Friday, July 31, 2009
Take a peck of morella cherries, and a peck of black hearts. Stone the morellas and crack the stones. Put all the cherries and the cracked stones into a demi-john, with three pounds loaf sugar slightly pounded or beaten. Pour in two gallons of double rectified whiskey. Cork the demi-john, and in six months the cherry bounce will be fit to pour off and bottle for use but the older it is, the better.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
3 pints scalded milk, 7 spoons fine Indian meal, stir well together while hot, let stand till cooled; add 7 eggs, half pound of raisins, 4 ounces butter, spice, and sugar, bake one and a half hour.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Since I have recently mentioned the Baked Chicken Salad casserole recipe which I prize. I thought I might also update you on another recipe of equally prized stature in my collection: Country Captain. You remember, surely, that I discussed the New York Times recipe with you here.
If you have not made the recipe yet, now is the time. And note when you do, that I used both spinach that I folded in and allowed to wilt, as well as tiny chopped dried cranberries in this interation and I was even more pleased than the last time through. This is a great place to hide nutrients like depth charges. Not, that I would do something sneaky like that to Twinkle Toes.
* A reminder: There is only a few days left to enter the Old Bay reader giveaway here. Be sure to leave a comment.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Following recipes is not all upside. I wish it were. I want them all to work because I am hungry, do not care to waste, and would not have undertaken if I did not intend to finish and succeed. That said, it is back to the Lipton french onion dip for me.
I happen to love that dip, dessicated onions and all. And I like it far more that my recent foray into Deviled Vidalia Dip or at least the dip produced by the recipe in Jean Anderson's, A Love Affair with Southern Cooking.
I just do not believe dip should be cloyingly sweet such as this. Even though one begins with a huge pile of sliced onions, only half of which are Vidalia (obviously to cut the sweetness off at the knees), after the hour long carmelization process (which really pulls the sweetness to the fore of the Vidalia), all you taste is the sweet note of the Vidalia and the sharper balancing onion is no longer apparent. The addition of mustard and sweet vinegars does not help sensation of tooth-rotting sweetness.
In order to make the dip consumable, I made it into canapes and hit them, alternately, with hot sauce or a sprinkle of hot paprika. They made the dip bearable and the photos possible.
I did get a great lesson in patience out of the creation of this dip, however. This was my onion pile when I began.
They are sauteed slowly, persistently. One hour later, this is what I had.
They helped to make these photogenic, candy-like canapes. All was not lost.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I am lucky to present to you an interview with Chef Scotty Schwartz today. Chef is the owner and executive chef of Blushing Hideout, 29 South, in Fernandina Beach, Florida, the Jacksonville area's Best Restaurant for the past three years running.
Chef Schwartz was formerly the Executive Chef at several of Atlanta's best restaurants and has received numerous achievement awards and accolades, including Gourmet Magazine's top chef list, featured Chef to the Olympic Games, and has cooked for the James Beard House and Foundation. His achievements are too many to recap here and you are best to experience these talents by dining at 29 South rather than reading about them, but to encourage you to do so, here is a profile in American cooking courage: As I have noted before (here and here), I hope you eat Scotty Schwartz's food, not only because he runs the best restaurant in Jacksonville, or because he is one of the greatest chef's whose food you will eat reasonably, and not because of all the love on his plates; Go because the guy cares about the American family and looking after them in every item that enters his kitchen. Go because the good guys are too few, and Sysco too huge. Go, because, for just once in your life, you should know what it is to have both your belly and heart feel good about a meal. The families supported by 29 South and Chef Schwartz's tireless attention to humanity will thank you, and so will I.
There is one question I forgot to ask Chef, however: How do I get invited to employee-family dinners? I was in the restaurant front-house gig for a long time and never once saw a thank you of this caliber.
Q:How did you get into the food business?
