I'm reading all these articles saying goodbye to summer with a scowl. Since I'm still sipping my tea outside in the 80+ degree Atlanta weather. We didn't get an invite to the summer closing party.
I’ll relish a little longer in this heat. As I dread the winter months that blow winds through my hair causing burning ears and a constant state of bitch resting face.
Which is even more pronounced when I'm cold.
Or my ears are freezing.
It normally takes a 100% off everything sale at Neiman Marcus to get me to venture out on those days of extreme cold weather. That I'd like to point out as a child of the deep south, is anything below 40 degrees.
Needless to say you won't see much of Erika.
Luckily it's still warm with vodka and bourbon continue to flow on the patios of all my favorite restaurants; chasing off the chill of the night. This past weekend, we had Sunday dinner outside with the salad you see here being a big hit among my most carnivorous friends.
Using a little of the corn I had left that had not yet met its fate with the freezer. As well as crisp green beans and zucchini that I was determined to cut into spiraling ribbons for no other reason than to show off. Can I go on the record and say spiraling vegetables is not my thang? Something that took me way longer to do and even longer to clean the device used to create the whirling strips of zucchini, just didn't wow me to the point of thinking.
"Damn I should do this all the time"
I'll stick with spaghetti squash and it’s self-induced noodling.
I can get down with some spaghetti squash.
Zucchini, Corn and Green Bean Salad
¾ pound fresh green beans
2 cups fresh corn kernels
4 medium sized zucchini , spiraled or sliced thin length wise with a mandolin
¼ cup basil, chopped
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground pepper
Cook beans in a 6 quart pot of boiling salted water ( about 1/2 tablespoon of salt to every 4 quarts of water) until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Add cooked beans, corn, zucchini, basil, chives, olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper to a large bowl and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now enjoy, while soaking in the last but of summer.
"When you know your name, you should hang on to it, for unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when you do." -Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon)
This culinary journey I've partaken on is greatly due to the knowledge shared, stories passed, tales of lives once lived.
Like that of Lee and his hand full of red peas.
According to my grandmother and her colorful bedtime stories. Lee was a round man with short fingers and a slight chip in his front tooth. I'd say that's a somewhat vague way to describe someone. Yet like many of the characters that played out in her tales, I've conjured up my own images of them.
Lee found himself in North Carolina by way of South Carolina, long before my time and that of my mama's. Made a name for himself by sharing his gift of a dish that he called ,Reezy Peezy. Or red devil beans as my grandma would refer to them.
"Something that good ain't nothing but the devil"
A quick jaunt down the street and over a few more blocks would bring you right to Lee's doorstep. Here, the most bewitching aroma drifted through the crevices of his windows. Drawing you in like a proverbial fishing lure, right to the mismatched chairs surrounding his kitchen table. One of the hottest seats in town was among those mismatched chairs.
On Sunday afternoon after singing praises to the Good Lord, you could join Lee over a dinner of red peas and rice. If you were lucky.
But unlike the story of Jack with his magic beans and mythical giant at the end of the stalk. Or even the tale of Anansi, his hot head of beans and impatience, I'm unaware of how Lee's story ends. This open ended account of Lee would continue to fester my need to discover what those red peas were and how I could recreate that Sunday Supper.
Much like my dear friend Pableaux Johnson and his invite only Red Beans and Rice Monday dinners that he hosts in his New Orleans home. Lee's Red Peas made him legendary, well atleast to the folks in that sleepy North Carolina town.
Enough to become one child's bedtime story.
Heirloom legumes with African origins, Sea Island Red Peas were a mainstay in the improvement of antebellum rice farming. The production of these peas became eliminated during the depression, recovered by a few who were able to save them from extinction.
The illustrious Reezy Peezy, is a dish of Gullah descent made with unripe red peas. An African diaspora cuisine, put simply, is hearty red peas and rice. As I sit and think of new dishes to explore and share with those that dine around my table. I can't help but think of Lee, his warm pot of meaty peas with roasted vegetables throughout.
Did he serve it with a heaping of cornbread like Pableaux on Monday nights. What did those who accompanied him think of this man and his hot pot of red stew.
Did he become a captivating character in their great granddaughters bedtime story also?
Spicy Sea Island Red Peas & Rice
Adapted from Sean Brock's Heritage and Anson Mills Red Peas and Rice
*Anson Mills beautifully preserves the heirloom peas, rice and grains of the south. You can order these peas there, I'd also encourage you to give their other products a try, especially the Carolina Gold Rice and Rice Grits.*
*The peas need to soak at least 3 hours- I would suggest over night. You'll see that I used chicken stock for these but I normally like to use homemade pork stock but chicken stock will work quite wonderfully.
