Category Archives: Low Country

Tomato Pie from the Stono Farm Market Tomato Shed Cafe

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Tomato Pie
This really should be a mid summer recipe, but there are times when nothing tastes as good as this tomato pie and if you can find the tomatoes, it brings summer right to your plate. It is quite different from any tomato pie I have ever tasted. It is less of a pie and more of a juicy tomato casserole really. The key, and I really mean the KEY is beautiful  juicy ripe red tomatoes. They can be any kind of tomato, but they have to be deeply red and ripe. Fortunately the folks at the Stono Farm Market Tomato Shed Cafe  have access to the Ambrose Farm hoop house tomatoes, including some incredible heirloom tomatoes and some juicy red orbs of cherry tomatoes, even in February, which in the Low Country is not really all that cold.  I agree, that tomatoes are best in July and August, no matter where you live, sun ripened tomatoes grown in soil are the best.  South Carolina grows some delicious ones in her sandy loam. I have had this dish at the Tomato Shed Cafe many times, and have made it a few times for company with rave reviews. The best thing is that it is EASY!

Tomatoes

Here is the Ambrose family’s recipe:

Tomato Pie

Makes 8 servings

6 large ripe tomatoes or 2 # of good ripe cherry tomatoes

1 yellow onion thinly sliced

dried basil

fresh chives, chopped

Salt and Pepper

1 cup of Duke’s Mayonnaise

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Biscuit dough, rolled thin and baked till golden (you can do this ahead in batches and freeze)

Method:

Place pieces of baked thin pieces of biscuit dough around the bottom of a pan, it can be a square 9 X 9 pan, a pie pan or a cake pan.

Slice the tomatoes in to 1/2 inch thick slices and salt, let sit for a few minutes, then fill the pan with several layers of tomatoes, salting and peppering and adding basil and chives on each layer. Add a layer of thinly sliced onions (you could insert garlic here too). I added some sweet onion sugar at this point, but if you do not have it, you can skip that. You can “fancify” it too by using smoked salt. I did.

Mix the mayo and cheese and top the pie.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  I promise you, this is delicious! I have never had a tomato pie this good, or so easy to make.

Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder Latin Style

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plate 2 This recipe has been one I have used for years. I used to make it at my cooking school for Cuban Night. I change out a few things here and there to go more Italian or more Cuban. Even if you do not have a smoker this is delicious braised or done in a slow cooker or dutch oven. You simply make a paste in the food processor and then make slits in the pork shoulder (bone in or out, your choice). Marinate it over night, smoke the next morning and then finish it off in a crock pot or in a dutch oven in the oven.  Note: I do not add salt before cooking, but I offer it at the table. 

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Ingredients:

1 cup each of packed cilantro and flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup each of coriander, cumin and fennel seeds toasted

30 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup crushed red pepper (the kind you put on pizza)

1/4 cup pink pepper berries (optional)

1 tablespoon hickory powder if you are not smoking the meat

1/4 cup olive oil (I use smoked oil that I make)

1 5-7 pound pork shoulder (get them on sale and freeze)

2# Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 large onions, quartered

2 cans of beer

1/4 cup Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar (optional)

Method:

Put the cilantro, parsley seeds, garlic, pepper berries, crushed red pepper, hickory powder if you are not smoking and the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse till you have a thick paste.

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Put on latex gloves if you have them, this gets messy. Cut 1 1/2 inch slits into the meat on all sides. Stuff the slits with the paste. If you have any paste left over, smear it on the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
porchetta
Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile set up your smoker and turn your grill on high.

Sear the meat on all sides on the grill. Then place in the smoker at about 200 degrees over a drip pan and smoke for 6 hours. If you do not have a smoker, go directly to the slow cooker or roaster but cook for 8-10 hours on low.

Porchetta out of the smoker

Prepare the roaster or slow cooker by placing a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes (small ones or cut larger ones in half) and the onions. Sometimes I add other root vegetables too. Place the meat directly on the bed of veggies. pour two cans or bottles of beer over the meat. Sprinkle the sweet onion sugar all over.

