Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blue Cheese Shortbread Bites + New Years Eve 2012

Three, two, one, party!  With 2013 around the corner, do you have your New Year’s Eve celebration plans set?  Are you painting the town red?  Hosting a soirée at your house? Attending a friend’s bash? Relaxing in front of television with a glass of champagne and ringing in the New Year with Ryan Seacrest? No matter what plans you have, as long as you are authentic in your celebratory plans and do what makes you happy, then that is the best way to ring in the New Year.

Last year at this time I was preparing for an intimate New Years Eve soiree that I was hosting at our house.  Entertaining for me is an opportunity to let my creative juices flow, gather good friends together and share in great conversation and many laughs.  One of my long time friends Denise came to the Bay Area for the holidays, so it was a perfect reason to host a wine and appetizer party at our house for her and about a dozen plus other friends.  A good time was had by all with good friends, great conversations, tasty food, special wines and indelible memories.

This year Hubby and I decided to celebrate with just the two of us by enjoying a wonderful bottle of bubbly and sharing tasty appetizers.  Perhaps to ring in 2014, we will host a bash at our house.  Until then, I am looking forward to having a party for two and ringing in the New Year with my hubby.  We will be feasting on an array of appetizers along with enjoying a few glasses of French bubbly.  I have featured a few of the tasty appetizers we will be enjoying.

Blue Cheese Shortbread Bites, Truffled Popcorn and Caprese Bites

Speaking of bubbly, thought I would share with all of you a Quick Guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine:

Authentic champagne, a sparkling wine must come from the Champagne region of France and must be made using the “methode champenoise”, in which secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle.  Other sparkling wines are made using “methode traditionelle”, “bottle fermented” or methode champenoise” on the label.

  • American Sparkling Wines such as Roederer Estates (by Champagne Louis Roederer), Domaine Chandon (by Moet & Chandon) and Domaine Carneros (by Tattinger) are a few French producers in California.
  • Cremant are sparkling wines made outside of the Champagne region in France and still utilize the methode champenoise to produce these sparkling wines.  Brut Rose is a perfect example of Cremant with it’s lovely coral color, berry aromas and a dry finish.
  • Cava is from Spain and is the sparkling wine that is primarily produced in the Penedes region in Catalonia.
  • Prosecco, one of my favorites is made from the Moscato Bianco grape in the Peidmont region in Italy.
  • Blanc de Blancs is made only with chardonnay grapes and goes well with light foods
  • Blanc de Noirs is made solely from pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and often have a deeper color which pair well with meats and cheeses.
  • Rose can be all pinot noir, pinot noir & pinot meunier or a blend of all three grapes.  The color comes from leaving the skin on during the fermentation process for a period of time and is called “saignee” which means bleeding.  Rose pairs well with food.
Dry versus Sweet

Review the label to determine the level of sweetness:
  • Extra Brut – totally dry
  • Brut – dry
  • Extra Dry – Medium dry
  • Sec – slightly sweet
  • Demi – Sec: Fairly sweet
  • Doux – Sweet

According to the French, the correct way to chill a bottle is to use a champagne bucket filled with a combination of water and ice should reach the perfect temperature in 15 to 20 minutes.

Food Pairing

Champagne is a wonderful beverage to pair with many foods.  Here is a quick list of both traditional and non-traditional pairings to try:
  • Hard cheeses – Cheddar, Gouda and Parmesan
  • Breaded and fried mushrooms with a Srirachi dipping sauce
  • Gruyere Gougeres
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Truffled Popcorn
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Handmade Potato Chips with Sea Salt
  • Crab Cakes
  • Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Mini Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches
  • Chinese Egg Rolls
  • Classic Cheese Fondue
  • Individual Baked Cheese Soufflés
  • Figs wrapped with Prosciutto
  • Duck Fat Fried French Fries with Rosemary
Opening Champagne

A toast to you!! I want to raise my virtual glass of champagne and toast each of you and wish you all the best in 2013.  May it be a year filled with much happiness, good health and your own personal prosperity.  May you have many new learning experiences, expand your imagination, be grateful for every day, accept new challenges and recognize opportunities.  Of course, may it be filled with delicious food and wine!  Cheers!

Blue Cheese Shortbread Bites

Makes 36 Shortbreads

½ Cup Sharp Blue Cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoon Butter, room temperature
½ Cup Flour
¼ Cup Cornstarch
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup Walnuts, chopped


Ricotta Cheese
Mango Chutney
Candied Walnuts

Combine the blue cheese and butter in a food processor; process until creamy.  Add the flour, cornstarch, pepper and salt to the processor and pulse to combine.  Next add the walnut nuts and process until incorporated.  Do not over process.  Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a ball and then flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place the chilled dough on a piece of plastic wrap and cover with another piece of plastic wrap.  Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick.  Remove the top plastic wrap and cut into 1-inch circles using a fluted cookie cutter.  Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Repeat until all the dough is used.  Bake until light brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool.

To assemble, spread about 1 teaspoon of ricotta cheese on top of each shortbread and place a small dollop of mango chutney on top of ricotta then garnish with a small candied walnut piece.  Enjoy!

Note:  Blue Cheese Shortbread recipe from Cocktail Food by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford


  1. What a fun post, Lisa! Love your delcious sounding crackers, shortbread is an all time favorite of ours. The photos of all your tasty bites are wonderful and very enticing!

  2. Happy New Year, Lisa! Your blue cheese shortbread bites look scrumptious!!

  3. Happy New Year, Lisa! I love all your ideas for a festive celebration, and these bites look so tasty. Hope you and your husband have a relaxing evening!

  4. Lisa, Bonne Annee! Enjoy the champagne! I'll make the little goat cheese balls, love them on the picture. I'm in France now, have no food processor to make the shortbreads, but would try it in the new year, once I' m home...

    1. Happy, Happy New Year! Have fun in France - such a lovely country!!!

  5. Love the list of apps to pair with champagne! Happy New Year!!

  6. Lisa you are such a great party person to go to for ideas on appetizers and everything in between. I'm actually having a get together here at the house for New Years should be fun. Hope you and your hubby have a great new years celebrating quietly. Cheers to you and a happy 2013

    1. Thank you Suzanne! Have a blast tonight at your party - I am sure it will be amazing! Happy New Year!!

  7. It sounds like your New Year's eve celebration must have been tasty. Truffled popcorn and fun with the other goodies.

  8. Happy New Year Lisa!
    You've covered many of my favorite apps and bubbles here in your most informative post;-)
    Look forward to following you in 2013;-)

  9. Happy New Year, Lisa! Nice celebration with a bubbly and these adorable hors 'oeuvres! Blue cheese and shortbread - what an odd combo, but I can imagine it works very well. Cheers! All the best for 2013.

  10. These look awesome, Lisa. I love the champagne info. :)

  11. Happy New Year Lisa! What delectable eats...perfect to ring in the new year with!
    I am an extra dry girl ;)


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