Sunday, February 28, 2010

Catching Up

Episcopal Church near Jamestown
My son and I took a trip to Jamestown looking for the French Huguenot settlement. We passed through Jamestown and found
this little church in the woods.

I have not written in a while. I've missed hearing from you all so thought I'd better get a blog out so I could hear back from my friends. As most of you know, I've been busy writing for the national PBS Television Website, Garden Smart. If you haven't seen it, by all means go to and sign up for our monthly newsletter. There, you can also see the weekly column with recipes. Thank you in advance. If you have a good vegetable recipe that I can use, by all means send it and I will give you credit in the column. Same for a good restaurant that serves local. I'll put that in the "My Travels" column.

Needless to say, it has been a long and cold winter. Like most of you, we've had snow. About 2-3 inches here. One son had 3-inches at his home and the other had 6-inches at his. This was the first time the grandchildren had seen that much snow and they were elated. Photos came flying into me of snowmen and grandchildren from two counties! I was too cold to build one if you wonder where my snowman photo is. But, I was thrilled to see the snowmen that the children built. Maybe if I had made the Blackberry Cordial recipe below a little earlier, I may have been okay. But, alas, too late.

Today it was finally warm and sunny enough to take a walk through the woods to the river from grandmother's house. Nice, very nice!

Good news! My coconut cake recipe was featured in James Beard Notes in the Dec-Jan issue. I was thrilled, and especially happy when Allison Tozzi Liu of The James Beard Foundation wrote to tell me that the test kitchen staff loved the cake.

Also, I'll be appearing at the new South Carolina State Farmers Market in Lexington in July. Hopefully, Anne Moore, the editor of Garden Smart will be appearing with me. Anne, who is a Master Gardner, will talk about herbs and I will use the same herbs to cook with. If you can make it, please come. We'd love to see you there.

Thirdly, Anne and I are in the process of publishing a new cooking, gardening book. We'll use the articles and recipes that we've written for the Garden Smart Web page this past year.

I thought I'd give you some new and different recipes in this blog! One of them will surely help you stay warm just in case we have any more bad weather, and if not, it will surely help you stay cool, or not care if you are hot or cold. I love it.

Two great finds- Mary B's Butter Tasting Biscuits. These biscuits are better than home-made. I've looked every where for a good biscuit recipe and I have not found one, so I don't try any more. These are great. Tony Hess, the VP of Marketing, and a friend, tells me that Mary B's new cheese biscuits are on the market now. Check out their site and see for yourself. Recipes are also available on the site. Another great food find is an Alabama favorite. Conecuh Sausage. Delicious. This is the best sausage I've ever had. If you'd like to know where to find it, just go to their site at

Frances Tutt, a wonderful hostess and family friend made biscuits, then split, buttered and toasted them. She served the biscuits on a large platter just skirting the edge with a mound of Conecuh sausage in the center. It was all delicious. What a great breakfast dish to wake up to. Speaking of Frances, she is the mother of J. Wallace Tutt, the author of the hottest book in the South Beach area, Harbour Island.

Food again! The Charleston Food Festival is getting underway in a few days. If you get down this way please do call me, and secondly please do check out all the really good restaurants in the area. I'd like to tell you that I'll see you there, but like I told a friend, I grew up on the same food that many of the restaurants serve here, so I don't have the initiave to fight crowds to eat. I love the restaurants here,and I have a few favorites, so call or write if you'd like my list.

Right now I've got a lemon curd, buttermilk cake in the oven, and I've already made chicken divan for supper tonight (in the fridge). I just have to warm it up. So, I'll try not to take so long to let you know if it was good enough to put here.

In the meantime, I've got somthin southern and something southwest for you. We'll start with the somthin southern- Blackberry Cordial.

Bon Apetit my friends,


Blackberry Cordial

Cover the berries with cold water and let boil for a few minutes until
done. Then strain, and to every pint of juice add one pound of granulated sugar. Put back on the fire. Tie up a little cinnamon,allspice and cloves in a thin muslin bag, and let boil with the juice until the latter is a pretty thick syrup, then take off, and when it is thoroughly cold add one third as much good brandy or whiskey as you have syrup. It is not necessary to seal it. (I would keep refrigerated, mostly so it's out of sight.)Recipe from Echoes of Southern Kitchens

Get ready for a good appetizer and shrimp dish right behind it.

