I wound out up at Crave after an adjustment to my original plan to go to 112 Eatery to check out Isaac Becker’s cuisine (I recently mentioned him in my Top Tips from Food Network Magazine blog). Luckily, the walk to 112 Eatery from my hotel room was only about 15 minutes. Unluckily, when I arrived there was a flyer on the door that it was closed for kitchen renovations and would reopen the next day. Sigh, major sigh. Especially walking with plantar fasciitis. However, a cool looking place, Crave, was right across the street from my hotel. Thank you, renovation gods, what a great experience I had at Crave!
Years ago, Clawson’s Restaurant and Pub in beautiful Beaufort, N.C., served a delicious shrimp salad in a pita pocket. Beaufort is on North Carolina’s crystal coast, right outside of Atlantic Beach and Morehead City, and has a great collection of wonderful restaurants and bars for such a small area.
For some insane reason, this dish disappeared from Clawson’s menu quite a while back. However, ever since the first time I had it, I’ve tried to replicate the recipe at home and love my latest low-calorie, low-fat version. I hope you will, too!
Ingredients (this will yield 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your pita bread)
- 12 oz. bag of frozen, cooked small shrimp, 71-90 count (the smaller salad shrimp works well, too)
- ¼ of a fresh lemon
- ½ cup red onion, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced small (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced small (remove the fleshy membrane and seeds)
- ½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
- 2/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons white wine (I used Hess Chardonnay this time)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed (double this amount if you have fresh dill)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
- Pita bread
- Tomato and avocado, diced (optional)
Thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator, rinse, dry and add to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice. Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper and cucumber and mix well.
Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, white wine, mustard, dill weed, salt and pepper.
Add the dressing to the shrimp mixture in small batches – you don’t want to over-saturate the shrimp. Many times I have just a little bit of dressing left over. Refrigerate the shrimp salad for at least an hour so that the flavors meld together well.
Cut the pita bread in half to make two pockets. Lightly toast. Fill with the shrimp salad.
I usually add some diced tomato and avocado to the pockets at this point (rather than adding these ingredients to the salad itself, as they tend to get soggy.)
I especially love how the shrimp and avocado taste so good together. By the way, if you are watching your carbs and want to ditch the bread, just serve this salad on some lettuce or spring mix.
Pair this with some cut-up fruit and a glass of white wine for a light, refreshing and oooh, sooo good meal!
Bon appétit, and eat, drink and be merry!
The kids were invited to sleepovers the other night, so Brad and I took
advantage and went to one of our favorite Indian restaurants in Raleigh. Located in Raleigh’s Brier Creek shopping center, Azitra’s décor is upscale and sleek. The service has always been good whenever we have dined there, and the food is tasty, fresh and spiced to one’s preference – hot, medium or mild. Azitra offers a number of vegetarian/vegan selections and prices for all dinner entrees range from $11.00 to $22.00.
We ordered the Subz Samosas ($5.00) for our appetizer. These
turnovers (you get two per order) are filled with potatoes and pureed green peas – very nice. We also ordered the garlic naan ($4.00), which is topped with fresh garlic and herbs. This stuff rocks – it’s so addicting!
Brad had a Flying Horse Royal Lager ($8.00). I had a glass of the 2009 Jean Pierre Bailly Sauvignon Blanc ($13.00), which was dry and citrusy with a medium body. I got a good pour on the wine, and felt it paired well with my salmon entree.
For dinner, Brad had the Lamb Vindaloo (17.00). The lamb is marinated in garlic and vinegar and cooked in a tangy sauce. He always orders it hot – I usually get it medium. This is one of my favorite entrees at Azitra, and Brad enjoyed it.
I had the Salmon Makhni ($17.00). This dish consisted of chunks of salmon roasted in the tandoor and simmered in a creamy tomato sauce. It was good – the salmon was flaky and the sauce had a great mixture of coconut and tomato flavors. However, when I am eating meat, I do prefer the dish that Brad ordered, mainly for the spice factor and the tenderness of the lamb.
I have read a number of mixed reviews about Azitra, some people love it, and others do not. Overall, we enjoy this restaurant for its ambience, service and food. Maybe we are lucky and just keep hitting it at the right time, but as long as we do we’ll keep going back.
- Price: Medium. Good food, great atmosphere!
- Service: 4.00. Consistently good on numerous visits.
- Food: 4.00. Everything I’ve had has been good – no missteps.
