Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Recipe: Foodie's Summer Pasta Salad

Enjoy this recipe for a cold pasta salad during the heat of summer.

When the heat of summer finally comes, my meal choices get a bit lighter, and where summer meals are concerned, this is one of my favorites. This salad helps to capture the flavors of a backyard garden by incorporating ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. Lastly, to make it a bit more filling, feel free to add some grilled chicken breast!

What you'll need:

  • 12 ounces favorite pasta (I recommend bowtie, rotelle or penne)
  • 2 lbs of multicolored tomatoes (I used the small pre-packaged tomatoes, but heirloom will also work)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil (plus a little extra to garnish)
  • 4 oz chopped fresh mozzarella (1/2 large mozzarella ball)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan (plus extra for topping)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

How to Make Sourdough Bread

Here are some easy directions for making a delicious and gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread. Do you want to learn how to make sourdough from somebody who isn't a professional? Then you've found the right blog.

Why I Started Making Sourdough Bread

When #COVID first hit, my local store was out of a LOT of things. There were few fruits/veggies. The fresh meat section was empty. Milk was non existent. The bread aisle was decimated, and the baking aisle was COMPLETELY out of Instant Rise Yeast.

It was at this point that I realized I'd begin working on a Sourdough Starter. It took me a couple of months to try, but after a week, I had an active starter that was ready for bread.
All Four Attempts

Then the baking learning curve would begin. And as this image shows, it took FOUR attempts and two different recipes before I got something that both looked and tasted delicious.

What You'll Need To Make Sourdough Bread

  • Two bowls, large and medium for mixing
  • A large (3-4 quart) oven-safe pot or dutch oven.
  • 3 2/3 cups (518g) Unbleached Flour plus extra for kneading. I recommend a bread flour if possible. But, since my store is STILL out of it 3 months later, All Purpose will do. So far, my best result has been with King Arthur All Purpose Flour. It's got a LOT of protein which makes amazing gluten.
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt (10g)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 4 teaspoons (356g) water, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (85g) mature sourdough starter
Ok, now that you've got all that together, let's start making some bread.

Monday, June 8, 2020

What to do With Discarded Sourdough Starter

Fried sourdough starter.

In my previous blog post I discussed making a sourdough starter. And when you make and keep maintaining a sourdough starter, you'll have to discard a LOT of it. Literally pouring potential bread down the drain. 😭

If you're like me, you find this very wasteful.

So, what should you do with all that discarded dough? Here's my answer: fry it up!

Friday, May 29, 2020

How to Make an Easy Sourdough Starter

My Sourdough Starter.
Named Stanley. :)
Twice during quarantine I ran out of bread. Since I was trying to minimize my visits to the store, I was able to use instant yeast to make some bread and hamburger rolls. But as I tried to purchase more yeast, I realized that the stores were completely out.

So, what does a Foodie do when confronted with this dilemma? The only obvious answer was to make my own sourdough starter, of course!

Here's the deal, a sourdough starter has a LOT natural yeast in it -- that's how you get the bread to rise. Fortunately, yeast is everywhere -- it's even in the flour we cook with and the air we breathe! But to get a starter going, you need to get all that yeast concentrated into one place. And to do that you'll need about a week (or more), and a lot of flour, which is the food for your yeast.

What you'll need:
Flour: Try for unbleached bread flour. If you can't find any, just get unbleached all-purpose flour. The unbleached flour options have more naturally occurring yeast.
Water: Cold/luke-warm tap-water will be fine. But chlorine free/pure water is best.
A container: I recommend a .75 liter glass container. You can purchase one, but I'm using one from a pasta sauce that I bought at the store.
A Name: My sourdough starter is named Stanley.

Continue for directions

Friday, March 20, 2020

Who has the best Lake Norman Pizza? Week 3 Results:

Week 3 has come to a close. Here are the results from this week's #LKNFoodiePizzaContest including Facebook and Twitter votes:
Brixx Pizza (Huntersville) :  FB: 3 + T: 3 = 6 votes vs.
Slice House Pizza: FB: 17 + T:7 = 24 votes (WINNER!)
Geppettos's Pizza (Denver, NC): FB: 2 + T: 1 = 3 votes vs.
Joey's Pizza: FB:19 + T: 5 = 24 votes (WINNER!)

Voting begins on Monday!

Here's the updated bracket.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Week 2 Results are In!

Since March Maddness is canceled, this is the ONLY worthwhile March bracket contest!😆  Here are the results from the Week 2 competition including Facebook and Twitter votes:

Davidson Pizza: FB 12 + T 1 =  13 votes  (WINNER) vs
Davino's Pizza: FB 4 + T 1 = 5 votes

Pie in the Sky: FB 50 + T 18 = 68 votes  vs.
Turn 4 Pizza: FB 33 + T 0 = 33 votes (WINNER)

The updated bracket is below.

