Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Soiree

Summer is upon us and that means spending as much time outdoors as possible! Entertaining outside is one of my absolute favorite parts about summers here in Chicago. This summer is a big one because I'm getting married but I'm also challenging myself to create some really fun recipes with summer sippers. My first round was 4 light and refreshing appetizers served with a trio of wines, a little something for everyone.
My family is definitely a wine family and although everyone has their own favorite varietals it's always nice to find a winery with variety. I recently discovered Les Dauphins wine and am absolutely obsessed. Not only because it's reasonably affordable but because it's easy to drink with its own personality while also complementing fresh appetizers. I served everything chilled but pulled the red about a half hour before serving to take the edge off. You can find these wines nation-wide at plenty of wine shops including large stores such as World Market.

On the menu:
-prosciutto wrapped asparagus
-crostini with Brie, peaches, arugula, and honey
-burrata with smoked sea salt
-aranicini with parmesan, truffle aioli and fresh basil

So yum!
I'm not an expert on wine pairing and won't pretend to be a sommelier but I drink wine often enough to know what I like! The white is super crisp and refreshing with a bright summer fruit flavor without being sweet. The rose was also crisp and not too sweet. Nicely acidic and fruit forward...really nice. Just to clarify, this is not a sparkling rose! The Cotes du Rhone was an easy drinking red with a light body and fruit forward without being "jammy". These wines come from the rhone wine region in Southern France. Due to the climate, the grapes are typically blended giving a unique flavor that is more complex than other varietals.
The apps I made had different characteristics to bring out various notes in the wine. The burrata is super creamy and the crisp white could cut through that. The crostini had peppery arugula and juicy peaches that brought out the fruit in the rose and lightened the red. The asparagus wrapped with prosciutto was super salty so having a cold citrusy white evened it out. Nothing was hard to make and  left me to enjoy my company, rather than fussing in the kitchen.
The crostini was a summer spin on one I make similar with with pears and blue cheese. Toast thinly sliced baguette with olive oil, salt, and pepper until golden and crisp and spread with a triple cream brie...almost like a soft butter consistency. Top with a few leaves of baby arugula, a thinly sliced peach (keep the skin on for color) and a drizzle of honey. Simple but absolutely mouthwatering.
The arancini were store bought in the freezer aisle. These are deliciously crispy cheesy risotto balls. I just baked them off and served them over homemade truffle aioli (just mayo and truffle oil, salt, and pepper). Finish with a chiffonade of fresh basil (thin slices) for freshness. Doesn't have to be served piping hot, lukewarm is just as good!
Blanch a bunch of asparagus simply by popping them into simmering water for about 45 seconds to a minute and then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat them dry with paper towel and wrap each asparagus spear with a thin slice of prosciutto. You can bake, grill, or sauté these...the crispy prosciutto is delicious but I like this cold version for a hot summer day.
Looks messy but if you've had burrata, you know how scrumptious it is. The outside is fresh mozzarella and the inside is creamy and soft, almost like a softer mozzarella or cottage cheese. Top it with something crunchy and flavorful like smoked sea salt and you are in for a treat! Just serve with crackers or toasted bread.

Seriously, go buy these wines and give some of these apps a go, I plan to serve these again very soon!