A: I didn’t get into medical school and always loved food. Decided to go to culinary school to take some time to figure out what I was going to do with my life and it just fit. I can’t draw or paint or even play a radio but food became this artistic outlet and for me it was easy. I excelled in every aspect of it…school, my apprenticeship, my role as a chef. I was one of the youngest chefs in town when I got my first kitchen in Atlanta and I proved myself with many bumps and bruises along the way.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Old school with a modern kick. I’m not sure now. I have evolved over the past 17 years and so has my food. Working in top kitchens in the 90’s it was all about architecture and little to do with taste flavor or sustainability. We ordered food from all over the world for no other reason than we could get it. So what if that vegetable was never meant to be eaten in the winter? Find that one place in the world it was growing and ship the mother. Carbon footprint…please. If it wasn’t growing have someone in a lab or greenhouse create a hybrid that would. Taste was almost second to the need to constantly be the cutting edge. Charlie Trotter was a god and if he cooked with marinated cat tongue we all had to do it. It was a great time for chefs because we came out of the cave. People asked for the chef and not the cook. The idea that XYZ is an acquired taste became the norm.
One day I was sitting in the kitchen and I was cooking an employee meal for the staff and people loved it when I cooked e-meal not because it was served with a foie milkshake but because it was usually simple, delicious no frills food. It hit me that for years I cooked with my ego and not my heart and soul and that I was a follower instead of the great chef I wanted to become. I began to embrace a simple approach to food. The west coast is a little odd at times but thank god for Alice Waters and the simple revelation that if you start with a great ingredient and baby it the least you will get is something very good. This is when I started cooking. This is how I cook. This is my style.
Q: What professional achievement are you most proud of?
A: There are awards, titles, memberships to ancient culinary fraternities, invitations to cook for the who’s who in the culinary world. All of that is worthless in the grand scheme of things. Nothing compares to the pride I feel for earning the respect of my peers, fellow chefs, restaurateurs, employees, patron etc. by serving good honest food. Food that makes someone stop, close their eyes and think this was worth the trip and I can’t wait to share this with my friends. You gave me the best award when you mentioned your experience in your blog. That’s what I’m proud of.
Q: How do you develop dishes and plan menus for 29 South now that you are growing your own produce?
A: Can’t cook with my ego anymore…mother nature writes the menu. We have an amazing climate for growing, and with the amount of product available at our doorstep we had to farm and buy locally. We drive hours to get eggs from our hens because they are the best we can procure. We have a pig farmer that raises Berkshire pigs for us to our specs. We make our own bacon, cure our own corned beef and, yes, pick our own strawberries. Cooks need to see where the food comes from. They need to get their hands dirty. People in this area think I’m insane. The say “You go to all of that trouble and you pay as much or more than we do”. More chefs should support local farms, even if it is just one ingredient it would make a major impact. There is nothing better than shaking the hand of the family that raised your pigs. The impact of that can be seen in the pride our staff has in selling and preparing our food.
Q:Tell me what tool - besides a knife and your hands - no kitchen should be without?
A: A staff. Just kidding. I use a micro plane quite often. I love my mixer, most of all the grinder attachment.
Q:Most essential and versatile ingredient not found in every pantry but worth seeking out?
A: Truffle Salt, dill pollen, fennel pollen and chestnut honey are my favorites.
Q: Best meal you ever ate?
A: French Laundry is up there with Charlie Trotters. Both were worth the pilgrimage but it might have been a dinner at my mom’s house. Hard to say.
Q: When you go out to dinner, where do you go?
A: The Spotted Pig in NYC, I crave it fortnightly. Regionally, Biscotti’s, B.B.’s Bistro Aix and now Orsay.
Q: Cookbook no cook should be without?
A: Simple Food by Alice Waters, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. For those new to cooking anything by the Barefoot Contessa, the recipes always work.
Q: Food or eating experience no one should miss?
A: Dine at a Michelin 3 Star restaurant at least once in your life. It will teach you how serious we are about food and at the same time that we take ourselves way too seriously.
*29 South is not a sponsor of Blushing Hostess and has in no way compensated for this or any mention at Blushing Hostess.
** Reservations are the best way to assure a table.
** You can now follow the adventures of 29 South through the key pad of Nan on the restaurant's new blog, Ecoculinaire.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
I spent the weekend in Charleston and was reminded of a dish I once had at the potluck luncheon the ladies I worked with once had. It is once in a great while, even there, in the traditional old south, that I would see Baked Chicken Salad, let alone a recipe in a newspaper. Even in a place where history is very much part of daily life, this dish is a dinosaur. But such a good relic, I promise you.
