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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shrimp 2 Ways

Before I left for Entrée Vous training, I stopped by the market to stock up for the hus and shrimp was on sale for $3.99/lb. It was easy peel and looked good so I picked up 2 pounds and put them in the freezer until I returned. I thawed them out on Saturday and the hus peeled them. Sunday night marinaded 1 lb. in a teriyaki marinade and stir fried them with fresh aspargus from the garden and yellow bell pepper. It was great!
Last night we cooked the other pound. It was a recipe from Rick Bayless' book, Mexico, One Plate at a Time. I have to tell you, the kitchen still smells good. Here is the recipe:

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
juice of 1 lime
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, seeded and cut into strips
1 lb shrimp, peeled
2 T cilantro

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Heat garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a saucepan, just until it starts to bubble, like sparkling water bubbles. Keep on the lowest temperature and just barely simmer for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly browned the color of light brown sugar. The slower the simmer, the sweeter the garlic. On my lowest temperature, it took less than 30 minutes. Add lime juice and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add pepper. In a separate pan, put in several tablespoons of the garlic oil. Heat and add shrimp, stirring until just pink, about 3-4 minutes. Off heat, sprinkle with cilantro and a T of the garlic, pepper mixture. Garnish with lime wedges and serve. The leftover oil can be used on everything!!

Check out my recipes on the website. Also check out the website of my new friend Katie, who likes to cook as much as I do. A food snob too, she's part of my new Entrée Vous family and I met her before I met her blog! Enjoy!

Re: my Entrée Vous: I hope, by next week to have signed a lease and can tell you where I am going to be!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


I'm not big on cooking duck, in fact, I haven't cooked it in a very long time. I have had some incredibly good duck on more than one occasion cooked by our neighbor, Marne, a fabulous cook as well as at restaurants around the world. Why don't I cook it, you ask? Well, first, it is not readily available; you have to know when and where to find it. Second, it's not so much that I am intimidated by it, but I really am less familiar with it, than say chicken, which I can cut up into pieces with one eye closed. Third, when you have a diet plan that requires you to reduce the fat in your for life, duck is listed as one of the big no-no's.

So recently when scanning cook books, I came across several duck recipes in Bobby Flay's Grilling For Life. It said duck breast shouldn't be reserved for restaurant fare; that it was quick, easy and when skinned, was very low in fat. So a few days later when shopping through Whole Foods, I saw individually packaged, fresh duck breasts for sale at reasonable prices, I went for it. We made Balsamic Thyme Glazed Duck Breasts and served them with brown basmati rice with some of the balsamic glaze drizzled over it, broccoli and a garden salad; yes, with fresh lettuce that survived the cold and is alive and well in our garden only because we planted it in the fall. Amazing that we are now reaping the benefits. To round it all out, we had a touch of mango salsa. All-in-all, a great dinner. Imagine that? Duck and low fat too!

For recipes, you'll have to go to the website. I am going to Kentucky for my Entree Vous Training next week and probably can not post anything at all. If I can, I'll post a few pictures. By the time I get back, I should be able to tell you where my first kitchen is going to be. Please check it out.

Love ya! Cheers,


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Saturday, April 07, 2007


I have been inspired by Morocco of late. Specifically Joanne Weir's From Tapas to Meze. I suppose if you follow this blog, or just stumble upon it, we hunger for something until the hunger gets satisfied, then we move on to the next hunger. It's all about the food.

One night we had spiced grilled tuna with roasted peppers and onions and (more) fresh asparagus from our garden. The tuna only marinated about 45 minutes but I used one of those sealing devices to suck the air out which is supposed to make the marinade penetrate quicker. It was very flavorful so I think it worked. The spice combination was very complex, not the same as Indian cooking but the same kind of complexity. We liked it very much! And I want you to know that fresh asparagus, I mean freshly picked asparagus, has a totally different texture than what you buy at the store. I did a post a good while ago on asparagus. You should check it out!

Last night we made a lamb and lentil stew. It's cold again. Last night it got down to 28F and there is a dusting of snow on the ground. Since the vines are out, we think there is surely some damage; particularly on the vinifera. It's going to get colder tonight and probably have a significant impact on the industry state wide this year. Fortunate for us, our vineyard is a research vineyard since he (the hus) is a grape breeder working to develop better grape varieties for the southeast. So tests like this one let us know that we have something special. If we have vines that survive unaffected, then we know we've come closer to having a grape to replace the current varieties being marketed & planted. You'll be the first to know if there is a seedless muscadine out there that is resistant to freezing temperature. In 1997 we got down to 23 on April 11th. Most of the vines were leafing out, even more than they are right now. All of the vinifera were affected but most of the muscadines were unscathed, save Carlos, the most widely planted grape in the south. The cold killed the shoots that year resulting in little or no crop. All this cold weather made us want warming foods and this lamb and lentil stew was the perfect thing, warm, brothy and spicy with harissa. Harissa is a spice mix used frequently in Moroccan dishes.

