Monday, October 20, 2014

One Great . . . slow cooker dinner

What do you mean, I have to plan ahead? Plan long enough ahead to remember to defrost a batch of beef short ribs?

Sometimes I can handle that, and sometimes, I can't. The beauty of this dish, from Jenny Rosenstratch's new book on home-cooking, "Dinner: The Playbook"? You don't have to make sure the short ribs (or country-style pork ribs) have defrosted.

Throw them in the slow cooker while they're frozen if you want to. You also don't have to run around browning meat before you leave for work in the morning. Just throw it all in and it will turn out fine. Add some mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles when you get home. Yell, "Dinner!"

Slow-Cooker Korean Short Ribs

From "Dinner: The Playbook," by Jenny Rosenstratch (Ballantine Books, 2014).

3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs or country-style pork ribs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 fresh, whole jalapenos

COMBINE all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir in 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours.

YIELD: 4 servings.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We have a cookbook winner

The winner of a copy of "100 Days of Real Food," by Lisa Leake is Jodi Fahey of Fort Wright, Ky.

Thanks, Jodi, and thanks to the many, many people who entered the drawing. Stay tuned, we'll give away another cookbook soon.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Who's the new chef at Rock Salt?

High-end oyster bar and restaurant Rock Salt, under construction at Park Road Shopping Center, has been drawing a lot of curiosity. It's a project of Cheasapeake Bay-based Rappahannock Oyster Co., which farms oysters and runs restaurants in Virginia and Washington.

Now the new chef has come forward: Jay Pierce of Lucky 32 in Greensboro is pulling up roots and moving his family to Charlotte, with an opening date of early January.

 "(Charlotte) seems like a bigger canvas to paint on,” Pierce told me Tuesday morning.

Pierce also is an author in the same Savor the South series that includes my two books; his book, "Shrimp," will come out next spring. Pierce is from Louisiana, and worked at two of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants, NOLA in New Orleans and Emeril's Orlando, before coming to Lucky 32, owned by Dennis and Nancy Quaintance of the O. Henry and Proximity hotels.

At Lucky 32, Pierce has gotten known for new interpretations of Southern classics, and for rediscovering old techniques. I ate there a couple of weeks ago and was fascinated by his salt-fermented pickles, a farmhouse method that's being brought back to life. He's also very active with the farmers at Greensboro's Curb Market.

Pierce also is known for his Tuesday night fried-chicken dinners. I've never had the chance to go, but I know some authorities on fried chicken who swear it's worth a 90-minute drive for dinner.

So I was crushed to hear that he's not bringing that with him. OK, OK, he might try to do it occasionally here. But Rock Salt will have a small kitchen, and be very focused on outdoor seating with a view over the creek. It's going into the space at the back of the shopping center that used to be a dry cleaner's.

Pierce says he's focusing on embracing something new, with a focus on seafood. But he's also excited about embracing a new city. For someone from Greensboro, the Charlotte food scene is mystifying, he admitted to me.

"Charlotte is right next door, and it's always intriguing to me. When I go there, I have no idea where I am. It's like Atlanta -- a lot of neighborhoods that have amalgamated. There's pockets of cool things going on and I want to be part of it."

He's also excited about Charlotte's chef community. "I want to participate. I know Marc Jacksina and he's a crazy man."

PHOTO: Eatocracy.com.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cookbook giveaway: 100 Days

This week, we brought you the story of how Lisa Leake's blog, 100 Days of Real Food, became her best-selling book, "100 Days of Real Food." And that means I have a spare copy of the book to share.

So email me at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com and include "100 Days" in the subject line. Please include your name, your town and your mailing address. (I won't share the address, but I may share your town if you win.)

We'll pick a winner by random drawing on Friday.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Southern Season partners with Vivian Howard

If you can't make the three-hour (or so) drive it to Kinston for a dinner at The Chef & The Farmer, you can get a taste of chef Vivian Howard's favorite things from Eastern North Carolina. A Southern Season, the specialty food store based in Chapel Hill, plans to open a Vivian Howard shop in its stores in Chapel Hill, Charleston and Richmond.

Howard is currently appearing in the second season of her PBS show, "A Chef's Life."

Southern Season's Howard section will happen in a couple of stages. First, there will be several collections in handmade wood crate of items chosen by Howard. The items will include products and cooking tools from her area of the state. The crates will range from $44.49 for a cornbread gift set up to $289 for Ben's Birthday Gift, with hand-forged tools and a number of artisan food products from around the Carolinas.

Those will be available later in October. You can find the catalog listing here.

Then, in early 2015, A Southern Season plans to add products inspired by Howard's recipes. Howard will make appearances in the stores in December: Dec. 11 in Richmond, Dec. 12 in Chapel Hill and early 2015 in Charleston.

And yes, that raises the question about the long-awaited Charlotte location of A Southern Season. Sources with A Southern Season say to stay tuned: There will be more news on that very soon.




Friday, October 3, 2014

Get ready for moonshine Saturday in Concord

Need something to do Saturday? Stop by 625 Main St. SW in Concord at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening of Southern Grace Distilleries, the first legal moonshine distillery in Cabarrus County. (And yes, note the careful use of the word "legal." What happens in the backwoods stays in the backwoods, people.)

The distillery, inside in the old Warren C. Coleman Mill, will eventually produce white liquor (AKA moonshine), start a whiskey for aging and create a fruit-infused beverage. Since it takes at least 2 years (and preferably 8 years or up) to create bourbon, they have a long wait for that aged product.

It's definitely a local operation: The 113-gallon still was made in Concord by DA Moore, and the switch to start the operation will be thrown by Mayor Scott Padgett. Details: www.southerngracedistilleries.com.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Who's doing the organic farming?

We hear a lot of concern about the aging of America's farmers. The average age of a farmer in North Carolina is 57, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. But perhaps that tide is starting to turn, at least in the non-conventional agriculture world.

I was intrigued by this report this morning from Chuck Abbott of the Food and Environmental Reporting Network's  daily report, Ag Insider:

"Organic farmers and ranchers tend to be younger, more recent entrants to agriculture and far more likely to sell directly to consumers than the average U.S. farmer, says USDA. Data from the Census of Agriculture  say 26 percent of organic producers are under age 45 - the U.S. farm average is 16 percent - and 27 percent went into farming in the past decade, compared to 18 percent of farm operators. Some 42 percent sold their products directly to consumers; 7 percent is the average. And, organic producers are more likely to invest in solar panels or wind turbines than farmers in general. Sales of organic products rose by 83 percent from 2007 to 2012, said USDA."

My guess is that the growth in farmers' market would account for the very high percentage of organic farmers selling directly to consumers. And those sales and organic sales are starting to show healthy improvements.  

Any farmers out there care to weigh in?