Monday, January 31, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Sticky Chicken

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 8:02 AM

I've been making this recipe for Sweet & Spicy Sticky Chicken since it was published in the November 2001 issue of Fine Cooking. That's almost 10 years. I don't think I have many recipes that stand the test of time. I usually cook recipes once, toss, and then look for the next best recipe.

This recipe has stuck around because I really like the flavors here. It's sweet from the brown sugar, spicy from red pepper flakes, and it's pretty salty from soy sauce and fish sauce. Some people don't like fish sauce, but I love it. I'm not really sure how it's made (and I don't think I want to know), but it has a distinct, pungent flavor. You can find it at any Asian grocery store.

The dish is pretty healthy as it calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs and only requires 1 tablespoon of oil for cooking. Serve it with rice to mellow out the salty sauce.

I've made my own Bento box here ... a little rice, a few chicken thighs, and a side of pickled mustard greens:


Sweet & Spicy Sticky Chicken


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes

1 tablespoon peanut oil or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 scallions, thinly sliced

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed

fresh cilantro stem (optional)


In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, fish sauce, water, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, black pepper and crushed red chile flakes.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the thighs and the brown sugar mixture. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, turning the thighs occasionally for about 20 minutes.

Then turn the heat back up to high and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until sauce thickens and slightly browns chicken. Garnish with cilantro.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Sausage and Jerky Workshop at NCSU

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

The Extension Program offered through NC State University's Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences allows for non-students to participate in a few foodie classes throughout the year. This May 2011 they will be holding a Fermented Sausage and Jerky Workshop. Check out the details below.

FBNS extension program logo

salami sausage

Fermented Sausage

and Jerky Workshop


May 10-13, 2011

Schaub Hall, NCSU Campus

Raleigh, NC

The NC State University Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences Extension Program announces a workshop on Fermented Sausage and Jerky. Register early - class size is limited. Registration deadline is April 26, 2011.

Click here to view or download the workshop flyer and registration form. Or, contact Lisa Gordon at 919-515-2956 or for more information.

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Valentine's Day food events

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM



Sunday, Feb. 13: Lobster Lover's Delight - 3 Course Dinner. $34.95/person.

Friday, Feb. 11/Sat., Feb. 12/Mon., Feb. 14: Sweetheart 3 Course Dinner. $34.95/person.

Hearst Tower

Corner of 5th & College St.


McNinch House

Monday, Feb. 14: Ultimate Valentine's Romance package: (2) GRAND 7-course meals with wine pairings, taxes & gratuity for $450 per couple.

511 North Church St.

Charlotte, NC 28202



Sat., Feb. 12/Sun., Feb. 13/Mon., Feb. 14: Four course prix fixe menu. Wine Club special offer: Come in for Valentine's and receive two complimentary passes to the weekly wine tasting at Zebra. $85/person (excludes tax and gratuity).

4521 Sharon Rd

Charlotte, NC 28211


Blu Basil Cafe

Monday, Feb. 14: A pre fixe menu including one appetizer, two entrees, a dessert and a bottle of wine for $60.00. Included in this is a special gift for all the ladies.

306 S Sharon Amity Road

Charlotte, NC 28211


Coco Osteria

Monday, Feb. 14: Three-Course Couples Menu for $49.95 per couple. See the menu here.

214 N Tryon Street, Suite 3

Charlotte, NC 28202


Dressler's Restaurant -Birkdale Village

Monday, Feb. 14: 4 course menu for $60 per person not including alcohol, tax and gratuity.

8630 1-A Lindholm Dr

Huntersville, NC 28078



Monday, Feb. 14: Dinner for two - A six-course dinner prepared by chef Bryan Emperor. Seats available: 6:00, 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. $125 per couple, plus tax and gratuity.

505 E. 6th street

Charlotte, NC 28202


Rocky River Grille

Monday, Feb. 14: 5 course dinner including choice of 6 entree selections and a champagne toast for $100 per couple.

5400 John Q Hammon Drive NW

Concord, NC 28027


Hawtorne's NY Pizza

Monday, Feb. 14: 3 course meal with a bottle of wine. $50 per couple.

7319 Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Mint Hill, NC 28227-7594


Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina

Friday, Feb. 11 through Monday, Feb. 14: 3 course meal for $35 per person.

210 East Trade Street, Suite 104A

Charlotte, NC 28202

704-971-VIDA (8432)

Crepe Cellar Kitchen and Pub

Monday, Feb. 14: The special three course Valentine's Day menu includes warm goat cheese cake over spring mix, two entree choices, and Tiramisu for dessert. Regular menu will be available as well.

