Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes that inspire me.

Celebrating the Grilled Cheese at Whole Foods Market – Durham

The beginning of Fall always gets me excited about comfort foods like soups, roasts and seasonal salads. One thing that always makes me smile though is a good grilled cheese sandwich.

The beauty of the grilled cheese is it’s simplicity. “Grilled cheese can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can be devoured on their own or paired with soup; jazzed up or dressed down – it really doesn’t matter, they taste just as good” says Eatocracy.

Whole Foods Market Vertical CMYK Logo copy

Whole Foods Market in Durham is celebrating fall by grilling cheeses! Learn how to grill cheese, taste the season’s best cheese and try different grilled cheese sandwiches at the Whole Foods Market’s quarterly Cheese Night event on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 from 6-7:30 p.m. TONIGHT!!!!

You can also win a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods Durham by commenting on this blog post. Details  listed below.

This event is free and open to the public and a great way to introduce kids to new and fun ways of creating their perfect grilled cheese. Let your kids sample a few cheeses and pick out their favorites. This gives them ownership over their sandwich and are more likely to try something new.

“We will taste a unique selection of delicious grilled cheeses and pairings. This event is FREE to the public, so come join us and learn what happens when heat meets cheese!,” says Whole Foods representative.

Whole Foods Cheese

Whole Foods Market Durham, Cheese Monger Ashley Cooper has this to say ; “A good grilled cheese should be melty, gooey, and provide contrasting flavors. On a simple grilled cheese, the best way to accomplish that is by pairing a base cheese to provide substance – such as Seaside Cheddar – with a slightly more flavorful cheese such as Gruyere for additional kick. Always use slices – never shreds – as it results in a more even melt and a better consistency.”

Ashley recommends the following combinations for Grown Up Grilled Cheeses:

“Always start a grilled cheese with your favorite bread – a rustic Ciabiatta alwas provides a nice combination of substance and flavor, and makes for a great presentation. Get creative with your components – I really enjoy pairing Gruyere – a complex rich and creamy cheese – with a simple fig spread and caramelized onions. Or Seaside Cheddar – a sharp, mature British Cheddar – with a local pepper jelly.”

Ashley Cooper is the Associate Team Leader of the Specialty Department at Whole Foods Market Durham. She’s received certification as a Certified Cheese Professional from the American Cheese Society, a title held by only 406 cheesemongers in the United States.

As for “grown-up” grilled cheese,” the possibilities are endless. Here are a few that popped to mind. Creamy havarti with blue cheese and fig jam. Aged extra sharp cheddar with apple. Fontina, Gruyere, Heirloom tomatoes and pesto spread. Gruyere and caramelized onions with a side of beef jus (think French onion soup in grilled cheese form). The list of combinations is endless and there is no right or wrong. That’s the beauty of grilled cheese! YOU OWN IT!!

Now is the best part, join the fun and tell me what creative ways you would make your perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Leave your comments below for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods Market Durham. Winner will be picked at random and announced Friday at noon. Just in time for your weekend shopping. Deadline to enter is 10am Friday, September 19.

More from the Whole Foods Market Durham Cheese Department can be found here.

The Perfect Grilled Cheese (Courtesy of Whole Foods Durham)

Grilled Cheese and Tomato on Multi-Grain Bread

Grilled Cheese and Tomato on Multi-Grain Bread

Simple. Sublime. A textural masterpiece. From college hotplates to 5-star kitchens, few foods offer such a combination of approachability, ease of preparation and sheer unadulterated yumminess. Delicious in its purest form and accommodating enough to welcome a broad range of party-crashers (Granny Smith apples, anyone?), the GCS is a joy to make and devour. Here are some basic guidelines for perfect grilled cheese sandwiches every time.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato on Multi-Grain Bread

Grilled Cheese and Tomato on Multi-Grain Bread

The Bread

Of course many breads work quite well, but a favorite is nice, long oblongs of rustic country bread. Something with backbone, maybe a little chewy, with a crunchy crust.

The Cheese

Good melting cheeses include: Gruyère, cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, gouda or Havarti. Grate your cheese. It melts more evenly and is a great help when you want to blend cheeses—say a nice, melty Gruyère with a bit of tangy blue. Let the grated cheese come up to room temp before cooking.

