Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shredded Pork Carnitas and Purple Potato Flatbread with a creamy Queso Sauce

Let me start by telling you how my mind works.  Or more appropriately, I should say how my mind doesn’t work. Literally speaking.  This was originally supposed to be a recipe for Peruvian Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice), but somewhere along the way it all fell apart.

I had the ingredients neatly lined up on my kitchen counter waiting to be used.  Then, during my daily grocery store stroll (between work shopping and personal shopping I can officially say I live at the supermarket) I spotted the most gorgeous, sexy, dark purple potatoes in the produce aisle. They had my name written all over them – and I’m pretty sure it was Spanish. “Natali-yahhhh.

My initial thought was to throw them into the arroz con pollo since I’ve seen lots of variations of Peruvian rice and potato dishes.  But then I thought I should keep them separate and showcase them on their own.  That’s when it all started to go down hill.  My mind began racing and I started thinking of a ridiculous amount of ideas, as if I had never seen a potato before.

One thought led to another, which led to another, which led to…three days later.

I literally spent three days pondering over these darn little spuds until my brain broke down and completely stopped working all together.  At that point, I had no idea what to do with them. 

I gave it a rest for a while until it finally hit me – flatbread!  Hmmm, or maybe potato salad.  Ok, flatbread.

Typically, I would be too embarrassed to admit that these are the types of problems I face, but because I have an end result like this one, I’m beginning to think it’s a good thing that my brain stops working every now and then.

…although, I’m fairly certain my husband would beg to differ.

1. Pizza Dough

My local grocery store has a great pizza counter where I purchased my dough from.  A lot of local pizzerias also sell good dough for just a couple dollars.

2. Toppings

  • Corn
  • Purple Potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • Hot peppers (or mild if you prefer)
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Avocado, diced

3. Pork Carnitas Recipe

Pork carnitas means “little meats” in Spanish.  This is a very delicious, flavorful and inexpensive way to prepare pork, but make sure you allow yourself time since you want to cook it on low heat for several hours to get that fork tender meat.  You could also prepare it in a crock pot if you prefer.

  • 2 lb bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 adobe chipolte peppers
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven and season pork liberally with salt and pepper.  Add pork and brown on all sides.  Remove pork from pot and add onions, scrapping up all the brown bits.  Add garlic, cumin and oregano to pot and cook for a minute longer.

Add chipolte peppers, chicken stock and pork back to pot.  Cover pot and cook for about 7-8 hours or until the pork is fork tender.  In crock pot cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

4. Queso Sauce Recipe

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs Tabasco sauce
  • salt and pepper

In small-medium sauce pan melt butter. Add flour, whisk and cook for a few minutes to create the roux.  Whisk in milk and cook until the milk begins to thicken into a sauce and coats the back of a spoon.  Turn heat off and add cheese slowly. Add Tabasco sauce (for flavor, not heat — but you can add extra if you would like the heat).  Add salt to taste.

Assemble the Flatbread

For the flatbread, first roll out dough on a floured surface.  Place the dough on a pizza stone or if you do not have a stone, place on the back side of a baking sheet.  Arrange potatoes, corn and peppers on the top of the dough.  Cook in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, add pork and cook for about 5-10 minutes longer or until the dough is cooked.  Remove from oven, top with chopped cilantro and diced avocados and serve with cheese sauce.



Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour, Happy hour anyone?, Peru, Peru, Pizza, Pork, Recipes, Regional Cuisine

Spicy Beef Chili n’ Cheddar Cheese Grits

When it comes to grits, you either love them or think you hate them.  Personally, I have a serious soft spot for grits.  I was once among the crowds that thought I hated them, but it wasn’t until I went down south that I realized they are so much more than the bland instant breakfast kind that is often thought of.  

More specifically, stone ground grits. They are so good, that when prepared the right way, they melt in your mouth like buttery mashed potatoes.  And as a bonus: easy to make.

In Charleston, the most irresistibly delicious variations are just about everywhere you go.  Most commonly you’ll see Shrimp & Grits on the menu, which is a low-country staple — so. heavenly. delicious.  Instead of the classic I thought I’d go for a get-through-the-last-few-weeks-of-wintery-blues dish.   Chunky beef chili over creamy cheddar grits. Comfort food at it’s finest!

You can’t find yellow stone ground grits everywhere, but they can be can ordered online at several different places if you live in an area that doesn’t sell them at the local grocery store.

Cheddar Cheese Grits

(Cooking tip: Grits need a lot of salt to help bring out the flavors.  If your grits taste good, but need just a little boost to make them delicious, you probably need to add more salt)

  •  1 ½ cup Yellow Stone Ground Grits
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated yourself

Bring the milk and chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the grits and salt and bring back to a boil.  Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes (or until grits are tender), stirring occasionally to prevent the grits from burning on the bottom.   Once grits are tender, stir in butter and half & half, season with pepper and salt (a lot of salt!) and then turn off heat and stir in cheese.