For my vegetarian friends, I easel modify this by using vegetable stock and removing the chorizo all together.
2 cups Anson Mill Sea Island Red Peas
2 quarts of chicken stock (pork stock works wonderfully also)
1 ½ cups onions, diced
1 ½ cup celery, diced
2 garlic cloves
6 springs thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb chorizo, cut into coins, then halved
2 cups cooked white rice
For the peas- In a medium sized pot add the peas and cover with 6 cups of water; let soak for at least 3 hours. Preferably overnight in the refrigerator to achieve the best flavor. When ready to cook, bring the stock to a simmer over high heat in a heavy bottom saucepan. Drain the peas and add to the stock along with the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and chorizo. Partially cover the pot and cook the peas over low heat until the peas are tender. About and 1 ½. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle red peas over cooked rice and serve will with heaps of buttered cornbread.
Sunday Supper on a Saturday? Join us for another community dinner Saturday August 22nd.
For this dinner we'll celebrate the cuisine of the Low Country with a South Carolina Style Seafood Boil..
Also know as Frogmore Stew, this one pot dish which has its roots in Gullah cooking, is far from a stew. More like a mountainous pile of shrimp, corn, sausage, potatoes and onions. One that we'll feast on along with another low country favorite, Sea Island Red Peas.
Dinner will be family style with 3 courses and locally crafted GA beer.
Click here for tickets.. The link is also on the side bar..
Hope to see you there!
Ticket price includes cocktails, beer, food, tax and gratuity...
*A portion of the proceeds will fund free programs teaching kids how to create everything from biscuits to building apps. *
South & Slocumb pays homage to a group of ladies who served and cared for their beloved community in the small town of Goldsboro, North Carolina.
These devoted women would serve fried chicken dinners and BBQ plates to sold out crowds in the Fellowship Hall of their church; later taking the proceeds to fund their Saturday Soup Kitchen that would feed those in need. Oftentimes, on weekends they would serve sandwiches to the local kids who would hang out at the park, just south of the street several of the women called home; the park just south of Slocumb St.
Let’s join together in the spirit of community and the Ladies of South Slocumb St.
Waving the inevitable goodbye to Georgia peach season. Something that once hovered far away in the distance, is now upon us. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time freezing peaches in the name of peach cobbler, tarts and jam for biscuits.. There is still time to revel in the juicy sweetness of a ripe peach or better yet slice them up while dressing them in a bath of honey and molasses.
It's a nostalgic recipe as that is clearly what I do best. My memories of sliced peaches and molasses are never ending, as are the ones filled with summer rays and fruit flies. Sitting outside on a brick stoop, we'd watch the cars ride by as molasses dripped down the side our hands. No napkin in sight. However a slice of Sunbeam bread did the trick.
My grandma would lean over, with the North Carolina sun shining through her gray hair and say.. "who in their right mind would eat peaches and sliced bread"
Well we would of course…
For these tarts I traded the sliced white bread for Pate Brisee, however the molasses and honey treatment of these peaches is very much the same as it was those summer days so long ago. For the crust Thomas Keller's Pate Brisee is a solid recipe that I turn to for all of my tart crust.
Try it.. Seriously.
Peach Molasses Tarts
Prep Time: 45mins Cooks Time: 30-35 mins Yields: 6- 5' tarts
Tart The recipes calls for the dough to rest overnight in the fridge
The Crust is Thomas Kellers Pate Brisee that I modified slightly for the individual tarts.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 oz butter, unsalted, cold, cut into ¼ in cubes
1 cup + 3 tablespoon all purpose flour
¼ cup ice cold water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 ½ pounds fresh peaches, halved, pitted, sliced
1 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the tart dough: Mix 1 cup of the all purpose flour with the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. While mixer is still running add in the butter small pieces at a time. Once butter is added increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is blended. Add the remaining 1 cup + 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour mix to combine. Be sure to scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
Add the water and mix until blended.
The dough should feel smooth.
Make sure all the butter is blended before removing from the mixer.
Pat the dough into a 7 to 8 in disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
Let dough soften briefly at room temperature before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 350
Roll out the dough to an 11 x 16 inch rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Cut 6 -5 in circles.