Add-Ins

Think of things that go great on a cheese board: figs, ham, sweet pear or tart apple slices, balsamic-marinated veggies, chutney, honey—arugula or other spring greens are nice if added inside after the sandwich is done.

Butter

It’s important to spread a generous layer from edge to edge for that uniform golden crunch.

The Pan

Non-stick if you have one—you won’t have to use quite as much butter. A pan with a heavy base is great too, for an even heat.

Heat

Low-medium—you don’t want to blacken the bread, just golden it. Plop the sandwich in when the pan is heated up. No more than two minutes a side. Gentle pressure with a spatula helps move the heat into the center where the cheese is.

Bonus points: Once both sides are done, use a tong to hold sandwich edges to the griddle. This gives the oozed cheese that savory cooked crunch.

Preheated Oven

If cheese hasn’t thoroughly melted (don’t be afraid to open the sandwich up and check), pop the sandwich in the oven, pre-heated to 300, for about five minutes. The bread won’t overcook, but the cheese will melt completely.

For variations on the theme, take a look at all these grilled cheese recipes.

There’s nothing quite like melting, grilling or searing cheese! On your next Whole Foods Market visit, please stop by and chat with one of our cheesemongers. They are experts who love talking cheese and will happily give you a taste of any of our cheeses!

And don’t forget to come taste and sample at our next Cheese Nights. This one focuses on Grilling Cheeses. Tuesday, September 16th, 6:00 pm—7:30 pm. It’s free!

Happy Eating,

Johanna

Yes, We Can! All Day Canning Jubilee at Whisk, May 17th

Contests, Free Demos, Class with Pickles and Preserves author, Andrea Weigl, and more…

Whisk is hosting a daylong canning jubilee on Saturday, May 17th in the Cary kitchen store, located in Waverly Place shopping center. The event is a celebration of how and why we continue to can our food in the 21st century!

Whisk logo

Interest in home canning is resurging and Whisk is dedicating an entire day to this social, healthy, and tasty pursuit. While technically there is no longer a need to “stock up for winter”, we still persist in canning. Why? Says Whisk employee and local canner, Karen Bosse: “With canning you are able to capture your garden and the goodness of the local farmers’ markets – there’s tremendous flavor, ingredient control, and zero waste.”

The day-long event is headlined by News & Observer food writer and Pickles and Preserves author Andrea Weigl who is teaching an ‘Introduction to Canning’ class. Participants will prepare three recipes from Weigl’s book and learn how to can safely at home. This participation-style class runs from 2pm-4 pm, costs $49, with online registration at www.whiskcarolina.com.

pickles and preserves

 

Sadly this class is sold out  but be sure to pick up a copy of Andrea’s book. I just made her Habanero Pepper Jelly this weekend and it was a huge hit at Mother’s Day brunch. I served it along side grilled chicken but it also pairs very well with pork, fish and grilled vegetables. All the recipes in the book are worth a try.

Habanero Jelly use

There will also be a local Canning Contest that day, with free entry and terrific prizes from Whisk. The two contest categories are Jellies, Jams and Preserves, and Pickled Vegetables. Submissions must have been canned within the past 12 months and must be made using North Carolina produce. Whisk customers will be able to taste and vote for their favorites, and canning contest winners will be announced on Facebook.

Andrea's Pickles

Photo courtesy of Andrea Weigl

Free tastings and canning demonstrations will be offered throughout the day. In addition, all canning supplies will be 20 percent off on May 17th. Visit the store Monday through Saturday, 10am-6pm; and on Sunday, 12pm-5pm. For more information about Whisk and to see a complete listing of its cooking classes, visit www.whiskcarolina.com.

Other upcoming classes with Andrea include :

• 11 a.m.-2 p.m. June 7, Durham Spirits Co., 311 E. Trinity Ave., Durham. hands-on cooking class, $59. Details.

• 6 p.m. June 25, Southern Season, 201 S. Estes St., Chapel Hill. demonstration cooking class, $40, Details.

• 10 a.m. June 28, Sur la Table, The Streets at Southpoint, Durham, hands-on class, $69. Details.

