Endless Pairings: Emeril’s Chophouse

Emerils

While it’s clear we that love craft beer here at ES, we do not play favorites. Which is why we took advantage of an opportunity to attend a four-course wine pairing dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse at Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA.  The event was based on South American Wines (from Chile) and some fall-themed foods. My expectations for this event were pretty simple – learn more about wine (how it’s made, how to choose a wine for particular meals, what’s so special about Chilean wine?), have some great food that I couldn’t have otherwise, and taste wine that truly complements the food I’m eating with the wine. Rather than boring you with my oh-so-important and attention-worthy opinions of every course, I’ll give you the cliff notes version.

First, let’s talk about my educational expectations. Whenever I go to these kinds of events, I want to leave knowing more than I did when I first arrived. The woman in charge of the “educational” aspect of the event was a very well-versed representative from Southern Wine. She did a great job of explaining why she chose Chilean Wines for this event (it is under-represented and often under-rated) and giving a good run-down of the people that made the wine. Something that I appreciated was learning about what the winemakers intended for the wine, what kind of grapes they picked, and why they picked a particular region. For instance, when drinking my favorite wine of the night (Ritual Pinot Noir) I learned that the grapes are pressed with the berries still in a bunch. When this occurs, more pronounced tanin flavors come through in the wine (which is something that I look for in a dry red).  The one thing that was missing from the education aspect of the event was that she really did not discuss why she chose the particular wine for each course. Like I said – she gave great information about the wines, but not as much about why the wine was chosen for the courses.

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Acorn Squash Fondue

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Who doesn’t like cheese? Where I used to work, we determined that chocolate and cheese are the only foods that could really go with just about anything. Including each other. Go ahead – try to say otherwise. Add in the fall mood of us good-hearted folks, and my fiance and I decided to try out a twist on The Chew’s acorn squash fondue. We’re both trying to watch what we eat, so we tried to modify it to a “light” version. I was skeptical of whether or not you would taste the squash in the fondue, but the flavor is there, adding a slightly sweet and buttery flavor to the creamy cheese.

As we were picking our acorn squash at the farm, we looked up “how to pick an acorn squash.” While things like bananas, tomatoes, and most other produce have specific ways of showing they are ripe and ready, acorn squash isn’t as easy. So here’s the scoop – you need to find an acorn squash that is “heavy for its size.” Then, you want to find one that also has a balance of orange and green color. So there you have it – now you know you’ll have the perfect acorn squash. For our fondue at least, we followed the guidelines and the squash came out well.

The recipe is pretty simple. You’ll need to pick a balance of cheeses that you enjoy. The Chew recommends using Mascarpone cheese in the mix to add texture. I don’t think it was needed, but she did enjoy it so it’s really up to you. We picked a blend of Swiss and Smoked Gouda (since that’s what we had) and it turned out well. Dippers are up to you – we limited our bread intake, but that is the clear front runner. We also had radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and apples. My favorite dipper was the apples.

Acorn Squash Fondue

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Smashburger Sampler Austin

Food Porn of the Day: Burgers on Burgers

Smashburger Sampler Austin

I was invited to the pre-opening tasting of the new Smashburger here in Austin. I’m not much for burgers (unless they’re really exceptional) or “fast casual” type restaurants in general, but I’d heard a fair amount about the Colorado-based chain and decided to check it out. I will say the burgers (ground beef, chicken breast, and black bean) were much higher quality than your average chain burger, but they were still greasy, decadent, meaty… burgers. They held nothing back at the tasting event; the pic above is only part of what I was given to sample. I only ate a bite or so of each, otherwise I think my stomach would have exploded.

Bacon Spinach Onion Dip

Bacon, Spinach, Swiss & Caramelized Onion Dip

I know the Super Bowl is over (GO HAWKS OMG!) but I see no reason why I can’t share my latest dip recipe with you. I mean, DIP! Who doesn’t love it? It’s not like you can’t eat dip just because football season is over (*sob*). After all, we still have basketball, Oscars, random Saturday nights when you feel like staying on the couch with a box of wine, Costco-size bag of chips, and bucket of dip all night, etc… So here we go.

