Friday, December 25, 2009


As seen on Heidi's appearance on WBTV, Saturday morning Dec 26, 2009

For the dough:
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. Salt
½ cup melted butter
½ cup warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 eggs
4 cups unbleached flour
For the cinnamon roll filling:
melted butter
cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar
For the Danish filling:
1 6 ox block cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
Your favorite jam or fruit spread

For the dough: Dissolve yeast in warm water with one teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and when a foam forms on the surface it is ready. If no foam appears within five minutes, then either your water wa too hat or your yeast was old. Start again with cooler water and another package of yeast.
Once the yeast starts to foam or proof, combine it with the other dough ingredients to form a soft but sticky dough.
Let rise 1 hour. Turn out onto a floured worksurface. Knead until smooth then roll dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick.
For cinnamon rolls: generously spread the dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugars and cinnamon. Roll up like a jelly roll. Cut the log of dough into 1 ½ inch thick slices. Place the slices in a buttered pan, cut side up. Drizzle with additional melted butter
Cover with a dish towel and let rise an additional 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 23-30 minutes.
For Danish: combine cream cheese, egg and ugar and beat until smooth. Spread the filling down the center of the dough rectangle. Top with your favorite jam or fruit spread. Cut small slits along either side of the dough so that the dough on either side of the filling will resemble fringe. Starting from one end, fold the “fringe” pieces up and over the filling to encase the cream cheese and jam.
Place the finished Danish on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a dish towel and let rise an additional 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 23-30 minutes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Potato Pancakes or Latkes

Recipe from Heidi Billotto

As seen on Saturday morning Dec 12, 2009 on WBTV Morning News Show

10 medium potatoes – russet potatoes work the best
2 medium onions (optional)
2-3 large eggs
¼ cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for frying

Peel the potatoes and keep them in cold water. Alternately grate the onions and potatoes into a big bowl (this is easily done in the processor and is a lot easier on the fingertips!) Blend the potato mixture with the flour and eggs, salt and pepper.
Heat one inch of oil in the bottom of a large frying pan. Drop one to two tablespoons of the potato mix into the hot fat and fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on several thicknesses of paper towels. Serve warm topped with applesauce, sour cream or smoked salmon.

Variations on the theme –
• Use sweet potatoes instead of Russet potatoes
• For a great hors d’oeuvre any time of the year: Shape potatoes into fingers – fry until browned, drain, wrap with bacon and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until bacon until crisp and browned.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Around the Thanksgiving Table

With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, you may be feeling down to the wire. If you have waited until the 11th hour, the likelihood is great that even as you read this you have assorted relatives hovering around you in the kitchen wondering out loud what they can do to help; and perhaps, wondering to themselves, just what they are going to eat at your big family feast.

But don’t worry, you are not alone and to help ease the tension about the food part of it all – sorry I can offer no help with the hovering relatives – I share with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and turkey tips.

I'll begin by answering a couple of those last minute pressing questions:

How big a bird should I buy?

Most turkeys you’ll find in the Charlotte market, either fresh of frozen, will weigh in between 10-14 pounds. For turkeys under 12 pounds, allow three-quarters of a pound to one pound of uncooked turkey per person; for a turkey over 12 pounds, allow a half pound to three-quarters of a pound uncooked weight per person.

Safest way to defrost a turkey?

The experts recommend refrigerator thawing. Thaw the bird still in its original wrapper, breast side up on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow at least one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey. Thawing turkeys or any other poultry, for that matter, at room temperature allows bacterial growth and is not recommended.

If you are short on time and need a quicker defrosting method, submerge the frozen bird in a big bucket or large cooler of cold water – if you can spare the space, your kitchen sink will also work well. Thaw the bird breast side down in its unopened wrapper in enough cold water to cover. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the surface of the bird cold. Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound.

To eliminate the messing defrosting process altogether, In Charlotte, order a fresh conventional or organic free-range Thanksgiving turkey or an already prepared one from the meat department at Reid’s Fine Foods by calling 704.377.1312.

How to carve a turkey like a real pilgrim:

Allow the hot roasted, fried or smoked bird to rest 15-20 minutes before carving. Then, begin by cutting the band of skin holding the drumsticks. Grasp the end of each drumstick, one a time, Place the knife between the leg quarter (drumstick and thigh) and the body of the bird and cut through the skin to the joint. Remove the entire leg by pulling out and back, using the point of the knife to cut through the joint cartilage. Separate the drumstick and thigh joint in the same way, remembering that a carving knife cannot cut through bones but will easily cut through the cartilage which connects the bones. Slice the dark meat off of the thigh and drumstick bones.

To slice the breast meat, insert a fork in the upper wind to steady the turkey. Make long horizontal cut above the wing joint through to the body frame. The wing may be removed from the body if it makes it easier for you to slice.

Slice straight down with an even stroke, beginning halfway up the breast, When the knife reaches the cut above the wing joint, the slice will fall free.

Continue to slice breast meat starting the cut at a higher point each time. To help make carving easier, use a straight and sharpened knife.

And now, on to recipes for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast with your family and friends...

Perfect Holiday Roast Turkey

Once the turkey is defrosted, remove the giblets and neck from inside the neck and body cavities of the bird. Rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry inside and out. If you are not baking your stuffing inside of your bird, you can add one to two quartered oranges, apples or onions to the inside of the bird along with several sprigs of fresh thyme and/or sage or rosemary leaves to add more flavor.

Season the bird inside and out with sea salt and black pepper or to spice things up a bit, use McCormick's brand Hot Shot Pepper Blend, available in Reid's spice section, in place of standard cracked black pepper. You may also rub the outside of the bird with ground thyme or sage leaves or a bit of Bell's brand turkey seasoning.

Instead of using a roasting rack, slice 4-5 whole onions into thick slices and line the bottom of your roasting pan. Place your bird, breast side up on the "rack" of thick sliced onions. Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and roast in a preheated 325 degree oven according to the following time table, which is also available at the meat department at Reid's.

Please note that times are for an unstuffed turkey, for stuffed turkeys of the same weight, add to the total cooking time by 15 to 30 minutes.

8-12 lbs 2 3/4 to 3 hours of roasting time

12-14 lbs. 3 to 3 1/2 hours of roasting time

18-20 lbs. 4 to 4 1/4 hours of roasting time

20 and up 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours of roasting time

During the last 15 minutes or so of roasting time, uncover the turkey and allow to brown nicely on the top. To insure that the meat is done, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone. The thermometer should register 160 degrees for a fully cooked bird.

We’ll start the recipes for holiday sides with the stuffing, which can be baked in or out of the turkey. If you are baking the stuffing inside of your turkey, know that the roasting time will be slightly longer - see the turkey timetable above. Baking the stuffing, or dressing, inside the turkey yields a soft moist stuffing, while baking it in a pan apart from the turkey gives you a drier stuffing with a crisper crust.

No matter which type of stuffing you decide to make for this year’s holiday, remember not to stuff hot, just cooked dressing into a cold turkey. First, let the stuffing cool. The temperature difference between the hot stuffing and the cold bird makes a breeding ground for bacteria and it’s always good rule of thumb not to give your family salmonella poisoning for the holidays.

Also, don’t keep cooked stuffing in the cavity of a cooked turkey. As soon as the meal is over, remove the stuffing from the turkey and refrigerate it in a separate container from the carcass and the rest of the uncarved bird.

4 1/2 Tbsp. butter

5 ribs of celery, chopped

3 onions, chopped

1 1/2 pounds of hot or mild Italian pork or chicken sausage, squeezed out of the casings

10 cups crumbled french bread

10 oz. dried apricots, diced

5 Bosc pears (or Granny Smith or McIntosh apples), peeled, cored and chopped

2 Tbsp. dried sage leaves (or an equivalent amount of Bell’s Turkey Seasoning)

salt and pepper to taste

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth

Saute the chopped celery and onions in the melted butter. When the vegetables are limp, add the sausage and continue to cook until the sausage has browned. Blend the cooked sausage mixture in a large bowl with the other stuffing ingredients. Blend well. Bake in the turkey or in two 13- by 9-inch buttered baking pans. Cover the pans with foil and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 20 minutes, uncover and bake 10 minutes more to brown.

This next recipe takes the same taste of the sausage stuffing and recreates it in a fun holiday season slider - a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving leftover spread or as an hors d'oeuvre at this year's holiday party

Holiday Sausage Sliders
Makes 25 bite-sized sliders

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp. dried sage leaves
1 lb. Grateful Growers’ breakfast sausage
25 small potato rolls ( recipe follows) or fresh baked biscuits

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan until aromatic. Add celery onions and sage. Sauté until onions are slightly browned. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. Add uncooked Grateful Growers Breakfast Sausage and blend well to mix. Divide the pork into 20-25 small patties, pan fry in a nonstick saucepan or grill in a grillpan until nicely browned on both sides. Transfer to a bun or biscuit and serve hot.

