Bless Your Spoon: A perfectly planned meal and march feeds fans

Published 9:31 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Watching a parade is a fun way to celebrate a holiday, and my favorite part is when the bands go marching by. But the grand band performances at NightBEAT, touted as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” was no small celebratory march down a narrow street.

The evening had been one for the big leagues — a top show on Drum Corps International’s Summer Tour, featuring 12 of the most competitive performing corps in the world. Every summer, these top-performing ensembles and specialized marching arts corps come to the stadium at Wake Forest University for a competition.

Most of us were there rooting for Carolina Crown, one of the world’s top marching ensembles, consistently placing at a world-class level — one of the top 6 corps. Now that’s impressive.

While guests never get their fill of these amazing shows, their tummies were satisfied at the pre-show. Members of the Crown Club filled up on a second-to-none buffet, a tasty spread fit for the crowd of “crowned” fans. Folks loaded up their plates with selected dishes. The perfectly planned and well-executed menu featured a selection of hearty foods, the flavors of each perfectly combined.

Showtime followed.

I watched in amazement as the motions of all performers were in sync, forming complex patterns seen on the field. The creativity and precision of the performing corps were incredible — each show was precisely 12 minutes. These expertly orchestrated, marching ensembles with brass and color guard — all in spectacularly choreographed, precise formations — were in fact, breathtaking.

Marinated Shredded Chicken

• ½ tsp. each paprika, basil, thyme

• 1 Tbsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 cup Italian salad dressing

• 8 skinless, bone-in chicken breasts

In a bowl, combine paprika, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub mixture over chicken breasts. In a container, place chicken breasts and pour Italian dressing over all.  Securely cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, turning every couple of hours. Over hot coals, place the breast on the grill with the breast bone down. Grill for 8 minutes on the bone side, turn over and grill another 8 minutes or longer until tender enough to shred. Remove meat from the bone and shred. Accompany with sauces and serve with large rolls or buns.

Hand-Pulled Gingered Pork

• 3-pound boneless pork loin roast

• 2 cups chicken broth

• 3 Tbsp. Sherry (optional)

• ¼ cup soy sauce

• 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

• 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

• 3 minced cloves garlic

• 2-3 Tbsp. cornstarch

• 2-3 Tbsp. water

Prepare roast by trimming excess fat. Place in roasting pan. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger and garlic. Mix well and pour over roast. Bake covered in a preheated 350-degree oven for 3 hours or until pork is pulled apart tender. While cooking, baste frequently with pan juices. Remove the cover during final 30 minutes of cooking. Remove pork from the pan, cool, and pull meat into shreds. Set aside. Thicken remaining pan juices with cornstarch that has been dissolved in water — use an equal ratio of cornstarch to water depending upon how much pan juice you have. Add just enough thickened sauce to the shredded meat to moisten and hold. Serve on large rolls or buns.

Carolina Crown Broccoli

• ½-pound cooked, drained, crumbled bacon

• 2/3 thinly sliced onion

• 4 cups crisp-tender broccoli crowns

• 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar

• 1 Tbsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• ¼ cup bacon fat

• ½ cup toasted, roasted peanuts

In a skillet, sauté bacon until crisp, reserving ¼ cup grease. Drain and crumble bacon and set aside. Add thinly sliced onion, and sauté until translucent. Add broccoli, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 12 minutes. Add bacon bits and toasted nuts. Toss to mix thoroughly and cook 5 additional minutes

Citrus Kissed Green Beans

• 1 pound cut, fresh, green beans

• 3 cups water

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 juiced large lemon

• 2 tsp. salted butter

• 1 sliced, separated, small onion

• 1 tsp. brown sugar

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare beans by cutting them into 2-inch pieces. In a pan, add water with salt and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the beans and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 35 minutes or until tender. Drain. Juice the lemon and set aside. In a saucepan, melt butter and sauté onion rings for 3 minutes. Add the cooked green beans, fresh lemon juice, and brown sugar to the onions. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook until heated thoroughly.

Baked Then Creamed Potatoes

• 4 unpeeled, baked Idaho potatoes

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• ½ pint whipping cream

Bake potatoes until tender. Completely cool the potatoes and then remove jackets. In a baking dish, grate the potatoes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Add whipping cream and toss until potatoes are thoroughly coated. Refrigerate overnight. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Baked Potatoes Stuffed

• 6 unpeeled, baked potatoes

• 1 ½ cups small curd cottage cheese

• 1 cup sour cream

• ¼ cup minced green onion

• 3 minced cloves garlic

• 2 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• Paprika

Bake potatoes with jackets in oven until done. Completely cool potatoes and cut in half. Remove potato from jacket, making sure to keep jacket intact. In a bowl, add potatoes and mash. Add just enough cottage cheese and sour cream until desired creaminess and taste is achieved. Add green onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well. Fill jackets with potato mixture. Top with cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered on a baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Deluxe Garlic Mac and Cheese

• 5 cups cooked macaroni noodles

• 8 ounces sour cream

• 8 ounces cottage cheese

• 1 cup grated white sharp cheddar cheese

• 1 tsp. each: salt, pepper, garlic powder

• 1 cup grated yellow sharp cheddar

In a bowl, combine cooked macaroni noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder and white cheddar cheese. Pour into a 9 x 13 butter-greased casserole dish. Top with grated yellow sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Tossed Cheese and Fruit Salad

• 1 pound salad greens

• 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

• 15 ounces Mandarin oranges

• 1 quart quartered, fresh strawberries

Balsamic Vinaigrette

• ½ cup balsamic vinegar

• 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 4 Tbsp. honey

• 2 minced cloves garlic

• 2 minced shallots

• ¼ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, toss salad greens, cheese, oranges and strawberries. Drizzle with the dressing. For the dressing, In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended. Drizzle salad with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat and then serve.

Mint Chip Fudge Wedgies

• 4 ounces softened salted butter

• ½ cup Hershey’s cocoa

• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

• ¾ tsp. baking powder

• ¾ tsp. salt

• ½ cup mint chocolate chips/other

Mint Icing

• ½ cup softened salted butter

• 2 cups powdered sugar

• 4 tsp. crème de menthe

Ganache Drizzle

• 6 ounces melted salted butter

• 2 cups chocolate chips

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Add sugar, beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Fold in mint chocolate chips. You can use plain chocolate, any other kind of chip or chopped nuts. Bake in a butter greased 9 x 13 pan in a preheated 325-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until done. Completely cool. You can prepare wedgies plain or frosted with mint and drizzle with chocolate ganache if preferred. For the frosting, in a bowl, beat softened butter and sugar. Add crème de menthe and mix well. Evenly spread over top. For the ganache, in the microwave, heat on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. On stove, heat in a double boiler. Cut the iced brownies. Drizzle each with ganache.

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

• 2 sticks softened, salted butter

• ½ cup white sugar

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• ½ tsp. salt

• 3 cups old-fashioned oats

• 12 ounces bag butterscotch chips

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in oatmeal and chips. Mix well. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool 1 minute and remove to wire rack. Your cookies will turn out better if using air baking sheets. Yield: 2 dozen.