Tag Archives: Whole Foods

Grocery Shopping: French Mindset in North Carolina

How do y’all shop?

Reader: At the store, dummy.

Another Reader: At the farmer’s market, dummy.

Yet another reader: Pushing a cart, dummy.

WHOA, y’all. None of you are Redd Foxx, so you cannot legally say dummy that much.

When I say “how do you shop,” imaginary readers in my head, I mean this: what’s your approach to shopping?

I’d say that I’m a French shopper living in the Piedmont Triad area.

For instance. When I made my Braised Moroccan Chicken with Olives awhile back, I made a list, went to the store to shop for the things I needed for this specific night, and then I cooked. (Consequently, I ate around 8:45.) I pretty much only bought what I needed. So when I was planning dinner two nights later, I had to go back to the store.

I sure looked weird taking this picture in Whole Foods.

I sure looked weird taking this picture in Whole Foods.

Perhaps I’m not a great planner, but I tend to waste food when I buy it ahead of time. I either don’t get to it and it spoils (wasteful) or I don’t want it when it’s time to have it so it spoils (wa$teful).

I really like the theory of French grocery shopping. It might be fake, since I’ve never been grocery shopping in Paris, but I’ve seen Ratatouille so I’m pretty sure I’m an expert.

You get off work, you head to the market, grab your rosé, baguette and cheese, and you make dinner for the night. Your ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. Your meal is a delight. And you go to sleep full and fantasizing about Jean Dujardin.

But that dream, like so many, is about to be crushed. Crushed like that bridge with all the love locks on it. The weight of all that love is about to smother you back to reality.

Because you (I) live in America. And you (I) drive a car to work. And you (I) do the majority of your shopping in a grocery store and not a French market. And you (I) work til 6:45 or 7 almost every night. And you (I) don’t always feel like cooking. Or look at the clock you (I) know that if you cook tonight, you’ll (I’ll) be eating at damn near midnight.

I suppose there’s no one perfect way to shop. Your way may not work for me. And my way certainly may not work for you. Hell, half the time it doesn’t work for me.

But in a weird way, I kind of like it. It keeps spontaneity alive. You’re never going to try something bold if you’re a slave to Taco Tuesday or if you’re eating 8-10 portions of lasagna for a week.

Eh, it might be a dream. Sometimes it’s a nightmare. But hey, a dummy can dream.

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Rah Rah, Ardmore RAH!: 10K, 5K or Fun Run for Hunger October 19

This past Saturday, I went to Whole Foods to pick up a piece of salmon and grab lunch. And I saw they had quince paste, which I’d never actually seen outside of Spain. So I bought two containers. And you REALLY can’t have quince paste without queso manchego. So I got some of that. And I needed to pick up some ice cream for my girl’s night I was having a few days later.

So 1 fish filet, 1 cheese wedge, 2 fruit pastes and 4 pints of ice cream later, I make it to the front of the store. Shockingly, I broke nothing. (But I did drop 2 pints of ice cream.)

As I was walking out, I ran into none other than a former work colleague SLASH friend, David Mullen. He was manning the grill out front to make burgers in support of the Ardmore RAH, or Run Against Hunger. 

After catching up for a bit, he told me about said Ardmore RAH. It’s a 10K (…that’s a lot for me…), 5k  (ok! better!) and one-mile fun run (aw, hell! I could do that! ….and then collapse and die!) through the beautiful historic neighborhood of Ardmore right here in Winston-Salem. 

I didn’t need a burger at the time. (I KNOW. I WAS SHOCKED TOO.) But I said “let me give you a donation.” So I gave him a $10.

And listen to this.

David said to me, “Thank you so much. That $10 goes to make 70 meals. They can turn $1 in 7 meals.”

And then, everything went black because my brain exploded and dripped out of my ears.

Did you hear that? That is some Dumbledore ish right there. I mean, that is truly magical. Because of their partnerships, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC can turn $1 in 7 meals. And in the past 6 years of doing the Ardmore RAH, more than $85,000 has been donated. Which means that almost 600,000 meals have been donated. Amazing!

If you’re in town on October 19th and have any inkling to run or walk, do this! 100% of the proceeds go straight to Second Harvest. Everything that you give goes to helping somebody. I mean, that’s kind of awesome.

So, sign up here. Run or walk around Ardmore. Help some people out.

Because not everyone is as fortunate as I am, to buy 4 pints of ice cream and 2 containers of quince paste.

What an idiot. 

Hermione always knows.

Hermione always knows.

 

 

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Oohhhh, Brexico: Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese Brunch

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, culinarily. A few ups and downs.  

Ok. Mostly a lot of ups and one major down.

