Tag Archives: Fire & Wine

F&W: Dine & Dash

One minute we were dining alfresco. The next, I was alone-o.

That’s what happens when your friends dine & dash on you on a Fire & Wine night.

(For those of you who are new, Fire & Wine is our weekly girls’ night cooking event wherein I try to create something new without burning down the kitchen. )

To be fair, everyone had a legitimate reason to cut out early this week.  And they told me in advance. 

What I loved about this week’s Fire & Wine creation is that the fire risk was very low. In fact, had I managed to start a kitchen fire on this dish, we would probably have to ban me from ever stepping a toe in any kitchen again.

And that would be a sad thing.

Kind of like when your friends leave you after dinner.

I kid. I kid.

Back to the meal. I decided to try my hand at Salade Niçoise. I love nicoise salad. I’m pretty sure I first tried it in Germany when my folks  lived there. It’s really much more than a salad. It’s quite the meal. And it’s nice and refreshing in the summer.

I served it family style, but you could plate it in individual portions.

I started looking in some of my cookbooks , but then I saw Elise at Simply Recipes had one. It was kind of over then, because if Elise has tried it, then it’s going to work and be delicious. It’s just that simple.

So I went with the Simply Recipes Nicoise Salad. And it was perfect. The only modification I made was a little extra Dijon in the dressing because I love Dijon. Also, do to a unfortunate incident, I only had five eggs.

But wait! You think I’m done yet?

In a unprecedented Fire & Wine occurence, I made dessert!

The perfect dessert for a summer meal. I’m pretty sure it will be a regular in future Quirky household meals.

Behold: raspberry sherbet.

 Sherbet is something I’d never considered making because I don’t have any of that high fangled ice cream machinery.

This is not a statement of complaint. I don’t have room for any more gadgets, gizmos or processors in my kitchen.

But when I was searching for a salad recipe, I found myself reading one of my first cookbooks. Remember Anne from the bra party? (Don’t forget- special custom bra offer for Queen of Quirky readers!) Years ago, her mom introduced my mom to this fantastic cookbook gem out of Kansas City.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com where you can still buy it used

It’s called Beyond Parsley and it was published in 1984 by the Junior League of Kansas City. I call it a cookbook gem because it is really rather remarkable – both in the recipes and the photography.

When I got married the first time, Anne’s mom gave me my own copy of the book. It’s moved all over the country with me, but rarely been used. I wasn’t much of a cook in my first marriage. (My ex-husband would snort if he read that. But seriously. He was a picky pants and cooking just wasn’t fun with him. Mr. Quirky loves to try my food — even foods he historically hasn’t liked. He encourages me all the time, even in my mistakes. He’s kind of Mr. Amazing Quirky.)

So the cookbook was really just waiting for me to find myself in the kitchen. I’m so glad I did.

I’m also glad I tried the raspberry sherbet recipe. I’m even more glad I doubled it. You are going to freak out when you see how easy it is.

Ingredients

1 10 oz bag frozen raspberries, thawed

1 scant cup sugar (I love saying “scant cup.” My recipes never sound so fancy.)

1 cup of sour cream (I used light)

1/2 tsp of vanilla

Directions

Mash berries (I used a potato masher.) Combine ingredients. Stir well. Freeze.

You should really make this for your Fourth of July gathering. But be sure to double it because this only serves four, and I don’t know what kind of portion size they were  thinking because my doubled recipe served five of us and there isn’t very much left.

Enjoy and keep it quirky this weekend!

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Queen of Quirky’s Philly Stuffed Quackers

Fire & Wine night this week was quacksolutely fabulous.

I took on my second Real Women of Philadelphia challenge with the support of DD Girl, Roomie and friends Paul and Andy, and of course my #1 producer, Mr. Quirky. (Who says I need to take direction better…)

Now I know friends Paul and Andy were really invited b/c Roomie forgot it was Fire & Wine night and she had dinner prior to coming, so we had more duck to go around. And that’s ok. But now that we’ve opened the vault into our top secret Fire & Wine night activities, I fear they are going to want to come weekly.

Special thanks to my friends at Hen House Market who ordered two whole duck breasts for me. If you are ever looking for specialty meats or seafood, Hen House is fabulous to work with. (They also were the source of my lobsters – RIP.) And DD Girl who has eaten more duck in her life than I have raved about how delicous and fresh tasting our duck was.

Next week we plan to confit our duck legs (which are waiting in my freezer) and do something similar to Elise’s pasta dish. Stay tuned!

