Spring is an amazing time to grill outside in the fresh air enjoying time with friends and family.
After the ribs or steaks, here’s a light dessert to finish the meal and delight the kids.
This skinny cheesecake recipe can be served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. But, you can also use it as a fruit dip for spring berries.
This recipe uses nonfat Greek yogurt as a base, providing a boost of protein that doesn’t include a lot of extra fat and sugar. As a bonus, the kids can help in the kitchen by crushing up the cookies.
Just throw the cookies in a sandwich bag before letting the children take a whack at them!
1 cup nonfat vanilla greek yogurt
2 tablespoons instant cheesecake pudding mix (regular or sugar-free)
1 cup fat-free or sugar-free Cool Whip
4 thin chocolate sandwich cookies (or 2 regular-sized cookies)
1. Stir the yogurt and pudding mix (just the dry mix, not prepared pudding) until they are smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip, then stir in the crushed cookies.
2. Chill until ready to serve or eat, garnishing with crushed cookies if desired.
Maple garlic kefta kebab
Looking for something a bit different for your next barbecue? Try kefta, a type of Middle Eastern street food.
Start to finish: 20 minutes
• 1 pound ground pork
• 1 pound ground veal
• 2 green onions, finely chopped
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Wood skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1. In a bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients.
2. Divide the mixture into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a tube around one of the skewers.
3. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.
4. Grill the kefta for about 2 minutes on each side, until browned.
5. Transfer to top grill to finish cooking. Serve either wrapped in pita bread with a yogurt dressing or on top of a salad.
If you don’t have wooden skewers on hand, you can form the mixture into burger patties instead!
5 ways to make the most out of your wine tour
Wine tours are becoming increasingly popular in wine producing areas. If you’re planning to visit one or more vineyards, here’s how you can make the most out of the experience.
1. Book in advance. Wineries aren’t always equipped to handle unexpected visitors. Scheduling your tour in advance will ensure your party can be accommodated.
2. Visit early in the day. If you go on your tour before lunchtime, the wineries you visit are likely to be less crowded. This means that the staff will have more time to discuss the wines with you.
3. Remember to eat. If you’re visiting more than one winery, plan to go to a vineyard with a restaurant. Alternatively, stop in at an eatery en route or pack a picnic lunch.
4. Try something new. Wine tours provide the perfect opportunity to sample different varietals and blends. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experience new flavors.
5. Ask questions. Learn more about wine and the art of winemaking by asking questions. Most vintners are passionate about what they do and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.
One final suggestion for your wine tour: book a car service or bring along a designated driver. With the wine flowing and so many exciting new flavors to try, you’re likely to drink more than you intend.
Wine tour etiquette
• Drink in moderation. Avoid becoming so intoxicated that you make the visit unpleasant. Don’t be shy to spit some of your wine into the buckets provided.
• Don’t wear perfume or aftershave. This will mask the aromas of the wine, making it difficult for you and the people around you to fully appreciate what you’re sampling.
• Buy only what you love. There’s no rule that states that you must buy wine from every winery you visit. But if you taste something you love, by all means bring some home.
Lettuces and greens: types and how to use them
Lettuces and greens are a summertime staple and there are countless varieties available for making salads. Follow these handy preservation and preparation tips to get the most out of them.
In addition to being the primary ingredient in Caesar salads, romaine lettuce has a number of uses. The larger leaves can be used in place of a tortilla when making wraps, and they’re delicious when charred on the grill. Washed, drained and wrapped in a paper towel, romaine leaves will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.
The curly endive also known as frisée has a slight hazelnut flavor that makes it perfect for salads. It pairs beautifully with most nuts, fruits and seeds. It’ll keep for two to five days in the refrigerator, so eat it fast.
This deliciously bitter and spicy green is a close relative of cabbage and kale. Perfect in salads or as a garnish on pizza, it can also be made into pesto. It’s not very hardy, however, and lasts only two or three days in the refrigerator.
Originating from the Provence region of France, this mix of small leafy greens can include arugula, endives, lettuce, mustard greens, dandelion leaves and a host of other ingredients. Ideal with fruits and sweet dressings, this popular mix needs to be eaten fast, as some of its components wilt quickly.
This summer, experiment with a variety of leafy greens. Find them at your local farmers’ market and on shelves at your nearest grocery store.
Revive your lettuce
Has your lettuce wilted? If so, trim off any brown bits and revive it by soaking it in cold water for about 20 to 60 minutes. Use it as soon as possible for best results.
Raspberry cheesecake ice cream
No ice cream maker? No problem! Making this delicious frosted dessert requires no special equipment.
