Category

Dinner Party

Handmade Animal Magnet Tutorial

I recently attended the wedding of my childhood neighbor (Congrats Kayla & Steve!).  I truly enjoy going to a wedding or event that has every little detail thought out and presented in a unique way and this couple did not disappoint.  The theme was whimsical woodlands meets fairytale love story.  They did an amazing job and their wedding was really a true representation of their personal style.

One of my favorite details of the wedding was the seat card holders for the guests.  Each seat card was displayed upright in between a mini animal toy figurine which was cut in half with a magnet attached on the inside of each end.  I guess my kids found these little figurines just as enjoyable as I did since I woke the following morning to a screaming match over whose new toy it was. Since I only had one to spare, the only solution was to make my weekly trip to Michael’s a little early and get the supplies needed to re-create these little woodland gems.

Here’s what you need:

  • Plastic mini animal toy figurines (I got mine at Michael’s)
  • Sharp knife
  • Fine sand paper
  • Non-toxic paint or spray paint
  • Magnets
  • Clear glue (I used gorilla glue as well as hot glue to really secure in place)

Picture 1

Step 1:

Picture 2Take the plastic animal of your choice and vertically cut the animal in half.  If you notice that the edges of your animal are a little rough after the cut, take a fine grain sand paper and sand the edges so that they are nice and smooth.

Animals with magnetsStep 2:

Connect 2 of your magnets together (its easier to work with them already connected first).  Take your gorilla glue and dab a little on one end of your magnet as well as a little on the flat side of the animal.  Hold the magnet in place on the animal until dry (30 seconds – 1 minute).  Repeat this step on the other half of your animal.

Step 3:

Start hand painting or spray painting both sides of your animal and let it dry completely before moving to the next step.

Step 4:

Animal Seat Card HoldersOnce the paint has dried on your animals, use a glue gun to seal around the edges of the magnet.  This adds some extra adhesive to make sure that your magnets stay in place.  Once the glue has dried, your magnets are ready to use.

This is a quick project that will add some whimsical fun to your home or next event.  The magnets are a unique idea for seat cards at your next dinner party, a perfect way to display photos or décor for a birthday and they also look great on the fridge (just in time for all the lovely artwork your kiddies will bring home from school).

Animal Magnet Card HoldersTry this project next time you are stuck in the house with your kids on a rainy day.  Complete steps 1 and 2 on your own and then let your kids use their creativity to paint the animals the colors of their choice.  It is a great way to educate your children on their animals or dinosaurs, they get to explore their creative minds with some crossbred species of animals and you will have some pretty cool magnets to hang all their beautiful artwork with.  Picture 8

Just one wedding guest who appreciates the little details that make a stylish wedding, Thia 

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Easy Homemade Appetizers to Take to Any Gathering

I’m a big fan of making what I take to people’s gatherings but I follow a few simple rules: I must be able to make it ahead of time, serve it at room temperature and it must be a finger food of just a few bites-no plate required. Recently, baffled by what to bring to a friend’s annual lobster bake, I perused a collection of my family’s recipes and found two gems that fit all my requirements and would please all party-goers-  zucchini bars and pepperoni pizza bars.

Passed down from my great aunts, and compiled to a simple well-worn booklet by a distant cousin for a family reunion in 2008, I knew two things about what I was making to take one of my favorite annual events- both would be darn good and super easy.

Of all the excellent recipes in my family recipe collection, I chose these two because I thought the idea of dueling bars (one with and one without meat) would be ideal for noshing while sipping a summer cocktail and awaiting the main event.  These are not trendy recipes with lots of fancy ingredients, they are easy to follow, mix by hand treats the Italian women in my family served regularly, especially when having guests.

Recreate my family’s recipes to bring to your next gathering:

Aunt Louise’s Zucchini Appetizer

  • 3 cups of zucchini thinly sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup parmesen cheese
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram (leaves or powder)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 clove of finely chopped garlic

Mix all ingredients together by hand. Transfer into a greased 13×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool then cut into bars sized to your liking; serve; enjoy. Excellent served at room temperature; this appetizer satisfies as a side dish for dinner or even as a vegetarian main course.

Aunt Lorraine’s Pizza Appetizer

  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of pepperoni, diced w/skin removed
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8oz muenster cheese, diced
  • Oregano or Italian seasoning mix

Mix eggs, milk and flour to remove any lumps. add remaining ingredients and combine well. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool then cut into bars sized to your liking; serve; enjoy. These can be served hot, or at room temperature. This appetizer look and tastes like a deep dish pepperoni pizza.