Potato Rolls

1 cup mashed potatoes
¾ cup Crisco
½ cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. yeast, dissolved in ½ cup water
1 cup sifted bread flour

5 ½ cups sifted bread flour

Mix first 8 ingredients together, blend well and allow to rise. When raised slightly, add the remaining bread flour. Knead lightly but mix thoroughly; dough should be light and airy. Allow to rise again until doubled in size. Rollout to about ¾ inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place in a baking pan and let rise until double again. Brush lightly with melted butter, Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown.


2 cups rolled oats

4 cups boiling water

2 Tbsp. yeast

1 cup warm water

1 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. butter

11-12 cups flour

Combine oats and boiling water in a large bowl. Let stand 20 minutes. Proof yeast in warm water. Add to oat mixture.

Add molasses, salt, butter and flour. Knead until smooth. Let rise until doubled,1 to 1 1/2 hours. Pat dough down, roll out 1 1/2-2 inches thick. Cut into rounds. Place side by side in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake 20 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven. For loaves of bread, bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees.


4 cups chicken or turkey broth

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, quartered

1 turkey neck bone (found inside the cavity of the raw bird)

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

pan drippings from roasted turkey

optional – turkey heart and giblets (also found inside the cavity of the raw bird), sautéed till brown in butter or extra virgin olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic salt, then chopped

Combine the chicken or turkey broth in a saucepan with the carrot, onion and turkey neck bone. Bring the mix to

a boil and then simmer for an hour or so. Strain the vegetables from the broth. Discard the vegetables. Remove

the turkey neck from the broth and pick the meat off the neck bone. Add the meat to the broth. In another saucepan,

heat the butter until melted, add the flour and stir a minute or two to cook the flour into the melted butter and

form a roux. Pour the cooked chicken or turkey broth into the pan with the roux and stir until slightly thickened.

Add pan drippings and cooked giblets and neck meat, if desired. Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.


3 cups mashed sweet potatoes

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (optional)

Mix the sweet potatoes, sugar, milk, vanilla, eggs and one half cup of melted butter together in a mixing bowl.

Spoon this mix into a casserole dish. Combine the remaining butter with the brown sugar, flour and chopped nuts.

Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato mixture. Scatter the marshmallows on top. Bake in a preheated 350-degree

oven for 25 minutes. If the marshmallows brown too quickly, lightly cover the casserole with foil.

Cranberry Chutney

1 (12 ounces) bag fresh cranberries

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

Combine cranberries, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and cumin

Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently. Adjust seasonings to suit your tastes adding a bit of salt and pepper or more nutmeg, cinnamon or cumin. Serve along side sliced turkey and all the trimmings.

For a great holiday season appetizer, fill phyllo dough shells ( with cream cheese then top with the chutney and tiny sprig of fresh mint.


1 (12 oz.) package couscous
1 ¾ cup water

1 package More than Gourmet vegetable demi-glace, available in Charlotte at the meat counter at Reid's Fine Foods
Sea salt and McCormicks Hot Shot pepper blend to taste
3 Tbsp. walnut, almond or hazelnut-infused oil
1 tsp. lemon juice

zest of one lemon
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3-1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Dissolve the demi-glace in water and bring to a boil. Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Season with salt and pepper. While the couscous is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over medium heat just until they begin to brown slightly. Immediately take them off the heat and out of the pan or they will burn. Hold until the couscous has finished cooking. Meanwhile, rinse and finely chop the mint leaves. When the couscous has finished cooking, fluff the grains with a fork as you transfer it to a serving bowl. Add the oil and the lemon juice. Stir well to coat all the grains. Add the cranberries, pine nuts and mint leaves. Stir to combine all the ingredients and serve.

Another great little pick up or you can serve these as an unusual dessert-either way this next recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy cranberries....

Cranberries with Black Pepper, Balsamic Vinegar and Mascarpone Cream

1 (12 oz) bag cranberries, picked and then coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Orange juice concentrate, defrosted but not diluted
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

For Mascarpone cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (or whipped cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar

Toss the chopped cranberries with the sugar, oj concentrate, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Put the berries and all of their juices into a saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 8 to 10 minutes,stirring occasionally, until the juices are bubbling and the cranberries are hot but not mushy. Meanwhile prepare marcapone cream by combining all ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate.
To serve: Divide cranberries among individual dishes or tart shells, top with mascarpone cream and serve warm.


TURKEY AND CRANBERRY PANINI – a great sandwich for day-after Thanksgiving leftovers!
For two sandwiches

2 ciabatta or foccacia rolls or 4 thick slices Italian bread
4 Tbsp. homemade or canned whole berry cranberry sauce
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. Urban Accents Spanish smoked seasoned salt (available in the spice section at Reid's)
1 packed cup fresh baby spinach leaves
2 slices red onion
8 ounces sliced turkey
2 slices Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
3 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil

Cut rolls in half lengthwise. Stir cranberry sauce and mayonnaise in small bowl until well mixed.
For each sandwich, spread cut surfaces of roll or one side of each slice of bread with cranberry mayonnaise mixture. Place half of the spinach, an onion slice, 4 ounces of turkey and a slice of cheese on bottom half of roll. Place top of roll on sandwich and flatten. Brush both sides of sandwiches with olive oil or butter.
Heat sandwiches in Panini press according to manufacturer's directions. Or heat sandwiches in a large nonstick Berndes skillet or grill pan over medium high heat just as you would cook a grilled cheese sandwich. To simulate the Panini press, place a heavy pan skillet or bacon press (available in the gadget section at Reid’s) on top of the sandwich as it browns in the pan and cook for a total 10 minutes, turning once or until sandwich is toasted and hot throughout.



1 and one half cups diced, peeled pumpkin or butternut squash, roasted then cubed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced OR 3 tsp. garlic paste
1 shallot, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry OR 1 lb. fresh spinach, chopped
2 diced Granny Smith or Macintosh apples
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh minced or dried sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add garlic and shallot, sauté until soft. Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated. Stir in one quarter of the stock and cook, stirring constantly, until almost all of that stock is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock, adding it about 1 ½ cups or so at a time.
The risotto should have a creamy consistency and the rice grains should be tender after about 20 minutes,
Add the spinach, pumpkin or butternut squash and apples to the risotto. Blend well. Stir in the Parmesan and minced sage leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Cooking Class info plus Heidi's recipes from the Annual Reid's Open House, held Sunday November 8, 2009

Let’s get ready to Mingle and Jingle with Fabulous line-up of fun and informative holiday cooking classes at Reid’s Fine Foods - you won't want to miss a single one!
All classes, taught by Charlotte Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto, now feature locally raised beef from Proffitt Family Farms and locally raised pork from Grateful Growers

All of our classes listed below are in a Demonstration-Style Format. Advance reservations are a must. Click on the link below each class descriptive for easy online registration.
Cost $40 each, unless otherwise noted

Sat. Nov 14, 11 am-2:30 pm - Mediterranean - American Diet Cooking for the Holidays - Cost $40
Take the fear ( and the fat) out of eating this holiday season with our restructured recipes for all of your holiday favorites, including: Faux-tato latkes, herb and citrus stuffed Cornish game hens (this recipe is good for turkey and Grateful Growers pork chops, too), sweet potato or butternut squash risotto with lean Proffitt Family Farms beef and a low fat version of my favorite streusel topped pumpkin cheesecake. Nutrition facts prepared for us by the nutritionists at Presbyterian's Novant Heart & Wellness.
Visit for easy online registration

Sun. Nov 15, 1-4 pm – Do-Ahead Holiday Hors D'oeuvres - cost $40
All new recipes this season to help make your holiday féte the best party in town. Today recipes are all dishes you can do head and freeze for easy reheating just before the guest arrive.
Visit for easy online registration
This class is now full – please try another hors d’oeuvre class or go online to register to put your name on the waiting list for this class

Sat. Nov 21, 11 am-2:30 pm - Easy Cheesy Holiday Hors d'oeuvres - Cost $40 Who doesn’t love creamy, melted, warm, soft cheese? The perfect way to start any party, this class of dips, spreads and sauces for mini sandwiches and other appetizers really take the cake!
Visit for easy online registration

Sat. Dec 5, 11 am-2:30 pm - Last Minute Holiday Hors D'oeuvres - Cost $40 Wait its not too late! You can still throw together a fabulous holiday spread with a little help from this great assortment of quick and easy recipes for many of your holiday party favorites.
Visit for easy online registration

Your cooking class at Reid's includes Free parking in the Seventh Street Station deck, a packet of recipes complete with wine notes, generous samples of everything our cooking class instructor Heidi Billotto prepares, fabulous wine parings, a ten-percent discount on anything you purchase and special offerings for class participants at every class. As always, Reid's own Margaret Barry and Josh Villapando will pair wines with each dish served at every class.


Holiday Sausage Sliders
Makes 25 bite-sized sliders

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp. dried sage leaves
1 lb. Grateful Growers’ breakfast sausage
25 small rolls or biscuits

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan until aromatic. Add celery on ions and sage. Sauté until onions are slightly browned. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. Add uncooked Grateful Growers Breakfast Sausage and blend well to mix. Divide the pork into 20-25 small patties, pan fry in a nonstick saucepan or grill in a grillpan until nicely browned on both sides. Transfer to a bun or biscuit and serve hot.