- Recommend: Yes.
- Kid friendly: Not sure. I don’t think my 9-year old twins would appreciate Indian cuisine at this point.
1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb
Eat, drink and be merry!
“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad” – A. K. Best
In Part One of Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches, I wrote about some of my favorite “cool classics” where the tuna is served cold on some sort of tasty bread. The focus of Part Two is on tuna melts, where the tuna is topped with some sort of cheese (one of the world’s wonder foods as far as I’m concerned) and heated. As I mentioned in Part One, I am picky about my tuna salad and compare everything to my grandfather’s concoction (click here for his recipe.) All of these melts start with a great base of tuna salad that I would happily eat cold.
So cast your rods and catch some of these marvelous tuna melts:
Seaboard Café – 707 Semart Dr., Raleigh, N.C. 27604
The Seaboard Café is a great lunch destination located in Logan Trading Company, right off of Peace Street near Peace College. Opened Monday-Saturday from 11:00-2:30, it does a great business and the line is often quite long, but moves at a steady pace. I order the Grilled Tuna Salad, Swiss & Cranberries Sandwich for $7.50, and really didn’t know what to expect with the cranberries. OMG – this is one of my favorite tuna melts ever! It comes on grilled sourdough bread and is a perfect mix of sweet and savory. It is served with raspberry-Dijon pasta salad which is tasty and a pickled carrot (they sell these delicious little things by the pound). I don’t go as often as I’d like to mainly because I always wind up buying too much stuff at Logan’s and across the street at Seaboard Wine.
North Ridge Pub - 6196 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609
This place wasn’t on my original list for trying tuna melts, but it should have been as it has one of the best I’ve ever had. The tuna is mixed with light mayo, celery, onion and special seasonings. It has Swiss cheese and tomato on toasted white bread. The bread is quite good, and the sandwich is huge. It comes with a choice of fries, Caesar salad, house salad or coleslaw for $7.50. My server didn’t ask what I wanted and assumed I wanted fries, which was okay because they were good. I enjoyed this wonderful sandwich with a great mimosa (generous pour in a chilled glass.) Small and cozy, the North Ridge Pub is run by the same people who own Café Tiramisu, which is right next door and one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Raleigh (hoping to review it soon!)
Café Harmony - 5645 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27612
I tried the albacore tuna melt, which consists of tuna salad on an open-faced English muffin with tomato, Swiss cheese and sprouts, heated. The tuna salad was very good with onion, celery, mayo and parsley. $8.99, with your choice of veggie chips or blue chips. This place recently opened and is run by the folks who own Harmony Farms, which is located a few doors down. It is Raleigh’s first totally organic and natural café, according to its website. Café Harmony is located in the strip mall on the corner of Millbrook and Creedmoor Roads. I have also tried the smoky black bean burger there, which is awesome and will be featured in an upcoming blog. I hope this place makes it, and judging by the lunch crowds, it should.
Sunflowers Café - 8 West Peace Street, Raleigh, N.C. 27603
I knew I had to try the tuna salad at Sunflowers, one of my favorite sandwich shops anywhere! And I was not disappointed. The tuna salad had pickle relish, eggs, mayonnaise and onions in it, and even though I normally steer clear of the relish and eggs in my tuna, this salad was quite good and creamy. It came grilled on rye bread with avocado, cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and house mustard. This was a great combination of flavors – I especially liked the cheddar and avocado. The tuna melt comes with a side of chips for $6.50.
Serendipity Gourmet Deli – 118 South Academy Street, Cary, N.C. 27511
This tuna salad is for the purist – it’s basically white albacore mixed with mayonnaise. It was very creamy, but did need some salt and pepper. It was served on a croissant with melted Swiss and tomato. I thought they toasted it a tad bit too much, but it was still good. It came with chips and a pickle for $7.50. Service was good and friendly. Serendipity is a quaint little place in downtown Cary. I remember going there in the mid-80s, and the food is still good.
As I mentioned in my post: Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches, my grandfather, Kelton Virnelson, used to make the best tuna salad. He only used BumbleBee white albacore tuna, and would add diced celery and onion, white pepper (it was more aesthetically pleasing to the eye), fresh lemon juice and homemade (yes, homemade) mayonnaise. I’ve tried my best to replicate his recipe but use lowfat, store-bought mayo (usually Duke’s Light) instead of his homemade version.
