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, May 26, 2007

Lunch with Patricia Wells

I had lunch with Patricia Wells


A Southern Season, our wonderful locally owned gourmet store, has a great cooking school and have been getting in some incredible chef's. If I already have their cookbook and love it, it is a must do. I didn't like the format of this class as much as the other two I have taken there. The first two were real demonstrations of cooking by the chef's. This was lunch with whoever you happened to sit at the table with. Fortunate for me, I saw the wife of the huz's partner. I was surprised she was there because she lives in Greensboro. Her husband has a vineyard and grows out some of the wine grape crosses that the huz makes. I later found out that my good friend Pat was there with her husband John. I can not believe we didn't see each other.

Anyway, lunch was made by the staff from Patricia Wells' new book, Vegetable Harvest. She picked out the recipes and discussed them and ate at one table. She signed cook books and answered questions, but I think it would have been better if she had mingled more. Regardless, I purchased the new cookbook and had her sign the two I already had, Bistro Cooking and Simply French.

The menu:

Couscous Salad with Spinach, Parsley and Spring Onions with Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing
Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado, Lemon Thyme and Pistachio Oil
Potato Salad with Spring Onions, Capers and Mint
Grenadine, Rhubarb and Raspberries

The wines:
2005 Domaine de L'Idylle Roussette De Savoie Altesse
2004 Chateau Marouine Cotes de Provence

All of the food and wine was good. I came home and made the Zucchini Carpaccio although without the $24 for 8 ounces of pistachio oil. We served it with Sea Scallops on a bed of leeks from the same cookbook.

We are still cooking out of it, last night we had roasted chicken with shallot vinaigrette, which cooked in the oven with a timer while we we were working in the vineyard and it came out perfectly juicy and tender!

From Patricia Wells Vegetable Harvest: Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado, Lemon Thyme and Pistachio Oil

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tea fine sea salt
4 T best-quality pistachio oil, almond oil, or olive oil (I used olive oil and it
tasted perfectly fine)
4 fresh, small zucchini (about 4 ounces each) rinsed, dried, trimmed at both ends
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced very thin
1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme (I used regular thyme) with flowers, if possible
zesty lemon salt (zest of one lemon mixed with 1/4 cup fleur de sel)

In a small jar, combine the lemon juice and salt and stir to blend. Add the oil, cover the jar, shake to blend.

With a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise as thinly as possible. Place the slice on a platter, pour the lemon mixture over the zucchini. Mix well to evenly coat the slices. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinade at least 30 minutes and up to one hour.

At serving time, carefully arrange the slices of marinated zucchini on individual
plates, alternating with the avocado slices, slightly overlapping each slice. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Season with salt and thyme.

This is being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Ellie of Kitchen Wench. Be sure to go to her site on Monday and read the round-up from foodies around the world. It is always very good.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Eating, Drinking and being Merry

Friends don't let friends leave without food.

We had some of our best friends for a long weekend of eating, drinking and being merry. They actually helped us get caught up by power washing the deck and helping us transplant tomatoes. YEH!!!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Now for the food. Thursday night we had Moroccan Tuna skewers with couscous and grilled vegetables.

Friday night, we started with poached garlic soup.

We smoked some rib and grilled pork chops along with grilled vegetables including grilled sweet potatoes and wonderful wilted spinach salad with raisins and homemade garlic croûtons.

Saturday night we had an Indian inspired evening with dal in a spicy tomato butter (palak moong), curried chicken with yogurt, basmati rice, samosas, cilantro chutney, raita, garlic relish, roasted eggplant in yogurt, lots of beer. On Sunday, we went to a pot luck to support the orchid society's spring orchid auction for lunch. We didn't have much time, so we used what we had in the freezer and made mini-turkey burgers on dill rolls with cheddar cheese and succotash with butter beans and corn. Sunday night was a Mexican/Greek combination. I had been dying to try this Diana Kennedy recipe for angel air soup and it turned out divine. The huz thought it was better than spagetti, which is awesome. It's a recipe that everyone who likes pasta and heat will love! After that, the main dinner was

souvlaki, tzatkiki (leftover raita), pita, a Greek salad with lots of olives and feta, and spanikopita.

Oh, and we took the eggplant and yogurt and added sesame tahini and made a pseudo babaganosh. We picked grape leaves for dolmas but ran out of time! Another yummy weekend, over and done, but with great friends who love to eat!

