Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Three things to like about Hardee’s…

…even if you’re a vegetarian.

1. They give away Slankets. Not a cheap ol’ Snuggie. A genuine Slanket. They have good taste in blankets with sleeves. And now I have one. Well, Mr. Eats has one so now I don’t have to share my pink Slanket with him any more. He has his own. And he loves it.

2. They don’t have items on the menu specifically for vegetarians, but at least they have the decency to acknowledge we exist. Though their website doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know (as in, “order a burger, no meat”). Their most recent product introduction was actually born of trying to make the ultimate grilled cheese. Had they asked, I would have told them the ultimate grilled cheese is just cheese and tomato--no burger or bacon. But I suppose they realized that their customer base just wasn’t much interested in a sandwich that didn’t have one or two dead critter bits on it.

3. Curly fries. Should I ever have the misfortune of choosing a last meal, I can assure you that curly fries will be on the menu along with truffled macaroni and cheese and a good egg pasta and a lump of fried goat cheese and a few slices of home-grown heirloom tomatoes and…well, the list is long. Point is, I love curly fries. And Hardee's has excellent curly fries.

Thanks for the Slanket Hardee's! (And thanks to Nicki from Bites for delivering the Slanket!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

And the winner of the Iron Fork tickets is...

Commenter #8: KMAYS! Congratulations!

For those of you who didn't win, you can still purchase tickets online, at the Whole Foods and Le Creuset locations in Green Hills, or buy them at the door. Proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and Manna Food Security Partners.

Note: I deleted Beth's comment since she is on an adventure in China so that it would not affect the outcome of the contest.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Iron Fork Nashville

It’s time again for Nashville’s best culinary competition--the third annual Iron Fork returns to the Country Music Hall of Fame April 21st. Last year’s winner, Jeremy Barlow of Tayst will again compete for the Gold Fork against Andy Hunter of the Acorn Restaurant, Hal M. Holden-Bache from Eastland Café, Jason McConnell from 55 South, Sol, and Red Pony Restaurants, and Chris Cunningham of Sunset Grill.

The way it works for us common folk is that in addition to watching the competition--each chef will have just one hour to prepare a dish featuring a secret ingredient revealed just before they start cooking--spectators can sample food and have a few beverages. A word of warning--get there early if you’re planning to make a meal of it. Which is possible if you’re diligent (as I did for the inaugural Iron Fork competition in 2008; note the handful of containers from PM). Not sure what the vegetarian options will be this time, though. Might be a good idea to pack a snack just in case.

The doors opem at 6pm with the competition beginning around 7pm. You can get discounted tickets until April 14 for $30 each. Afterward, tickets are $40 . Purchase tickets online, at the Whole Foods and Le Creuset locations in Green Hills, or buy them at the door. This year, ticket proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and Manna Food Security Partners.

Or enter to win a free pair of tickets here! Just leave a comment on this post by midnight, Saturday, April 17 and I will randomly choose a winner and post results Monday morning (one entry per person!). Please be sure to include an email address in your profile or comment (or email me separately) so I can reach you. If I don’t get a response from the winner by 8am Tuesday morning, I’ll draw again. Please note that you need to be available to pick up the tickets from me before 6pm on the 21st.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


During our recent trip to Memphis, I stopped by the old Midtown Seessel’s Schnuck’s and picked up some Pancho’s cheese dip and Tropicale dressing. Pancho’s is one of the many things I miss about Memphis and one of the things that bonds those of us who grew up there. There’s nothing even vaguely authentic Mexican about Pancho’s but it is unique among Tex-Mex with flavors specific to the palates of Memphians in the 1950s ('ya gettin' the picture here?). And I love it.

First, the cheese dip. It’s made with American cheese and Ro-Tel tomatoes. It’s served cold. When I first served a chip to Mr. Eats with this cold dip, he replied, “Hmm. Good. But it’ll be better when it’s warmed up.” Heresy!

And then there’s the Pancho’s Tropicale dressing. It’s served on their salads, including the chicken fajita salad that was a favorite of mine until I became a vegetarian ten years ago (I still order it sans chicken). My mom and I were having a discussion about it one time and she said that it was really easy to make (though she hates it). She just walked into the kitchen, threw a few things together and there it was. I was really impressed.

But the recipe I have--clipped about 15 years ago--is from a favorite column in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Recipe Finder. It’s a fun column that’s been around for as long as I can remember; most of the clipped recipes I have are from this column when I first started really cooking for myself in the mid-1990s. The recipes are usually either those that people are trying to recreate from childhood memories or from local restaurants (past and present).

Pancho's Tropicale Dressing
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup vinegar
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp crushed oregano leaves

Process everything except oregano in a blender (or use a stick blender) until sugar is dissolved. Stir in oregano Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Tips: use just ¼ cup of sugar if you’re concerned about sweetness. And improve the color by using light olive oil and/or a touch of prepared mustard.

I recreated the chicken fajita salad by using Quorn Chick’n Tenders lightly sautéed and sprinkled with fajita seasoning and tortilla bowls from Azteca.

Mr. Eats was a lot more impressed with the salad and dressing. Though the cold cheese dip is growing on him (so to speak…I hope--ha!).

*Note: new camera! I hope to take photos as good and delectable as those on Love and Olive Oil and Eat.Drink.Smile.!