Chicken and Orzo Soup

September 27th, 2014

Chicken and orzo Soup 3


You can gather, from my previous post, that we have been eating well lately. . . . almost too well.   That is why, that on occasion, I have to step away from those dishes redolent with fat, calories and sugar.  It is my cleanse so to speak.  I was reading one of my DIL’s Nutrition Newsletters recently and it was recommended that people in my age group (he-hem) should strive for 11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Eleven, really?  That is 3 servings per meal, plus 2 snacks.  I am not sure that I can reach that goal, but it has made me think more seriously about the choices that I make.

Chicken and Orzo Soup 2V


One of the soups that makes me feel virtuous, is this recipe from Cooking Light.  It is full of vegies like carrots, celery, onions and spinach.  It is easy to prepare, especially when you use a rotisserie chicken and it is tasty and good for you.  The orzo pasta adds just the right amount of noodle feel to the mix.  What more could you want for an easy fix to the “I’ve overdone it blues”?  To your health.  Enjoy.

  • 1 (32-ounce) container fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes ( Or meat from a rotisserie chicken) 
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  1. 1. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add orzo; cook 10 minutes or until done.
  2. 2. While orzo cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add carrot, celery, onion, and chicken; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2 1/4 cups broth, 1 1/4 cups water, parsley, and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard herb sprigs. Add orzo, spinach, juice, salt, and pepper; simmer 1 minute.

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The Chef’s Table At Rezaz

September 21st, 2014
Reza Setayesh 2

Photo Courtesy of Rezaz

Asheville North Carolina is a mecca for fine dining.  One of the top hot spots in town is a Mediterranean restaurant called Rezaz (pron. “ray-zuhs”), located just blocks from the entrance to The Biltmore Estate.  Chef/ owner Reza Setayesh has traveled and trained widely resulting in a worldly palate.  His emphasis in the dining room is on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, but at his Chef’s Table anything goes.  He loves to give free rein to his culinary expertise.

Rezaz Group photo

When Sam ( My Carolina Kitchen ) and her husband Meakin invited us to join them, along with BIL and SIL Stuart and Sandy, for  a chef’s table dinner we immediately accepted.  Meakin arranged for us to enjoy a 5 course French Provencal dinner with wine pairings.  The kitchen was warm and inviting on a rainy night.

Rezaz Pandelier

A nice touch was the pandelier overhead.  It is a metal sculpture made from saute pans used during the restaurant’s first decade.

Rezaz dinner 1

We were fortunate to have a highly trained waiter to explain all of the chef’s dishes to us.  Our anticipation was rewarded with the following courses.

Rezaz Plate 1

The first course consisted of three seafood preparations.  At the top left is a Smoked Salmon Rillette served with a toasted baguette and sliced radishes.  Bon Appetit has a similar recipe here.  Next to the salmon is Moule Curry (Mussels in a curry sauce with breadcrumbs).  At the bottom is a Trout and Crab Galantine ( A Trout roll stuffed with crab) with arugula pesto.

Rezaz Plate 2

Our second course was a Pan Seared Sushimi Grade Cobia (Swordfish) a la Provencal, Sauteed French Gnocchi, Seared Scallops and Summer Vegetable Ratatouille.   My, oh my, this was delicious.  Summer on a plate for sure.

Rezaz Plate 3

The next course was one of my favorites.  It was a Duck Leg Confit in a Cherry Gastrique Sauce.  The duck was moist and crispy from cooking in its own fat.  With it were Yukon Gold Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach.

Rezaz Plate 4

The next entree course was a study of three lamb preparations; a Grilled Lamb Chop, Lamb Navarin (Stew) and Lamb Gigot (Roast with French thyme and wild rosemary).  It was served with a Parsnip and Potato Mash,  and an Arugula Pesto.  It was wonderful, but we were getting full.

Rezaz Plate 5

For dessert we had a Summer Berry Clafouti and a Lemon and Berry Sorbet with a Touille Cookie.  The sorbet was so refreshing and the clafouti was just the right size.  Next time I make one, it will be a bright mix of berries like this.


As we drove back over the mountain from Asheville to Lake Lure we were sated, happy and thankful that we could spend such a lovely evening with friends.  It was a truly memorable experience.


Leek and Sweet Pepper Mini Quiches

September 15th, 2014

Leek and Pepper mini quiches 1


We recently spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with one of my favorite bloggers.  Sam of My Carolina Kitchen, her husband Meakin, and his brother Stuart and his wife Sandy journeyed from Murphy, NC to Asheville for an evening of dining at one of their favorite restaurants, Rezaz.  They asked us to join them at The Chef’s Table for a 5 course Provencal dinner.  There will be more about our evening in my next post.  Since they had not been to Lake Lure before, David and I invited them over for hors d’oeuvres and an afternoon on the lake.

Leek and Pepper Mini Quiches 3V


I attempted to keep the appetizers light in anticipation of our full dinner.  We served a French Rose wine to keep the French theme going.  I served a simple platter of peppered dry-aged salami with hot house cucumbers, this red pepper cheesecake with crackers and grapes, and these mini quiches.  I had been wanting to make these mini-quiches for a long time.  They proved to be very easy to assemble.  Many of the steps can be done ahead of time.  Both the crust and filling have aged white cheddar cheese.  The leek and sweet pepper filling was a perfect choice.

