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, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Party Food

What's cooking on the Memorial Day weekend? Well, we cooked for a party at a friends house on Saturday.

The Menu:

Baby turkey and beef cheeseburgers (baby turkey burger is in the picture held together by a standard toothpick, so you can get the idea of size)
Salted almonds
Marinated Olives
Lentil salad with peppers, feta and mint

Breads: focassia w/olives and onions, w/sage and onions, and w/black pepper, truffle oil, rosemary and thyme, baguette and pita
Dips: spinach and parmesan, garlic oil with parmesan and herbs
Grilled Veggies: multi-colored bell peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, eggplant, portabella, onions, asparagus
Chicken satays with peanut sauce and cucumber relish
Spiced shrimp skewers with lime dipping sauce

And it doesn't stop there. We had cheesecake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and a chocolate cake with a mocha filling.

Did we mention beer? Lot's of beer! (It was hot, after all!)

Have a great Memorial Day!

Lime Dressing Recipe Link Please visit our website for this recipe or others AND if you need a catered party! Swank Homepage

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hodgepodge: Chicken, Rapini, Wings

Yes, we are still eating out of the freezer, however, we are really trying to watch what we eat and lose a few pounds. Exercise is part of it too. I'll never understand why it is so easy to put on and so hard to take off. We are real believers in the idea that you have to burn more calories than you take in. Basic. Some times of the year or some years it seems we get out of the exercise habit. We are now back in it.

We are getting in lots of strawberries and that makes breakfast easy. They are very good fresh; better than anything we have ever bought at the market.

I am still on the Moroccan theme at least once a week, both from the Weir book as well as Claudia Roden's book: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. We had a great chicken with olives and served it with Israeli couscous with oyster mushrooms. We tried these big boneless pork chops sauted with peppers and onions, added wine and herbs and finished them in the oven so they were tender on yellow rice.

My husband has been hungry for rapini, also know as broccoli rabe and I finally found it at Whole Foods. Is is so easy to make a great one coarse meal with it. The recipe is out recipe of the week this week.

We are cooking for an outing tomorrow and since we are still trying to use up potatoes, we are going to make that yummy potato salad we had in a previous blog and sticky sesame chicken wings. It solves a couple of problems (freezer and potato excess) and should be great to boot. I'll try to get pictures and post them later.

Have a warm weekend.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Eating From the Freezer, Part II with Strawberries

We are still eating out of the freezer BUT the strawberries are coming in. We have been getting a big bowl of them every few days. This is the picking from this morning:
We just like to eat them, unadorned. They are a great variety, not bred to be giant but to taste good, just the way we like them.

We took out a London Broil and marinaded in a chimichurri sauce, grilled in and served some of the sauce on top. It was great. If you have not tried the sauce, I'll try to get the recipe posted. There are many versions of it. This is the combination we like best but experiment and season to your liking.
The Food Lover's Companion states that "it is a thick herb sauce as common in Argentina as ketchup is in the US... a must with grilled meats and a common accompaniment to a variety of other dishes." We love it. We could eat it on any grilled meat! We served it with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.

We also had more chicken. We pounded them out then breaded and floured them, sautéed them and finished them with morels, peas and asparagus. It was really a great spring dish.

Our garden is coming up great and the rains have been a big help, but since we planted so late, we aren't harvesting anything yet. However, our wonderful neighbors did get their spring garden in early and we are getting some great lettuce for salads from her garden.

Spring Fever! Makes me hungry! Until next time, eat well, laugh often, love much!

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Eating out of the Freezer - Part 1

This time of year, we really start to get focused on eating out of the freezer. We will need the space for this years vegetables and, yes, we know we really should have been eating out of it more all along.

So, we took out some chicken breasts we bought on sale (Well, actually, everything that came from the grocery store that is in the freezer was bought on sale). My husband got a choice of about 4 or 5 options for cooking the chicken breasts and his choice was chicken fingers, which we have not had in awhile. We bread them in half parmesan and half bread crumbs and bake them on a reack in the oven. We served them with macaroni cooked with peas from the freezer and smoked gouda.

We took out 1/2 fillet of salmon which we grilled with a wonderful rub that is this weeks recipe on our website for swank recipes, click here and served it with a capellinni with fava beans, artichokes (also from the freezer) and spring carrots. It tasted of spring.

We also took out low fat ground turkey and had turkey burgers with cheddar and a pablano pepper relish served with cajun sautéed potatoes and a salad. Nice progress and didn't have to go to the grocery store all week.

Stay tuned for more freezer finds: London broil, more chicken and venison.
Eating well! Hope you are!

for swank recipes, click here

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dinner at Magnolia Grill

We had dinner for the first time at Magnolia Grill night before last. For those of you not familiar with, it is probably one of the best known, if not THE best known restaurant in NC. The Ben and Karen Barker are the owners. They are both CIA grads and it is an award winning kitchen. I have wanted to have dinner there for years, but
something always came up. We don't go out to eat much as we are usually disappointed and eat better at home. Boy, am I sorry we haven't been there before.

The atmosphere is a casual elegance, sophisticated southern! The tables are not too
close and the chairs are comfortable. The art, which apparently rotates quarterly, was folk, local and food oriented. We liked it. It's kind of hard to believe that you're on a neighbor street in Durham. The service was very good.

The food, which I would call uptown Southern with an Italian twist, was superb! For appetizers, we had spring lettuces (local) with an apple cider and sourwood honey vinaigrette with spicy pecans. We also had a Vidalea onion chowder with shrimp, country ham and a black pepper chantilly cream. Yum! Smooth with a kick to it. Trust me, I'll try to make this and let you know what I work out. For a main course we had a potato-crusted Alaskan halibut on a leek and potato fondant with a fava bean, spring carrot, asparagus bouillon and a cornmeal crusted Carolina grouper in a "Jambalaya Risotto" with shrimp and Andouille sausage. Everything, including the service was very well done. If ou know about this restaurant, you know has
multiple awards. Check out: http://topchefs.chef2chef.net/recipes-2/barker/ to see some of the list as well as to pick up a few recipes. Unfortunately, we didn't
get dessert (believe it or not, we are trying to lose weight and we were celebrating, but that meant we had wine and not dessert) but they
looked great with an unusual selection.

If you are even in the area, we highly recommend it. It is a hidden treasure, as I've read it described and a true find. Make reservations before you come and let us know what you think. I know loads of people who have eaten here and have never heard a complaint. I didn't get any pictures so you have to go see yourself.

Until next time, enjoy local food!
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