Very Beefy Proffitt Family Farms Chili
Serves 6-8
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 lbs. Proffitt Family Farms ground beef (or for a chunkier chili - beef chuck cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
½ yellow sweet onion, minced
½ green pepper, chopped
2-3 tsp. garlic paste ( more to taste)
1 1/2 cups (approximately) beef broth
1 1/2 cups beer
3-4 Tbsp. chili powder (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. ground cumin (or to taste)
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
3-4 Tbsp. tomato paste in a tube
1 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
Sea Salt and Hotshot Pepper Blend to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot and sauté onion, green pepper and garlic till golden brown. Meanwhile, brown the Proffitt Family Farms beef in a bit of olive oil in a large nonstick fry pan in batches, without overcrowding the pan. When each batch of beef is almost completely browned, transfer to the stockpot. Add broth, beer, chili powder, cumin, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, reduce to simmer and cook about 30 minutes to one hour, adding more broth or a little water if the chili seems too thick. Add red kidney beans if you would like. Stir to heat through. Season to taste with sea salt and Hot Shot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cooking Up A Storm for November and December 2009

Whew! So much happening in Charlotte this time of year. Can you believe it's already November?

Reid's Annual open house is this Sunday Nov 8 - you are, of course, invited to attend and only need to make your reservation by visiting I'll be there, back near the meat department with Shelley Proffitt from Proffitt Family Farms and Cassie Parsons from Grateful Growers - two great local farmers, Cooking Up A Storm, turning Proffitt Family Farms' ground beef into thick, rich, hearty chili and Grateful Growers' tasty breakfast sausage into fabulous little holiday sausage sliders - free samples and recipes for all!!

While the tredy circa 1050s cook to the right is not me, my cooking classes, both at home and at Reid's Fine Foods continue to be great fun and I'd love to have you join in the fun! Now that we've taken the turn into holiday fare you'll want to make your reservations early as holiday classes historically fill up fast.

This week I'm teaching my very first holiday hors d'oeuvre class Thursday morning in my At Home with Heidi series and then THIS Saturday at Reid's Fine Foods, we're planning a Mexican Fiesta - To make reservations for my Thursday morning At Home with Heidi class email me at - to make reservations for the Reid's Mexican Fiesta class this Saturday - click here -you won't want to miss out on either event.

In need of a little (or a lot ) of holiday catering?

My husband Tom Billotto and I are your one-stop shopping in terms of providing food and mood so you'll be able to mingle and jingle and totally enjoy your upcoming holiday soiree -

As far as live music goes, Tom Billotto will provide the very finest you will find. Besides his normal repertoire of Classical, Jazz Standards, James Taylor, Beatles, Chet Atkins, etc., he has an extensive holiday music repertoire, as well, and can perform solo or in various duo/trio combinations with several of Charlotte's finest musicians. Check it all out and listen to audio samples at

And for the good eats - I hope you'll keep me and my catering services in mind. My staff and I handle it all from soup to nuts, so you won't have to worry about a thing.

From a swanky cocktail buffet of heavy hors d'oeuvres to a casual gathering of friends or office associates to an intimate seated dinner party - we've got you covered and are happy to provide menus that suit any given budget.

Email at and let's get your date on the calendar!

Or if you've a mind to do it yourself, but need a little help - why not plan a private cooking class at your home or mine, or give the gift of a class to your favorite gourmet or gourmand. I've got cute holiday gift certificates perfect for stocking stuffing, presenting at the first Hannukah candle lighting or tucking under the tree - just give me a call and your holiday shopping woes will be over!

Hope to see you all Cooking Up A Storm soon,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eat Local - Cook Local - Three great new cooking classes this weekend!

Its a little known fact that on Monday October 12, 2009, Christopher Columbus ( who had the day off due to the national holiday named in his honor) interviewed the locals and discovered that Heidi Billotto is teaching three different cooking classes this week - all featuring locally grown and raised produce plus Proffitt Family Farms grass fed beef from Kings Mountain, NC and Grateful Growers' pork from Denver, NC.
Read on for the amazing details and a great seasonal recipe at the end of the post...

Tuesday October 13 - A Classic Steak House Dinner at Home
6 to 9 pm

For this class the focus is on a meal just like the big steakhouses made but I'll show do it all at home. Recipes include from-scratch blue cheese dressing; creamed local spinach; killer scalloped potatoes with local spuds, and a braised garlic steak spread plus all the basics of cooking a steak - we'll do fillets, ribeyes, t-bone and a New York Strip all locally raised from Proffitt Family Farms - and then, for dessert- classic chocolate souffle. Wine parings for each course offered by Christine Ruotolo for EJ Gallo.

The class will take place in Heidi's south Charlotte kitchen. Class size for this hands-on experience is limited. Cost is $50 per person

We still have room and would love for you to join us - to make your reservation email Heidi now at or call 704.341.4891

Then, this weekend at Reid's Fine Foods, you'll find Heidi cooking again. Class topics include - FALL HARVEST DINNER FOR FOUR ON SATURDAY

Sat. Oct 17 - Fall Harvest Dinner for Four
11 am-2:30pm

Eat Local, this class is Heidi's fall season's version of our summer's fresh from the farmers' Market class. Won't include a market tour this time of year, but we'll cook with local product available at Reids as well as items Heidi will purchase early that day from local markets. Recipes include a yummy pumpkin or butternut soup; a kale and white bean soup with local tomatoes and a local goat cheese crostini on the side; braised Proffitt Family Farms short ribs prepared a la osso bucco and apple brined Grateful Growers pork chops with a local muscadine sauce. Delish!! Cost $40

Sun. Oct 18 - Pork 101
1-4 pm

Another back to basics presentation with great recipes and big time flavors and a focus on locally raised pork from our friends at Grateful Growers. We'll braise pork shanks in a rich tomato sauce, sear crusted pork tenderloin, sauté or grill bacon topped burgers and bake tender stuffed chops plus have a couple of other surprises including a guest appearance from Cassie Parsons of Grateful Growers Farms! A class you won't want to miss! Cost $40

Both classes include wine pairings, recipes and wine notes, FREE parking in the Seventh Street deck, generous samples and a same day 10% shopping discount.

To register for either of these classes at Reid's Fine Foods this weekend, simply click here for easy online registration.

More classes coming soon...

More At Home with Heidi Cooking Classes:

Tuesday October 20 - Oktoberfest on the Grill

Thursday October 22 -
Food and Wine of Spain
10:30 am-1:30-2pm

Tuesday October 27
Fall Harvest Dinner for Four

Tuesday November 10
Cutting Up in the Kitchen - a class of knife skills

For menu details or to make reservations for any At Home with Heidi classes, email Heidi at

HEIDI IS ALSO COOKING UP A STORM AT REID'S FINE FOODS: click here to register for any of these classes

Saturday Oct 24 - Chocoholics Unite
11 am-2:30 pm

Saturday November 7 - A Mexican Fiesta
11 am-2:30 pm

Saturday November 14 - Mediterranean-American Diet for the Holidays
11 am-2 pm

Sunday November 15 - Do Ahead Holiday Hors D'ouevres
1-4 pm

Click Here to see Heidi's complete fall and holiday schedule at Reids

As the weather begin to turn a bit and cooler climes enter into the forcast, here is a great comfort food recipe for my favorite French Onion Soup - we made this one in last weeks French Cooking Class at Reid's - always a winner!!! Enjoy!

3 medium onions, thin sliced
1-2 cloves garlic
5 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar ( not needed if you ar eusing sweet onions)
6 cups beef or chicken broth or half of each
1 cup dry white wine ( I suggest Tariquet ungi blanc/colombard blend)
a bouquet garni
½ cup Tawny Port
1/3 cup heavy cream or fat free half and half (optional)

For finish and gratinee:
1 baguette of French bread
1 cup grated swiss cheese ( Emmenthaler is always good)

Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender. During the last five minutes stir in the sugar. Add the stock and wine and bouquet garni. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Add Port and creamer.
Pour soup into individual ramekins. Top each with a slice of the baguette. Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese. Run under the broiler until the cheese melts

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Not-So-Short List of Great Places to go out to Eat in Charlotte a great-on-the-grill recipe if you'd rather do-it-yourself

Hey there - Looking for some place to go out to eat in Charlotte? The Queen City has no shortage of wonderful places from fine dining to casual dinners - here is my short list for Sunday September 27...

First two great wine dinners tonight and two of our favorite little places, both in the Dilworth/South End area -
The Pewter Rose Bistro is featuring the wines of Pietro and Vertex (the wine maker also makes her own sea salts and olive oils!) The dinner begins at 6 pm; cost is $45 per person. For menu specifics, more info and to make reservations call 704-332-8149.

Dolce Ristorante a fun Italian wine dinner featuring some of the newest pours on Dolce's wine list. Dinner begins at 6 pm; cost is $35 per person. Call 704-332-7525 for reservations and details.