3116 N. Davidson Street

Charlotte, NC 28205


Terrace Cafe

Saturday, Feb. 12 through Monday, Feb. 14: A special three course meal (dessert course choices are a champagne course or chocolate dipped strawberries). $60 per couple.

4625 Piedmont Row Drive Suite 105

Charlotte, NC 28210


See a big list of restaurants offering Valentine's Day menus at

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Charlotte Restaurant Week: Aria Tuscan Grill

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Queen's Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week is now in full swing. The city-wide culinary event has been running since Friday Jan. 21, and will continue until Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011. Participating restaurants are providing $30 three-course meal deals.

I stopped by Aria Tuscan Grill last night to check out their Queen's Feast menu. The Uptown Italian restaurant offers a great deal. Instead of setting a menu of just a few items for three-course meal, they allow you to choose anything from their regular menu. According to our waiter, the portion sizes are exactly the same as the regular menu too. Fabulous! The only difference between the regular menu and the Queen's Feast menu is that the prices have been omitted on the latter.

I went through the regular menu online today and found the prices for the items my boyfriend and I had ordered to calculate the savings (check out the prices in red). Looks like my meal last night would cost $36 regularly ... so I guess it's like getting a free dessert.

Overall, it was a great dining experience. The service was great, the ambiance was beautiful, and the food surpassed my expectations.

Here's what went down last night. My notes are in parenthesis:


$10 Shrimp Scampi - Oven Baked, Marinara, Chiles, Oregano

(Delicious! Buttery breadcrumbs mixed with a bright marinara sauce top 4-5 tender shrimp)

$11 Caramelized Gnocchi - Prosciutto di Parma, Pear, Gorgonzola, Truffle Oil

(Extremely flavorful gnocchi with a great slight crunch from the caramelizing. The pairing of the thinly sliced pear and prosciutto on top of the gnocchi and Gorgonzola sauce on the bottom were amazing. I'd dare to go out on a limb and say it's the best gnocchi I've ever had.)


$19 Spaghetti alla Pescatore - Shrimp, Clams, Mussels & Spicy Tomato Sauce

(Pasta was al dente, and the seafood tasted fresh. Wonderfully simple.)

$? Market Price Porchetta - Chef's Daily Preparation

(This portion of whole roasted pig served with greens and polenta was just ok. Not what I expected, but not bad.)


$6 Mascarpone Cheesecake - Strawberry Sauce

(Served room temperature, this cheesecake was fluffier than normal cheesecakes. Well done, but nothing extraordinary.)

$6 A Selection of Gelato & Sorbetto - served with Biscotti

(They have a huge selection of flavors to choose from. You get to pick three. I tried the blood orange sorbetto, pistachio gelato, and strawberry gelato. They came with a shortbread cookie instead of biscotti - no big deal. All were pretty good, but the blood orange was the flavor that got demolished the quickest.)

See the entire menu here.

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PHOTOS: Burgers and Brew at The Ritz

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 8:00 AM

As mentioned in this blog post, The Ritz-Carlton is hosting Burger and Brews each Wednesday in their Lobby Lounge. For $15 you get a burger of your choice, a beer, and a side of fries. I went last week to scope it out and snap some (dark) pics.

What to expect: The traditional beef burger with blue cheese was large and juicy. The lamb burger was less than impressive with thin lifeless and flavorless slices of gyro-like lamb. The large side of fries was pretty good though – they were shoestring and crispy. If you're vegetarian, they have falafel wrapped in pita. Beers included in the $15 combo meal are domestics, and the live music didn't start until 8 am.

Today is Wednesday, so stop on by.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tricia dishes on WFAE

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Listen for me on Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins on WFAE 90.7, Tuesday, February 1 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. when I gather with Helen Schwab of the Charlotte Observer and Heidi Bilotto of Carolina Living to discuss restaurants in Charlotte. The rebroadcast will be at 9 p.m.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Paula Deen's Kitchen officially open at Harrah's Cherokee Hotel and Casino

Posted By on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Paula Deen visited Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel this past weekend for the ribbon cutting of her new restaurant at the hotel, Paula Deen's Kitchen.

As a Paula fan, I trekked myself there (it's 3 hours from Charlotte) and spent a fabulous weekend checking out the new hotel additions, eating at the restaurant, enjoying her cooking demonstration and show, and meeting her family and crew.

