Today in food coverage:
1 pork roast, four meals: So easy. Joe Gray and Cindy Dampier of the Chicago Tribune put it together with the recipes.
Care to wade into the strawberry shortcake debate? Andrea Weigl got caught up in it last year and now is in the chiffon cake camp. Hmm, we may have to keep sampling the possibilities before we make up our minds on that one.
The Peachtree Market in Concord is one more store that is completely focused on foods produced in the Carolinas.
On the subject of local foods, if you want to go into the fields to get your own, take our list and map of locations with you.
And there's more:
Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake.
Quick Fix for 2: Filipino Adobo Chicken.
Need a quick party dip? Dill Pickle Dip.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Today in food coverage:
Vickie Prenatt of Charlotte is the winner of the random drawing for "Country Music's Greatest Eats," a Southern Living cookbook by former Charlottean Tanner Latham.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
With the Kentucky Derby coming up on Saturday afternoon, it's time to think easy party food. Looking through a new book, "The Southern Bite Cookbook," by Stacey Little, this simple recipe jumped out at me. It would fit in perfectly on a buffet with things like pimento cheese spreads and all the other tradition Derby Day foods.
Little's book came out of his blog, southernbite.com, where he chronicles his family's cooking in Alabama.
Dill Pickle Dip
From "The Southern Bite Cookbook," by Stacey Little (Thomas Nelson, $24.99).
1 1/2 cups finely diced kosher dill pickles
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons pickle juice
Crackers, potato chips or vegetables for serving
COMBINE the pickles, cream cheese, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the pickle juice to get to a dipping consistency. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serve chilled with crackers, chips or raw vegetables for dipping.
YIELD: About 2 cups.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Tanner Latham, the former WFAE reporter who chronicles his travels around the South in the podcast "Authentic South," took some time off recently.
He had a good reason: The release of his book, written for Southern Living. "Country Music's Greatest Eats: Showstopping Recipes and Riffs from Country Music's Biggest Stars" (Oxmoor House, $24.95) features everyone from Scotty McCreery to Hank Williams Jr.
The recipes are a mix of down-home (and lots of desserts) and newer twists, including vegetarian dishes.
Photography is a real high point of the book, with terrific portraits and lovely pictures of the food.
One nit: The book is organized by the alphabet, using last names, rather than by the types of dishes. So you'll find Easton Corbin's recipe for his grandmother's Coconut Cake right after Katie Cook's Vegetarian Mexican Chili Dip. That's a little confusing, and makes it harder to figure out where to look if you're looking for all the salads, for instance.
On the other hand, this is today's country music, so there are lots of salad (tofu, too), and the book has an excellent spread of newer acts like Gloriana and the folks who've been around, like Hank Jr.
GIVEAWAY: I'll give away a copy of "Country Music's Greatest Eats." To enter; send an email with "Country Stars" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: Wednesday, April 30, at 9 a.m.
And here's a recipe from the book:
Vegetarian Mexican Chili Dip
From Katie Cook in "Country Music's Greatest Eats," by Tanner Latham.
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8.8-ounce) package ready-to-serve Spanish-style rice
3 (15-ounce) cans vegetarian chili with beans
1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees. Spread softened cream cheese in the bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish.
PREPARE rice according to package directions; spoon evenly over cream cheese. Spoon chili over rice. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes. Top with tomatoes and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips.
YIELD: 12 to 14 servings.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Based in Kansas City, Doug Frost is one of only a few people in the world to hold dual titles as a master sommelier and a master of wine. He's also based in Kansas City and making a living these days as a wine consultant to clients as diverse as United Airlines and Charlotte's Winestore.
Frost is in town for the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend, so I ran over to Johnson & Wales to catch his lunchtime lecture to an auditorium full of culinary students. A few bits of wisdom from his talk, titled "Your Job Does Not Exist and What You Will Do About It":
"The most important person in a restaurant is pot washer. If pots aren't clean, ain't nothing getting done." Frost, obviously, worked early on as a dishwasher before figuring out that he belonged in the front of a restaurant, not in the kitchen.
On terrible bosses: "You're always going to work for someone who doesn't know as much as you. But you don't have to work for someone who's mean. If they're mean, get out."