Roast at 350 degrees covered with foil or in a dutch oven. Or you can use a slow cooker on high for 4 hours (either method).  It is just that easy. The leftovers are sometimes my favorite part… tamales, tacos pulled pork sandwiches. 🙂

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Roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Ravioli

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Wonderfully easy and fresh Ravioli! So easy 40 minutes from oven to table. You can also roast the tomatoes ahead of time and make this even faster.

The tomatoes are mostly small grape tomatoes, but I tossed in a few others too. The ravioli dough is actually won ton wrappers. I cannot find my ravioli cutters after the move, so I used a biscuit cutter. This recipe serves 2, but you could easily double it.

Ingredients:

  • 1# of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Vik’s Garlic Fix (or fresh garlic minced with a sprinkling of Kosher salt)
  • finely chopped Italian Parsley, Basil and rosemary (about 3 tablespoons total)
  • 8 nice leaves of Italian Parsley and Basil for the raviolis
  • 8 small balls of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • 1 cup of dry vermouth (or chicken stock)
  • Reggiano Parmesan for grating
  • Additional seasoning to taste for the sauce, smoked salt, Vik’s Garlic Fix, coarse black pepper & crushed red pepper.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Place on a cooking sheet with rim. Drizzle with olive oil, Vik’s Garlic Fix, a spring of rosemary leaves and black pepper.

Roast at 350 for 30 minutes

Remove and cool slightly

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On a floured counter, lay out 8 wonton wrappers and place one parsley leaf, one basil leaf, one tomato half and one ball of mozzarella ball on each. On 8 other wonton wrappers, brush the egg wash and then place on top of the “loaded” wrappers. Seal carefully and then cut with a ravioli cutter or leave square. Place these on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and allow to dry a bit. 10 minutes is optional, but 5 is fine.

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While the ravioli is drying, put remaining tomatoes and juices in a saute pan and simmer with the vermouth and additional basil, parsley and rosemary. Season to taste.

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In a pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli for 3-4 minutes in small batches. Use a slotted spoon to plate and cover with sauce and top with cheese.

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Sriracha Buffalo Chicken Wings

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Wings plated with Beer

I love sassy stuff. Sriracha is a staple in my house. So is Frank’s Hot Sauce. This recipe is easy and delicious too. If you want to make it healthy, you can use the sauce as a marinade and grill the wings. I opted for the fry method here, but I do grill them too.

Sauce:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce

2/3 cup Sriracha Sauce (Rooster on the bottle)

3 tablespoons Vik’s Garlic Fix 

1 tablespoon Sweet Onion Sugar 

Place all in a pan and simmer while frying the wings.

sauce

I used Drummets, they have more meat on them and they are readily available here. When we lived in Hawaii they were impossible to find. I wonder what they do with all of the other wing parts…. cat food?

In a large deep pan, heat oil to 400 and then adjust the heat to maintain 350-400 degrees while frying.

Fry in small batches so the wings do not stick together.

This should take about 6-8 minutes, remove when golden brown.

wings fried

Drain.

Place in a pan once all are fried and pour the sauce over and stir to make sure the wings are completely covered with sauce.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Serve with celery, carrots and blue cheese dressing. FINGER LICKING good.

wings plated

Want another great wing recipe: Here I recreated Husk’s Sweet Tea Brined Smoked Kentuckyaki Chicken Wings. 

And here is a post from my friend Scotty Harris, who lives near Buffalo about wings… he insists there is no such thing as Buffalo Wings, they are just wings to him.

Bloody Mary Chicken

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This recipe could not be easier. BUT it requires a secret ingredient that you can only buy at the Spice and Tea Exchange. It is a Bloody Mary Spice Blend. One of the many blends I make at work. It contains just about every thing you need to make a good Bloody Mary except the tomato juice and vodka. Here is a list of the ingredients (all of which you can also buy separately at our store): black pepper, sea salt, celery seed, garlic, horseradish powder, Worcestershire powder & tomato powder. By utilizing this unique blend of spices, herbs and concentrated powders you can make a fast and easy dinner, in fact I gave my husband the directions and he did the marinade while I was at work. When I got home, I just tossed a salad, grilled the chicken, mashed some sweet potatoes, drizzled them with maple syrup and added some of my Cognac Cranberry Compote.

Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons STE Bloody Mary Blend

Juice and Zest of one lemon (I used Meyers from my tree)

1/4 cup Olive Oil (I used smoked olive oil that I make myself)

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Method: 

Mix together the first three ingredients, put the chicken in a zip lock plastic bag, pour the marinade in. Allow to marinate for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat your grill and then grill the chicken till the interior reaches 165 degrees. Remove, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve and smile!

Individual Cheese Soufflés

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I like to serve soufflés  in individual dishes. This recipe makes two generous soufflés. I used ramekins that are 5″ across. For dinner parties I like to double this recipe and use smaller ramekins. I served the soufflés with a sauteed chicken breast and brandied cranberry sauce. They would be equally good with a large herb salad. Fresh eggs are important in this recipe. Contrary to rumors, soufflés are actually very easy to make as long as you follow the instructions and do not open the oven while cooking. I also use a ceramic oven liner that retains heat and makes for even baking. Have fun with this!

 Individual Cheese Soufflés

  • 1 teaspoon of Piment d’Espelette (optional; you may find this favorite seasoning of mine difficult to find)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/4 cup for topping (used the food processor with blade for grating the cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature and more for coating the ramekins
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  •  1/2 of a nutmeg, freshly grated
  •  3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  •  1 cup finely grated semi-hard cheese such as Comté Manchego, Gruyère. I used Comté and did the food processor method for both the Comté and the Parm (but do make sure that there are no large lumps)
  •  3 large very fresh eggs, separated + one extra white.
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons, they are my favorite and my tree is loaded)

 

Preheat the oven to 375˚F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter ramekins sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano to coat completely all the way to the top. Shake any excess cheese out into a bowl. Place the molds in the freezer to chill.

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the Piment d’Espelette , flour, nutmeg, and salt; whisking constantly, cook the flour without browning, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and garlic and continue to cook, whisking, at a low simmer until the mixture is smooth and thick like pudding, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the Comté and any Parmigiano-Reggiano left over from coating the molds and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Continue stirring vigorously with a rubber spatula to cool.

Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a clean bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the  beater on medium-high until they just hold a soft peak. * DO NOT not over-whip the whites, which would give your soufflé a cloudy instead of creamy consistency.

Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula, carefully turning the bowl and mixing gently until the whites are streaked throughout. Add the remaining whites and fold in but don’t overmix, which can deflate the whites.

Transfer the batter to the chilled mold and scatter the remaining  Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Place the dish on a baking sheet/tray and set in the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325˚F/ 165°C/, and bake until the soufflé is golden, puffed, and set but just a touch wobbly inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately. After a few minutes a slight deflation is normal, this is why they must be served immediately for the most impact. Enjoy!

Williamsburg Turkey Soup Redux

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As a young mother, thirty years or so ago I first made a recipe of Williamsburg Turkey Soup, most probably after Thanksgiving. Back then I always did my turkeys on a Weber Grill with soaked pecan shells poured over the coals, essentially creating a lightly smoked turkey. It was a delicious soup then, but when I pulled up the recipe the other day, I was surprised at how pedestrian the recipe looks to me now. Obviously, it was time for me to kick it up a notch. The original recipe is supposed to have come from the colonies and would probably have been done with a wild turkey. And seeing that they probably did hot have half and half back then, was likely made with cream. The rice probably was not white long grain, but an earthier wild or brown rice. Regardless, I made a big pot of wonderful soup and was able to render some extra turkey stock too.

Here is my Redux Version

Part one: Make turkey stock. I roasted a turkey last week and used only the white meat. I then placed the carcass with the dark meat in the smoker and smoked over maple wood for 12 hours. You do not have to smoke your turkey, but it sure makes for great soup and stock. You could also use a store bought smoked turkey for this. After the turkey was sufficiently smoked for flavor, I made the stock.

In a very large pot place chunks of carrot, celery & onions (about 2 cups each) into a pot. You do not need to peel them as they are only adding goodness to the stock. Add 20 (yes 20!) garlic cloves. Toss in a few stalks of  rosemary and thyme and one bay leaf. Place the carcass into the pot. If your pot is not large enough, you can break it apart a bit to fit. Cover with water and place on a LOW simmer for 12 hours. The stock should never be allowed to boil, just simmer.

Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool so that you can handle the turkey to remove meat. You may want to place it on a platter to cool. Remove and reserve the meat. Then filter everything over a large pot using a fine sieve. Pour the stock into containers to cool completely so that the fat will rise to the top. Your leftover veggies can be placed in compost or fed to the dogs in chunks. Discard all of the bones. I ended up with 8 cups of rich dark stock. Some of which was used in the soup. I grabbed all of the garlic cloves and saved them for the soup.

Part Two: The Soup

1 Cup of Butter (yes, you can use olive oil if you want to)
1 Cup of all purpose flour
4 small red onions or 8 shallots finely chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 ribs of cellery finely chopped
(note all of this chopping can be done in a food processor)
Reserved garlic from the stock, which can now be smashed and added to the soup
2 cups of fresh corn kernels (if not in season, use frozen)
1 small jar of pimentos (or roast a red pepper and chop)
1 1/2 cups of wild rice/brown rice blend (I use Lindeman’s Brand)
2 teaspoons of salt (I used smoked salt that I smoke while doing the turkey.)
1 tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper
3 quarts of turkey stock
3 sprigs of thyme (leaves pulled from stem)
2 cups of reserved turkey chopped
4 cups of cream or half and half if you are giving your arteries a break

 

  • Melt butter in the bottom of a large sop pot or dutch oven
  • Add flour and stir gently for about 5 minutes to form a light golden roux
  • Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic to roux and sir. Cooking over medium flame for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. The onions should be just starting to brown.
  • Add rice, corn, stock, salt, pepper, thyme, pimentos along with reserved turkey and stir all together. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste the rice and be sure that it is cooked through. Add the cream and stir. Cook on low flame till completely heated.  Taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it.
This makes a huge pot of soup, but it freezes well if you are not feeding a crowd. I like to serve it with a few slices of Hawaiian Chiles on it along with fresh chopped parsley or thyme leaves. However, many people cannot take the heat of the chiles, so you might just want to serve chiles or siracha sauce on the side. It is delicious just as it is. It also might be good with some browned crispy thin slices of jamon or prosciutto on top.

Nathalie Dupree’s Food Processor Biscuits

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I have loved and learned from Nathalie Dupree for over 30 years.  She is the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking and quite literally a Grand Dame in the organization Les Dames de Escoffier. . Fortunately she holds court in my new home town, Charleston, South Carolina and I am lucky to be in her presence more often now. I lived in Beaufort and Atlanta in the ’80’s and that is when she first came on my culinary radar. She continues to prolifically produce  work on truly great southern cooking, but it is not the southern cooking your mind conjures up when you hear the term. She is classically trained and most of her early work was more in the “gourmet” realm, though using mostly southern ingredients. She has inspired cooks young and old to do what they do better. She has given us a vast work, including her most recently released tome of great proportion, Mastering the Art of Southern Cookingcollaborating with Cynthia Graubart.  Their book Southern Biscuits is full of perfect recipes and techniques for making biscuits. Believe it or not, there are several different kinds of biscuits! When my step son was visiting last week he saw the book on my cookbook stand and asked, “There is a whole book just on making biscuits?” Yes, Kevin there is. One of my favorite recipes from the book is extremely simple and successful for almost any cook. The one thing you must remember when making biscuits is, “BE GENTLE.” Overworking this tender dough makes tough biscuits. Keeping that in mind, when you use a food processor, just just the minimum amount of maneuvering  the pulse button is your friend. You barely want to mix this recipe, using the buttermilk as the glue that holds the flour together. It is simply the easiest recipe for making biscuits as long as you are gentle, they will be light and fluffy and melt in your mouth.

The three simple ingredients are Buttermilk, Self Rising Southern Flour and Butter (or shortening/lard) It is that uncomplicated.

*Note: If you do not live in the South, or in Wegman’s territory up North, you may have a difficult time sourcing southern flour (made from Winter Wheat), though you can find White Lily on Amazon. Other brands of Southern Flour are :  Red Band, Martha White or Southern Biscuit Flour. Nathalie suggests using a mix of cake flour and all purpose flour to make a flour that is more like Southern Flour. Keep in mind it is the protein in the flour that makes a crispy chewy crust, not what you want with a biscuit. Start with 1/2 all purpose flour to 1/2 cake flour.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I keep mine in the freezer so it is nice and cold), divided
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1/4  cup (half a stick) of butter (or any combination of butter, shortening or lard) cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 cup of buttermilk divided

    Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I bake in a convection oven on the convection bake selection.

