A Southern Sendoff; on friends and brisket

29 Jul

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This is weekend I hosted a house full of friends to wish my very good friend Jessica best wishes on her adventure north to Michigan. When Jess broke the news a couple months ago that she was taking a new job at Michigan State, I said “you gotta do what you gotta do.” No doubt, I was ignoring the fact that my friend was actually moving away. It may have taken the preparation of fourteen pounds of southern slow cooked brisket for a large crowd of Jessica’s friends for the reality to really settle in. Four hours of standing by a 325 degree oven leaves room to account for late nights at College Hill, paddle boarding adventures, hikes to Hanging Rock with Winston in tow, marathons of Law & Order, latkes parties, truffle popcorn and countless gossip sessions at the nail salon.

I’m a believer that places are really only spaces without people. So it is my hope that the house full of  friends on Saturday night will leave a reminder to Jessica that Greensboro will always be home . Our friendship has been filled with much laughter, a few tears and many adventures, both significant and insignificant. Without a doubt, you’ll be missed on Mendenhall. Come back and see us soon – I’ll probably still have leftover brisket.

Atlanta Brisket, Cooks Illustrated

  • 3 1/2 lbs beef brisket, flat cut fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 lb onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 cups cola
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Using fork, poke holes all over brisket. Rub entire surface of brisket with 1 T salt. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325. Pat brisket dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Heat 2 t oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over med-high til just smoking. Place brisket fat side down in skillet; weigh down with dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet and cook til well browned, about 4 minutes. Remove dutch oven, flip brisket and replace dutch oven on top and cook til other side is well browned,about 4 minute Transfer to platter.

Heat remaining 2 t oil in same skillet over med til shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 10-12 minute Transfer to 13×9 inch baking dish and spread into even layer

Combine cola, ketchup, onion powder, sugar, garlic powder, thyme, 1 t salt, and 1 t pepper in a bowl. Place brisket fat side up on top of onions and pour cola mixture over brisket. Place parchment paper over brisket and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake til tender and fork slips easily in and out of meat, 3 1/2 – 4 hours. Let brisket rest in liquid, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Transfer brisket to carving board. Skim any fat from top of sauce with large spoon. Slice brisket against grain into 1/4 inch thick slices and return to baking dish. Serve with sauce.

 

Jalapeno Roasted Potatoes

24 Jul

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I saw this recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine and knew I had to make it. I love spicy foods and my friends can sometime get angry with me for going overboard with a jalapeno! This recipe has a kick but it perfect for a casual night with hamburgers or hotdogs!

Jalapeno Roasted Potatoes, Bon Appetit July 2014

 

  • 3 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved crosswise if large
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed if desired
  • ¼ cup (lightly packed) torn flat-leaf parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 450°. Toss potatoes with ¼ cup oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 30–35 minutes. Let cool slightly, then lightly flatten.

Meanwhile, whisk vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil until emulsified; season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes, jalapeño, and parsley and toss; season with salt and pepper.

 

Blueberry Hand Pies

21 Jul

 

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It’s berry season and I’m having fun experimenting with new desserts. This recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit. In actually, I made their dough by hand and it wasn’t sweet enough. I recommend saving time and buy store bought pie dough or canned biscuits (a tip from my mother’s friends). Simply stuff with a blueberry mixture, crimp and bake. These are playful and fun to eat by hand at a dinner party.

Blueberry Hand Pies

  • store bought pie crust or canned biscuits
  • 2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Roll out the dough into 6ish small circles or squares. Stuff with filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Spice Up Your Summer

15 Jul

As you guys know, I’m a big fan of spices. Greensboro is lucky enough to have the ultimate spice source at Savory Spice Shop in Friendly Center. Just this weekend I stocked up on good Mexican vanilla, truffle salt, sweet and spice paprika, cumin, Himalayan sea salt and an interesting Cuban spice mix. It’s a lot of fun to explore and get to know Ashley and Clayton, the local spice experts.

So, spice up your summer with a trip to Savory Spice Shop. Mention Mod Meals and you’ll get a boost!

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Toasted Spice Vinaigrette with Grilled Steak

10 Jul

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This month’s Bon Appetit features the most beautiful steak and tomato dish drizzled with a Toasted Spice Vinaigrette. Once I flipped through the pages (by the pool in full summer style), I couldn’t wait to make it. It’s simple, full of flavor and makes a regular grilled steak stand out from the rest. Make sure to use good fresh spices with this recipe – I recommend a trip to Savory Spice Shop in Friendly Center. They are pros. Let them know I sent you.