No matter how fancy the food is or how great the ambience is, the restaurant business is really "just the simple act of handing someone sustenance." It's all about hospitality. When someone raves about a restaurant and you go and think it was just OK, it's usually because the person who loved had an emotional connection to it. They felt comfortable, or they felt welcomed. And that made the food special.
On trusting your own reaction to a wine: "You're not supposed to like what you don't like. What you don't like is what your body tells you not to like." Robert Parker's 100-point system, he says, is about selling magazines, not about deciding what wine you will like.
The trick to being a wine consultant isn't to figure out what's hot, it's figuring out what isn't hot yet. "To find the wine that's cheap and shouldn't be." That said, his picks for best places to look for up and coming wines:
Portugal's Duoro region (look for $12 to $15 wines from the Duoro), white wines from the Greek island of Santorino, wines from Spain's Toro, and sherry. Culinary people are the only ones who can really get sherry, but he wishes the rest of us would catch on.
Finally, in the words of Frost's friend (and my friend) Steven Olsen, the New York-based cocktail and wine expert: "Wine is just a condiment for food."
Monday, April 21, 2014
When Ruth Reichl (former Gourmet editor/New York Times restaurant reviewer/cooking memoir writer) was in Charlotte a few weeks ago to speak to the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, someone asked her favorite recipe. Her reply:
"Butter and soy sauce is the fastest, best sauce for almost anything."
Butter and soy sauce are definitely having a moment. Call it the ultimate experience in umami-ness, that hard-to-define sensation that's sometimes called meatiness or savoriness.
You can keep the butter/soy sauce really easy. Just saute something, and finish the pan at the last minute with a pat of butter and a splash of soy sauce. Or you can get a little more involved with it. In a recent piece in The New York Times, Sam Sifton adapted the idea by pan-frying wild mushrooms, finishing with a riff on soy/butter and spooning it over soft polenta.
Faced with a recent rainy Friday night, a bag of mushrooms from the farmer's market and some shrimp in the freezer, I used Reichl's inspiration and Sifton's idea to come up with my own umami-loaded version of shrimp and grits.
Rock on, Ruth and Sam.
Soy/Butter Shrimp and Grits
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup stone-ground grits
6 tablespoons butter, cut in tablespoons
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined, thawed if frozen
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake or trumpet, sliced
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 or 3 green onions, trimmed and diced, white parts separated from green tops
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cream
BRING the water, milk and salt just to boiling in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Slowly whisk in the grits, cook about 1 minute, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 45 minutes. Add a little more water or milk if grits are starting to stick. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter, then set aside, covered to keep warm.
HEAT 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a nonstick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and the white parts of the onions and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until just pink and starting to firm up. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the onions and garlic in the pan.
ADD a little more oil to the pan if it's getting dry, then add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give up their juices and start to cook dry again. Be patient; that might take 5 or 6 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until it's reduced by half.
REDUCE heat to medium-low and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, a piece at a time, until it melts. Stir in the soy sauce and cream. Return the shrimp to the sauce and cook until warmed through.
SERVE the grits in bowls, topped with the shrimp, mushrooms and sauce. Sprinkle with the green onion tops.
YIELD: 4 servings.
Read more here: http://obsbite.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-04-07T12:40:00-04:00&max-results=7#storylink=cpy
Friday, April 18, 2014
The Matthews Community Farmers' Market, North Trade and East John streets in Matthews, kicks off the spring season Saturday morning, with a celebration of the new tent and lots of improvements after the old tents were destroyed in that ice storm in February.
The market raised so much money to replace the tent that the staff and volunteers were able to make all sorts of improvements, including regrading the market site and adding new wooden posts for some of the stands. They also will open with new hours: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. No more waking up and trying to remember if opening bell is at 7:15 or 8.
In addition there are some new vendors: If you read my story this week about Courtney Buckley and Benjamin Frye of Your Mom's Donuts, you can meet them. They have a new market stand, with flavors that will change every week.
King of Pops is coming, too! Neil Ringer and Brandon DeCurtins are bringing one of the carts with the bright umbrellas and the amazing flavors. And Natalie Veres of Grateful Growers will bring food from her new venture, Butcher-Baker-Sausage Maker, including gnocchi and various breads made with local ingredients.
