Thursday, October 30, 2014

6th Blog Anniversary and a Cookbook Giveaway

My Carolina Kitchen is celebrating its 6th blog anniversary this month. I can hardly believe it’s been six years and that old saying must be true – “time flies when you’re having fun.”  And fun it has been. But for me the best part is the opportunity to get to know you my readers better. The blogging community is such a wonderfully supportive group and it is a real pleasure to be a part of it. Meakin & I have been fortunate to meet many of you in person, often including your spouse and family. We hope to meet even more of you in the future.

To thank my loyal followers, I’m giving away a copy of The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. I first got to know Rachael from her series television series The Little Paris Kitchen. For those of you who may not be familiar with Rachael, she moved to Paris to study patisserie and consequently fell in love with the city. She opened her very own restaurant in Paris in her tiny kitchen there, a very itsy bitsy kitchen in fact. That launched her career and she is now a bestselling author. Her wit and personality will definitely put a smile on your face.

It’s easy to qualify to win the cookbook. All you have to do is be a follower of My Carolina Kitchen and leave a comment below saying so and also what is your favorite French food. Following by email counts too. For an extra chance, follow My Carolina Kitchen on Facebook, but be sure to make that a separate comment. Please leave your comments no later than next Wednesday, November 5 at 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. I will announce the winner here next Thursday, November 6, 2014.

At anniversary time I usually feature the most popular posts from the past. This year I thought it might be fun to talk about one of our favorite places to eat in the Palm Beach area and also one of the surprise recipes that has been a big hit on Pinterest – my sweet & spicy pineapple salsa for a luau that I served at Larry (Big Dude’s) Annual Blogger Get-together at Tellico Lake in eastern Tennessee a couple of years ago when the theme for the party was an Hawaiian Luau, post & pictures here. Larry made smoked pork butts that were wrapped in banana leaves as well as smoked ribs below for the Luau.

It turned out that the sweet & spicy pineapple salsa was a perfect complement to BBQ. The recipe was inspired by a sweet and spicy salsa I first tasted at Little Moir’s Food Shack, a funky fish joint on the east coast of Florida just north of Palm Beach. It blew my socks off from the very first bite. I had never ever tasted anything that even resembled the burst of flavors in the fruit salsa. Moir’s changes the fruit in the salsas depending on the season and what’s the freshest.

Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Salsa/Sambal
My Carolina Kitchen’s version of Fruit Salsa from Little Moir’s Food Shack, Jupiter, Florida – serves 4
Printable Recipe

½ of a pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, seeded & diced (Roma tomatoes work well)
½ red onion, minced
Juice of ½ to 1 lime or to taste
1 tablespoon hot pepper, such as a jalapeno, minced (or more to taste)
2 rice unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, as needed

Place first six ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the vinegar, olive oil and honey and shake well. Pour over the fruit and season with salt & pepper. Add basil and cilantro and toss gently. Taste the mixture for seasonings and add more hot pepper, lime, or honey to taste. You want a nice balance of sweet and spicy. Sometimes I add a few dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, for more heat. Let mixture stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

This is great with any fish dish and is also incredible served with BBQ.

Photo of Little Moir's Food Shack dining room courtesy of Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings

Little Moir’s Food Shack is in an ordinary looking strip mall near a Publix Supermarket on the corner of A1A and Indiantown Road in Jupiter, Florida, just north of Palm Beach. You could easily miss it if you weren’t looking for it, but don’t let the looks of the place deceive you. Owner Mike Moir (rhymes with foyer) is the Chef and an absolute genius when it comes to seafood. He calls his cooking style “a simple twist of taste,” but it a far cry from simple taste. The tastes he creates will excite your taste buds and make your mouth sing. The soups change daily and are incredible too. Meakin’s favorite is panko fried oysters over greens, mixed fruit and gorgonzola. My favorite dish is the tuna basil rolls with wasabi dipping sauce served with their spicy fruit salsa (very similar to the pineapple one above) Here’s a link to My Carolina Kitchen’s version of Little Moir’s Food Shack Sweet & Spicy Fruit Salsa.

Little Moir’s Food Shack is a DO NOT MISS if you are in Jupiter, Florida and it’s well worth the short drive north from Palm Beach.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my walk down blog memory lane. Don’t forget to leave a comment to win Rachael Koo’s The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook as a thank you for being a follower of My Carolina Kitchen. How to qualify for the give-away is above. Offer ends next Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. The contest has ended and the winner of the cookbook is Kaye Barley. Congratulations Kaye.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.