Place the circle in the tart rings. Place on a large baking sheet and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the 3 tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Remove tart crust from the freezer and sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture in the bottoms of each tart.
Arrange peach slices in each tart, drizzling the molasses and honey over each one. Brush the edges of the crust with the melted butter. Place tarts (still on baking sheet) in the oven and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow tarts to cool slightly before eat.
If you can wait…
My instructions were simple and rattled on repetitively in my head; after traveling down U.S Route- 21, look for a gravel inlet and a broken stop sign, turn there, park and follow the rest of the way on foot.
"You'll see other folks walkin"
The gravel inlet was actually an unpaved road with cars littered haphazardly along the sides. Being unfamiliar with the area, it took me a good 15 minutes before I got the courage to trek down the path with the "other folks". Wayward coastal breezes made the Palmetto trees sway surrounding me with the most fragrant scent, leading my feet to veer off the path a little.
"Hey, you here for the boil? If so you're not gonna get there going that way." Says a gentleman watching me with amusement.
"Sorry, I'm not from here."
"Ahh, figured that"
Quietly, I thank him, ask if I could follow and Jacob (my new friend) and I made our way down the road. About a mile and another new friend later, we walk up on a clearing with tables and people..
A colorful tableau of people.
My eyes glazed over after noticing an array of desserts standing proudly on a table to my left. "That's not what you're here for" Jacob murmurs beside me. Sparing a quick glance in his direction, I inform him that after traveling several hours to the low country coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina from my hometown in N.C , I'm here for something for sure.
One thing only...food.
Spotting my friend at a table ahead, I nod my head to make my way over to her while noting Jacob following on my heels. I've seem to have made a friend for real
"You made it" She hugs me tightly and I return it with as much gusto; it's been a year since we've seen each other. "I wouldn't miss this for the world" is my response as a squeeze her hand lingering in her closeness a little while longer.
Our table begins to fill with people and newspaper is laid in front of me in anticipation of what's to come. It's hard not to notice how diverse the people are that sit among each other like old friends. Across from me sits a sun visor clad little lady, in her mid 70's, whose shoulders were pink from the South Carolina sun.
"That sun is bad for my eyes" she pronounces .. Then goes on to ask me at least 100 questions because she's never seen me before. A few minutes later she is joined by a a young man, tall with dark brown skin and kind eyes. He is very good looking so I shuffle a little in my seat. Turning to the sassy visor lady, this handsome stranger lowers himself in the seat beside her, with kiss on the check as she calls him her sweet boy.
"His mama, worked for me and his grandma worked for my family.. Our families go way back" she says in adoration looking between the newcomer and I. He turns my way, shrugs his shoulders, shaking his head a little. A logo on his t-shirt reading "Gullah TV' grabs my attention and an anxiousness consumes me. "Can I talk to you about the Gullah Culture" I inquire ,perhaps a little too loudly as he stares at me then smiles. In the interest of time, I won't go into the conversation we shared. Truly, it needs it's own post, a series of post to accurately explain the importance of it. Something that sparked the flame in my desire to know more about the Gullah heritage.
The Gullah people are descendants of the enslaved Africans that labored the rice plantations in the Atlantic coastal plains and the chain of Sea Islands in the United States. It's a culture, that includes it's own language, history and contributions to alot of the dishes I see posted on the internet but is hardly ever mentioned. It's my hope that this blog encourages people to explore the world of food from all perspectives, to learn the true journey that dish you are eating has taken.
We are all engrossed in conversations as a group of people come into view, carrying large stock pots towards us, then proceed to dump mountains of shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes that smell of spice and lemongrass along the newspaper lined tables. Immediately I realize that I had in fact been raised in the wrong area of the south. Where we praise the whole hog in N.C, proverbially dance around a pig as it roasts in expectancy of chopped BBQ smothered in vinegar based sauce, this seaside town climbs peaks of seafood and spicy sausage. I was in love and after about an hour, about to pass out from trying to climb that same mountain by consuming all in my wake. Wiping the wetness off my hands with paper towels, I notice a few people walking back with plates of pie and cake. No longer does the coconut cake hold the appeal it originally did upon first sight.
Jacob leans over- "told you that's not what you were here for"
True Jacob, very true....
This recipe is very simple. To me, the largest appeal is the fact that it can be scaled to serve a small group to a large crowd. It draws a mass crowd of all types of diners, who share a commonality in food. It's very fitting for a summer dinner, perhaps with a side of cheddar biscuits and ice cold locally crafted beers. Let's plan it.. How about August 22nd at 7 pm, where will once again sit around the table new friends and old friends and feast on our own Low Country Boil, beer, and maybe a biscuit or two. More to come along with the link for tickets, next week.....
