Monday, February 27, 2012

Great Food for a Great Cause

I hope you'll join me this week in supporting local restaurants and Second Harvest of East Tennessee during . Restaurant Week. Here's the deal.

Make a reservation at one of the participating restaurants offering pre fixe menus for $25 or $35. $5 of each meal goes to Second Harvest.

We seem to have started a Restaurant Week tradition. Last year and this year we started the week with friends Cynthia Moxley and Alan Carmichael at Ruth's Chris Steak House. It's an ideal location--after eating three courses and having a couple of glasses of wine, we walk home from the waterfront, burning some calories (we hope!) along the way.

I hope these photos inspire you to go to the restaurant week website and check out the menus at all the participating restaurants. Call and make your reservations now.

Wine is not included in any of the pre fixe meals, but at Ruth's Chris, if you selected either a glass of Alamos Malbec (our choice) or Nine Vines Moscato for $9, then $1 for each glass was donated to Second Harvest. Cheers!

For my first course, I ordered the white bean and chorizo soup.

Cynthia had the lobster bisque.

Bill and Alan upgraded (some restaurants permit this) for a minimal charge to spinach and pear salad instead of having caesar salad.

We all ordered filet (medium rare) and shrimp. It was perfectly cooked.

Four side dishes + four diners = the way to go: mushrooms, butternut squash (another upgrade), mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach.

The dessert was fabulous--chocolate cheesecake and fresh berries with cream sauce. You're going to have to take my word for that because by the time I remembered to take a photo, every dessert plate was scraped clean. On the way out, you can help yourself to some Ruth's Chris mints.

A great meal for a great cause. That's what we're having.

Oscar Night Fun in Support of Clarence Brown Theatre

Here are two photos that won't make it into the People and Parties column. Tune in this Sunday to read about fun on the red carpet and this year's honoree at the Hollywood's Greatest Night Gala to benefit Clarence Brown Theatre held at Knoxville Museum of Art last night.

Oscar-themed centerpieces--very snazzy.

Sam Furrow auctioning off Scarlett O'Hara's dress. Look at that tiny waist.

The Oscars, great auction items, and delicious food from Northshore Brasserie. An award-winning night--That's what we're having.

Country French Food in the Heart of Emory

Mark this down as a place to try next time you're in Atlanta. Le Giverny, located in the Emory Conference Center Hotel, is not a place you're likely to stumble upon, but it's worth seeking out.

We had dinner there Saturday night with Bill's cousins Barbara and Richard, Richard's wife Gigi, and their friends John and Kathy. We started with a bottle of red wine, Clos du Val. It's from a Napa Valley winery started by two French men. Recommend!

I couldn't resist ordering pommes frites with malt vinegar and lemon garlic aioli for the table--but only after everyone promised to partake.

Good thing they brought three bowls of that aioli. Next came the freshly baked sliced baguette and homemade (yes!) butter.

I don't know who churned the butter, but it was worth the effort, light, creamy, effortlessly spreadable. Good munching while we waited for our small plates. Most ordered the Salad Giverny, but a few of us went in a different direction. Here's the house salad.

Here's my beet and Granny Smith apple salad: chilled oven-roasted beets, slivered apples, red onion, blue cheese crumbles, and lemon vinaigrette.

Barbara selected rillettes de porc a la moutard--translation: pork rillettes, Dijon mustard, red onions, cornichons, and baguette toasts.

Richard's French onion soup was not overly cheesy, a complaint I have about some versions.

I asked the server to recommend the best dish on the menu. Six of us took his advice and ordered truite grenobloise--translation: fresh local rainbow trout, mashed potatoes, asparagus, toasted walnuts, capers, and brown butter.

It was delicious. John praised his mignon de porc au poivre (pork tenderloin, tomato and spinach risotto, and creamy three peppercorn sauce), which our server also highly recommended along with moules marinieres a la belge (mussels with pommes frites and garlic aioli).

Bill's coffee-flavored cheesecake was delicious and beautifully presented with raspberry coulis and whipped cream.

