Interesting Find – The Pit Stop Bar-B-Que

I always love it when I come across an Interesting Find in the most unexpected places.  Driving through Virginia horse county admiring the beautiful countryside we happened to come across The Pit Stop Bar-B-Que set-up in a parking lot at the intersection of Route 50 and Highway 15 in Aldie, VA.  What immediately peaked my interest was the long line that was queued up for BBQ.  You just know you have found a gem when everyone is waiting in line at this one stand.  Under four tents, with three large smokers, I met Ron Thomas the owner and leader of this wonderful BBQ stop.  We ordered their Chopped Pork Sandwich topped with coleslaw.  I will tell you this was no ordinary sandwich.  I should have known when they put forks in our bags to expect something special.  The sandwich was just overflowing with the most delicious pork and coleslaw.   There was no way you could pick this sandwich up, it was so delicious I savored every bite.  Ron also had me try his mom’s kale recipe with pineapple juice, outstanding!  This BBQ roadside icon is definitely worth the drive.  

The incredible long line….well worth the wait

Their menu….short, sweet and delicious

With the pitmaster, Ron Thomas

Interesting Find – Les Trois Petits Cochons/Three Little Pigs

When I attended ZooFari recently at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, I came across a booth serving the most wonderful pate’s and foie gras.  I have mentioned before that ZooFari (a fundraiser for the National Zoo) is an absolute foodie paradise with booths from some of the finest restaurants and food purveyors on the East Coast.  The Les Trois Petite Cochons -Three Little Pigs booth was definitely calling my name when I saw their assortment of pates at their booth. Over the years, when I attend food events, I have come to realize that not everyone is schooled in the area of food and various types of food.   I got a quiet giggle from this encounter: The two gentlemen in line behind me as I was waiting to try Tree Little Pig’s foie gras, were discussing with each other that they were interested in trying the fudge!  I thought – really gentlemen – this it not fudge! this is foie gras!   However, this story has come to my mind many times when I talk about food, food trends, and types of food.   I realize that not everyone has been exposed to culinary delicacies and as a food writer, I am always mindful to educate my readers and hope that everyone expands their palates and food adventures.

 I typically ask lots of questions when trying new things and many times I hand out my business card when discussing food or recipes.  Quitterie Peyran, French Marketing Associate for Les Trois Petite Cochons-Three Little Pigs reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in trying a few of their organic pates and foie gras.  As a side note: I receive many requests to review products and events however, my Interesting Finds are items that I have found and think my readers would be interested in.  I am very selective and I am not a marketing tool to feature just any product  You can be assured if something is an Interesting Find, I personally found the item and love it!   Les Trois Petite Cochons products are definitely an Interesting Find.  They generously sent me an assortment of their products and they were all outstanding.  One of the great things about their products is they are not something I would make at home but I love to serve them.  All were exceptional.  If you are a fan of foie gras and pates (or ready to expand your food adventures), check out their website.  

Les Trois Petits Cochons began in 1975 as a small charcuterie in Greenwich Village, New York City. Today it continues the tradition of handcrafting high quality, all natural pâté and charcuterie, offering a complete line of artisanal pâtés, mousses, terrines, sausages, smoked meats and other French specialties.

