Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Food Friend!

This is moi (I've gone back to being a brunette for the time being!) with Ann Prospero. Ann and I became email friends through our mutual friend Dorette Snover of C'est si Bon! fame. I finally got the chance to meet Ann last Sunday at the North Carolina Literary Festival at UNC. She was chosen to read from her new book Chefs of the Triangle: Their Lives, Recipes and Restaurants. Bill Smith of Crook's Corner (I sure hope he shares the recipe for the killer brownies that he brought with him on the back of his bicycle) and Bret Jennings (he brought a green tomato- avocado gazpacho with a real kick) of Elaine's on Franklin were there with her to answer questions about themselves and their restaurants.
The book is fabulous! It is a compilation of area chefs, their stories and one or two of their recipes. I am already on my second reading of it and I am trying to decide which recipe to try first. It reinforces how lucky we are in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area to have such talented chefs and such wonderful restaurants. They all work together and really try to support the local community of farmers. I've already been fortunate enough to have sampled the food at several of the restaurants in the book (Crook's Corner, Piedmont, Nana's, Four Square, Vin Rouge, Pop's, Watts Grocery, Rue Cler, Angus Barn, Second Empire, Herons, Panciuto, Fearrington, and Magnolia Grill-- wow! That's alot!!) and to even have met a couple of the chefs (Bill Smith, Scott Crawford, Aaron Vandermark, Colin Bedford, and Dorette. Alex Gallis went to Durham Academy, but that doesn't really count). They are my "rock stars!"
And thank you, Ann, for such a great tribute to food.
Buy the book (, savor every word and try a recipe. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit one of the restaurants and sample the chef's fare, go for it and then send me your feedback. I'd love to hear about your experiences. Ann's blog, Prospero's Kitchen, is on my list. Check it out!
Maybe this will be my first recipe... I love creamed spinach but have tried several recipes that just didn't have what I was looking for (and since I am not in any way, shape or form a real chef I don't know what I am looking for except I will know when I find it!)...

Chef Matthew Kelly's Recipe for Creamed Spinach
(Vin Rouge Restaurant in Durham)

Serves 6

1 quart half-and-half
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 pounds baby flat-leaf spinach
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 c. flour
1 to 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
Heavy cream to drizzle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, bring half-and-half just to a boil. Add garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Working in batches, stir in spinach just until wilted. Continue stirring in more spinach until all 2 1/2 pounds have been incorporated into cream mixture. Remove from heat. Make a roux by melting butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and stirring in flour. Continue stirring until mixture thickens and forms gravy. Remove from heat. Add roux to spinach, return to heat, and bring to a boil. Stir until roux thickens the cream and spinach mixture. Using an immersion blender, lightly pulse until ingredients are just mixed but not puréed. Adjust seasonings. Place spinach in an ovenproof serving container. Sprinkle with Gruyère and drizzle heavy cream on top. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Oh mon dieu. This sounds so good. I got an immersion blender for Christmas from my guys--what a great truc. I love it.

Alors, mes amis, bon appétit!

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