Low Country Boil
This recipe is very forgiving, as in, the measurement of ingredients are more specific to the cook. A low country boil is meant to highlight the summers’ peak and the freshest shrimp, corn and potatoes which are what really make this one pot of perfection sing. The sausage that I used is chicken from my local butcher, I also sauteed it before adding to the pot for my non pork- non shellfish eating friend that joined us for dinner. Normally I go for Andouille for a bit more kick, just adding it to the pot like the instructions say below.
Traditionally, the shrimp is cooked with the heads still on. I'm noticing that is a something that freaks some folks out. Which I think is super strange since growing up everything we ate still had the head attached, from the fish to the pig.
Let's Eat Yo!
¾ cup old bay seasoning
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 lb of potatoes, here I used small red potatoes
2 lbs sausage cut into 1 inch pieces, fresh chicken sausage
3 small sweet onions, peeled and halved
6 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut into thirds
4 lbs fresh shrimp, unshelled
Bring a large stockpot of water (about 9 quarts) to a simmer. Add the old bay seasoning and kosher salt. Now add in the potatoes and sausage, boil until the potatoes are tender, about 15- 20 minutes. Bringing the water back to a slow simmer, add the corn, onion and cook until corn kernels are just a little softened about 3-4 minutes. You still want that bit of crunch when biting into the corn cob. Add in the shrimp and cook (with the water still on simmer) until shrimp becomes pink and white, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for about 10 minutes, drain from the liquid and transfer to a platter or most commonly to the center of the table lined with newspaper.
Serve with lemon wedges, Tabasco and more old bay seasoning. Along with butter and olive oil for the corn.
Chocolate, It's what I turn to in times of sadness and the first thing I look for on the dessert table. Preferably, nestled between 4 cake layers.
As the band plays that first wedding song, people gaze along in admiration as the bride and groom sway to the music, you'll find me with that same glossed over look as rivers of chocolate pour from a odd shaped fountain over my wooden skewer impaled fruit.
To sum all that up, I like chocolate..
Videri is a bean to bar Chocolate Factory, using the finest organic cocoa beans and cocoa butter available, they’re doing some impressive things with chocolate, starting with a pink peppercorn bar I just couldn't get enough of. Located in Raleigh North Carolina (my hometown), Videri is a full out chocolate factory, where you can roam their space while taking in all the gloriousness that comes along with watching the process of making chocolate, while learning how they source fair-trade ingredients. Then shop the shelves for all kinds of chocolate confections.. As well as grab a cup of coffee. Here I've used their Classic Dark Chocolate to create this dreamy pie that's the equivalent to a fudge brownie lying in a bed of flaky pastry dough.
*Full disclosure: I was given payment in the sweet form of chocolate by the good folks of Videri Chocolate Factory. However, this is damn good and I'm happy to support those doing great things with food in the South. Thanks for supporting those that keep things rolling here on Southern Souffle*
Videri Chocolate Brownie Pie:
Prep Time: 40 mins + atleast 2 hours rest for the pie crust Cook Time: 35 mins Yield: 6 servings
Pie Adapted from: Handmade Baking by Kamran Siddiqi
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ in cubes
¼ cup ice water
3 oz bittersweet dark chocolate
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter (mixture should look like crumbles). Stir in the water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours (or overnight) Preheat oven to 350 On a floured surface, roll out the dough to fit your pie pan.
Center dough in the pan and trim the edges, leaving about ½ inch over hang around the sides. Fold the over hang under the rim and crimp the edges. Put the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes. After removing the crust from the freezer poke holes at the bottom of the crust using a fork.
Line the crust with parchment paper (you can also use foil) and fill with pie weights to cover the bottom and along the side of the pie. Bake for 15 minutes with the pie weights . Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the filling: Melt the chocolate by placing a wide skillet with about an inch of water on a burner on your stove. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl directly in the water (in the skillet) Bring water to a simmer and let the chocolate melt while stirring occasionally. (you can also melt the chocolate in the microwave but I prefer this method)
Remove bowl from stove and whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until combined with the melted chocolate. Slowly pour in the cream, whisking until the mixture is smooth. It truly looks like a bowl of pudding but it's not so don't eat it yet.