Happy Canning

Johanna

Pan Fried Swordfish Steaks with Lemon

At the beginning of February, Locals Seafood kicked-off with their 1st annual Winter Seafood Jubilee, a series of North Carolina winter seafood-centric events and promotions taking place in NC’s Triangle region throughout February.

The Winter Seafood Jubilee kicked off with the “3 on 3 at the Winter Seafood Jubilee,” taking place during the first three weeks of February. Locals Seafood recruited three “social media foodie gurus” to participate, a challenge where each guru is responsible for one week in February and given three different species of winter seafood to cook and showcase to you. Kristen Baughman (@knbaughman) showcased her creations the first week, Kim Alexander (@trianglelocalista) the second week and now the torch has passed on to me (@durhamfoodie).

The first of my “3 on 3″ challenge, I went with a New England Clam Chowder Pizza made with the Bogue Sound littleneck clams I was given. With the help of my stepson this pizza turned out fabulous. It was an experience I will never forget. For my next choice I made a Seared Trout with White Wine, Lemon, Caper Sauce served with  a side of mixed greens tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. My husband and I devoured this dish and left only empty platers behind.

For the last of my “3 on 3″ challenge I was left with a swordfish steak. This is a thick dense cut of fish, and one I often refer to as the “steak of the sea.” Like a good steak, you don’t want to do too much with it. Originally my thought was to broil it in the oven, but after purchasing a new set of stainless steel pots and pans decided to pan fry it instead. This was the easiest of the three dishes and from start to finish took only about 20 minutes. My husband declared it the best of the week. Locals Seafood, we are your new favorite swordfish customers. =)

Swordfish Steak

Swordfish Steak

Recipe:

1 Locals Seafood Swordfish Steak

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

2 Lemons

Directions:

In a ten inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. (I usually test out the heat by flicking a few drops of water of water in the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready)

Salt and pepper filet and add the fish to the pan.

Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice in to the pan. (I did this to incorporate lemon flavor in to the fish during the cooking process)

Cook each side about 5 minutes each. I cut my filet in half after the first flip to see how done it was). Most fish I don’t normally cook all the way through, however with swordfish I do.

Serve swordfish with a side salad of mixed greens (I used a left over  kale salad I had on hand mixed in with some arugula, green onions and cheese) topped with a touch of olive oil and fresh lemon juice. This salad can be made while the fish is cooking.

Finished SwordFish

In my previous post I mentioned that any leftover white wine, lemon and caper sauce could be frozen to use at a later date. I pulled out one of the sauce cubes, melted it in the microwave and topped a small amount over my portion of swordfish. Delicious! These last two recipes of the week are extremely versatile and can be used with most ypes of fish.

Swordfish Steak topped with leftover White Wine, Lemon Caper Sauce from the Seared Trout Recipe

Swordfish Steak topped with leftover White Wine, Lemon Caper Sauce from the Seared Trout Recipe

Now off to Locals Seafood you go. And be sure to ask them about species of fish you may not have cooked with before. They are very friendly folks and always happy to offer suggestions for new things to try and how to best cook them. I know I’ve never been disappointed.

Happy Eating

Johanna

WHERE TO FIND LOCALS SEAFOOD

MARKET HOURS
>> MAP

Raleigh State Farmers Market
Indoor Market Shoppes
1201 Agriculture St
– Thursdays • 10am-4pm 
– Fridays • 10am-4pm
– Saturdays • 10am-4pm
– Sundays • 11am-3pm

Chapel Hill Farmers Market
University Mall
– Saturdays • 9am-12pm

Western Wake Farmers Market
Carpenter Village – Cary
– Saturdays • 9:30am-12pm

LoMo Market
Farmers Market on Wheels!
30+ stops/week thru-out Triangle
SCHEDULE

Bella Bean Organics
Home delivery service
INFO

Seared Trout with White Wine, Lemon, Caper Sauce

At the beginning of February, Locals Seafood kicked-off with their 1st annual Winter Seafood Jubilee, a series of North Carolina winter seafood-centric events and promotions taking place in NC’s Triangle region throughout February.