Then, check out my two restaurant features in the newest issue of Charlotte Living Magazine - I've spotlighted Terra, a charming little French Bistro in the heart of Charlotte Eastover neighborhood and Passion 8 Bistro, with an eclectic Italian/Mediterranean based menu feature locally grown and produced produce and product. Passion 8 is on Highway 51 just over the state line in Fort Mill, SC.

If you are looking to go Uptown don't miss some spectacular finds, all chef driven, with a great range of flavor on the menu. Lots of these places offer specials during the week and on weekends, too - so don't stay away cause you think it will be too pricey!
One of Charlotte's front runners on the local fare scene will always remain one of my favorites - Sonoma, located in the Bank of America Corporate Center is always fabulous place for beautifully prepared American cuisine. Also fun and tasty, too is Sonoma's sister restaurant, Pie Town , down on Trade Street across from Johnson & Wales, offering more casual menu items in the guise of a creative assortment of hand tossed pizza.

For more fine American cuisine with a french bistro/brasserie sort of feel there is Ratcliffe on the Green owned by Chef Mark Hibbs and don't forget about Mimosa Grill and Zink - two of the Harper's Group that also includes Upstream at Phillips Place near Southpark. Upstream, along with the Pewter Rose, is one of my favorite places for Sunday brunching.

For Italian fare in the Uptown area you can't miss ith Luce and her sister restaurant Coco Osteria, both located in the Hearst Tower Courtyard and both featured in my Very Culinary section of the July/August issue of Charlotte Living in an article on owner Augusto Conte.

Wanting to "Thai" one on with a little Asian flavor? - The food and atmosphere at one of Uptown's newest places, Thai Basil will blow you away. There orginal restaurant is in Charleston and everyone who has been to both places loves having this great new spot in Charlotte, too. Also great choices for Thai food here are the new Deejai on Providence Road next to the Manor Theatre and another old favorite Thai Orchid at the corner of Providence and Sardis roads in the Strawberry Hills shopping center.

Getting back to Uptown dining spots, just for fun, you could take the train and get off at the Epicenter. Here you will find a myriad of dining spots that include the much touted Mez. If you are wanting to do "dinner and a show" you can even eat while you watch a movie as Mez is connected to the Epicenter theatres.In this open air shopping and dining pavillion you will also find the new Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.

Speaking of the theatre, Providence Cafe, located on Perrin Place in Myers Park, is running a great theatre special right now - as I am sure many other places plan to do in conjunction with the Blumenthal performance of A Chorus Line. At Providence Cafe they are offering a theater dinner menu for two priced at just $39.95!

Other Charlotte favorites to remember and eat at often include a visit to Charlotte's original restaurant row on Montford Drive right off Park Road. The resurgance here includes Andrew Blair's ( now featuring the talent of Charlotte Chef Blake Hartwick); Brazwells Gastro Pub ( in the old Press Box location but with all new redone interiors) and Good Food, a fabulous new tapas-style restaurant from owner/chef Kerry Moffitt, brother to chef Bruce Moffitt, owner/chef of Barrington's on Fairveiw Road. Barrington's is another Charlotte classic go-to on my list of dining- out faves.

In that same vein, take any dining-out opportunity you can to eat at Lulu's in Plaza Midwood and across town same goes for Bonterra in SouthEnd is another don't miss dining out option for fine American cuisine as is its sister restaurant Las Ramblas ( Spanish and tapas) on Park Road in Dilworth.

In the Elizaeth neighborhood, don't forget about Customshop and Carpe Diem, both on the newly redone and NOW OPEN Elizabeth Avenue. After almost a year of construction, Elizabeth Ave - between "Presby" Hospital and CPCC is now open and parking for both of these places and all the other establishments along the way ( including NoFo on Liz, 1900 Mexican Grill and the Visulite Theatre) is a breeze!

Now after all of that, if you'd rather just stay home and cook dinner yourself - here is a great fall recipe for dinner on the grill, featuring a fine steak (try locaaly raised Proffit Family Farms or Baucoms Beef - both available at local Satruday morning farmers markets) or side of wild salmon (yum!)

Bistecca or Salmon alla Fiorentina

4 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped and minced
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, stripped and minced
1 (2 1/2 pound) choice or prime porterhouse steak or wild salmon filet
3 Tbsp. Tuscan olive oil
Moist, grey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
6 lemon wedges or lemon juice

Press chopped rosemary onto both sides of porterhouse steak and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Rub rosemary and olive oil into the meat; allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Start an outdoor grill using hardwood charcoal, such as hickory. When coals are white and glowing, arrange for high heat.
Season steak to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Place steak onto grill, and cook until a dark, golden brown (not burnt) crust forms, 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of meat. Turn over, and continue cooking until golden on the other side, 5 to 10 minutes more.
The salmon will cook in approximately half the time of the beef – use the 10 minute rule for perfectly moist but cooked salmon,
Bistecca is generally served rare to medium rare. If you would like your steak more well done, just cook it a few minutes more. When finished, place steak onto a platter, squeeze lemon juice over all. Rest for 6-8 minutes, then slice and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Roundup and Recipes from the 2009 Southern Shows Kitchen and Bath Show Cooking Stage

I had the great pleasure this year to kick off the month of September Cooking Up A Storm as I hosted a group of talented culinary friends chefs and caterers here in Charlotte at the annual Southern Shows Kitchen and Bath Show, held at The Park on Independence Blvd. ( formally The Merchandise Mart), August 28-30, 2009.

The folks at Cambria provided a fabulous kitchen arena and over the course of three days, twelve different talented Charlotte chefs joined me in presenting on-the-hour demos preparing recipes and offering samples of lots of good eats from homemade mozzarella to from-scratch gelato.

Copies of the recipes flew fast and furious and so I've posted them all here for your culinary convenience along with some photos from the show and links to each of the chefs, restaurants or caterers.

Note: It's a lengthy post, but will be well worth your time to scroll through it all.
Here are the chefs, restaurants and recipes you will find featured in this post, in their order of appearances at the show -

Chef Chris Coleman, The McNinch House - Seared NC Grouper and Grateful Growers Pork wrapped in Prosciutto and Greens

Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto - Pickled Shrimp Salad, Lemon Mousse with Locally Grown berries, Herb Butter Sauce, Fried Green Tomatoes With Black Olive and Artichoke Pesto, Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

Chef Greg Thompson, Morton's The Steakhouse - Morton’s Mini Prime Cheeseburgers

Beverly McLaughlin, Beverly's Gourmet Foods - Black Bean Burgers and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Chefs Geoff Bragg and Luke DeBisschop from The Pewter Rose Bistro - The Pewter's Shrimp and Grits and Roast Pork Loin with Sweet Potato Mash

Tiz Benson and Anita Stack, Tizzerts Custom Cakery

Marco and Mia Ventura, Cafe Mia - Peach Sorbetta and Zabaione Gelato

Chef Luca Annunziata, Jessica Annunziata and Executive Sous Chef Josh Keilman, Passion 8 Bistro - Homemade Mozzarella and from scratch pasta with sauce alla Luca

Instant Organic Garden, Don Rosenberg and private Chef Silje Grayston for Organic Creations - Bruschetta Two Ways

Tulsi Pai, Soma Indian Grille - Chole or Channa Masala (Chickpea Masala)

Be sure to mark your calendars for next year's show when we do it all over again, but in the meantime....

Chef Chris Coleman, The McNinch House Restaurant
Chef Chris Coleman from Charlotte's Historic McNinch House kicked off the show on Friday with a great recipe for Seared NC Grouper with a Tomato and Bread Salad and then wowed the crowds again on Sunday afternoon at shows end with a recipes for locally raised Grateful Growers Pork wrapped in Prosciutto and Greens, served with a Potato and Cremini Ragout.
The McNinch House is a true Charlotte treasure. Since 1988, Chef and owner Ellen Davis has created a culinary experience of a highly choreographed seven-course dinner by reservations only in elegant Victorian surrounding reminiscent of the leisurely, evening-long meals of that era. You can read more about the McNinch House in an article I wrote in the May/June 2009 issue of Charlotte Living Magazine.

Charlotte born and raised Executive Chef Chris Coleman, a graduate of the culinary program at CPCC has been a part of the McNinch House team for quite some time now. These two recipes are quite typically of the fare he creates each evening from the McNinch House kitchen. For more information or reservations, please contact the McNinch House at 704-332-6259 or via email at

Seared NC Grouper with a Tomato and Bread Salad
By Chef Chris Coleman
Serves 4

2 tomatoes, cored, peeled, sliced into thin wedges
1 small red onion, peeled, sliced thinly and rinsed
1/4 cup olives, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil, washed, sliced thinly
1 T capers, drained and rinsed
1 small head frisee, washed, tender leaves only (optional) zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups crusty bread, cubed
1-2 T olive oil

4 6 oz. Red Grouper filets ,or other firm fish such as Snapper, Flounder, or Black Bass, preferably from the Carolina Coast
1-2 T olive oil
2 T butter

1/2 glass of white wine (drink the other half!) juice of 1 lemon
2 T butter, room temp.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large, non-reactive bowl (stainless steel or plastic), combine tomato, red onion, olives, basil, capers, and frisee (if using), and set aside. Toss bread with olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Spread over a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven til golden, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil til shimmering in a non-stick pan, large enough to hold all the fish without crowding. Once oil is hot, add the butter and heat til lightly browned. Place fish in pan and cook til golden brown without disturbing. Flip fish and cook through. Remove from the pan. If fish becomes to brown before it is done, transfer it to a baking sheet or glass pan and cook through in the oven. Fish should be hot in the middle, but not dry.