Baked Goat Cheese, Salsa & Avocado

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese
1 (4-ounce) log goat cheese
1 cup good salsa (drained if very watery)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantroTortilla Chips warmed in the oven at a low temperature
1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Fresh lime juice to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, add the cheeses and thoroughly combine. Place the cheeses in the center of a pie plate (about a 5 inches disk). Spoon the salsa over and around the cheese. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon the chopped avocado into a bowl and sprinkle with lime juice to taste. Mix well to distribute the lime juice. Place the diced avocado around the edge of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with warmed chips.

Marinated Shrimp & Avocado Sauce

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice*
Zest of 1 orange*
Olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you don't care for cilantro.
Salt and pepper

Combine shrimp with cumin, chili powder, paprika, orange juice,orange zest, olive oil and cilantro. Thread shrimp onto skewers (that have been soaked in cold water for 30 minutes to keep them from burning).Place skewered shrimp on a boiler pan or grill. Broil for a few minutes on each side until shrimp are thoroughly cooked.
*Note- I think this recipe would be a good Shrimp & Grits recipe if you change the orange to lemon juice and lemon zest. And,
change the cilantro to Italian parsley. Then serve on grits and omit the avocado sauce.

Avocado Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 ripe avocado
1/2 onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper

Dice avocado and immediately combine with olive oil, cilantro, onion, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Photos from Bing.Com free site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August Storms, Southern Stories, Good Gracious Plenty

Wando River View from Daniel Island

Here we are at the beginning of what should be the hottest month of the year, August. The end of summer days reminds me of many years ago when I was a private pilot trying to build up my flying hours. I always had to plan morning flights because if I dared wait until later in the day, I'd have to fly around thunderstorms. Occasionally, during the summer months I would be brave and leave the airfield only to have to turn around and come back anyway because a storm would move so fast that I didn't expect it to get in before I could land. It was pretty scary back then to have to "run" a plane in before lightning, but it sure was an adventure when I think about it now.

But in spite of the storms and the heat, at this point in my life I’ve enjoyed the work that it brings, because along with the summer weather comes some of the best foods of the season.

Since I was born in the Deep South and I’m southern to the core, then you know that I love all of our southern crops like sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, watermelon and on and on and on until you have listed everything grown southern. And, there is a bounty available at our fresh farmers markets and roadside stands here in this area to be had and thankful for.

Mr. Fields Farm Stand

I told you in my last blog that I was looking forward to the farmers market opening on Daniel Island. Well, it has been great, even though it’s been rained out a few times. The market is within walking distance for me so I love going there and being able to choose fresh vegetables from the farm stands and baked goods from Rococo Bakery.

On the far side of the market and right at home under the giant oaks, you’ll find Mr. Fields farm stand. Mr. Fields comes over from John’s Island with fresh vegetables and very red and ripe tomatoes. I bought tomatoes, peaches, and cucumbers from him. I had to let the peaches ripen for a few days and then I greatly enjoyed them on a bed of mixed baby greens, with chicken salad and poppy seed dressing. Poppy seed dressing is just perfect to serve on salad with peaches in the hot months. A light balsamic vinaigrette or raspberry vinaigrette will work too. Brianna's makes a delicious poppy seed dressing, and Ken's makes any other dressing that you'd like if you need to buy it instead of making it.

I've used my summer tomatoes for grilled tomato-cheese sandwiches, salads, and a savory tomato pie (for the recipe see my website at

If you're going to make the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, use a little mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, then add your cheese and tomato slices. It makes the cheese taste better. The large summer tomatoes are also good for making a ripe fried tomato. Yep, ripe, not green. A sweeter flavor to me. I'd rather have them. Try using a fried ripe tomato with mozzarella cheese melted over the top and some basil shredded over the cheese. MMMM.
Oh, and don't forget the cornbread salad. For those of you that have Memories From Home, you know where to find it.

Boone Hall Farms has had some of the best tomatoes this summer. I have to get back over there to buy more so I hope they have not sold out. These delicious tomatoes were grown right there on the farm. I bought them, dirt and all for 99 cents a pound. I bought a bunch of them at once and let them sit and ripen in varying stages. Um, so good.

Now is also the time to buy juicy, bright red watermelon. I see the farm trucks pulled over to the side of rural roads selling their melons. Almost all have a big green striper cut into and then broken and pulled apart so that zaggy chunks of red are just waiting for someone to pull off a chunk and eat it while the juice is dripping down your hand, onto your arm and shirt. Remember those days?