Have a great weekend everyone & Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuscan White Bean Salad with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

In theory this is a salad, but it’s more of what I think of as comfort food. It’s the kind of food I crave when the weather starts to cool. Even though the recipe looks long, it’s very simple to make and doesn’t require a lot of attention while is cooks.

Most likely you already know out of your head how to cook dried beans and to roast tomatoes and if you do, there’s nothing much left to do other than to assemble the salad. It’s perfect for serve yourself buffets or double or triple it for a covered dish party.

If you’re in a pinch for time, you could substitute canned beans. But I think beans cooked from scratch always taste superior in flavor as well as have a nicer texture. In truth, they beans practically cook themselves and require very little attention from you.

Tuscan White Bean Salad with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes  
Adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends – serves 4 – 6
Printable Recipe

Slow roasted tomatoes – recipe below
Slow cooked Tuscan white beans – recipe below
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves + a few for garnish
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup champagne vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place roasted tomatoes in a bowl. Add cooked white beans, oregano, olive oil, and vinegar and toss to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in bowl or transfer to a platter. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves.

Cook’s notes: This salad is excellent served either warm or at room temperature. It’s perfect for a serve yourself buffet or to double it for a covered dish party.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends – serves 4 – 6

8 to 10 plum tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
About ¼ cup good extra-virgin olive oil
About 1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with sugar, garlic, and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until deep red and wrinkled, 2 – 2 ½ hours for medium or plum tomatoes and 1 hour for cherry tomatoes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook’s notes: If you can find them, yellow tomatoes added to red tomatoes make a pretty combination.

Slow-cooked Tuscan White Beans
Adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends – serves 6

2 cups dried white beans such as cannellini or great northern
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 springs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large Dutch oven, combine beans, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and 8 cups of water. Cover and slowly bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer uncovered, until beans are tender but not mushy. About half-way through the cooking process, add 1 tablespoon sea salt. Remove from heat and let cool, covered for 15 minutes.

Drain beans and discard their cooking liquid. If desired, discard rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic. Sprinkle the beans with pepper and more sea salt if needed, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Cook’s notes: Be careful not to let the beans cook at too high of a simmer or their skins will separate and the beans will be mushy.  I usually check beans about 10 minutes before they are supposed to be done to avoid over-cooking.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frozen Chocolate Truffles

It’s time to clean out the freezer – one of my least favorite chores. We do it once in the spring and again in the fall. Thankfully I’ve been more careful about labeling things this year so I don’t find mystery bags of who-knows-what. We found an opened one gallon French vanilla ice cream that contained just enough to make two servings of frozen chocolate cream truffles.

This decadent dessert takes only minutes to prepare, but make sure you allow time necessary for the ice cream balls to properly freeze in both steps. If you want to have fun with it, use a variety of flavors of ice cream for the three truffles that make a serving.

I consider desserts such as these truffles and affogato, the classic Italian ice cream dessert drowned in espresso, to be truly seasonless. Especially after a heavy meal, refreshing desserts are always appropriate regardless of the time of the year.

Frozen Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet by Paulette Mitchell – makes 12 truffles for 4 servings 
Printable Recipe

1 pint of your favorite premium ice cream or a variety of your favorites (I used French vanilla)
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened or sweetened – I used unsweetened)

Optional garnishes:
4 fresh strawberries
4 sprigs of mint

Use the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate as a template to cut a sheet of wax paper to fit the pie plate. Using a small (about 1 ½”) ice cream scoop, drop 12 balls of ice cream onto the pie plate. If the ice cream balls have rough edges, use a small teaspoon to smooth their surface. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze for ½ hour or until firm.

When you are ready to assemble the truffles, put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on MEDIUM for about 1 ½ minutes or until liquid. Stir the chocolate to melt any remaining chunks and set to cool slightly.

While the melted chocolate is cooling, spread the cocoa powder on a large plate or a sheet of wax paper for easy clean-up. Roll the frozen ice cream balls in the powder, pressing gently, and return them to the wax paper covered pie plate. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the ice cream balls. Return the plate to the freezer for at least ½ hour before serving. To store for up to 2 days, cover with plastic wrap. Recipe makes 12 truffles for 4 servings. Garnish each serving if desired with a strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint.

