Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cool Wine Gadget

So I was tempted by evil Groupon, to buy a refurbished wine chiller.  It was so cheap!  More than 75% off retail- how could I resist?

This is the waring pro.  Some people think it makes too much noise- I don't.  I can barely here it, and it's only on constantly while it brings your wine to temperature.  Now don't think you'll be able to speed chill a champagne in this.  It's a more nuanced appliance than that.  This takes your wine to its perfect temperature for serving.  You should prechill anything that needs to be really cold, and then your Waring pro will either chill it more, or warm it up a little, to bring the wine to its optimal temperature.  Does optimal temp matter?  More to some than to others, I would think.  But if it matters to you, or you just want to see if it matters to you, or you merely like gadgets to play with, this might be something you'd enjoy.  We definitely enjoyed it.

Starters- Mascarpone, walnuts and pepper jelly

Chop up 1/2 cup of walnuts very fine.  I use a knife, but you could process them.  Mix them with 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese.  Top crackers, or sourdough toast rounds, with the cheese mixture- flatten, and put a drop of pepper jelly in the middle.  My friends LOVED these- they ate them all up.  I was almost embarrassed to tell them how easy they were.  These little guys are on the circular plate- I made some with, and some without, pepper jelly- I won't do that again.  There were a few of the crackers without pepper jelly left after the evening was over.

What to do with Tomato Guts

So you've hollowed out 8 or 10 or 12 tomatoes so you can bake eggs in the tomatoes. What now?  Scoop those tomato guts in to the crockpot, throw in your favorite pasta sauce (I used a basil sauce- from Mezzetta) and turn the crockpot on low.  Add a can or tray (if you are using refrigerated and grilled, as I was) artichoke hearts- I added 2 cups.  Add some kalamata olives (I added 1/2 cup).  Add extra spices.  We like oregano around here, so I added 1/4 cup of dry leaves.  If I'd had fresh, I would have added less, since it's stronger.  All this should be "to taste"- make it the way you want.  Cook the sauce all day on low- and then in the evening, serve it over anything.  I serve it over veggies for my husband, since he is reducing his carbs.  It was lovely over sauteed bell peppers and Italian squash.

Delicious Baked Tomatoes and Eggs! Easy! Fast!

Preheat oven to 375   
 Start with large beefsteak tomatoes.  I buy them by the flat at Costco.  Hollow them out (and throw the innards in a crockpot- I've got a recipe for them, that follows this).  After you've hollowed them all out, and put them upside down on a clean paper towel, get out some slices of Canadian bacon, bacon crumbles, or ham.  Put the meat in the very bottom of the tomato.  It should be small, and thin, and just cover the bottom of the tomato.  After you've put the ham in, put the tomato in a baker large enough to accommodate all the tomatoes in an upright position.
     Next, crack an egg and put it in the tomato.  Remember, hit your eggs on the counter or a flat surface, if you use a knife you're more likely to get eggshells in things.  Your egg needs a blunt trauma- if I may borrow some CSI terminology.
     Shake on some pepper and salt, to taste- I also add a pinch of oregano.  Now, you top the egg with cheese.  I usually use Parmesan, but cheddar and shaved Manchego work equally well.
     Bake until they are done to your liking.  We enjoy firm eggs- so it takes around 30 minutes.  I use a knife to test them- when there is no egg liquid on the knife, when I stick it from the top into the cheese and egg, I know they are done.
     Here is what they look like:

In that last picture you can see what's inside the finished product.  These are super tasty, and reheat well, and they are a snap to make.  I can make them on a school morning- as long as I get up early enough for the baking time. I think it takes under 10 minutes to get 8 of them ready to pop in the oven.