Interesting Find in DC – Radiator Pop-Up Bar and Restaurant at Mason and Rook

Pop-up you say?  One of the newest concepts around the country in all aspects of the food industry, is pop-ups.  Yes, short-term venues that might be here today and gone tomorrow.  From food stands to bars, these are some of the most unique venues you will find.  They are definitely worth searching out since you will find well thought out venues with short life spans, so you must go to them when you hear about them.  I was invited to the Kimpton Hotel in DC, Mason and Rook to check out their pop-up roof-top bar venue and have dinner in Radiator, their restaurant.  It was the most intriguing and delightful evening.   When you enter this boutique hotel, you travel via elevator to their tenth floor, and then walk up a flight of steps to their outdoor bar.  The venue has a killer view and the atmosphere was like we had stepped into a bar on the Hawaiian Islands.  The bar menu was Luau themed, the bartenders had on kukui leis and the view from the top was spectacular. From rum drinks to coconut shrimp with guava sauce, all prepared on the rooftop. I felt like I was back on the islands.  The crowd was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful surroundings and great bar.  We then went down to their restaurant, Radiator.  I will tell you, I have eaten at some the finest restaurants in DC, and the meal we had at Radiator I would list as one of the best meals I have had in DC.  Every small plate was perfectly prepared, from the bacon fat fries to the brussel sprouts with gram marsala yogurt, it was a mouth dancing night.  I must also mention the gnocchi with lolli pop kale, beach mushroom, truffle pecorino, and arugula pesto and the Wagyu bavette steak with salt-roasted potatoes, cipollini onion, and cabernet demi –  just spectacular. Hard for me to dissect every dish since every dish was so unique and delicious.  I can’t wait to return – those Bacon Fat Fries are calling my name!

Stoney Acres Farm/Pizza on the Farm/Oyster Mushrooms with Sherry Cream

It is always fun to step out of your local area and see what is happening across the country. Have you ever been to a pizza farm? This was my first trip to a pizza farm and I will tell you, it will not be my last visit.  During our recent visit to Central Wisconsin, I was determined to visit a local farm, Stoney Acres.  After searching the internet I found this farm as the one that fascinated me the most about this new concept.  If you are wondering “What is a pizza farm”?, it is a concept where you visit the farm and the pizzas are made onsite with fresh organic ingredients from the farm.  The wheat is ground onsite for the flour for the dough.  The toppings are fresh from the farm, the bacon is cured on the farm, the cheeses are from local cheese shops that make the cheese from the local dairies – you get the point – farm to table onsite.  Many restaurants boost that their dishes are farm to table, on the pizza farm they are from the farm to the farm table.  We arrived at Stoney Acres at our reserved time after driving through miles of beautiful country side and picturesque farm lands.  You bring everything you need (plates, napkins, utensils, and beverages)  and the pizza is made in handmade pizza ovens that cook pizzas in two minutes at over 800 degrees.  You sit at communal tables and we just happened to sit with the parents of the pizza maker and owner of Stoney Acres and their close friends.  It was a banner night for me since I found out how this concept transpired and many details regarding their operation.  I could go on and on about how fantastic the night was and how delicious the pizzas are – but if you are ever in WI and looking for a wonderful food adventure, this is one stop you cannot miss!

Enjoying our communal table at the pizza farm.

Tony Schultz (owner of Stoney Acres) with the pizza peel in hand.

Interesting Find – Scrambled, Greensboro, NC

Every once in awhile you run across someplace that you will always remember.  Scrambled is just one of those types of restaurants that I will remember and hope to return to one day.  As we were traveling through the south on our return trip home from the Masters this spring,  we stopped into Scrambled for breakfast.  After numerous searches on the internet, I decided that Scrambled looked like just the type of place to try and boy we were not disappointed.  You know the minute you arrive on a weekday morning and you have to wait 30 – 35 minutes, you have found a great place that the locals frequent.  We were greeted with the news of a wait, but also a waiting area and a delicious cup of coffee.  Time flew during our wait since I always seem to strike up a conversation and learn more about the restaurant and the local area.  I must admit, I told the hostess that I was a food blogger.  Once my husband and I were seated, we checked out their delicious menu and ordered a few of our favorites.  It was shortly after this that we meet Sarah Keith who owns Scrambled with her husband and chef, Chris Blackburn; she graciously offered to have us try a few of the menu highlights.  We had such fun, talking with our neighboring table mates and discussing the wonderful menu at Scrambled.  I tasted my way through the menu; just sitting here writing this post, I wish I had their fried green tomato eggs benedict sitting here next to me, or their meatloaf benedict, or their breakfast flatbread, or their pancake, or their…….. I think you get the picture.   Everything we tried was sensational.  Oh, did I mention their biscuits and homemade jams?  