Not unlike the cold chicken salad recipe I have long guessed at, Baked Chicken Salad is a southern heirloom recipe with which families do not part. In the south, they believe in secrets.
Someone inevitably comes along claiming to lay bare all manner of secret things, don't they? And just as inevitably, it is close, not exact. It is hard to say whether this is the product of a hostess deliberately leaving out a detail or the writer putting their own take on the dish. Either way, I find Southern recipes the hardest to trust and pin down accurately. In this same category, unfortunately, is one of the few Baked Chicken Salad recipes I found in print, by Jean Anderson. It is a good recipe for something delicious but it is not what I remember and I if I am making it, clearly I want the dish I love. I have attempted to recreate it for you using Ms. Anderson's recipe as a loose guideline.
*A reminder: Do not forget to enter the Old Bay reader giveaway by leaving a comment here.
Baked Chicken Salad, a Casserole
Adapted from Jean Anderson's, a Love Affair with Southern Cooking
I serve this casserole, as all southern casseroles, with hot buttered rice. Carolina, long grain, or brown rice.
3 thick slices, smoked bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup rich chicken stock
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups cooked chicken (or turkey)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
1- 4 ounce jar chopped pimentos, well drained
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, and finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks and kept chilled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 2 quart casserole with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Cut the bacon up into small pieces. Place in a large heavy skillet over medium heat and cook until bacon is rendered. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook until softened, about ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring for one minute. Add the evaporated milk and chicken stock and sit to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for five minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens to a sauce consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the mayonnaise, pimentos, parsley, chicken, and heavy cream. Taste, re-season as needed.
Spread this mixture out in the casserole and sprinkle panko evenly over the top followed by the chopped pecans. Dot the top with the tiny butter cubes.
Cook in the oven 30 minutes or until bread crumbs and pecans are evenly browned and the edges are bubbly.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
For this Fourth of July, I am sharing with you one of my most precious secrets. Okay, two. In return, I hope you will remember to enter both Blushing Giveaway's this month: Old Bay and Garden & Gun Magazine. Both are fabulous and great (free) additions to any kitchen or read list.
The first secret is that I spent four months of my life professionally pursuing the perfect pie - three of those on the crust alone - under the tutelage of a woman who spent her entire adult life in the same study. These are some of my discoveries:
1. While nutritionists prefer we not do so, partially hydrogenated fats do contribute to making a perfect crust.
2. If you are going to make your own crust, Julia Child's recipe is the best, hands down.
3. Pillsbury also makes a nice crust.
Those are not secrets. But this is: Every fruit pie needs a method of stabilization for the fruit. In order to prevent it from becoming to runny, raising the crust and then falling away from it, or leaving water in the bottom of the crust, it needs to have a sponge-like ingredient. Some use flour, which works well if you can test the fruit to see how much you will need. Others use tapioca, which has a texture some do not care for. Others - and I cringe - use cornstarch. My secret: Almond meal and a little pastry flour.
I find almond meal is an effective sponge and does not add a noticeable textural issue to a pie. I use a pastry flour because the lighter the flour, the less heaviness, as I have already had to surrender a bit to the almond meal. Some of that almond flavor will be there, but it is no more noticeable than using vanilla extract in any other baked good.
Worth a try once, especially if you have always found fruit pies too mushy, as I did once.
Blushing's Blueberry Pie
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca*
*or almond meal depending on your textural preference
2 tablespoons light white flour (White Lily or pastry)
6 cups fresh blueberries or 3 (10-ounce) packages frozen (not thawed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pastry dough for a double-crust pie
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
Whisk together sugar, almond meal, and flour and toss with blueberries and lemon juice in a large bowl of ziplock bag (my choice).
Roll out larger piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into 9 1/2" deep pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out dough for top crust.
Roll out remaining dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round. Cut out 5 or 6 small holes with small decorative cookie cutters or use a small knife to slash steam vents toward center. Or, even better, get out your Grandma's pie bird to place in the pie (how I wish I had one!)
