Pork out delayed

There’s about five inches of snow here in Raleigh N.C. For those of you in Minneapolis and such frozen spots, you may think we’re a bunch of weenies, but we’re just not used to this. Ice is what we put in our bourbon and branch water.

So, a few things are cancelled. Actually, a lot of things, including the Pork & Pinot event I wrote about earlier. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 6, assuming we dig out.

An informal survey of my Facebook friends yesterday showed that wine was as important to lay in as bread and milk for the advancing blizzard. Admittedly, a lot of my friends are sots, so I wasn’t sure it was an actual trend. Until I opened my News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) today. Several area wine shops had special stock-up-for-the-storm sales on Friday. I’m partial to champagne in the hot tub, myself. Read this trend here.

Fly high for game time

The Super Bowl isn’t far away. Some recipes from my cookbook “Wings: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack” are featured on the Reader’s Digest web site! See them and some great photos here.

Food news roundup

A gallery of cupcakes brightens the morning on The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) food page. Someone had the extremely difficult job of tasting and evaluating local ones. I learned the name of my fave: Slow Burn. Grab a fork and head here.

A fish camp is where guppies make seaweed sleeping bags and sing rousing songs (“99 cans of fish food on the wall, 99 cans of fish food…”). Wrong. Find out the real history in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, here.

A coffee cup sculpture will stand at the entrance to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, N.C., which is set to open Feb. 1 near the site of the famous lunch counter sit-ins. Read about it in the Greensboro News & Record, here.

Louisiana farmers are donating rice to Haiti. Read that, along with King Cake information, in the New Orleans Times Picayune, here.

Upscale Dallas restaurants are going down-home by offering haute versions of biscuits and sausage gravy. The Dallas Morning News has the scoop here.

Who cares about the human genome when chocolate is involved? Florida scientists are attempting to crack the code of cacao and the differences in flavor among different varieties. Read about it in the Miami Herald, here.

Oink if you love wine

Look for the big pig cooker and follow the aromas to Wine Authorities in Durham, N.C. for Pork & Pinot Day on Saturday, Jan. 30, noon to 4 p.m.. Coon Rock Farm will offer its pasture-raised pork, Guglhupf Bakery is providing the buns and Wine Authorities will have a selection of Pinots.

The groups are requesting a donation of $5 per sandwich (with wine). All the money raised will go to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. No matter what terrible disasters go on around the world, local needs persist, and the Food Bank is serving more people than ever because of the economic downturn.

More on pie

My husband and I collaborated on a pie for our neighbor, aka The Queen of Pie, on Saturday. She was unaware that it was National Pie Day – shocking! – but she plans to mark Jan. 23 on her calendar for next year.

We made a pie using blueberries that I froze last summer. I mixed four cups (thawed in the microwave) with a couple cups of sugar and some grated lemon peel and fresh ginger. I added cornstarch for thickening and a dash of mace. Mace is an underused spice. I like it because it has a sweeter flavor than nutmeg, which can be a little bitter, to me.

My husband rolled out the bottom crust – not too much trouble there. Besides, who’s going to see it? The top crust refused to cooperate, as it often does for me. But I used the secret I learned from the Queen: Cut the dough up in strips and make a lattice crust.

The filling tasted good, so I hoped that boded well for the actual pie. We left it at the Queen’s house to spur her recovery and to, I hope, show what we’ve learned at the feet of the pie master.

However you add ‘em up, it’s good

Pi plateThere’s National Pie Day and there’s National Pi Day. Sure, National Pie Day is a concoction of the American Pie Council, which is linked to that pie crust ingredient Crisco, and is designed to promote pie and the ingredients used to make it. Commercial, yes, but I’m for anything that encourages the increased consumption of pie – especially in that dreary dessert period between the Christmas cookies and Girl Scout cookies.

So, on Saturday, make a pie. Even if you use the refrigerated pie crusts – it’s OK. If you make a fruit pie, it’s good for you. I plan to make a pie in honor of the neighbor who helped me finally discover the secrets of making a good pie crust. She could make pies in her sleep – she’s been doing it since she was a teenager – and makes learning really easy. From her, I learned that I did not need to beat the crust into submission with my rolling pin – it’s a pie crust, not a former boss. Deep cleaning breath now. My talented neighbor has been in the hospital recently, but is mending now, and I hope it won’t long before she’s back rolling out crust by the mile.

Stretch the metaphor and eat more pie by also celebrating National Pi Day, which is March 14. (Even if you’re not married to a math geek, like I am, I’m sure you can figure out why.) Pastry tastes a lot better than math. But you can mix the two, as you can see by the accompanying photo. Yes, it’s a pie plate with a pi theme.

Here’s a pie recipe from my friend Sheri. This pie has been known to cure broken bones – she brought it over after I fractured my wrist this summer. She thinks it’s named after a similar pie at the Raleigh restaurant, but she’s not sure about that.

