Monthly Archives: December 2012
Zink American Kitchen
Zink American Kitchen is a fabulous restaurant here in Charlotte, NC. They have a menu feature called “Feed Me Chef” which I thoroughly enjoy.
Last night I took Tyler and Robert out for dinner for the Feed Me Chef. (Robert didn’t have the “feed me” option but was well fed anyway!)
The premise is to tell them what you like, don’t like or have allergies to so they can create a 5-course menu for you. Our chef for the evening was Chef “DJ” Donald Ivey, Jr a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. He has been recently promoted to a sous chef position at Zink and if what I ate last night is any indication of what he can do, he has a bright future in front of him for sure.
Our First Course was a salad from “Rosemary Pete” a local vegetable and herb grower.
Something really nice about Zink is that they know who is growing their vegetables and source locally as much as they can. Rosemary Pete got his name by selling rosemary at local farmers markets. I must say the vegetables were spectacular.
DJ pointed out each vegetable he used on each plate. You can tell he was as proud of those vegetables as he was the beautiful proteins he served us.
We indulged in exotic radishes, turnips marinated in Prosecco and vanilla; bok choy and garnet potatoes.
The small touches like preserved lemons, micro greens and smooth as silk peanut fondue and fresh crisp house made caramel corn really put the meal in high gourmet category.
Most plates went back clean, what was left we brought home. After a while your stomach just gets full and rather than forgo any courses, a nice taste and then eat the rest later.
I just finished the last of my lamb course a few minutes ago and the flavor and aroma’s brought back the entertainment of watching the cooks working back and forth; paying precise attention to every task, sliding across the floor and working in tandem with each other.
I love watching a kitchen at work. I suppose that might be because I did it for so many years and I recognize the value of a well orchestrated team.
Feed Me Chef Dinner Menu
December 27, 2012
Rosemary Pete’s Spicy Greens
Turnips marinated in Prosecco and vanilla, exotic radishes, pomegranate seeds, bleu cheese and preserved lemons
Braised Pork Belly
Melted sweet dumpling squash, Pete’s bok choy, House made chow-chow and apple cider reduction
Corn Crusted Grouper
Pete’s carrots, snow peas, purple sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and celery root puree
Charred Onion Marinated Lamb
Fingerling sweet potatoes, Russian black kale, fried red peppers and apple butter
Molten Chocolate Cake
Vanilla ice cream and peanut butter fondue
Although Robert didn’t order the Feed Me
option, he had a salad and their award-winning White Turkey Chili and a house salad.
What a suburb experience! Every morsel was full of flavor, complementing textures and extremely high quality in every detail.
Zink American Kitchen is located at 4310 Sharon Road Suite W01, Charlotte, NC 28211
(704) 909-5500 is the number to call for reservations or use Open Table. However, you will need to talk to the staff to arrange your unique menu.
We have had Chef Amy Kumpf and Chef DJ Ivey create some amazing meals, I suggest you experience it too, soon.
Shrimp and Lobster Bisque
Christmas Eve dinner somehow has become a seafood feast that features ravioli. This year Tyler asked me to make the Shrimp and Lobster Bisque like we used to make in the restaurant. It takes a bit of effort but it sure is an indulgent soup!
Perfect for a special dinner.
So here goes.
Make Shrimp and Lobster Stock
1# fresh wild-caught shrimp, any size (I used 26-30’s for this recipe)
1- 2 ounce lobster tail per person + 1
You can use a whole lobster and use the claws for decoration or you can use frozen lobster meat. Tails were on sale at the grocery so I bought some. Perfect!
1# thickly sliced carrots
1/2 pound chopped celery
1/2 pound chopped onions
1/4 cup tomato paste
Sprig of fresh thyme
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1/4 cup brandy, flambeed to remove alcohol
1 gallon water
1 pint heavy cream (later, to finish)
Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp, reserve the shells and tails for making the stock.
Set shrimp aside, keep it cold.
Remove the tail meat from the lobster, run a skewer down the underside of the tail to keep it from curling while cooking. Keep the tails cold.
Roughly chop the shells with your knife. put the chopped shells and shrimp shells into a 2 gallon stock pot.
Over high heat, saute the shells until they turn red and pink.
Add the chopped carrots, onions, celery, thyme and garlic to the pot and saute the vegetables until they soften a bit.
Add the tomato paste and stir to coat everything as much as you can with the paste.
Do not allow this to burn. Once you see a bit of color forming on the bottom of the pan, add the 1/4 cup brandy. Since you are working in a stock pot, you will have to ignite the brandy fumes with an extension lighter. Just place the flame over the edge of the pot to ignite the brandy. Let the fire burn until it extinguishes. This burns out the raw alcohol.