Spoon filling with any accumulated juices into shell, dot with butter, and cover with top crust. Trim top crust with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang of top crust under bottom pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge, then crimp decoratively and brush with egg wash.
Bake pie on hot baking sheet in oven 30 minutes, then cover edge with foil to prevent overbrowning. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes more.
Cool pie completely on a rack, about 3 hours.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
When I discuss restaurants, it is in the spirit of Duncan Hines (the founder of the food firm by the same name, which interestingly, did not do cake mixes until it was purchased by a conglomerate) who was a travelling sales man for many years and having compiled a list of great restaurants from his travels, began to add his list to his Christmas cards to friends every year. This was their gift, you see, they always knew where they could enjoy a great meal. Indeed, while his name is best known for box cakes, he was first the precursor to Zagat. In that same way, I hope always to provide you with an excellent resource should you ever go where I have gone.
Now, Jacksonville, my occasional home, is a great town, one you should visit, but not a food town. A lifetime in New York, Charleston, and Boston could turn a person angry when they arrived here. But that person should go to Corpus Christi and then stop complaining: Armed with that knowledge, I am my own best attitude adjustment when I become frustrated for food fixes while in Jacksonville.
There are, so far, exactly two chef's in these parts who have their act together (I am actively seeking more, so email me, Lordy, please email me.): The first is Scotty Schwartz (I have discussed Chef Schwartz here previously) at from Blushing Hideout, 29 South, in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The second is Matthew Medure (who makes a lovely duck and has divine wines, but his Ponte Vedra location is a tad too New York hipster self-conscious for my taste). There you have it. It is the largest city by land mass in the United States and it just dabbles in eating. This seems odd and wrong, given that it is likely the only thing anyone here does three times a day.
I have had a lot of middle of the road experiences in Jacksonville. Not good, not bad. Also, not memorable. Since it is an easy piece to the freshest food and longest growing season in the country, the food should sparkle with just-out-of-the-field flavor and deep hues. But, most places here take a delivery truck of middling product once a week and their chefs and managers seem to be phoning it in for all the interest anyone on the floor takes. I concentrate on this issue to get your attention, get you into good doors, keep you out of places that should shutter, and convince Scotty Schwartz to take them over. Thereby finally improving the food black hole here: It speaks volumes that 29 South has been Jacksonville's number one restaurant for three years now, but it is not in, or even near, metro Jacksonville.
Will he have it? Hard to say. It is a huge plan, this Scotty Schwartz restaurant domination thing. But when I consider the vastly indifferent meals I have had at the hands of some very high profile chefs, I can hardly believe my suggestion is entirely unrealistic. As you will see from these photos, Chef is committed to the quality of his food and not unlike several of the Blushing Hideouts, he is growing his own produce there. I hope you enjoy the garden photos interspersed throughout this piece - that is your dinner you are viewing. I love about this restaurant that I can see the food growing going into my babies on my way down the street and that the farm and produce partners enjoy an encouraging mention on the 29 South website.
On the other hand, maybe keeping oneself grounded with the knife and food and the garden and not over-branding is what makes chefs great, because shooting food television is lastly about cooking.
I read a lot of recipes but cherish those with the notes a chef or cook most. It was similar in corporate life: Many of the documents I learned the most from were those which included the scribbled margin notes of my mentors. They are a window into their talent, experience, and perspective. In cooking, perhaps even more so, there is just something about the notes of the person who has labored over a perfect prize and a grand girl of a recipe, especially when they have perfected a regional blessing with their own individual stamps. I hope this recipe of Chef Scotty's will come to mean just as much to you (and as further recommendation, the reason I requested it initially is that it is one of the three foods my little girl consumes willingly.)
I only lightly edited the recipe for you today, mostly for spacing on my page, because as time goes by, and you make this at home, and I tell you about Chef Scotty in an interview follow up later this month, I think you will be glad to have this just as he wanted it; with his own voice speaking to the cadence of a great chef's hands making a dish that which not be great without him.