Leek and Pepper Mini quiches 2


The recipe was adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Hors D’Oeuvre Cookbook.  I think my mini-muffin pan had larger circumference holes than what the recipe called for.  Mine measured 2-inches and I used a 2 1/2-inch biscuits cutter to cut out the pastry rounds.  Just measure what you have and cut the rounds 1/2-inch larger.  Also I had leftover pastry and filling because I made only 24 quiches.  I plan to make these again and plan to get creative with the filling.

We enjoyed spending time with the Hoffers and I can hardly wait to tell you about our dinner.  I know Sam will be posting about it also.

Here is a preview of the ambiance for the 5 course French dinner at the Chef’s Table at Rezaz.

Rezaz dinner 1


Cheddar Pastry:
1/4 pound white Cheddar cheese, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water

In a food processor, pulse the cheddar cheese chunks until crumbly.  Add the flour and salt.  Pulse until cheese is finely crumbled.  Add the cold butter pieces and pulse until it resembles fluffy bread crumbs.  Drizzle 1 lightly beaten egg over mixture and pulse twice.  Scrape down bowl sides.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cold water over the mixture and pulse until a rough mass forms.  If the mixture doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of water.

For the Filling:
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 leek, white part only, or 2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 pound dry-aged white cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the Cheddar pastry on a lightly floured work surface and shape into a smooth ball.  Divide in half.  Roll out half into a large round 1/8-inch thick, pushing the dough outward from the center and rotating it about a quarter turn each time you roll, sprinkling more flour underneath as needed.  Using a 2 to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry rounds as possible and ease them very gently into the cups of a mini-muffin pan.  Gather up the scraps, reroll, cut out additional rounds, and line additional cups.  Repeat with the remaining dough half, working in batches if necessary.  You should have 48 lined cups in all.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.  Add the leek and saute gently, stirring occasionally, until it is tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.  In a bowl, combine the leek, bell pepper and cheese.  In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the eggs until they are blended, then whisk in the cream, mustard, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne.  Add the egg mixture to the cheese mixture and whisk to combine.  Pour 1 tablespoon of the filling into each of the pastry shells, evenly distributing the solids and liquid.

Bake the quiches until they are puffy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool for 5-10 minutes (they will sink a little as they cool).  To loosen them from the muffin cups, run a then-bladed knife around the sides, then carefully lift out of the cups.  (At this point, you can allow them to cool for an hour o two, and then reheat them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  They will not be as as crisp, however.)  Arrange on a platter and serve.

Printable Recipe 


Deep Dish Apple Pie

September 11th, 2014

Apple Pie 1


We have been busy with friends recently.  Our Michigan and Nantucket friends were here for a visit.  We had a wonderful time with them.  One of our Michigan friends is a fruit farmer and he has acres of apple orchards.  So it made sense to me that I had to make an apple pie.  David said “You are probably going out on a limb here because Jim is probably a connoisseur of apple pies”.  Since I love to live on the edge, I decided to make Ina Garten’s deep dish apple pie because you can’t go wrong with her recipes.

Apple Pie 3


The pastry recipe was very easy to work with.  It had a combination of butter and shortening in it and rolled out like a breeze.  The apple filling was good, but Jim did notice the lemon flavor added to the apples.  I think it was too much and took away from the cinnamon flavor.

Chicken Dinner 1


Another meal that we had was rotisserie chicken on the grill with potatoes, onions and carrots roasted underneath them.  I got the recipe from the other Penny at The Comforts of Home.  It was a challenge to get three whole chickens on the spit, but David managed it and they turned out very well; moist and crispy.  I served them with French green beans, croissants and salad.  Very French.

Chicken Dinner 2


Moses, our Nantucket friend, even cooked the necks and gizzards to be nibbled as an appetizer.

Chicken dinner 4


I think David was really enjoying the neck meat.  Every picture that I took showed him gnawing away.  My kitchen looked messy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Smiling faces, good friends, good wine and good food all conspired to make for a memorable get together.

DEEP DISH APPLE PIE (The Barefoot Contessa)

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I will omit this next time)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice (I may omit this next time)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg washPreheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don’t stretch the dough; if it’s too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Yield: 2 (10-inch) crusts

Printable Recipe


Israeli Couscous and Arugula Salad

September 4th, 2014

Couscous with Arugala 1


I am fighting deadlines right now.  As much as I love having company, I still have lots to do to get ready for everyone.  We have our dear high school friends coming for a visit this weekend; three guys and their wives who were David’s classmates.  I have been baking, shopping and cleaning; the usual preparation for visitors.  Yesterday was a particularly long day.  I was trying to clean out the refrigerator to make room for my latest purchases and found a large plastic box of baby arugula that I bought last week and promptly forgot about.  Raiding the pantry and fridge, I came up with this delightful salad.

Couscous with arugala 3VThis salad was so easy to pull together and was a refreshing dish to have on a warm evening.  I served it with simple sauteed chicken cutlets.  It was one of those nights when I just needed to be alone in the kitchen to make some order out of the chaos that I had created from my cooking and shopping frenzy.

Couscous with arugla 2Having such a lovely dish helped to calm my jangled nerves.  Cooking really is therapy for me.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone again.  We were all together last in Nantucket which I blogged about here.  Moses and Maryanne took such good care of us that we are hoping to do the same for them in Lake Lure.


1 1/2 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cups baby arugula

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until couscous has puffed up and is cooked through to the center. Drain and allow to cool. Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare dressing by whisking together the lemon juice and mustard while drizzling in the olive oil. Once slightly emulsified, stir in pepper flakes and season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Toss the tomatoes, cranberries, red bell pepper, onion and arugula with the couscous. Pour the dressing over top. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to the combine.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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