Meals to Make at Home by Local Chefs

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While we can’t celebrate special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – at a favorite restaurant right now, we can attempt to emulate beloved dishes by local chefs at home. Try out these two recipes for momentous meals: 

Roast Pork Rack

By Sam Papanikas of Bleu Olive Bistro

I was born in South New Jersey, where my family owned and operated a restaurant until moving to Clearwater, Florida, in 1984. In Florida, my family owned and operated another restaurant; I began working in the kitchen as expediter and grill cook at 13. In 1994, my family moved to Durham, [and] opened Papas Grille. I began honing my skills and creating my own style and technique in the kitchen. Papas Grille turned into a staple in the Durham food scene [and] received numerous accolades nationwide. The restaurant underwent a total renovation and was rebranded as Bleu Olive in 2012.”

Meals to make at home for special occasions – Roast Firsthand Pork Rack
Photo by James Stefiuk

Serves 8-12 people, depending on size of rack

1 pork rack from Firsthand Foods
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
1 large onion, thinly sliced 
3 stalks celery, thickly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced 

Wash and pat rack dry. Leave to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to
425 F. In a pan large enough for the roast, place the sliced onions, celery and carrots, and then place the roast on top. Rub the roast with olive oil and mustard on both sides, and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F until the internal temperature is 160 F, about 1.5 hours. Remove from oven. Let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sides, such as roasted sweet potatoes, saffron-poached cauliflower or red pepper marmalade. 


By Jamil Kadoura of Mediterranean Deli

“This is originally an authentic Tunisian dish. I remember eating this dish often growing up. My mom, who taught me how to cook, made this for breakfast or lunch. This was a cost-effective recipe for families. I have fond memories of our entire family gathered around the pan, eating shakshuka.”

Meals to make at home for special occasions – Shakshuka
Photo by James Stefiuk

Serves 8

2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. harissa seasoning (found in Middle Eastern markets)
Tbsp. tomato paste
whole red bell peppers, cut into ¼-inch cubes
tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
5 large eggs (organic eggs recommended)

Serve with 1 cup labneh (a Mediterranean yogurt) 

Saute garlic and extra virgin olive oil on low heat for 2 minutes. Add harissa, tomato paste, red bell pepper, cumin and salt. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, and simmer for 10 more minutes until mixture is soft and well blended. Crack 5 large eggs on top of the mixture, 1½ inches apart. Drag egg whites with a fork. Cook about 8 minutes, until egg whites are done, and egg yolks are runny. Scoop portions with 1 egg and serve with 1 tablespoon of labneh and pita on the side.

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Durham Magazine

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