain mixture over. Gently smooth tops. Sprinkle each cup pine nuts dividing evenly.

Bake until center no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Farmacology - Antibiotics and Industrial Agriculture

Monday Morning Blog

An article appeared in the June 2009, Johns Hopkins University Magazine entitled "Farmacology" that chronicled Johns Hopkins researchers who say that drug resistant pathogens (like e coli and salmonella) are being bred on farms that routinely feed low doses of antibiotics to animals so they can be taken to market sooner. This began right after World War II and has been standard practice on mega - industrial farms for the past fifty years.

It is estimated, the article says, that 50 to 80 % of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to meat producing animals as a supplement to promote faster growth (and quicker profits) - not to treat disease.

The antibiotic resistant bacteria find their way from the factory farms into the general food and water supply as well as the population at large. Since these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, they become life threatening.

Using antibiotics as a growth promoter so animals can be brought to market sooner seems a reckless endangerment of all life.

The more we know about industrial agriculture, the more we realize how important it is to know where our food comes from and how it was produced. The buy fresh, buy local concept of supporting local agriculture is a simple and straight forward. It's a great place to start.

To know the farmer. To know the land. To know how your food was produced. These are all such important steps in keeping our food and water supply safe for us all - now like never before.


Want to read the whole article for yourself?
Johns Hopkins Magazine
June 2009
Electronic edition -