Dinner At My One of My Favorite Restaurants: Home

I guess I am spoiling the glamorous mystery of this food writer’s life, but, surprise! I cook at home quite a bit, both weekdays and weekends.

On weekends and days off, we start the day with sauteéd bacon or sausage, over-medium eggs, pancakes or biscuits. I admit I use Pioneer Pancake Mix and frozen biscuits. For more unique flavors in the pancakes I’ve added sliced bananas and cardamom spice, or unsweet applesauce. Occasionally I will dally into omelettes or poached eggs.

For weeknight dinners, we regularly have:

Burritos: Seasoned ground turkey, diced tomatoes with chiles, and shredded cheese. The tortillas are warmed in foil in the oven. Sides are refritos (with a little greek yogurt and cumin added for taste), or rice. A great ready-made sauce for turkey is Frontera by Rick Bayless; it’s a a quick alternative to using dry or fresh herbs.

burritos

burritos2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Butter Chicken from Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo blogs and books, over a bed of cooked spinach. A ready-made sauce for this dish is here.

Chicken Florentine. I make a lighter version using chicken broth based sauce instead of the usual cream sauce.

Porkappleshallots

Pork Chops sauteed with shallots and granny smith apple slices is another quick-dinner favorite.

Now that it’s Fall, more oven-intensive meals are more inviting option. For instance, bringing homemade chili back into the lineup. I use 3 ground meats (pork, beef, chicken or turkey), kidney beans, diced tomatoes, diced yellow onion, chili powder and other herbs, diced white onions, and unsweetened cocoa. It’s all simmered for most of an hour in a big Dutch oven pot. More seasoning is added to taste. I serve baked cornbread on the side. One thing that’s great about chili is there are plenty of leftovers if you are a small family. It’s waiting to be warmed up for lunch or dinner for the next few days.

chili

I may also bake a whole chicken with lemon and garlic cloves in it. Rice will probably be on the side.

At least once a month, I mix and bake up a double batch of egg cupcakes, based on another recipe from Sarah Fragoso. Each time I make them, we’re covered for 2-3 weeks of a great go-to weekday breakfast in the microwave. Otherwise I enjoy greek yogurt with muesli on top, or cottage cheese.

If you are disappointed by cable networks’ personality-driven recipe books being tasty but not very healthy, I recommend Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo series, Julie S. Mayfield’s Paleo Comfort Foods, and Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating series. I am also very excited about books from PBS’ chef personalities, ‘especially the ethnic cuisines–Alamelu’s Indian, Ming’s Pan-Asian, Lidia’s Italian, and Newscancook’s Scandinavian foods. And that’s just four of many more shows that are on PBS. And if local caterer Brazilianuts ever writes a recipe book, I would pick that up as well; in covering regional charity dinners in Charleston on two separate occasions this year, I’ve learned there is so much more to Brazilian food than steak, and there’s so much more to learn about it. And I really love learning about foreign foods, especially when it manages to be tasty and healthy at the same time.

I am closing this post because I need to get cooking…

UPDATE: This post was originally created on 10/11/13. When I wrote it, I could only remember the name of the book and that the author was a really tall auburn-haired chef named Julie. Fast forward a month later, I discovered Julie Mayfield’s books had a blog so I updated that part of this post on 11/5/13.

Tip My Toque: Chef on a Shoestring 1997-2012 or dear CBS, Bring This Back!

Chef on a Shoestring was a series on the CBS Early Show:Saturday edition from the late 90s into the 2000s. CBS has changed up its morning hosts and format several times in the last 20 years. I fear this segment isn’t coming back anytime soon. As Americans struggle with obesity, unemployment, pinched family budgets, and food stamp funding cuts, the segment’s content is more relevant than ever.

According to its Wikipedia page, Executive Producer Hal Gressner was solely responsible for Chef on a Shoestring.

Each week, they would ask a high profile chef or TV food personality to make a 3 course dinner, for a family of 4, for under $40. 

In the 90s, they calculated the receipt onscreen, then showed that gorgeous, unbelievable-for-under-$40 prepared dinner. If that wasn’t enough, it was usually very healthy too—a little meat, and a whole lot of fresh veggies and herbs. And dessert wasn’t what I would call a diabetes bomb. To help the Share Our Strength charity, they produced a recipe book in 2001; a re-issue was published in 2004 (the link takes you to the Amazon page).

Some segments from the 2000s are available on Youtube, like Chef John Mooney’s Winter Comfort Food.

Saving money and eating well never go out of style. ‘So Chef on a Shoestring, I tip my toque to you, and hope you, or another series like yours, will return to the tv news “menu” sometime soon.