Next week we'll feature Brixx Pizza vs. Slice House on Monday. Then on Wednesday it will be  Geppetto's Pizza vs. Joey's Pizza

Don't forget to vote on https://www.facebook.com/lakenormanfoodie/ and https://twitter.com/lknfoodie

Friday, March 6, 2020

The First Results Are In!!

Here are the results from this week's competition including Facebook and Twitter votes:
Pellegrino's Trattoria FB 28 + T 41 =  69 votes  (WINNER) vs
Sebastiano's FB 3 = T 10 = 13 votes

Brooklyn Boys FB 8 + T 6 = 14 votes  vs.
Tony's Big Pizza FB 14 + T 3 = 17 votes (WINNER)

The updated bracket is below.

Next week we'll feature Davidson Pizza Company vs. Davinos pizza on Monday. Then on Wednesday it will be Pie In The Sky Pizza vs. Turn 4 Pizza.

Don't forget to vote on https://www.facebook.com/lakenormanfoodie/ and https://twitter.com/lknfoodie

Friday, February 28, 2020

Who Makes the Best Pizza of Lake Norman?

From Troutman to Hunterville to Denver, we have a LOT of options for pizza. But, have you ever wondered which is the best? Well to try to answer that question, and to have a bit of fun, I've put together some brackets to help us answer that question. 

And here's the best part. YOU will decide the winner, via polls I'll set-up on Facebook:@lakenormanfoodie and Twitter: @lknfoodie. Voting will begin on my Facebook and Twitter pages on Monday March 2. Vote as often as you can. On Monday and Wednesday a head-to-head matchup will be listed. Totals and winners will be announced the following Friday.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Carolina Pie Company

When I told my friend that my family and I were moving from Huntersville to Mooresville, he said "There's this pie place you've gotta check out..."  I may have blacked-out at that point, because I don't remember anything else he said after that. A PIE PLACE?!?! Seriously?

As it turned out, that "Pie Place" is actually the Carolina Pie Company. And, as luck would have it, it's just a couple of minutes from my home -- which makes it a very dangerous location for my waist-line, indeed.

The Carolina Pie Company isn't easy to find. It's around a corner of a non-descript strip-mall. And it's toward the back, next to a side-exit of a salon. Aside from the green and white awning, it doesn't look like much from the outside. I mean, how can such a plain outside contain so much yummyness? But trust me, this place has amazing stuff.

Once you get inside, you can tell it's a legit bakery. There are trays, racks, stainless steel tables, and the sight & smell of  freshly baked pies. Often the pies are still cooling, so they haven't been boxed-up yet.

Click "Read More" for the full review:

Sausage Broccoli Pasta

This recipe is one of my favorites to make. Not only is it VERY tasty, but it's relatively quick, and only needs one skillet and one pot which results in minimal clean-up. And lastly, my daughter likes it -- so, it's at the top of my list.

The sausage adds some spice and makes it filling, while the broccoli and roasted red peppers give it a healthier feel. In addition, the Pecorino Romano gives it a salty and cheesy kick that makes you want to stuff your face. :)

I first ran across it in the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. And after the first bite, it became a favorite of ours. If you want to turn it into a more relaxed weekend meal, I highly recommend that you serve it with a bottle of Pino Noir, and some warm bread to dip in olive oil.

Click "Read More" for the ingredients and directions..

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Novanta Pizzeria

I began this blog because I went to an Italian restaurant that had good reviews, but the food was TERRIBLE. Over the years, the food scene in the Lake Norman area has improved dramatically, but finding nearby Italian food that's consistently awesome has always been a bit of a challenge.

Geppetto's in Denver wasn't really high-end, but it was consistently good AND they delivered to my house (always important when you have a young child). Unfortunately, now it's too far away for me since I moved up to Mooresville. The food at Il Bosco in Davidson is absolutely wonderful. But every time I've been there, the attitude has been too snooty for my taste (i.e. My wife and I were seated outside because I was wearing shorts on a blisteringly-hot summer day.) 

Novanta LogoSo, on one of the few evenings that my wife and I had a bit of time to ourselves, we took the short drive over to Langtree and visited Novanta Pizzeria.

Once you enter you can immediately see their two wood-fired pizza ovens, which look very similar to the ones at Alino's in Mooresville. The main dining area has a cozy feeling. Along with the exposed brick and wood, there is a long bench with throw pillows that serves as seating for several tables. Though the rest of the chairs are metal and the floor is polished concrete, it still has a warm feeling.

Unfortunately, we got put in a side room. While nice, the metal chairs and concrete floors gave this side-room a definite cold feeling. Also, since it was winter and there were large windows, it was literally cold.

Our waitress was great, she knew the menu and was very useful in helping us make our final food decisions. While this is primarily a pizzeria, we decided to go with their other Italian options. Unfortunately, the waitress wasn't very familiar with the wines and was unable to guide our Chianti choice -- which turned out to be delicious.