Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shrimp and Grits Throwdown



This past weekend the Carolina Inn did their first annual (hopefully) Shrimp and Grits Throwdown to benefit Table, a local charity that uses after school programs to find low income families who need food, and then feed them.  When I got the email about it, I thought, "$15 to taste a bunch of shrimp and grits for a few hours for charity?  Um, where do I sign up?" I told a bunch of people about it, but in the end, it was just me and R.  Oh well, their loss.

And what a loss it was. . .

We received our wristbands, raffle tickets (various prizes we didn't win were up for grabs), and ballots.  As the Rocky soundtrack played, we took in our surroundings. They introduced our chefs, as we gravitated over to the water to properly hydrate (and cleanse our palates).  Side note: Please realize that these are first impressions, and by no means the be all end all of food critiques.  Side note 2: All the links are to the recipes--so have some fun!
The Ballot

First up, Top of the Hill. My first thoughts - “Top of the Hill's fried grit cake with creamy mushroom sauce with tomatoes green onion and cashews--delicious. I could eat grit cakes for breakfast everyday. 3rd Favorite.” This one won judges favorite, which I didn't get--the cream was a little over-powering after a while. Not that it wasn't amazingly delicious.  Again, I wanted to take a case of those grit cakes home with me. 





Next up, Vimala's! We decided to do the "hot one" second, so we would not be dying of the heat at the end. “Vimala's Cherry blossom shrimp and grits with the curried flavor of Bombay's deep south with a hot sarauche sauce. Super flavorful, but hot! hot! hot! I still cleaned the plate.”  As we downed a ton of water, we found a great new remedy for dealing with a mouth on fire. In the background Ring of Fire was playing while we sucked limes to get our tastebuds back. It is actually a great way to taste again. 


Next, we hit my favorite, Elaine's!  This was really also a love affair with pork.“Elaine's shrimp and grits--cheesy but light with a crunch of corn, pork tenderloin, bacon, and carmelized onions with a jus that was super flavorful. The best.”  I went back and forth, but at the end of the day, this was the one I wanted more of.  It was just SOOOOO good. I wanted to lick the plate. 






Next, we are on our way to the Carolina CrossRoads restaurant, with the
most filling, comfort-foody of the bunch. Cheesy and smooth, these made us nearly quit because they were so very filling. “Carolina crossroads shrimp and grits, the smoothest grits, and super filling, with a bacon lobster veloute--delicious. Top 3 easy.” My number two. We had to sit for a few minutes and catch our breath in order to keep going.  


With only three left to go, and only 40 minutes 'til our ballots were due (and the lines at each of the stations getting longer and longer), it was time to hurry.  Glasshalfull was the closest line, and thus next on our list. “Glasshalfull shrimp and grits--super cheesy grits, with a chorizo sauce and a fruity note to it.”  The thinnest grits, but super cheese. I looked on the recipe to see what the fruity note was, and I was disappointed to only find plum tomatoes.  If you look at the instructions though, at the very end it says to season with salt pepper and apple cider, and then the "oh!" hit me--there was my apple-y fruity note I kept tasting. 


Tyler's Taproom takes our penultimate spot.  This got third, but I am pretty sure it was my least favorite (still great!), but it was the recipe that you are most likely to get when you order shrimp and grits.  I am pretty sure this chef was done by the time we came around--local papers show him plating individually--he was definitely done by the time we came around.  Sadly, by my comment, you can kind of tell that I was, too. “Tylers taproom shrimp & grits--very traditional, earthy.” Weirdly, he took judges third.  But maybe there was something different when he plated them individually. 


Il Palio, our last, longest line had the most impressive set up.  They regularly flambed their sauce and shrimp.  I wanted it to taste better than it did, though it was certainly pretty. And prosciutto bacon and I can be friends for life. “Il Palio shrimp & grits, saffron, fennel sauce topped with prosciutto bacon and fried leeks--easiest the best cooked shrimp.”  The shrimp was not too done, it was just right, and with so many people a lot of the shrimp were just a touch over cooked, but not theirs.  Though I wanted to taste more of their grits. 


