Sunday, November 30, 2014

Breakfast at the Mandolin

The Mandolin decorated for Christmas.
Shelley and Jesse, friends we met on our trip to Italy three years ago, were in town visiting Mary (another member of our tour), and we got together with two others tour members,  Becky (and her husband Frank) and Paula (and her husband Doug) for brunch this morning at the Mandolin Restaurant.  It was sort of a reunion of several NC State Alumni who had taken the Alumni sponsored trip to Italy in the fall of 2011.  After the big victory of State over Carolina yesterday, everyone was celebrating that win.  *
Shelley and Jesse visiting from Virginia.

Dan and I had been to the Mandolin for brunch last year**, and we recommended it as a great place to have breakfast.  It was a lot of fun visiting with this bunch of friends.   And the food was good too.
Clockwise beginning in foreground:  Dan, Paula, Mary, Shelley, Doug, Jesse, Becky (hidden behind Frank) Frank.

While we were waiting on our orders, each of us was served a delicious homemade biscuit with butter and apple butter.  I love these biscuits.

Mandolin's homemade biscuit.  Delish!
For the main dish several enjoyed the Johnston Co. Country Ham Benedict.  The Mandolin is a farm to table restaurant and uses products from local farms as much as possible in their dishes.

Eggs Benedict with country ham from Johnston County.
My choice for brunch was a Virgin Bloody Mary, fresh orange juice and a country breakfast. 
A Virgin Mary garnished with a pickled okra.

Country breakfast.

Doug chose the shrimp and grits served in an iron skillet.  He pronounced this delicious.
Shrimp and grits.

Dan chose the Omelet of the Day that included pheasant, scallions and cauliflower.
Omelet of the day.
Jesse and Dan.
Left to right:  Paula, Mary, Shelley, Jesse, Doug, Becky, Frank

The food was good, but the best part was visiting with these NC State Alumni friends. 

*I am a State fan unless they are playing Carolina.  But I wore a red jacket and was sitting with State fans, Jesse had gotten the ticket and I certainly wasn't going to be cheering for Carolina under those circumstances.  I did my graduate work at NC State so I was happy they won---sort of

**Check out my earlier blog about Brunch at the Mandolin.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pesto Chicken Salad

Pesto Chicken Salad

Pesto adds a little spark to almost any dish.  Recently I was planning to make chicken salad and noticed that I had a jar of pesto in the fridge I thought I would use it in the salad.  Here's the recipe:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs poached and diced
1/2 cup pine nuts toasted
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 stalk of celery diced

When I make chicken salad I like to poach the chicken because it always comes out quite tender.
Dice poached chicken thighs.

Toast pine nuts. 

Add toasted pine nuts and pesto.

Add celery.
Add mayo and mix all together lightly. 
Ready to eat. 

I served this on a bed of Romaine lettuce leaves garnished with tangerine slices.  A croissant finished off the dish.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

A New Take on Pimento Cheese Using Red Leicester Cheese

Trader Joe's Red Leicester Cheese

As I was checking out at Trader Joe's this afternoon with my cream cheese and roasted red peppers in a jar, the checkout guy asked what I was making.  I told him pimento cheese.  He asked if I had ever used their Red Leicester cheese.  He said it made the best pimento cheese.  So I brought some home. Sure enough it makes great pimento cheese and so easy.

Trader Joe's Red Leicester Cheese has a hint of chili and a lot of red bell pepper.  The cheese is also somewhat softer than regular cheddar cheese that I normally use for making pimento cheese.  I grated a half pound of the Leicester and added about 3 to 4 ounces of cream cheese and blended these in the food processor.  I added enough mayonnaise to make it the consistency I like.  This was quick, easy and very tasty.

Grate the Red Leicester Cheese.  Notice the red bell pepper is quite abundant. 
Add the cream cheese and blend in food processor. 

Add enough mayo for desired consistency. 

I like pimento cheese on Graham Crackers and also on slices of apples.  We had these as appetizers before our dinner tonight.
This is good spread on Graham Crackers. 
Or on apple slices.  

