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.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Joanne Weir in NC

I signed up for three cooking lessons at A Southern Season earlier in the year after having taken only one there before, as a gift. The three I signed up for was not so much for the lesson, but for exposure to three chef's whose cookbooks I love: Diana Kennedy, Patricia Wells and Joanne Weir. I just finished the last of the three with Joanne Weir. It was great. She is beautiful,
speaks often and speaks well, is vivacious and funny. She is committed to fresh, local ingredients, probably stemming from her Chez Panise background, having worked every job over 5 years.

Our menu:
Fennel Sausage Crostini
Pork Tenderloin Wellington (or Pork Cooked the Tuscan Way)
Grilled Vegetables
Grilled Polenta Cake with fresh fruit

EVERYTHING was wonderful. I was having guests through the next night and had already purchased pork tenderloin so all I had to purchase after that evening was the sausage for the crostini. I made everything but the polenta cake. I am not a big sweets eater and this cake was right up my alley but didn't see the need for it. I got pictures from the dinner here not from the class. This is how it turned out.

Hints on the recipes:

The crostini was spicy Italian sausage with cheese and fennel added, spread on the bread, then baked until brown. It makes me hungry just writing about it.

The pork tenderloin was to die for. She got the recipe from one of the best known butchers in Italy. The meat was seared off, then rolled in herbs (rosemary, sage, fennel, and garlic), placed in a gutted out, half baguette, tied and baked! Yum, yum, yum. The bread turns out crispy and the meat stays juicy. How can you beat that? Well, to be honest, I left out the secret ingredient: it wasn't fennel it was fennel pollen. Of coarse they sold it there. It is so strong that you can smell it through the plastic zip lock bag. With a vineyard and a husband that breeds grapes (working on a seedless muscadine and we could have just planted it/them), we have come to know the intense smell of grape pollen. I wonder now, if you could cook with it, because fennel pollen is incredibly intense and you don't need much of it to flavor a dish. It's available on Amazon or at Zingermans's. I think you should try it!

From the gourmetsleuth.com:

Fennel pollen

Fennel Pollen is collected from wild fennel. Flowers are picked at full bloom, and then dried and screened to assure the sweetest and best flavor possible. Often referred to as the Spice of Angels (I like that), Fennel Pollen makes any ordinary dish extraordinary.

We served it with risotto with fava beans, peas and asparagus.

I am submitting this for this weekend herb blogging hosted this week by Paulchens Foodblog. Please hop over there and read the recap on Monday. You'll be sure to find something interesting to eat, view, try or cook from foodies all around the world. If you're looking for more recipes, go to my website.


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Father's Day

Fathers Day.

We went home to Virginia for father's day. It was in the mid-nineties and we grilled outside. My brother and his wife live at the (beautiful Carolina) coast and brought fresh grouper right off the boat as well as flounder and crab. We grilled half of the fish and fried the rest along with some hush puppies. Crab cakes with the lump crab meat. For sides we had cole slaw, two kinds of (new) potato salad (the potatoes were from my garden): old fashioned and new fashioned, the later with capers, green onions, mint and a lemon, mustard vinaigrette, grilled zucchini, yellow squash, onions and peppers, a fresh fruit and vegetable platter loaded up but the cucumbers, onions, radishes and tomatoes were from Mom and Dad's incredible garden. For desserts we had cupcakes made in ice cream cones, a blackberry cobbler and Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding.


Only one picture 'cause I forget my camera. Sorry. I know the crab cake recipe is on the website. I'll post my traditional potato salad recipe here. The picture is from the other potato salad and is from the left-overs I brought home. Not great but it'll have to do!

Traditional Southern Potato Salad

2 pounds new potatoes scrubbed and cubed
salt to taste
2 hard-cooked eggs, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet relish
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 tea celery seed
2 T parsley, diced

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. Add eggs, celery, onion, relish and pepper to potatoes. Mix lightly.

In a separate jar add mayonnaise, 2 T juice from relish jar, mustard, pepper and celery seed. With lid on shake until well blended. Mix carefully in with potato mixture to blend adding parsley. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Taste for salt and add more, if necessary.

Note: I love this potato salad. However, in my family, one person doesn't like onions, another onions, relish, eggs and mayo. If I was going to satisfy everyone, I guess we'd have parsley potatoes and forget about the potato salad. I put in all in.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there. I'm lucky to have mine. He's the best Dad in the whole wide world! Cheers!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Entrée Vous Update!

I signed a lease! It was signed in late May and I have been busy working with the restaurant equipment provider and the architect and how am starting to negotiate with the contractor. We are going to be located at 8200 Renaissance Parkway Suite #1003 in Durham. If you live in the area, it is next to The Streets of Southpoint beside the Super Target. A great location and I am very excited!

I have started a newsletter to update everyone on what's happening. I am going to try it monthly, although if things start happening fast, I may do some updates every few weeks until we open. That, my friends, is being optimistic. I may already have your email, but if you want to opt into my newsletter, please send me an email at pbloodworth at entreevous dot com and I'll add you to the list. Would love for you to join the party.

Hope to see you there.

In the meantime, go to the website for recipes. If you currently are a guest at one of the Entrée Vous that are open, you can get great side recipes at my site.

Relishing what the future has to bring!