Either way, I would eat at any of these restaurants, and totally need to make it to Elaine's, CrossRoads, and Top of the Hill for their shrimp and grits again, soon!  I want to drag some other of my friends to Vimala's, which I didn't even know was there (near where Sandwhich used to be).  I loved every minute of this, and it was soooo worth it.  I didn't want to eat again for the rest of the day (and didn't until I was eating cereal at 1:30am, but that is a different story). 


Realize all of these pictures were taken with my iPhone, so I apologize for the non-professional food pictures. Oh, and R and I ended up in the slideshow at WRAL. The Daily Tar Heel also had a write up. Side note, did you know they have a CSA for seafood?  I may have to check that out.  


Next time they do this, you may just have to join us. . . 



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Devil's Food Donut Experiment II: the Glaze. . .

Thank you LA Times.  This glaze really is a dream.  



Ingredients:
1 pound bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (chips or finely diced)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch salt

Directions: 
1. Place the chocolate in a large bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cream, water, vanilla, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a good simmer over high heat. Remove from heat.
3. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and gently stir to combine, melting the chocolate and forming a glaze.
4. The glaze will thicken as it cools. This makes 2 1/2 cups glaze, which will keep for up to 1 week, covered and refrigerated. Rewarm slightly to thin.


Note: I used a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (which is really only 12 oz) and added about 1/4 of another package of chocolate chips.  It turned out dreamy.  


My thoughts:
You know how Anne Hathaway in the Princess Diaries talks about her foot popping when she has the perfect kiss?  Well, this glaze brought about a foot pop.  


It keeps for a week, so I am already thinking of things to use it on--in fact I had it on a fresh peach tonight before I went to bed.  Delish!  I also have some French vanilla gelato in the freezer which may need some of this later.  I tried out some oatmeal pancakes last weekend (which will become a post) and added chocolate chunks in.  This glaze would be amazing with those. . . There aren't a lot of things I think would be bad with it.  Maybe watermelon.  

An experiment in donuts. . .

Donut or Doughnut?  Which one do you choose?  I cannot decide, and I keep switching back and forth.  After drooling over this waffleizer post, I decided that I HAD to have these doughnuts.


Note: One batch, really is enough.  At the same time, if you have problems with scale (read: me), then you make two batches.  My eyes are still watering from the oil in the air.  


Ingredients:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups (12.75 ounces) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled--as I do not drink coffee, so don't have it on hand, we mixed water with cocoa and added it in.
Canola oil for frying

Directions:
1. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the chocolate and butter have melted and are combined. Set aside.  
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Set aside.


Note: this made the house smell like a chocolate lover's dream.  


3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla and melted chocolate.
4. Gently beat half of the flour mixture, a spoonful at a time, into the egg mixture, then beat in the coffee. Continue to beat in the rest of the flour mixture, a spoonful at a time, until all of the ingredients are combined and a sticky dough is formed.  


Note: if you are using a stand mixer, you should have used the bread hook, if you are using a hand mixer, about halfway through the flour, you will have switched to a spoon--and then your hands (picture coming shortly). It will be sticky.  

5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a round just over one-half inch in thickness. Using a doughnut cutter, or 2 biscuit cutters (a larger one measuring 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter, and a smaller one measuring about 1 inch in diameter), cut the dough into doughnuts, spacing the doughnuts as close as possible. Collect the scraps and roll out to form another batch of doughnuts (note that this batch may be a little tougher than the first as the dough has been worked).


Note: Use a lot of flour on the surface you are rolling--in fact, roll on parchment or wax paper--it will make your life easier.  Also, with a double batch, we rolled out a few times, and it got easier. We also rolled it between wax paper, to make it less sticky, kind of.  Also, we tried a few different sizes.  The size of a goblet with middle of the vanilla cap was the best size, though the donut holes were delicious!


6. Fill a deep fryer with oil, or fill a large pot to a depth of at least 3 inches, and heat to a temperature of 350 degrees.
7. Gently place the doughnuts in the fryer, being careful not to crowd. Fry the doughnuts on each side until puffed and golden, about 4 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds or so.