Serving suggestion: Be the best guest at the party and bring a plate or platter the hosts can keep. The kindness of your hosts should not end in a flurry of empty dish drop offs the following day. I keep a stock of cute plastic platters and bowls on hand (purchased for a little over a dollar at my local Christmas Tree Shop) so that even when an impromptu gathering pops up I am prepared to plate well.

-Simplifying your appetizers one bar at a time, Jess

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Oysters & White Wine – A Guide to the Perfect Pairing

Amazing Matriarch is here to help you host the perfect oyster & white wine paring be it for your next party, or a night in with your special someone.

The Oysters

The best way to pick oysters is to do a taste test; whether it be with a marked, mixed dozen at home or at a local raw bar (check out the 10best oyster bars in Boston or search 10best.com  for ideas in your city from other local experts) a sampling will hep you decide what you want to serve.

There’s been a battle between east and west coast oysters for years, personally I find oysters from each coast equally enjoyable, while my husband prefers the more mild flavors and smaller since of west coast oysters. The difference between oyster from each coast is that you’ll find large, firm, meaty morsels of high salinity in the shells of east coast oysters and a slightly sweet melon and cucumber flavor in the smaller, more delicate west coast oysters.

A mix of both is always nice, but  as an east coaster with easy access to briny delights from local waters year-round; who buy into the fresh is  best when it comes to food (especially raw seafood) movement, I recommend sourcing oysters from local farmers and seafood shacks.

Popular east coast oysters, that are easily accessible and worth shucking at home include:

Oysters on the half shell at home
Oysters on the half shell at home
  • Wellfleet – large, meaty, clean tasting with excellent salinity
  • PEI, Malpeque– tender, the brininess and sweetness are in balance
  • Island Creek– rich, fatty meat with a buttery finish in a deep cup
  • Blue Point– medium in size with a mild ocean flavor, meaty and from in texture

Popular west coast oysters worth seeking out include:

  • Kumamoto– cucumber flavor, deep cups, small in size
  • Fanny Bay– strong cucumber flavor, meaty and firm

Serve shucked on a platter of crushed ice or alongside shucking knives and gloves (oven mitts work well) for a more casual “shuck your own” event.

The Sauces

Meeting Chef Justin Shoults
Meeting Chef Justin Shoults

Whatever oysters you choose to serve and however you choose to serve them, be sure to have a sampling of sauces on hand:

  • Tabasco: the watery nature of tabasco allows for a hint of heat without too much bulk to overwhelm the oyster’s texture
  • Lemon wedges: technically not a sauce, just a squeeze of lemon over your oyster is all you need to counterbalance the salinity of what’s in the cups
  • Cocktail sauce: “beginners” eat oysters with cocktail sauce, but those who truly enjoy the oyster prefer to eat it without as the heft of the this sauce. It’s strong flavor and dense texture can overwhelm the oyster (do not even think of putting on west coast oysters) so use sparingly.
  • Mignonette– this vinegar based sauce is easy to prepare and can be altered using various add in (herbs, type of vinegar, & flavoring agents like ginger). My favoirte, simple mignonette to make is from Ina Garten and Food Network.
  • Herbed Creme Fraiche– This is delightful on both east and west coast oysters where the mild flavor enhances the oyster; a sorel laced version I tasted at a seminar presented by Brine’s Chef, Justin Shoults at the 2015 Nantucket Wine Festival was perfect, but other herbs can easily be subbed in, just be sure to puree the herbs as to avoid a chunky sauce.

 

The Wine

Sampling of whites with oysters
Sampling of whites with oysters

I typically pair my oysters with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Luckily, when participating in the Flight of the Oyster tasting at The Nantucket Wine Festival there was an expert (Philippe Newlin) on hand to create a perfect pairing with  dry to sweet Bordeaux; changing how I look at my at home raw bar drink selection forever.

Six that worked well:

  • Sirech Les Deux Terroirs Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Marjosse 2013, Entre-Deux-Mers
  • Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2013, Medoc
  • Hauts de Smith Blanc 2012, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Suduiraut 2007, Pessac-Leognan

Pour your sips and savor the oysters finding the combination that calls to you and filling that glass to the top.

