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, July 26, 2007

Ratatouille! The food not the movie!

We are really busy and very behind in the gardening and putting up of veggies and I am writing instead of canning so I must make this brief.

Last several days ago I stopped by the market to grab a few meats for dinner, as we have enough veggies. I bought several big boneless pork chops and they had chicken breasts, but one get one free so I did. One night we had the first few breast pounded out and stuffed with fontina and sage, rolled and grilled. The next we had breaded grilled pork chops (the recipe is on the website) and it is wonderfully juicy! Since I had the breading I went ahead and breaded up the squash and grilled it too.

Yesterday, I skinned and boned the rest of the chicken, cut it into strips and marinated in jerk sauce (also on the website). When we came from the garden at half past eight with a picking of tomatoes, eggplant, squash, basil, peppers, and cucumbers, I didn't have an inkling of what I was going to have for dinner, then it hit me! Ratatouille!

Even though we haven't had time to go see the movie, there is was right there in front of me, so in about 15 minutes (who needs 30 minutes), we had jerk chicken, ratatouille, grilled corn on the cob and cucumbers in vinegar! Summer time is great!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot Pasta!

Do you ever try a recipe and just can't get enough of it. This is the way it is for Sopa Seca de Fideo, that I got from taking a cooking class with Diana Kennedy. My husband says it's better than spaghetti and that obtaining this single recipe was worth the price of the class alone. It's easy and we are hooked! If you're into low carb, you'll have to try a carb blocker because you must try this recipe.

Before Cheese is added:

After Cheese is melted over top:

From Diana Kennedy

Angel hair pasta nests (8 ounces)
Peanut or safflower oil
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
3 T onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar or muenster)
6 chipotle peppers in adobo, cut into 2 or 3 pieces

Fry angel hair pasta on both sides until brown. Add tomatoes, onions and garlic. With the end of a metal spatula, break up the pasta into pieces while the pasta is absorbing the tomatoes. Add chicken stock and cook until it is mainly absorbed. Tranfer to a greased baking dish. Spread out evenly and tuck in pieces of the chipotle pepper, embedding them evenly across the dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with creme fraiche or sour cream.

For more recipes, go to the website.

We're a bit overwhelmed by the garden right now. Hope to be posting more soon!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chinese Chicken Salad

Oriental or Chinese Chicken Salad is a dish I really like. I have tried many recipes at home and many prepared salads in restaurants. I am one of those cooks that really likes to experiment and I finally have a recipe that I like a lot. I was testing recipes for a summer luncheon I was preparing for 75 people and I wanted it to be all salads. I went to the oriental market and asked what type of chow mein noodles they had. I had seen the fake ones in sealed containers in the regular super market and they just didn't seem appealing. He want to the freezer and got out a bag of noodles that looked to be like angel hair pasta crumbles, maybe a little bigger. I was surprised and ask him how to prepare them and he said you fry them. So I did. And combined with the crunchy cabbage and lettuce salad it's a combination I am pleased with. I hope you'll try it. I think you can substitute angel hair pasta for the chow mein noodles and it would work just fine, if you crumble them up so they are in small pieces. Sometimes you can buy them like that. I have found that it really adds to the crunch of any Chinese Chicken Salad but I particularly like it with this version. He did another version on his cooking show with a lot more fat in it. I think this one's just fine without it or better with my addition.

Mainly from Bobby Flay's Grilling for Life but I can never leave well enough alone.

Red Chili Peanut Dressing

3 T soy sauce
3 T rice vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 T smooth peanut butter
1 T light brown sugar
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1 T chipotle puree
2 t sesame oil
1/4 t black pepper, ground

Chicken Salad

1/2 head cabbage
1/2 head romaine lettuce
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each
1 T canola oil
1 t kosher salt
1/2 tea freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c roasted peanuts, chopped
grilled lime wedges, for garnish.

2 cups chow mein noodles or shredded angel hair pasta.
3 T oil

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Finely shred the cabbage and lettuce with a knife. Put in large bowl. Shred the carrots in the large wholes of a bix grater. Add to cabbage mixture. Add the snow peas, cilantro and green onions. Set aside.

Heat your grill to high. Season both sides of chicken breasts with oil, salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes on each side until slightly charred and just cooked through. Remove from grill to a cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes before shredding.

Fry noodles in oil until crisp and starting to turn color but do not brown. Drain well.

Mix dressing in with cabbage mixture. Move to a large platter. Top with shredded chicken, chopped peanuts and noodles. Garnish with lime wedges.

For more recipes, checkout my website, or, if you don't feel like cooking, hire us to cook for you or visit the closest Entree Vous to you!


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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Entrée Vous Update

So you want to know just how good is the food at Entrée Vous? Even though my kitchen is not open yet, this is big news. Our Alpharetta kitchen just won a big prize! For those not in the know, Alpharetta is north Atlanta. I know because in a previous life, I worked out of an office there, meaning my boss was there. I traveled to the area a lot and can tell you it is a very nice, booming area with tons of great restaurants. Anyway, Joe Hsu, the General Manager of that kitchen recently entered our Mesa Verde Flank Steak into competition at the “Taste of Alpharetta” event.

The result is this quote taken from the Atlanta Journal Constitutional newspaper’s report on the event: "One of the surprises of the evening was the Best Casual dish, prepared by chef Joe Hsu of Entrée Vous, the make-and-take kitchen on Holcomb Bridge Road." Congratulations Joe! They might have been surprised but none of us that have eaten Entrée Vous food is surprised even though the competition is stiff and he hasn't even been open a year! Way to go, Joe! So if you live near there, what more reason do you have than to go by and try it! It's that good. And for those waiting for my kitchen to open, it's still going to be a few months, but now you know what you're waiting for. Great food, good enough to win first place!