Add the white wine to the pan in which you cooked the fish to deglaze. Reduce til almost dry (au sec), add the lemon juice, and swirl in the butter to emulsify. Toss the bread with the salad and pour in the pan sauce. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide salad between four serving plates, and top each with a piece of fish. Serve immediately.

Grateful Growers Pork wrapped in Prosciutto and Greens, served with a Potato and Cremini Ragout
By Chef Chris Coleman
Serves 4

2 pork tenderloins, preferably from Grateful Growers Farm in Denver, NC
6 thin slices prosciutto
6-8 large leaves of kale, collards, Swiss chard, or other green, washed, and large veins removed
2 T Dijon mustard

4 T butter
1 shallot, peeled, minced
3 potatoes, washed, peeled, and diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, washed, diced
16 oz. mushroom or vegetable stock
8 oz. pork, veal, or beef stock or (low-sodium) broth

1 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 glass of red wine
2-3 T Dijon
2 T butter, room temp.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper the pork loin. On a cutting board or flat work surface, lay out 3 slices of prosciutto side by side, overlapping edges slightly. Repeat with other 3 slices of prosciutto, creating two large rectangles of prosciutto. Blanch the greens for 2 minutes to soften, and remove to ice water to cool. Remove from water and dry on work towels or paper towels. Place leaves on prosciutto side by side, overlapping slightly. Trim edges of greens to maintain rectangular shape. Rub pork loins with mustard and lay 1 loin horizontally across the bottom of each prosciutto-greens rectangle. Rolling towards the top of the rectangle, wrap each tenderloin completely in prosciutto and greens. Set aside.

Heat butter in large pan and saute shallots til shimmering. Add potatoes and cook til slightly browned. Add mushrooms and cook til juices have been released and re-absorbed. Add mushroom and meat stocks and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook til potatoes and mushrooms have absorbed most of liquid, and are beginning to look glazed and sticky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large, oven-proof pan, heat a splash of olive oil. Add pork loins and cook all sides til prosciutto becomes browned and crispy. Place pan in oven and cook pork til medium (about 145 F internal temp.), 5-10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place pork on a plate or rimmed cutting board. Allow pork to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Add shallots to pan and cook til shimmering. Add red wine and deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Add mustard and reduce slightly, then stir in butter and any juices from pork resting plate.

Divide ragout between four plates. Slice pork on a bias (diagonally) and fan out over ragout. Spoon sauce around plate and serve.

Heidi Billotto, Charlotte Living Magazine
I offered three individual cooking demos over the course of the show concentrating on local fare and my trademark easy but elegant recipes. Aside from writing this blog and bimonthly restaurant food and wine features in Charlotte Living Magazine I also teach several series of ongoing cooking classes here in the Queen City. For more info and the complete schedule on my classes at Reid's Fine Foods in uptown Charlotte, click here. For more info about private classes,or about my hands-on At Home with Heidi classes, contact me directly at

In addition to preparing the pesto and bruschetta recipes I offered on these pages in my first post, I also made a lemon mousse with local berries, fried green tomatoes, an herb butter sauce with grilled chicken and a zippy very southern pickled shrimp salad. Perhaps on of the most requested recipes of the weekend was for the blueberry cobbler I prepared on a television spot on Saturday morning on WBTV's Morning Show - you'll find that recipe included here as well.

By Heidi Billotto

3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Hot Shot black and red pepper blend (by McCormick's)
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 tsp. mustard seeds, crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
½ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds (24 to 30) large shrimp, peeled and boiled
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 lemon, sliced thin
¼ cup minced fresh dill or parsley leaves, or to taste

In a bowl combine vinegar, pepper and salt, sugar, mustard, red pepper flakes, the mustard, coriander and fennel seeds, garlic and bay leaf Whisk in olive oil. Add onion and the lemon, and finally the shrimp. Allow mix to marinate, covered and chilled, stirring occasionally, for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. Stir in the minced dill or parsley.
Serve as is or skewer shrimp with chunks of avocado, mango or a grape tomato.

By Heidi Billotto

¾ cup butter
½ cup sugar
Zest of two lemons
½ cup lemon juice
6 eggs (or an equivalent amount of egg substitute)
2 cups heavy cream
Combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a saucepan over medium heat till warm and melted. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Temper eggs with butter mix then return to the pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until thick. Cool to make lemon curd. Whip cream. Fold whipped cream into cooled curd to make mouse. Spoon mouse into stemmed glasses and top with fresh berries.

By Heidi Billotto

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
3 tsp. garlic paste
2-3 sprigs Italian parsley, minced,
2-3 sprigs fresh tarragon, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 firm but ripe tomato, seeded and chopped, optional
2 Tbsp. tomato paste, optional
¾ cup chicken, vegetable or seafood broth
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup white wine
1 1/2 sticks butter
Sea salt and Hot Shot to taste
4-5 large basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade

Sauté shallot and half of the garlic in olive oil until shallot is soft add minced herbs, tomato, tomato paste as well as broth, Bring to a boil, then reduce and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes to infuse the herbs flavor into the broth. Remove from heat and allow to steep 10 minutes or so. Return to heat and add cream. Bring to a boil and cook to reduce the volume slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time. Season to taste. Just before serving stir in basil. Serve over a sauteed seafood fillet or steak or over a piece of baked or grilled chicken

Recipe by Heidi Billotto

2 cups whole pitted black olives, drained
1 cup pine nuts
1 ½ cups Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp. garlic paste)
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves
Dash or two of Hot Shot pepper blend
¼ -1/2 cup olive oil

3-4 green tomatoes – (ripe but firm tomatoes work well, too!)
Eggbeaters (or any brand of pasteurized egg substitute)
Panko crumbs
Canola Oil for frying

Make the pesto by combining all of the ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop fine. Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube with the machine running until the mixture has formed a smooth paste. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until needed.

For the tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes into thick slices. Dip each slice first in flour then in Egg Beaters and finally in the Panko crumbs. Allow the coated tomatoes to rest on a wire rack for a minute or two. Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan using the “wooden spoon” test method.* When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes taking care not to over-crowd the pan. Fry on both sides until nicely browned. Drain on several thicknesses of paper towels and serve topped with the black olive pesto and garnished with a basil leaf.

*Heidi’s Wooden Spoon hot oil test – When heating oils in a pan for frying, place a clean dry wooded spoon or spatula in the oil as it heats. When little bubbles start to from around the edge of the wood it is your indication that the oil is hot enough to fry the food.
This is an important test because if you put cold food into cold oil and allow them to heat up together, the food will only absorb the oil and take on a greasy texture.

Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2-½ cups fresh blueberries
2 cups self rising flour
1-½ cups sugar
2 cups milk or half-and-half

Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a baking pan and top with sliced fruit. Combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk or half-and-half just until the mix is combined and sugar is dissolved. Pour the batter over the fruit and butter but do not stir.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold with ice cream, whipped cream or as is. This basic recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a large and hungry crowd.

Tasty variations on the theme –
substitute sliced peaches, sliced strawberries or a mix of sliced apples and pears for the blueberries or instead use a mix of fresh summer fruit.
If you are craving a taste of chocolate in your cobbler, substitute 3-4 sliced bananas for the berries and add in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips – delish!

Chef Greg Thompson, Morton's The Steakhouse
For showgoers who were asking, "where's the beef?" Charlotte Morton's Chef Greg Thompson delivered all of the answers. In addition he prepared the tasty cheeseburger sliders available on Morton's new bar menu.
Morton's new cookbook was also on sale. Morton’s The Cookbook: 100 Steakhouse Recipes For Every Kitchen, is choke full of wonderful recipes from the Morton’s menu, wine and spirit pairing notes and drink recipes as well as fabulous color photos, is now available in bookstores, online and in every Morton’s, The Steakhouse location. A portion of the proceeds of each $32.50 sale goes directly to Feeding America.

For Charlotte reservations at Morton's or to purchase a copy of the cookbook visit Morton’s The Steakhouse Uptown at 227 West Trade Street; call 704.333.2602 or visit

Morton’s Mini Prime Cheeseburgers

2 Pounds Ground Sirloin
6 Tablespoons Tomato Juice
2 Large eggs
1 ½ Teaspoons salt
½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 Mini hamburger buns or small, soft dinner rolls, each about 2 1/2
Inches in diameter, split in half
6 Ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices about the size of the burgers
12 Leaves iceberg lettuce, each about 1 inch larger than the buns
12 Slices plum or other ripe tomato, about the same size as the burgers
12 Slices red onion, each about 1/8 inch thick
Ketchup for serving
Mustard for serving

Preheat the broiler. Position the broiler tray about 2 inches from the heat source.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sirloin, tomato juice, eggs, salt, and pepper.
Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly but gently. Divide
The meat into 12 equal portions and form into hamburger patties.

