Friday, September 27, 2013

"Biscuits" and "Bourbon" at Park Road Books on Sunday

It's always a little awkward making your own book announcements. So I'll make this brief:

If you're free on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., come by Park Road Books in Park Road Shopping Center (Woodlawn and Park Road) for a "Savor the South" cookbook signing.

Belinda Ellis, the co-publisher (with her husband, Fred Thompson) of the magazine Edible Piedmont will be there with her book, "Biscuits," while I'll be there with my second book in the series, "Bourbon." ("Pecans" came out last fall).

"Savor the South" is a series from UNC Press. Each book covers a single ingredient or occasion in Southern cooking, biscuits to barbecue. There are now six books in the series: "Buttermilk," by Debbie Moose; "Pecans" and "Bourbon," by me; "Peaches," by Kelly Alexander; "Tomatoes," by Miriam Rubin; and "Biscuits."

Each book includes about 50 recipes and a chunk of information on the ingredient, and each is less than $20. For "Bourbon," I spent time in Kentucky prowling around distilleries and rickhouses to learn the ins and outs of bourbon-making. The recipes are about a third cocktails and two-thirds dishes, from appetizers and main dishes to desserts.

"Savor the South" has gotten such an enthusiastic reception that the original plan, for 14 books, has been bumped up to 24 books. I'm only doing two, but there is an amazing list of authors who have books coming out in the next few years, including Andrea Weigl (pickles and preserves), Crooks Corner chef Bill Smith (blue crabs and oysters), John Shelton Reed (barbecue) and Virginia Willis (okra). I'm so proud to be part of such illustrious company.

Come by Sunday, say hello and support Park Road Books, a great independent bookstore.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cookbook features 2 Charlotte food trucks

Well, beep a horn to spread this news: "The Southern Food Truck Cookbook" just crossed my desk, with featured recipes from The Tin Kitchen and Roaming Fork, two regulars on the Charlotte food truck scene.

Author Heather Donahoe's book, from Tennessee publisher Thomas Nelson for $24.99, includes pictures, recipes and stories about food trucks in nine states -- Kentucky, the Virginias (OK, make it 10 states), North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Tin Kitchen shares recipes for Cilantro-Lime Aioli, Green Rice, Pineapple Pico de Gallo. Roaming Fork hands over the recipe for those amazing Fried Deviled Eggs. Other N.C. food trucks in the book: Triangle Raw Foods, Porchetta and Big Mike's BBQ from Raleigh/Durham, and Chirba Chirba from Durham.

(One note: The book also highlights King of Pops, based in Atlanta, and notes that it also has locations in Athens, Richmond and Charleston. Make that Athens, Richmond, Charleston, Chattanooga -- and Charlotte. So there are sort of three Charlotte food trucks included.)

A plateful of Wednesday offerings

Feel that touch of fall in the air? Makes you hungry for food coverage, doesn't it? Over at today, here's some of what you'll find:

We've got a feast of Cronut(TM) mania: There's my column, on standing in line at the New York bakery Dominique Ansel to buy two Cronuts, along with two videos. One shows you the Cronut-buying experience from my perspective. In the other, restaurant reviewer Helen Schwab joins me for a tasting of the Cronut and the Charlotte imitation, Fourth Ward Bread Co.'s Kronut. What's more fun than piano-playing cats? Cronut videos, people.

The explosion of craft beer in the Carolinas has led to a new art: Hard cider is taking off. I visited and/or talked with cider makers all over North Carolina and South Carolina for a story. And yes, hard cider is gluten-free, people. There's video joy here, too: You can watch Matt Guzmer talk cider, walk cider and bottle cider.

Jamie Deen is visiting the area with his new cookbook. My colleague Andrea Weigl did an interview with him, including insightful comments about the recent trouble involving his mother, Paula Deen, and how the family is handling it.

Catherine Rabb meets a winemaker who is excited about the potential of Argentina in the wine world. Cry tears of joy, Argentina.

And more:

Bacon jam, baby.

Thin pork cutlets are a fast dinner on the grill.

Does boiling tomato sauce make it watery?

And if the cooler weather makes you itch for a mountain trip, our pick-your-own farms list has apple farms, too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Garden party for food and Friendship

Here's hoping the lovely weather holds until Saturday night for the 5th annual Friendship Garden party, a money-raiser for Friendship Trays and the Friendship Garden program, co-sponsored by Slow Food Charlotte.