Pampa’s Tuna Salad Recipe
- 1 12-oz. can of albacore tuna, well-drained
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- ¼ cup onion, diced (I like sweet onions, such as Vidalias)
- ¼ fresh large lemon
- ¼ cup light mayonnaise
- Freshly ground white pepper and seasoned salt to taste
Flake the tuna with a fork; squeeze the juice of a quarter of a large lemon on it (watch out for any errant seeds!) Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well. If I’m serving this on bread, sandwich roll or on a bed of lettuce, I let the tuna salad chill in the refrigerator for a little while. If I‘m making a tuna melt (recipe below), then I like for the salad to be room temperature as it heats faster.
Tuna melt recipe
- Pampa’s tuna salad (see recipe above)
- Bread (I like to use split English muffins or La Brea’s Three Cheese Semolina bread available from Harris Teeter. But any type of bread will work.)
- Cheddar cheese slices (I like Cracker Barrel’s 2% sharp cheddar)
- Tomato slices (optional)
Lightly toast the bread so the tuna won’t make it soggy. Spread some of the tuna on each slice. Top each with a slice of tomato (you can also add onion and/or avocado slices.) Top with cheese. Broil in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese melts.
“You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish” – REO Speedwagon
I’m extremely picky about my tuna fish salad, and can credit Pampa, my beloved grandfather, for that. He used to make the best tuna salad and only used Bumblebee brand white albacore. Pampa added diced celery and onion, white pepper, fresh lemon juice and homemade (yes, homemade) mayonnaise. I’ve tried my best to replicate his recipe but use low-fat, store-bought mayo (usually Duke’s Light) instead of his homemade version. Click here for his recipe.
Most restaurants that are open for lunch offer some sort of tuna fish salad, whether it is served as a sandwich, a tuna melt or just plain on a bed of lettuce. I’m normally not a big fan of relish or boiled eggs in tuna salad, probably as a result of being spoiled by my grandfather’s wonderful concoction. However, even though I am picky, luckily I have found 10 tuna salad sandwiches/melts that I will gladly order because they are so tasty – some actually have eggs and/or relish in the mix.
I’m splitting this post into two parts: Part 1 is about some tasty cool classics – tuna salad served cold on some sort of tasty bread. Part 2 reviews tuna melts – warm tuna salad with some sort of melted cheese on top.
Here is where I get some of my favorite cool classics:
Panera Bread – Various locations nationwide, check its website for one close to you.
This is one tuna salad sandwich that I keep coming back for, and luckily there are enough Panera Bread locations around that I don’t have to go far. This tuna salad has reduced fat mayo, sweet relish and seasonings. It comes on a wide choice of homemade breads (I love the asiago cheese focaccia) with leaf lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, salt and pepper. Nicely priced at $5.19, which includes a side item (choice of chips or fruit) and a pickle.
Café Carolina and Bakery (various locations in North Carolina)
I usually visit Café Carolina’s location in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center, and have tried numerous items on the menu, all of which are good. This tuna salad has celery, onion, mayo, bits of red pepper and seasonings. It has a good consistency, and tastes good. It comes on nine grain bread with lettuce and tomato, but they will gladly let you choose a different bread (I love their buttery croissant – flaky and soft!) It comes with a choice of Lays potato chips or pretzels. Come early or late or be prepared to wait – there is always a line at lunch!
Poppyseed Market - 8801 Leadmine Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27615
The tuna salad sandwich at Poppyseed comes on white toasted bread and is huge! The tuna is mixed with celery, onions and mayo and comes with lettuce and a slice of tomato. Lots of tuna, and very tasty. It is served with homemade potato chips which are yummy and a pickle, for $7.99. The Poppyseed Market is located in the Harvest Plaza shopping center, in the same strip as Nina’s, one of my favorite Italian restaurants. In addition to serving food, Poppyseed sells deli items as well as wine, assorted cheeses and gifts. It also caters special events.
Over the Falls Deli – 238 South White St., Wake Forest, N.C. 27587
I ordered the Horseshoe sandwich ($7.49), which was on a flaky croissant and came with lettuce and tomato. The tuna salad was very good and creamy – it had bits of celery, red onion and black olives in it. The sandwich was served with homemade potato chips that are quite addictive and a dill pickle slice. The service was attentive and friendly, and it has outside seating. I love this little place, and if I go there when I’m a carnivore I like to get a sandwich called the Brink, which is a Reuben that rocks! If you’re familiar with Wake Forest, this place is right next to the Cotton Company, a unique assortment of vendors and shops.
