Friday, August 14, 2009

More on Local Farmers, Local Food

One More Weekday Market to Try...If you are in the Ballantyne area then you’ll want to check out the Meeting Street Market at Cedar Walk open Tuesday afternoons from 4 pm to dusk. This market is tucked in the Cedar Walk community at the intersection of Marvin and Ardrey Kell roads. Look for a dozen or so vendors to be there each week with a variety of local fare.

Eating Local at Harvest Moon Grille
Many of you, like me, are big fans of our friends at Grateful Growers, artisan pork producers extraordinaire. As if selling wonderful pork at almost every farmers market in town – and several retail establishments to boot - wasn’t enough, now Grateful Growers is treating Charlotte to a taste of what eating local really means.

The newly found Harvest Moon Grille is the brainchild of Cassie Parsons and Natalie Veres, owners of Grateful Growers. The bright orange concession cart, is a mobile kitchen which features "to go" meals made from fresh locally grown food products. It is stationed at the Charlotte Regional Farmers' Market on Saturdays for breakfast and lunch. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it serves lunch and occasionally breakfast at the Center City Green Market set up at the corner of Trade and Tryon street, offering fresh local fare to Charlotte's Uptown crowd.

Breakfast and lunch menus change from week to week. I’ve sampled fabulous melt-in-your-mouth pirogies, veggie sandwiches and meatballs subs as well as a blueberry crepe and lighter-than-air egg and cheese biscuit the one or two times I have made the Harvest Moon Grille my after-market dining destination. The flavors are fabulous but the best part is that every ingredient has local roots – local eggs, locally baked bread, local goat cheese, local veggies and of course, local pork.

Stop by to try Harvest Moon soon – Cassie will be out front to take your order and be sure to say hello to my friend LynnErin Tyler who is usually cooking at the grill! You can keep up with weekly menu changes and exact Harvest Moon Grille locations on the Grateful Growers Website by clicking here

More Recipes as Heidi Cooks Up A Storm
Two recipes this week and one link to another – In honor of Grateful Growers, a fat-full favorite from my Bacon, Bacon, Bacon cooking class at Reid’s Fine Foods a couple of weeks ago.

The concept of Chicken Fried Bacon isn’t a new one, but I put my own spin on it with my favorite fried chicken breading, a version of a recipe I got from author and culinary personality, Chef Jeff Henderson when I interviewed him while he was visiting Charlotte last year.

I call my recipe Chicken Fried Bacon, Oh My! because everyone who tastes the finished product just smiles and says, “Oh, my!!”
In cooking class I served the breaded and fried bacon with a homemade Ranch dressing but it is good dipped in barbecue sauce, blue cheese dressing or all on its own.

The link is to one of my favorite recipes for my Stuffed and Braised Pork Chops – using Grateful Growers pork, of course! Its a wondeful crowd pleaser and one that is easy to prepare ahead of time. I shared my recipe with Cassie and Natalie and now it finds itself on the GG website. Click here to see it in print.

Finally, something for those of you who want more summer produce – an quick and easy summer succotash using all that grows great in Charlotte in the summer – fresh limas, fresh corn, fresh herbs and fresh tomatoes – it just doesn’t get any finer in Carolina than this – Enjoy!!

Heidi's Chicken-fried bacon, oh my!
3 cups self-rising flour
3 Tbsp. corn starch
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. fine ground sea salt
4 Tbsp. Goya brand Adobe seasoning (or you can use a mix of equal parts garlic powder and onion powder)
1/2 quart buttermilk
2 pounds Grateful Growers bacon
Vegetable or canola oil for frying

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, cornstarch and seasonings. Reserve 1 cup of plain flour. Place both flour mixes on two large, flat baking dishes.
Pour buttermilk in a separate large baking dish.
Dip each bacon strip first in plain flour, then in buttermilk, then in the seasoned flour. Set the bacon aside on a wire cake rack for a few minutes to allow the flour to absorb some of the buttermilk to form a good coating.
Heat a good inch of vegetable or canola oil in a large frying pan (or in a deep fryer) until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees or insert a dry wooden spoon in the oil and wait until little bubbles start to form around the edges of the wood – this is exactly as if a piece of food were frying and indicates that the oil is hot enough to proceed .
Fry the bacon, a few strips at a time (you don't want to crowd the pan or fryer), until the strips are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Drain the bacon on a rack. Continue until all of the bacon is fried.
Serve the bacon warm (do allow it to cool a few minutes before serving as the hot bacon can burn). Oh my…..


