Birthday Dinner and Beer Pairing

November 9th, 2017

Birthday Menu

Our Son Michael recently celebrated his 40th birthday at Crawford and Son restaurant in Raleigh.  It was a food and beer pairing executed by Chef Scott Crawford and Full Steam Brewery Executive Sean Wilson.

Birthday Michael and Kristen

Our wonderful Daughter-In-Law Kristen organized everything and it was a magical evening with 40 of Michael and Kristen’s friends and family.

Frisee Salad

The first course was a Frisee Salad with Smoked Trout, Honey Crisp Apple and Ramp Vinaigrette.  It was paired with Full Steam’s Deep Chatham Wild Paw Paw Ale.  The woodsy ale complimented the wild ramp and smoked trout salad.


The main course was Braised Beef Cheeks with a Mushroom Ragout and Campo Cheese Grits.  It was paired with Fullsteam Igor Imperial Stout.  The beer was deep and rich.  I loved the beef cheeks.  They were fork tender and cushioned by the very best cheese grits that I have ever tried.  Campo cheese is a semi-hard Spanish cheese that is a combination of cows’ milk, goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk. It is very similar to Manchego cheese.  I will be experimenting with this recipe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

The dessert was a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toasted Meringue, Hazelnut Praline and Caramel.  It was paired with a 2016 Persimmon First Frost.  The beer is fruit forward with hints of holiday spices, so it went very well with this pumpkin cheesecake.  Scott Crawford is an amazing chef.  Each course was executed flawlessly.

Chef Scott Crawford

We have a long history with Chef Scott Crawford.  At one time he was the Executive Chef at Heron’s Restaurant in Cary.  Since opening his own restaurant in Raleigh, Crawford and Son has gained a loyal following.  Kristen’s Mom, Darla and I have had our picture taken with him before.

Chef Crawford seven years ago.

This was taken 7 years ago at Heron’s.


As a beer enthusiast and home brewer, Michael was in his element at the restaurant.  Happy Birthday Sweet Son.  We enjoyed your celebration so much.  Some pictures courtesy of Darla A. and David W.

Double Mustard/Cream Chicken Breasts

January 13th, 2016

Mustard Chicken 2

When something light but still decadent is desired, you can’t do better than a boneless chicken breast smothered with a double mustard cream sauce over baby arugula.  You might call this a juxtaposition of good and bad.  The goodness of lean chicken and vitamin packed baby arugula with the richness of alcohol spiked cream and mustard.

Mustard Chicken 1V


While visiting the family over the holidays, my DIL Kristen made a similar dish, sans the alcohol, for dinner one night.  It was amazing watching the children digging into the chicken.  The arugula was also slathered with the sauce and they ate every bit of it.  It is a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables.  We loved it too, so I did a Google search for something similar.  The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue.  Granted her version had a whole cup of brandy in it, as opposed to what Kristen made, but it was really, really good.  I ended up having to substitute Madeira and white wine instead of the brandy.  Inexplicably, the liqueur cabinet here in Florida held no brandy.

Mustard Chicken 3

Be sure to visit Ree’s site for a complete pictorial on how to make this great dish.  It couldn’t be easier.  On its own, this would make a great luncheon dish or a light supper.  Add sides for a more complete dinner.  Hope you give it a try.

Sausage and Spinach Turnovers

February 21st, 2015

Sausage Turnovers 1

What a fun meal!  I am going to adapt this idea to all kinds of different fillings.  Meat pies, or pasties, have a long tradition.  When Cornish miners migrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1800’s they brought this meat pie recipe with them.  It was later adopted by the wave of Finnish miners who followed.  It was easy to eat while underground.  The miners reheated their hand pies on shovels set over mining candles.

Sausage Turnovers 4VI have mentioned before that David’s Mother’s family were Finnish and settled in the UP.  Their last name was Syrjanen.  David’s Grandfather Gus Syrjanen founded the Trenary Home Bakery that is still in operation today.  It is known for its Trenary Toast.  There is also a family connection to designers and architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen.  When we were in the UP researching family history we enjoyed eating pasties at several small restaurants.  At the time, David did not love them, but the version I made this time was a real hit.