A story that I should not tell about stolen watermelon!

I can't see a watermelon without being reminded of my childhood, and sitting on the back porch at my grandparents old home place eating watermelonpicked righ out of the field, or the day of the stolen melon that lived in infamy with granddaddy.

As children, my sister and I were a little on the contrary side. Our grandfather was sure that if he told us not to do something that we would do it anyway, and he wanted to prove his point that we were contrary. So at ages 5 and 3 granddaddy told us that whatever we did, we were not to touch the watermelon in the field, knowing “full well” as he called it, “full well” that we would be in the watermelon as fast as we could get there.

So, he sat in the porch swing of the old house, high above the ground and he waited, and watched as we found the biggest watermelon that we could roll. We rolled the watermelon all the way to the fence. Once there, I tried to pick it up and give it to my sister who was on the other side of the fence with arms spread apart,waiting to catch the melon. But it was no use. I couldn't do it, the melon was too heavy, and it fell out of my hands and smashed into green unripened chunks. I yelled, the “damn” watermelon broke. And, from high on the porch we heard the peel of laughter. Granddaddy could not contain himself. He had proven his point.

Everyone that came to visit after the watermelon episode had to hear that story and of course, see the site of the crime and meet the criminals. But, we got him back a few summers later. Note that I did get into trouble for the “word” that was not appropriate for a 5 year old to say in 1955!

Getting Even

My grandfather had gone from the piney woods of Alabama to school at Auburn where he studied agriculture. He met my grandmother there and they married and moved back to his home county and bought an Vicotian farmhouse that was built around the turn of the century. He built a home for my father so that he could be close when he came back from the war. So, after I was born we lived down the "lane" in the home that my grandfather built for us.

Granddaddy had arthritis for most of his adult life. His arthritis was so severe that I remember him driving only twice in my life, and because of the severity of his illness he had retired early from the timber business.

Granddaddy liked to take a nap everyday after "dinner" which was lunch to us back then. After his nap he would take a walk to the store in town and then come up the lane past our house and look into the old barn. We knew his routine so we prepared for the “get even” by getting mother to take us to a five and dime store in Linden where we bought a rubber snake.

We tied the rubber snake to sewing thread and sat the snake on top of the barn door latch. Then we waited patiently for granddaddy to get close to the barn. We started making noises to be sure that he would come into the barn to see what the noise was. And, he took the bait. Granddaddy walked cautiously to the door, and put his hand into the large cutout of the door to pull up the latch. As he did, we used the thread to slowly pull the rubber snake across his hand. Since granddaddy could see the snake through the large opening, he jerked his hand up, and yelled. At that point we could no longer contain our laughter. He started laughing too and told us that we finally got him. He was a true southern gentleman. A country gentleman as I called him. That was another story that he and we, could tell for years to come.

Southern Girl

Speaking of southern, my granddaughter McKenzie loved the squash casserole that I made while she was here recently. I’ve never seen a one year old eat so much squash in my life. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a one year old eat squash! She devoured two adult sized portions. It was a little on the spicy side too.

McKenzie’s Favorite Squash Casserole

If you have some small and tender squash from the market or your garden, it’s so easy to prepare in a casserole. Just wash and slice about a pound and a half of squash, or as much as you want. Also, chop one Vidalia onion into cubes. In a pan large enough to hold the squash, alternate the squash and the onion. On top of each layer sprinkle as light or as heavy as you like for seasoning, either Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning or Cajun Seasoning. Add a tiny bit of water to the squash if needed. Cook covered until very tender and then remove any excess liquid if any and mash the squash. To the mashed mixture, add one egg and a couple of teaspoons of mayonnaise. Then stir in 1-1/2 cups of your favorite cheese (I usually use Cheddar), then bake in the oven at 350 until bubbly. I don’t usually add any extra salt and pepper since I’m adding the other seasonings. Enjoy.

Another good squash recipe that can be served hot or chilled is Cream of Squash Soup with a Hint of Curry from Betty Sims in Birmingham. She is the author of Southern Scrumptious, How to Cater Your Own Party. I know that Betty won't mind me using her recipe since I've written about her in South Carolina Homes & Gardens Magazine with her permission and she sent me a note to say that she loved my article. Betty is a wonderful cook.

