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!)

Tyler at dinner

Tyler at dinner

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.

Settling in for Feed Me Chef!

Settling in for Feed Me Chef!

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

-First Course-

Rosemary Pete’s Spicy Greens

Turnips marinated in Prosecco and vanilla, exotic radishes, pomegranate seeds, bleu cheese and preserved lemons

Rosemary Pete's Spicy Greens Salad

Rosemary Pete’s Spicy Greens Salad

Second Course

Braised Pork Belly

Melted sweet dumpling squash, Pete’s bok choy, House made chow-chow and apple cider reduction

Braised Pork Belly

Braised Pork Belly

Melt in your mouth tender

Melt in your mouth tender

Did they like it?

Did they like it?

Kitchen view

Kitchen view

-Third Course-

Corn Crusted Grouper

Pete’s carrots, snow peas, purple sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and celery root puree

Corn Crusted Grouper

Corn Crusted Grouper

Another view of the Corn Crusted Grouper

Another view of the Corn Crusted Grouper

Chef's at work

Chef’s at work

-Fourth Course-

Charred Onion Marinated Lamb

Fingerling sweet potatoes, Russian black kale, fried red peppers and apple butter

Charred Onion Marinated Lamb

Charred Onion Marinated Lamb

Charred onion Marinated Lamb; another view

Charred onion Marinated Lamb; another view

-Fifth Course-

Molten Chocolate Cake

Vanilla ice cream and peanut butter fondue

IMG_4885

Molten Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Fondue

Although Robert didn’t order the Feed Me

A bit of Robert's salad

A bit of Robert’s salad

option, he had a salad and their award-winning White Turkey Chili and a house salad.

House made caramel corn

House made caramel corn

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

Shrimp and lobster1# 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.Insert a skewer to prevent curling

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.

Saute the shells and vegetables

Saute the shells and vegetables until they turn pink.

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.

Flambe with Brandy

Flambe with Brandy

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.

Saute and deglaze the lobster  and shrimp with brandy before adding to the bisque.

Saute and deglaze the lobster and shrimp with brandy before adding to the bisque.

Perfect consistency is when the soup coats the back of a spoon and it stays separated when you draw a line through it with your finger.

Perfect consistency is when the soup coats the back of a spoon and it stays separated when you draw a line through it with your finger.

Mound a bit of the cooked seafood in the bottom of the serving bowl; pour the hot soup over the shrimp and lobster.

Mound a bit of the cooked seafood in the bottom of the serving bowl; pour the hot soup over the shrimp and lobster.

Garnish with sour cream and chives or scallions.

Garnish with sour cream and chives or scallions.

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.

Saute the

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”

The mucous sheaths of the tendons on the back ...

The mucous sheaths of the tendons on the back of the wrist. (Extensor indicis proprius visible going into second digit.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

. . . 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.

Mommy and her wrist splint

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.

hot cocoa

hot cocoa (Photo credit: elana’s pantry)

 

Garlic Confit

Slow roasted garlic Confit is easy to make.

A delicious bowl of slow roasted garlic confit

A delicious bowl of slow roasted garlic confit

It takes some time in a low oven and your house will smell amazing in the meantime.

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F.

Take a deep baking pan, fill it with peeled garlic cloves.

English: Waitrose ready peeled garlic in a pla...

Use peeled garlic if you don’t want to peel all of what you make.This is Waitrose ready peeled garlic in a plastic pot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Keep refrigerated.

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.

Garlic confit on toast

Garlic confit on toast

There are so many uses for this. Having a jar handy in the fridge is a real treat!

DSC_0015Perfect for a gift from your kitchen.

Fresh Herb Wreath

DSC_0007Making 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!

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary

Herbs: Thyme, oregano and rosemary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made

English: Christmas Wreath Being Made (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

Fresh Herb Wreath

Fresh Herb Wreath