The Winter Seafood Jubilee kicked off with the “3 on 3 at the Winter Seafood Jubilee,” taking place during the first three weeks of February. Locals Seafood recruited three “social media foodie gurus” to participate, a challenge where each guru is responsible for one week in February and given three different species of winter seafood to cook and showcase to you. Kristen Baughman (@knbaughman) showcased her creations the first week, Kim Alexander (@trianglelocalista) the second week and now the torch has passed on to me (@durhamfoodie). It will be my job to highlight another three ways to incorporated local seasonal NC fish/seafood into your everyday cooking routine. Let the fun begin!!

I started my “3 on 3″ week with a New England Clam Chowder Pizza which with the help of my stepson, turned out fabulous. For my next choice I decided to go with the trout fillets and do a high heat sear and top it with a white wine, garlic, lemon, caper sauce and serve it with a side of mixed greens tossed in lemon juice and olive oil.

I love fish but must admit I usually don’t go for skin on filets. I actually prefer whole fish that I can stuff with an array of herbs and citrus and bake it. Thanks to Locals Seafood my eyes are wide open to the possibilities of various varieties of fish and cuts. Wait until you see what I plan for the swordfish =)

This was a fairly easy dish to prepare, though the prep took more time than expected. I used a recipe from the Martha Stewart for a Cod with Herbed White Wine Lemon Sauce as my base and built on it from there. I made notes under each portion of the recipe with my changes. The recipe called for four fillets and I had only two so I ended up with extra sauce. Not a bad problem to have as you can freeze the extra sauce in ice cube trays to use at a later date. To do this, fill your ice cube tray with remaining sauce and let freeze. Once frozen place cubes in a freezer bag and store to use in future recipes.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • shallot (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • lemons (2, juiced and 1 sliced into 14 inch thick rounds)
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1/4 cup capers (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1 cup herbs (loosely packed mixed fresh, parsley tarragon chervil dill and thyme roughly chopped)
  • codfish fillets (6 ounces)

NOTES: I added 1 large clove garlic, diced fine and used parsley, dill and thyme and chopped them in my food processor.

DIRECTIONS 

STEP ONE

Combine shallot, wine, and lemon juice in a small skillet; set over high heat. Bring to a boil; simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, capers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and 3/4 of the herbs. Set aside; keep warm.

Finished Sauce

NOTES: I added the garlic in with the shallot, wine and lemon juice. Before adding the butter and capers I did a taste test after it had reduced down and didn’t like the amount of shallots. I felt like it was too much so I drained the sauce through a fine mesh seeve and added it back to the skillet with about half the shallots. 

Fresh Trout

STEP TWO

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 3 tablespoons sauce. Season both sides of fillets with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Arrange fillets and lemon slices in skillet; sprinkle with some herbs. Cook until fillets are golden, about 4 minutes. Turn, sprinkle with remaining herbs, and cook until fish is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve with lemon slices and remaining sauce.

Seasoned Trout

NOTES: I used a cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil heated over medium/high until glistening. I wanted the trout to sizzle when I placed it skin side down in the pan. I sprinkled  the tops of the filets salt and pepper and used no lemon. I seared the skin side to a light golden brown then flipped them over until down. The timing was the same as in step two.

Final Trout

This was a great dinner. It is extremely helpful having the folks at Locals Seafood showcase seasonal fish from our NC fisherman. I buy from them often and am most certainly looking forward to more clams and trout fillets. Don’t be scared to ask them about fish you may not have cooked with before. They are super friendly and will happily explain the various species and how to best prepare them. Thanks Locals Seafood, you guys ROCK!!!

Happy Eating!

Johanna

WHERE TO FIND LOCALS SEAFOOD

MARKET HOURS
>> MAP

Raleigh State Farmers Market
Indoor Market Shoppes
1201 Agriculture St
– Thursdays • 10am-4pm 
– Fridays • 10am-4pm
– Saturdays • 10am-4pm
– Sundays • 11am-3pm

Chapel Hill Farmers Market
University Mall
– Saturdays • 9am-12pm

Western Wake Farmers Market
Carpenter Village – Cary
– Saturdays • 9:30am-12pm

LoMo Market
Farmers Market on Wheels!
30+ stops/week thru-out Triangle
SCHEDULE

Bella Bean Organics
Home delivery service
INFO

New England Clam Chowder Pizza

At the beginning of February, Locals Seafood kicked-off with their 1st annual Winter Seafood Jubilee, a series of North Carolina winter seafood-centric events and promotions taking place in NC’s Triangle region throughout February.