Bacon Spinach Onion Dip

This isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s all of the best snacking kind of flavors combined into one. Salty bacon? Yep. Sweet caramelized onion? You know it. Refreshing spinach? Heck yes, you’re getting your iron, son!  Savory, cheesy…cheese? YES! I tried to keep it kiiiinda light by incorporating some lowfat ingredients in my Creamy Dip Trinity (cream cheese, mayo, sour cream) but let’s be real. You’re eating bacon pulverized into a dairy base, so “light” is pretty relative in this case. But it’s worth it.

Bacon, Spinach, Swiss, & Caramelized Onion Dip

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Slow Cookers Gone Wild! Top 10 Super Bowl Slow Cooker Dishes

The Super Bowl is almost upon us. People will gather around TVs, big and small, to complete the holiday feasting in one last hurrah. Snacks will be enjoyed on the couch while watching commercials and loyal fans will get up for refills when the game comes back for a few quick minutes before more commercials.

But I digress. What really matters during this year’s superbowl is the food. Of course, there are wings, chips, dips, and other salty snacks. But what else can we add to the spread this year? How about some chili to go on the hot dogs? Or pulled pork? Maybe some hearty soup. Get out your slow cooker and impress your guests with something more than 3D Doritos (don’t pretend that you don’t remember). Enough of the jibber jabber—here are ten ways to use that slow cooker to its full potential!

10. Mini Chicken Sausage Pineapple Appetizers

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Regular cocktail weenies are for…well…weenies. While in the midst of winter, something a bit tropical may turn your mood around. If it were me, I would sandwhich a weenie between two pineapples. Or weenie, pineapple, weenie? I guess it depends on which way you swing? Weenie or chicken sausage – I think both would work.

RECIPE: Misty Yoon

9. 21st Amendment Brew Free! Chili

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My friend got me an awesome encyclopedia of craft beer recipes. Chili is great and beer is great. Soo…why not combine great beer and chili? 21st Amendment brings us a delicious twist on chili in John Holl’s The American Craft Beer Cookbook.

Recipe:  John Holl

8. Coke Ribs

CokeRibs

Ribs do not have to be laborious day-long projects of putting them in foil after lathering them in bbq sauce several times, then moving them from the oven to the grill. You get the point. You can take that approach, OR you can through them into a slow cooker with a sauce made with cola. They’ll fall apart, while giving you a unique sweetness unlike your standard bbq sauce.

Recipe: Cardamom Addict

7. S’mores Dip

Slow-Cooker-Smores-Dip-Recipe

Unfortunately, too often I find that my sweet tooth is not satisfied at a Super Bowl party. Well, now you can put the slow cooker to good use for us healthy folk that enjoy chocolate…and anything else with sugar in it.

Recipe: Little Indiana

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Serious Savory Pie: Zucchini Meatball Quiche

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I”ve always loved quiche. Something about the cheesy, creamy, gooey and savory pie-like meal just keeps me coming back for more. Well, apparently I did not know just how good quiche is until my Italian girlfriend cooked up my new favorite: zucchini and meatball quiche.

When the idea was first mentioned to me, I was skeptical. Zucchini is not my favorite. It”s never something I crave or think “hmm, that sounds good!” Well, turns out, “the Italian” was on to something. I”m hooked and it is one of my frequent requests.

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Timpano for Dummies

              Timpano-for-Dummies

EP-IC– extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.

THAT’S what I wanted to make this last weekend; an epic dinner. But it had been a grueling week and I was pretty sore after re-launching my workout program, so I was in search of a

SHORT-CUT — a method or means of doing something more directly and quickly, though not as thoroughly.

I’ve made epic meals in the past, usually for a holiday, and it’s always a two day event consisting of creating everything from scratch and working  morning ‘til night just to prepare all of the elements that go into the dish. But that wasn’t going to happen this weekend because I was

SPENT — used up; consumed, depleted of energy, force, or strength; exhausted.

To make matters worse I chose to make the Godzilla of epic meals, the legendary
Italian food-orgy-in-a-bowl; the TIMPANO! And I had already invited the gang over a week ago, who after learning what I was planning to make for dinner proceeded to refer to me as a

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