They'll also kick off the season with a 9 a.m. cooking demonstration from Paul Verica of Heritage Food & Drink in Waxhaw.
It's market season, folks: Shop, cook, eat. And if you see those baby hakurei turnips, the little round white ones, they taste really sweet if you leave them raw and shave them over a salad. I'm just saying . . .
PHOTO: Matthews Community Farmers' Market.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Friday Update: Pat Brewer of Charlotte is the winner of our random drawing for a copy of the book. Thanks to all who entered, and come back next week, when we'll do another online review and giveaway.
Ready for a new feature? How about a video cookbook peek, review and giveaway!
"The Dinnertime Survival Guide," by Sally Kuzemchak (Oxmoor House, $24.95).
You're having trouble getting dinner on the table for a family? We hear you. It's a common call for help from readers with kids (or even the ones with kids).
If catchy, well-organized and simple is your mantra, trust the Cooking Light people to put a book together that meets all of those criteria. Kuzemchak's book is packed with photos, very useful tips, and list breakdowns like "Top Dinner Survival Kitchen Gadgets." Chapters are themed: "I Have Zero Time," "I'm On a Diet, They're Not," "I Can't Afford Healthy Food," etc.
Photos? Lots. Take a look at my book-flip video, above. The recipes are mostly the ones you expect, with some change-ups, like a sweet and tart kale salad twist and a frozen ravioli hack with pan-roasted grape tomatoes. Recipes all include nutrition information, servings with a translation (example: "serving size: 1/4 of ravioli and 1/2 cup tomatoes") and cooking time.
OK, ready for the giveaway? Email me at email@example.com with your name, town and contact information, and include "Dinnertime Survival" in the subject line. I'll pick a winner at random at 9 a.m. Friday.
And here's a sample recipe . . .
Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken
Hands-on time: 15 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon
4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
1/3 cup whole-wheat panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/3 cup finely chopped dry-roasted cashews
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 teaspoons honey
PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees. Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.
HEAT a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko, cashews and the next 4 ingredients (through ground red pepper), in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from the buttermilk mixture; dredge in panko mixture.
ARRANGE chicken on wire rack coated with cooking spray in a foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Drizzle each cutlet with 1 teaspoon honey.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 1 cutlet).
PER SERVING: 248 calories; 8.7g fat (1.8g saturated, 4.2g monounsaturated, 1.4g polyunsaturated); 27.4g protein; 15.1g carbohydrate; 1.1g fiber; 73mg cholesterol; 1.4mg iron; 375mg sodium; 30mg calcium.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
On Saturday, I was one of a dozen volunteers who judged the Charlotte Food Fight, a roundup of food trucks in SouthEnd that raised money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Here's a little video and pictures of the dishes, made with help from my videographer assistant (and husband) Wayne Hill: (One apology: I managed to miss a picture of the BiCol Express entry from Herban Legend, a Phillipine-inspired dish with soft pork, ginger rice and a coconut milk sauce. Blame it on my addled head after eating all of these on a sultry Saturday afternoon.)
Thursday, April 10, 2014
But I keep thinking of Steven as a teacher.
In its heyday, eGullet, the web-thread site he founded with Jason Perlow at the beginning of the blogging boom, was like hanging around the classroom of that really cool teacher in high school. Even if you weren't taking the guy's class, you would go over there before school because some of your friends said it was fun. And you'd meet people who weren't in your usual circle. The football jock might find something in common with the science nerd, and the girls who wanted life to be about more than being girls would find people who took them seriously.
That's what Shaw's eGullet was in the beginning: The place where all kinds of people -- professional writers and beginning writers, interested amateurs and people who just loved arguing about food -- would stop by and toss out ideas, grabbing threads from the different boards to weigh in or disagree.
I was already a newspaper food writer in the 2002-2004 years when eGullet was cranking up. Some of my print-journalism colleagues avoided the online sites because the debate was so unbridled and occasionally hostile. But I liked eGullet from the beginning. It was a place to see new thoughts crinkling up and catching fire. It was also the place I met special people like Dean McCord of Raleigh, still the best cooking-lawyer I know, and David Leite, who later created the visionary website Leite's Culinaria. There was even some crazy guy named Bourdain who had just written a book about working in restaurant kitchens.