Barbara's profiterole was stunning.

Next time I need a French dessert, I'm going to try to duplicate it using the Barefoot Contessa's profiterole recipe .

Here are the happy diners on the way out the door.

L to R--John, Barbara, Kathy, Bill, Gigi, and Richard.

A Gallic good time. That's what we're having.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fun on the Run

I normally stay away from fast food and junk food, but every now and then I just have to have a corn dog. I grew up calling them dip dogs. My mother actually made homemade ones, which were quite tasty.

While making a pit stop at the Pilot station in Dalton, Ga. today, I indulged in a $1 corn dog.

 Loved the label--Fun on the Run!

Bill, meanwhile, was having his own "Fun on the Run"--a billion ounce Diet Coke. He pointed out that there is one size even larger.

It'd take me a week to drink that.

Speaking of drinks, we stopped at Trader Joe's to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Charles Shaw Wines by purchasing a couple of cases of "Two Buck Chuck." We arrived just in time for the store's 2 pm wine tasting. After the tasting, we browsed for a bit and picked up a few more things, including these Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks--half a bag has 30 calories, 2 grams fat, and 1 gram carbs.

That puts them on the opposite end of the health-o-meter from that corn dog. Balances things out, don't you think?

Fun on the Run. That's what we're having.

The Desperstrata

You really can make a strata out of anything...

Here's a big slice of it.

That's what we're having.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Can You Make a Strata Out of Anything?

I'm thinking you can make a strata out of anything as long as you have cubed bread, cheese, eggs + milk (or cream), and something else.

I need an easy breakfast dish for tomorrow morning with no time to shop. With some refrigerator scoping and freezer diving, I came up with these layers--in this order.

Bread Cubes
Baby Spinach
Roasted New Potatoes
Turkey Sausage
Shredded Mozzarella

How can this be bad? I don't need much, so I made it in a deep dish pie dish instead of the usual 9 x 13 casserole dish. Here it is with the eggs + cream added.

Can this be bad? Tune in tomorrow at around 9 am to find out.

A clean-out-the-refrigerator-and-freezer-desperation strata. That's what we're having/

One of Downtown's Best Lunch Deals

My friend and fellow food writer/blogger Rose Kennedy is a big fan of the daily lunch special at Dazzo's, the pizzeria purchased last year by Martha Boggs, owner of one of my favorite restaurants, The Bistro at the Bijou. Having just come from meeting Rose there for lunch, I can see why she's a fan.

For lunch today, I followed Rose's lead and ordered the slice, side salad, and drink special for $5.95.

Here's the salad with a little blue cheese dressing. As foodies we weren't crazy about the iceberg lettuce, but, as I pointed out, "It's crisp." For some reason, Rose thought that was funny and wrote it down. That's the kind of thing writers do.

The Grandmaw's Pizza is simple and delicious, and according to this note from Martha on the menu: "the reason I bought this place."

Rose wouldn't let me take her photo, so I took one of our drinks instead. If you're thirsty, this is the place to go. These are humongous cups.

A tasty, inexpensive meal while we dish about food. That's what we're having.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Exceptionally Yummy Girls Night Out

Because most of us own enough "stuff," the fun, unique experiences auctioned off at charity fundraisers have a lot of appeal. I've been on plenty of teams offering experiences--"Four Flights Up" (a wine dinner concluding on our roof), "Wish You Were Here" (a postcard tour of downtown), and The Union Avenue Ramble (including brunch at our house) to benefit Knox Heritage--but last night I got to be a guest at a culinary experience purchased at a charity auction by my pal Cynthia Moxley:  a cooking demonstration with Peter Glander, Executive Chef at Ruby Tuesday, at the The Glass Bazaar. About a dozen girlfriends gathered to watch Chef Glander demonstrate three dishes and then dine on the results. Thanks, Cynthia!

The first course was kale salad with buttermilk vinaigrette

A croquette made of potatoes, andouille sausage, and mustard greens and pimento cheese grits.