Remove the broiler tray from the broiler and arrange the buns, cut side
Down, on the tray. Toast the buns under the broiler for about 30
Seconds on each side, or until lightly browned. Be careful that the
Buns do not get too browned. Remove the buns and reserve.

Arrange the burgers on the broiler tray and broil for 3 to 3 ½ minutes.
Turn over and broil for 3 to 3 ½ minutes longer for medium. Lay the
cheese on top of the burgers during the last 1 ½ minutes of cooking.
(For medium-rare, broil the hamburgers for 2 ½ to 3 minutes on each
side; for well done, broil for about 4 minutes on each side).

Put the cheeseburgers on the buns and garnish each with lettuce, tomato,
and onion. Secure with a toothpick, if it makes serving easier. Serve the
cheeseburgers with ketchup and mustard on the side.

Note: Morton's uses ground sirloin with an 80:20 ratio of lean beef to fat. Try to find similar ratio for the juiciest burgers.

Beverly McLaughlin, Beverly's Gourmet Foods
Beverly’s Gourmet Foods features a line of made-from-scratch vegetarian and vegan foods made from variations of many of Beverly's family recipes. Beverly sells her goods in a refrigerated case next to her dad’s beautiful array of fresh produce at the Mecklenburg County Market, at Reid's Fine Foods and at The Home Economist. Her recipes for butternut squash lasagna and black bean burgers will help to take you right from summer into fall and even the most carnivorous of your friends won't complain about a lack of flavor. Beverly demonstrated and sampled both of these recipes at the show firt on Friday and then again on Saturday. For more about Beverly and her business check out my feature in the May/June 2009 issue of Charlotte Living Magazine.

For more information about Beverly McLaughlin’s market specials or to receive her weekly email menu visit her website at or contact her at the Mecklenburg County Market, 1515 Harding Place, Charlotte NC or via email at

Black Bean Burgers
By Beverly's Gourmet Foods

2 Cans black beans drained
1 small bunch cilantro chopped
1 4oz. can Serrano chilies drained
2 fresh Serrano chilies chopped
1 small green pepper diced
1 1/2 Tbs. coriander
1 1/2 Tbs. cumin
1 small purple onion.
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
salt to taste
cornmeal if needed to thicken the mixture.
Olive oil for frying the patties

Mash one can of drained beans or pulse in food processor combine with the other drained can of beans. Combine all other ingredients in large mixing bowl, mix well. Form patties and fry in olive oil for 5 - 7 minutes on each side until a brown outer edge forms.
Serve over arugula topped with heirloom tomatoes and feta cheese. The mixture freezes well.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
By Beverly's Gourmet Foods

1 Medium butternut squash roasted
1 large onion caramelized
1 8oz package mushrooms sauteed
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 pint ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
1 cup heavy cream
Olive oil for frying onions, mushrooms, and roasting butternut squash
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (add seasonings to the tomatoes; 1 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 cloves pressed garlic.)
salt and pepper to taste

9 x 13 pan
Roast butternut
Slice butternut squash in half vertically. Remove all seeds and strings from inner cavity. Place on an oiled baking sheet fleshy side down and bake for 45 min. at 350. Some butter nut squash take longer to cook. Press down on the flesh of the skin to check for softness in the butternut. You will know it is finished cooking when the entire butternut is soft. Let cool and remove the skin from the outside. Puree the butternut with 1/3 cup of heavy cream.
Sautee onions in olive oil until brown, this usually takes 10 - 15 minutes.
Sautee mushrooms in olive oil until they are slightly softened, 5 minutes
Mix 2/3 cup heavy cream with ricotta cheese

1/2 tomato sauce on bottom of pan
layer of noodles
layer of butternut squash
layer of fresh basil
layer of onions
layer of mushrooms
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese sprinkled
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese sprinkled
layer of noodles
Other half of tomato sauce mixture
layer of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

Bake at 350 for 30 - 45 min.

Chefs Geoff Bragg and Luke DeBisschop from The Pewter Rose Bistro
The Pewter Rose, has been a front runner in Charlotte serving friends, family and guests for over 20 years, first in Uptown Charlote and now in Charlotte's South End/Dilworth neighborhoods, at 1820 South Blvd., just off the intersection of South and East boulevards. The restaurant occupies the second floor of a turn-of-the-century textile warehouse. Its original massive wood beams and soaring 30-foot ceilings, flanked front and back by walls of French paned glass provide a unique home for this popular Charlotte dining spot.
Chefs Bragg, DeBisschop and the rest of the Pewter's culinary staff offer menus that are "Internationally-American" drawing on the diverse, ethnic and cultural heritage of the United States - relating it to the palate of the region. Local produce, fresh seafood, poultry, beef, pork, game meats, and vegetarian items are all interpreted in unique yet "comfortable" ways. The extensive wine list of over 200 selections is an evolving work of love by owner Susie Peck.
For more information or to make reservations visit or call 704-332-8148

Shrimp and Grits
From the Pewter Rose Bistro

1 lb shrimp
1/2 lb tasso
1/2 lb Andouille
2 red peppers, diced
1 red onions, diced
1/2 leek, diced
1/2 Tbs garlic
1 Tbs blackening spice ( recipe follows)
1 c vegetable or chicken stock
2 c heavy cream

Rub shrimp with blackening spice; sear shrimp in high heat pan lightly coated with oil. Remove shrimp from pan; add a little more oil to the pan, add onions and saute lightly,
add garlic and leeks and saute lightly; add peppers, andouille, and tasso, saute for 1 minute.
Deglaze the pan with stock, then add cream. Once the cream is reduced by half, add blackened shrimp and finish reducing sauce. Serve over creamy stone ground grits!

Blackening Seasoning

2 c smoked paprika
1 c granulated garlic
1 c granulated onion
1 c cumin
1 c chili powder
1 c black pepper
½ c white pepper
¼ c cayenne pepper
¼ c crushed red pepper
1 c salt
1 c thyme, dried
1 c oregano, dried

Roast Pork Loin with Apple Beet Chutney and Sweet Potato Mash
From The Pewter Rose Bistro
Serves 12

Sweet potato mash

12 medium sweet potatoes
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
¾ cup whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

Roast sweet potatoes with the skin on in a 350 degree oven until done, between 35-40 minutes. After done cut a vertical slit in the skin and scrape out insides. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mash using a wisk.

Apple Beet Chutney

5 beets
4 granny smith apples
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup of port
2 tbsp whole, cold butter
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and trim beets. Simmer beets in hot water for 2 hours, or until fork tender. In the meantime, peel apples and cut into ¼ inch dice. Remove beets from water and peel off the skin using a paper towel. Cut beets into ¼ inch dice. Preheat sauté pan until hot. Coat bottom of the pan using a minimum amount of oil. Quickly sauté the apples. Deglaze with the port. Reduce until alcohol is cooked off. Fold in beets, whole butter and fresh thyme. Remove from heat.

Roast Pork Loin

1 3-4 lb. pork loin
3 tbsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp fresh tarragon
1 tbsp minced garlic
¼ cup oil

Preheat sauté pan. When the pan begins to smoke add oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Sear fat side down until brown. Flip pork and sear until brown. Remove from pan. Combine the tarragon, thyme and garlic. Rub onto the top of the pork loin. Place on baking sheet with rack. Roast until 135 degrees, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Place sweet potato mash on plate. Fan 3 slices of roast pork loin onto sweet potatoes. Top with a spoonful of chutney and port reduction.

Tiz Benson and Anita Stack, TIZZERTS CUSTOM CAKERY
Tiz Benson and Anita Stack from Tizzerts Custom Cakery offered three cake decorating demos during the course of the show, one each day.

In less that an hour they showed how to assemble and decorate a three tiered wedding cake and then allowed the crowd to share in the tasty results.
For more information on Tizzerts fabulous array of custom cakes, cupcakes and bar cookies visit their fabulous new website at or call 704-375-7400.

Marco and Mia Ventura, CAFE MIA

Whats cake without the ice cream? To satisfy our craving for a cool and creamy frozen confection Marco and Mia Ventura owners of Cafe Mia came to the rescue. While the Charlotte area has lots of popular ice cream shops, one of the most unique places in town is an Italian gelaterie called Café Mia, in Huntersville’s Birkdale Village, serving coffees, panini and sandwiches, muffins, cupcakes homemade chocolates and the star of the show - dozens of fabulous flavors of fresh homemade gelato.
At the show Marco and Mia shared these two fabulous gelato recipes easily prepared at home.
If you'd rather just buy it from the pros, Café Mia hand packs gelato-to-go in special Styrofoam containers designed to keep your purchase cold and frozen for as long as an hour or two till you can get it home and get it safely in the freezer. They also cater bringing gelato service to you and your special event. Up to eight flavors of gelato, enough to serve 25 gelato junkies, delivered with cups, spoons and napkins starts at just $75. An optional gelato server can be provided pon request at a cost of $25 per hour.