Tickets are $50 and include chef-prepared appetizers, entertainment and a silent auction. It's 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at 2401 Distribution St., the home of Friendship Trays and the Friendship Garden community garden, which is the source for some of the food used for the Friendship Trays program, which delivers meals to shut-ins who don't have access to fresh, healthful food.

For tickets and more information, go to

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Get a dose of attitude from Julia Reed

If you didn't become a follower of Julia Reed when she was writing about food for Newsweek (and now the Wall Street Journal), you surely have learned to watch for her funny commentaries for the Charleston-based magazine Garden & Gun.

Reed has a special touch with her humorous stories about life in the South (especially the entertaining, eating and drinking parts). Consider them tales with recipes. 

She'll be in Charlotte on Friday to sign copies of her new book of essays, "But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria: Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry" (St. Martin's Press, $25.99). Look for her from 3 to 5 p.m. at Capitol, 4010 Sharon Road. 

Make sure you say hello for me. I'd be first in line with a book, but I'll be in Reed's town, New Orleans, while she's in here. Tell her I'll toast her from afar. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who won the tailgating cookbook?

Who won the copy of "The Southern Tailgating Cookbook" by Taylor Mathis? After a random drawing, the winner is Robin Cates of Mooresville. Congratulations, Robin, and thanks to all for playing. Stay tuned for another giveaway soon.

Do you need a reason to take a drive on Saturday?

View Larger Map

Clear skies? Low humidity? Mild temperatures? Check, check and check.

Agenda in the Brushy Mountains: Check, if you check out Raffaldini Vineyards for the 8th annual Festa Italiana, a daylong celebration of Italian food, Italian music and Italian wine, as produced in the N.C. Piedmont.

With its hillside vineyard and Italian-style villa, Raffaldini is a beautiful spot, and it's about as easy as it gets to reach it: 1 hour 15 minutes, straight north of Charlotte.

Admission is $15 and gets you a tasting of three wines, a commemorative glass and music. There will be vendors with Italian-inspired food for sale. Raffaldini is currently making five varietal wine and several blends, including Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Sangiovese Riserva and Montepulciano.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., leaving plenty of time to get home in time to cook something lovely to go with that Italian red you brought. If you need directions or details, go to

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kay Moss does it old school

Of all the ways we can write about food, the one that draws me is culinary history. How people got food, what they ate and why they ate what they did, - nothing else tells us so much about how we became who we are.

Since her 1985 book "The Backcountry Housewife," Gaston County culinary historian Kay Moss has been a reliable resource on the practical aspects of how our forefathers and foremothers kept themselves fed. Now she has a new book, "Seeking the Historical Cook: Exploring Eighteenth-Century Southern Foodways" (University of South Carolina Press), that looks at historical cooking methods and how we use those methods today.

Moss will discuss her project and sign books at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Gaston County Public Library, 1555 E. Garrison Blvd. Reservations aren't necessary, but if you're coming with a group, they'd like to know to make sure there are enough seats. Call 704-868-2164 or go to

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cookbook giveaway: Are you ready for some football food?

With pro and college football cranking up for the season - welcome to those 49ers! - I have a copy of "The Southern Tailgating Cookbook" to give away. Written by Charlotte food photographer/blogger Taylor Mathis, it's got more than 100 travel-worthy recipes and lots of advice on menus and tailgate packing.

To enter, send an email with "Tailgate" in the subject line to Please include your name and your town. I'll pick a winner by random drawing on Friday morning.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's apple time, people

We interrupt this lovely late summer/early fall afternoon to bring you this reminder:

Apple season has begun.

If you just relocated here from another area of the country, you may be surprised by this. But apple season in the Carolinas usually starts in August. If you wait until October, when the rest of the world feels all appley, you will look around to discover that you missed it here.

As proof, this week's newsletter from the Matthews Community Farmers Market, 208 N. Trade St. in Matthews, noted that Saturday (AKA Sept. 7) is the start of the annual Apple Fundraiser, featuring just-picked Ginger Golds, Galas, Golden Supremes and the hugely popular Honey Crisps from Davis and Son Orchard in Lincoln County. Half-peck bags are $8 and peck bags are $13; Honey Crisps are only available in half-peck bags for $10. Proceeds benefit market operations.

And here's a small note worth passing on: The Davis and Son apples get to the market via NatalieTram. Grateful Growers farmer and market vendor Natalie Veres picks them up in Pumpkin Center (yes, that's a town, and I have been there) and delivers them to the market herself. Which makes her a good apple.

