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.