Monday, January 24, 2011

LUNCH AT FLOYD'S 1921 HOUSE, MOREHEAD CITY

Floyd's 1921 House, on Bridges Street in Morehead City, is in an historic home.  Restaurant reviews online are mostly good, so I was intrigued, especially when a friend recommended it as a great place to eat.

The dining area is on the dark side, but still inviting, and management is in the process of redecorating with art work.
Having a mold allergy, I immediately smelled mildew -- common in older homes in the South.  My hubby did not detect any moldy odors.  Service is friendly and attentive, and as soon as we made our way through the extensive menu offerings, we placed our order.  For Guy, it was meatloaf, French fries and coleslaw.  He got the one-slice for $6.95.

For me, it was the dill Chicken salad wrap with garlicky green beans for $8.95.

Guy's entree came with two sides, and my wrap came with one side.

Our server brought us some warm savory muffins to start our meal.  I declined, but Guy said they were good.

Guy's meatloaf was exquisite, best I've ever tasted.  Our server said it is their most popular menu item.  One slice was plenty big.  He also liked his fries, but the coleslaw had too much dressing and a bitter taste.

One bite of my chicken salad and I knew I couldn't eat it.  It was salty, drowning in dressing, and just didn't taste good. The wrap, itself, was very unappealing.  The green beans were just okay.

Our server wanted to bring me something else, but I declined.  The  manager came to our table and insisted she wanted me to order something else.  I ordered the Reuben, thinking that would be fairly safe.  
The corned beef was cut too thick, but the sandwich tasted okay, not great, just okay.  The bread was beautiful, a nice marbled rye loaf, but it had been grilled with far too much butter (or oil or whatever) and was terribly greasy.  It's interesting that the photo does not pick up on the grease.  Even Guy, who has eaten plenty of Reubens commented on the greasy look of the bread.
Our server and the manager both came to our table to ask how everything was with the new order.  I lied and said it was fine.  I pulled off the bread as I ate the middle of the sandwich.

Floyd's has a big heart on one of the walls.  I believe management is striving to provide a memorable dining experience for its patrons and gives excellent service and attention.  

There is potential here, but we won't be returning.  Not with Chef's 105 and RAPS Grill and Bar to choose from.  I know we can get consistently well-prepared food at our two favorite dining spots, and usually when we leave either of those places, we are both raving about what we ate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

GUY'S EAST CAROLINA PULLED PORK BBQ AND PEPPER SAUCE

My hubby's at it again -- competing for kitchen space.  He whipped up a 5-1/2 lb. Boston Butt complete with  barbecue sauce and knocked all our socks off.  He found recipes for the pulled pork, the rub and the barbecue sauce on TexasBarbecues.com, and tweaked the recipes just a bit.

Barbecue is quite regional, in case you didn't know.  For example, Texas barbecue is usually made with beef.  North Carolina, however, uses pork shoulder.  Some use a rub to season the meat, others use a mop-on marinade, and some do both.   Even the sauces that are served with the cooked meat differ from region to region.  Texas has a thicker tomato-based sauce.  North Carolina is split:  Eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce with red and black pepper and some spices.  Western North Carolina adds ketchup to it, making the sauce thicker and a little sweeter.  And I'm not even talking about other regions like St. Louis or Kentucky.

Since we're East Carolinians now, Guy felt he had to make a local-type barbecue.  First, he rubbed the pork  with spices, wrapped and refrigerated it overnight.  Then he slow-cooked it on a grill for about 11 hours, to an internal temperature of 170-180F.  The long, slow cooking melts the fat and tenderizes the meat so that it pulls apart easily.  Our recipe below is for a 5-6 lb. pork shoulder, aka Boston Butt.
Guy's East Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue and Pepper Sauce
Inspired by texasbarbeques.com
Rating:  10 out of 10
DRY RUB:  
3 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper (bought at Wal-Mart)
3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp. paprika (not smoked paprika, just plain paprika)
2 Tbsp. coarse Kosher salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

5-6 lb. pork shoulder (Boston Butt)

EAST CAROLINA BBQ PEPPER SAUCE:  
1 quart cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. fine sea salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 Tbsp. Louisiana hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)

Mix all rub ingredients in small bowl.  Rub all over meat.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, or, better, overnight.

In the meantime, make the BBQ pepper sauce.  Making it early gives the flavors time to blend together.  In a medium-large bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and Tabasco.  Stir until salt and sugar have dissolved.  Cover and let stand at least 3 hours before serving on meat.  It's even better to make this a day or two ahead.  (Note:  You can also use this sauce as a basting sauce while the meat is cooking on the grill.  We did not do this.)