Village Deli and Grill (500 Daniels Street Raleigh, NC 27605)
I ordered the homemade tuna salad sandwich ($5.50), which is fairly basic and appears just to contain mayo and pepper. It is more like a spread in its consistency, and needed salt and more pepper. It comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo on a choice of white, wheat, rye, Kaiser roll or wrap. For .25 cents more you can have it on a croissant or ciabatta. I ordered the ciabatta and it was good. Sides are extra. The Village Deli has locations in Raleigh, Morrisville and Wake Forest. I go to the one in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center, which is usually packed at lunchtime.
This ends Part 1 of “Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches.” Be on the lookout for Part 2, Marvelous Melts, which will be posted in the next few days. And if you have a favorite that I haven’t mentioned here, please leave a comment – I’m always on the lookout for great tuna salad!
Usually when Brad and I have a free night away from the kids we like to try out an area restaurant that is new to us. However, last Saturday instead of choosing a new place, we went to McCormick & Schmick’s because we had a $50.00 gift certificate that was about to expire. Don’t get me wrong, though – we have both been there numerous times for business lunches and dinners as well as a restaurant of choice. The atmosphere is great, the bar area is large if you have to wait for a table, it has outside seating, plus it is located less than two miles from our home, which makes it very convenient.
The great thing about wild Alaska sockeye salmon is not only is it delicious, but it is also full of natural minerals and vitamins that are good for you. High in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, it contains no detectable mercury. Salmon are different from most fish, which either live in fresh or salt water. This is not the case for salmon. During the course of their life they will live in both salt and fresh water. Make sure you always buy the wild salmon – don’t even get me started about the farm raised stuff.
“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said. “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”
Well Mr. President, I don’t know what kind of salmon you’re talking about, but here are two recipes just might cure the munchies – cedar plank grilled sockeye and sockeye salmon cakes. When the sockeye is on sale, I buy extra to grill to make the cakes a few days later.
Cedar Plank Grilled Sockeye Salmon (Serves 2)
Grilled salmon on cedar is sinfully good! Cedar planks can be found at any hardware store where they sell the grilling stuff. You must soak the plank in water before grilling, usually for at least an hour; preferably more if you have time – just follow the directions on the package. You need to weight the plank with a heavy can or a brick so it stays totally immersed. This is so easy to prepare – 2 ingredients not counting the cedar planks!
- Sockeye salmon filet(s), about a pound or so for two people (add an extra pound if you want to make the next recipe, Sockeye Salmon Cakes)
- Drew’s All Natural Thai Sesame Lime Dressing
Marinate the salmon in enough Drew’s dressing to coat the fish completely for an hour or so. Place the cedar plank on the grill until it is hot, then put the fish on the plank. Grill about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the salmon, until you can flake it with a fork.
Serve with a starch (baked potato as shown, roasted red potatoes or risotto are also great choices) and a vegetable such as steamed green beans, broccoli or asparagus.
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or a nice white Burgundy
Sockeye salmon cakes
These things rock – the smokiness of the cedar plank salmon and the coolness of the dill sauce go great together!
- 1 ½ cups of cooked cedar plank grilled salmon, flaked
- 2 thick onion slices, diced small
- 1 celery stalk, diced small
- ½ fresh red pepper, diced small
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 ½ slices of fresh bread crumbs
- 1 extra large egg, beaten
- Tabasco/hot sauce to taste (I usually use several shakes)
- Ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon slices to garnish
Mix together all of the ingredients except the olive oil and lemons (I usually do this with my hands.) Divide into 4 large patties, or 8 small ones. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors meld and to firm up the cakes.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Sautee the cakes until golden brown on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with low-fat dill sauce (see recipe below), smoked mozzarella pasta salad from Whole Foods and a tossed salad with your choice of dressing (I like Good Seasons Italian with this.)
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or a nice white Burgundy
Low-fat Dill Sauce
- ¼ cup low-fat mayo (I use Duke’s)
- ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced (use both the green and white parts)
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, finely chopped (use 1 teaspoon of dry dill if you don’t have fresh)
- Few dashes of Tabasco/hot sauce, to taste
- Seasoned salt and ground pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients, and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend. Bring to room temperature before drizzling over the salmon patties.