Anyhow, the video has been submitted, the duck breasts were demolished and several bottles of wine were killed on the front porch. Good times. 

(Note, Gertie made her national debut in this video – she pops in toward the end to see what’s going on and why her kitchen smells so good. Can you blame her? She’s a bird dog, afterall.)

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Spoiler alert: I don’t have three pet lobsters

Instead, we enjoyed a delicious meal with fresh lobster with a parsley butter sauce, smashed red potatoes with chive and onion cream cheese and steamed asparagus.

Besides, by now I know you’ve seen the video and all the shrieking and jumping that ensued.

And oh, the antenna….sticking out of the pot to remind us of what we had done.

And the carnage that remained.

We had killed three living beings.

And they were delicious.

And then Gertie had to comfort us and make us feel better for our animal cruelty.

It was that kind of night.

Because friends don’t let friends kill lobsters alone.

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Fire & Wine – I did not boil my face off

I have a new toy.

Isn’t she pretty?

(Thank you, dear blogging friend.)

It seemed more than appropriate to bring back Fire & Wine (post wedding break) and christen the new toy.

And simultaneously try not to boil my face.

Because we all know, I’m not to be trusted with even the simplest of kitchen tasks. Inserting a whirling stick into a pot of hot liquid could (have) spelled disaster for me.

Luckily for all of us involved, I did not boil my face.

Instead, I made a most delicious (and not so nutritious) artichoke bisque.

The key to this (aside from avoiding molten splashback) was to distract my guests with tasty appetizers so that they didn’t notice the entire stick of butter going into the soup.

Hey, look over there! Rosemary flatbread, goat cheese and tapenade!

Butter? What butter?

See how that works? It’s easy.

So was the soup:

(Adapted from this Group Recipe for Fresh Artichoke Bisque.)

  • 2 cans of large artichoke hearts (drained and rinsed.)
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium size leek, white-and-light green part, sliced and rinsed
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups of homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs of parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked white peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Directions:

    Dice leek and soak in water to remove dirt. Remove pieces with slotted spoon and dry thoroughly. Give artichokes a rough chop and make sure they are dried.

    In a large pot, melt half of the butter and cook the artichoke hearts, leek, garlic, and shallots on medium heat until tender but not brown. Add the potatoes and stock. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, then lower heat and continue to simmer uncovered, 1 hour.

    Remove and discard the herbs.  Whip out the new immersion blender and carefully blend soup.

    Whisk in the remaining butter and the cream. Using a microplane, grate nutmeg over soup and serve.

    Some notes: I might suggest adding another potato to thicken the soup a bit. I served with chibatta bread.

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    The Bachelor and Fire & Wine Night Combo Post: Jake, just say gno!

    Sometimes you just have to say gno.

    And, last night, as we devoured our delicious gnocchi (recipe courtesy of the brilliant Elise of Simply Recipes) topped with a brown butter with spinach and pinenuts sauce (recipe courtesy of Cooking Light), we were screaming “GNO!” at our bachelor friend, Jake.

    I decided to compile our list of “gnos” in lieu of our usual Cheese Whiz Ratings. Because last night was gno ordinary Fire & Wine night.

    Image courtesy of EW.com

    Things Jake should have said Gno* to in last night’s episode – with quotes and input from DD Girl and Roomie:

    1. Girls in RV’s. – Didn’t Jake watch Road Rules? He should know that nothing good ever comes out of a bunch of girls sharing an RV.

    2. Carrying his date (Gia) around the vineyard like a toddler. “She probably weighs as much as a toddler – DD Girl.” Jake, that’s weird and icky.

    3. Girls who wear stilletos on a camping trip. Even Roomie who always looks cute and fashionable balked at these girls.

    4. Taking your dates to a whore house-looking hotel, with each room you visit getting progressively tackier than the rest. If that is even possible.

    5. The “I get lost in your eyes” line as said to Kathryn. Both times. Really?

    6. A tie that looks like a tablecloth during the rose elimination ceremony. What was that thing?

    7. Seeking wisdom on picking your future wife from Chris – the-network-is-going-to-love-this Harrison. Of course they are going to let you not give out all your roses, silly Jakey.

    8. Girls obsessed with Vienna. Ugh. Enough already. All of it.

    9. Ashleigh’s post-rose ceremony departure was less than graceful, as Roomie told DD Girl who was out of the room. So this gno is to Ashleigh – say gno to snotty, tearful departure speeches.

    10. Girls who freak out over a cute little family of raccoons. (Gia!) Possibly the best part of the entire episode.

    *Cheese Whiz Awards will return next week.