Betty suggest serving this with parsley and curry, but I also out a dollop of creme fraiche on top and sprinkle the crème fraiche with curry powder.

Cream of Squash Soup with a Hint of Curry

1 large onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 pounds yellow squash, thinly sliced

3 1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth

1 cup half and half

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Sauté the onion and garlic in a mixture of the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan until tender. Stir in the squash and chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Spoon 1/3 of the squash mixture into a processor. Process until smooth. Repeat the process twice with he remaining squash mixture. Return the squash mixture to the saucepan. Stir in the half-and-half, salt and white pepper. Cook over low heat until heated through, stirring constantly. Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and curry powder. May serve chilled.

Good Gracious Plenty-Places To Eat in Mount Pleasant

Village Bakery

My friend Ellen came down from Greenville last month. It was so good to see her. At her suggestion, we went to lunch at the Village Bakery. She’d found the restaurant several days before and wanted to go there again because of the first great experience she’d had. I can see why this is her favorite place to eat while in town. First of all, the place has character. It’s located in the old village of Mount Pleasant in a small brick building. Secondly, it’s the perfect ladies luncheon place.

We had a difficult time deciding what to eat because everything on the menu sounded so good. But, finally, Ellen decided on a shrimp salad sandwich that she said was the best she’d ever had and I am going to guess that the reason is that it was made with locally caught shrimp. Literally, a whole different world away from the shrimp you buy in the grocery store because at Village Bakery the shrimp are fresh, and they've not had any preservatives added.

While Ellen enjoyed the shrimp salad, I had a delicious roast beef sandwich with caramelized onions and brie. We both had a cucumber salad that was so good that I couldn’t wait to come home and try to replicate it. I think that I came pretty close. I’d better not give it away, but if you want the recipe, just write to me. All I can say is that I couldn’t get the food out of my mind. Ellen couldn’t either because she went back again the next day before going home to Greenville and had another shrimp salad sandwich and introduced the restaurant to her friend Babs.

Page's Okra Grill

I love this place! When you want good, fresh, comfort food. This is the place to go, and it certainly is the place I go. Local, and proud of it. Expect to find great fried flounder, the best fried chicken and delicious fresh vegetables you'll have in this area. Also, specials are offered everyday and evening.

My personal favorite is fried flounder with fried shrimp, butterbeans and cole slaw or red rice. I finish my meal there with a slice of coconut cake. I don't need it, but I can't help it. That's how good it is. Everything is made right in the restaurant. You Won't find a better place to eat locally than Okra Grill.

I recently had the opportunity to cook with Tony Page one Sunday afternoon not too long ago. I found an extremely clean kitchen, and also found that Page's uses the freshest ingredients and best products available. I try to eat there at least once a week. I can't say enough good if that tells you anything. The waiters are eager and friendly to serve you too. That tells you alot about who they work for.Page's Okra Grill is located on Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.

Jacob's Kitchen at Ion

Wow! Good. Really good and reasonable. Early one evening about 2 weeks ago I drove over to Jacob's Kitchen in Ion for an "early-bird" dinner with a friend. I was very impressed with the comfortable atmosphere, and modern interior of the restaurant. I was even more impressed with the food. I'll even have to say that I was honestly surprised. After my friend and I were seated, a very attentive waiter brought a basket of cornbread to our table. It was the "highest" cornbread I think I've ever seen, but it was really good, not too sweet and with a pound cake like texture. After the bread was served our friendly and professional waiter gave us an overview of the menu.

With the "early-bird" special I could have a choice of soup or salad. The soup this particular evening was a melon soup, but I decided to have a salad of baby greens, with a light balsamic vinaigrette, especially since I'd already devoured 2 pieces of the cornbread, and knew in advance that I was having an entree with tomatoes in it. I'd have had the melon soup if I were having different flavors in my entree.

Shortly after my salad plate was taken away, I was served one of the best pieces of grilled salmon I've ever eaten. I know that I said that recently about another place but this one came the closest to perfection. The salmon was served drizzled with a spinach pecan pesto, over a bed of mashed-molasses sweet pototaes with a green tomato jus, roasted tomato salsa and string beans sauteed with tomatoes. The portion size was not small by any means and it was more than enough when paired with the bread and salad. I couldn't begin to try the dessert but I will next time. The "early bird" dinner is $10.95. Find the menu in The Moultrie News. Hats off to Chef Jonathan Languell who created the menu and prepares such beautiful and tasty food.