It is quite easy to make yourself. I get small dried peppers. We can find them loose to purchase by the pound. I used small red ones, about an inch and a half long. Start with a generous 1/4 cup dried peppers. Bring peppers to a boil in about 1 cup water. Simmer 10 minutes. Let sit one hour. Drain. Put in a food processor with 3 large cloves garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Process well. Move to a storage container with a lid. Cover with enough olive oil to cover, about 3 or 4 tablespoons. Adding only 1 teaspoon to 6 cups of broth in this stew, highly flavored it. It was very, very good. For a green vegetable we had the hus's favorite asparagus: pan roasted in sesame oil and served with toasted sesame seeds.

Our spice this week is a spice mix, harissa, and is being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this weekend by hosted by Anh from Food Lover's Journey. Be sure to go to her site on Monday evening and read about food from all over the world! It is always inspiring.

For more recipes, go to the website. Until next time, cheers!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Grilled Veggies, Grilled Breaded Pork Chops and Stuffed Peppers

Everyone has their favorite pork chop recipe. We like them lots of ways. We have two go-to recipes. In the winter, it's pork chops with cardamom and carrots. It's slow-cooked, tomato & meat brothy, fall apart, bread dipping, soul-warming yummy. It summer it is breaded pork chops grilled.

If you haven't tried this recipe, check out the website. In fact, both recipes are there and are really good. They turn out amazingly good yet the recipe is easy and the cooking time fast. How can you beat that? I am amazed every time I try it, mainly because for the limited time it takes to prepare and cook, it it so juicy and tender! Try it with grilled vegetables. We had grilled peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, and onions, all marinated in a bit of garlic and oil.

It's a no-heat-in-the-house recipe for warmer weather. It is dog-gone healthy, if you get lean chops. I could have some more right now!

Another night we had stuffed peppers. They looked so good in the pictures. Have you ever tried a recipe and your instincts told you that you should do it your own way, but instead, you thought, well, he is a well respected trained chef.....More often than not I change the recipe, but in this case I gave him (Michael Chiarello and his Tra Vigne cookbook) the benefit of the doubt and followed the recipe exactly. It was awful! The hint should have been that it was something his Mom made. His childhood memory of it clearly overrules his taste buds. The recipe calls for adding a substantial amount of water to the meat mixture to absorb the bread crumbs. What it tastes like it an under seasoned mush with a very strange texture we both found unpleasant. Even ours looked great.

Now I have to figure out how to rescue the remaining two without throwing the whole thing out. To be fair, it is the first recipe of his that I have absolutely not liked. It reinforced my belief that my instincts are generally accurate and I need to stick with them.

Adventures in the kitchen are always a learning experience, which is a good thing! I don't know why some people don't like to admit to having a bad experience. I say that's the way you learn as well as develop your tastes! You have to take the bitter with the sweet. Live and Learn!


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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April Fools!

We had guests for dinner last night. It was rather short notice, which is good for me as I tend to over plan. Amanda is the daughter of our dear friend Donna. We have know her her whole life. She was in Chapel Hill with some friends, so I invited them over and they came. There were 4 females, all finishing there first year out of undergraduate schools; all beautiful, bright, interesting and young! I was so excited when they ask if they could come on Sunday night. It was April Fool's day and I was dying to try the recipe from the current issue of Gourmet Magazine. Keep reading to see why (read: who else would get excited about trying out a new recipe on guests, several of whom we had never met?). We were mainly having a Moroccan inspired dinner with an April Fool Dessert.

The main course was Bisteeya. I have posted on it before. Sorry didn't get a picture this time. I have an old one. At some point I'll try to recover it. I have tried 2 recipes and both of them are exceptional. With it we had a cous cous salad,

and orange, radish and carrot salad

and a
grilled zucchini succotash.

The dessert was what Gourmet labeled "Trompe L'Oeil". They look to be toast with eggs, but nooooo! The recipes are on the Epicurious website. There are two links for recipes. One for the toasts (biscotti) and the other for the lemon pudding (egg white) and the lemon curd (yolk). Actually none of them are difficult. The longest is the bread, like biscotti, actually it IS biscotti just shaped like a slice of bread. It takes time but not all is active time. Regardless, everything turned out marvelous, our guests enjoyed it, we enjoyed them and I got to have fun! Silly fun! And delicious too! How can you beat that? Aren't they cute? My neighbor said I should have died the eggs. Maybe next time!

Check out the main website for recipes. Be back soon.

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