If you have a Trader Joe's, you might like to try this.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Queen Anne's Revenge

Notorious pirate Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, was run aground in what is now Beaufort Inlet in 1718.  Some believe Blackbeard intentionally did this.  For more than 200 years the ship  lay in the bottom of the sea off Shackleford Banks in North Carolina.  It was in 1996 that the ship was discovered and since then archaeologists have recovered thousands of artifacts that are being conserved at the QAR Museum at ECU in Greenville, NC.
Blackbeard the notorious pirate who sailed the Queen Anne's Revenge. 

Dan's grandson, Erik, who just finished his Master's Degree at University of Durham, England, is a conservator at the QAR Conservation Laboratory.
Grandson Erik. 
Dan talks with Sarah the Director of the Laboratory.
In addition to learning about  the techniques used to conserve these artifacts, many artifacts were on display.
Xray of shoe buckle.  
Xrays are used to locate artifacts within the concretions.  A shoe buckle was located by xray and later carefully removed from the concretion.
Shoe buckle. 
There have been a number of cannons removed.  A map shows the position of cannons at the site of the shipwreck.
Add Map showing location of cannons and anchors at the site of the shipwreck.

Cannon with cannon balls. 
Perhaps the most impressive artifact is the 12 foot anchor.
Twelve-foot anchor.  

We thoroughly enjoyed the Open House that the Laboratory held on Saturday, and we especially enjoyed learning about some of Erik's work.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Apple Ring Pancakes

Apple Ring Pancakes

I'm not sure where I saw this recipe.  Perhaps someone posted it on Facebook.  Anyway Dan and I like both apples and pancakes so I thought I would try this combination of the two.. We had nice big Honey Crisp apples just made for this recipe.

1 batch pancake mix, (I used 1 1/2 cups Arrowhead Multigrain pancake mix, 2 tbs canola oil, 1 1/4 cup buttermilk.)
1/2 cup additional buttermilk*
4 medium apples

Heat a griddle over medium heat.
Prepare the pancake mix, mixing in the additional buttermilk, and spices.
Peel and core the apples.  Slice them into 1/8 " slices.  Use a toothpick to dip each slice into the pancake batter, then onto the griddle,  Cook until golden, flipping once.  Serve warm with syrup.

* I didn't have buttermilk so I improvised. Combine 2 % milk and lemon juice. Measure 1 scant cup of milk. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Let stand 5-10 minutes at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.  Use this substitute (including curdled bits) as you would buttermilk in your recipe.
Add lemon juice to milk to make buttermilk. 
Pancake mix with nutmeg and cinnamon. 

I made the batter to have it ready when the apples were sliced..

Beautiful Honey Crisp apples.  
Slice apples very thin. 1/8".
Dip apple slices into pancake mix using a toothpick. 

Cook on hot griddle until golden brown on each side.  

Flip once.
Add butter and maple supper. 

Ready to eat.  

A nice take on pancakes! We enjoyed these for breakfast this morning. Check out this website:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pecan Pie Truffles (Vegan)

Pecan Pie Truffles

This recipe* from the NY Times is quite fun to make and is absolutely delicious.  The truffle features the best part of a pecan pie but with a chocolate coating.  I'm not vegan, but this recipe is.  I loved it anyway.  No eggs, no milk, no butter. No cooking except for melting the chocolate.

My friend Virginia from Greensboro was here for a visit and we made these.  It's always fun to cook with a friend.  These will freeze nicely, so I have some stashed away in the freezer ready for the holidays.

  • cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ½teaspoon salt
  • 2tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼cup bourbon
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 7ounces dark chocolate
  • In a medium bowl, stir together pecans, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt until well combined. Add maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla, stirring thoroughly. Use your hands to make sure the mixture becomes fully incorporated.

  • Form mixture into walnut-sized balls, then place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours.

  • In the top of a double boiler or in a medium stainless steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, melt chocolate. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the frozen balls into the melted chocolate, then place onto prepared baking sheet. Let sit for 15 minutes or until firm.
All ingredients mixed together.
Walnut-sized balls ready for the freezer.

Melt dark chocolate in double boiler. 
Chocolate coated and ready to eat or ready to freeze for the holidays. 

A bite out reveals the pecan pie center. 
I will serve these in a candy dish that was a wedding gift to Mama,  I remember it holding candy every Christmas. 

Yes, I think I will add this recipe to my holiday recipes book.