It’d be like the world’s weirdest roller coaster.

I shall list the ups and downs in a list. Real badasses use lists, y’all. 

Up: going to wd-50 in New York. Wylie Dufresne was THERE. And while I did not speak to him in actuality, in my mind, he complimented me for my hilarious, hilarious jokes. And we laughed and laughed. Back in the real world, the meal was outrageously good. Highlights include the pig tail with artichoke, olive oil jam and hazelnut; the walleye pike, celery, macadamia and grapefruit; the rabbit (!!!!!!wrapped in fried chicken skin!!!!!!!), spring onion, hibiscus, thai basil nori; and the popcorn vacherin with strawberry, kaffir lime and watermelon. 

I don’t remember this course, but it replaced the scallops. And it was beautiful.

Rabbit with fried chicken skin. Stupid good.

Popcorn Vacherin. So unique.

Down: coming back from New York, and going to put groceries away in the cabinets and finding eighty million ants. Which allowed me to channel my inner Zoolander and remark “What is this, a KITCHEN for ANTS?” (Note: I only made that remark after I got through the horror of finding, murdering, and Lysoling the ant murder site.) I seem to have remedied the problem with Ant Shield and a lot of ant killing. And I’m incredibly OCD and everything that could be ant-attractable is now in a Ziploc bag. So, don’t judge me, Judge Reinhold. Cause to paraphrase my friend Jesus: let he who is without bugs spray the first Raid.

Up: going to Whole Foods Winston-Salem and stumbling on local vendor sampling day when I was RULL hungry. I had Roots hummus from Asheville (the Thai Coconut Curry is so unexpected. Sweet hummus…delicious), Peggy Rose’s hot pepper jelly from Wake Forest, NC, and my most favorite discovery: super local pimento cheese. If you’ve never had pimento cheese, it is a true southern delicacy packed as full of calories as it is with cheese. It’s made of cheese (duh), pimentos (duh again), mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. But the folks at Red Clay Gourmet, made right here in Winston-Salem, NC, do some great twists. The have the basic classic, a Hickory smoked, flame roasted jalapeno (locally sourced!), and a weirdly delicious one: pimento cheese with goat cheese and sundried tomato. People of 336, find this pimento cheese, get yourself some Wheat Thins, turn on Steel Magnolias, start crying your eyeballs out. Oops, I went one too far.

Up: brunch with my first official guests, my friend Anna (of the wonderful blog, Curiouser and Curiouser) and her husband, Kevin Keller. Who one time, after a few glasses of wine, I called Kevin Kline. So sometimes, I call him Kevin Kline. And sometimes I call him Kevin Keller. Cause that is his name. 

But I digress.

Anna and Kevin Kline were my first official guest, so I had to find something delicious for brunch. Something easy enough to make on a Sunday morning, that could be paired with the only breakfast meat that matters: bacon, and would work well with a boozy brunch cocktail.

Enter The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and her Baked Ranchero Eggs with blistered jack cheese and lime crema. This dish is wonderful. And despite using a dozen eggs, it actually served the three of us for brunch very well. But the best part of this dish is that it’s incredibly simple. You can make the spicy tomato sauce ahead and reheat it in the morning. You cook your eggs in the spicy tomato sauce and black beans. And then broil it with the jack cheese on top. Other than prepping some accoutrement and any breakfast meats that you so choose (bacon…obviously), that’s it. And it’s delicious. Breakfast in Mexico. Breakfast IN Mexico. Brexico.

And what goes with Brexico? Tequila.

Every good brunch needs a boozy brunch cocktail. This one is violently pink and delightfully smooth. As your morning tequila should be.

Just as they do it in Brexico.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema

from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Ingredients: 

Ranchero Sauce

  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3 cups (from a 28-ounce can) whole tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can find them | Yeah, this ingredient confused me. I think you should just use the whole can.
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ¾ cups cooked black beans (or a 15-ounce can), drained

Crisp Tortilla Strips

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small corn tortillas | I used flour cause I had them.
  • Salt, to taste
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely shredded jack cheese

Garnishes

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
  • 1 cup crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. First, taste your jalapeno for heat. Adjust accordingly, halving or quartering the pepper if needed and toss into a blender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and several pinches of salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Pour into a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, add black beans (if using), and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly. 

Meanwhile, brush a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cut the tortillas into ½-inch-wide strips, and arrange them on the oiled tray. Brush the tops of the tortilla strips with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3 to 6 minutes, or until they are brown and crisp, turning over once if needed. If you are like me, you will burn the first batch. Remove strips from oven, then preheat broiler. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the lime juice, crema, and a pinch of salt.

Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove the pan from heat, and break the eggs across the surface of the sauce, distributing them as evenly as possible. Return to heat, cover the pan, and simmer eggs gently in sauce for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the whites are nearly but not completely opaque. Sprinkle the surface of the tomato-egg mixture with cheese, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and a bit blistered—just a few minutes.

Garnish with dollops of lime crema, broken up pieces of tortilla strips, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Brexico!

Brexico!

Fire Island Sunset

From In My Kitchen by Ted Allen 

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • ½ cup fresh pink grapefruit juice, cold
  • ¼ cup brewed hibiscus tea, cold
  • ¼ cup silver tequila
  • ½ teaspoon Cointreau
  • 1 thin slice or chunk of candied ginger | I couldn’t find this…and the drink was still great without it. 

Fill a tall glass with ice, add the grapefruit juice, tea, tequila, and Cointreau, and stir. Garnish with the ginger. 

Fire Island Sunset

Fire Island Sunset

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I love smiling. Smiling’s my favorite. An Elf Dinner Party.

The holidays are full of traditions. Some good, some bad. Some so bad they’re good. (Folgers incestuous brother-sister Christmas commercial, anyone? YOU’RE MY PRESENT THIS YEAR, INAPPROPRIATE BROTHER.) And some of them are phenomenal. This one is simply phenomenal. 

For the last 6 years, my friends J & B and I have gathered to watch Elf. We watch, exchange presents, decorate cookies and cry when Buddy saves Christmas*. BACK OFF, IT IS EMOTIONAL.

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*Please note, J and I are the only ones who cry. B, being the man of the group, does what every man does when women are crying at Elf: makes fun of them for crying at Elf. 

This year’s party was in J & B’s awesome new house. New house, new Elf party. Why not incorporate a new twist? Let’s add some Elf themed food.

When I told my dad about this, he assumed that that meant we’d be eating spaghetti with syrup on it. A little on the nose, Dave. But the principle was right. 

J assigned each of us one of the Elf culinary staples. B got coffee (from the scene where Buddy congratulates the shitty diner on the world’s best cup of coffee), J got marshmallows (which Buddy puts on his spaghetti, along with pop tarts and other stuff), and I got maple syrup. Which was both exciting and terrifying.

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I have to make another confession here on the ole blog: I don’t think I’d ever had true maple syrup before. I’m not a huge pancake fan. I’ll do a waffle from time to time, but it sure as shit better have a piece of fried chicken on top. I’ve always been drawn to the savory more than the sweet, so this may have been my first experience with maple syrup. Like, in the world.

Worst. Food. Blog. Evar.

But, I had a mission. To create an appetizer with maple syrup for our Elf party. Buddy didn’t let Santa down. And I was not going to let Santa down either. Or my friends. Since Santa was not attending this party.

I found a recipe on the Epicurious app for Very Simple Pumpkin Soup that featured maple syrup. Sidenote. The Epicurious app is an awesome cooking app, y’all. The functionality is amazing. The way I found this recipe is by searching by ingredient and then by course, weeding out the thousands of French toast recipes and only focusing on the things that were appropriate. Download the Epicurious app.

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And before you ask, yeah right, Epicurious is not paying me. They’ve never even heard of me. I’ve barely even heard of me. Just a rad app for iPhone and iPad. 

Anyways, this soup is good. It’s easy because you’re using canned pumpkin. And it’s a bit sweet, because of the pumpkin and the maple syrup. But the Chinese Five Spice gives it some depth and spice (….5 spices to be precise…) without being spicy. Top with sautéed shitake mushrooms and you’ve got yourself a treat even Buddy might like. 

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B brought the baking with a pumpernickel bread made with coffee. It was terrific. Really rich flavor and paired so well with herbed goat cheese and a creamy swiss.  

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And J made an elegant smores bar, inspired by her some searching on Pinterest. She stepped it up by adding some bacon. Cause bacon makes everything better. We got to toast the marshmallows in their brand new fireplace.

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It was an excellent night. And now, all I want to do is make food inspired by movies. Watch Midnight in Paris and make coq au vin. Watch Ocean’s 11 and make fruits de mer. Hell, I’ll even give Silence of the Lambs a go.

CALM DOWN, JERKS.

I would make LAMB with a chianti sauce and fava bean risotto. And tiramisu. Cause it has lady fingers. PUNTASTIC!

Very Simple Pumpkin Soup, from Epicurious.com

 

  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed | I do not have a presser of garlic. So, I minced. 
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder | * A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets. I thought I was going to have trouble finding it, but found these at Fresh Market. 
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced | These I found at Whole Foods. 

Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five-spice powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.

Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.

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