A Little of this and that.....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mrs.Lilien's Dessert Cocktail Swatchbook

This is the first time I have ever used a recipe book in the form of a swatch book.  Although it was different from anything I was use to, it was very easy to use.  It is so easy to flip through the cards to find a yummy dessert cocktail that might tickle your fancy.

The ingredients are nicely listed on each recipe card along with pictures of the ingredients.  Every ingredient is represented with a picture which is a nice visual way to learn the recipes.  Also on each card above the cocktail name lives an iconic glass.  It represents the traditional way to serve each drink with class.  On the back of every card there is a little tip that pertains to each of the drinks. 

The book contains 50 recipes with 25 hot and toasty drinks and 25 cold and frosty cocktails.  A few of my favorites are Rum & Coke Float, Mudslide, Blended Bellini, Pineapple Whip and Creamsicle.  Any of the drinks showcased would make for a fun and exciting party!

P.S. "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review".

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Culinary School- Mexican Food

David and I had the opportunity the other night to go to a Culinary School in Sacramento and try our hand at Mexican food.  I had bought the tickets for the class on Groupon a few months ago.  Traffic was horrible even though it was a Thursday night so we were running a little late. Luckily for us quite a few other people were running late, because of traffic, so they gave us each a glass of wine while we waited.  It was a red wine, which I usually don't go for, but it was delicious!  The class was held at a cute Culinary Academy that is also open for lunch and dinner a few days a week.  There was little twinkling lights hung from the ceiling and the restaurant was decorated in a Old World European style. 
The head chef set up his cooking center in the center of the U shaped tables and then demonstrated how to make the three dishes for the night.  He was a very entertaining gentleman with a heavy accent!  His accent got more pronounced the more he drank his wine.  So there was a few times we were like what? What did he say?  He would then walk around with his pan or blender or whatever he was working on so that we could see what he was talking about.

There were 32 people in the class that night so we were divided into 3 separate teams.  Each team was going to make the food for the 8 people in their group.  The menu for the night was Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chili Rellenos and Flan.  David and I took the lead on the chicken tortilla soup.  They had most of the ingredients cut up for you in advance so that was a real time saver.  
When the tortilla soup was mixed up we put it on the stove to heat up and then I started in on the Chile Rellenos.  David had made them years ago when he worked at a Mexican Restaurant while in High School but these were made the true Mexican way we were told!  We fire roasted the chilies then wrapped them in Saran Wrap to sweat.  That made pulling off the skin really easy.  We then de-seeded them and cut out some of the ribs of the chili peppers.  That was suppose to take most of the heat away from the dish.  We then stuffed them with cheese and dredged them in flour.  We then dipped them into beaten eggs and dropped them into a hot pan filled with oil.  They browned on each side and then we plated them and added a little tomato sauce and sour cream.  We also made rice and beans to go with the dish.
By the time we were done with the Chili Rellenos we realized that someone else from our team had made all of the flan while we were making the soup.  So we really didn't get to even see them make it.  David and I both have made Flan before but never in a 8 inch round cake pan.  We have always made single serve size Flan.  I feel pretty confident that we could make this by ourselves even though we didn't get to see it being done that night.

The staff let us go back to our seats and have another drink while they plated each groups food. They brought out our Chicken Tortilla Soup first but it was so delicious I didn't take a picture of it before I ate it! Our soup was voted the best soup of the night so we were happy about that.  Right at the last minute I asked if I could have another couple pieces of the cheese that we stuffed the Chili Rellenos with.  I added that to our soup and I think the salty cheese added the little something extra that placed our soup in first place. Our plate was then served to us and it looked great and tasted wonderful!  My Chili Relleno was a little too spicy for me but I managed to eat quite a lot of it.  David had no problem whatsoever finishing off my plate!
We were served the Flan after we had finished our dinner.  I was so full that I could only taste a bite of the Flan.  It was good but I personally like the kind that David and I make at home better.  This Flan was a little bit more firm and custard like.  I like the creamy kind that we do better.  Plus we had more brown sugar and butter on ours and that makes a really nice caramel sauce over the top.
So I would say that the Culinary School was a great Date Night for us!  We had a lot of fun getting out and trying a few different dishes.  We had fun talking and getting to know a few of the other couples that were there that night.  We will definitely be coming back and maybe trying another countries food.  I think we are either going to do the Italian or the Persian food next.  Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma" by Tilar Mazzeo

Some of the best wines in the world are made in California, and some of the best California wines come from Sonoma county.  My husband and I are extremely lucky that we live in the Northern California wine country.  We are about an hour drive from Sonoma and less than that from Napa.  We enjoy taking day trips to the wine country as often as we can.  We have visited many wineries in the area but the wonderful book "Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma" has let us in on quite a few wineries we did not know of.  

Even though I was familiar with the wineries in our area I found some wonderful back lane wineries that I was unaware of before reading this book.  The author showed me quite a few wineries that I knew nothing about!  I am sure that these wineries were known by the locals but I wasn't in on their secret til after reading this book.  This book also has lovely pictures of beautiful vineyards laden with grapes on the vines, rustic tasting rooms, wine caves along with farmhouses  and farm equipment. 

There is even a chapter on how to use this book.  It has wonderful tips on how to either take the time for a leisurely lunch and sightseeing along the way to spending a few days tasting and exploring.  The bulk of the book is all about the little known wineries divided into five primary tasting areas. Each of these tasting areas are chapters that list a selection of wineries, their histories, types of wine produced, some wine prices and the tasting fees. 

Whether you are a novice, a sophisticated wine aficionado, or someone who just enjoys a great bottle of wine, this book is for you.  The Introduction sets the scene, enticing you to picture yourself in the midst of striking beauty- tucked along a rural road having a picnic in the middle of a open field, or on the edge of an ancient redwood forest, or perhaps overlooking a hundred acre wildlife preserve sitting with a great glass of wine in your hand, a wine that none of your friends have ever tasted or even heard of. 

 Once you begin reading this wonderful little book you will want to plan a vacation to Sonoma whether for a day trip or for a few days. There are wonderful places to stay in some of the most beautiful country in Northern California.  Then there is the gourmet food that this area is also known for.  All of this is included in each chapter of the book.  

This is a book that I will refer to over and over again.  I will be pulling it off the bookcase for when out of town guests come to stay with me and I want to take them to the wine country.  I only wish that I knew of this book many trips ago as my wonderful past visits would have been even more enjoyable!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."