When the flames go out, stir and then add 1 gallon cold water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow this to simmer for at least 1 hour, 2-3 hours is best.
Do not cover the pot, do not boil the pot and do not stir. Doing any of these things will make your stock cloudy.
Strain, reserving the liquid, throw away all of the vegetables and shells. Use a fine screen strainer to ensure all shell fragments are removed from the finished stock.
Cool and reserve for making the bisque.
To Make the Bisque:
Reserve a few shrimp whole for garnish. Roughly chop the remaining shrimp. Season with salt and white pepper.
Season the skewered lobster tails. Trim the bamboo skewers used to keep the lobster straight so they fit into the saute pan.
Saute the tails and shrimp in a small bit of olive oil. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, allow to flambe to cook out the alcohol.
Bring the stock to a boil and add the heavy cream simmer until the consistency coats the back of a spoon. This may take 30-40 minutes, depending on how fast you simmer.
Alternatively, you could use 4-6 ounces of roux to thicken and simmer the stock and cream for 15-20 minutes to cook out the flour taste. I prefer to use the reduction method for better flavor and less fat and flour in the final dish. Using roux is the classic method.
When the stock and cream are at the consistency you desire, add the flambeed shrimp to the soup.
Remove the skewer from the tails and slice each tail into nice neat disks.
Place 3-5 disks of lobster in the center of the soup bowl and ladle the hot broth over the lobster.
Garnish with a small dollop of sour cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.
To all Spoon Feast Followers and readers
I would like to wish you and yours a very special day.
We have a great new year ahead.
Thank you for reading my blog.
Things That Get in the Way of Holidays
“You have pinched the tendons in your wrist. Go easy until it heals and come see me every other day for two weeks”
. . . easy for you to say at $52.00 a visit. I’m sure lifting the weight of that mula in my wallet will make my wrist better in no time.
Only I can’t type with my left hand. It hurts to stretch to reach the keys and to push down the letters.
I thought I had broken my wrist. It was swollen and painful and wouldn’t move in any direction. I didn’t fall or whack it on anything, just picked up a carton of milk and sharp excruciating pain shot up my arm and then I had “dead-mans hand.”
Is this what I get for wanting one more cookie?
Not broken but just tendons being pinched. Why now?
There is so much to get done for the holidays. Guess it will just take more time and I’ll have to ask for more help to get things done which I am not very good at asking. My stubborn brain keeps me thinking that I can do anything even when I really cannot.
I have to immobilize it at night, which is where we believe the injury first occurred. We think it was hyper-extended while sleeping but why it didn’t show until I picked up that carton of milk I’ll never know.
Movement and activity during the day can help but it seems like it will be a while before it returns to “normal.”
So, in the meantime, Happy Holidays.
Everything will end up in a gift bag this year instead of being wrapped.
The intention of writing many posts over the holidays is a thwarted intention since it is painful to type.
Perhaps it is the Universe telling me to slow down.
Perhaps it is the Universe telling me to learn how to ask and accept help from others.
Perhaps it is just another ill-timed injury that will take time to heal and it has no other significance.
And then again, perhaps it is time to make more cookies and have a cup of cocoa. I like this idea best.
- Homemade Hot Cocoa (todaysmama.com)
- The Best Hot Cocoa (sarahstwohands.wordpress.com)
- Gourmet Hot Cocoa Mix for Gift Giving (tammymaltby.com)
- Handmade Holidays: Homemade Hot Cocoa (brasspaperclip.typepad.com)
Slow roasted garlic Confit is easy to make.
It takes some time in a low oven and your house will smell amazing in the meantime.
Pre-heat the oven to 250°F.
Take a deep baking pan, fill it with peeled garlic cloves.
Cover the garlic with vegetable oil.
Add a sprig of fresh thyme and a light sprinkle of salt.
Cover the dish tightly with tin foil. Place the pan into the oven; overnight is best. If not overnight, then 4-6 hours.
The confit is done when the garlic is soft.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring into storage containers or gift jars.
Use the garlic in sautéed vegetables, potato dishes, spread it like butter on bread, fold it into pasta or knead it into bread dough to make a roasted garlic bread.
There are so many uses for this. Having a jar handy in the fridge is a real treat!
Perfect for a gift from your kitchen.
- Good Old Garlic (healingfoodculture.wordpress.com)
- Very Easy Garlic Bread (curiosakat.com)
Fresh Herb Wreath
Making a fresh herb wreath is easy and very fragrant. I love fresh herbs which is why I grow them, lots of them. If you don’t grow them now, consider starting a herb garden. It will save you a ton of money, you will always have fresh herbs on hand and you can have enough to make things like this. So grow yourself a money-saving herb garden.