Baking Up My First Book

Baking Up My First Book

I have a book now: The Sea Islands Dining Guide. Click here for a link to it.

Yo Bo Cantina Marks My 20th Story Published!

I am very excited that this week marks my twentieth (20th) published food story for Wiser Time Publishing, better known as the West Of and James Island Messenger newspapers. I joined the team last October. For a full slideshow of the stories in print, and links to the submitted stories, click here.

Charleston’s food industry hot trends are taco and tequila joints, Neapolitan (aka wood-fired) pizzerias, and kitchens serving farm-to-table dining. The craft beer scene continues to grow as well–I look forward to the Bay Street Biergarten (if you remember the Boathouse, Arizona’s, Rice Mill on East Bay, it’s in that building) opening in September. There’s also a new brewery in the Upstate (Greenville-Spartanburg), Quest, which I hope to see distributed in this area soon.

Here It Is

Image

A key lime, honeydew frozen pie, with a Yoda theme. I was told the ears should be shorter and have more of a paisley shape/waviness to them. I used a diagonally split bread pan for this go round. Next time, I could use a half-size bread pan.

There are other things I would do differently, including:

–use cream cheese in addition to sweetened condensed milk

–simmer the key lime and honeydew juice down to a thicker consistency, for lots of flavor, but far, far less water. I am storing the pie in the freezer because anything less is far too warm here in the steamy South, even a 38 degree fridge.

–I would really like to find Oreo crumbles for the crust. Chocolate grahams are okay, but Oreos would be preferable.

I was happy with the color and the flavor of honeydew with key lime.

Usually I post the recipe but since this one is still under construction I will hold off. I used a 6″ springform pan for the middle circle, and as I said before, a diagonally split bread pan for the ears.

Dining in French..a fun alphabet

Do you eat something if you can’t pronounce it?

When I am out with friends or family, I am the one explaining terms.

When I write stories about exotic foods, I assume my readers would like to know more what they could be eating–delicious delicacies that aren’t apparent due to the language barrier. I describe the food and its preparation in English, followed by the foreign word in parentheses (just so it’s a little more familiar.)

For Bastille Day, I thought I would make a translated alphabet of French food-words diners may encounter. For extra fun, I thought I’d rhyme the end of each sentence with the French word.

A is for aubergine: but if I say eggplant you’ll know what I mean.

B is for bouillabaisse: a brothy, herbed seafood soup will bring a smile to your face.

C is for croquette: a potato dumpling you can’t forget.

D is for du jour: it means of the day with much allure.

E is for eau: it means water, just so you know.

F is for fraise: it means strawberry, a summery craze

G is for gâteau: it means cake, add glacé for ice cream also. 

H is for haricot: means beans, and now you know.

I is for ignames, but that’s yams where I’m from.

J is for jambon: it means hamI won’t go on and on.

K is for kumquat: a small citrus fruit–you know what? Nous Americains also say Kumquat.

L is for Lyonnaise, a hearty, meat-n-potatoes dish that’s sure to amaze.

M is for macaron, meringue, and madeleines, different cookies worth trying when you get the time.

N is for neufchâtel: a soft cream cheese that puts you under its spell.

O is for oeuf: it means egg, do you need proof?

P is for poulet: means chicken, cooked in many delicious ways.

Q is for quiche: It’s an egg-based, veggie and/or meat pie that never contains peach.

R is for roux: a flour and fat base for sauce? ‘Now that’ll do.

S is for serviette: it means napkin, now don’t forget!

T is for tartare: raw chopped beef, herbs and raw egg not for the faint of heart.

U is for ustensiles, as in utensils: when cooking for friends, you find they’re indispensable.

V is for vichysoisse: a classic potato-leek soup that hits the spot.

W is for Wallons*: their must-try Liége waffles are powdered sugar-festooned.

X is for xeres: a vinegar made from sherry.

Y is for yaort: is yogurt, so tasty with chopped fruit.

Z is for Z de la Arjolle: the only Zinfandel made in the whole (of France, that is. This once thought all-American grape is actually related to one grown in Italy and Croatia.) 

Have a great Bastille Day 2013. Hopefully I didn’t drive anyone ‘mad’ with this post.

*okay, this was a stretch. “Wallon” is the word for a person from Wallonia, or the French part of Belgium. It’s a rare “W-word” in the French language (if you’re ever playing French Scrabble). If you’re ever in Wallonia, no waffling, just try the waffles. Chocolate syrup probably ‘festoons’ better than powdered sugar, but I digress.

NOTE: In 2015, I recalled this food rhyme and how much fun I had writing it. I fine-tuned some the rhymes that weren’t that great. There will be a French in the Americas poem.