Spicy Beef Chili

  • 1 lb beef shoulder or other beef for stew, cubed
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs ancho chili powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • a dash of Worcestershire
  • a dash of hot sauce
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper

Heat a few spoonfuls of olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot, on high heat.  Season beef cubes with salt and pepper on all sides and add to pan.  Sear the beef on add sides until nice and brown.  Remove beef from pan when browned.

Add onions and jalapenos to pot and saute, while scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (that is where a lot of your flavor comes from).  Saute until the onions are softened and then add garlic. Cook for a minute more.  Add all of the spices and cook for another minute.  Add brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, hot sauce and incorporate into the spices.  Last, return the beef back to the pot, add the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil (ensure the chicken stock covers all of the beef completely — if not, add a little water).  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add the beans and cook for about 30 minutes to one hour more or until your beef is tender and pulls apart with a fork. 

Serve over grits and with additional cheese if desired.


Filed under All Posts, Beef, Charleston, Great for a barbeque, Recipes, Side Dishes, Soups & Stews, Southern Specialties, Uncategorized

CNL — Come check me out!

So, I have a facebook page now.  Now, as in for about 2 years now.  Needless to say, I haven’t been the most diligent at keeping up with it, but I am turning over a new leaf. 

Unlike Daily Crave, my goal on the facebook page is to share some of the business side of things.  I’ll be giving you sneak peeks of dinner parties, private lessons, different events, and of course some fun food photos.  So if you’re on facebook come check it out and “like me” here.

Next up: Spicy Beef Chili over Cheddar Cheese Grits

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Filed under Uncategorized

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce



Valentine’s Day or not, there is nothing more romantic than your honey cooking up a nice meal while you sit back, relax and sip your Chardonnay (or IPA). 

In honor of the upcoming holiday I wanted to share an easy dish to impress (or to splurge on yourself) with a little splash of elegance, a hint of seduction and is overall just wildly delicious.  

This pasta covers all the bases with soft and subtle flavors of the butter sauce (also known as a Beurre Blanc) paired with a hint of citrus, and the sweetness of fresh crab is true perfection. 

Add a little chocolate to the mix and I’m pretty sure this is the way to make any suitor fall head over heals.  If you’re lucky, maybe with you too!


(If can’t find meyer lemons, you can substitute regular lemons)

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8oz thin spaghetti ( half of a box)
  • 1 lb fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells and pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped fine
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs chopped chives
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

To make the sauce add the shallots, wine and vinegar in a medium-large saucepan.  Boil until the liquid reduces to just about a tablespoon.  Reduce heat and begin to add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Turn the heat off and add chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt (a generous amount of salt) and pepper.  Mix in most of the crab meat, reserving about 1/2 cup to top pasta with. 

Pour the sauce in a large saute pan and add the pasta.  Heat through and add the cooking water from the pasta a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed.  Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Plate the pasta and top with the reserved crab meat, fresh parsley and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.


Filed under All Posts, France, Pasta!, Recipes, Seafood

Nutella-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


These are officially the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  Pretty bold statement, I know.  But it is so true. 

Besides the fact that they are really, really, REALLY good they transport me back to my days of living in Paris.  I was a young, (and poor) college student living off two dollar ham & cheese crepes made from the street-side crepe truck by my flat.   I think “Je voudrais un crepe” was the first thing I learned to say (and may have been one of the only things I learned to say behind je voudrais un baguette and je voudrais que vous coupiez ici, but that’s a whole other story).  Back to the crepes.  That little crepe cart was where I discovered the insane combination of Nutella and coconut.  My daily jambon and fromage was soon replaced with coco and nutella.  And on days I wanted to be more healthy I would eat the crepe with coco, nutella AND banana.

Second, anything that is “filled” (or stuffed) is just better.  There is something about that feeling of sinking your teeth down into a creamy center that oozes out onto your tongue.  Mmmm!

Lastly, it’s chocolate.  Rich, deep, dark… bold chocolate.  Just the way I like it.  (If you are a chocolate lover like myself you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

I’m pretty sure this one is going down in cupcake history, folks!


Nutella-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Chocolate Cupcakes
  • One small jar of Nutella
  • Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

(You can use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe or this recipe for chocolate cupcakes derived from Joy of Baking)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16 – 20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. ( These cupcakes are best the day they are made, but can be covered and stored for a few days.)

Once the cupcakes have cooled, with a pairing knife, cut out a hole in the center of the cupcake.  Pour a spoonful of Nutella into the center and then frost with coconut frosting.  Top with toasted coconut.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 32 oz bag powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded coconut

In bowl of electric mixer cream butter and cream cheese.  Slowly add powdered sugar by the cup until incorporated.  Add extract and blend well.  Fold in coconut.  You may have to add a splash of cream to losen the consistancy to spread.


Filed under All Posts, France, Recipes, Sweet Treats