Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Appetizer Idea: Zucchini, Angel Pasta and Roasted Tomato Fritters

Zucchini, Angel Hair and Roasted Tomato Fritters
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package angel hair pasta (cooked)
2 Cups of Cherry Tomatoes
1 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Place shredded zucchini in a colander, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss well. Drain for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally. Press zucchini between paper towels until barely moist.  Cook pasta according to directions on package, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cherry tomatoes in olive oil and pinch of salt then place in baking dish and roast for 20 minutes in the oven, until they begin to soften and become charred. Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, flour, and the next 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add zucchini and pasta to bowl; toss well.  Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini mixture to pan in 3 inch diameter size fritters and slightly press them down with a spatula. Cook for 5 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Carefully turn fritters over; cook 5 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Top the fritters with the roasted tomato mixture.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garden to Table: Swiss Chard

The 100 degree days of summer are coming to an end and the start of fall is just around the corner. The heat has taken a toll on the garden, and some of our sanity, but one crop withstood the heat quite well. Swiss chard, similar to collard greens and kale, is a leafy green that is versatile in its culinary uses and an extremely healthy addition to any diet. Typically harvested in late spring, the row of Swiss chard I planted in March kept growing throughout the dog days of June and July. As the start of fall begins (I define fall as the start of the football season) my mind wanders to thoughts of brats boiling in beer, 9 AM tailgates for college football, and of course the annual kick-off to fall, Oktoberfest. A friend of mine is making the 10 hour plane trip in mid-September to Munich (Munchen if you speak German) to enjoy a weekend of German beer tents, picnic tables lined with liter stein’s, and of course all of the stick to your ribs traditional German cuisine. Every culture has their own version of the dumpling, in the south ours is served with chicken, the Italians have Gnocchi, and the German version is Spaetzle.
Homemade German Spaetzle with Sautéed Swiss Chard and Sage-Browned Butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

I bunch of Swiss Chard roughly chopped (use only the leafy parts)

2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 tablespoon of ground sage

Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-milk mixture. Gradually draw in the flour from the sides and combine well; the dough should be smooth and thick. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot, and then reduce to a simmer. To form the spaetzle, hold a large holed colander (pasta strainer) or slotted spoon over the simmering water and push the dough through the holes with a spatula or spoon. Do this in batches so you don't overcrowd the pot. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the spaetzle floats to the surface, stirring gently to prevent sticking. Dump the spaetzle into a colander and give it a quick rinse with cool water.

In a large sauté pan add the butter, mustard, and sage and sauté over medium high heat until the butter starts to slightly brown. Next add the Swiss chard and toss in the butter mixture for about 4 minutes until the chard has completely wilted. Toss the chard mixture with the cooked spaetzle and serve. This can be a vegetarian meal, or as a side dish. I recommend serving with Al Fresco Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage (pictured above).

The series “Garden to Table” highlights the produce from my own backyard garden and the recipes I use to make the most out of the seasons bounty.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Locally Sourced: Clean Catch Fish Market

When you look at the most notable food scenes around the country a reoccurring trend seems to always emerge: access to quality locally sourced ingredients.  The number of farmers markets, specialty stores, etc. in the area is proof that Charlotteans are starting to not only care about what food they eat, but also where that food comes from. You can argue as to how this all came about, and throw out buzz words like: “Organic”, or “Free-Range”, or “Hormone-Free”, but at its simplest form, people just want to eat the best thing possible for themselves, their family, their community, and in many ways the environment. These same people, along the way, have discovered that local ingredients just taste better.
For years fish has been towards the bottom of the average consumer’s protein choices for many reasons, one being the frozen fish patties or sticks that many of us grew up on doesn’t exactly elicit culinary stardom. Fortunately, fish is probably one of the most diverse forms of protein our planet has to offer, but unfortunately, the retailers in the Charlotte area have never offered more than the typical selections, and most of us avoid the counter altogether.  Just over a year ago the revamped Selwyn Avenue was introduced to Clean Catch Fish Market. Located in the newly developed Tranquil Court Building, across from Nolen Kitchen and Selwyn Pub, is the fishmonger Charlotte has been waiting for.
Clean Catch Fish Market, opened in late summer 2010, specializes in providing the freshest available fish to their customers, along with educating and encouraging the use of sustainable fishing methods. But what may be the most intriguing aspects of the market is that next to your well known varieties, such as Salmon, Tuna, and Shrimp, you will find exotic (at least when compared to HT) varieties  such as, Cobia and Walu. In my opinion the best thing about the market is that you can ask exactly where the fish was caught,  whether it was wild or farmed, and what method was used, and whoever is behind the counter will answer you exactly and even provide much more information. You can find more information on Facebook or at their website www.cleancatchfish.com
Below are a few of the fish courses created during a recent Old Post Catering event.
Pan seared Alaskan Line-Caught Halibut with Sautéed Fava Beans, in a Shallot and Orange-Juice Reduction, with Crispy Swiss Chard. 
Pan seared Atlantic Cod with a Citrus Salad, served over Kaffir Lime-Leaf Israeli Couscous, and garnished with Ground Sumac.
I hope this series introduces you to many of the great purveyors of food in the Charlotte area.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garden to Table: Now that you're an adult are you ready to try beets?

