Best Bite of the Week: Urban Kitchen in Corolla, NC

urban kitchen 6

This little gem of a restaurant opened almost 2 years ago and the word-of-mouth keeps the tables filled and patrons waiting at the bar and outside. Our first visit to Urban Kitchen, highly recommended by friends, lived up to the expectation.

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On Meeting Ruth Reichl

It’s going to take something really super-spectacular this week to top my Monday night.

How come? Because my friend Kara and I met the one and only Ruth Reichl. I know, I’m gushing just a bit. But in my defense, it’s Ruth Reichl, restaurant critic/editor/memoirist/James Beard Award winner and now fiction writer. And for the 90 minutes we were in the same place at the same time, she was as warm and down-to-earth in person as she sounds in interviews and looks on television.

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Best Sip of the Week: Blood Orange Margarita

Treat yourself to this: A frozen blood orange margarita, courtesy of El Vez in Philadelphia

Treat yourself to this: A frozen blood orange margarita, courtesy of El Vez in Philadelphia

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to drinks. Typically, I stick with the original mojito, vodka tonic, or piña colada, and am happy. Just give me a respectable version of the classic; no need for peach this or pomegranate that.

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It’s Not Too Late: Gifts for Moms, Daughters, Sisters, Grandmas, Aunts, or Friends on Mother’s Day

Mother's Day gifts any mom would be happy to get

Mother’s Day gifts any mom would be happy to get

I love giving gifts, and I especially love picking out gifts for people who love to cook. So I’ve come up with a list of my would-love-to-get-my-hands-on gems. Take a look at my choices and then hurry out to the stores as soon as humanly possible. I’m telling you, if you’re buying for a cook, you can’t go wrong with any of these items.

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However You Prepare it, Brisket is Best on Passover

Brisket on the board, sliced and moist, ready for serving

Brisket on the board, sliced and moist, ready for serving

I’m a big believer in tradition, especially when it comes to holidays. I also believe there’s nothing wrong with updating a classic. Brisket was the time-honored Passover meal when I grew up, and I watched my mom make it every year. A beautiful brisket nestled in a hearty sauce of crushed tomatoes dotted with the classic carrots, onions, and celery, and some red wine added in the last half hour to beef up the flavor of the sauce. I love that recipe (and it was something I could make with three toddlers at my feet), and that was our dinner on the first night of Passover.

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Homemade Vegetable Stock

A flavorful stock blends a lot of your go-to veggies including carrots, onions, celery and parsnips, among others.

A tasty stock blends a lot of your go-to veggies including carrots, onions, celery and parsnips, among others.

Well, it took me a bit longer than expected to cross off the first item on my culinary to-do list, but the time has come, and vegetable stock is a great one to start with. Stocks are easier to make than you might think, and these staples will prove their value every time you reach for them in the freezer. I’ve gotten in the habit of making chicken stock once a month, and hope to do the same with vegetable stock.

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A Fearless Cook’s Culinary To-Do List

culinary to-do list

Note: Apologies for my sudden (and longer than expected) lack of posts during January. A very important person in our family became ill late last month and I’ve been spending most of my time helping out. My schedule is still not back to normal, but I hope to be posting more frequently. Many thanks for your patience and understanding.

Now that the New Years’ celebrating is over and everyone is settling into always-seems-to-be-snowing 2014 in earnest, I’ve been tossing around some things I’d like to accomplish this year, an informal to-do list of sorts. I’ve given up on setting resolutions, so this list is really more of a rainy-day/too-much-snow-on-the-ground/just-wanna-stay-in/play-hookie-from-life list that I can pick away at during the year. Mini goals, in no special order. Fun ways to spend time in the kitchen, to be sure.

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Cozy New Year’s Eve Dinner at Home

A meal that's worth staying home for....

A meal that’s worth staying home for….

Hello, again, and Happy New Year. From my lack of posts, it appears that Thanksgiving really took its toll on me. I took some time off to handle non-blog business, and as all bloggers hope, I thought I’d be able to eke out time to write a post or two. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I’m back now, so thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you all enjoyed a lovely holiday season.

We rang in 2014 with a cozy dinner – and my husband and I cooked together. Not something we do often (he likes to stay out of the way, but is the first in line for tasting!). However, over the years he’s learned some skills, and was a very good sous chef last night. Here’s what he did to make this dinner come together: he prepped and made the mustard-shallot vinaigrette for the string beans, peeled the shrimp for the appetizer, minced the garlic and zested and juiced a lemon for the herb crust on the rack of lamb. But his biggest job of all? Stirring the mushroom risotto. Of course, ever the lawyer, he asked questions. “Do you really have to stand here just stirring?” “Can you stir too much? I’d hate to over-stir this.” And there were others I’ll leave out of this post. Despite the mild line of questioning, he stirred and added stock, and stirred some more, until the risotto was done. As you’ll see, it was cooked just right! (Thanks, honey.)

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Thanksgiving – the Food, the Parade, the Dog Show, and the Football

The food that fed the family

The food that fed the family

After days of chopping and peeling and cooking and freezing, Thanksgiving finally arrived, and all the preparations gave way to thawing and warming and roasting and serving. As our family was coming in during the day, the appetizers made their entrance, just the ticket to keep everyone sufficiently satiated until dinner. The onion dip with cracked pepper was heated to almost bubbly, we took the chill off the eggplant and white bean puree, and the creamy herb dip punched up raw veggies.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Thanksgiving

Scrumptious sweet potato torte; it doesn't get any better than this

Scrumptious sweet potato torte; it doesn’t get any better than this

It’s been a busy – and productive – week since my Thanksgiving post last week. Since then, my nice, neat dining room with some stacked dishes and serving pieces has turned into Thanksgiving Supply Central. We’ve added wine, a large coffee maker, paper goods, and food from the first trip to the grocery store.

On the cooking side, I’ve finished making the squash soup (and froze 2 large batches) and I made one sweet potato torte (see recipe below) and froze it yesterday as a test. I’ve never frozen the torte before, but thought if I could make it early, it would free up precious oven time on Thursday. I’m going to thaw it tomorrow and if holds its consistency after it’s warmed up, my experiment will have worked, which means I’ll make the other one this weekend and freeze that one, too.

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