They also make beautiful and tasty gelato cakes upon request and special order. Call 704.892.3116 for more info or to recieve Cafe Mia's monthly newsletter,

To read more about gelato in general and Cafe Mia in particular, check out "Gelato Junkie" an article I wrote in the July/August issue of Charlotte Living Magazine

Makes about 1 Quart (1 Liter)
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 pounds peaches
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lightly beaten egg white*
* may substitute powdered egg whites reconstituted by following
package instructions.
1. In a small heavy saucepan heat sugar and water, stirring until sugar is
dissolved. Let syrup cool.
2. Peel and pit peaches and puree in a food processor until smooth.
3. Transfer 2 cups purée to a bowl and stir in syrup and lemon juice.
4. Chill peach mixture until cold, up to 1 day.
5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, about 3 hours, then freeze it in
your gelato or ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes about 1 Quart (1 Liter)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 to 8 tablespoons imported dry Marsala
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Whisk yolks and sugar in medium bowl until thick, about 2 minutes.
2. Heat milk and cream in medium saucepan over medium heat until mixture
bubbles at edges.
3. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to saucepan.
4. Stir over medium heat until custard leaves path on back of spoon when finger
is drawn across and temperature registers 170°F, about 6 minutes.
5. Immediately pour custard through sieve set over another medium bowl. Stir
Marsala and vanilla into custard.
6. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, about 3 hours, then freeze it in
your gelato or ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Chefs Luca Annunziata and Josh Keilman, PASSION 8 BISTRO
What is your passion in life? If food and wine rank among the list, then a visit across state lines for lunch or dinner at Passion 8 Bistro is definitely in order.
Owners Luca and Jessica Annunziata, chef and proprietress respectively, have a passion for the restaurant business in general and local food and local farmers in particular and their expertise shows.

In two different demonstrations at the show, Luca and Josh wowed crowds with the following recipes for stuffed homemade mozzarella turned into a caprese salad and fabulous homemade pasta with a sauce of Grateful Growers' ground sausage and locally grown eggplant. For more about Passion 8 Bistro read Perfectly Passion-8, one of my Very Culinary articles in the new issue of Charlotte Living Magazine, visit or call 803-803-7455.

From Passion 8 Bistro

You will need liquid cheese-making rennet and citric acid. The citric acid is usually easy to find. In the summer it is sold in many grocery stores in the canning-supplies section. It comes in small jars for a few dollars. You can also find it at some drugstores but it will be more expensive, about $5.00 for the same amount. Liquid rennet is sold by the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. There are many other companies that sell cheese making suplies and rennet is sold in supermarkets in some parts of the country.
3 teaspoons of citric acid
2 1/2 gallons milk
3/4 teaspoon liquid rennet
Dissolve the citric acid in 1/2 cup cool water and add to the milk. Warm the milk to 88 degrees and add the rennet mixed with 1/4 cup water. Stir gently for about a minute then let sit for 15 minutes for the curd to form.
Using a stainless steel knife, cut the curd into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Cut across the top from side to side and then cut through the curd at an angle to slice the columns of curd into smaller chunks.
Set the pot into a basin or sink full of hot water and slowly raise the temperature of the milk to 98 degrees while stirring the curd gently for 15 minutes, cutting any large pieces up with your spoon. Continue to stir the curd for 20 minutes longer
Line a large colander with butter muslin and slowly pour the curds and whey into it. It is a good idea to save the draining whey for making ricotta cheese, adding to soups, or feeding to pets or chickens. Allow the curds to drain for 15 minutes then tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang over the sink to continue draining for another 5-10 minutes or until the dripping has stopped.

OR, you can purchase mozzarella curd directly from Passion 8 Bistro and start the recipe from this point…..
Cut the mass of curd into 1/2 inch slices and cut the slices into strips. Put about 1/4 of the curd strips into a microwave-safe bowl and zap it until the curds start to melt and get gooey. Remove the cheese (it is now cheese!) from the microwave and, wearing rubber gloves because this stuff is hot, begin pulling it like taffy. Keep working the cheese until it is smooth and shiny then form it into a ball and put the ball in salty iced water. Keep doing this with the rest of the curds until you have 4 balls of cheese in the cold water. The cheese is ready to eat as soon as it is completely cool.
Mozzarella cheese freezes beautifully and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Once you taste this home-made delight, you will never be able to eat the plastic kind again.

FRESH PASTA…There’s Nothing Like It!
From Passion 8 Bistro

5 cups of flour (whole wheat or all purpose)
4 egg yolks
Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
tsp. salt
½ cup warm water
Make a Tuscan Hilltop with your flour. Make a hole at the top (like a volcano). Add yolks to the center, salt, and oil. Begin to incorporate the surrounding flour. As need to moisten add water and work with your hands until dough consistency starts.

For The Siciliana Sauce
1 onion
2 cans of San Marzano Tomato
4 Sweet Gratedul Growers' Italian Sausages
Fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Small Eggplant

In saucepan heat oil until hot. Add cubed eggplant and sauté until crispy. Remove from pan when done. Add sausage to the same pan and cook until brown. Add onions. Cook until translucent. Finish with tomato and cook together about 20 minutes on a low simmer. Finish sauce with fresh basil and eggplant. YUMMM…

How Does Your Kitchen Garden Grow?
Instant Organic Garden, Don Rosenberg and private Chef Silje Grayston for Organic Creation
No matter if you are already into home gardening or if you would like to be, Don Rosenburg is your man. The creator of Instant Organic Garden, Don can help you help yourself to fresh grown veggies right in your own back yard. For more info or to buy Don's newly published book, call him at 704-364-1784 or visit his website at
While Don talked about gardening at the show, private chef Silje Grayston of Organic Creation cooked using home grown veggies and showing showgoers how to make delicious crunchy brushetta from start to finish. For more info on Silje's cooking classes or private chef services contact her at 704-999-4637

Bruschetta with two toppings
By Silje Grayston

For the Bruschetta:

1 Baguette or similar artisan bread (ciabatta works great too!)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves

Mince the garlic and blend with the olive oil. You can use a hand blender, mortar and pestle or a fork.
Slice the baguette into 1\2 an inch thick slices.
Brush each slice with the olive oil and garlic mixture.
Bake the slices in the oven 400F until crisp. Then set aside.

Tomato/basil topping:

1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1\2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Crumbled goat cheese.

Rinse the cherry tomatoes, cut in 4 wedges and place in a bowl.
Roughly chop basil and add to tomatoes
Mix together olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add to tomatoes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put about a tbsp of tomato topping onto each slice of bruschetta. Top with some crumbled goat cheese
Serve at room temperature

Grilled vegetables:

3 units of vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, squash, asparagus, peppers, tomato or other – be creative!)
Parmesan cheese
Fresh herbs
Salt and Pepper
Garlic oil (as made for the bruschetta)

For this purpose we will use yellow squash, zucchini and eggplant. Thinly slice them the long way.
Prepare your grilling device (a grill pan, a bbq grill, or an aluminum foil covered baking sheet/rack).
Before grilling, gently brush the vegetable slices with the garlic oil front and back, and place on the grill. Add salt and pepper to the vegetables as desired.
Grill until the vegetables are tender and have started getting some black marks from the grill on both sides.
Cut the grilled vegetables into smaller pieces and gently mix them together in a bowl.
Put a few vegetable pieces on top of each bruschetta. Top with a slice of shaved parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
Serve at room temperature or warm.

Tulsi Pai, Soma Indian Grill Indian Bistro
Tucked into the Matthews Festival Shopping Center, Soma Grill Indian Bistro is a small, mom-and-pop bistro that offers homemade dishes created from cherished family recipes. While the owners’ from-scratch style complements our Southern traditions, their fare is central and South Indian at its best.

The menu at Soma, owned by husband-and-wife team Girish and Tulsi Pai, offers high-quality, healthy Indian cuisine that’s moderately priced and always served with a smile. The restaurant’s casual interior offers comfortable, family-style dining. The recipes Tulsi demonstrated on Sunday at the show has become one my husband Tom's and my favorite Indian dishes.

Chana ( or chickpea) Masala
Like most Indian food, this is even more flavorful when prepared a day or two in advance.

2 cups Chickpeas, soaked overnight OR Use 2 (15.5 ounce) cans of garbanzo beans washed and drained
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped finely
2 Tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1-2 Chana masala powder (recipe follows)
½ tsp kashmiri garam masala powder (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp chili powder (or as per taste)
pinch of turmeric
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
few finely chopped tsp of onions and sprigs of cilantro for garnish

If using soaked chickpeas, Cook the chickpeas for 1 hour until soft, along with a pinch of turmeric. Otherwise just use the canned chickpeas. Set it aside.
Saute mustard seeds and cumin seeds in hot oil till they start to sizzle and pop. Add onions and green chilies, and fry till tender.
Add in tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, cumin-coriander powder, chana masala powder, salt, garam masala, and spices. Cook till the mixture starts to give out oil from the sides.
Stir in about a cup of water, allow it to come to a boil, and then add chickpeas. Let simmer covered for a few minutes till chickpeas are soft and tender to the touch.
Garnish with fresh coriander and a sprinkle of lemon juice.
Serve hot over a mix of basmati and Jasmine rice garnished with onions and cilantro.