Note: this is an experimental process.  Because the dough is dark, you have to make sure the oil isn't too hot, and that the donut is cooked all the way through (though we didn't mind some of the doughy in the middle ones--it is like brownie batter, so not a lot of bad there). It puffs on the side in the oil, so make sure you flip them well. These will not hold onto the oil, so you really just need paper towels to drain onto.  

8. Drain the doughnuts on a rack and cool slightly, then frost and decorate as desired.


Note: See the next post for the glaze.  LOVE the glaze. . . 


My thoughts:
I'd definitely make these again.  They are extremely dense, so you cannot eat a lot of them.  Well, you can, but, you know. . .  Also, the recipe says they take an hour, but they take more than an hour if you double the recipe.  I recently watched an episode of Top Chef Masters where they made a honey bacon donut, so that may be next in the donut experiment.  


I'm still trying to get the smell of the fair out of my house, so I am not loving that, but when you bite into one you've just glazed, and it all melts together in a smooth lusciousness of chocolate, you kind of don't mind.   I cannot wait to have them for breakfast tomorrow.  

A slight change. . .

So, no one wanted to take over the blog for me, so it is switching up.  I haven't had a lot of time to blog of late, but I still want to have some fun foodie moments.  I want to debate Top Chef (Why was the Masters version not as good this year?  Why do I already hate Angelo?), experiment with new recipes (Donuts! Bacon-wrapped things), and try out new restaurants in the Triangle area.  Feel free to come along for the ride, or just enjoy the moment.

With Taste,
T

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A recipe, An experiment, and a request. . .

I've been craving a good grilled cheese lately. This looks fantastic!

Recently for a post-church lunch, I made waffled grilled cheese. It was fun, and easy (though I am still working out some of the kinks (cleaning burnt cheese must be done while the waffle iron is still hot).

So here goes. . .

Waffled Grilled Cheese!
Ingredients:
Cooking Spray
Bread
Butter
Cheese
Toppings (optional)

Tools:
Waffle Iron

To do:
Heat waffle iron and spray with cooking spray. Butter outsides of bread slices and cut cheese. Put one slice of bread, butter side down, on the waffle iron. Add cheese (not too much, you don't want it to get on the waffle iron if at all possible). Add toppings if desired (tomatoes, bacon, basil, apples--sliced thinly). Add top slice, butter side up.

Press down with the waffle iron, hard. Don't break your waffle iron, but don't let it wussily rest on top. Be careful, steam will come out of the waffle iron, and so you need to avoid getting burned.

I figured out how long it takes by peeking every so often--the time it takes for the light to go off was longer than I like it (I like my grilled cheese slightly grilled, not really grilled). Remove, and eat. The quarter-cut, small-holed waffle iron I have, made perfect rip-able quarters, and I loved that each little square had a little pocket of cheese.

They were delicious, but your bread and cheese (and optional toppings) cannot be too bulky or it doesn't come out right. We plan to experiment more.

Finally, the request. It is over, my sisters. It is time I graduated from the ward, and with that, I believe the D3 Delish Dish needs a new mommy. One who has a little more time on her hands. And who will build it back up to its glory days. Any takers? I'll still happily contribute as a guest if asked. . .

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tantilizing Photos


I've been drawn to amazing pictures lately, but I've really been enjoying gorgeously rendered food photographs. Click on the image, and you can zoom in. Anything you haven't been able to look away from?

Many thanks to Fosters Market, Pixdaus, Waffleizer, Say Yes! to Hoboken, and A Cup of Jo.

P.S. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Invitation and a recipe

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Sisters of the D3!

I enjoyed seeing you last night, and hope to see you again soon when we have our first Dining Out of the new year (sorry, I've been a little out of it).

Tuesday, March 23 at 7:00pm at Hibernian in Cary, we'll be meeting for a late St. Patty's Day celebration. Come feast on the flavors of that emerald isle--scrumptious Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Soda Bread, and all things Irish. The food is delightful, and you'll love the funky pub atmosphere (I totally want their library). Please RSVP by noon Tuesday, March 23!

And a recipe for your St. Patrick's Day festivities (thanks, AP!):

___________________________________________

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins (optional) Bon App├ętit | February 2005

by Anitra Earle, Yonkers, NY

Anitra Earle of Yonkers, New York, writes: "I'm a perfume detective who hunts down hard-to-find and discontinued scents. One of the benefits of running my business from home is that I get to cook every day. I usually make dishes that I've relied on for years."