On a trip to New York in those years, Steven picked me up in his SUV, his big bulldog Momo panting in the backseat, and took me across the George Washington Bridge on a terrific food tour of New Jersey, from a Hong Kong-style dim sum palace to the White Manna and the biggest Asian superstore I have ever seen. Before we parted back in New York, he insisted on driving me up to the Cloisters to see where Manhattan narrows to the tip of an actual island, a view he wanted me to see just because he thought it was neat.
And that was really Steven: He wrote about restaurants and food as a way of teaching, I think. He liked to find ways to show people the world because he thought it was a fascinating place. The last time I saw him a couple of years ago, he actually was teaching, leading a class on food blogging at the French Culinary Institute. I stopped by for lunch, and we talked about how online food writing had evolved so quickly.
I'm sorry he's left the world so darn early, and I'm crushed for his wife, Ellen, and their young son P.J. And I thank him, for teaching me to think about food writing, all writing, as more than just print stamped on paper.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
In my column this morning on the whys of food-trash recycling, there wasn't enough room to list all the Allowed/Not Allowed rules. In case you don't have a copy of the county's brochure, here's the lists. And of course, if you live in another county, you need to check your local policy. Recycling centers vary widely because they have different equipment and different arrangements for what they gather for reuse:
Allowed in Mecklenburg County: Aerosol cans, aluminum cans, cardboard, glass bottles/jars, juice boxes, milk and juice cartons, paper, pizza boxes, plastics 1-5 & 7 (look inside the recycling symbol for the number), spiral paper cans and steel/tin cans.
Not allowed: Appliances, auto parts, batteries, bottle caps/lids, bulky waste, ceramics, clothing, electronics, garbage, light bulbs, mini blinds, paper plates/napkins, plastics #6, plastic bags, plastic food trays/cups, pots/pans, shredded paper, styrofoam, wire hangers.
Also in today's Food coverage:
Do you know about the Wok Wednesday world? It started in the Triangle around Grace Young's book "Stir-Fry to the Sky's Edge," and it's part of a growing number of online groups that come together to cook and share experiences about particular cookbooks. (If anyone is gathering about my book "Bourbon," you probably shouldn't risk Tweeting while you're drinking.)
Passover arrives at sundown Monday, which means it's time to brush up on your matzo-ball skills.
All in favor of lawn-mower beers, raise your cans: Daniel Hartis says there are worthy local entries in the gulpable category.
Our annual list of Pick Your Own farms will run April 23. Farmers, let us hear from you.
It was only a matter of time before someone opened an All-Bacon Restaurant. And it's close to us.
If it's spring, it's time for asparagus. Suzanne Havala Hobbs is keeping it healthy.
What's causing little holes in aluminum foil when you cover a cake?
And more recipes:
Gingery salmon for 2.
Retro Theater Steak With Mushrooms.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Bring an appetite and some money to Saturday afternoon's Charlotte Food Fight, a food truck contest at the South End Food Truck Lot at Camden Road and East Park Avenue. The contest is from 3 to 7 p.m. and raises money for Relay for Life Charlotte, a cause from the American Cancer Society.
The trucks will compete in three categories: Chef's Choice, Mystery Ingredient and People's Choice. A $35 ticket gets you one item from each of the trucks, $7 gets you one thing from one truck, and $1 allows you to cast extra votes. There will also be live music.
The trucks: The Tin Kitchen, Herban Legend, Chrome Toaster, Wingzza, Gourmet Goombahs, Roaming Fork, Sal's Roadside Eatery, Juan Taco Truck, Sticks and Cones, Chef Street Bistro, KO Food Truck, OooWee BBQ and Southern Cake Queen.
Besides your own voting for People's Choice, there also will be official judges, including me, chef Ron Ahlert of Community Cooking School of Charlotte, chef Alyssa Gorelick, Richard Guica of Meets & Eats Charlotte, Kelly Davis, Mary Cowx, Rance Adams, DJ Cassiday, Nikki Wolfe and Lucas Stretch.