Pour the filling into the pie shell, place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. The top will crackle on the top like a pan of brownies.. This is a good thing.. A really good thing. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool before slicing. I try slicing it way too early and it was troublesome getting it out of the pan.
*Note: if the edges start to brown too quickly, cover the crust with strips of foil.
Last Wednesday, June 17th I called myself finishing this post, reading over the ingredients, shutting down my laptop and going over my plans for the day and weekend ahead.
Waking up the next morning, I'd learned of yet another occurrence of hate in my community, against my community and this post and everything else floated away- rage and deep sadness took it's place.
I still do not have the ability to express what I'm feeling. Police Brutality, Church Massacres, pool attacks as the Confederate flag waves above. I'm living the stories of my mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and all those before... The stories of their past have become a part of my daughters present.
Generational hatred, a elephant people like to sweep under the rug but always let's us know that it does in fact still remain. Standing proud like the bronzed encased Confederate soldiers that Lord over Federal buildings in the south. Highways and bypasses named after generals that are no heroes of mine. It is a weapon in every sense of the word, used to continuously bring down a community that refuses to be broken, we are descendants of people with unwavering resilience and faith. Growing up in an A.M.E church we sang praises to Mother Emanuel, the church that paved the way. Wednesday night bible study was followed by snacks in the fellowship hall. All this is part of my journey in food, all of this is part of my heritage, all of this makes me weep at the thought of how we are not safe even in worship. Weep at the thought of the times that I have stood in Emanuel A.M.E Church and heard Pastor Pickney speak, shaken his hand and been in his presence. It really hits close to home.
I keep hearing this song in my head, I keep hearing my grandmother singing as she did often everywhere that she went..
" When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand; "
Standing on solid rock.. No weapon formed against us shall prosper.. It won't work.
The thousands of people that stood upon Ravenel Bridge in Charleston Sunday night, is a testament of that.
The rainbow of diners that broke bread with me on June 13th in the honor of the ladies of South Slocumb Street is a testament of that.
With that being said, I'll move on.... for now.
|Photo by Meghan of Stir and Scribble|
|Photo by Meghan of Stir and Scribble|
There are an endless amount of ways to give thanks.. The simplest is to say the words standing face to face with those who you deem deserve it.
Often this could hardly depict just how grateful you feel.
Last Saturday, 20 guest sitting at wooden tables, enjoyed 4 courses of love in the form of fried chicken, blackened fish and peach cobbler. A celebration of dishes that at heart, represent me as a cook and the vast history that I've carried with me for years. Other than a few mishaps here and there, I'd say it was a great success, one that could've never happen without the help of a few folks that I call friends.
Forever thankful I am for my dear Joni and her charming appeal and knowledge of wine, thank you for keeping the guest engaged and that wine flowing.
Rick, you were a master at all that was asked of you, for that I owe you many thanks.
Meghan, I would have drowned in a sea of commercial kitchen inexperience and plate prep as well as a host of other things (like flowers arrangements) if not for you... I'm serious about our vacation.. So much love to you..
Lastly, to my one and only Mr. Southern Soufflé your support of all my endeavors. If it's designing some new computer automation to deciding to embark on pop up dinners, it's what keeps me going. Just those words.. "Sure my dear, I think you should give it a shot" give me wings to take flight, knowing ultimately you'll always catch me if I fall.
A special thanks to all those that dined with us and the kind words you shared. We hope see you again at the next one. Here is one of the most praised dishes from Saturday's dinner, potato "salad" with crispy pancetta topped tangy roasted potatoes.
Roasted Potato Salad
Prep Time- 25mins Cook Time- 35mins Yield- 6 servings
*Toast the potatoes in just olive oil or grapeseed oil and remove the pancetta completely to make this vegetarian. Take it one step farther and substitute the mayo for veganaise or this tofu mayo and make this dish vegan friendly*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pancetta, diced
12 fingerling potatoes, halved (or you can use whatever white potatoes that you have on hand)
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup of mayo (Duke's Mayo is magic-that is what I always use)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups arugula leaves
Preheat oven to 400
In a large cast iron skillet add the olive oil and pancetta and cook until crispy. About 10 minutes of med-high heat. Remove the pancetta using a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Using the same skillet, add the potatoes and cook in the fat for about 10 minutes or until they turn slightly golden.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast the potatoes for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown and tender on the inside.
While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, chives, and pepper in a large bowl. When the potatoes finish, fold them into the mayo mixture. Toss in the arugula and pancetta. Serve while warm.