The Winter Seafood Jubilee kicked off with the “3 on 3 at the Winter Seafood Jubilee,” taking place during the first three weeks of February. Locals Seafood recruited three “social media foodie gurus” to participate, a challenge where each guru is responsible for one week in February and given three different species of winter seafood to cook and showcase to you. Kristen Baughman (@knbaughman) showcased her creations the first week, Kim Alexander (@trianglelocalista) the second week and now the torch has been passed on to me. It will be my job to highlight another three ways to incorporated local seasonal NC fish/seafood into your everyday cooking routine. Let the fun begin!!

I picked up my three species of fish this past Saturday at the Western Wake Farmers Market and was absolutely ecstatic when I saw the littleneck clams from Bogue Sound, near Swansboro, NC and harvested by Susan and Bobby Cummings. There is a story behind this recipe and one that I will forever hold near and dear to my heart.

I am blessed to have three amazing stepchildren. While all but one has left the nest, the one at home has an excellent palate and an interest in cooking. Adrien and I have toured the downtown Durham lunch scene on many occasions but one lunch stood out. It was the clam pizza from Pizzeria Toro. To boot, he and I recently talked about making clam chowder and ding ding ding…an idea was born! Why not make a New England Clam Chowder Pizza…Yes Please!!!

First off Adrien is a master of pressing dough and making a mean pie. He’s worked at Dominoes for 5 years and we’ve enjoyed many of his creative creations over the years. This we decided was going to FUN!!

adri prressing out dough

I scanned the Internet for ideas but really found nothing Adri pressing out doughhelpful. Every recipe I found called for using condensed clam chowder soup as the base and that was not what we wanted. We were looking to make our own. After much discussion, we decided on a homemade clam chowder soup base as the sauce topped with sliced potatoes, caramelized onions (Adrien’s idea and brilliant), cheese and pancetta. We’d add the whole clams towards the last ten minutes of cooking so they popped open just as the pizza finished cooking.

Adri pressing dough into pan

The recipe following was truly an experiment and not perfect but boy did we have fun. A word to Adrien. Thanks for being a great person. I am so glad we had this moment and look forward to more. Love you!

Here is a short video of Adrien pressing out the dough. The end is hilarious!

 

New England Clam Chowder Pizza

Ingredients

4 medium onions, halved and sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons oil (I used grape seed oil)

1 stalk celery, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened using the edge of your knife

3 sprigs thyme

1-cup heavy cream

1-cup clam juice

Small container of ricotta cheese

2 small packages pancetta (or substitute bacon)

3 green onions, both white and green parts

I bag pre-made pizza dough (I get ours at Harris Teeter in the deli section)

Corn Meal

25 littleneck clams

Recipe

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack set in the middle of the oven

Sauce

Sauté celery in a small saucepan until soft, about 10 minutes.

Combine the smashed garlic thyme and bay leaves and tie together in cheesecloth

Add stuffed cheesecloth to sauce pan with the 1-cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of the clam juice.

Bring liquids to soft rolling boil, cover and take off the burner

Let the celery cream and herb mixture steep for half an hour.

Once steeped and cooled, remove cheesecloth and discard.

Add remaining mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth

Add ricotta by the tablespoon and blend in to the mixture until desired consistency is achieved. (To me this mean dipping a spoon in the mixture and when I take it out the sauce is sticking to the spoon and not dripping off)

Onion

For the Pizza

Peel 2 medium size potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)

Cut in half and par-boil approximately 12-15 minutes (you want them just cooked through and not too soft)

Drain potatoes and place in freezer, 20 minutes (This will harden them up and make it easier to slice with a knife or mandolin)

When potatoes have finished cooling, slice a 1/8 inch think

Add 2 Tablespoons to a medium frying pan on medium/high heat and add cheeseonions.

