Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

This year I had the forethought to join a CSA before spring, and thus ensuring myself 20 weeks of glorious, fresh, organic produce! I went with the decision to support Coon Rock Farms. They are the farm that backs Zely & Ritz’s local organic menu. I’m extremely excited about this summer and the inevitable culinary adventures that a box of mixed veg will induce!

So, follow lead and join a CSA *now* before all the shares are bought up!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Sour Cream Bundt Cake

1 stick butter
1 stick margarine
1 ¼ C sugar
1 ts. Vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 C sour cream
2 C all purpose flour
½ ts. Baking soda
1 ts salt
1 ½ ts baking powder

Sift together dry ingredients. Beat together butter, margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add some of dry ingredients. Add eggs. Mix in rest of dry ingredients to combine. Try not to overmix.

2 tb. Brown sugar
¼ C chopped pecans or other nut
2 tb raisins

2 tb raisins, covered in boiling water to plump and then drain. Add together handful of chopped pecans & 2 tb brown sugar.

Spray your bundt pan with nonstick spray. Add 1/3 of the batter, add half of sugar mixture, add 1/3 batter, add remaining sugar mixture and top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until pulling away from pan.

Deep Fried Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Aioli

Fry peeled sweet potato sticks for about 15 minutes or until crisp in vegetable oil.

For the aioli, combine two tablespoons mayonnaise with ½ tb Dijon mustard, 1 garlic-pressed clove of garlic, and salt & pepper.

Review: Poole's Downtown Diner

Poole’s Downtown Diner
426 S Mcdowell StRaleigh, NC 27601
(919) 832-4477

F. and I went to eat at the relatively new Poole’s Downtown Diner on Friday.

I had read about it both on New Raleigh and in the very late arrival of the September Bon Appetit. It mentions chef Ashley Christensen of Enoteca Vin fame. Indeed, Poole’s, in my opinion, had the menu of Vin and lacked the pretentious vibe. Our waiter was cool, calm, and had character. He was also appropriately attentive. F. and I arrived around 6h30, and by 7h15 the little entry way and first curvature of the bar was jammed packed with mainly a middle aged (30s-50s) crowd.

The menu was divided into “Apps,” “Vinagariettes,” “Mains,” “On the side,” and “Poole’s Pies.” Baguette with homemade butter was available for $3. As an appetizer, F. and I shared the “Duck and chicken liver pate with two mustards and toasted brioche” ($9). The pate was fabulous: smooth, tasty, with the slight unctuousness of organ. The mustards cut the pate’s heaviness perfectly. However, the toasted brioche was a little brittle to be an ideal surface on which to spread pate. We found it tasted much better on the warm, chewy baguette. Other sides included roasted Beauregard sweet potatoes ($7), carrots in brown butter and thyme ($6), macaroni au gratin ($9), and haricot verts with roasted tomatoes ($7). Mains included a roasted chicken with garlic mashed potato ($14), flounder with Crowder peas ($13), the “royale,” an open faced burger ($12), and the *special of bone-in NY strip with au poivre sauce and pomme frites (for a wopping $39 – considering the other prices on the menu, I felt it was a sneaky overcharge). We had the “roasted beets with avocado and blood orange vinaigrette” ($9) which was divine. The avocado’s creaminess complemented the even soft texture of the roasted beets. Roasted golden beet cubes garnished the dish. The blood orange vinaigrette was light and flattered the sweetness of the dish. The macaroni and cheese was in F.’s opinion the best he had ever had, and I agree that it was flavorful. The only bad point was that the steak was unevenly cooked. We ordered it medium rare, and while in the nook of the bone it was a nice red rare, the perimeter of the flesh side was definitely considered at least medium, with nary a blush of pink in the meat’s center; at $39 one expects a perfectly cooked steak (granted, we did not know the price going into the meal, so I can’t really say we “expected” perfection. Nevertheless, it was a disappointment.)

