Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE TRAWL DOOR, ORIENTAL, NC


It's been many years since my last visit to the Trawl Door Restaurant in Oriental, and my memory of the physical layout back in the day is hazy.  I do remember the food -- fried fish, hush puppies, French fries -- typical Southern fare.  I was excited to check out the resurrection of the Trawl Door by New Bern's Flame Restaurant, hoping for a more modern cuisine.

There are three dining venues at the Trawl Door:  an open-air deck, a covered deck/bar and the inside dining room.  We chose the latter.  The restaurant is on the water, and the open-air deck is the only venue that has water views.  Even so, management has done a beautiful job renovating the inside.  Below is a photo taken as I was exiting the very nice Ladies Room.


Go straight and you'll be back outside.  Turn right, and you're headed toward the dining room, as below.

The dining room is on the dark side, even though there are some windows that face the parking lot, but it has a nice feel.

There were four of us, and we each ordered something different.  For me, it was Pan Seared Flounder with summer squash, zucchini olive oil and basil tomatoes, natural juice and mashed potatoes ($15.95). I asked for another veggie in place of the potatoes but when my entree came, there was just the squash.  The veggies were under the fish and they, and the fish, were absolutely delightful, cooked to perfection.  The veggies were not too raw and not too cooked, and the sauce was perfect on the mild flounder.

Bob ordered Seared cod with garlic mashed potatoes, andouille sausage and clam broth ($16.95).  There were some small clams with this dish.  He raved about everything.

Darian asked for Seared Atlantic salmon with truffle tomatoes vinaigrette mashed potatoes and
lobster nage ($18.95).  She asked for another veggie in place of the mashed potatoes and got a cauliflower-broccoli medley.  She loved the veggies and the fish.

Serving sizes on all of the above entrees were adequate, but not huge.  None of us had difficulty finishing our entrees and there were no leftovers to carry home.  The fried seafood platter, below, is a larger entree.  It should also be mentioned that none of the four of us were served hot entrees.  Everything was warm, which was okay, but not preferable.  Like good diners, no one asked for anything to be returned or replaced.  We dined early (6:30 pm), and the restaurant was not crowded, but we did order four different entrees, so that may be what the problem was.

Hubby Guy, a clam lover, was upset there were no clams on the menu.  The only thing he could find to order was the Seafood Platter of fried shrimp, oyster, calamari and flounder served with a side of 
coleslaw($19.95).  He asked for more shrimp in place of the calamari.  Though it wasn't mentioned on the menu, this entree also came with French fries.  When he asked for tartar sauce, he was told there was none available, but one of the sous chefs made him a red sauce.  He loved the shrimp and oysters and ate them all.  He left the flounder.  

We asked our very cordial server to take a photo of us before we left. Guy and Darian are on the left, and Bob and I are on the right.



The Trawl Door, http://www.thetrawldoor.com, 518 Water Street, Oriental, NC, (252)249-3500



LIVE ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS FRIDAY MAY 24TH

Monday, May 13, 2013

WELCOME SPRING: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY



All year, we wait for Spring to enjoy the two lush, beautiful flowering Chinese Fringe trees in our yard.  The trees are completely loaded with fringe-y flowers for a full two weeks, sometimes longer.


We never tire of neighbors stopping by and remarking on the sheer beauty of the trees, asking us where we bought them.  (We purchased  them from Tru Value Hardware store on Trent Road/McCarthy Blvd. about six years ago, when they were young saplings.)

Unfortunately, we were so busy admiring the flowering trees and doing yard work, that we failed to notice a slow but steady downturn in our beloved Meyer Lemon tree, until the leaves were almost gone.  It was spider mites again.  The tree has turned ugly, at least for a while.  After three sprays for spider mites, we finally have seen new growth, but it will take a while for the tree to come back.  The spider mites are stubborn and there are still some on the underleaves.


