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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes


As we come up on our one year anniversary of the new and improved TCC blog, we figured what better way to celebrate than to change things up a bit? You should realize by now that we like things with a twist and so we’re going to tinker a bit with the format.

We’re still going to be bringing you new and interesting recipes using our monthly theme method, complete with how-to photos and tips for tailoring to suit your tastes…on Sundays.

On Wednesdays, we want to focus more on cooking tips and techniques, fun food facts and did-ya-knows? We’d also like to use Wednesdays as a forum to answer any kitchen conundrums or culinary questions you might have. We might even throw in the occasional bonus recipe if the need arises.

We thank you very much for following along this past year and hope you continue to do so because we have more fun and new concoctions to share with you. As always, your feedback is heartily encouraged – good, bad, ugly, or fabulous – and very much appreciated.

In August, as a tribute to our lovely NC summer weather, we got a little something-something for those who like it hot, and in September we’ll be featuring recipes from Mom & Dad Kay’s Annual Gourmet Anniversary Dinner. This year we’re doing a salute to Bell’Italia (mmm, delizioso!).

So, as always, please stay tuned and bon app├ętit!

K2 and Wendi

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Das is gut!


What picnic is complete without potato salad? Today we’re bringing you a K2 family favorite. The vinegar, radish, and celery give it a nice crunchy edgy taste that’s very addictive.

Old Fashioned German Potato Salad

4 cups red potatoes, cooked and diced
1 ½ cups celery, diced
¼ cup radishes, sliced (optional)
2 tbsp parsley (dried or fresh)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp mustard
½ tsp celery salt
1 ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Boil potatoes until fork poke-able. Drain and let sit out to cool for a while. The best thing about the red potatoes is that the skin will peel off very easily.


Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to blend well.


Garnish with fresh tomatoes or boiled egg slices and paprika.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sesame(ish) Noodles

Here’s a quick and easy cold sesame noodle recipe that can be made for a mid week spur of the moment picnic. Not only is it super simple, but it can be used as is for a light side item, or add in some extra protein (chicken, tofu, shrimp…) for something a little more substantial.

Cold Sesame(ish) noodles:

1 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp peanut butter (we used smooth, but you can use chunky)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup vinegar (we used a mixture of rice, red wine and white vinegar)
½ Tbsp chili sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
splash of fish sauce (optional)

6 oz soba noodles
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Mix together first 7 ingredients (tahini-ginger). The sauce should be thin enough where it will cover the noodles easily. If you find that it’s too thick, add in a little water.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Keep rinsing until the noodles are cool to the touch.

Mix noodles with sauce.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Notes:


- If you don’t have soba noodles or the desire to go get soba noodles, you can use plain old spaghetti, we won’t tell!
- Although the fish sauce is optional, it does bring a certain amount of depth to the dish. Just make sure you only use a splash, too much fish sauce isn’t a good thing!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summertime Cocktails!


Okay, so maybe cocktails aren’t a traditional picnic addition, but since when are we traditional?

Just make sure when you make these you’re being legal, i.e.; of age, drinking in a legal picnic spot (like your backyard) and have a DD on hand! (if you have people who need to leave the picnic spot).

Now, onto the goods. Our friend Michele loves to play around with drinks, she was perfectly happy to help us out with three of her favorite summertime cocktails.
 
NC Style Bramble-
(adapted from a recipe from the NY times … if you go to the link you’ll see there’s a great article attached to the recipe). Measurements are for 1 drink.


2 oz. gin
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz. blackberry brandy
½ oz. blackberry simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water combined double the amount of blackberries (ie 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 2 cups berries). Heat over medium until boiling, remove from heat and mash the berries in. Let cool to room temperature. Strain your mixture, and put into a squeeze bottle (like this one). The simple syrup will keep for awhile in the fridge.

Combine all ingredients with crushed ice, stir and enjoy. If its too sweet, add more lemon juice; to tart, add some simple syrup.

  




Bellini Sunset-
(this recipe uses more of your blackberry simple syrup. To make a simple Bellini, eliminate the blackberry simple syrup… but really, why would you want to?)


  
1 part fresh peach puree (squish some fresh peaches into a bowl, strain through a fine mesh sieve and tah dah!)
2 parts sparking wine (Michele swears by Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, inexpensive and tasty)
squeeze of blackberry simple syrup (see NC style bramble recipe for recipe)

Into a champagne flute pour in your peach puree. Add the squeeze of simple syrup, and top with your sparkling wine.





Finally we’re going to give you a recipe for Mojitos. We’re going to use the recipe exactly as it was presented to us by Michele.



Mojito (Note: this recipe makes 2 mojitos. If you’re making one you really might as well make two).

Hardware:
Heavy-duty wide rimmed glasses. Barware is not to be discounted when making the labor-intensive mojito.
Muddler: Once you use the right tool you never want to go back. You can use other things, but, just suck up the $7 for a muddler.
Crushed Ice

Software:

2 limes
30 peppermint leaves. Not spearmint, peppermint.
Granulated sugar
Cheap, clear rum. Cheap, not “cask-aged” or any other fancy crap.
Seltzer

Set out each glass. Place 1 ½ tsp. of granulated sugar in each glass. Add 15 peppermint leaves to each glass.


Add ¾ of a shot glass of fresh lime juice in each glass.

Muddle a lot (until mint has given its all).


Add 1 ½ shot glasses of rum to each glass. Stir so sugar gets totally dissolved. Add crushed ice. Add about, oh, two shot glasses of seltzer. Dip spoon in under the ice and stir gently to get stuff mixed without destroying your carbonation. Try to keep mint detritus in the bottom of the glass because it is not “cool” or “authentic” to be sputtering out a piece of destroyed mint leaf.