Overall, I give Poole’s downtown diner a B+. It would have easily been an A if the steak was evenly cooked.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

So my mother actually came up with this recipe. Contrary to what it seems like, my mother doesn't actually like to cook. But I will give her credit when due; this dish turned out great. My F. loves barbeque, and this way was so simple and easy.

Crock Pot Barbeque

At 10 pm the night before take a 5lb boneless and netted pork shoulder and put it in a medium sized crock pot. Add a couple cups of chicken broth and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a 1/4 ts crushed red pepper flakes. Put the crock pot on "low" and let it go all night.

At 9ish the following morning, turn off the crock pot, and remove the netted pork shoulder to cool. Strain the liquid off and reserve. Clean the crock pot. Once cool, remove the netting from the pork. The boneless shoulder will break apart easy where the bone once was, when this happens, scrape the fatty bits off the meat with a knife, then "pull" the pork apart with two forks.

Put the pulled pork back in to the crock pot with about two cups of the reserved liquid. Let it go until you're ready for a fabulous pork lunch. Serve with steamed buns and a tabkespoon of your barbeque sauce of choice.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year: 2009 at Humble Pie

F. & I went to eat at Humble Pie to ring in New Year 09. We shared a menu for two.

Humble Pie
317 S. Harrington Street
RALEIGH, North Carolina


Grilled Romaine Salad: parmesan toast points, shaved manchego, orange segments, sherry vinaigrette
As you can see from the above picture, my salad did not appear to have been "grilled." Upon tasting, it did not seem to have a sherry vinaigrette either. The Romaine tasted as a bitter salad green does when it's not dressed, not entirely pleasant or displeasing. The orange segments gave the salad some much needed juice when eaten, but as there were only three segments uncut, this happy occurrence was not frequent.

Lobster Wonton Soup: scallions, ginger, cilantro, crispy shallots

The Lobster Soup was delightful. The broth had a zing from the ginger and had a full savory/umami taste. Bits of cilantro added further brightness to the soup. The fried wonton dumplings softened during the eating of the soup. In both forms, either slightly crisp or damped softly with broth, the lobster filled wontons were a nice contrast and a pleasure to eat. The crispy shallots were each a joyful catch in my spoons' eddy and a crunchy treat with each spoonful.

Avocado and Crab Salad Godzilla Roll : pickled mung beans, ginger, wasabi, spicy ponzu

I felt a little misled when I received this dish. I assumed "godzilla roll" would be what a maki style sushi roll with rice. Our waitress kindly told me that the roll was "wrapped in tuna" which I thought meant a small layer of sashimi would be around the rice. I was wrong. It was raw tuna wrapped around an avocado/crab mushy blend. While I typically enjoy the smoothness of raw tuna in a sushi roll, the pure mass of raw fish and mushy filling really did me over. When my tongue was halted by tight ligament running through the tuna, I felt like I was going to vomit. Then besieged by tuna-aroma . . . I gagged it down, F. tried one and had a similar experience. We put it aside and took it home to the pet turtle.

Pulled Pork + Crispy Truffled Sweet Potato Fries . malt vinegar aioli, chervil, thyme

This dish was fun. It was a little haphazard, and after the disappointment with the godzilla roll, we were both amiable to putting it aside and enjoying the rest of the dinner. The sweet potato fries were delightul, sweet and salty at once. The pork was a little dry, but otherwise flavorful. The aioli was underneath the entire dish, making it difficult to easily enjoy.

Chateaubriand . grilled vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, peppercorn bordelaise

This is a picture of F.'s steak, he ordered it Medium Rare. It was very tender indeed, the perfect steak example. The bordelaise saice was not overly peppery and very consumable. The potatoes were great too. While F.'s were not, my zucchini were charred a tad too much. A delightful end to a meal.

Overall, I give HUMBLE PIE a B - fun, tasty food, not overly original but definately not banal. Overwhelmingly hit or miss.