For extra flavor, put some wood chips in a small plastic resealable sandwich bag.  Fill bag with water, seal and let sit in sink overnight.  Drain the chips in the morning and add the drained chips to a smoker box that you can purchase at Lowe's for about $9.00.  Place the smoker box in back of the roast on top of the grill grates.
Start the middle burner of a 3-burner gas grill.  Get temperature to 250-275F.  When you have the temperature up, unwrap roast and place on V-rack, over a foil-lined metal tray to catch drips, directly on the center burner that is lit.  Close lid; cook 9-11 hours, or till internal temperature registers 170-180F.  Be sure to check the grill temperature throughout the cooking time.  Transfer meat to a clean rimmed baking sheet.  Let stand until cool enough to handle, then shred into bite-size pieces.  Mound on platter.  Pour any juices from the baking sheet over the meat.  (You can prepare the meat up to this point a day ahead and refrigerate.)
When ready to serve, transfer meat and any juices to a baking dish.  Cover with foil.  Rewarm in 350F oven about 30 minutes.  Serve on seeded or plain hamburger buns with the sauce and coleslaw on the side.  Yield: About 10-12 sandwiches, depending on size of roast and how big the bone is.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BREAKFAST AT POLLOCK STREET DELI

Pollock Street Deli is not a bad place for a deli-style lunch, so hub and I thought we would try it for breakfast.  Their menu of breakfast items is quite extensive, even including eggs benedict and lobster and eggs.  The building, itself, is a charming antique home that's been converted to commercial use while retaining the old-time atmosphere.  The temperature outside was below 40F the morning we visited, so we opted to dine upstairs, away from the constant opening and closing of the front door.  The quaint upstairs has the feel of a Williamsburg tavern.
It wasn't any warmer up there, though.  The building is just plain drafty.  Having lived in an antique home in New Jersey, I should have known this would be the case.  So I kept my jacket on through breakfast and still couldn't warm up.

Hub immediately zeroed in on a two-egg platter with ham, potatoes and toast for $4.75.  Great price.  He also ordered a tomato juice over ice.

I ordered an egg on a roll with cheese and sausage patties for $3.95.  Another great price.  I also ordered a cup of decaf.
Hub's breakfast looked amazing, especially the ham.
Unfortunately, the potatoes were overcooked and the eggs and potatoes were both greasy.  He couldn't finish.  The ham was good though.

My sausage patties were unappetizing, and my egg was dripping grease.  I wasn't able to finish either, and got sick after I ate.  The coffee was hot but didn't have much flavor.

I really like Pollock Street Deli.  I like restaurants in old homes, and I really liked the menu and the great prices.  The staff is friendly and the service is good.  But, honestly, we were disappointed with this breakfast, as we are both averse to grease.  Loyal patrons of Billy's Ham and Eggs, a local restaurant that is no longer in business, may disagree since that seemed to be the major draw there.

We may go back sometime, especially with out-of-town guests who would appreciate the charm of the old building.  For lunch of course.....and on a warmer day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

JUDY'S TOMATO SAUCE AND MEATBALLS

Hubby and I are tomato sauce snobs.  We don't ever buy jarred sauce for spaghetti.  It's not that hard to make it from scratch, and we think homemade tastes better.  Sauce and meatballs freeze so easily, too, so it's worth it to make a large batch.  My freezer always has containers of sauce and meatballs, waiting to be thawed out and enjoyed.

The Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks chowed down on meatball sandwiches, and we enjoyed a Penne Pasta dinner from this batch before I froze the remainder.  Try some homemade tomato sauce and meatballs and see if you don't agree that it's easy and delicious.
Judy's Tomato Sauce and Meatballs 
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10
Click for PRINTABLE PAGE

Sauce:
1.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup cup chopped sweet onion (1 small)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 (28 oz.) can crushed or whole tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can plain tomato paste
1 (15-1/2 oz.) can Contadina Italian-style tomato sauce
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 cups water, to bring sauce to desired thickness
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
1 Tbsp. crushed dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the 1/2 cup water in microwave in small bowl on high till boiling.  Add the dried tomatoes and steep for 15-30 minutes.  Chop.

In large heavy stock pot, saute the onion in the oil over medium heat till onions wilt.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add all the ingredients plus the reconstituted dried tomatoes.  Puree with an immersion blender till smooth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered while you make the meatballs.

Meatballs:
1 lb. each:  ground pork, veal and beef
(Harris Teeter has ground veal; if you cannot get it, substitute beef.)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed  (you won't taste this in the sauce, but it adds a sweetness)
1/3 cup imported Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, chopped)
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup water

In 9x13 pan, spread out meat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Break the eggs over the meat and sprinkle all the remaining ingredients over the eggs.  Gently mix with 2 forks or with your hands, being careful not to over handle the meat but also being sure you mix everything thoroughly.  Pour a little olive oil into a small dish and rub your hands in it.  Shape the meat mixture into balls with oiled hands, and reapply the oil as needed to make the job easier.  You can bake the meatballs in the oven @350F for about a half hour before adding them to the sauce, or you can brown them gently in a large heavy fry pan coated with olive oil before adding them.  After you add them to the sauce, let them simmer, covered, for at least 1/2 hour or up to 1-1/2 hours.  Be sure you scrape and stir the bottom of the pot so the sauce doesn't burn at the bottom.  You can feed 6-10 people with this pot, or freeze containers of sauce with meatballs.  Serve with pasta of choice.  We prefer penne pasta because the sauce clings to the ridges.  Buy a nice chunk of Locatelli Romano cheese at Harris Teeter to grate over the top of the pasta.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