Shrimp & Watermelon with Feta & Mint

Speaking of Shrimp and watermelon a little earlier in the blog, the last time I taught a summer class at Williams-Sonoma we had the best salad made with fresh summer watermelon and shrimp. I found the recipe that I’d copied and used back then and I would like to give credit to the originator, but could not find her/him ont he recipe. So hope they will forgive me for sharing their recipe without credit. This is a beautiful sslad on a large platter and serves a crowd well.

Shrimp with Watermelon, Feta & Mint:

1 lb large shrimp peeled, de-veined, tail intact

1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lime zest

1/2 teaspoon Greek Seasoning

1 1/2 pound seedless watermelon

3 tablespoons fresh lime zest

4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

4 plates lined with lettuce leaves, baby greens or watercress

4 oz feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Put shrimp, oil, red pepper flakes, garlic and lime zest into a bowl and mix. Place the shrimp on a grill and cook until done.
In a large bowl, add the watermelon cut into cubes, add lime juice, and mint. Toss lightly. Place on top of lettuce leaves. Add shrimp to the top of the watermelon, then crumble feta cheese over the top, and sprinkle with pine nuts.

I’ve got lots of good recipes coming up. We’ll do bread salad next time, and when figs are ripe, I’ll tell you lots of ways to use up the food of the gods.

Hope you enjoyed the blog and would love to hear back.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Hi Friends,

I'm finally getting my blog together! So, I hope you'll enjoy it and send comments to let me know.

It has been a long winter. I'm so glad to see Spring even if it does mean yard work. It also means fresh food from the markets around the Charleston area too.

Daniel Island has the first Farm Market scheduled for Thursday, April 30th, so I have that to look forward to. I understand that Rococo Bakery will be here and I am anxious to have some of their bread with my pimiento and cheese.

Boone Hall Farms is also a great place to shop for seasonal items. Right now strawberries are in season and they have plenty. Try the dessert recipe at the end of the blog for Strawberry Amaretto Romanoff and you'll love it. I once had someone at a United Way function tell me that she wanted to jump in the bowl of Romanoff and eat her way out. Hmmm, I must have put too much Amaretto in it that night!

My son Rob has become an incredible food photographer. Since I love breakfast and biscuits, his biscuits photograph (shown) really got my attention and it evoked some very good memories from home. In particular, it reminded me of a night that my sister and I spent away from home and our first fresh milk experience.

We were friends with a girl that we went to school with and one night we were invited for a sleep-over. Our friend's family had a small farm and a milk cow. That next morning we were awakened early for breakfast, and went into a warm and cozy kitchen where our friend's mother was preparing fresh biscuits for breakfast. For children who ate breakfast with their father at 10 Am and usually had toast as part of our breakfast, the biscuits were a wonderful treat. But while eating the biscuits, I took a big drink of my milk. I thought that I would die. It was the most horrible vile stuff I'd ever tasted. Who knew? Until that early morning in the 1950's, I thought that all milk tasted like Dairy Fresh or was white, chocolate or buttermilk. So, I was totally taken aback by the taste of milk that had just come directly from the cow. It's called "raw milk" and "raw milk" has never been pasteurized.

One morning I was doing a radio show on food in Anderson and one of the advertisers was a farm that sold "raw milk." People were calling in from all over the listening area trying to buy the milk. These were people who had grown up on the flavor of "raw milk." And, like the rest of us were looking for that long lost taste which brought back a great memory. It just goes to show you how strong those memories are and how tight our ties are to our past.

Speaking of back home and memories-

Some Day You Will Thank Me For This; The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Being a "Perfect" Mother- Just released by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, two Mississippi Delta women, is a good and funny book. They were kind enough to include me on 3 pages along with some of the recipes from my cookbook. This is the third cookbook for Gayden and Charlotte. Their first book, Being Dead Is No Excuse is one of my all time favorite books. You will find the book under cooking or humor at Barnes & Noble. Great book! Congratulations on another one.

Roasted Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Feta- This is a wonderful fresh salad that I made at one of the classes that I taught at Williams-Sonoma. I made it again last week when my son had a barbecue for my granddaughter's birthday.

Wow, my son Ed is a really good cook. His barbecued chicken was delicious and very tender. I learned something about cooking chicken last week and I will never barbecue chicken the same way again. I'll do it his way. My daughter-law-made a mean and delicious mac and cheese to go with everything. It was all gone in a flash. I've included the corn recipe for you in this blog.