Another note: The Matthews market switches to fall hours tomorrow, going back to opening at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. Details: 

Lunchbox book giveaway winners

Random Generator has spoken: The winners of the cookbook giveaway are Kim Marchewka, "Weelicious Lunches," and Ann Junghans, "Beating the Lunch Box Blues."

Thanks, all, for your entries.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Put those kids to work for Friendship Gardens

What's a little child labor among friends? Whole Foods wants to put your kids to work for a Kids' Day of Service Sept. 14 at Friendship Gardens, 2401 Distribution St., on the grounds next to the Friendship Trays building. From 9:30 to 12:30, they will plant, water and harvest, followed by a salad lunch for the volunteers provided by Whole Kids Foundation.

The day is designed to be family-friendly and there will be tasks suited to anyone age 4 and up.

Friendship Gardens is a network of community gardens at schools, churches and nonprofits around Charlotte. Each garden donates a part of the harvest to Friendship Trays, a local meals-on-wheels program that delivers more than 700 meals a week to elderly, handicapped or convalescents.

(And to keep it all friendly and productive, Friendship Trays shares space with the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, which prepares the meals. And Community Culinary trains people with troubled pasts for jobs in the food-service industry. It all fits together very well. Distribution Street, by the way, is off Remount Road close to South Boulevard.)

To register your kids for the volunteer day or to get more details, go to

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Packing lunches? We're giving away two cookbooks

Today's article on packing lunches detailed two books: "Weelicious Lunches," by Catherine McCord, is aimed at younger children, while "Beating the Lunch Box Blues," by J.M. Hirsch, takes an approach that may work for both teenagers and adults.

Want to win a copy? First, you have to decide which one you'd prefer. Then you can enter by sending an email with either "Weelicious" "Lunch Box Blues" in the subject line to  I'll pick a winner for each by random drawing and announce the winner here Friday morning.

And yes, you can double-dip and send an email for each book.

Elsewhere in today's Food section, at

Was Julia Child a big stupid-head, or is National Public Radio a playground bully for using her to sell a story on kitchen safety? Here's my column on the chicken-washing-hoo-hah. (And how often do I get to use stupid-head in the newspaper?)

What's the best way to store limes? We discuss the issue in the weekly Q&A. 

Do germs at buffet lines and salad bars bother you as much as they bother Suzanne Havala Hobbs? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cook on a farm

If you just can't wait for the third annual Know Your Farms farm tour on Sept. 17, you can get a jump on it this weekend at Proffitt Family Farms in Kings Mountain. They'll have a cooking class, wine tastings and a farm tour from 3-7:30 p.m. Saturday (as in Sept. 7). The cooking part is taught by Heidi Billotto, the beef on the menu is from the farm, and wine will be available later at 7th Street Market.

The cost of the whole thing is $75, and you get recipes and wine notes to take with you. For a reservation, email Billotto at or go to the farm website, proffittfarms. 

One Great . . . orzo with bok choy

Yes, this is a little bit of letting worlds collide: Orzo is Italian, the tiny, tender pasta that looks a little like large flecks of rice. And bok choy is Asian, with wide green leaves and thicker stalks. At the Charlotte Regional Farmers' Market, there are Hmong farm families who sell bundles of baby bok choy for a couple of bucks. You can even get roots of freshly pulled ginger.

On Saturday night, I got the inspiration to put the two together and ended up with an excellent and easy side dish. It's even good cold, as a pasta salad. Two worlds, multiple uses. I call that globalizing.

Orzo With Baby Bok Choy

A thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 to 4 small heads of bok choy
1 cup uncooked orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

SCRAPE the peel off the ginger with the edge of a spoon or a vegetable peeler. Cut into several thin slices, then cut the slices into matchsticks. Peel the garlic and cut into thin slices. Set aside.

TRIM the base of the bok choy, then cut the stems into bite-size pieces and cut the leaves into strips. Keep them in separate piles.

BRING 2 cups of water to boil. Add the orzo. Cook 11 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After 5 minutes, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the ginger and cook a minute, then add the bok choy stems and the sesame oil. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and then the bok choy leaves. Cook, stirring, just until tender.

DRAIN the orzo and add to the skillet. Cook a minute longer, tossing frequently. Serve.

YIELD: 4 servings.