-Helping you rock the raw bar, Jess

What’s your favorite oyster pairing? Tell us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

 

 

Handmade American Flag Lanterns Perfect for July 4th

 

With 4th of July rapidly approaching I wanted to create some red, white and blue party décor that I could use at our family celebration this weekend.   I headed over to Michaels Art & Crafts and after a little while cruising the aisles hoping to find some inspiration for my decor, I came across some jumbo sized mason jars.  This particular brand, Ball, is made in the USA and I thought they would make a great base for party lanterns.  I knew I needed an American flag displayed somewhere at our celebration, so I decided to paint the stars and stripes on the jars to create handmade American Flag lanterns.

This project was very simple to craft and the added bonus was the wallet friendly cost at the end!  Follow our easy steps to create your own American Flag inspired lanterns.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 Mason Jars (any size will do)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paint for Glass (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint)
  • Circular Foam Brush
  • A Mini Star Lever Punch
  • Rope (a thin size for the base of the Mason Jar and a thicker size for the handle)
  • Clear Glue
  • 3 Candles (make sure these will fit into the nape of your jar)
  • Sand (optional)

Step 1:

Clean the outside of the mason jars with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt on the surface before you begin painting.  Let them dry completely.

Step 2:

Once the jars are dry to the touch, you can begin placing your painters tape.  Since I had blue and red paint, I placed the tape where I wanted the white sections to be.  I took the lever punch and started punching little stars into the painters tape and placed each star on the jar one at a time so they were evenly spread out all around the surface.  I then started placing the stripes down on the other 2 jars making sure they lined up but also eyeballing it as I went.  Rub your finger over all the tape to ensure it is securely in place.

Step 3:

Start painting the blue paint onto the jar with the stars and the red paint onto the jars with the stripes.

**Note** – I ended up using a circular foam brush to apply the paint because on my first try with a brush all you could see where the brush strokes when I was finished.  I switched to the circular foam brush and applied the paint in a dabbing motion and this presented a more smooth finish when the paint dried.

Let the first coat of paint dry completely.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint dries really quickly, so that was ideal for me to complete this project in an hour and a half.

Step 4:

Once your first coat of paint is completely dry, you can then apply your second coat.  Let your second coat of paint dry completely.

Step 5:

Once the paint is dry, remove the painters tape.  You may need to clean up the edges of your lines a bit in case any paint bled under the tape.  I used a cotton swab for this process.

Step 6:

Use a sealer to place over your jars so that the paint that you applied will stand the test of time.  Let the sealer dry completely.

Step 7:

Now that your sealer is dry, you can start adding the rope to the nape of your jars.  I used a hot glue gun with clear glue to secure the rope in place.  Begin with one layer of the thinner sized rope for the bottom of the jar neck to the top stopping along the way to secure with glue.  Next cut a small handle (or large depending on your preference) out of the thicker sized rope and glue each side of the handle to the mason jar.  Finish with one more layer of the thinner sized rope over the handles.  Repeat this step for the rest of the mason jars.

This American inspired party décor is an inexpensive way to put a unique twist on your celebration and it will last for many years to come.

– Just one proud American whose heart beats true for the red, white and blue, Thia

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An Unexpected Recipe: Use Your Scraps To Make a Great Stock

Amazing Matriarch’s Recipe for Using it All in Two Simple Stocks

Th last time I was taking the final bits of meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken (one of my favorite dinner cheats since it can become so may wonderful things with so little effort), I created a savory stock that was easy to store and was ready to use:

  • toss the bones into a big pot

Added

  • an unpeeled onion, chopped in half
  • 2 wilted ribs of celery
  • 2 unpeeled, limp carrots
  • a few cloves of smashed garlic
  • a bay leaf

Fill the pot with water and sprinkle in some salt and pepper (and any herbs of choice; I tied a bunch of thyme together because it was in need of use) then let it come to a boil.

Once it boils, reduce the heat to simmer, set a timer for an hour to 2 and walk away.

Letting the stock develop it’s flavor for the two hours I had at home while my 2 year old took a nap, the stock was ready before she woke.  I strained the mixture, saving only the stock, which I cooled that afternoon while at a playdate, poured into freezer containers upon our return, and put away until I was ready to use.

This simple stock was made from things I was ready to waste; it’s been used in an easy and excellent lentil soup:

  • Boil lentils in stock according to lentil package directions
  • Add a bit of spice with a pinch of red pepper flakes while boiling
  • Top with a dusting of grated parmesan cheese

And as the base of a sauce in a 20 minute, one pan, Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce I found in the July, 2015  issue of Cooking Light that even my picky eater ate all up.

