Making A Simple Dinner Fancy


Because that’s how Wine Esquire rolls.

It’s winter. It’s cold. Are you bored yet? I’m getting there. It was Saturday morning and we were preparing for our first proper blizzard by throwing a soup together in the crockpot. We took our Inaugural Blizzard Walk[1] with the neighbors and so we decided to throw an impromptu dinner party.

Split Pea Soup is a favorite of ours. Not only is it classic, but it’s cheap. For less than $10, we had a gourmet soup ready to go. For your convenience, here are the detailed instructions:

Husband’s Not So Secret Blizzard Split Pea Soup Recipe

(serves 4 with one leftover portion for lunch)

1 pound split peas
Handful of baby carrots
½ yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups water
1 ham steak

Rinse the peas, chop the veggies and throw everything together in the bottom of a crock pot. Sear the ham steak in a cast iron skillet and throw it on top. Add the bay leaf, then salt and pepper to taste. Set the Crock on low for 8 hours and let it simmer. Voila! Fancy dinner!

We’d ventured out earlier in the day[2] and picked up some Portuguese raisin rolls in our travels. Husband grilled them up in the cast iron skillet and we served them with some super simple fancy homemade butter.

Super Simple Fancy Homemade Butter

(serves four – no leftovers, we practically licked the bowl clean)

½ stick butter
½ tsp honey
Pinch or 2 of sea salt (Fleur De Sel[3] if you have it)

Soften the butter in the microwave then add honey and salt and mix it up. The butter shouldn’t be pure liquid, but it should be easy to mix up. Scoop it all up, spoon it into a fancy dish[4] and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to serving.

It’s a shame pea soup just doesn’t photograph well. It was delicious.

We broke out the wedding china, some nice crystal glasses and had ourselves a fancy dinner party. It’s absolutely true that food tastes better when it’s served on beautiful dishes, especially when your soup tureen is sitting on a silver platter. After all, what’s a little hand-washing among friends?[5]

Silver Platter’s Make Everything Better

Now, for the important part. We paired our winter feast with a bottle of The Sum by the Seventy Five Wine Company. A great red blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petite Syrah, 10% Syrah. Definitely fruity; the raspberry jam is out in full force. A great smooth mouthfeel, a touch on the lighter side with a nice dry finish. A great wine to warm you up on a cold winter’s eve with a bowl of good soup and a hunk of good bread.

Vino Vino Vino

The Seventy Five Wine Company was founded in, you guessed it, 1975. The back label recites all the epic and noteworthy events from that year. It was the year Bill Gates founded Microsoft, Saturday Night Live aired their first episode, Charlie Chaplin was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and of course, the Beckstoffer family set up shop in Napa Valley.

Vino Vino Vino

The 2013 was a touch young; it could certainly be laid down for a while to let it mature and develop, but it’s a great drinker now too. The label is fun, and the bottle itself is a heavy clunker that makes you feel like you’re about to be drinking a rich, deep wine. You can grab a bottle for between $20-$25 throughout the US, so give it whirl and let me know what you think!

Until the next glass!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] The Inaugural Blizzard Walk started several winters ago when Husband had the ingenious idea to walk around during a blizzard when everyone else is sanely snuggled up in front of their fireplace. It’s quite fun actually, seeing everything peaceful, quiet and white. It’s even better when you bring a flask with you. Just sayin’.
[2] Yes, in the blizzard. I really needed some yarn. What can I say? Me and the two old ladies at Hobby Lobby weren’t afraid of a little snow.
[3] Translated to “Flower of Salt”, this sodium variety comes from the hand-harvested salt crystals which float on the surface of salt water as it evaporates. Used as a garnish instead of as an ingredient, it is the most difficult salt to harvest, and therefore the most expensive. Fancy, huh? We recently acquired a jar at the Weekend Kitchen, a whimsical little kitchen shop in Essex, the cutest little town in America.
[4] You know, to make it fancy.
[5] Full disclosure, I’m so Type A I won’t let anyone else wash my china. Just in case. #RetiredPattern

Breakfast For Dinner with Sauvignon Blanc

It’s hot. And we’re trying to eat healthy[1]. So what’s a girl to do for dinner? Enter summer fresh oeufs en cocotte[2]. It was Husband’s idea and he executed flawlessly.  File Jul 13, 11 20 14 AM

Summer Fresh Eggs En Cocotte Recipe

Grab two ramekins[3] and spray or wipe down with olive oil. Layer fresh veggies inside. We used baby spinach and diced green peppers. An onion would have been a great addition. Anything you have laying around or growing in your garden will work[4]. Crack two eggs on top of the veggies and cover with a sprinkling of diced fresh herbs and a pinch of sea salt. If you’re really feeling fancy, throw in a dash of fresh grated parmesan[5]. Put the ramekins in a shallow baking dish filled with water (you want the water to be about halfway up the ramekin). Cover in foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Uncover and finish baking for another 5-10 minutes. Voilà! Dinner is served!

Talk about summer fresh. It felt like I was taking a bite out of the garden. And it paired perfectly with Judge Palmer’s 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. The Judge Palmer wines are really stunning[6]. Too often Sauvignon Blanc is thin and metallic, but not so with this vintage of Judge Palmer. Nutty, green grass on the nose. Thick and peachy with a hint of sweet on the finish. Absolutely gorgeous color; a rich golden hue. File Jul 13, 11 20 31 AM

When the weather is warm and there’s eggs en cocotte on the table, you can’t go wrong with a glass of this beauty.

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What’s your secret to eating healthy in the heat?

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Day three of no bread and I’m still civil to my fellow humans; I’m pretty much a #healthnut. Also, Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast is better than a cream cheese covered bagel…right? #onthego
[2] This translates to “egg casserole.” I think it sounds much more appetizing in French.
[3] You know you have some from the crème brûlée set you put on your wedding registry and used once, if ever. If not, grab a few next time you’re at Amazon.
[4] Zucchini, radishes, leeks, tomatoes etc. #greenthumb
[5] I suggested some ham, bacon and/or pancetta too, but, see footnote 1, infra, re: being healthy. Ugh.
[6] The Cabernet Sauvignon we had this winter was equally captivating. And I just love the backstory behind Judge Palmer – Palmer Emmitt’s electrician-turned-judge grandfather. #nolawschoolnecessary

File Jul 13, 11 24 01 AM