BILTMORE HOUSE RESTAURANT CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE PIE

Every Wednesday, our local newspaper's food section includes something from Eddy Browning's recipe collection.  I love reading about Inner Banks food culture and history in Eddy's column and am continually impressed with the many and varied recipes he submits from family and friends.  After eating this dessert at the famed Biltmore House Restaurant in Asheville, Eddy got the recipe from the chef and passed it on to all of us.  I couldn't wait to make this special treat.  Even with my modest tweaks, I think the Biltmore House Restaurant would approve of my version.
The pie is rich, but it's absolutely delicious and worth the trouble.  Since we're not used to overly sweet desserts, I did reduce the sugar a little, but it's still plenty sweet.  Everyone who tasted it said so.  The pecans and caramel on the bottom of the pie cook down, fusing with the crust and becoming candy-like.  The rich, candy-like and crunchy crust is the perfect counterpart to the not-too-sweet apple filling.  But there's also a cheesecake over top of the apples bringing back some of the richness.  Think that's enough?  No, not yet.  Sweetened whipped cream goes over it all, then the pie gets another hit of caramel and pecans.  Talk about decadent....  I will definitely make this one again.  A great Christmas dessert that you'll hear about all year long.
Biltmore House Restaurant Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Adapted by The Bear Cupboard
Rating:  10 out of 10 
Click for PRINTABLE PAGE

CRUST:  1 cup crushed gingersnaps (my addition)
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/4 tsp. cinnamon  (I deleted the 3 Tbsp. sugar)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted + 1 Tbsp. soft butter for pan
1/2 cup caramel sundae topping
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Heat oven to 375F.  Line bottom of a 9" round springform pan with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine gingersnap and graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and butter.  Mix with fork until all crumbs are moistened.  Butter parchment and sides of pan with the 1 Tbsp. butter.  Press crumbs onto bottom and sides.  Bake 6-8 minutes, till golden in color.  Cool 10 minutes.  Pour caramel sauce over crust; sprinkle with pecans.  Refrigerate.
APPLE FILLING:  2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. frozen apple juice concentrate (my addition)
1/4 tsp. sea salt    (I deleted the 1/2 cup light brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 X-large Rome apples, cored, peeled, sliced in thin wedges (about 1/2") (Biltmore uses Granny Smith)

Combine butter, juice, salt and cinnamon in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and add apple slices.  Cook apples till they are done, then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet to cool.  Continue to cook juices till they are syrupy, then pour them over the apples and toss lightly to combine.  Cool slightly, then spoon the apples into the chilled crust.  Set aside.
CHEESECAKE:  8 oz. Neufchatel cheese  (Biltmore uses regular cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat oven to 350F.  Combine cheese and sugar in medium bowl.  Beat on medium speed with electric mixer till smooth, about 1 minute.  Beat in vanilla, egg and juice till again smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Spread over apples. (The cheesecake batter will not completely cover the apples.)

Bake about 30 minutes, or till cheesecake is set.  Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, carefully remove springform sides, remove bottom and parchment and place pie on serving plate.  Prepare whipped cream topping.

WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:  2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar  (Biltmore uses 3-4 Tbsp and 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1/4 tsp. vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
1/4 cup caramel sundae sauce
toasted chopped pecans

Chill cream, bowl and beaters in freezer for 15 minutes.  Beat cream till it thickens.  Slowly add sugar and flavoring and continue to beat till cream is stiff.  Spread over cheesecake layer.  Drizzle caramel sauce over topping and sprinkle with pecans.  Slice with a bread knife.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

LUNCH AT RAPS, MOREHEAD CITY

You might not think that bar food would be anything to rave about.  It's mostly guy food -- lots of beef sandwiches and high-carb offerings.  But RAPS is something to rave about.  The food is consistently well prepared and delicious.  And if it isn't haute cuisine, I can still celebrate the fact that I always eat every drop of what I order, because it's good.  Maybe not all at once since servings are huge (remember, it's guy food), but eventually.  Take, for instance, our recent lunch there, when hubby Guy ordered the Prime Rib Sandwich special, served with melted Swiss cheese on a Kaiser roll and mashed potatoes.

And I ordered the Crystal Club -- chicken pecan salad with bacon, lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread.  It was served with RAPS' homemade potato chips.

Guy hardly spoke, and his eyes glassed over as he ate his sandwich.  He had not one complaint about his meal, as usual.  He eats there often and has never had a bad meal.

I've only eaten at RAPS a few times, but my experience has been the same.  The chicken pecan salad was amazing --  full of flavor, not much mayo.  I took one half home to finish the next day and it was still good.

The folks at RAPS are a pleasant crew and the service is good.  Prices are reasonable.  It's a typical bar scene, but it feels comfortable.
You can eat at the bar, or in a booth.
RAPS is one of our favorite places to eat in Morehead City.  Visit their WEBSITE for more information, including their menu.