But the stock magic does not stop there as I found myself wondering if I could create a delicious vegetable stock from the stalks of broccoli, and cauliflower I was cutting, and use the entire vegetable rather than let it go to waste. This recipe tricked my carnivorous husband into thinking it was regular chicken stock in his favorite side dishes:

  • Put all your broccoli and cauliflower, or scraps from any vegetable of choice (leaves, stems, etc) into a large pot

Alter by adding any vegetables you have on hand; the broth’s flavor will alter based on what’s in it. I used:

  • A few ribs of celery (a great use for when it goes past its prime)
  • A few carrots (I like to use the ones that hid in the back of my produce drawer too long and go limp)
  • Several cloves of crushed, unpeeled garlic
  • One unpeeled onion chopped in half
  • One bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper (and any fresh herbs you may have on hand)

Then I followed the same procedure as with the chicken stock and ended up with an equally as delicious, meat free broth at the ready. It’s been added to quinoa and couscous; filling my grains with flavor before adding any mix-ins.

This stock is ideal for #meatlessmonday or any day you want to be a vegetarian but don’t want to sacrifice flavor; or to get more nutrients into vegetable averse children or spouses.

Made in spare time; these stocks are an inexpensive and flavorful alternative to store bought that can be easily stored in your freezer, and quickly defrosted when you’re ready to use.

– Making it easy to make use of it all in the kitchen, Jess

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5 Minute Ice Cream Sandwiches- A Recipe

There’s one thing I dread about pot lucks-being assigned dessert. I’m a great cook, but I’ve never been much of a baker so I typically try to avoid bringing dessert to any soiree. That was until I started making ice-cream sandwiches using Dancing Deer’s creative cookies and fun flavors of various brands of high end ice-cream. Now, I look for excuses to share a dessert that I can say I (kinda) made, following a simple recipe.

No matter how kitchen illiterate  you may be, you can make these easy to assemble at home treats to take wherever you may go.

Here’s how:

IMG_2104

Buy Dancing Deer (or your favorite pre-made cookie) and a pint of high end ice cream that pairs well, open both packages, place cookies on a plate, flat side facing up

IMG_2105

Scoop ice cream onto cookies, cover

IMG_2109

Press

Clean edges with a butterknife

Wrap in max paper or plastic wrap

Store in Freezer

Serve & enjoy!

-Taking the stress out of what dessert to bring to your next potluck, Jess

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Snacks that Outshine the Lit at Book Club

Hosting book club always leads to a menu complete with snacks from Trader Joe’s, cheese, wine and recipes I’ve been dying to try. My May menu was inspired by spring, a longing for summer and a desire to try something different. Having actually finished the book, The Girl on the Train, I was not only ready to discuss the literature (total thriller, few clues, was never sure of the ending) but excited to sit, eat and drink with the ladies I’ve been sharing lit with since 2010.

Along with my requisite cheese plate and no-fuss heat and serve Trader Joe’ s Shrimp Gyoza, I added two healthy, homemade appetizers and a crock pot dessert that made the ladies in my book club happy.

A big fan of green peas, I’d been dying to try Cooking Light’s Sweet Pea Crostini with Ricotta from the April, 2015 magazine. Feeling a little lazy (and entertaining a 2 year old all day), I skipped the whole make your own ricotta from Greek yogurt thing, and simply bought a small container of fat free ricotta cheese at my local market. This saved me a bit of time and clean-up so I could move along to other recipes before straightening out the disaster area I call my downstairs (in all fairness lots of fun is had here by my kids, but I never can quite keep up with the cleaning).IMG_2112

Assembled beforehand, these look lovely, but I opted for a make your own serving style as to limit waste because this pea spread would be fabulous on We Are Not Martha’s, Lemon Parmesan Spring Flatbread with Ricotta and Peas.

Along with the homemade crostini, I whipped up an Eating Well bean salad. Anyone with a blender, knife and can opener can master this healthy salad. A mixture of pink beans, yellow peppers, and edamame is topped with an herb focused avocado dressing that whips up in the blender in under a minute.  Served cold or at room temperature this meat free, protein packed powerhouse of  salad was flavorful and filling.

To drink we enjoyed our white and red, but in I was inspired to mix us a little sip of summer. Using pre-made Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler I added a cup and 1/2 of silver tequila and a small bottle of champagne. Gently stirred, it was served in a glass over ice. This sipper was a star.