Also, do not decorate with fresh mint. This is not a frickin’ mint julep.


Out of balance? Simple syrup will fix the problem if it’s not sweet enough; lime juice will fix the problem if it’s too sweet. When in doubt, add more rum.

Enjoy responsibly!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Fun with Blueberries


Yes, we love blueberries, there we said it…we love them! Especially in the summer time when they are plentiful and at their peak. So here’s another blueberry recipe, great for a potluck or big family share meal. This is one of comes from a dog-eared copy of Cook’s Illustrated that k2’s friend Elayne swears by (and now we can too). The 13-year-old nephew sitting next to k2 during the cookout described it as “most amazing,” so please enjoy this most amazing dessert.

Blueberry Cobbler with Butter Cookie Topping

Filling

2 pints fresh blueberries (or 24 oz frozen)
2 tsp cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla

NB: the cobbler in the photos is actually a doubled recipe because we had a big crowd to feed, so keep that in mind when you start.

Rinse the blueberries and place in an 8” square or 9” round dish. Not to worry if they aren’t dry.


Mix cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a small bowl, then with a large spoon, gently fold mixture in with the blueberries until well coated.



For the butter cookie topping, mix flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until well blended. Blend in egg and vanilla. Then add in flour mixture until just combined.


Drop dough in heaping teaspoons on blueberries until well covered.


Place the cobbler on a cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 45-55 minutes until golden brown.


Serve warm (but not hot because you’ll burn your mouth, but then that means that you’ll need ice cream and ice cream goes really well with cobbler, so go ahead, eat it when you want).


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Not your Typical Fruit Salad

Who doesn’t like a nice cold fruit salad on a hot summer’s day? We thought it’d be nice to turn up the heat on the fruit salad. Don’t worry, we’re still offering you a cool treat, just with a little twist.

We came across a recipe for spiced melon balls a couple of years ago, and have since realized adding other fruits and a few extra ingredients made for a truly unique salad.

Spiced Fruit Salad

½ cup chunks of each of the following fruits:
      - watermelon
      - cantaloupe
      - honeydew
      - pineapple
      - halved grapes
      - ripe peach or nectarine
      - red grapes (we just cut these in half)
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne (more or less to taste)
1 ½ Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
½ Tbsp. finely chopped mint
2 Tbsp. lime juice (can use lemon, or a combination)
Sugar to taste

In a large bowl combine all fruits.


In a small bowl combine salt, coriander, cayenne, cilantro and mint. Whisk in lime juice and sugar.


Pour spice mixture over fruit and toss to coat.


Cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Picnic Salads -- Broccoli


Since summer is THE time for picnics and potlucks and family food gatherings, here's a tasty feed-many salad to fit the bill.  This one had been poached from our friend Elayne's recipe cabinet who let us whip up a batch for a 4th of July food extravaganza.  It's got just the right balance of sweet and salty and crunchy and not.  The dressing is a variation on the one that Elayne's mom makes for her cole slaw; we added a bit of honey to give it a nice underbelly of mellow sweetness.

Elayne's Broccoli Salad

8 stalks of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces and blanched
8 strips bacon, cooked
1/2 medium purple onion, chopped small
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Dressing

1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4-1/2 tsp sugar
4-1/2 tsp honey

Remove the stalks of the broccoli and cut the florets (heads) into small bite-size pieces.


To blanch the broccoli, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat. While the water heats, fill a bowl with ice and water. Once the water is boiling, drop the broccoli in and boil them only until they're barely cooked through but still tender (about 2 minutes). The broccoli will turn a really pretty bright green.


Remove the broccoli and place in the ice bath. Once its cool to the touch, drain the water and let it sit to continue draining (water will get caught in the florets so shaking them a couple of times to release the water is not a bad idea).


In a frying pan, cook up the bacon strips until they are nice and crispy. When done, remove from pan and set on paper towels to drain.  Once cool to the touch, break into small, but not miniscule, pieces.
Chop your onion into small pieces, but not so small you can't easily pick them out in case anyone you know (k2) doesn't eat raw onions. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, sugar and honey until smooth.
In a large bowl, mix blached broccoli, raisins, and shredded cheese. Gently fold in dressing and bacon pieces (gently so that you don't break up the bacon pieces too much).

Let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend and serve either cold or at room temperature.




Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!


What goes better with the Fourth of July than fried chicken? Well, in our book, Cornmeal Crusted Baked Chicken does. (Whoa, I think the Colonel just rolled over in his grave!) Best part about this recipe, the chicken tastes just as good served cold as it does fresh out of the oven so it makes the perfect picnic food.

Cornmeal Crusted Baked Chicken

2 ¾ lbs bone-in chicken legs and thighs, with all skin and visible fat removed
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup yellow cornmeal (medium coarse)
½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp dry rosemary
Fresh ground pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp water
1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, coat chicken pieces with buttermilk, cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours before prepping.


In another bowl, combine cornmeal, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, rosemary, and a pinch of pepper. Mix well.


Set a lightly oiled rack on a baking sheet or baking pan. Cover sheet or pan with foil for easier clean up.


Mix egg and water together to make a wash. Take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk and dip in egg wash, then coast with cornmeal mixture. Set breaded chicken on the rack to dry while coating the rest.


Drizzle melted butter over chicken and bake for 35-40 minutes at 425° or until the crust is golden and crusty.


Hope everyone has a great eating day and a safe and Happy Fourth!