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    F&W: Classic lasagna & classic us for a fine holiday celebration

    The last Fire & Wine night of the year. And I wanted to make it special.

    I thought about doing a ham or turkey breast, but to me, Christmas is Italian.

    I grew up (and still do) eating spaghetti with my family on Christmas. This isn’t your ordinary spaghetti. This is cook-all-day slow-roasted-goodness spaghetti. My Italian grandfather passed the recipe down to my mother who will (I hope) eventually pass it onto me.

    In the meantime, I decided to try my hand at lasagna. No, I had never made it before. Odd, I know.  I don’t like ground beef. But it dawned on me that I could substitute ground turkey for beef and then it dawned on me that I could add some Italian sausage to that.

    So, I adapted this classic lasagna recipe from Southern Living by using 1/2 lb of ground turkey and 1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage instead of the ground beef.

    • 2  medium onions, chopped
    • 2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
    • 4  garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2  lb ground turkey
    • 1/2 lb  sweet Italian sausage removed from casing
    • 1  (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
    • 2  (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
    • 1  (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
    • 1  bay leaf
    • 1  teaspoon  Italian seasoning
    • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt, divided
    • 3/4  teaspoon  pepper, divided
    • 12  lasagna noodles, uncooked
    • 8  cups  boiling water
    • 1  (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
    • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1/4  cup  grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2  (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
    • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

    1. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add turkey and sausage, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

    2. Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

    3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

    4. Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

    5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

    Perfection is what that is.

    The sauce is fantastic. (I ended up adding about 2 tablespoons of sugar to it because I like my sauce a little sweeter)

    We enjoyed our meal while we watched Oprah interview the President and First Lady in the White House.

    I wondered aloud where you would have Fire & Wine night at the White House. Like how would you eat on stools and wipe your fingers with paper towels?

    We decided that Fire & Wine night is one of life’s pleasures that President and Mrs. Obama do not get to experience.

    And then we decided (accidentally on purpose, please may I have another glass?)  it was Wire & Fine night.

    And that was the funniest thing anyone had ever said.

    Meanwhile Gertie entertained by tossing her pheasant around the room.

    And the Fiance was up in his man cave rolling around on the office chair and cheering loudly at a University of Kansas basketball game.

    DD Girl and I didn’t have to work the next day so we may have continued the celebration out on the Plaza with more friends, and I may have had a little much fun….

    But whatever it was, it was just fine with me. Merry Christmas!

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    F&W Night Shrimp Coconut Curry and Show & Tell

    I loved show & tell as a child.

    It was probably my favorite day of the week.

    Any opportunity to have all eyes on me and my object, no matter how menial…

    I’m an attention whore. What can I say?

    Do you know that I still do show & tell? Usually when I have a new guest in my house. I just love pulling out an old photo album or object from my past to show my visitor. I know it’s a horribly annoying trait. I try to stop myself.

    “Stephanie…do not go get that photo album. No one wants to see your pictures of Germany circa 1999.”

    It never works. Because once I have just a little thought that I could run up and grab that item, it’s all over.

    It’s a good thing my friends like me so much put up with me. I’m really quite the train wreck sometimes. Like, if I were in a reality television show, I’d be watching me and covering my eyes, saying “it’s embarrasing to watch her.”

    Last night was particularly painful for my guests.

    I have no idea how this came up, but I started talking about a play I was in during 9th grade. And then…

    I ran up and grabbed the playbook (Yes, I still have it.) And proceeded to dramatically read some of the lines from it.

    We were missing DD Girl, who had some holiday errands to run. So, it was Roomie and one of my co-workers who endured this performance.

    Thank goodness the Coconut Curry from Jaden Hair’s new Steamy Kitchen cookbook was so delicious.

    I just subbed shrimp for the chicken because I felt like shrimp and added some red peppers because I had them on hand.  I added the shrimp at the very end, instead of mid-way through the cooking process so that it wouldn’t over-cook.

    You could really do so much with this dish and still have it taste yummy. For example, I couldn’t find Thai Kaffir Lime leaves, so I squeezed a tad bit of lime juice into the curry and added cilantro. That’s what I love about Jaden’s recipes – they are so flexible and easy.

    I just really hope that the curry was the star performer last night and not me.

    (I may or may not have dug up some pictures from the play and brought them to work to show my co-worker, as if she didn’t get enough of my antics last night…)

    *Image courtesy of www.steamykitchen.com. Book was a gift, courtesy of Jaden Hair, as a guest favor for the Blogher Food 09 after-party.

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