What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Venison - Ideas for Cooking, A Venison Recipe, A Venison Recipe Link

'Tis the Season for Venison!

Hunting season opened the week before thanksgiving in Virginia. Since we are in North Carolina, why does it matter when hunting season opened in Virginia?
I am a native Virginian. My parents still live there and my dad hunts, ALMOST every day of the season. He killed 2 deer already and having visited over the holiday weekend, we brought some home to freeze. I feel very fortunate to have a resource (Dad). It's better than store bought and cheaper too.

I grew up on the stuff and I love it. What do we do with it? Well my favorite recipe of all is to follow Julia Child's recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon. I even served it at a private party for 150 people and even though it was labeled, people didn't see the label and many people who swear they do not eat venison, loved it. Better yet, hunters who eat venison all the time told us that it was the best they had ever eaten.

What else do we do with it? Venison Stew, Venison Jerky (my niece J.J.’s husband Chris makes the best), Venison ground up in everything from Spaghetti to Sloppy Joes, Venison Barley Soup, Venison
Mushroom Soup, Marinated Grilled Venison Kabobs, Venison Sausage, Venison ala Mode, Venison Roast, Stuffed Venison Roast, Venison Chili, Venison
Daube, Venison Steaks, Venison Chops, Venison medallions, Venison Braised in Balsamic Vinegar, Venison Enchiladas, Venison Burritos. That's all that comes to mind, at the moment.

The recipe for the Venison Bourguignon visit the recipe-of-the-week on my website: Venison Bourguignon Recipe

My everyday Venison Stew Recipe:

2 pounds venison stew meat
1 small onion, peeled
Several sprigs of parley, thyme and 1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup flour
4 cups stock
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 T butter
1/4 cup flour
Salt and black pepper
Crusty bread

I realize that everyone doesn’t have access to venison and lots of people have an opinion about it, but I know, if you like beef, you’ll like these recipes. The deer population, at least in our area, is huge and they are a real menace. We have a compound around the vineyard to keep them out. Too bad my husband doesn’t hunt because it would help in reducing the population and keep good food on the table. In the meantime, enjoy these recipes for venison and if you want more from the list above, do not hesitate to email us.
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Low Fat Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

How do you have a wonderful Thanksgiving that is delicious and guilt-free? Well, we don't know that if can promise that, but we have have figured out how to keep the fat low and with for the most part, most people don't even know it.

Why? For health reasons we had to figure out low fat menus and recipes more than 12 years ago. Unless clients ask for healthy low fat menus, we cook for the business in a more decadent way. Many people expect to eat less healthy when they go to parties; in fact, it is an excuse to cheat! At home, however, we try to stick to a healthy, low fat menu most of the time.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is really pretty easy. You can cook turkey breasts instead of whole turkey if you really want to reduce the fat and they have the benefit of cooking a lot faster. We usually cook rice or mash potatoes, the latter with smart balance butter and fat free buttermilk. You can add roasted garlic or horseradish to it, but even plain, it is so yummy that NO ONE knows it is virtually fat free. Green beans can be seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice. We usually have greens (collards, kale or turnips) lightly sauted and seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of balsamic wine vinegar. Dressing is corn bread (made with fat free buttermilk) and day old wheat bread mixed with LOTS of cooked onions and celery with sage, rosemary and black pepper to taste, moistened with turkey stock and baked until crispy on top, but moist underneath. You can cook these in muffin tins if everyone likes the crispy part. We are not ones for stuffing the stuffing in the turkey (we like the crispy part and cooking the stuffing in the turkey adds fat). For bread, we grew up eating Parker House Rolls; you can manage the fat in these as well. Add a simple cranberry sauce: 1 package of cranberries, 1 cup each of water and sugar, or Diane's wonderful cranberry apple relish, which is not fat free, but we could figure out a reduced fat version, if you want. Send us a note if you are interested in either.

Other ideas: Mashed sweet potatoes are good, using the method with white potatoes above. Sometimes we cook white and sweet potato chunks and serve them together with melted butter (the healthy kind). All of the winter soups are great and easy to convert to low fat: we particularly like butternut squash with a red bell pepper puree. We don't generally eat soup on Thanksgiving day but on the days before and after, they are a great lunch or dinner course. If you MUST have pecan pie on Thanksgiving, one way to serve them is to make Pecan Tassies in little muffin tins. That way, one bite won't do that much damage.

What about dessert? They are ALL SO BAD (well, we know they are good to eat, but most of them are really high in the fat grams!) Well, we have a few suggestions: Baked apples are great without the fat. My mom does a great no-crust sweet potato or pumpkin pie that is light yet great tasting.
Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
It reminds me of a flan in a way. We also love sorbets as a light fat free alternative to fatty desserts and we do a cranberry citrus sorbet for the holidays that will knock your socks off.

