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.