So much so that I made similar by the glass cocktails for a smaller crowd a few days later, altering the recipe to create something slightly different. Using the same Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler, I subbed in a shot of  Privateer Rum and a splash of club soda. This cocktail was another winner and has me thinking that I’ll be stocking up on Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler to use at all my summer gatherings.

A baker I am not; so when I found a crockpot rice pudding recipe in the June, 2015  issue of Cooking Light, I was determined to test it out, and book club gave me the perfect excuse.  This crockpot special features cardamom and vanilla beans and is topped with fresh seasonal fruit (peaches are suggested, I used nectarines).One of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made, all this recipe needed was a quick mix before I set it for 7 and 1/2 hours and forgot it for the day. The results were rich and creamy, with a sweetness that was not too strong and the essence of cardamom and vanilla. Comfort in a bowl that when served room temperature worked well for a cool spring evening.

This spread was as special as the ladies I was lucky enough to share it with.

-Finding excuses for good food and drinks on every occasion, Jess

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One Amazing Margarita to Celebrate Cinco De Mayo

Nothing beats a Margarita, be it on the rocks or in the blender, especially when the weather’s warm and the sun is shining. Best of all tequila is the only spirit that is not a depressant (or so a bartender selling me a cocktail once said), so you can drink it all day without getting sleepy (Silver Tequila is a great sub for Vodka in a Bloody Mary).

Because this member of the Amazing Matriarch team believes in the value of a stiff drink, you may want adjust the quantity and add a little extra simple syrup, Triple Sec or Cointreau to your shaker.

Recreate Jess’s favorite recipe (a riff on the Silver Coin served at Jasper White’s Summer Shack), served on the rocks with salt to pair with your fiesta this evening:

Recipe: 

  • 2oz Silver Tequila (Patron is a good choice)
  • 1oz Fresh squeezed lime juice (do not use the bottled lime juice or the drink will not be the same)
  • 1/2oz Simple syrup (more to taste)
  • Salt (for the rim)

Run a lime wedge along the edge of the glass, dip into a plate covered in salt (kosher, sea or cocktail salt) or sugar if you like a sweeter drink. Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, strain into ice filled glass, garnish with lime wheel or wedge. Sip and enjoy with your Cinco De Mayo spread.

-Mixing up a cocktail creation for every occasion, Jess

Share your Cinco De Mayo drink ideas with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

Vibrant Fruit & Flower Centerpiece In Under Five Minutes

Whenever we host a dinner party or get together, I always look for new ways to leave a unique impression on our friends and family.  As most women would probably put their time and energy into planning an unforgettable meal, I tend to spend my time on creating an experience with the mood and atmosphere (one reason Jess and I make a great team, the chef and the event planner).

I recently hosted an event at our house and with limited time as well as 2 kids in tow the day of, I could only make one stop and it had to be the grocery store.  Along with the food and drink, I wanted to buy fresh flowers so I could create an accent piece to put on the bar that evening.  Aiming for something to compliment the fresh spring air that day, and wanting to avoid breaking the bank, I let my yearning for something colorful and effervescent lead the way for the perfect budget purchase: fruit and flowers.

Here’s what you need to re-create this fruity arrangement:

  • Colorful Fruit (lemons, limes, clementines or a mixture of both)
  • Glass Vase
  • White Flower Arrangement

**Tip**

Try to stick with flowers that have a lush and billowy blossom.  Some great examples are hydrangeas, peonies, english roses and dahlias.

Lime Vase
Step 1

Fill your vase of choice almost to the top with your fruit.  I left 2-4 inches between the fruit line and top of the vase so the flowers would sit nicely.  Note – the fruit must be placed in the vase  first, if you fill the vase up with water and then add the fruit, you’ll have to start over because your fruit will float.

**Tip**

If you have some time on your hands, try cutting the fruit into narrow slices rather than using the whole fruit.  I have also tried this option and it looks fabulous as well.

Step 2:

Fill your vase with water about an inch above your fruit.

Sliced Fruit - Lemon & Orange Close upStep 3:

Trim the stems on your flowers and add them to the vase.  You might need to play around with the length of stem as it tends to get crowded when using a narrow vase.

With one stop to the grocery store and 5 minutes to create, this centerpiece is a no-brainer for your next spring or summer fete.

– Just one social butterfly helping to set the mood for your next dinner or event, Thia

We want to hear from you!  Try creating this centerpiece for your next gathering and share your experience with us. Find Amazing Matriarch on Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  #amazingmatriarch. 