Unfortunately, I lost my camera at the hotel, so I lost all my photos from said events. I was so excited to share them with you guys. It's very tragic.

Here's one photo I took from with my camera phone:


A brief run down sans photos ...

Post ribbon-cutting ceremony, Paula Deen hosted a luncheon at her new restaurant Paula Deen's Kitchen, which offers buffet options as well as the option to order off the menu. For the luncheon, we were offered a three-course meal from a set menu. The bread basket included corn muffins, cheese biscuits, and soft buttery rolls. Thumbs up.

Beware of the wedge salad. It comes topped with about a cup of blue cheese dressing.

The chicken pot pie entree came with a lattice of puff pastry over a big bowl of creamy, delicious chicken pot pie filling. The filling included big chunks of both dark and white chicken meat, and lots of pea and carrots. Another entree I tried, the cheesy meatloaf, was a bit dry for my liking. It came with collard greens and mashed potatoes on the side.

And of course, Paula gets dessert right. The Bag Lady's Doughnut holes served with vanilla pudding were ridiculous. Soft and tender, each warm doughnut hole is drizzled in honey, and then rolled in cinnamon sugar. The strawberry shortcake served was full of chilled whipped cream and sweet strawberries, but the biscuit itself was cold and dense. This one was a bit disappointing.

For breakfast, we got to try her breakfast buffet, which resulted in me eating a breakfast the size of a cow. Omelets made to order, thick sausage links, hash brown casserole, scrambled eggs, fruit, danishes, bacon, and biscuits and gravy are all available at the buffet. I ate it all. Once again, so bummed I don't have pics to show you.

Coming soon to Harrah's this fall is Johnny Rocket's, Brio Tuscan Grill, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

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Bacon and pretzel toffee

Posted By on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Ok, as promised, we will now return to our normal programming of ... unhealthy sweets.

A few weeks ago I shared a recipe for healthy granola. This week it's back to my usual cavity-causing, calorie-laden baked goods.

You're welcome.

I found a recipe for pretzel toffee on Serious Eats, and kicked it up a few notches by adding bits of crisp bacon. The bacon and pretzel toffee combined with a layer chocolate and a dusting of fleur de sel (sea salt) will satisfy that sweet/savory craving. It's crisp, creamy, crunchy, and so delicious.

The bacon gives the candy a slight smoky flavor and another layer of saltiness. Two meat lovers have sampled this stuff so far and both gave it a big thumbs up.

Be careful when boiling the butter and sugar mixture. Once it reaches 200 degrees, it will cook fast. Be sure to stand by and keep an eye on it. I'll admit I burned my first batch. Kitchen fail...


Continue reading »

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Muffin edition

Posted By on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 11:49 AM

I love muffins because they're like cupcakes, but you can eat them for breakfast. Both are small, cute, and tasty.

While I like my cupcakes fluffy, sweet, and tender, I like my muffins almost the exact opposite – hearty, dense, and with just a hint of sweetness. I can't stand those cake-like muffin impostors that are greasy and full of fat and sugar. That's no way to start your day.

Baking queen Dorie Greenspan has a fabulous recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins, which was widely blogged about recently as it was the chosen recipe for the virtual baking club "Tuesdays with Dorie." Photos of her luscious lemon poppy seed muffins popped up on blogs everywhere, tempting me with their cute little black and yellow polka-dot look.

I took those suckers and gave them an extreme makeover. The original recipe called for 1 stick of butter, 2/3 cups of sugar, and a good dose of sour cream. It sounds like a recipe for a mid-morning sugar crash. I re-did the recipe using some whole wheat flour, half the sugar, 2 tablespoons less butter, and Greek yogurt.

The recipe makeover resulted in muffins with a strong lemon flavor, light sweetness, crunchy poppy seeds, and a texture that was a mix between a muffin and a biscuit. The tangy lemon glaze on top added some sweetness too.  Just my type of muffin.

Below is the original recipe with my makeover modifications in parenthesis.



Continue reading »

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Bluprint restaurant opening Uptown

Posted By on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Bluprint will be opening on Trade Street in Uptown Charlotte (near Morton's) in the next weeks. The restaurant touts itself as “The Bluprint for how restaurants should be run.”

With a self-described style of "eclectic comfort," their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus include items like Bluberry pancakes, sweet potato crepes, aloha panache, and "peace & love chicken and waffles."

Dining rooms named after destinations (ie. Santa Monica Room and New York Room) are intended to take you on a vacation without having to leave town.

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