Banh Mi Burgers with Sriracha Mayo

Banh Mi Burger with Sriracha Mayo

In the past, despite the fact that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a classroom, back to school has been my favorite time of year.  Armed with new office supplies, it’s my hot weather version of New Year’s.  A time that to me represents a fresh start and the return of a more regular routine.

This year, things have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start.  Last week, I had a “dog ate my homework” moment.   Returning from being out-of-town, I just needed to add the recipe for a post on “Ginger and Jalapeno-marinated Grilled Chicken” before I could publish it.  I’m still dumping out folders and flipping through stacks of paper in hopes of finding my recipe notes.  They remain elusive.

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Rules for Reheating

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For all the time and attention that goes into creating a meal, the leftovers are sadly neglected.  We eat them cold straight from the fridge or nuke them on high to a blistering, rubbery mass.   We don’t plan for them to taste all that great.  But are we selling leftovers short?

Earlier this summer, the staff at Charlotte Today asked me to do a segment on tips for reheating popular foods.   I have some favorite tricks that I like to employ when it comes to giving food a second act, but what I learned when I did a little research to prepare for the segment surprised me.  Leftovers have been given a bad rap and your microwave, and how you use it, might be the problem.

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Baked Brioche French Toast

Breakfast is Served

I hate to throw things away.  Look in my freezer and you’ll find chicken bones for stock, egg whites frozen in ice-cube trays, and bags of leftover cornbread to make stuffing.  My aim to make use of everything is a noble one although I sometimes find myself despairing in the face of so many bits and pieces to use up.  After all, there’s only so many ways one can use a ham bone from Easter brunch or the two tablespoons of raspberry coulis leftover from dessert this spring.

Of all the things that tend to build up in the freezer, it’s bread I tend to hoard the most.   Hamburger buns, half-eaten sandwich loaves, dinner rolls, and even pastries stuff my freezer in hopes of being reincarnated into something else.   Brioche, leftover from an early spring lunch, got a second act last week.

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Pickled Shrimp

Pickled Shrimp

Pickled shrimp are the perfect combination of casual and sophisticated.  To serve, they are pulled straight from the fridge, which is hardly stuffy.  Yet, they also seem to be the type of food that you would expect some smartly dressed South Carolinians to be noshing on in the Battery.   I’m not sure what it is about them, but in truth, when I have these pickled shrimp on hand, I kind of hope someone will unexpectedly stop by so that I can say, “dah-ling, go rest yourself on the front porch while I pull together some refreshments.”  

Pickled Shrimp Ingredients

I’ll then, with the air of someone who does this all the time, walk back to the kitchen where I’ll whip up whiskey-sours and serve them with these shrimp like an unflappable Southern hostess.   Better yet, that kind of hospitality sounds like something I would like to experience myself, so perhaps you should make these shrimp and then let me know that I should be dropping by your home in the near future.  Shoot, I’ll even wear seersucker for the occasion.   

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On TV: Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin with Peach Salsa


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I wrote about this recipe several years ago. It’s one of my favorite summer entrees and I had great fun demonstrating how to make it today on WCNC’s Charlotte Today Show. Click on the image above to watch and get tips on everything from the difference between clingstone and freestone peaches to how to brine.  I hope the video inspires you to get in the kitchen.  Happy cooking!

Sweet-Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin with Peach Salsa – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 2-3

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 quart cold unsweetened tea
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups chopped peaches
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, minced
¼ cup minced red onion
Zest from ½ a lime (more to taste)
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste

Trim excess fat and the silverskin off the tenderloin.  In a large bowl, whisk the salt and sugar into the cold tea until both the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add the tenderloin to the brine.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 3 hours.

While the pork is brining, combine the chopped peaches, red bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion, lime zest, and extra virgin olive oil.  Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Remove the pork tenderloin from the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel. Stir together the chili powder, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt.   Rub the spices over the pork tenderloin and then place the tenderloin on the grill.  Grill for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.  Remove the pork from the grill and set it on a cutting board. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  When ready to serve, slice the pork into 1-inch slices and serve with the peach salsa.

Ricotta-Herb Dip

Ricotta-Fresh Herb Dip
After a flurry of summer travel, I came home to an herb garden that more closely resembled a jungle. Thyme cascaded over the edge of the bed, my oregano looked like a small shrub, and basil was everywhere. I am always surprised when this happens.

Prepped Ingredients

In the spring, right after planting, every snip taken seems on the verge of ending the young plant’s life. I’m so eager to harvest that I find it hard to sit back and let them grow. Yet without fail, halfway through the summer and despite my efforts to the contrary, I find myself with more herbs than I know what to do with it and a flurry of activity ensues.

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Peach and Jalapeño Pops

Peach and Jalapeno Pops

Our baby gets credit for these pops.  I’ve brainstormed about a new cocktail recipe all week.  I wanted a drink made for summer.  Something straight from the farmer’s market that quenched the deepest thirst.   I just didn’t have time to make enjoy a cocktail.

Blanched and peeled peaches

I hadn’t totally given up hope.  I craved a cocktail that was sweet and spicy, so I made a batch of jalapeño simple syrup earlier this week.   It sat lonely in the fridge while I changed diapers, responded to emails, and dealt with a to-do list that runs the length of my yellow legal pad. Sigh…cocktails were not in my future.

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