Chef Glander smushed the cooked potatoes with his fingers and sliced the greens into a chiffonade.

The bread pudding was as delicious as it looks.

Chef Glander baked individual portions in muffin tins. It presented well and cooked quickly. What a great idea.

A yummy night with the girls. That's what we're having.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let the Good Times Roll

Because my friend Kim Trent was unable to attend Mardi Gras in Mobile this year, I invited her for dinner tonight. I served her own Hartley House Jambalaya recipe from the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers Cookbook. It's easy and fabulous.

With it, we had red wine in Mardi Gras cups, crusty bread, and Bananas Foster cupcakes from Magpies Bakery.

Caesar looked on with approval. And licked up the leftovers.

Laissez les bons temps rouler. Even Caesar says so...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shrimp and Snow Peas--and a Rehearsal

A bowl full of stir fried shrimp and snow peas--with some leftover coconut rice pulled from the freezer.

Add a salad--romaine, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, a simple ginger-sesame vinaigrette, and a sprinkle of crunchy rice noodles.

And just for fun--and practice--the Thai Chicken Dip recipe from the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers Cookbook.

Practice? I'll be demonstrating this recipe and selling cookbooks at the Knoxville Spring Home Design and Remodeling Show March 31 at 3:30 pm and April 1 at 1:00 pm at Knoxville Expo Center. I'm not sure what recipes have to do with home design and remodeling, but I'm happy to show up and cook a little something and promote the cookbook.

That's what we're having.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roquefort, Fennel, & Walnut Pasta

No offense to my restaurant-owning friends, but I'd never eat out on Valentine's Day. Too darn crowded. Our tradition is a February 14 dinner at home. It doesn't get much simpler than this.

A nice Spanish red table wine.

Romaine, tangerines, and fennel with a spicy blue cheese vinaigrette.

One of our favorite pasta dishes, roquefort, fennel, and walnuts with farfalle pasta.

The recipe is from a great little cookbook called While The Pasta Cooks: 100 Simple Sauces You Can Make While The Pasta Cooks. Recommend!

For dessert, a valentine exchange and a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey. A simple dinner at home.

That's what we're having.

My favorite snack and a bootless day

I can't get enough of the chickpea salad up the street at Just Ripe on Union Avenue. I'm having it on baked flat bread. It's good with anything and tasty all by itself.

It's a fitting way to celebrate the good news from Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic--no more boot. My feet are back to normal and ready for regular shoes.

Hah! That's Caesar wondering what I'm doing sticking my feet out. My first day in a month without the boot.

That's what we're having.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Extreme Thanks from the EMHE Food Team

With the EMHE build behind us, the Food Team had just one more thing to do: send thank you notes to as many of the restaurants, businesses, and individuals who supported us as we could gather names and addresses for. Food Team member Janet Testerman made 120 postcards. Becky Hancock & Rosa Mar donated postage.

We gathered at Latitude 35 to sign and address the cards. Here are Sam Maynard and Karen Kluge.

Vicki Baumgartner, Pamela Chips, and Becky Hancock.

Danni Varlan and Janet Testerman

Food Team members Andie Ray, Judith Foltz, and Rosa Mar were unable to join us. Some Food Tent Volunteers, including Sharon Spezia, Carl Loy, Cindy Gramals, Julia and Gary Bentley, and Georgiana Vines, joined us. Wish I'd been able to get one photo of everyone who dropped by--but here's a big group of them.

Those paper plates hold the awards I made for Food Team members-- reminding us of one of each person's unique contributions to the team. Chris Kahn was named "President of the Sam's and Walmart Fan Club" in recognition of her valiant (but unsuccessful) attempts to get donations from there.

Here are some Food Team members posing with their awards.

The paper plate awards were silly & fun, but at the end of the evening I was touched when I was presented with a signed & framed EMHE Volunteer Banner. We joked that I need to hang it in our "mud room."

Extreme thanks to all who donated and supported our efforts to feed everyone. And most of all, thanks, Food Team. You are the best ever. It was a pleasure working with all of you to feed the multitudes.