What We’re Cooking Now: Pre Theater Snacks

We had some friends stop in the other night for a quick glass prior to us all going to the theater.  Knowing how we are, that meant a few snacks had to be created to go with our wine. Nothing too fussy, just some quick bites that went well with the wine.  I knew we would be opening a few whites, starting with an Inama Soave and possibly a Miner Chardonnay. I love a Soave!  Beautifully rich white wine from the Veneto region of Italy that is maybe a cross between a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay.  We had a dinner party the night before where we made a sundried tomato risotto and being the constant saver I had kept the left over risotto, though I knew it was impossible to reheat in its present form, but I knew I could do something with it.  I had a mixture of raw nuts that I wanted to jazz up, a brick of aged Gouda and the makings for what I thought might be a tasty tapenade.  Boom…quick appetizers created.  Though it is always easier to just open some prepared hummus, chop a few carrots, and heat a pita or two, sometimes it is nice to create a few special appetizers for your friends to show you love them.

Sun Dried Tomato Risotto Balls with Basil Pesto Aioli
Like I said, we had already prepared risotto from the night before.  I will have the recipe up soon, or just make your favorite risotto from scratch or a package.  I have done these a few times and it helps if you are making it that day to let the risotto cook a little longer than you normally would to get as much liquid out as possible, otherwise the balls fall apart when frying. 

Ingredients –
Makes about 20 risotto balls about the size of a large cotton ball.
2 cups cooked and cooled sundried tomato risotto
1 ½ cups flour in a small bowl
2 large eggs
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
½ cup Basil Pesto (see recipe here) or use your favorite prepared
1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon black pepper or more to taste
Sea salt – season to taste (some prepared pestos can be salty so season to your taste)

Preparation –
Be prepared to get a bit messy.  With a spoon or small ice cream scoop scoop out and form  20 risotto balls on to a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Lightly roll each ball in the flour, just enough to help the egg wash stick.  Whisk the two eggs together in a small bowl with a bit of water to make an egg wash.  Season the Panko breadcrumbs with the Italian seasoning and pepper.  Roll each ball in the egg wash and then the Panko and place back on the wax paper.  After all balls are completed place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm up.  In the mean time whisk together the pesto, mayo, lemon juice and season to taste.  I like an aioli that is bright and not too dense, slowly add the lemon juice in to create the consistency you like. After 20 minutes bring your oil to a boil and fry your risotto balls until they are golden brown, turning once (about 3-5 minutes) and drain on paper towels.  Season with sea salt immediately while they are still nice and hot.  And don’t over crowd the pan, make sure they have room to do their thing.  Serve with the aioli.  Read More

What We’re Cooking Now: Dinner with the Cockerell’s

Le Petit Coquerel

Saturday night we had a former television client of mine and his wife over for dinner.  We had asked our friends the Brenda and Clay Cockerell over previously, loving both the couple, and their incredible Napa Valley Coquerel Sauvignon Blancs.  To finish out the table we invited my former clients business partner and his lovely wife.  A perfect table of 8 – not too large that you lose conversations, not to small that conversation topics became dull.  Quite the contrary with this group, especially when you add in two perfectly chilled Mumm Napa Rose sparklers to start, followed by much more in the evening.

 Our guests arrived on the nose at 8 to be greeted with the bubbly and a few savory creations as we finished dinner.  Stuffed peppadew peppers and my truffled brie creation (kind of my signature dish.  I used to stuff the filling into chicken.  About 3 years ago I started topping brie and baking it instead….everything is so much better with cheese…) (Recipes below)

Serving both of these with the Rose bubbly both married and contrasted perfectly.  I usually go for a Rose Champagne or Sparkling Wine.  I like the earthy flavors and delicate distinction that Roses often have, especially when paired with truffle and mushroom. 

Our peppadew dish is bright, fresh and slightly acidic, so paired with a subtle, earthy sparkler filled with strawberry softens out the acidity and enhances the creaminess of the cheese and rounds out the complete flavor.  Paired with the mushroom and brie allows for a perfect combination that any Frenchman or woman would be proud to call their own.  My sweetheart calls this dish a big bowl of sinful, cheesy goodness; pairing with a delicate, earthy wine creates a complete flavor profile.  And one of our favorites. Read More

Pinot Noir Inspired Dinner

A few weeks ago I hosted a Pinot celebration.   I had just received the latest shipment from one of my wine clubs and I was anxious to try one of the Pinot Noir selections.  And, because I do love to throw a good party with lots of different flavors and senses sampled, I meticulously planned my menu from appetizer to dessert, with wine for each course, of course.  I knew I wanted to do something that would appeal to most of my guests, and since some are not beef eaters this led me to chicken.  Chicken often gets a bad wrap, but if done well it can be luxurious.   

One of my favorite recipes is for a truffle, mushroom and thyme stuffed chicken with mushrooms that have been sautéed in a good splash of Pinot Noir with a touch of truffle oil.  You are probably thinking this is something that would be better suited for steak….oh no, the combination with the chicken is stupendous.  I also thought it would be nice to start with stuffed mushrooms to carry the theme, a nice cheese plate, a field greens salad with truffled crisps, and I had an opened bottle of Pinot that would be perfect for making poached pears for dessert.    Read More

Red Wine with Breakfast

Every Glass Is An Adventure


Sommelier, Personal Chef & Concierge Creating Elegant Dinner Parties and Unique Wine Tasting Events to the Big Island of Hawaii

Cogill Wine & Film

Cogill WIne & Film and Cogill Consulting brings together the talents of Producer Gary Cogill and his wife, Sommelier Hayley Hamilton Cogill, working together, yet thriving individually, for a perfect pairing of wine and film.