Speaking of Williams-Sonoma, Joyce McCarrell and her sister Nancy have opened their new restaurant in Travelers Rest. Go online and take a look at And, if you are in Travelers Rest, by all means go by there and have a bite of their delicious food. Joyce and Nancy have done everything they can to help you remember the good old days, from serving buttermilk and bread to cookies and milk for after school moms to stop and share.

I'd also like to mention that I reviewed the Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant for the magazine a while back. It was a wonderful dining experience. Some of the best food I've had in the area. I hope you'll give it a try when you are in this area. It's an excellent restaurant with high standards. You won't be disappointed. The salmon with caper butter sauce was absolutely the best I've had. Chef Jim Walker knows how to cook but most of all he knows how to season. I've always said that tasting and seasoning is the most important element of cooking. If you'd like to know more about the restaurant or the food that I ate that evening, send me an e-mail.
The other restaurant that I recently visited and enjoyed is Chai on King St. My friend and I shared appetizers and I enjoyed every bite of Oysters Rockefellar, Shrimp stuffed with crab and wrapped in bacon, and mini angus burgers ( the best I've ever had) and the atmosphere was nice too. It was not too crowded, and on a night of pouring rain, a glass of Chilean Chardonnay and tapas was just what I needed.

This is the end for now, but watch for the next blog so that I can tell you about the new Farmers Market on Daniel Island. And, check for more good places to eat when you are coming this way.
Oh, one more thing. Please ask me about my new menu planning service. I can provide menus for 7 days, along with recipes and grocery shopping list.
I can provide it online and it is guaranteed to save you from the "what are we going to eat tonight blues." It will also save you money since you will have a menu, recipes and the grocery list to shop from. The costs is weekly and low and there is no contract so you can stop when you like, and restart when you like.
Give it some thought and let me know if you are interested. Wouldn't that be a load off your mind on those busy work days?

Would love to hear from you.

Best, my friends


Pan-Roasted Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Feta

4 ears of corn with husks and silk removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped thyme
1 bunch green onions, green portion only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
3 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces feta cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil

Holding each ear of corn by its pointed end and steadying its stalk end on a cutting board (I use a Bundt pan and hold the corn in the center hole) cut down each ear with a sharp knife to strip off the kernels with a kernel cutter. You will need about 3-1/2 cups corn kernels. Set aside.

In a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm half the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add half the garlic and saute, stirring constantly 20-30 seconds. Add half the corn and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 3-4 minutes. Add half the thyme and green onions. Transfer the mixture to the bowl. Repeat with the rest of the butter, one tablespoon olive oil, garlic, corn, thyme, green onions. Add to the bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
In another bowl, combine the tomatoes, cheese, the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and toss gently to mix. Add the tomato mixture, the lime juice and basil to the cooled corn and toss to mix. Taste and adjust with salt , pepper, and more lime juice. serve at room temperature. Serves 4.

Strawberry Amaretto Romanoff
(From my late mother, Ann)

4 cups fresh strawberries, halved if small, quartered if large
1/2 cup Amaretto or your favorite almond liqueur
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Toasted almond slices

Stir together the strawberries, Amaretto and sugar. Chill for 3-4 hours or up to 8 hours. Spoon into Champagne bowls or pretty dessert dishes.
Beat heavy cream, sugar and almond extract until lightly whipped. Top the berries with a spoon of the cream. Top the cream with the sliced almonds.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daniel Island

Smythe Park, Daniel Island Cabbage & Collards Farmers Market-Last Day

Hi Friends,

It has been awhile since I’ve written my blog, but tonight I cooked some field peas with snaps, and had them with cornbread and onions and it reminded me that I need to share with you all. I also love hearing back from you when you get the blog so that’s good incentive to write too.

The peas- during the last day of the season for the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market I was able to pick up some peas and butterbeans from Gruber Farms market stand. I put them in the freezer and cooked the peas tonight. Oh, the peas were so good. What flavor! I’m really looking forward to the butterbeans. Maybe I will make the butterbeans on Thanksgiving and share them with family.

While the market was open, I was able to get turnips and collards and cook them too. I made the turnips with cornmeal dumplings. Not as good as my mother’s but good. The collards are just good cooked with some bacon drippings and then adding some hot pepper flakes. I also found some good kale and cooked that with bacon. Love those greens.