For recipes, check out the website!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Seafood is In (season)

We've been finding great prices on seafood of late. I'm assuming it is because it is in-season. We headed home for Mothers Day and saw both of our mothers. At the huz's mothers we made a seafood extravaganza.

We had beautiful sea scallops seared with cumin, crab cakes and a spicy garlic, thyme and cayenne shrimp sauté . We roasted vegetables including fresh local asparagus and had a big Greek style Salad. Several of the recipes have been posted before. Go to the website for more recipes.

Last night we had jerk chicken, one of my favorites along with sautéd red cabbage with peppers, onions and caraway seeds and finished with a bit a balsamic and yellow rice cooked in chicken stock.

I came back to town and bought some more of the scallops. Maybe tonight we'll have surf and turf.

Life is good.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Why is it that some people have try new recipes all the time and some people eat the same thing, day in, and day out? I guess for those of us that variety is the spice of life, we continue to be motivated by new tastes.

One night we tried the flat iron steaks the local grocers have been marketing. I ask the butcher at Kroger and he said it was a cut normally only sold to restaurants and people had been asking for it so they were now selling it to the average Joe. We had it grilled and served with a smoky and fiery dressing that was terrific.

Then we made Spanish spiced chicken with a mustard green onion sauce served with roasted Brussel sprouts and grilled sweet potato salad with pancetta and rosemary vinaigrette. (sorry, the picture with the sauce with the chicken was out of focus so you're just seeing the chicken right off the grill.) UMMMMMMM! Now there are 2 things that are easy and if you haven't tried them, really good.
Cook a big sweet potato whole until a skewer just goes through it, with a bit of resistance. Remove from water and cool. Slice, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper anhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.photo.gif
Add Imaged grill, a few minutes on each side. They are perfect just like that but you can finish with a vinaigrette.

Roasted brussel sprouts are the other thing. I find that it concentrated the flavor and I like it a lot better than steaming or boiling them. Trim them up, mix them in a bowl with olive oil, a few minced garlic, some pancetta, salt and pepper and spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, tossing several times during cooking.

I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Pat at Up a Creek Without a Patl. When I went to her blog link to her, I realized that she posted about brussel sprouts last week. Shame on me for not seeing it. But great minds (cooks) think alike and our recipes are different and I have grilled sweet potatoes thrown in for fun. Please go to her blog on Sunday night, Monday morning to check out the round-up. It is always great.

And for great recipes, go to my website.


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Diana Kennedy

I was absolutely thrilled last Saturday to have the pleasure to take a cooking class at A Southern Season by Diana Kennedy. It wasn't really a class, in the since of a hands-on kind of thing. It was more like a demo. The classroom is well done, tiered so that everyone can see and they have close-up cameras so you can see the preparation very close-up. There were about 50 people in the 'class'. She actually came to town early and they shop and do the preparations so that even though she is actually preparing it 'live', they (the cooking school staff and volunteers) have collectively assisted her in pre-preparing the food in advance so that by the time she finishes a dish there are small plates of food for each of us to try. We started with hibiscus tea and water at every plate.

About Diana Kennedy: She is truly a legend; most assuredly the best known expert on Mexican cooking in the world. She went to Mexico in 1957 to marry Paul Kennedy, the foreign correspondent for the New York Times. In 1969, she started teaching Mexican cooking classes and published her first cookbook in 1972. I probably bought in in the mid 1980s. She has been decorated with the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor bestowed upon foreigners by the Mexican government and is recognized by them as the authority on the regional cooking of Mexico.

She was delightful and very outspoken and opinionated and generously spent a good deal of time answering questions. She is very passionate about ecological
preservation (hates plastic bags and saves oil and doesn't waste water). She made three dishes for us:

The first course was Sopa Seca de Fideo. I don't know how it translates. It is
basically angel hair noodles which are fried in oil, then tomatoes, onions and garlic are added and the noodles are broken apart and cooked until they are softened and the liquid mainly cooked away. Then chicken stock is added and it cooks some more. It is finished with cheese and creme fraiche. Totally yummy! The second dish was Ensalada de Nopales, which was a salad layered with lettuce, cactus pieces sauted with onion and chilled, tomatoes, red onion, pork rind, cilantro, cheese and avocado with lime juice. This was my first experience with cactus and I really liked it so we (my sister Jo Anne, who attended the class with me) came home made it for the hus. They didn't permit cameras in the classroom, but since I made it at home, you get to see what it looks like it looks like when we added it to the lettuce after cooking and cooling and the finished salad.