When the onions start to sizzle turn heat to medium and let caramelize, stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes. (You want them a nice deep brown color)

While onions are caramelizing, cook pancetta in a sauté pan over medium until cooked through lightly. The pancetta will continue to cook on the pizza so you don’t want to overcook it. (Note: I actually cooked my pancetta first and used the rendered fat to cook the celery in =))

Assembling the Pie

Press out the dough on a cutting board or counter top that has been sprinkled with a handful corn meal. This prevents the dough from sticking to the surface. We pressed out ours to fit a large cookie sheet (see pictures)

Top with desired amount of sauce. We used about a cup

Top with sliced potatoes

Add caramelized onions in dollops

Add desired amount of cheese

Note: At this point we went ahead and placed the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, or piecrust is just turning lightly brown on the bottom, pull out of the oven and sprinkle pancetta over top.

Take whole clams (washed and scrubbed) and place spine side down over the pizza.

clams before cooking

Cook another 10 minutes or until clams have opened fully. (Discard any that do not open)

When done, take the pizza out of the oven and let rest 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with green onion

For a spicier version, sprinkle with crushed red pepper

Slice and chow down =)

finished clams

Recipe Notes:

This was a true experiment and we mostly guessed at a lot of things. I am confident this recipe is near exact but be prepared to wing some of the cook times depending on your oven.

Happy Cooks

Locals Seafood Winter Seafood Jubilee Events

Locals tapped several of their best restaurant customers around the Triangle to host events in conjunction with the Jubilee; Mandolin in Raleigh, Oakleaf in Pittsboro, and Carolina Crossroads at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.  According to Chef Brendan Cox at Oakleaf, “If we’re truly dedicated to seasonality, it cannot begin and end with produce but must include our fisheries. Everything including fish and shellfish tastes better in its time”. Each restaurant will host a dining event featuring a variety of winter seafood.

Thursday, February 20th, 6:30pm – Mandolin Restaurant in Raleigh hosts a four-course winter seafood feast featuring a different item in every course. Reservations required, please call Mandolin at (919) 322-0365.

Wednesday, February 26th, dinner service, 5:30 til – Oakleaf Restaurant in Pittsboro will offer a supplemental Winter Seafood Jubilee menu in addition to their regular menu that evening with a selection of small plates under $20 featuring winter seafood items. Reservations encouraged but not required, please call Oakleaf at (919) 533-6303.

Thursday, February 27th, 6pm – Carolina Crossroads at the Carolina Inn invites guests to attend a cooking class in the Piedmont Room highlighting Chef James Clark’s techniques preparing three types of winter seafood. The event features the beers of Durham-based Fullsteam Brewery, with founder Sean Lilly Wilson on hand to speak to the importance of seasonal, local sourcing. Reception at 6pm, instruction begins at 7pm. Reservations required, limited seating available. Please call Lina at Carolina Crossroads, (919) 918-2735.

Happy Eating!

Johanna

Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures in Grilled Cheese by Shane Kearns

Grilled cheese: one of America’s favorite comfort foods. Warm, melty, and delicious, it’s just what the doctor ordered on a bad day or when you’re in a funk. But it’s not exactly exciting, is it?

Well, Shane Kearns is out to change that. His book, Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures in Grilled Cheese turns the staid grilled cheese sandwich into a canvas for inventive eats. From savory (white wine, mushrooms, and Raclette) to unusual (green tea tofu, anyone?) to sweet (Cherries Jubilee), Kearns covers all the bases and then creates new ones.

DSC_0035

The Asparagus and Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette caught my eye right away, and I had to try it out. My family is full of asparagus lovers, so this grilled cheese was a must. We were not disappointed. The vinaigrette was a perfect complement to the asparagus, and the Dubliner cheese had the perfect amount of bite the bring the sandwich together. My husband and son tore through the sandwich before I hardly had a bite. This one’s a winner.

