Archive for March, 2010

Klara’s is a Czech restaurant in Cary, NC.  The first time I went there last summer was for lunch.  It was busy, typical business crowd for the area.  The service was slow if you’re in a rush to get back to work, but reasonable otherwise.  I had the pork goulash and it was delicious.  I love dishes with lots of sauce, and this had plenty of delicious soupy, cabbagey sauce to eat up with the tender slices of dumplings.

Since then, I’ve been back many, many times.  Mostly for dinner on the weekends, usually early enough so my son doesn’t interrupt anyone trying to have a romantic evening.  I would recommend reservations if you’ve got more than 4 people, or if you’re going after about 6pm or so.

So far I’ve had the fried mozzarella, fried brie, pork schnitzel, cabbage soup, the crepes with vanilla ice cream, apple strudel, and strawberry dumplings.  Of all I’ve tried, the fried brie is the best.  It goes really well with the Turner and Cole Lot 3 Chardonnay, though I’m no wine expert.  It disappointed me when they changed the appetizer from 3 slices of brie to just 2, but I suppose that leaves me more room to get an actual entree as well.  The potato salad here is also wonderful, I’ve never had one so fresh and diverse in ingredients.  The only dish I didn’t like so well was the garlic soup.  You can’t possibly be within 4 feet of people for 8 hours after eating this dish, it’s just way too strong.

Klara’s is located at 200 S. Academy Street in Cary, NC, and the phone number is (919) 319-5656‎.  I recommend calling ahead both because they frequently get a lot of large parties later and night, and also because there are often events.  Their site is here: http://www.klarasrestaurant.com/

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Chicken Satay Salad

Chicken Satay Salad

This is a recipe of my own creation.  I usually use a store-bought satay sauce for the cabbage, and mix my own for the simmer sauce.  I just can’t make my own sauce that’s as smooth and creamy as store-bought for the final product.

Ingredients for simmer sauce:

  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime (approx. 1.5 oz.)
  • 1/2 tbsp. sambal oelek chili paste
  • 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 peanut oil
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/3 oz. cilantro

Stir the all the ingredients together except the peanut butter and cilantro, that won’t really mix in yet.  Keep separate until the chicken is ready.

  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts (tenderloins are best)
  • peanut satay sauce
  • 2 14 oz. cabbage packages, shredded
  • 1/4 c. peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • crunchy noodles
  • 1/3 oz. cilantro (just the leaves)

First sear the chicken at a high heat in some peanut oil.  When both sides are light brown (but the chicken will still be pink on the sides) then add your simmer sauce.  Mix in the liquidy ingredients, then the cilantro (stems are fine in this) and the peanut butter.  Bring the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken has finished cooking, you’ll want to take out just the meat and discard the simmer sauce.  It becomes lumpy and unappetizing.  This is why I use store-bought for on the cabbage.  If anyone has a solution to this, let me know.  Put the chicken in the fridge and start on the veggies.

Get all your mushrooms, bell peppers and cucumber washed and sliced.  Also crush your peanuts if you haven’t done this already.

Add a few tablespoons of satay sauce into a bowl full of cabbage and mix.  You’ll only want to thinly coat the cabbage, not drown it like it was coleslaw.  Once the cabbage and sauce are mixed together, put the cabbage into a large, shallow dish (13X9 baking dish works fine).  Top the cabbage with the vegetables, then the chicken, drizzle a bit more satay sauce over that, then lastly the crushed peanuts, cilantro leaves and crunchy noodles.

If the dish is prepared before hand, keep ingredients separate until just before serving.  Otherwise the crispness will be lost, and texture is the most important part of this dish!

This dish serves approximately 6-8 if it’s the main dish, or approximately 20 if it’s just a side.  Usually what I’ll do is prepare the chicken on the first day, then just make small amounts of the veggie salad part each day after that so we can have chicken satay salad many days in a row.  Also, when I make individual servings, it’s easier to accommodate people (like my husband) who don’t like so many cucumbers and mushrooms, and won’t even eat food that’s touching bell peppers.

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The flavor of Blue Moon

Blue moon is not a flavor I would want to have every day. It’s not like mint or cinnamon, which are universal and no one ever gets bored with. But every once in a while, I crave blue moon. And I found out in other parts of the country, it’s hard to come by. In Wisconsin it was something I could get at any ice cream store, and as a child I usually got a scoop of bubble gum ice cream to compliment it. However outside the midwest, no one seems to have heard of it.

I found a chain called Kilwin’s that originated in the midwest that does sell it. We drove over an hour last weekend to get some, and it was a welcome relief. People in Wisconsin always brag about the cheese, but really any cheese in any country in Europe is better than Wisconsin cheese. What Wisconsin should really be proud of is the ice cream. I wish there were as many Babcock dairy’s as their are Starbucks in the US. I would be very content to have ice cream every day.

So I had my blue moon ice cream, and it was good. But I discovered a way to “bring home the flavor” without having a melting tub of ice cream in your back seat. You see, blue moon is a very strange combination of almond and citrus, so trying to replicate it is usually pretty difficult. In fact I believe there aren’t any real “food” ingredients to it, it’s just a chemical additive that someone thought made a pretty good ice cream flavor. But I think I did pretty well considering.

I’ve created a Blue Moon mixed drink. It’s simple yet satisfying if you ever get in a blue moon mood. All you do is fill a tall glass with crushed ice, add 3/4 oz. of blue curacao and 1 oz. amaretto liquor (I used Disaronno but I don’t think the brand matters as much) and let it melt the ice a little before you start drinking. It needs to be very very cold, and it’s incredibly smooth and creamy as it is. I have also tried this with a splash of milk, which makes it look more like blue moon ice cream, and blended with vanilla ice cream to make an ice cream drink.  Also goes well with some Cruzan vanilla rum if you’d like to booze it up some more! 

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