Angus Barn Chocolate Pie

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick butter
2 foil-wrapped rectangles semi-sweet baking chocolate (4 squares) . . . (Nestles comes 4 rectangles to the box . . . enough for 2 pies.  Bakers comes 8 squares to the box . . . enough for 2 pies).
1 regular (not deep-dish) pie crust

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat eggs, then add sugar and vanilla.  Melt butter and chocolate together over low heat.  Let chocolate mixture cool somewhat, then pour chocolate mixture, small portions at a time, into egg mixture.  (You don’t want the chocolate to cook the eggs.)  Beat well after each addition.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes at 350 F.  Serve with whipped cream.

(Note: filling will rise above crust, but will go back down once the pie is removed from oven and it cools.)

Food news roundup

If you’re a Food Network junkie, some of its stars are coming to the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center. And, yes, one is Paula Deen. Get the details in the News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), here.

Fabulous food at a gas station? Yes, says the Charlotte Observer. And nothing is garnished with crushed Slim Jims. Read about it here.

In the Wilmington (N.C.) Star News, an article examines how consumers, trying to save money, are wondering if the cost of organic food is worth it. Read it here.

Most fungi fans prefer to use dogs to hunt the rare truffle rather than the stereotypical pigs. The tale of a hunt is in the Portland Oregonian, here.

Who needs the Magic Bullet or even a Veg-O-Matic? The hot tool in urban kitchens, so says the New York Times, is surgical tweezers. It’s all here.

Wings up for the playoffs!

The home-state team isn’t in the NFL playoffs, but I’m thrilled to see the New Orleans Saints as one of the final four still playing for a Super Bowl spot. (I was pulling for the San Diego Chargers and quarterback Phillip Rivers, formerly of N.C. State University, but no luck there.)

Why New Orleans? It feels good for the city to have something to cheer about after all it has been through and is still struggling with. And my real interest: Food. If the Saints make to to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, that will mean a great theme for party menus. Jambalaya, gumbo, bread pudding, and the wonderful food goes on and on.

But the team has to get there first. And viewers need to be well fed for the marathon of football-watching on Jan. 24. Wings are the classic choice of hungry sports fans everywhere. They’re easy to make, whether fiery hot or mild-but-flavorful.

As I found out when writing my cookbook, “Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack” (John Wiley & Sons, 2009) the weeks coming up to the Super Bowl is the biggest time of year for wings sales, so shop before your supermarket runs out. It’s easy to save a little money by cutting up the wings yourself. Simply cut at the two joints with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Put the little pointy ends – technically called the flappers – in a bag in the freezer for making chicken broth later on.

This wing recipe from my book is plenty hot, but if you want more flame, increase the amount of the Thai chili-garlic sauce. Look for the sauce in Asian markets or in well-stocked supermarkets.

Tangy Thai Wings

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons Thai chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 teaspoons honey

12 wings, cut in half at joints, wing tips removed and discarded

Combine the oil, lime juice, garlic sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and honey in a bowl and stir until the honey is dissolved.

Place the wings in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the giner mixture over the wings and shake to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove the wings from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the wings on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

Recipe from “Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack” by Debbie Moose (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)

Good food, good cause

You gotta eat, right? So next Tuesday, Jan. 19, have some good food and help raise money for relief efforts in Haiti.  The Raleigh, N.C. restaurants operated by Empire Eats – The Pit, Duck & Dumpling, The Raleigh Times, The Morning Times, Sitti and Gravy – will donate that day’s profits to the American Red Cross to help victims of the massive earthquake.

Taverna Nikos in Raleigh also is donating a share of profits from now through the end of February to the relief effort.

Know of other restaurants helping out? Add ‘em.

Food news roundup

If you think “vegan” is a four-letter word, hold up. There’s something we can learn from that style of cooking, and Andrea Weigl at the News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) tells us about it in the food section today. Read more here.

I love breakfast, and apparently a lot of other people do, too. The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer asked readers to write in with their breakfast memories. Kathleen Purvis brings the food and memories of chorizo, salsa, matzoh, omelets made to ELO (kept that college record collection, huh?) and more. It’s here.

Something new on the cart: Bison hot dogs. A Winston-Salem, N.C. joint is serving them, and the story is in the Winston-Salem Journal here.

The mystery of an exploding Christmas goose is explored in the New Orleans Times Picayune today. Could alcohol have been involved? Duh, it’s New Orleans. Find out here.

I will grab a merlot instead of most other things in wine bottles (except champagne).  I’m even a red-wine-with-fish gal. Bill Daley talks about merlots and microclimates in today’s Chicago Tribune, here.

Flu-fighting soups are up at The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.). Get your dose of goodness here.