Get details and buy tickets in advance here at Event Brite. And if you're there, say hello and wish us luck -- that's a lot of eating to do.
Monday, April 7, 2014
A few beer-related items, for the beer-centric among you:
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The N.C. Literary Festival is taking off in Raleigh this weekend, and the "Savor the South" series will be a part of that.
On Friday night, the Raleigh hotspot The Oxford will hold a bourbon event, pairing chef Chris Hill's tasting menu of small plates with bourbon tastings in honor of my book, "Bourbon," my second book in the UNC Press series, along with "Pecans."
I've seen the menu and Hill has really gone to town with the idea. The plates and bourbon samples will range from $4.50 to $7 and include things like Heritage Farms pork belly with a vanilla-bourbon gastric served with Basil Hayden's 80-proof, and pimento cheese mousse with a bourbon-mushroom jelly served with Maker's 46.
The Oxford is at 319 Fayetteville St., and the bourbon event will go on from 8 to 10 p.m. I'll be there selling and signing books and talking about bourbon with anyone who wants to come by. Details: www.oxfordraleigh.com.
Next, on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., I'll moderate a panel with three of my fellow "Savor the South" authors, Andrea Weigl ("Pickles & Preserves"), Belinda Ellis ("Biscuits") and Debbie Moose ("Buttermilk" and the upcoming "Southern Holidays," coming out this fall).
We'll be in the Teaching and Visualization Room at the James B. Hunt Library at N.C. State University. Here's the details on the whole festival, including another panel planned Sunday on food writing:
The "Savor the South" series from UNC Press is a series of small books, each on a single slice of Southern food. There are eight books out now, out of a planned series of 24: Pecans, Buttermilk, Peaches, Tomatoes, Biscuits, Bourbon, Pickles & Preserves, and Okra, with Sweet Potatoes and Southern Holidays coming up this fall. And you've ever been around me, Andrea, Debbie or Belinda, you know we love to talk about anything involving Southern food and cooking. The panel should be a lively discussion. Please come by and join us.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
In breaking news this morning (updated with Andrea Weigl's interview with Howard): "A Chef's Life," the PBS show about chef Vivian Howard and her restaurant, The Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, has won a Peabody Award. "A Chef's Life" also is nominated for a James Beard Award in the broadcast category.
The Peabody Awards are officially given out May 19 in New York, while the Beard Award winners in media will be announced in New York on May 2. "A Chef's Life" has been renewed for a second season, starting in early September, with a holiday special planned in December. The show is produced by Markay Media of Durham.
In one of my favorite food stories today, Charleston Post & Courier writer Hanna Raskin sent around a query on Twitter earlier this week about what they call a frozen cup of Kool-Aid in different areas of the country. The story that resulted is not only quirky, she uncovered fascinating information on the sale of frozen Kool-Aid as an entreprenurial activity in African-American neighborhood.
On the Observer's Food page today, we got to know Anthony "Wes" Wesley, the wine steward at the McNinch House in Fourth Ward. He's an unusual fellow in an unusual restaurant. You can see Jeff Siner's pictures and video along with my store.
Time is running out to line up your tickets for the every-other-year Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend. It's gained a nationwide reputation for excellent wine experiences, and the prices range from the $40 Vintner Tasting to $350 major-wine tastings.
Southern Season, the Chapel Hill-based "gourmet lifestyle store" (in the words of owner Clay Hamner) is drawing closer to finding a Charlotte spot.
And we have recipes up for:
e2's Roasted Oysters
Garlicky Roasted Broccoli.
Cannellini Ricotta Dip.
Shepherd's Pie for 2
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Have you noticed the hummus trend? The old mixture of chickpeas, tahini and olive oil is jumping into new forms, including carrot hummus, cauliflower hummus and beet hummus.
This twist isn't a hummus - there's no tahini or nuts. But it's light and tasty, an easy thing to pack for lunch or put out for a light appetizer. Serve it with pita chips.
Ricotta Cannellini Dip
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
RINSE and drain cannellini beans. Place in a food processor with ricotta, lemon juice, garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and garlic if desired. Scrape into a bowl and drizzle remaining tablespoon olive over the top. Serve at room temperature with pita chips.
YIELD: 2 cups.