Friday, February 26, 2010

Apple Strawberry Crunch

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 6:24 PM

A warm layer of apples and strawberries is topped with a crunchy oat topping. Served up with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, this Apple Strawberry Crunch makes for a delicious ending to any meal.

This recipe is really easy peasy.

When rhubarb is back in season in the summer, substitute the apples for rhubarb for a different twist.


Apple Strawberry Crunch


3 apples, sliced

1 pint strawberries, quartered

1/4 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch baking dish.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine apples, strawberries, white sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 3/4 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over fruit layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Ri Ra Irish Pub reopens

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 6:02 PM


After being closed for 9 months due to damage from a fire, Ri Ra Irish Pub, located between 5th and 6th Streets on Tryon Street, is finally reopening their doors.

Sparkley chandaliers, new wood work, and furniture made and shipped from Ireland, along with the previous decor that was able to be salvaged from the fire and smoke damage, add new life to the pub.

Those aren't the only changes – the menu has changed a bit too. Their fish is fresher (never frozen), their chips (aka fries) are hand cut, and the menu has a new look. I stopped in today for lunch and here's a peek of what Ri Ra looks like now.

They open their doors to the public for lunch and dinner on Tuesday, March 2.

Oh yes, did I mention that they have a new crew of waitstaff straight off the plane from Ireland? Be sure to check out the cute accents.

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Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Beef Bourguignon. I can say I know how to make it, but just don't ask me how to pronounce it.

Ina Garten's recipe for this stew of red wine braised beef gets 5 stars from me. After slaving away in the kitchen for more than two and a half hours, I came out with a dish that garnered rave reviews from dinner guests.


Brace yourself: a whole bottle of red wine and half a cup of Cognac is used in this dish. I'll admit that this dish is slightly scary to make. One step in the recipe says "Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol."

Ok, so no major warning with this besides just "stand back" is stated. Then it can't be that hazardous, no big deal, right? Well, I used a long Bic lighter to ignite the Cognac and what resulted was flames shooting 1 foot out of the Dutch oven. Um ... ok, this will die down soon I told myself. Just like the showy bananas flambe the chef made on the cruise, no?

I started to panic when the flames didn't die out after a good 30 seconds. But before I reached for the fire extinguisher, luckily it died down. Crisis averted.

  • Help! My stew is on fire.

As per Ina's suggestion, I served the Beef Bourguignon over some toasted slices of crusty bread which was wonderful. Don't worry about ladling the stew right over the bread. It doesn't get grossly soggy as you might think – the gravy from the stew gets sopped up by the bread and is a actually a tasty touch to the dish.

I served the Beef Bourguignon with an Apple Strawberry Crunch and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.  I'll be that posting the recipe soon.


Read on for the 5-star recipe.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buy 2, get 1 free at Blynk Organic

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Blynk Organic wants to thank their loyal customers for eating organic at Blynk by giving away free lunches.

When you purchase two meals between March 1 and March 7, you'll get a third meal (of equal or lesser value) for free.

Just show your two eligible receipts when you visit the third time.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tea and scones at Crêpe Cellar

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 2:53 PM


Join Felicitea! at the Crêpe Cellar Kitchen & Pub for their "Afternoon Tea & Scones" event this Sunday, Feb. 28 from 4 to 5:30 pm.

Summer Plum, the owner of Felicitea!, will be discussing the nuances of her teas and teach everyone how to make a great cup of tea. You will be able to try six different loose leaf teas, as well as scones.

Tea flavors will include Green Garden, Rooibus Chai, Orange Spice, Refreshing Afternoon, English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

The event costs $6 per person, which includes all you can eat/drink tea and scones. To RSVP, email or call 704.910.6543.

Crêpe Cellar Kitchen & Pub

3116 North Davidson Street

Charlotte , NC 28205

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Free pancakes

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM


Happy National Pancake Day!

A friendly reminder: Don't forget to get your free short stack from IHOP today.

Read about the free flapjacks here.

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Best I’ve Had All Week: Line Caught Wild Alaskan Salmon

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Harris Teeter at Morrocroft had two varieties salmon in their seafood case this week. But the Irish farm-raised salmon paled – literally - in comparison to the stunning vividly deep coral wild Alaskan Coho Salmon ($9.99 per pound) filets. I had to have this salmon. The paramount preparation of this fine seafood is to leave it alone. Forget sauces or imprisoning with a crust. No dusting, just fish. I planked the salmon on an Alder board I acquired in Seattle, then rubbed the filet with Spanish extra virgin olive oil, organic unsalted butter, Murray River salt (a rustic speckled pink salt from Australia), freshly ground black pepper, spritzed the salmon with a lemon, and then cooked it medium rare. Alder, the wood the First Peoples of the northwest used to cook salmon, imbues a mild smokiness into this delicate sweet fish with sensational results.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Seen and heard: Black Eyed Peas nosh on sushi and wine

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 1:51 PM


The Black Eyed Peas stopped by Butter nightclub at the N.C. Music Factory after their Saturday concert for Bacardi's Black Eyed Peas After Party on Saturday, Feb. 20. Cy and Ro of Cyros Sushi in SouthPark catered for the superstars and brought over platters of their sushi for Fergie and the Peas.