You will be dizzy with how great this smells!
To make a fresh herb wreath, you will need:
- 1 wire wreath frame
- 1 package of fine floral wire
- a bunch of fresh herbs
- Whole garlic and shallots, not peeled
Cover your work space with paper to catch all the leaves that she during the wiring process.
Lay the wreath form on the paper and start attaching bundles of herbs to the frame.
For this wreath I used fresh Thyme and Rosemary.
Overlapping the ends of the herbs, fill the frame all the way around.
With a skewer, pierce a hole through the bottom of the garlic and shallots. Thread a floral wire through the hold and attach the garlic and shallots to the herb frame.
Tie a ribbon and hang. I made a small wire loop on the back of floral wire for the hanger.
The herbs will dry. You can use this in cooking if you like, but I am only using it for decoration this year.
It smells so good!
- spice up your holiday décor… herbal wreaths make great seasonings (bambeco.com)
- How To Make Your Own Holiday Wreath – Apartment Therapy Tutorials (apartmenttherapy.com)
- 10 best Christmas wreaths to make and buy (decoratorsnotebook.wordpress.com)
- How to make a wreath (fletcherandfoley.wordpress.com)
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Cut-out Christmas Sugar Cookies are some of my favorite cookies not only to make but sneaking one in with a cup of tea is pure heaven.
Although they may look sweet, they really aren’t too sweet. Well, kinda sorta.
They make great little gifts to children and adults enjoy them too.
To make the cookies, make the dough and cut out the shapes you want. I like using impression cutters so decorating is more like coloring.
Rolled Out Christmas Sugar Cookies
- 8 ounces soft butter (or 2 sticks, or 1 cup)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 – 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cream the butter and the sugar, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla and mix to combine.
Measure and mix the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
Scrape the bottom of the bowl; add the flour 1 cup at a time, until it all comes together.
Separate the dough into 2 balls. Cover 1 and roll out the other.
Lightly flour the counter and rolling-pin. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick or the thickness you desire. Just don’t make them too thin or else they will be very hard to decorate.
Cut out the desired shapes and place them on a parchment lines baking sheet.
Bake in a pre-heated 400°F oven for 6-8 minutes. The bottom of the cookies should be golden brown and the top will be pale when they are done.
Cool completely before frosting.
Butter Cream Frosting for Decorating Cookies
- 1 cup Crisco or vegetable shortening’
- 1 cup butter (or 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups 10x confectioners sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
Whip the Crisco and butter together, add vanilla and salt.
Add the 10x sugar a little at a time, moistening with milk as needed.
Color with food coloring and use piping bags to create your own designs, outlines, fill ins etc.
Make them as detailed as you want. Personally, I like making these things come to life and do details with all kinds of decorating sugars and piping tips.
I bought a Wilton box of 18 gel food colors and decided to make a bit of every color. I also bought a roll of disposable piping bags and some tips for each bag. There were a lot of bags and colors which makes coloring with frosting in piping bags quite fun.
Take a clean rimmed sheet pan, line it with parchment. Choose 4-5 cookies to decorate and lay them on your sheet pan. With the coloring bags and decorative sugars laid out in front of you, pick and choose and start decorating.
Eat your mistakes.
Get friends, family and kids involved. It really is quite fun!
Each gift box will get at least one of these. They make great additions to cookie platters and kids love them.
Actually, I do too. I make them every year and love giving them away.
Turn on some Christmas music, whip up some frosting and decorate to your heart’s content.
- Continuing the Baking Traditions (deliciousonadollar.com)
- Christmas Cookies (missalaneyus.com)
- Christmas Cookies: Big Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies (ahensnest.com)
In My Kitchen December 2012
And so here it is, near the end of the year. I love the holidays.
The Christmas china gets put in the cabinets to use on a daily basis, parties get planned and attended, my son comes home and all is good.
In my kitchen are fantastic cookie cutters for making sugar cookies. The cookies will be decorated and given to anyone who visits. There are impression cutters and outline cutters. The impression cutters are my favorites; they have been around my kitchen since 1978 and get used every year. I love filling in the designs with all kinds of colors and sparkling sugar. Since I am making some today, a post on them will soon follow.
We are making candles in my kitchen too. While these were made last year, we make them every year for gifts. They are nice to take along when visiting. Kayla made these for her mom last year. It is always nice when it is cold outside as the process goes along quicker.
My kitchen is busy making all sorts of gifts.
Here is one of my TV shows loaded with all sorts of gift giving ideas from my kitchen to yours! Have fun!
Head over to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial to see all the fun things going on in kitchens across the world.