Host an Approachable Wine Tasting

Bring a little taste of Napa (and your kids) to your next dinner party

When you want to entertain without all the fuss and muss of a formal dinner party, host a wine tasting with a few friends. It will seem like you spent days preparing, but really you’ll have invested a few hours and minimal effort to prep for your guests arrival.

Best of all, no sitter is needed. Plan for an early evening arrival and the kids can play while you sip, savor and nosh and still get everyone to bed on-time.

While the adults make their way through the tasting menu, the kids can play, catch a movie and munch on pizza (courtesy of the local delivery man). Paper plates and juice boxes make for easy clean-up, and special treats like candy or popcorn can help delay the need to leave for a little bit longer.

To set-up your tasting, you’ll want a few bottles of wine. To mimic what you’d find when visiting a vineyard, start with whites and move onto reds (lightest to darkest). Have your guests take part in the wine selection by assigning each couple a bottle or two to bring along. Encourage guests to seek something new so the tasting is a learning experience for all.

At a recent wine tasting party we sampled the following( in this order):

tablescapeI set the table with 6 glasses for each guest (if you find yourself without enough glasses, purchase a plastic sleeve), plates for appetizers, utensils and a guide with tasting notes. In the center, I presented the food to pass around family style.

When each couple brings an appetizer to share, you’ll cut back on the  cooking (and clean-up). Various people bringing dishes also allows for a variety of food to be sampled. Guests should keep in mind the tasting theme and consider what food would pair well with the wines being served.

Treats that have made their way through my doors for wine tasting nights include little crostini topped with fun toppings such as sliced meatballs, chunks of chicken parmigiana, bean dip and olive tapenade. As well as endive cups filled with delicious Tuscan Chicken Salad. But if you’d rather keep the food in house, make it simple by throwing some pre-made (I love Trader Joe’s) appetizers in the oven.

As the host, I jump at the chance to experiment with the cheese plate. Although markets like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s offer excellent cheese selections, when I want to impress my friends I head to a small, local shop.

The one cheese shop I favor, close to my home, is Wasik’s The Cheese Shop in Wellelsey, Massachusetts. The cheese maker, Brian Wasik is typically in store and beyond helpful. I explained what my goal was in cheese selection and he guided me through his cheeses to find the perfect cheese pairings to compliment the wines.

Armed with three cheeses: La Tur from Piemonte, Missouri Truckle, and Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy, I set off to find the special little touches that would take this platter from something to nibble on to the star of my table. Adding piles of salumi (the Italian word for cold cuts) , some tall bread sticks, a bundle of grapes, pile of apricots, a line of olives, and a little honey to drizzle over the truckle, the cheese plate was ready for my guests to enjoy.

And enjoy they did because the six adults at the table almost polished off the entire cheese plate. First, tasting each cheese alongside the appropriate red or white, then gobbling up the accompaniments as they returned for seconds and thirds.

Guide your guests by sharing the following tidbits about each cheese so that they learn not only about the wines you’re serving, but also the food:

cheeseplate

  • La Tur from Piemonte is a creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk that pairs well with whites.
  • Missouri Truckle is an unpasteurized cheddar cheese aged in a cheese cloth on the outside, allowing the cheese to breath and resulting in a dry, crumbly texture paired with the light reds.
  • The Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy is a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that held up well to the bolder reds.

This allows them the confidence to host their own wine tasting, and hopefully reciprocate the invitation.

Add a little touch of wine to your cheese by labeling using old wine corks. Using a dark colored marker, label each cheese then stick a toothpick into the cork, and insert into the corresponding cheese.

And finally, add a little extra something to your wine tasting party by asking everyone to send you a picture of the wine labels so you can put a wine menu together. To do this, research the wine maker’s tasting comments and add them to sheets of paper accompanied by the photo of the label, and space for taking notes. This keepsake lets your guests not only remember the night, but also find the wines that you’ve discovered. It also acts as a guide for the wine phobic so even if they can’t actually smell or taste the correct flavors in the wine, they can comfortably fake it.  If you don’t have time to create your own guide from scratch, use my template as a starting point.

You’re friends will be amazed at how easy it is to host an elegant evening of wine tasting.

-Just one mom finding a way to enjoy wine with friends, Courtney

Check out Amazing Matriarch on Social Media- Facebook: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your wine tasting adventures using #amazingmatriarch

 

 

 

 

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