Our February Wine Time party fell on Valentine’s Day and I was very happy to be celebrating at home with good friends, an incredible selection of wine and a table full of small bites. Beats fighting crowds at a restaurant any day.
JaJa Bistro in Littleton serves a stuffed date appetizer that everyone raves over. Sweet dates, filled with a slice of tart apple, wrapped in salty bacon and swimming in a crisp ale broth makes for an out-of-this-world combination. The last time we were there for dinner, and with some gentle prying, I found out a little more about what makes these so addicting.
This new information found me marching right over to the grocery store, and picking up the few items I needed to create this in my own kitchen. Here’s a pretty close version.
- 6 whole Medjool dates (pitted)
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced into chunks
- 3 slices thick cut bacon, cut in half
- 3 shallots, thin sliced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 T. Butter
- 1 bottle Woodchuck Hard Cider (Crisp)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Saute shallots in butter until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add a bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider Ale, and let simmer until it cooks down. About 15 minutes.
- Make a slit down the side of each date and remove pit. Slice apples into bite sized chunks and insert a sliver into each date. The slice of apple should be cut just large enough to barely protrude from the end of the date. Cut each slice of bacon in half and wrap around each date. Secure with a couple of toothpicks.
- In an oven proof serving bowl, place the wrapped dates and bake 5 minutes. Turn and bake another 5 minutes or until bacon looks crispy.
- Pour some of the hot ale mixture over the figs and serve.
JaJa Bistro Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates…It’s What’s for an Appetizer.
From the kitchen of Lea Ann Brown
This month’s Wine Night party found us celebrating one of the best wines I’ve ever sipped. A Barolo from Italy. Barolo wines are derived from the Nebbiolo grape and are produced in Italy’s Piedmont region. Nebbiolo is a black-skinned red wine grape variety most famous for creating the ‘tar and roses’ scent that is prominent in Barolo wines. This is truly one of the world’s best red wines and is a prime example of a wine that gets better and better with age.
The usual suspects were in attendance, Tom, Kathy, Dan, Teri, Bob, me, the dogs and the Cheetos.
But the guest who mastered the table was the bottle of Renato Ratti, 2005. Garnet red in color, with traces of tobacco and licorice, it was full-flavored, full-bodied and elegant.
Common sense dictated that red meat would be the perfect appetizer to serve alongside this generous wine, and Kathy was spot on with this wonderful platter of room temperature perfectly cooked beef tenderloin served on a sliced baguette that had been smeared with horseradish sauce, a sprinkle of arugula and then topped with either blue cheese or a shaving of Parmesan. A wonderful choice. The rich hearty flavors held up nicely with the full-bodied wine.
To our surprise, the smoked salmon platter seemed a great compliment to this wine, as well. I don’t know if this is more about the versatility of a Barolo wine, or the versatility of our group being world class snackers and sippers.
The rice crackers served as a great platform for a swipe of horseradish cream sauce, followed with a slice of Tillamook mild cheddar cheese and a chunk of Honey Smoked Fish Company Salmon. This is the company that advertises on television and sells their product at Costco. We like it.
Both of these dishes worked very well for appetizers for Italian Wine.
Dan and Teri brought a chaser bottle of a high scoring wine, Rivetto Barolo, 2007. Vivacious and packed with sweet berry, laced with leather and tobacco, long on the finish, we all raved. Thanks Dan and Teri.
From the kitchen of Lea Ann Brown
My friend Kathy brought this to one of our Wednesday Wine Night events and I hadn’t even swallowed my first bite before I was screaming for the recipe.
Always cause to celebrate when one of the bloggerhood gets the opportunity to publish their very own cookbook. And even more reason to celebrate when its my friend Yvette who lives right here in Highlands Ranch. Yvette, Veronica and their mother Evangelina were all born and raised in El Paso, Texas. They started My Bueno Cookbook blog to preserve their family’s culinary heritage. They learned to cook from their grandmother and mother, whose Mexican recipes were legendary among family and friends.
The first time we ever heard of Eggplant Caponata was when we had it at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon. It was like nothing we had ever tasted. Sauteed eggplant and onions flavored with cinnamon and cocoa powder, crunchy with pine nuts and richly colored with balsamic vinegar. A combination of complex flavors that work very well together. It almost reminds me of a chunkier, richer and more savory version of a chutney. I made this after arriving home from our Oregon trip, and actually blogged about it in 2009. It was somewhat hidden in the post as an appetizer for a main course and accompanied by an unrecognizable photo, so we’ll just pretend it never happened.
Icon and legend Julia Child would have been 100 years old today. I remember as a child my mom and me watching her pioneering show The French Chef on our black and white television. Even as a young girl I was completely entertained by listening to her warbling voice, watching her wrestle a raw chicken or large fish, gasping when she practically cut her finger off or even dumping whole plates of food in the trash if she wasn’t pleased.
And the stars must have been aligned just right, because after deciding on a recipe, the next morning I ran across this bin of these beautiful clouds of Colorado grown cauliflower at the Farmer’s Market.
This shrimp dish has just propelled itself into first place as our favorite appetizer small plate recipe. Butterflied, breaded and fried, and with a zesty Remoulade Sauce for dipping, it’s a winner.