29 South makes a lot of contemporary, thoughtful, upscale dishes which I will highlight for you in no time. It also makes a humble dish of a pulled pork sandwich into a glorious cathedral to smoked pork. When you visit that lovely, haunting beach town, Fernandina Beach, and look for a place to eat lunch, dinner, or brunch, I hope you will go first to 29 South. In the interest of full disclosure: 29 South is not a sponsor of this blog and I eat at 29 South more often than Chef is aware; I am his customer, you see. And the best way to continue to enjoy a really great business is to tell everyone and help them to flourish, especially when they are one of the good guys, whose integrity is apparent in the house and on the floor.
Please be certain to set both Blushing Hostess Cooks and Entertains to your subscriptions for a interview with Chef Scotty this month; such a great mix of candor and humility. And check out the new 29 South blog penned by Nan, Ecoculinaire.
29 South's Pulled Pork Sandwich
courtesy Chef Scotty Schwartz, 29 South, Fernandina Beach, Florida
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Kosher Salt
2 Tbs Cracked Black Pepper
¼ Cup Dark Chili Powder
2 Tbs Instant Espresso
Combine in a Zip lock bag and shake well
1 Boston butt or Shoulder Roast (at 29 South this is from our Berkshire Pigs at DelKat Farm) please buy from a farmer you know.
Rub Pork well with the spice mixture. I mean rub as if you are giving it a massage. Then let sit for at least 2 hours. Place in a smoker with your favorite wood (we use Applewood for the sweet and mild flavor but sometimes I throw in a little hickory for umph) and cook over indirect heat. BBQ is Low and slow so keep your smoker around 200 degrees. Smoke the pork for 6 hours then cover the roast tight with foil and place in a pan in a 200 degree oven for 6 more hours. If you are having fun on the grill you can leave it there to finish wrapped in foil. The Pork should fall apart at the touch when finished. Set the pork aside to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
¼ Pound Diced Slab Applewood Smoked Bacon. We make our own at the restaurant with Dell’s Berkshire Pigs We use everything on those pigs! If we could make Berkshire Pig Ice Cream we would.
1 med onion diced brunoise (tiny dice)
2 Cups Ketchup…make your own when you have too many tomatoes in your garden. Is there anything more decadent than Heirloom Tomato Ketchup?
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar.
¼ cup cheap bourbon
Render the fat from the bacon and saute the onions till translucent. Combine the remaining ingredients and simmer to develop the flavor and thicken. About 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to add your own touch to this. A great chef once said “You are the boss in your kitchen” add what you like and call it your own.
Apple Shallot Compote:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
1 pound sliced red or golden delicious apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan, add the shallots sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, water, thyme, apples, salt, and pepper and toss well. Cover and braise the shallot apple mix until tender. Remove the cover and cook to reduce the braising liquid until thickened to glaze the shallots and apples. Remove from heat and season, to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot on the sandwich or chicken or lamb or quail or squab or foie gras or…
Shredded Napa Cabbage tossed in 29 South House Vinaigrette:
½ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup of canola oil
½ cup of olive oil
Place sugar and vinegar in a pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat. Place in a blender with mustard. While blending, slowly drizzle in olive oil and canola oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Build the mother of all pork goodness:
Toss shredded pork in the sauce and place on a Kaiser roll or brioche bun (recipe to come later ok, ok if you need it see below)
Top with Apple Shallot Compote and a pile of Slaw.
Precariously place the top of the bun on this mountain of love.
Pile homemade fries tossed in fresh garlic and rosemary salt on the side and serve.
Brioche Rolls - Barefoot Contessa Style
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees F)
1 package dried yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it's at least 110 degrees F when you add the yeast.) Mix with your hands and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add 2 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Still on low speed, add the soft butter in chunks and mix for 2 minutes, scraping down the beater, until well blended. With the mixer still running, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease 2 sheet pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide the dough into 8 4-ounce balls (rolls) and place on the sheet pans. Cover the pans with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the rolls have risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack to cool.
Josh and I did made the recipe, of course, and I am happy to share these photos with you:
How beautiful is this shoulder, I ask you?
Your pork, once the fat cap is removed and the meat is pulled, will look like this.
While I would have loved to make the bread for last weekend's picnic, I did not have it me - new baby exhaustion. But the pork sandwich is also divine on soft focaccia.
I definately suggest you try it at home, it is an amazing sandwich even when not seated on the pretty porch at 29 South.