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup raisins (optional, try dried blueberries for a fun twist!)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

_________________________________________________


Serve with Corned Beef and Cabbage. . . I saw this recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage recently, and was BLOWN AWAY by their presentation. I don't think I've ever thought of creatively producing my recipes.

Have a delightfully lucky St. Patrick's Day!


Monday, March 1, 2010

The Easiest Cookies You'll Ever Make

I made these for the first time a while ago for a little get together we had, and everyone loved them. I made them again for two potluck dinners in one weekend. Finally, I made some for Valentines Day. Every time, they were delicious.

Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 box cake mix, any flavor
  • 1/2 cup oil or 1 cube butter
  • 1 egg
Mix ingredients until moistened. Roll into teaspoon size balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Optional: Dip into sprinkles, sugar, or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for about 8 minutes at 375.

Thus far, I've made yellow, chocolate, German chocolate,  Funfetti, yellow with cinnamon sugar, strawberry, and chocolate with red sprinkles. (The above is strawberry with red sprinkles.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

An odd way to say, "Thank you!"

My food story since surgery has been interesting.
  • A "bounty!" of produce brought by Mom and Dad (B has a habit of singing this while raising her arms that compels me to shake my head at her).
  • The night before surgery, the nummy pork from Cafe Rio that Ashlee gifted us with for Mom's birthday (made by me).
  • The night after surgery (my first food in more than 24 hours), the hospital's beef with broccoli.
  • The next day and part of the next--grilled cheese and tomato soup--Velveeta and Campbell's--totally childhood memories of feel-better comfort food (sorry, it is what I wanted).
  • A beautiful Southern Season chocolate gift basket from the 3 Musketeers at work.
  • Gorgeous, delicate, white bean soup while cheering for various Olympic sports with AP.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Pineapple, clemantines, oranges, bananas . . .
  • German Pancakes from B.
  • Cereal--as a non-cereal eater, I've been weirdly pro-cereal of late. Maybe because all of the drugs make my body uneasy about a lot of things, so cereal is simple enough not to throw it into a tailspin.
  • A pasta salad bursting with so many intricate flavors, I am sure I haven't hit them all yet--maybe Rachel will share the recipe?
  • Crepes, crepes, crepes. Brit's berry sauce recipe and Thells's lemon custard recipe, I may need. Though the standard Parmesan chicken with Boursin and raspberry jam is always delicious, spiced nuts with pear and goat cheese is pretty amazing.
  • Crack cupcakes (really pumpkin, chocolate baby cupcakes that you can't stop eating) from the Major Baker.
  • German Chocolate Cake Balls--mmm, mmm, mmm. CC, we need to have a tasting of various flavor combinations and then rate them all!
  • Reheated sausage and egg, from A, mixed with golden pancakes for a delicious new take on pigs in a blanket.
  • As a kid, I hated meatloaf, but when HK (doesn't that kind of feel like a combination of Harry Potter and JK Rowling?) stopped by with baked potatoes, green beans, and mini-meatloaves (almost a deconstructed shepherd's pie), both Miss B and I couldn't get enough! Long after there were exclamations of it's goodness.
  • Pizza, Pizza.
  • Oatmeal, pumpkin, chocolate chip cookies (another Major creation of doom--and by doom I mean I cannot stop eating them) and milk.
  • Pineapple.
  • Shakespearean in it's flavor pedigree, but simple in its ingredients--gorgeous, perfectly seasoned Asparagus with moist, flavorful chicken. And a berry pie. Perfectly, lusciously delicious and filling--not too fancy, but perfection in every bite.
So there you have it, a week and a half worth of food to fill the tummy and warm the soul of a recuperating, slightly vertigo-troubled individual who truly appreciates those who have brightened her recovery with their gifts. Thank you!

P.S. Please, if you can, post recipes--I think everyone deserves to revel in the splendor of this glorious "Bounty!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Around the Web in Foodie Posts: Randomness

My favorites from the past few weeks:
ETA: Sorry, I have been MIA of late. I'm working on it.