Entries from May 31st, 2011

Wine Tasting at WineStyles

May 31st, 2011 · No Comments

Last week I went to a wine tasting at WineStyles in Lakeview. Limey Dave won the tasting at a charity raffle and invited me to go. It just so happens that this is Limey’s regular go-to wine shop and that he’s good friends with Matt, who is a wine specialist there. One thing I really liked about the WineStyles store was that they split up the wines by different styles – crisp, silky, rich, bubbly, fruity, mellow, bold, nectar – that I can actually understand. I tended to like the crisp and mellow styles the best.

Matt chose the wines for us and poured. We tried each one and then at the end we had seconds on the ones we liked. They also had cheese and crackers for us, which was good because I hadn’t eaten for like 7 hours and when I did, it was just a salad. I didn’t think our pours were large, but I was feeling the wine quickly!

WineStyles was also running a special on their wine club. You had to sign up for 3 months, but the first month would only cost $1. It was a great deal, but the store is not that convenient for me, so I didn’t sign up. Check out the notes Matt printed on our tasting sheet. Sorry Dave. And Go Heat! Matt is a huge Miami Heat fan, which we found out later when we went to Beckett’s to watch the game and eat dinner. Bulls lost, but Jill and I were big winners with the delicious burger we ordered and split. Get this, the Oui Oui burger was a french onion soup infused patty topped with truffled mushrooms, cognac onions and melted brie and served on a French baguette. So good. I really liked that place, too: Beckett’s. I hadn’t been there since it had been the bar called Belly’s, which I didn’t really like.

Also, I may not have joined the wine club, but I did buy two of my favorite wines from the tasting:

Skouras Chardonnay – Greece. Tasting Notes: Crisp. Only a touch of oak in this lean, refreshing Chardonnay. The pineapple, peach and vanilla scents are bright. Tropical and orchard fruit flavors, but crisp with the acid to focus the flavors.

Maryhill Winery Winemaker’s Red – Columbia Valley, Washington. Tasting Notes: Mellow. An easy-drinking wine with complex notes that make this wine a favorite! The caramel, cherry and smoke aromas lead into a palate of black pepper and nutmeg, followed by cherries, berries, and oak.

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If you are between the ages of 0 and 85

May 28th, 2011 · No Comments

I keep seeing this commercial for anyone between the ages of 0 and 85 to call the number displayed and get life insurance. Age zero. Is that still in the womb? Also, why cut it off at 85?

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Hawaiian Banana Bread

May 27th, 2011 · 2 Comments

I made Hawaiian Banana Bread for my brunch clothing swap. I think what makes this bread Hawaiian is the story that came with the recipe. And also, that it has macademia nuts and coconut. I was just happy someone didn’t throw pineapple in it and call it Hawaiian (Dallas’s biggest pet peeve)! The toasted nuts in the bread are definitely tastey. The coconut kind of gets absorbed up in there, so if you’re not a big coconut fan, you might still give this bread a try. I made mini loaves for the party and at the end sent some of the girls home with the leftover loaves. I think I’m on to something with these mini loaves!

Hawaiian Banana Bread
From: One Perfect Bite

My homey’s call this lovely banana loaf King Kamehameha bread. We first had it in Hawaii several years ago. It is a lovely loaf whose taste has been enhanced by some very pleasant memories. When we returned from the islands, I began to search for a banana bread recipe that had the same plantation flavors as the bread we so enjoyed. Some find it strange that my quest for new foods begins with a search rather than an experiment. The work I did before retirement taught me not to reinvent the wheel, and, for better or worse, I’ve carried that belief into my kitchen. I don’t create or develop recipes unless I absolutely have to, or I have a truly original idea. That I ever began to enter cooking contests is a mystery to those who know me, and that I actually began to win some is a miracle to me. So, it should come as no surprise, that rather than parse taste memories, I began a search for a recipe I suspected already existed. The search brought me to this lovely bread from Gourmet Magazine. It is very close to the one we sampled on the islands. There are some tricks to making a great banana bread and if you want full banana flavor you have to start with really nasty bananas. The best bananas, from a cook’s perspective, are the ones that have huge leopard spots on their exteriors. Beautiful bananas look lovely in a fruit bowl but they make anemic breads, cakes or puddings. I also find it important to toast nuts and other dry additions that are folded into quick breads. Toasting will enhance their flavors as well. This bread is very moist and, if well-wrapped, will stay fresh for several days. It is easy to make and, in the great scheme of things, fairly inexpensive to make. If you can’t find macadamia nuts in your area, almonds or pine nuts can be substituted. This is a wonderful bread and I think you’ll enjoy it. The aroma as it bakes has been known to make grown men weep. Here’s the recipe.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1-1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, lightly toasted and cooled
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans.
Dust with flour. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In another large bowl, cream butter with sugars with an electric mixer. When mixture is light and fluffy beat in vanilla, eggs, one at a time, zest, banana, and sour cream. Add flour mixture, beating batter until it is just combined. Stir in macadamia nuts and coconut.

Divide the batter between loaf pans and smooth tops. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Remove bread from pans. Complete cooling on racks.

Yield: 2 loaves.

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