Here I am with Sarah and Chris

Everything was just sensational!  I will head back to Greensboro just to go to Scrambled.

Cinnamon Waffles – I wish I was still at The Homestead!

My husband and I spent last weekend at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA.  We wanted a weekend getaway and decided to head to The Homestead after many great reviews from friends.  After a long and winding journey through the western part of Virginia, we drove into the small town of Hot Springs and was greeted by the massive resort on our left.  I must tell you, after driving many miles through the country roads, I thought I had put in the wrong address into our GPS, because I just could not believe there would much civilization, no less a resort in the mountainous remote area we were driving through.)  How wrong I was, the town of Hot Springs and The Homestead are beautiful.  As you know, I am always looking for great food and interesting finds, I had to go no further than their breakfast buffet on Saturday morning.  Before we headed out for a round of golf, we had the most delicious breakfast buffet in their main dining room.  So many delicious choices, I could hardly decide what to select.  It didn’t take me too long to find Roderick making Cinnamon Waffles, a specialty at The Homestead.  What a delicious breakfast treat, along with a vegetable omelet and grits, a breakfast of champions for these golfers!  So, back to reality today and back to my kitchen.  I decided to make my own Cinnamon Waffle recipe this morning, what a great way to remember a great trip.  

Our view from the 14th tee box on the Old Course at The Homestead.

Roderick making Cinnamon Waffles

 

 

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Cinnamon Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat waffle iron.  Beat eggs until fluffy.  Add remaining ingredients and beat just until smooth.  Pour batter into waffle iron and bake until steaming stops, approx. 4 1/2 - 5 minutes.  Remove carefully.  Makes 3 - 10 inch waffles.

 

 

Interesting Find – Farmer’s Daughter Jams and Preserves and Whole Wheat Biscuit Recipe

I am always on the search for interesting food items to incorporate into my cooking and my blog.  When I saw Farmer’s Daughter Jams and Preserves this past weekend, I just have to buy a few jars.  The cute jars and catchy batch names such as Blackberry Julep Jam and Strawberry Honeysuckle Preserves were calling my name.  I spend of bit of time researching the company and found they are headquartered in Hillsborough, NC.  After checking their website (http://www.farmersdaughterbrand.com/index.htm) I found the following information that tells their story:

Farmer’s Daughter is a farm-driven artisan food business celebrating the flavors of the South and the soils of the North Carolina Piedmont while gaining inspiration from authentic food cultures worldwide.  It was founded in 2007 by April McGreger, who learned the art of preserving at the elbows of her mother and grandmother amidst a rural farming community in Mississippi.  Farmer’s Daughter seeks to promote the value of sustainable, small-scale agriculture as well as traditional, handmade methods of preserving.

I am always impressed with those that continue the traditions set by their mothers and grandmothers.  We tried both of the above varieties, they are wonderful and especially delicious on my whole wheat biscuits- YUM!

These biscuits are incredibly easy to prepare and the results are always great.  I rolled my dough approximately 3/4 inch thick, if you want event taller biscuits, you can roll the dough up to 1 inch thick.  You will have fewer biscuits, but very impressive when over the top in height!

 

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Whole Wheat Biscuits

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened and diced
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    In a large mixing bowl. combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt and cream of tartar.  Add butter and using a pastry blender, cut butter into mixture until the butter is the size of small peas.  Make a well in the center, add egg and milk and combine with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are moist.  Turn dough onto a well floured surface and knead until all is smooth and all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Roll dough to 3/4 inch thick, cut with three inch cutter.  Place biscuits on parchment lined baking sheet, 1/4 inch apart.  Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.   

