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.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Chicken and Dumplings & Chicken Posole

The other night we had Chicken and Dumplings and it didn't turn out as light
as I would have liked so I am going to redid it the next day. The first recipe
I tried came from the Williamsburg Cookbook. I threw out the dumplings and
for lunch today, I made a standard buttermilk biscuit and used that as my
dumpling. Why do I have to try new things when the old standard is fine?
Who knows, but my recipe is very easy.
Recipe of the Week: Chicken and Dumplings
It's the kind of dumplings I grew up eating. Other parts of the country have dumplings that are more like pasta. I like these more. If made right, like the second batch, they are light and they thicken the broth.

I actually only used 1/2 of the chicken and broth for the Chicken and
Dumplings so I took the other half and make Chicken Posole with beef tacos and
fresh guacamole, salsa I canned last summer and chips.

Chicken Posole is easy to make. Take the chicken and broth and add about
some canned tomatoes, and hominy that has been rinsed off. Add some green
chilies and onion and garlic (usually better is sautéed first) and season with
oregano, cumin and some chili powder. We like Ancho and Chipotle chili
powder. The whole thing needs to cook together about 30 minutes or so. I like to serve it topped with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, minced green onion, thinly sliced radishes and cilantro and serve it with tortilla chips as crackers. It is yet another hearty chicken soup. One you can vary to your hearts content or top using whatever you have in your refrigerator.

We have been working very hard on a structure to grow seedlings in. It is
quite large, because we have a lot of grape seedlings each year and have
never been hugely successful at growing them out each year, because of the
inconsistency of sun light. So we are setting up a system where we can grow
seedlings under lights. It will be ebb and flow watering, automated with
temperature and light controlled. What does this have to do with food, you
ask? Well, we are putting in two shelves, one for grape seedlings and one for
herbs and vegetables. I am sure it will end up being additional space for
orchids as well as our collection continues to grow. For me, it means that we
will be able to have things like fresh basil, year round! It is quite a large
project and the entire thing is taking weeks, because we are building the
trough to hold the seedling trays. As soon as it is completed, we have to
plant seedlings and start pruning, so it feels as if we are getting ready for
the season. I will post a picture of it when we are finished. You won't believe

Until next time, eat, drink and be merry!

No pictures this week unless I get a chance to take one in the next day or so. We've been too busy.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Garlic Soup and Gnocchi

Food thoughts for the day:

Even thought we get really hung up on stews and soups during the winter, we
do have many points of hunger for not-necessarily-for-winter foods. Case in
point: I subscribe to several food magazines and also watch FoodTV when I
get a chance ,so new recipe ideas are always coming up and then I get hungry
to try them. I saw Michael Chiarello do angel hair pasta with chicken in a
broth, rather noodle soupish in an Italian kind of way. He also made gnocchi
in the same episode, which I haven't made in a few years, but love to make
and eat! Bobby Flay made grilled pizza that looked great with fontina and
sausages. Who's thinking Italian? So, I made the noodle dish for dinner and
had it with a spinach salad with olives, feta, sliced eggs and a balsamic
vinaigrette. Tonight, it will be the gnocchi.

My neighbor is a wonderful cook and we share dinners quite often. The other night she invited us for baked ham, scalloped potatoes and a ceasar salad. I had already started garlic soup so we brought that along and had the soup and salad as a first course and the ham and potatoes for the main course. She always has wonderful
desserts, so the entire meal was very good. The soup recipe is on our website. Recipes link. If you
like onion soup, you are sure to like this just as much.

Other menus are in the works. My neighbor, mentioned above, and I have
been talking about doing a big tamale dinner, a great dish to do when there is
a crowd (you can use the help) and for some reason, it feels like a winter
dish. We'll let you know how that goes.

I am also planning a wine tasting with red wines from Chili and Argentina and
a Tapas Menu.

And we still need to make pizza (although mine will be with pepperoni and roasted peppers and onion) AND I have leftover chicken to deal with.

Thankfully, we never tire of new recipe discovery and eating well!

Until next time, live, love, laugh and eat well.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Broccoli Noodle Soup and Grilled Salmon with a Lemon Vinaigrette and Sautéed Collard Greens

What's new in Carolina? Well, both of us came down with a little bug so we’ve
had to work and eat around that. that doesn't mean we don't eat well though.