We served it with pork cooked in a chili sauce.

The last dish was Pollo en Mole Verde or Chicken in Green Mole. Mole is really a mixture and this was was filled with green goodness, lettuce, cilantro, chard, parsley, pablano, serrano, tomatillo, among other things. Really, really good!

I highly recommend her books especially if you are into authenticity. The books I have had for years are The Art of Mexican Cooking, about to be republished and Mexican Regional Cooking. I just bought My Mexico. I can't wait to try a lot of the recipes. I hope you will too!

For recipes, check out the website and until next time

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Asparagus Torta

I thought that I had documented almost every way to cook asparagus in my first post ever, but there are always new ideas and recipes from around the world as well as creative innovations. We finished off a great dinner and discovered that we had forgotten to include the asparagus picked earlier. So we found a recipe for an asparagus torta and modified it to suit what we had available and had it for breakfast. It was delightful.

the recipe:

1 T ghee
1/2 Vidalia onion, minced
2 scallions, minced
1 T sage leaves, minced
1 T chives, minced
5 large eggs with 2 of the egg yolks discarded
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
2 cups asparagus, cut into 2" pieces

Heat oven to 400. In a 9" oven proof skillet, melt ghee and sauté the onion, scallions, sage and chives over medium low heat until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine eggs, Parmesan, and ricotta and beat with a whisk until smooth. Add the asparagus to the skillet, mixing in and spreading out until well distributed. Pour the egg mixture over the top, shaking to make sure it covers the whole pan. Bake until a knife comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.

For more recipes, check out my main website. Until next time, cheers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Brown Mustard Seeds and Dinner Outside

We found out a few days ago that our dear friends, Oldakar and Nums, were going to be in town for a conference and were staying over Saturday night. Great! What's for dinner? I love to ponder these things. We see them enough that we have eaten a lot of great food together. I know that they'll eat anything but the hus of this couple loves Indian food, especially condiments and I have an abundance of volunteer coriander that is going to bolt soon as a result of the summer-like weather.

So let's start with coriander chutney. Condiment #1.

This month's Cooking Light has a recipe for Pork Vindaloo with Raita.

I also found these wonderful champagne mangoes that are perfectly ripe for mango chutney.

Condiment #3. And I bought a whole bag of Vidalia onions. Let's make a
pickled onion chutney as condiment #4.
I also have store bought Garlic Relish
and tomato chutney to round it out. And if that isn't enough, let's round run out to the Indian grocer to pick up some spices and what do you know, they are selling just made samosas.

I've got to buy them (they were the hottest thing in the whole dinner. I decided that all the Indian cookbooks must chill the heat down for the American palate. Unfortunately, we like it hot!). I decide to make some naan to use for dipping.

Main course and condiment #2.

I had these wonderful green beans from CostCo. Hmmmm. Green beans with coconut and brown mustard seed with basmati rice. Side 1 and 2.

The recipe we are going to provide is for the green beans because they were new and yummy and easy. Brown mustard seeds are a great addition. We used them in the mango chutney as well. A perfect ingredient to submit to this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by the cookin' founder Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. Be sure to go to this site Sunday evening or Monday morning for great reads from foodies around the world.

Green Beans with Coconut and Brown Mustard Seed

1 lb. green beans
1 tea. turmeric
2 T sesame oil
1 tea brown mustard seeds
1 hot pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 T chopped coriander leaves

Parboil the green beans in salted water with a teaspoon of turmeric until just
barely tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and cool. Heat oil and mustard seed until
mustard seeds start to pop. Add coconut and peppers and cook one minute. Add green beans and mix well, heating through. Add coriander leaves and serve.

Yum. And it is so beautiful out, that the hus makes a table for is in the middle
of the field so we eat outside with no bugs. Talk about a beautiful evening with wonderful friends and great food!

For more recipes, check out the website: Swank Recipes. Or, if I write about a food and the recipe isn't published yet, send me a note and it will motivate me to add it to the collection, sooner than later.

Until next time, Cheers!

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