1 1/2 pounds baby lima beans, shelled,
4 large ears corn, kernels cut from cob
2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh minced thyme or summer savory leaves
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Cook beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon or strainer, transfer beans to colander; Drain. Toss with raw corn kernels. Return beans and corn to same saucepan. Mix in tomato, Italian parsley, thyme and extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Warm before serving.

Eat Local

Fresh locally grown produce in Charlotte North Carolina is in its prime and ripe for the picking. And now with more midweek markets popping up all over town - you don't just have to wait for Saturday morning.
This week look for locally grown cukes and 'maters as well as beans and peas, figs, peppers and eggplant, too. And you can still find local blueberries and peaches, so enjoy!

Local farmers from Charlotte and surrounds come to
set up stands every Saturday morning at the Yorkmont
Road Regional Farmers Market
, open February-October
8 am-5 pm. The market is also open with commercial
produce, craft and flower vendors weekdays, Tuesday-
Friday, 8am-5 pm and on Sundays from May-August.
For more information visit

The Matthews Community Farmers Market hosts
local farmers with farms within a 50 mile radius of
Matthews. Open from 7:15 am until noon every
Saturday, from mid-April to November. Winter
Market hours are 8-10 am every other Saturday from
December to March. Farmers from the Matthews market also host the Tuesday Morning market at market at Presbyterian Hospital in Matthews from 10 am to 2 pm every Tuesday through the end of the summer. Take advantage of this great opportunity to find mid-week locally grown produce, meats, flowers, baked goods, candies and more.
Watch for signs on the hospital's Matthews Township Parkway campus. For more info and to sign up for the Matthews Market newsletter, visit www.matthewsfarmersmarket.

Like the Matthews Market, the Charlotte Tailgate
at 100 West Park Avenue, a stones throwaway
From Uptown Charlotte, swears by the mantra that local
food tastes better. Open Saturday mornings and
Tuesday afternoons from mid-April through November,
the Tailgate also sends out a bi-weekly newsletter. For
more info and to get on the tailgates email newsletter list, visit

The Mecklenburg County Market, located at 1515
Harding Place, has been serving the Charlotte area for
more than 60 years. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays
from 7 am to 1 pm, look for fresh grown produce in
season, local crafts and baked goods plus all of Beverly
McLaughlin’s great pre-prepared vegan and vegetarian
soups, entrees and sides. For more information and a
weekly e-newsletter, visit

The Center City Green Market, at the corner of Trade and Tryon in Uptown Charlotte is open on Saturdays, May through September from 8 am-2 pm. and on weekdays from 11 – 3pm. Local produce is available each weekend
from Unity Farms and Creekside Farms. And on weekdays from a variety of vendors. On Saturday look for the freshest of seafood from Mike LaVecchia’s For
more information visit

The Kings Drive Farmers' Market is home to pumpkins
and Christmas trees all sold by the Simpson
family of Union County. But from early April to
October, the corner lot at Kings and Morehead in
Midtown Charlotte is home to a variety of locally grown
produce and more. Open Tuesdays and
Fridays, 7 am- 7 pm. Simpsons also provides the produce for the Presbyterian Hospital Farmers Market at 200 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte’s Historic Elizabeth neighborhood from 11 am to 2pm on Thursday mornings.

On Thursday August 20, I'm excited to be appearing at the weekly farmers' market set up directly in front of Presbyterian Hospital, 200 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte's historic Elizabeth neighborhood. I will be conducting ongoing cooking demonstrations with quick and easy recipes made from local product and all based on the Mediterranean American Diet plan complete with nutrition facts prepared by the wonderful team of nutritionists at Presby's Novant Heart & Wellness Center. My demonstration - complete with complimentary samples - will be from 11 am to 1:30 pm
Take a break over your lunch hour and stop by for free recipes, tasty samples, a schedule of upcoming cooking classes and more. Hope to see you there!!

The Davidson Farmers Market began as a grassroots effort by several citizens of the college town of Davidson in 2007. The market offers locally
grown fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses produced
by sustainable or organic methods when
possible. Other agriculturally based products such as
breads, flowers and soaps are also offered from time to
time. Located next to the Davidson Town Hall between
Main and Jackson streets, the Davidson Market is open
from 8 am to noon, Saturdays from May through
November. Winter market dates and times are 9-11 am
every other Saturday. Visit

If you would rather the locally grown produce and
product, including beef, pork, chicken and eggs came
to you, then join any one of the local food clubs or
farm co-ops now available to area locavores. Know
Your Farms in Davidson
is a great place to start. This
local food club provides individuals and families with
access to locally produced food all year round.
Members place orders for food from participating
farms. The food is collected from the farms and
dropped at central distribution locations for members
to pick up. It really is as simple as that. Pricing includes
the option to go and actually work on a participating
farm one Saturday each quarter. For more information
or to sign up for membership online visit

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Post of a Brand New Food Blog - Hors D'oeuvres, Anyone?