Asparagus and Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette

Serves 1

For Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette:

1 small onion, sliced

2 teaspoons lemon/pepper seasoning salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 cup olive oil

For sandwich:

5 whole asparagus spears

2-4 tablespoons melted sweet butter, for grilling

2 slices sourdough bread

1/2 cup shredded Dubliner cheese

1. “Steam” the asparagus in the microwave by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl with enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cook, covered on high for 30 seconds,

2. In a mixing bowl, combine all vinaigrette ingredients.

3. Grill asparagus spears in a grill pan on medium heat, drizzling vinaigrette over asparagus as they cook and continually turning spears so that all sides are covered by the vinaigrette and cook evenly. Set grilled asparagus aside.

4. Brush the melted butter on the outside of the 2 slices of bread. In the same grill pan, place 1 slice of bread butter side down, followed by Dubliner cheese and asparagus spears. Place other slice of bread on top, butter side up.

5. Let sandwich cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side or until bread is golden brown.

6. Cut on the diagonal and serve.

Notes: I would rinse the grill pan lightly to ensure all onions are cleared out before grilling the sandwich. The onions from the vinaigrette have a tendency to gather in the ditches of the grill pan and burn while the sandwich is cooking.

DSC_0052

I also made the Rice Krispies Treat dessert. I’ll be honest with you- I tried this one simply because it sounded so very strange. Read the recipe below and you’ll see what I mean. However, this sandwich is actually amazing! These odd flavors melded beautifully. Another plus is that this sandwich couldn’t be easier to make. This one will become a go-to snack around here, that’s for sure.

Rice Krispies Treats

Serves 1

1 large Rice Krispies treat

Brie to cover 1 side of Rice Krispies treat

Peanut butter to cover 1 side of Rice Krispies treat

7 chocolate discs, melted

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. But the Rice Krispies treat horizontally. Spread brie on 1 half and peanut butter on the other. Drizzle melted chocolate on the peanut butter side.

3. Place only the brie half on a baking sheet and in the oven for 3 minutes. Set aside.

4. Combine the covered sides.

5. Cut in half and serve.

Notes: Make sure you place the Rice Krispies treat on parchment or a Silpat when you put it in the oven. It gets very melty and sticky while the Brie is melting. Also, if you don’t have melting chocolate (or don’t feel like fussing with it), Nutella makes a great stand-in for chocolate in this recipe.

 

by Gabrielle Kaasa

Gabrielle KaasaGabrielle is a proud Durhamite who enjoys cooking almost as much as eating. When she’s not in the kitchen, Gabrielle enjoys photography and adventuring with her partner, Bill, and son, Noah.

“Fire on the Rock” Battle Triggerfish Recap, Chef Miner vs Chef Brian

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“Fire on the Rock” brings the area’s culinary stars out to prove their skills. It is part of the annual “Got To Be NC” Competition Dining Series. Eight local chefs face the challenge of using local foods to create dishes that will convince the judges they are the best. And those judges are you. The Fire on the Rock preliminaries continued through Thursday night at The Lioncrest on the Biltmore Estate. Next week the the semi-finals go down Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Go to competitiondining.com for tickets and more details.

WLOS ABC 13 went behind the scenes to bring you a glimpse of what Competition Dining is all about

Scene on 7 talks to diners during Battle Triggerfish

Battle Triggerfish Recap

There is only one thing to say about Battle Triggerfish……….BACON!!! Don’t get me wrong, all courses were delicious, and both Chef Matthew Miner formerly of The Asheville Public, soon to start at The Blackbird Restaurant and Chef Jason Brian from Jack of the Wood really stepped up to the challenge and created delicious and beautiful dishes……..but!

Team Jack of the Wood (left), Team Miner (right)

Team Jack of the Wood (left), Team Miner (right)

It was a challenge that came down to one defining course. “Bacon & Eggs.” Triggerfish “Bacon”, Soft Truffled Egg, Toast and Coffee Panna Cotta by Team Miner recieved the highest score of the evening, a weighted score of 79.80.

"Bacon and Eggs," Team Miner

“Bacon and Eggs,” Team Miner

On his team was the very talented Chef Eden Roorda who was the mastermind behind the candied, smoked triggerfish bacon. The plating itself was playful and creative. The scramble eggs were soft and fluffy and served in an egg shell nestle into a hole cut out in the bread. The panna cotta was light and airy, with just the right hint of coffee and touch of sweetness. The bacon, the shining piece de resistance, was eagerly devoured by all. I don’t think anyone talked about much else the rest of the evening and I was incredibly happy when Chef Roorda offered to share the recipe.