It’s harder and harder to find a good South Carolina produce farm these days so if you find one in your area, give them the business. You will never regret it. Mr. Gruber is in his 80’s and he has been a farmer his working life. He and his daughter Susan spend every Tuesday afternoon at the market selling their wonderful produce. I’ll be happy to see the Gruber’s again at the Dec. 14th holiday market.

What else has been happening- I had the great pleasure of writing an article about Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill in Anderson a few months ago and the article is out in the latest issue of South Carolina Homes & Gardens. Please go to Sullivan’s if you have not been. You are in for some wonderful food and great service. You can read the article and the magazine online now by going to and when the home page comes up, go to the upper right corner and where it says that you can “Read the latest issue” then click on “Read” it and the November-December issue will pop up.

Bill and Sabra Nickaus from Sullivan’s in Anderson will be down to visit soon. I’m really looking forward to seeing them.
My great culinary find this past month is the Old Village Post House in old Mount Pleasant. That article will be out in January. But, in the meantime, if you are in town, you must go there. The food is incredible. This restaurant and Sullivan’s will be hard to top! Believe me. From the minute I walked in the staff was friendly, and Kevin Desmarais, the GM and Jim Walker the Chef were just as nice as could be. This restaurant is another of the Maverick Southern Kitchen restaurants and their standards are high, thank goodness! You can eat local, and enjoy some delicious food.

I had salmon that was the best I’ve ever had! And, I mean that. The crab cakes are delicious too, and the prepared sauces for each dish- oh! You’ve got to come down and try this restaurant. It looks like a New England village restaurant when you drive up to the place. The building is from the late 1880’s and it has a ghost!

Speaking of food, Lolly from Ooh La Lolly on Main St. in Anderson called to say that she made my cousin Sybil’s Caramel Cake from my cookbook for a big birthday party and everyone loved it! They all asked for the recipe. Thanks Lolly. I’m so glad you called and told me. Made me feel really good.

I had a busy October. Among other things, I was a guest hostess for the Charleston Preservation Society’s Annual Candlelight Tour. My house on the tour was at 89 East Bay Street. It was gorgeous. We are hoping to be able to feature that home in our magazine in an upcoming issue. The first question that I asked – who was the designer? The answer, Merrill Benfield. You can find out quite a bit about him online. Wow, Mr. Benfield is a very talented designer.

One of my cooking teachers was in town a couple of weeks ago. Natalie Dupree had a reception for her and I was invited. My teacher was Anne Willian who owns La Varenne at The Greenbrier. Seems that she and Natalie went to Le Cordon Bleu at about the same time and both are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier. Anne has a new French cookbook out and she was signing books that evening. I was quite honored to have been invited. I had the chance to meet some other food writers including the former New York Times Food Editor who now lives in Charleston and she is so nice. Also, the editor for the Charlotte Observer was there. We had some good food and good conversation. Natalie’s brother, Chuck lives in Charleston now. He is such a nice person. He was the acting bartender that evening.

Last of the Mount Pleasant Market
Personal things-
During the past month I received mail from my Armistead family cousin, Dot Anderson. Dot lives on a farm in Alabama. I am envious of her at times. Especially now when I see how many pecans she has available to use for goodies. But, other times too, when she writes to let me know how beautiful the field is when covered in an early morning frost. Dot has a way with words that makes me want to be there. Needless to say, I love getting her mail.

This is what Dot wrote about pecans and I totally agree with her! Also her note about the hay fields in frost just got to me! Ahhh, to live on a farm and grow my own produce. I think I’d like that sometimes.

“Hello, the weather down here is great. Just cool enough to know fall is here. Hope you are having the same. As of Friday we have sold about 1500 pounds of pecans--not a pea can in the bag. When someone calls them pea cans I shutter-cause down south that ain't something you eat.” YEAH DOT!!!!!!!

Dot also wrote “It has been cold here the last couple of mornings. The hay field looked like snow Tues. and Wed. when we got up. Sure was pretty. Our kitten, Hot Dog, started out the door and turned around and came back in, He does not like cold, windy weather. I agree with him…..”

Dot’s note reminded me of one of the first things my mother told us about pecans as children- “don’t say pea cans.” Then she explained the difference!! So, I know exactly what Dot means. So do all of you from my cooking classes. Remember what Mr. Harris’ store sold? I am, of course, laughing right now.