Sausage Turnovers 3 Better

It was probably the hot chicken sausage that did it for him.  Most pasty recipes use ground beef and potatoes, which can be rather bland.  This was very tasty with the sausage, onions, red bell peppers and spinach.  The crust was made from Pillsbury pie dough so was easy to assemble.  You could make your own pastry but I needed a quick dinner the night that I made these.  They were perfect over a tossed salad.

Sausage Turnover 6

Pasties or hand pies are so versatile.  You can fill them with anything.  How about a Mexican filling with ground beef, cumin, salsa and cheese.  Or make it vegetarian with black beans and cheese.  My DIL Kristen made a version using pizza dough, seasoned chicken, sour cream and cheese.  There are so many possibilities.

SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TURNOVERS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine )

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Medium red potato, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 (3.5 oz.) links of hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cups bagged washed baby spinach
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Add potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until onion begins to brown, stirring frequently.  Add sausage; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in basil, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Remove from heat.

Cut dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle.  Spoon about 1/2 cup sausage mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Fold dough over sausage mixture until edges almost meet.  Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough to form a rim.

Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; brush evenly over dough.  Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons cheese over each turnover.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Printable Recipe

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.


Blueberry Galette and a Night With Friends

June 16th, 2014

Blueberry Galette 1


There are so many reasons that blogging is a rewarding experience, but one of the major reasons is because you get to meet so many special people.  Let’s backtrack a few years.

When a started blogging in 2009 there were not many of us doing it.  I put my blog out there and hoped that someone would find my voice interesting.  I clicked on other blogs and found Penny’s blog.  Oh my, same name.  Oh my, born and raised in Michigan like me,   Oh my, lives in North Carolina just 25 miles away from where I live.  It was meant to be.  I had to meet her.  I wrote about our first meeting here.  We have since become great friends.

Dinner at Penny's 1

We had dinner at Penny and her husband’s home last Saturday.  It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed dining al fresco under their new pergola.  Penny is a great cook.  Everything was delicious.

Dinner at Penny's 2Both Penny and I love Paris.  One of the delights of Paris food markets is the rotisserie chickens cooked over pans of vegetables.  The chicken drippings flavor the vegetables as they braise.  That was what she duplicated on their grill.

Dinner at Penny's 3

That is a beautiful plate of food.  It was a perfect meal for a summer evening.

Dinner at Penny's 4Here are our wonderful hosts, Penny and her equally talented husband.  Because we have so much in common, it should have come as no surprise to me that what she served for dessert was the very same dessert that I had made the previous week for my next blog post.  So although I did not get a picture of Penny’s blueberry galette, I had it covered with the one that I made.  We are definitely on the same wave length.
Blueberry Galette 3VI made this blueberry galette as part of a recipe testing exercise at the Food 52 website.  The editors of Food 52 pick worthy recipes that are submitted to their contests for other members to test and rate.  I chose to test this galette because of the uniqueness of the crust.  It incorporates rosemary and whole wheat flour into the pastry.  I LOVED it.  The pastry was easy to handle and the rosemary went so well with the blueberry filling.  The turbinado sugar just added to the rustic simplicity of this galette.  It will be repeated often in my kitchen.  Give it a try.  Thanks Penny and K for a great evening.

BLUEBERRY GALETTE (By Lisina at Food 52)

Rosemary Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • tablespoons fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
  • tablespoons turbinado sugar + extra for dusting
  • teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ice cold water
  • 1egg, for glazing the crust

Blueberry Filling

  • pints fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon (juice of)
  • tablespoons flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment or a food processor, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the cubed butter, and mix or pulse until butter breaks down into pea sized pieces.
  4. With the machine running or pulsing, add the ice water until the dough JUST begins to come together.
  5. Turn the crust mixture out onto some plastic wrap, wrap it and flatten it into a disk shape. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  6. Throw all the filling ingredients into a bowl, and mix well so that that the sugar and flour coat all the blueberries well.
  7. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge and unwrap it onto a silpat or piece of parchment paper large enough to cover your baking sheet. Dust it with flour, then roll the dough out until it is between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick.
  8. Spoon the filling and its juices into the middle of the crust and spread it out leaving a 2″ border of crust. Fold the border of the crust over onto the filling, leaving the nice rustic edges.
  9. Brush the crust with eggwash and sprinkle the crust with sugar. Slide the galette on the silpat or parchment onto a baking sheet.
  10. Bake for about 40 minutes until crust is nice and golden.

Printable Recipe

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