Triggerfish “Bacon” by Chef Roorda

2lbs triggerfish , skin off filet and cut into strips lengthwise (I plan to try this using several types of fish)

Cure:

1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon fennel seed
6 bay leaves crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp crushed black pepper

Start soaking about 4 cups of hickory wood chips in warm water.  soak for at least an hour.
In a big bowl gently pack the dry mix on the strips of fish completely coating each piece.  Put a rack on top of a sheet tray and put the fish strip by strip not touching on the rack.  Set aside for 30-40 min.  rinse each strip under cold running water to remove any excess salt and sugar.  Put back on the rack and let it air dry for 30 min.

Preheat an oven to 200 F

Set up an indoor smoker by putting the soaked chips in the bottom of a large hotel pan and put a perforated hotel pan on top of that. Put over two burners and turn on low until you see wisps of smoke.  Put the fish in the pan strip by strip trying to keep from touching too much. cover tightly with tin foil and smoke for 30-40 min.

Make the lacquer:

1cup of molasses
1 tsp pink peppercorn crushed
1 tsp green peppercorn crushed
1 tsp white peppercorn crushed
1/2 cup lusty munk honey mustard
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Put everything in a sauce pot and simmer gently until it reduces into a syrup like consistency.
After smoking the fish pull the perforated pan off of the bottom piece and put inside a clean hotel pan. brush a thin layer of lacquer over each individual strip of fish and put into the 200 degree oven.  Every 10 min pull the pan out and brush more lacquer on the fish.  Keep doing this until the fish has dried and hardened like bacon or candy.  Should take about an hour.

The Dishes:

Course 1
Triggerfish Medallion with Coconut-Chili Broth, Lobster Dumpling and Green-Papaya Salad, Chef Miner, weighted score 65.89.

Course 1 Triggerfish Medallion  with Coconut-Chili Broth, Lobster Dumpling and Green-Papaya Salad

Course 2

Triggerfish Meatball in Smoked-Tomato and Crab Piedmontese Sauce, Basil-Goat Cheese Polenta Cakes, Chef Brian, weighted score 55.92.

Course 2 Triggerfish Meatball Smoked-Tomato and Crab Piedmontese Sauce, Basil-Goat Cheese Polenta Cakes

Course 3

Tempura Triggerfish Role with Ginger-Shiitake Duxelle, Five-Spice Syrup & Triggerfish Cracklin’, Chef Miner, weighted score 66.33

Course 3 Tempura Triggerfish Role  with Ginger-Shiitake Duxelle, Five-Spice Syrup & Triggerfish Cracklin’

Course 4

Seared Triggerfish  with Sweet Potato-Apple Puree, Potato Crisp, Pickled Carrot & Apple Skin, Green-Apple Reduction, Chef Brian, weighted score 58.11

Course 4 Seared Triggerfish Sweet Potato-Apple Puree, Potato Crisp, Pickled Carrot & Apple Skin, Green-Apple Reduction
Course 5

“Bacon & Eggs”  Triggerfish Bacon, Soft Truffled Egg and Toast, Coffee Panna Cotta. Chef Miner, weighted score 79.80

Course 5 “Bacon & Eggs” Triggerfish Bacon, Soft Truffled Egg and Toast, Coffee Panna Cotta

Course 6

Candied Fish Skin with Roasted Red Pepper Sorbet, Lemon Doughnut and Balsamic Reduction. Chef Brian, weighted score 58.74.

Course 6 Candied Fish Skin with Roasted Red Pepper Sorbet, Lemon Doughnut and Balsamic Reduction

Final Scores by Chef

Contestant Voter % Score Pros % Score Final Weighted % Score
Miner 72.439 66.667 70.70731707
Brian 59.167 53.889 57.58333333

Special Thanks to the sponsors for making the “Got to be NC” Competition Dining Series possible.  North Carolina Department of AgricultureSouthern Foods/Pate Dawson,Crippen’s Country Inn & RestaurantOur State magazine and local partners in each region of the state.

The goal of the series is to celebrate local North Carolina products and agriculture and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across our state.