I’ve made some good “ready made” salads at home. One of them is a Rivera Salad Mix from Fresh Express. It’s a mixture of butter lettuces and radicchio. I make a plate of lettuce and then put several slices of cooked or pickled sliced beets, then sprinkle some feta all over the lettuce. For dressing I use Ken’s Thousand Island, or Raspberry-Pecan Vinaigrette. You can make this in a jiffy.

McKenzie- So, let me tell you about McKenzie. We took her to the store to buy some pj’s while she was visiting with us. We found a hat that looked like a puppy and we made the mistake of showing it to her. So, when we got ready to put it back, she cried. We bought the hat and put it on her. It was 80 degrees that day, but she was so happy to have the hat on. She loves the hat. She was just as content as could be. She still gets tickled when she sees the hat. And believe me, when a 7 month old gets tickled, you will get tickled too.
McKenzie and her “white dog” hat Ed and family painting pumpkins at the Corn Maze

I’ve made some good “ready made” salads at home. One of them is using the Rivera Salad Mix from Fresh Express. It’s a mixture of butter lettuces and radicchio. I make a plate of lettuce and then put several slices of cooked or pickled sliced beets on top of the lettuces, then sprinkle some feta all over the to. For dressing I use Ken’s Thousand Island, or Raspberry-Pecan Vinaigrette. You can make this in a jiffy.

We have had a little cold spell here and there so I made a big pot of soup. In my cookbook it’s called Sopa Santa Fe but I changed it around a little so below is the recipe that I used when I made the soup the other day.

Sopa Santa Fe

2 pounds ground sirloin or 1 pound ground sirloin and 1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 (1-ounce) packages ranch style dressing mix
2 (1.25 ounce) envelopes taco-seasoning mix
2 (14.5 ounce) can seasoned black beans, undrained ( I used Bush’s Seasoned Black Beans)
1 (14.5 ounce) can kidney beans, undrained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can white corn, undrained
1 small can yellow corn, undrained
1 ¾ cups water

Lime flavored tortilla chips

Cook the ground meat and onion together until the meat is browned. Stir in the ranch dressing mix and the taco seasoning mix. Add the beans, tomatoes, and cans of corn. Add the water and simmer on low for about 1 hour. Serve with sour cream, cheese and/or sliced green onions, and crushed lime tortilla chips.

Thought you might be able to use some holiday side dish recipes, so find them below. This is from an old cooking class back in November of 2006. Still good today. Not lo-cal but still good! If you‘d like my Brandied Cranberry Cake recipe, please let me know and I will send the recipe, but for those of you who have the cookbook, it’s in the cake section.

Lavender Rice Pilaf

2 T. butter
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups chicken stock
½-3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (3-inch) piece lavender
½ cup toasted hazelnuts

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add rice. Stir the rice in the butter for about 5 minutes or until it starts to become golden. Add the chicken stock and the lavender. Season to taste. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Add toasted hazelnuts just before serving.

Brandied Cranberries

18-ounces fresh cranberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
1-1/2 cups sugar
¼ cup brandy
Place cranberries in a single layer on a lightly greased 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Pour sugar over the cranberries. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Spoon the cranberries into a large bowl. Gently stir in brandy. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

Apricot Casserole

3 (16-ounce) cans apricot halves, well drained
20-30 Ritz crackers, crushed
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Layer half of the apricots in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Combine the crackers, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the cracker mixture over the apricots. Repeat with another layer of each. Pour melted butter over the top layer. Bake for 30 minutes.

Green Chili Corn Casserole

4 (10-ounce) packages frozen shoe peg corn with butter
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese softened
4.5 ounces chopped green chilies
½ teaspoon garlic salt
Defrost corn in large mixing bowl. Combine cream cheese and green chilies in food processor or beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Stir in the garlic salt. Add cream cheese, and chili mixture to corn, mixing well. Spoon into a 2 quart casserole or baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cranberries

4 pounds sweet potatoes
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup pure maple syrup
Peel sweet potatoes. Cut into quarters lengthwise; cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Combine sweet potatoes and cranberries in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine butter and maple syrup. Pour over the cranberry mixture, and mix well. Pour into a greased 3-quart baking dish. Cover tightly, and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are very soft.

Happy Thanksgiving, Love Linda