Well, for starters (as that is what an hors d'oeuvre really is) it's been nearly a year since I've had a weekly venue to talk to readers about restaurants and food in Charlotte, North Carolina and her surrounds. I have absolutely loved spending the past year writing in the beautiful bimonthly publication, Charlotte Living Magazine. While I will continue to write my Very Culinary section as well as other features for the magazine, this blog will enable me to chat with readers each week, sharing restaurant notes and recipes as well as information on upcoming cooking classes I am teaching in the Charlotte area.

To read my work in Charlotte Living, visit the magazine's website at The current issue is on the home pages, while you can access the archives to see what I've been up to earlier this year.
Here is just a taste:

In the January/February issue, you'll find my articles on great places to eat and stay while visiting Martha's Vineyard, MA (pg. 72-75) ( We just got back several weeks ago and my recommendations are still spot on!); Amelie's French Bakery in Charlotte's NoDa neighborhood (pg. 97); Copper Indian Restaurant in the Dilworth neighborhood (pg. 98) and Chima Brazilian Grill in Uptown Charlotte (pg. 101).
If you love to cook as well as to eat out - turn to my article entitled Ciao, Baby! for fun recipes for cooking your own fabulous Italian fare at home (pg.94-96).

In the March/April issue, my food and restaurant section took on a new name, Very Culinary and articles include features on Chef Adam Reed at Sante Restaurant in downtown Mathews, NC (pg. 92-93); area farmers' markets and cooking locally grown greens (pg. 94-99); and my first WineKnow column on my favorite Aussie winemaking team - Sarah and Sparky Marquis of MollyDooker.

The May/June issue features Southern Favorites such as Charlotte's historic McNinch House Restaurant in Uptown's Fourth Ward neighborhood (pg. 82); a fun and flavorful article on making your own pimento cheese (pg. 86); and a profile of Charlotte caterer Beverly McLaughlin in The Farmers' Daughter Goes Gourmet (pg. 90). In this issue's WineKnow column (pg. 92), I talk to five local wine reps for a list of cool wines to sip this summer.

Be sure to check out the current July/August issue, on newsstands and up online now, for Very Culinary articles on Becoming a Gelato Junkie at Birkdale's Cafe Mia in Huntersville; on five fine Italian eateries in Charlotte, all owned by restaurateur, Augusto Conte; and one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in town - Wan Fu and the talented chef that makes the restaurant one of note - Chef Chan Tran. In this issue you'll also find an inspiring chef's profile of Chef Jeff Henderson of Food Network Fame. This month's WineKnow? A two day road trip up to North Carolina's wine country in the Yadkin Valley with stops at five of my favorite NC wineries.

If all this reading about food and restaurants has whet your appetite, why not treat yourself to this season's bevy of fresh grown herbs and whip up a batch of pesto to toss on your pasta or to use for a great little starter spread a top a slice of french bread, topped with fresh locally grown tomato and a slice of mozzarella cheese. My favorite recipe follows...

Heidi's Classic Pesto Genovese

Those of you who make pesto on a regular basis may notice that my recipe has no garlic. That is because without the garlic, I have found you can really taste to full flavor of the delicate herbs - Enjoy!

1 packed cup fresh Italian basil leaves
½-3/4 cup of pine nuts or pignola
1 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
½-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the basil, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the basil and the nuts are both finely chopped. Add in the shredded cheese. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Thicker pestos work better as spreads or toppings and thinner pestos are best used as sauces on pasta and risotto or as a “dressing” for roasted potato salad or chicken salad.

Pesto variations:

Basil Pistachio Pesto: Substitute pistachios for the pine nuts for a slightly stronger but exceptional flavor profile.
Mint pesto: Substitute mint leaves for basil and almonds for pine nuts. Served with grilled lamb chops
Sage pesto: Substitute sage leaves for basil and cashews or pecans for pine nuts. Served with grilled or roasted turkey or chicken.
Sun-dried tomato pesto: Add ¼ cup of oil-soaked and drained sun-dried tomatoes to original recipe. Great on pastas or smeared on hot toasted bread.