At the last big trip to the grocery store, I bought Filet Mignon, crab meat
and wild caught Alaskan Salmon on sale, Chicken Breasts (buy one get one
free) and Ground Beef (4% fat). I got into a bind and decided I needed to
cook a lot of it to keep stuff from going bad. So I skinned and deboned two
of the chicken breasts and took the skin and bones and added it into the
pressure cooker with the other two breasts and pressure cooked them with carrots, celery, parsley and onions. With part of the broth I made Broccoli
Noodle Soup with broccoli from our garden (we are having a mild winter so
far, so the greens still look good). For the recipe, check out the Swank Catering website: recipe-of-the-week. I put the two skinned and deboned
breasts into a marinade of ponzu sauce to make a stir fry, also with shanghai
pok choy from our garden. The date had come for the hamburger, so I made
a bunch of meat balls and cooked them in the oven and stored them in the
refrigerator for making spaghetti and meatballs the next night. We always
have canned tomatoes that we can ourselves and keep in the pantry. We went
to a hydroponics store to pick up a few things and they were growing basil in
their showroom. The basil was huge and I ask what they were going to do with
it and the sales guy told me to take what I wanted so I did and we had lots
of fresh basil to add to the tomato sauce.

The cooked breasts and broth that I have not used will be made into okra
gumbo or some other soup, depending on my mood at the time (and my

I cooked the filets one night with roasted potatoes and a salad. I also
cooked the salmon, grilling it and saucing it with a lemon, dill, caper
vinaigrette and serving it over collard greens sautéed with garlic in olive oil.

It was better than any creamed spinach I have had at any high end steak
house. When moving stuff in and out of the freezer, I had knocked out a
bag of frozen white sweet corn, busting the bag open. So with the salmon I
made a corn and crab chowder. It was good; pretty sweet with both the crab
and the corn being as sweet as they are.

Cooking in Carolina this week has been great! We hope you are eating as well
as we are and staying healthy.

We would love to hear from you!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chicken Saltimbocca

I usually don't update my blog more then once a week, mainly because of limited time but also because I don't think I have that much to say. However, I want to do a quick update because I think this is funny. If you read this regularly, you know I received my first Bobby Flay cookbook, Grilling for Life, recently, adding to my collection of several hundred other cookbooks. I have been cooking my way though it, as I do with many new cookbooks when I first get them. Several days ago I tried the chicken stuffed with goat cheese, roasted peppers and olives served with a pablano cilantro sauce.
When I bought the chicken breasts, I bought 4 of them and just used two for the dish, so last night, I used the other two breasts for another of his chicken recipes. This recipe was for chicken stuffed with fontina and proscuitto and served with an orange, sage vinaigrette. We had it with a salad of mixed greens served with orange sections, walnut and blue cheese and orange vinaigrette and mashed potatoes.

I will tell you off the bat, that we cook stuffed chicken a lot I have made chicken cordon blue, chicken saltimbocca and chicken Kiev, among others. We frequently make chicken saltimbocca for parties, for several reasons: they are beautiful, delicious, and easy to make ahead, refrigerate and cook at the last minute and are easy to cook a lot for a party for 50-100 or even double that. I try to convert every recipe into the healthiest, yet tastiest gourmet dish you could want to eat. As far as chicken saltimbocca, I converted it years ago but making the following adjustments to the standard recipe: low fat instead of full fat cheese, egg substitute instead of whole egg for dipping, baking instead of frying. My standard recipe is on the website. You can make 20 or 50, it doesn't matter. Line them on a baking dish, not quite touching and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. It may take a bit longer if you have 50 of them.

Well the reason I thought I should write this today, is that after dinner last night, I checked my email. I am on the distribution for lots of food related distributions from BHG, igourmet, to Martha Stewart. Somehow, a new Martha Stewart publication is out called "Quick Cook", the third addition was last evening. The feature recipe was chicken, proscuitto and sage (aka chicken saltimbocca) with buttermilk mashed potatoes among other things. Two of 3 of the same ingredients we had just had for dinner. She had Spinach as a side. Great minds think alike? My favorite way to make mashed potatoes is with fat free buttermilk and Smart Balance, which is what we had with the chicken.

Well, Bobby Flay's recipe was even lighter than mine, by grilling the meat, instead of breading it and then baking, although his is a bit more trouble to make and cook. I made his sauce and keeping with the orange flavor, had oranges in the accompanying salad. It was very good. We split one breast and I didn't take pictures of the dinner, but when I saw Martha had but a recipe out for my dinner only minutes after I had eaten it, I took a picture of the leftover piece this morning, all that we had left from dinner last night as well as the afore mentioned stuffed breast, just to prove I didn't take her lead!

If you haven’t tried it, it is easier to make than you would think. I used to pound out the breasts between wax paper, but have found that sealed zip lock bags are less messy if you aren’t making 50 of them. I'll put the detailed recipe up on our website Swank Recipes in the next day or so as well as how to modify itif you want to grill it. Try one of them and enjoy!
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