Select your pan; for softer biscuits place in a greased 8-9″ cake pan or skillet. For crispy exterior, place on a greased baking sheet about 2″ apart.

  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 2 1/4 cups of flour with the knife blade 4-5 times. Set aside the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.
  • Scatter the chilled butter pieces around the bowl of the processor.

  • Pulse 2-3 times quickly, no piece should be larger than a pea
  • Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup
  • Pulse briefly to incorporate the liquid, resulting in a shaggy dough, then remove the lid and feel the dough, it needs to be wet but not sticky. If needed add more flour or buttermilk to achieve this result, but do not over process.

  • Pour the dough out onto a chilled floured surface and allow to rest for a minute
  • Gently flour the dough and roll into a ball with floured hands, then, roll over again into a disc. GENTLY

  • Using a rolling pin flatten the disc to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick
  • Using a floured cutter or glass, cut into biscuits
  • You can roll out the scraps for a final biscuit, but I usually toss because this one will be tougher
  • Place in your baking pan
  • Bake for 6 minutes on the middle shelf, then turn the pan so that it is evenly browning. If the bottom looks like it is browning too fast, you can add a baking sheet under it
  • Bake for another 4-6 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden color
  • Remove from the oven and brush a little softened butter on them.

 Enjoy with honey, butter, jam or gravy!

Orange/Mac Nut Cinnamon Rolls with Buttered Rum Icing

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This is the recipe my Great Grandma Wolf made and served me when I would spend the night at her house in Glendora, California. I have taken liberties by adding the mac nuts and the rum. When I was a little girl my Great Grandma Wolf would give me buttered rum Lifesavers to keep me quiet in church, so the flavor is homage to her.  These freeze well and can be re-heated. You can also make and proof the dough the night before and then refrigerate the dough. If you do this, it will take about 2 hours for the rolls to rise in their second fermentation.


Cook Time: 20 minutesPrep Time: 2-3 hours (depending on rising time)

Ingredients:

·         1-1/2 packages (about 3-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast

·         1/4 cup warm water

·         1/2 cup shortening, lard or butter (I usually use home rendered lard)

·         1/3 cup raw sugar

·         1-1/2 teaspoon salt

·         1 cup milk scalded

·         2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or orange zest

·         1 egg

·         4 to 5 cups sifted flour

·         1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts

·         Softened butter (about 1/3 a cup, maybe a little more)

·         brown sugar (or I used a combination of male sugar and vanilla sugar)

·         1/4 cup Vietnamese Cinnamon

  Frosting

·         1 cups powdered sugar

·         ½ cup mascarpone cheese

·         1 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla 

·         5 Tablespoons good quality rum

Method:

Add the warm water to the yeast and soak 10 minutes.

Scald milk; pour over the shortening. Add sugar, zest and salt and cool to tepid. Add the dissolved yeast and beaten egg. Add 4 cups flour adding one at a time beating after each addition.

Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Knead on floured board until elastic and smooth. Avoid too much flour. Turn dough into well oiled bowl. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours.

Softly press dough down and shape into a rectangle. Roll dough out into a rectangle about 18 inches wide and 8 inches tall. Cover with the soft butter. Layer with a generous layer of sugar (brown or a combo of vanilla sugar and maple sugar.) Sprinkle on cinnamon and evenly distribute the nuts. Roll up jellyroll fashion.

Using a piece of thread or dental floss cut off slices about 1-1/2 inches thick. Place slices in a full side sheet pan lined with a silpat pad (or you can spray the pan with PAM.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until rolls fill the pan generously. This should take about an hour.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 20 – 30 minutes. Do not over bake rolls. Make sure the center rolls are cooked all the way through by testing with an instant read thermometer. It should read about 200 degrees. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before frosting.

For the Frosting:
Using a mixer with whisk attachment whip the mascarpone, then add the powdered sugar and rum. Whip till fluffy. Spread over warm rolls as soon as they are placed on a plate to let the frosting melt and run into the rolls.