 

 

 

 

Baked then Grilled Ribs/Interesting Find – Hudson Sauce

Who doesn’t love a great rack of fall-off the bones BBQ’d ribs in the summer time? We certainly do!  I found years ago that by baking the ribs first and then grilling them, you get fall of the bone tenderness without the 3 hours of tending to the grill.  I usually rub the ribs with a dry rub or concoct a BBQ sauce to baste the ribs.  This time, I used a terrific new find – Hudson Sauce.  Their spicy marinade is unbelievably delicious and made this rib preparation even easier.  I marinated the ribs in their Spicy Marinade.  Then followed the method I have always used for ribs.  Bake the ribs in the oven first, them finish on the grill.  I even brushed the ribs with some of the marinade during the last few minutes of cooking.  Finger lickin’ good with a bit of heat and oh so easy!

 hudson sauce 2

                                                                          Marinated Ribs                                   Ribs just taken off the grill

marinated ribs cooked ribs

 

Baked then Grilled Ribs
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Ingredients
  1. Baby back or spareribs
  2. BBQ sauce or dry rub
Instructions
  1. Remove ribs from package, place in large ziplock bag or place in glass baking dish. Marinate in sauce or dry rub of your choice. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from marinade and place on foil lined baking sheet. Cover ribs with additional foil and seal edges. Bake 2 hours at 325 degrees. Prepare grill - medium low heat. Place ribs on grill and cook an additional hour or until ribs are tender. Serve with additional sauce.
A Passion for Entertaining http://apassionforentertaining.com/

Unbelievably Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This recipe is so easy it is almost embarrassing to post.  Two ingredients and fantastic results.  Now that is one great recipe!   I usually use whatever BBQ sauce I happen to have in my pantry.  However, this time, I used a wonderful Virginia product that I received.  I used Shaffer’s Bold and Sassy Sauce. I always prefer to use locally made products in my recipes.  Their sauce is a vinegar/red wine based sauce with molasses, coriander, cumin and other spices.  It was a delicious addition to this easy recipe. 

slow cooker pulled pork

 Big Julie’s Bold & Sassy (16 fl oz) - $6.99

 

 

Unbelievably Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pork tenderloins or one beef brisket
  2. BBQ sauce
Instructions
  1. Almost too easy to post - in your slow cooker, pour in 3/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Add your meat of choice. Drizzle with an additional 3/4 cup sauce. Cover and cook on low for 7 1/2 hours. Shred meat, return to sauce to keep warm. Serve.
A Passion for Entertaining http://apassionforentertaining.com/

 

Candied Oranges

Sometimes I think my kitchen is more of a chemistry lab than a kitchen.  I love candied oranges, however, they are definitely pricey when you see them and not readily available.  So, I thought I would try my hand at making candied oranges.  They are the perfect accompaniment to a cheese tray, great to chop and mix in muffins or quick breads, an interesting addition or garnish for cocktails, delicious served with whipped cream mixed with brandy, serve sliced with an after dinner cordial and my latest concoction – chop two candied oranges and mix into one-half gallon of vanilla ice cream and top with chocolate sauce.  Below I have highlighted another fantastic Virginia food find I came across Willie Byrd Chocolate Sauce , I heated and topped my candied orange ice cream with this and all I can say is…  unbelievably delicious!

candied oranges

candied orange ice cream  

 

Candied Oranges
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/3 cup sugar
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 6 seedless oranges, score rind
  6. Juice of 1/2 lemon
Instructions
  1. In a heavy sauce pan that will hold 6 oranges snugly, combine water, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add oranges, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 2 hours. Turn oranges every 1/2 hour. After 2 hours, remove the lid and bring the syrup with the oranges in it to a boil. Boil until the syrup is thick, this will take about 10 minutes. Turn oranges frequently so they do not brown. When syrup has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and let the oranges cool in the syrup. Turn the oranges so the syrup coats the oranges as they cool. Refrigerate the oranges when completely cool. Candied oranges will keep for at least 2 weeks refrigerated.
A Passion for Entertaining http://apassionforentertaining.com/