Notes: Amchur powder is made from dried green mangoes and is available at Indian grocery stores. You may delete it from the recipe if unavailable to you.

Indian Spice Blends
If you would rather not make your own, all of these blends are available at Indian grocery stores in a ready to use format

Garam Masala
2 (2-inch_ cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 tap. whole black peppercorns
4 black cardamom pods (use only the seeds)
5 whole green cardamom pods
Add a pinch of nutmeg and ground mace

Chana Masala Powder
½ cup ground cumin
½ cup ground coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. ground pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp. mango powder (Amchur)
1 Tbsp. ground black cardamom seeds
1 Tbsp. dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground asafoetida
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground mace
1 Tbsp. ground black salt
1 tsp. ground turmeric

Dhana- jeera powder (coriander/ cumin powder)
2 parts coriander seeds
1 part cumin seeds

Roast the seeds. Grind in a coffee mill until you have a pwder. Store it in a glass container.

Kashmiri Garam MasalaRoast and grind:
½ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup black cumin seeds (shahjeera)
¼ cup whole black pepper
2 Tbsp. green cardamom seeds
1 tsp saffron threads

Add to the above mixture:
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. ground mace
1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg

Gridiron Great - Game Day Tailgating

Fall means football and whether you follow the NFL or your favorite college team tailgating, the partying trend that combines beer, parking lots and great food is a fabulous way to entertain. With the Panther’s first home game today, I thought it appropriate to post about game day food and the art of tailgating.
You can tailgate at the game or if your team is traveling for the weekend, plan a virtual tailgate party, complete with big screen television and lots of friends. With no worries about traffic jams, parking or how to negotiate the port-a-potty, you can really concentrate on the game day theme of it all and pull out all the stops.

The Pregame Playbook
Preparing everything in advance instead of on-site, will give you time to concentrate on all of the Panther paraphernalia that make an ordinary tailgate something special, bringing in team-themed cups and plates, serving pieces, tablecloths and napkins, etc. Look at local party stores as well as the Panther shop at the stadium for great accoutremonts; and this time of year gift shops and big box stores all stock football-themed serving dishes, so be sure to include a few of those in your tailgate spread as well.
If the game is televised and your party is a virtual tailgate at home, you’ll have a wider variety of cooking options, but it will still be the accoutrements that make the game a gridiron great. Go to the nearest Lowes or Home Depot and buy a length of Astroturf to use for your table cloth or to cover the bar. Paper products will make clean up easier or you can use the real thing, but either way be sure to dress the table in team colors and then do the same with your own game day attire. Heavy duty plastic glasses or coozies for beer or soda cans and bottles can be wrapped in team bumper stickers or tied with team colored ribbons. If you are using small folding tables or bamboo trays to give everyone a laptop table, team pennants make for great placemats and it never hurts to have a television in every room so guests won’t miss a minute of the on field action.

Pass the Pigskin
If you are into ‘cue, Charlotte has no shortage of place to arrange for take out, or if you would rather do it yourself, my Running Back Ribs would be another great do-ahead alternative and make for the perfect game day fare that keep your crew of spectators coming back for more. The recipe here is a basic one - spice them up as you would like with the addition of more hot sauce as the ribs cook or a spicy hot barbecue sauce set up for dipping at your tailgate site. Par boil the ribs the night before to insure their tenderness and then get up early to get them cooking. Keep the racks hot wrapped in foil, then in towels to insulate them and keep them warm. Pack it all up in a insulated “cooler” which will work keeping hot foods hot in the same way it keep cold foods cold.

Burger Blitz and Wild Card Wings
If you are cooking for a small crowd and do want to cook onsite you’ll find many small portable grills on the market Just make sure that you are tailgating in an area where they allow an open flame. If burger blitz is you plan of defense for hungry game day fans, mix it up a bit and grill a combination of meats including beef, turkey and tuna. Shape the ground meat into little patties or sliders so your team tailgate can taste an assortment. Make your own smaller-sized rolls or buy small frozen biscuits from the grocery store, bake them ahead and you are good to go. For ease of preparation after the grilling is done, you can set up a tailgate burger bar like a buffet and let party goers make their own as they go.
Hot wings are another tasty tailgate treat. For the time-honored recipe look no further the label on a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce (I like the Original blend). Many people toss cooked wing in the sauce after the fact, but I prefer to combine one-half cup of Frank’s sauce with one third cup of melted butter and toss it all with 2 pounds of rinsed, split salt-and-pepper seasoned wings before cooking. Place the dressed wings in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. The buttery sauce acts as a braising liquid for the wings as they bake and the results garner rave reviews every time.
For a football fan-atic feast, serve the skewered sate to start, the burgers with all the condiments; grilled paninis and a vegetarian option, ribs and wings with my blue cheese bread, the orzo salad on the side and my easy chocolate chip pecan pie for dessert.

Heidi’s Running Back Ribs

Parboiling liquid:
½ cup fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1/4-inch) slice of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup lime juice
3 cups beer
¼ cup sugar
7 cups chicken broth

4 lbs. beef or pork ribs

Basting sauce:
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark sesame oil
2 (1/4-inch) slices of fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, minced
¼ cup beer
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. hot sauce (more to taste)

Combine the parboiling ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and add the whole racks of ribs. Allow to come back to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes to one hour.
While ribs are simmering, prepare basting sauce by combining the remaining ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil let boil one minutes, remove from heat, reserve.
Remove ribs from the simmering liquid. Place in a roasting pan. Brush the ribs generally with the basting sauce and place under a preheated broiler or forgo the pan and place the rib racks, bone side down on a hot grill. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, basting again with sauce as soon as you turn the ribs.
For chicken: Rinse dark and white meat chicken quarters in cold water and pat dry, then season on both sides with coarse ground sea salt and pepper. Place chicken on a grill over a medium flame, skin side up, boney side down for 8-10 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and grill another 6-8 minutes or until juices run clear when the chicken meat is poked with a skewer. Prepare the barbecue basting sauce as directed for the ribs. Baste the chicken, boney side up, with the sauce and grill and additional five minutes or so. Turn chicken pieces, baste once again, on the skin side, and grill for four to five more minutes before removing from the heat.


1 lb. beef, pork or chicken, cut into long thin strips
For the marinade:
2 tsp. garlic paste
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
For the peanut sauce:
1 cup plain or crunchy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. red chili flakes
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp cumin
1 (¼ inch) slice fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
¼ cup fish sauce
½ cup dark soy sauce
¼ cup minced cilantro or 2 Tbsp. dried cilantro leaves
lemon or lime juice to taste

Combine all marinade ingredients, pour over meat, pork or chicken and let stand at least 30 minutes.
Sate may be grilled on skewers or grilled then skewered. If grilling, skewer and grill 2-3 minutes on each side over a hot flame basting with additional marinade while you cook.
For the peanut sauce; Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and serve warm with hot sate.


1 sweet onion
1 peeled eggplant
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
2 firm but ripe tomatoes
Fresh arugula or baby spinach
Homemade pesto (see recipe)
Mozzarella cheese
Crusty bread

Thick slice vegetables and grill on a grill grid until caramelized. While veggies are grilling make the pesto.
To assemble: Slice bread of rolls for sandwiches. Brush one side of both slices of bread with a generous amount of the pesto. Layer grilled veggies and mozzarella cheese on one slice of bread as desired. Top with the remaining slice, pesto side down. Wrap the sandwich in foil, press down. Place the package on the grill and top with a foil covered brick. Grill 2-4 minutes on each side.


1 lb. orzo, cooked according to package directions
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate, defrosted, but not diluted
3 Tbsp, dried mint leaves
2 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
Zest of one lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
3 green onion, minced
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups baby spinach leaves

Drain orzo and cool completely. Place in a large bowl. Combine lemon juice, orange juice concentrate, mint, oregano, mustard and lemon zest in a separate bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Reserve. Toss minced onions, feta and olives in with the orzo, blending well. Toss with all but one quarter cup of the vinaigrette. Toss the remaining vinaigrette with the chopped tomatoes and baby spinach leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the orzo in a large traveling container or zip lock bag. Place the tomato and spinach mixture in another. When you get to your tailgate sight, combine the packages, tossing well and serve.


Butter or margarine for the pan
1 loaf white bread
4 eggs
1 cup shelled pistachios or pecans, toasted
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese

Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish. Reserve. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and heavy cream. Tear the bread into small pieces. Add to the egg mix. Fold in the blue cheese and toasted nuts. Pour into the buttered casserole dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes

3 cups granulated sugar
pinch salt
7 Tbsps. unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 stick butter, melted
2 generous cups pecan halves
2 unbaked deep dish pie shells

Mix sugar, salt, and cocoa together. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and milk. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add melted butter and stir until well blended. Fill each unbaked pie shell with a cup (or more if you would like) of pecan halves.
Pour the filling into each shell covering the pecans. Bake pies in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Enjoy warm or cold.