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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fresh Morels

We are big fans of chicken. It's light, cooks fast and is extremely versatile. We were shopping at Whole Foods and saw fresh morels. I recently read an article that they grow here and can be found for about three weeks in the spring. There are apparently false morels too, so you need an experienced morel person to teach you where to find them and how to identify them. They were $39.99/lb. Wow! Well, you don't need many of them for this dinner for 2, only and ounce or two, so we bought them. You can rarely find them fresh and you only live once.

Chicken with Morels and Spring Vegetables was the result.

2 chicken breasts halves, pounded between 2 sheets of plastic wrap
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry
1 ounce morels
3/4 cup green peas
1 cup chopped ripini
1/4 cup fat free half and half
3 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped chives
1 T chopped tarragon

Par boil the ripini for about 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Salt and pepper chicken.
Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a skillet large enough to hold all
of the chicken. Melt butter in skillet. Add chicken and brown a minute or two on each side. Remove. Add the chicken stock and sherry to the pan. Cook 2 minutes. Add morels, ripini, peas, chicken, half and half and herbs. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice or pasta to sop up some of the delicious sauce.

This is being submitted to weekend herb Blogging hosted this week across the pond by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein. Be sure to go for the round up on Monday.

Relishing your opinions!

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Breakfast and/or Brunch

Katie from Thyme for Cooking, the Blog, my compadre in many ways on gardening, eating, cooking and philosophy, has tagged me for the Brunch Meme. It it a first. No one has ever tagged me ever other than the real touch tag as kids. (do kids still play tag?) Thanks Katie! I will be interested in your feedback.

I DID grow up and still live in the south and brunch wasn't a big thing. Maybe, maybe not, you'll be surprised at what we serve, or like, for breakfast.

First, if I'm the cook for a crowd, it is usually made to order, short order cook style. I love to have bacon, sausage (we get great local sausage from southern pig farmers) and ham (country, of course) with toasted breads (local seeded multi grain), grits, the huz's favorite (we do a combo of local white and yellow), hash browns (my favorite). Muscadine jelly or raspberry or fig (yes homemade) is added for those with a sweet tooth (not me). And in-season fruit! If it's a big enough crowd, we'll make blueberry pancakes or pecan waffles.

A perfect breakfast for me (or brunch) is Smithfield country ham (better than any ham you can get, anywhere, ever!!!!), very thinly sliced and quickly sauté, a fresh egg from a neighbor, over well, on a sandwich with hash browns (the shredded kind), fresh sliced tomatoes, a slice of fresh picked fruit (whatever: strawberries, blueberries, figs, cantelopes), a cup of strong black coffee, dark roast. The huz would be quite different.

When entertaining friends, we like to make eggs Benedict, but we have friends that don't like 'Canadian' bacon so we substitute crab. An English muffin, crab cake, poached egg with freshly made hollandaise and a mimosa. Lately, we've been having sour cherry juice and champagne. It's yummy.

However, the truth be known, lately, we've been trying to loose some weight and unless we have guests, mostly we've been rotating breakfast; one day, hard boiled egg with fat free cottage cheese and yogurt and the next, an egg white omelet stuffed with Gwatney low fat sausage, sautéd with bell pepper, onion, garlic and low fat provolone cheese and topped with homemade salsa. Another occasional treat is our version of shit-on-a-shingle. Other breakfasts that I grew up on is fried salt fish but I haven't had it in years.

One more thing on breakfast. We found a wonderful diner in Burlington, called Larry's Highway 70 East diner. It is immaculate with a typical stainless steel and red interior and much Coke memorabilia. It is now being run by the second generation. They cure their own hams and grow make their own sausage. They serve home grown tomatoes with their breakfasts, in season, and make their own preserves, like pear and apple. Unbelievable in this day and age.

So who can I tag?

Jmom from In Our kitchen to get a Filipino/American/Southern twist to it. She just did an egg post but maybe has a different view of brunch.
Katie from Kaybrays Cooking my Entree Vous Friend and fellow foodie.

BTW: I love breakfast! I forgot about sweet potato biscuits. You can find the recipe on the website.

With Relish!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Zucchini Fritters

We went to the eastern shore of Virginia to visit the huz's uncle. He is in an assisted living home and will turn 94 in June. We were reminiscing about the seafood places he had taken us to on the shore. At one of these places we had zucchini fritters as a side and they were so good, when we got home, we called and ask for the recipe and they gave it to us. His uncle was surprised to hear this because other people had asked the their requests had never granted it. He is pretty well known over there and assumed that they probably gave to us because of him along with the fact that we lived so far away and we promised never to reveal it. This is not the recipe, but how it has developed over the last 20 years or so. I know that I did zucchini for WHB last week, but we just has this and it is very good and worthy of bring to the forefront. It is the huz's favorite way to eat zucchini.

2 medium zucchini, shredded
2 medium shallots, shredded
2 cloves garlic, shredded
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tea baking powder
a pinch salt
enough fat free half and half to hold everything together
Oil for frying

Mix well. It should be the consistency of pancake batter. Cover the bottom of a skillet with canola oil and heat over medium heat until hot. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons into hot oil and sauté until brown, turning and browning on the other side. Drain well and eat fast!

This IS being submitted for weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by the creator Kalyn. Be sure to go to her blog for the weekly round-up which is always chock full of great ideas from food bloggers the world over.

We had them with chicken picatta which was a lovely combination. The recipe is already posted on the website.


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