*Cook’s note: I placed the martini glasses in the freezer to help keep the truffles from melting. I suggest that you do the same, whether you serve them on a platter or in a glass.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fast Chicken Chili

This is a great chili to make if you’re pressed for time and want dinner on the table in a hurry. I am accustomed to a dark chili made with beef, but I was surprised how much we liked it. In fact, I was so afraid that it wouldn’t resemble chili that I substituted dark kidney beans for some of the white beans in hopes that it would resemble a more traditional chili. It was such as success that we will definitely have it again.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe other than using dark red kidney beans for some of the white beans. I read the on-line reviews and, based on those, I upped the amount of seasonings, reduced the amount of water so it would be less “soupy” and added about a half of pound of ground pork for extra flavor and to make it more substantial. I find that for recipes that have reviews, it’s smart to read them because you get some insight to how the recipe works or in some cases why it doesn’t work. To see the original recipe, click on the link to Cooking Light in the recipe itself. If you want more than 1 cup of chili per person, count on it serving four rather than six.    

Cornbread makes a nice side with chili. If you’re hungry for chili and don’t have a lot of time, give this a try. We were not disappointed and are glad to have different chili recipe to call on from time to time.

Fast Chicken Chili 
Adapted from Cooking Light, serves 6 (1 cup servings)
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons canola oil, separated
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt
½ pound lean ground pork (optional, but very good)
½ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ - ½ teaspoon ground red pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
2 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup water
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained
1 (4 ounce) can chopped Hatch chilies, undrained
3 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and add to pan and sauté 4 minutes, then remove from the pan and wipe the pan clean. Reheat pan over medium-high heat, add remaining tablespoon oil and add the pork, season with salt and sauté the pork until it browns. Add chicken back to pan along with the onion, garlic, cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano and ground red pepper and sauté about 3 minutes to incorporate the onion and spices. Add 1 can of cannellini beans, 1 can dark kidney beans, water, 1 can chilies, and chicken broth & bring to a boil.

Put the the remaining can of cannellini beans in a bowl along with the remaining can of green chilies. Mash well until the mixture almost resembles a paste. Add to soup, and then simmer 5 minutes. The chili should now be nice and thick. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.

Serve with cilantro and lime wedges. The fresh lime adds a nice fresh flavor to the chili. Excellent with Southern cornbread alongside.

The chili can be made in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Reheat gently and add cilantro at the last minute.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.    
Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Strawberry Parfaits with Yogurt and Granola

I can’t think of a better way to start your day than with a healthy and colorful breakfast parfait. Fruit parfaits really step up the breakfast game, plus they take only a few minutes to put together. They are also a wonderful way to incorporate the various seasonal fruits into your breakfast throughout the year.

I adapted this recipe from Betty Rosbottom’s Sunday Brunch – Simple, Delicious Recipes for Leisurely Mornings. My friend Bonnie From a Writer’s Kitchen introduced this delightful book to me and I am so grateful that she did. At our house we never miss breakfast. There’s a phrase “eat like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch and a pauper for dinner” and that probably explains why breakfast is my favorite meal.

Betty’s cookbook offers deliciously creative ideas for breakfast for all seasons. The picture of her plum parfaits with yogurt and granola in parfait glasses was so appealing that I adapted the recipe to use fresh strawberries in place of the plums and substituted brandy snifters for the parfait glasses. This recipe comes together very quickly, but you need to let the cooked strawberries come to room temperature before you assemble the parfaits. The parfaits may be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 hour in advance, but if you like your granola crunchy like I do, then assemble them right before serving.

Strawberry Parfaits with Yogurt and Granola
Adapted from Sunday Brunch by Bette Rosbottom, serves 6
Printable recipe

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (low fat is fine)
½ teaspoon good-quality vanilla
¾ cups good-quality purchased granola

Slice hulled strawberries. Place a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add sliced strawberries and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy and the strawberries are tender when pierced with a knife, about 4 - 6 minutes. Watch carefully so fruit does not become overcooked and mushy. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (very important).

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, remaining 1 ½ tablespoons sugar and vanilla.

To serve, spoon about ¼ cup strawberry mixture, including juices, into each of six medium-size wine or parfait glasses. Top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons yogurt. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon granola. Repeat layers. Serve immediately.

If breakfast parfaits appeal to you, you might also like a breakfast fruit crunch with assorted fresh fruit that appeared on My Carolina Kitchen several years ago. Link to recipe here.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.
Have a great weekend everyone.