Start to finish: 4.5 hours (20 minutes active)
• 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1-1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. In a pot, combine raspberries and sugar and cook over low heat until the raspberries release their juice.
2. Add cornstarch and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
3. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sweetened condensed milk, cream and vanilla extract slowly. Continue to mix until the ingredients are well combined.
4. Pour about one-third of the cream mixture into a bread pan and top with half the raspberry mixture. Repeat with the remaining cream and berries, ending with a layer of cream. With a butter knife, distribute raspberry mixture using circular motions to create swirls.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving.
Try substituting blueberries, blackberries or strawberries for the raspberries, or use store bought jam to make this recipe even easier.
ViNoVA opens its doors to a tour of European cuisine and beverages
A new restaurant with a distinct European flavor, ViNoVA, has opened its doors at 124 East Main Street in downtown Front Royal. For the first time in the area, tapas and exclusively wines and beers from Europe and basic foodstuffs fresh from the fields of Warren County are featured.
To the uninitiated, by the way, tapas means servings of ever changing foods from oysters to cheese to pates and other delicacies on small plates that accompany the many wines ranging from inexpensive ($25 to $30) to high end ($50 to $100) per bottle. The restaurant offers a Happy Hour (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.) daily, however, promising three tapas and wine or beer for about $15.
The hostelry, which had a “soft” opening a couple of weeks ago, isn’t so new, however. Nor is one of the owner-operators, Rachel Failmezger. The property signals her return to 124 E. Main where the old Vino E Formaggio wine and cheese shop – later re-named Vino 124, a full service restaurant – was situated and run by the same Rachel Failmezger along with her husband Christian.
After a decade, the couple closed the Vino124 and repaired to a broken down gas station on Commerce Avenue that they turned into a successful destination restaurant, The PaveMint Tap & Smoke House, now two years old. The PaveMint continues to operate under Christian Failmezger, who also has an informal hand in ViNoVA.
In a sit down interview with the Failmezgers on a Tuesday “closed for business day,” the couple introduced a co-owner of ViNoVA, chef Chris Kenworthy. After 15 years in the restaurant business, including a notable period in the Philippines where he consulted and helped build a restaurant in a Filipino jungle community, he’s demonstrating his flair for unusual cuisine at ViNoVA.
My first question of the interview was about the close proximity (next door, in fact) of another new Main Street bar, the popular Front Royal Brewing Company which I suggested ViNoVA would be in competition with.
“Not competition,” responded Rachel, “the words are ‘complementary to.’ ”
And there followed a description of the unique-to-the-region cuisine, the vintage wines from countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Germany, and exclusively showcasing Pilsners from Czech, Trappistes from Belgium, stouts from Britain, cocktails, fashioned by barkeep Chris Carboni, seemingly have jumped from the pages of Hemingway or Fitzgerald.
“They will be a perfect complement to our colorful food menu,” Rachel promised of the beverage selection.
Chef Chris’s promise was “a journey through the Mediterranean with stops in Italy and Spain in spring and summer (with) fall and winter menus touring Europe’s comfort cuisine of Belgium, France and Austria.”
The much-changed from years past decor, a muted black and white motif, and controllable subdued lighting, lends an ambiance perhaps unequaled in the area: think date night rendezvous!
The two “soft opening” days by invitation only resulted in packed houses and an exciting evening of new experiences and meeting friends from the old days of Vino124, much in evidence both days.
Must-try wine pairings
Pairing wine with food is an art form and choosing the right combination will enliven the inherent flavors of both the meal and the wine. Here are a few suggested pairings.
If you’re enjoying a dish with pesto or seafood, choose a light- or medium-bodied white like a Soave or pinot grigio.
For something with cream sauce or a lot of cheese, try an oaked chardonnay.
The bright, spicy notes of Mexican food are well suited to fresh and crisp wines with lots of acidity. Sauvignon blanc goes nicely with tortilla and salsa-based dishes.
Pair the smoky, rich flavors of Mexican barbacoa (meat slow-cooked over an open fire) and chipotle with a light and acidic red wine like a pinot noir or a gamay.
Bolder and spicier than other types of Chinese cuisine, Szechuan food goes well with off-dry white wines like rieslings and gewürztraminers.
Generally, spicy foods pair best with chilled white wines, so save your red for another meal.
When it comes to pairing wine with food, it’s hard to generalize. Fortunately, many restaurants employ a sommelier to help you choose your wine. If you’re dining at home, enlist the help of a specialist from a liquor or wine store to help you find a good pairing.