A few years ago my girlfriend and I jumped on the slow food movement and decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The basic concept of the CSA has the community buying shares of a local farm. The farmer will then use the community’s investment to prepare and plant their farmland.  The farmer then shares the profits of the farm in the form of weekly dividends of fresh seasonal vegetables. Just like playing the stock market, there are many inherent risks in investing in a farm (such as heat, drought, deer, and bugs), all of which impact the returns (the vegetables, if you’re still struggling with the financial analogy). Unfortunately, our farmer was either lazy, not very experienced at farming, or just flat-out unlucky. On a weekly basis our anticipation of what would be in our basket of produce always seemed to underwhelm or disappoint. The only redeeming factor in our CSA experience was my re-introduction to beets. The second week into the spring season the only thing we received from the farm was a few bunches of beets. I wasn’t sure what to do with one bunch of beets, let alone three. Over the next week we tried many recipes that utilized beets. We even discovered that the greens of the beet are edible, and actually quite good when cooked similar to spinach. I thought to myself as I enjoyed dinner after dinner, all of which included some form of beet, that the seven year old version of me would be terribly upset that as an adult he would actually enjoy eating beets. When I decided to start a backyard garden beets were at the top of the list of things to try and grow on my own. Needless to say they thrived and we have been eating beets at least once a week for the past month.
Below is one of our favorite recipes for a beet pizza with honey goat cheese and caramelized onions, the earthiness of the beets and goat cheese balances perfectly with the sweetness of the onions and honey. So here’s to becoming an adult, and being able to try and enjoy beets.

Roasted Beet Pizza with Honey Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions
I bunch of Beets (about 4 individual beets peeled and quartered)
I large Vidalia onion (thinly sliced)
8oz Honey Goat Cheese (crumbled)
8oz can of Pizza Sauce
2 teaspoons of Brown Sugar
Fresh Pizza Dough (Trader Joe’s readymade dough is perfect)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss peeled and quartered beets in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast beets in the oven for 50 minutes until tender. Sauté sliced onions in olive oil and brown sugar until caramelized about 20 minutes over medium heat. Roll the pizza dough to roughly the size of a cookie pan and about ¼ inch thick. Pre-bake the rolled out dough for ten minutes at 350° F. Remove the baked pizza dough from the oven and prepare the pizza with the pizza sauce, caramelized onions, roasted beets, crumbled honey goat cheese and salt and pepper. Bake for additional 15 minutes until crust is golden brown.

This is the second article in the series “Garden to Table” which highlights the produce from my own backyard garden and the recipes I used to make the most out of the seasons bounty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chef Jim Noble: The Distinction between Success and Significance

Recently, the Charlotte restaurant scene has been getting some major national media outlet attention from CNN and their networks build-up to Charlotte’s hosting of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  While the national debut is welcomed and quite frankly, long overdue, the exposure for Charlotte’s mainstay- and-notable chef icons, appear to highlight just how far this southern city has come.  Renowned chef Jim Noble, of Rooster’s and the now closed Noble’s, opened the Kings Kitchen (uptown at Trade and College) in an effort to give back to the community. The not for profit restaurant donates 100% of the profits to help feed the poor in Charlotte, the region, and the world. The catch-phrase slogan is to help FEED SOMEBODY! The food is described as “New Local Southern Cuisine” with a focus on local ingredients. After you have tasted the fried chicken and mac & cheese you will understand the “southern” part of the equation. But more importantly is what the chef, the restaurant, and all of the supporters are accomplishing in making a difference in people’s lives.
Recently, Chef Jim Noble was honored to welcome CNN into The King's Kitchen for the following interview.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Garden to Table: Early Summer Onions

This year my backyard garden got off to a great start. I was hesitant to start so early this year, if you noticed the label I planted a bunch of vegetables in mid-March, but the timing was perfect as there was only one frost after planting.  For over 80 days  I had been eyeing these onions, hoping the chipmunks did not secretly eat them under the cover of the ground. In the middle of a June heatwave I decided right or wrong, too-early or too-late It was time to pull them from the dirt. The results were about 40 baby onions that we cooked with South Carolina peaches, and pork tenderloin (recipe below)

Seared Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Peaches and Onions
1lb Pork Tenderloin
6 Peaches sliced
10 Pearl Onions or 1 large Onion diced
1 Shallot sliced
1 Bunch of Thyme
1/2 cup of Chicken Stock
1/2 Tbsp. of Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Season the pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Sear pork tenderloin on all sides in a hot pan. Finish the pork in the oven for 20 minutes. Over medium high heat  saute the pearl onions for about five minutes in olive oil. Add the peaches,shallots, and thyme and saute for an additional 5 minutes or until onions and peaches have caramelized. Add the stock and honey and continue to saute until the stock has reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

I hope to feature all of the produce my garden produces this year and also how we prepare and enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A New Concept to the Charlotte Food Scene!!!

Welcome and thanks for visiting the newly created Charlotte Supper Club Blog. I intend this blog to be about everything food, with a focus on the formal and informal events that this blog and idea, hope to inspire.

I have been in Charlotte all the way back to Hurricane Hugo, the Charlotte Hornets, the Carolina Panthers (inaugural, losing , and winning seasons). I have witnessed the the food scene evolve over the years, creating the thriving cultural aspect of any great city. The restaurants here in Charlotte now rival many of the other metro areas around the country. The trends in food that are taking place here, specifically the accessibility of locally sourced product, is really the driving factor in the citizens of Charlotte love affair with great food.

The goal of this blog is to bring people together into a community with the purpose of sharing the experience of great food. Neighbors and friends coming together to enjoy a meal, and sponsored events presenting the best of local chefs.