So you can have a great tasting, low fat Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that no one will know is actually good for them. Ideas for a table centerpiece: Diane has a gift for making beautiful tables. This is one for a dinner party for eight.
If you look close, you can see the apples with votive candles in the top and name tags on the sides.
Let us know what you think. Be thankful for your health, your family and friends and your good fortune to have found our blog! Have a great Thanksgiving. Eat healthy and well! We'll be back soon! If you need a recipe or more info, send us a note and check out our homepage: website

Love ya! pookah and di

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fall Wedding Menu - Chocolate Wedding Cake

We catered a fall wedding last Saturday. It could not have been a more beautiful day, around 70 degrees; bright and sunny. The wedding was in a private club house. It was the beautiful couple, their second wedding (they each have grandchildren). The colors were black, white and red. The flowers were roses.

It was early afternoon, which is great too; gives us time in the morning to work and time to get home before dark (to recuperate later).

The menu:

Baked Ham
Heart Shaped Cheese Biscuits
Cinnamon Honey Butter and Orange Honey Butter
Roasted Turkey
Cranberry Apple Relish
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce
Assorted Cheese and Crackers
Broiled Asparagus wrapped in Proscuitto
Homemade Breads and Jellies
Breads (Cranberry Walnut, Banana Nut Chocolate Chip, Pear Hazelnut)
Jellies/Jams (Noble Muscadine Grape Preserve, Fig Jam, Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Jelly (yes, all from our garden)
Assorted Fruit Skewers
Grilled Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Sandwiches
Grilled Brie and Bacon Sandwiches

Drinks: Raspberry Mint Tea, Bottled Water, Soft Drinks (or sodas or colas, depending on where you're from), beer and wine.

The finale: Wedding Cake - Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Icing (decorated with fresh raspberries, meringue mushrooms and chocolate leaves).
I thought, from previous parties, we had seen a cake consumed quickly, but we were in for a surprise; for a cake this rich, the consumption rate was amazing! I caught one kid (one of the grandchildren, I think) who was sooooo happy with this cake! I started laughing and so did he, so I snapped a quick shot.
I carry a camera in my apron, just hoping for opportunities like this.

A recipe from the menu for you to try: Sweet Potato Ravioli. We hope you'll try it and let us know what you think. sweet potato ravioli recipe link

Stay fit, eat well, laugh with your friends and if you need a host a party with great food, give us a call. We'll cook it at your house! Check out our website for more ideas: website


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Last of the Summer Garden

It’s between seasons, as far as the garden goes. We had a very light frost a few nights ago and may have another one tonight. For the most part, he last of the summer garden was picked, just in case. There are tomatoes, albeit smaller and fewer. We picked lots of peppers: bell, banana, pablano, Thai hots, jalapeno, habanero and cayenne as well as eggplant of which there are four varieties. Here is a picture of our last (final?) summer garden picking.

Everything else is too far gone or I choose to ignore it. We’ve had enough. Chestnuts and walnuts are falling and we are trying to figure out what to do with chestnuts, other than cut them out. We actually brought home a chestnut roaster that rested against my in-law's fireplace for years as an ornament to our home and roasted chestnuts on an open fire. They were okay. We picked basil and lemon verbena and will get the fresh ginger root and lemon grass before a hard frost.

So far, we have dried (dehydrated) some apples, peppers, tomatoes, our best seedless muscadine grape, lemon verbena and basil. We also made chili oil and basil oil.

We are always late putting in every season’s garden. Some of the greens are looking big enough to start picking. We have many varieties of lettuce as well as spinach, kale, turnips, collards, broccoli, rapini and baby pak choi.

It is inevitable that I get hungry for the season’s food before it is producing. Maybe it is because we plant it and I get it in my mind. I don’t know, but I start eating fall food before it feels like fall; especially this fall. We are still so warm yet I feel like eating stews and soups and the like.

So what’s cooking in Carolina? Tonight we had fajitas with fresh tomatoes, fresh salsa and lettuce. Last night we had my version of Chicken Vesuvius, clearly a fall dish. The previous night we had hummus, babaganoush (made w/fresh eggplant), and tzaiki (fresh dill) with Pita and pork souvlaki, a Greek salad, spanikopita, and a pasta salad (orzo, olives, roasted peppers, green onions, thyme, parsley, sherry vinegar and olive oil). We had pasta fajole although I really have not gotten into the beans yet in spite of the fact I am a big fan. Since it had very little fresh-from-the-garden ingredients, I think of it as a fall meal as well. We’ve had Italian Wedding Soup with mixed greens from the garden and both pozole and chili to use some of the peppers.

We are so ready for the cooler weather and everything that goes with it, especially if it brings rain. We’ll cook another chili rellenos (a real treat, since we really limit the amount of fried foods), pickle jalapenos, make a hot sauce (sweet-n-heat), freeze roasted peppers and bell pepper, and make more something w/eggplant. We made several batches of hot pepper jelly. If you have never had it, it is wonderful with crème cheese on crackers.

Next up? What we’re doing with grapes! Come back and see what we've been doing! It has been fun!

Eat well, have fun and send us a note! We love hearing from you!
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