Also, it was overheard that Fergie prefers to only drink white wine. So that's how she stays so Fergalicious.

  • Fergie enters Butter after performing at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday, Feb. 20.

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Paula Deen's Chicken and Rice Casserole

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 1:21 PM

In honor of Paula Deen, who never made it down to the Q.C. for her Celebrity Chef Series shows that were scheduled at Oven's Auditorium this past Saturday, I've made her top recipe on her Food Network recipe web page. Listed as No. 1 in a collection of 100 "Top Recipes" by Paula Deen, is her Chicken and Rice Casserole.


This recipe has "Paula Deen" stamped all over it because:

1. It's a casserole.

2. It contains at least one white and creamy ingredient. In this case, cream of celery and mayo.

3. The ingredient list calls for items in units of "cans."

4. It calls for cheese.

The only thing missing is the butter. The casserole is easy to assemble – just have a can opener handy. Wink.

Well, despite my kidding about her less-refined dishes, I love myself some Paula. She's always jolly, cooks with her bling on, and throws caution to the wind when it comes to using butter and whipped cream.

This comforting casserole makes enough to feed a family of 6 and would make for an easy weekday meal. I don't know if it really qualifies for the No. 1 spot on her recipe web page, but it's pretty darn delicious. On a cold rainy day, it really doesn't get any better than a big heaping portion of this warm and creamy chicken and rice casserole.


Chicken and Rice Casserole

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen


2 (14 1/2-ounce) can green beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups diced cooked chicken

1 medium onion, diced and sauteed

1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 (4-ounce) can pimentos, drained

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 (6-ounce) box long-grain and wild rice, cooked according to package directions

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar

Pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

A visit from Jim Perdue

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Look for this seal on your next pack of chicken.
  • Look for this seal on your next pack of chicken.

Jim Perdue stopped by Creative Loafing's office Thursday morning to talk about — you guessed it — chicken. You might recognize the blue-eyed chairman and CEO of Perdue from his TV commercials.

When I asked followers on Twitter what questions to ask Perdue, people seemed to be most curious about what chemicals go into raising these meaty chickens we see at the grocery store nowadays. I guess these concerns are expected in this consumer culture — people are more and more conscious of what they put in their mouths. Organic this, free range that. When it comes to poultry, people are concerned about hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.

Well, Perdue was proud to announce that Perdue is the first and only chicken company to receive the premier third-party stamp of approval, the USDA Process Verified Seal, which you can now find on your Perdue chicken. As of now, no other chicken company can claim a USDA seal on their packaging, according to Perdue.

"The important thing was to have some sort of third party auditing and that's what the USDA has provided," said Perdue.

The process to achieve the seal took a total of three to four years. What does this seal mean? According to Julie DeYoung, Perdue's PR consultant, the USDA seal is "an added level of assurance for consumers" letting them know that the chicken they are buying is fresh, all-natural chicken that has been verified to have been fed an all-vegetarian diet with no animal by-products, raised cage-free and humanely raised. No antibiotics for accelerated growth, hormones, or steroids are used in their products, according to the company's Web site. Consumers can also reportedly count on the special Perdue breed of chicken to also be extra meaty and tender.

Despite the added costs of raising USDA Process Verified chicken, Perdue's pricing will remain the same. "It's a more expensive diet because when you have to replace animal by products with soybean meal, it's more expensive, but the pricing is not going to change," said Perdue.

"Our pricing is not changing at all ...Truthfully long term, I mean,  this is our business, we want to be here in 10 years, in 20 years, in 30 years. Also we want to continuously improve the product. That's what this is all about. We want to make a better product."

What the grocery stores want to charge though, Perdue said, is out of his company's control.

Now that Perdue chicken is process verified, they want to see your best processes in preparing chicken. They've launched a contest in North Carolina looking for the best ways to cook chicken. Submit a video demonstrating your best recipe or techniques for preparing or serving Perdue chicken at A panel of judges (including myself) will be picking the finalists.

Contest details: Contest ends March 12, 2010. Entry only open to legal N.C. residents who are at least 18 years old. The grand prize is $500 cash plus a year's supply of chicken. See Web site for more details. Get cookin'!

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