Here is the menu for July! If you live near an Entrée Vous kitchen, give it a try. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

1- Margarita Beef Kabobs
Beef tips marinated in citrus, fresh cilantro, chipotle peppers, and tequila are skewered and grilled for the perfect summer evening patio party.

2- Chicken Croquettes
Finely diced chicken meat, celery and herbs in a breaded croquette.

3- Mahogany Glazed Salmon
A sweet glaze made with soy sauce, ginger and garlic complements delicious salmon filets.

4- Chicken Santa Fe
Diced chicken breast, corn tortillas, green chilies and cheese sauce all layered in a casserole.

5- Mesa Verde Flank Steak
You’ll stuff this flank steak with a mixture of spinach, cheese, mushrooms and optional bacon for an entrée that is both beautiful and delicious.

6- Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Cream Cheese Filling
Boneless chicken breasts are filled with an herb cream cheese and wrapped with bacon.

7- Pork Chops with Orange Chipotle Sauce
Pork chops baked in a rich tomato sauce accented with the sweetness of orange and the smoky spice of chipotle peppers.

8- Ravioli Lasagna
A delicious variation of a well known dish. Ravioli filled with three cheeses are layered with a Bolognese style beef, mushroom, and tomato ragout.

9- Tuscan Pork Loin
A generously cut pork loin roast is rubbed with Italian seasonings, chopped garlic, fresh basil, and green onions. Roast in your oven. This entrée cannot be split.

10- Imperial Orange Chicken
These luscious chicken breasts pair the sweet flavor of orange with savory cilantro and green onion.

11- Fiesta Shrimp
A flavorful explosion of shrimp, corn, and fresh herbs, served over rice.

12- Grilled Chicken Breasts Modena
Aged Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, fresh basil and garlic make these chicken breasts low in fat but full of flavor.

13- Southwestern Egg Rolls
One of our biggest hits, these eggrolls are filled with chicken, corn, black beans and cheese.

14- Chicken with Pesto, Bacon, and Pecans
Chicken breasts are topped with pesto, pecans, and mushrooms, finished with cheese and a hint of smoky bacon.

My kitchen is at 8200 Renaissance Parkway Suite 1003 behind the Streets of Southpoint beside the Super Target in Durham, NC. The phone number is 919-321-8666 and you can reach me at pbloodworth AT entreevous DOT com. My kitchen isn't on the website yet, but check it out for one near you!

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Summer Camp

It's really summer, although we have a few days break from the above 90's temperatures and are enjoying the low humidity. Last week was a real circus, being that we had kids for the week. For those that only know me through this blog, appreciate that we have no children although we enjoy them immensely and have a house and property which is great for kids (golf cart, 12 acres, indoor pool, spa, etc) it is something to get used to. One of my nephews (age 14) and two of my nieces (twins, age 11 soon to be 12) were here for the week at my neighbors pottery camp. They had a great time and so did we. When they pieces get glazed and fired, I'll post a few of them for fun! I can't wait for you to see them.

What to do about food when you have picky eaters (well the girls are picky)? Make them try new things, that's what. Monday we had cedar planked salmon with a maple glaze and rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. The appetizer was the kicker: we had stuffed squash flowers, stuffed with a pesto garbanzo bean mix. Quite good and they ate them, although they couldn't believe they were eating flowers. The next night we had Bricked Chicken that was marinated in a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Yum! It was their favorite for the week. One night we had pizza, one night we ate out because we went to the $2 movies at a wonderful old theater in Graham. They were excited because they sat in the balcony. The last night we made spaghetti and meat balls. Yes, we made the noodles from scratch and everyone always loves them, especially us!

Great fun last week at the AHHHH Spa (nickname for our place) with some great, well behaved inspired, gifted, fun kids! I didn't get a lot of pictures because everyone was hungry and I was late getting food on the table. We tend to eat later than a normal family! For recipes, go to the website!


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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Leslie's Green Beans

We are starting to get some things in from the garden. Potatoes and peas are about finished. We are harvesting squash, cucumbers and green beans mostly. I had a big picking of green beans and decided to try a wonderful recipe that I have had for years from my friend Leslie. It is Asian inspired so I briefly marinated two beef fillets, cooked up some Jasmine rice and served it with fresh green beans. I cut up a cucumber in rice vinegar with a touch of soy, sugar, oil and green onions.

It was great. Ginger was in two and green onions in three of the dishes helping to tie the flavors together.

Without further adieu,

Leslie's Green Bean Recipe

1 lb green beans, trimmed
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
oil for frying
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 large green onion, thinly sliced
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 t sugar
2 T sesame oil
2 T water

Fry the green beans in oil, 10-12 at a time, until blistered, but not brown. Drain and put into serving bowl. Repeat until all the beans are cooked. Mix together the remaining ingredients (soy sauce - water) until sugar in dissolved. Pour over the beans. Top with bacon crumbles and serve.

Another note, one of the benefits of writing a food blog is the new friends you meet that you know you have something in common with. The second is the collection of recipes that you build for yourself. I now find it easier to go to my website to find recipes. It's great.

I think this qualifies for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by the esteemed founder Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. Be sure to check back in for the roundup to get new ideas for recipes from foodies around the world. It's better than some food magazines.

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