This simple meal could stand up to any dinner party. It’s a Sunday Supper or outstanding Saturday night meal with special guests.

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit, July 2014

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black

Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Whisk with oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

 

4th of July Flag Cake

7 Jul

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South Carolina rockets flew over every neighborhood in Greensboro this weekend. Small gatherings, water balloon fights, parades full of kids and lots of hot dogs. There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th of July in your hometown. It’s Americana at its best.

In full spirit, I made Ina Garten’s signature flag cake. Almost two pounds of buttery goodness was spread through a large gathering of Greenborians at my friends Jamey and Phil’s party in Sunset Hills. The sloping raspberry stripe was it’s only fault – it was delicious and devoured by kids and children at heart. If you’re looking for a show stopper at your next patriotic party, make sure to shoot for these buttercream stars.

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Layered Cobb Salad

1 Jul

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It’s really feeling like summer lately – flags on porches, sunshine until nine at night, lots of rose wine pouring and an interest in never turning on the stove. Last night, I made a layered cobb salad for an easy weeknight meal with a friend – and lots of lunch leftovers. This salad can be made with all store bought ingredients – rotisserie chicken, precooked eggs and precooked bacon. Or you can take the time to cook each ingredient – it takes little to no time but requires a little heat in the kitchen.

This salad is perfect for a casual party (serve with a good crusty bread) or a picnic in the park. Get chopping!

Layered Cobb Salad:

  • 2 split chicken breasts (roasted in the oven at 400 for about 30ish minutes – or buy a rotisserie bird!)
  • 1  avocado, cubed
  • 1 head romaine, chopped
  • 5 bacon slices, cooked until crisp and finely chopped
  • a handful of grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • a handful or two of greens (baby kale, watercress, arugula)
  • 4 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
  • 3 or 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber sliced

Layer the salad in a large bowl (I love the glass to show the layers). Romaine lettuce, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, avocado, greens, egg and cheese! Dress with your favorite dressing.

Cheers to Five Years!

29 Jun

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This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of Mod Meals on Mendenhall! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I was sitting bored in my new house, without dog, on a hot summer day. At that point, I had no idea what the adventure would hold. But it’s included new friends, great learning experiences, many opportunities and lots and lots of fun.

This weekend I celebrated by relaxing and spending time with friends. With the holiday coming up with weekend, I’m planning lots of cooking that I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned!

Cheers to many more years!

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Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garden Chimichurri

23 Jun

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There’s a lot of chatter online right now about the renaming of cuts of pork. When it comes to a pork chop, I tend to go for the thickest cut, bone-in chop at the butcher. They can be grilled without drying out and can take a nice char. Next time you’re looking for a simple grilled chop, I recommend the Porterhouse Chop – formerly known as the Loin Chop. If you’re curious about cuts of pork, this is a great guide. 

Last weekend, before my week trip to the midwest and wild weekend in Asheville (why its been so quiet round here), I hosted a couple of friends for regular Sunday supper. I grilled Powerhouse Pork Chops, roasted baked fries with sweet and salty paprika (my favorite from Savory Spice Shop) and make a simple green salad. The creativity came through with homemade garden chimichurri. Chimichurri is an Argentinean zesty blend of herbs, garlic, tangy acids and shallots. It is perfect for any meat but particularly good on a bone-in juicy pork chop.

Porterhouse Chops only need a nice seasoning of salt and pepper, and several minutes on a very hot grill. Once cooked to your preference, serve with bright green and super tangy chimichurri! You’re friends will be very surprised if they think it is pesto!

Garden Chimichurri 

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • juice of one  lemon juice
  • a large handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • a small handful chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large sprig chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 minced garlic
  • 3 minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a heaping pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until nicely blended and bright green! Smear on grilled meats and bread!

This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Pork Council.

 

Smoked Salmon Dip

17 Jun

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There is something about summer that screams HAPPY HOUR! Gin and Tonic, a splash of Saint Germain, a pour of rose – anything will do. But, you’ll need a good snack to go along.

This past weekend, I modified this Ina Garden recipe for a happy hour gathering.  I added more smoked salmon for more of a fishy bite (closer to my favorite childhood Smoked Mullet Dip). This took less than 10 minutes to make and was a big hit. Save it in your back pocket for your next happy hour.

Smoked Salmon Dip, inspired by Ina Garten

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound cedar smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in a stand up mixer until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

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