I marked our calendar for next February.  We'll check our citrus trees then for spider mites.  They're going to be there every year, guaranteed -- we just have to spray before the damage becomes severe.
Our thanks to the girls at Pinecone Perennials for cluing us in on the spider mites.  We do love that store.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DAIRY-FREE COCOA CUPCAKES WITH PEANUT BUTTER FILLING AND MARSHMALLOW FROSTING



We have a friend who has recently been diagnosed with severe lactose intolerance.  Imagine not being able to eat ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt or sour cream and having to avoid most desserts.  So, when we were invited to share Easter dinner with them, I was determined to bring a dairy-free dessert that didn't taste dairy free.  I succeeded in not only making him happy, but also his entire family.  You don't have to be lactose intolerant to enjoy these great cupcakes.  They're so good, you won't even think about lactose...or intolerance.



They are a bit of work, though.  First you make a from-scratch cupcake, then a filling, then Italian meringue frosting (aka marshmallow fluff), then melt chocolate to drizzle, then crush up peanuts.  It will take a while, but believe me, it's worth it.  These are so very good.  The cupcake is chocolatey, light and moist; the frosting is not overly sweet as most commercial marshmallow fluff is; the peanut butter filling complements the cupcake flavors; and the chocolate drizzle and peanut topping are the perfect finishing touches.  Not only that, but once you see these beauties, you will WANT to eat them.

Dairy-Free Cocoa Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling and Marshmallow Frosting
Rating:  10 out of 10
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CUPCAKES:

1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked then lightly spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. chocolate flavor (I used Spices, etc., purchased online)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee, decaf or regular

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.  In large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In medium bowl  whisk egg, oil, sugars, flavorings and coffee.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients using a spoon or spatula.  Batter will be somewhat lumpy -- do not over mix it to make it smooth.  Using an ice cream scoop (1/4 cup), fill paper liners.  Bake about 16 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn cupcakes out onto wire rack to completely cool.

PEANUT-BUTTER FILLING:
7 Tbsp. Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. soy milk

In small bowl, combine all ingredients.  Core cooled cupcakes with a Cuisipro or other hollowing device, and fill cavity with peanut butter filling.  Eat the cupcake pieces you cored; sandwich two with some peanut butter filling and marshmallow frosting.

ITALIAN MERINGUE (HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOW FLUFF):
3 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided use
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder or vanilla extract
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, bring water, corn syrup and 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar to a rolling boil on high heat, brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush.  Do not stir mixture, as it will cause it to crystallize.  Boil until mixture reaches 242F, or soft-ball stage.

In the meantime, a few minutes after the sugar mixture comes to a boil, place egg whites in a completely clean, dry mixing bowl.  Using regular beaters on medium-high speed whip egg whites, vanilla powder or extract, salt and cream of tartar until creamy and foamy, about 2 minutes.  With mixer still on, sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp. of sugar over the whites and continue beating until whites hold very soft peaks, another 2 minutes.  When syrup has reached 242F, reduce mixer speed to low.  Find the sweet spot (between the sides of the bowl and the beaters) and very, very slowly and carefully drizzle in the hot syrup.  After all syrup has been added, turn mixer to high and beat till thick, fluffy and just barely warm, about 7 minutes.  Fit a 16" piping bag with a 1M Wilton tip; spoon frosting into bag and pipe onto cupcakes making high mounds of frosting.

GARNISHES:
About 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
About 1/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, crushed or chopped

Place chocolate into one bottom corner of a resealable plastic bag.  Microwave on high about 30 seconds.  Continue microwaving on high at 10-second intervals until chocolate is melted.  Very carefully cut the tiniest corner to make a very small hole through which the chocolate may be drizzled onto the frosting.  Lightly sprinkle peanuts over cupcakes.

TIME-SAVING TIPS:  Instead of making peanut butter filling, just use Peanut Butter & Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter, available at Wal-Mart or Harris Teeter.  If you're not lactose intolerant, you could use a cake mix for the cupcakes, but you will have to double the other ingredients.