Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Rich, buttery, salty, crumbly….sometimes a fresh home baked shortbread cookie can be the best dessert out (well a classic chocolate chip cookie still may trump it).

It has been extremely difficult to push myself to post this week. My editor had me stretched a bit thin, writing three reviews in one week. And as a writer the last thing you want to do is force some half-hearted story. Needless to say, like most Sundays, most of my day has been spent recharging. My husband and I have created a small ritual in eating bad and binge watching shows every Sunday.

A bit of inspiration has come from one of our favorites, the Great British Bake-off. And if you have not watched it, you absolutely must. If like me, you have finished all of the seasons, there is also a Great Australian Bake-off. Yes, the Aussies have a version too! Their “bakes”, on the GBBO, are filled with jams, and most pair great with tea. These pistachio cookies would make Paul and Marry proud. Scrummie!

Pluot Jam

Ingredients:

  • 7 Pluots, quartered
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sweet Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for one hour or until reduced in half.
  3. Let cool before placing in sealable container(s). Can store in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for 6 months.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick of Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Pistachio Oil

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. With your fingers, mix the butter into the dry mixture. Mix until it resembles course sand.
  3. Pour in pistachios and oil, mix with spoon until fully incorporated.
  4. Cover bowl, and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a cookie sheet pan, with edges on all four sides, mash down your cookie mixture creating one even layer.
  6. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. After removing from oven, quickly take a cookie cutter, in the desired size, and stamp into cookies, creating scored cookies. Once cooled remove the stamped cookies from the sheet.

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Mardi Gras Night: Cotton & Rye

Mardi Gras Night: Cotton & Rye

BY NOW many Savannah locals have grown to love the award-winning fare of local restaurant Cotton & Rye. And although the restaurant is constantly pushing the envelope by offering new grub, the restaurant occasionally offers its guests a specialty seated dinner with drink pairings.

On Feb. 13, which happened to fall on Fat Tuesday, Cotton & Rye hosted their very first Mardi Gras Dinner.

The menu was a collaboration of Chef de Cuisine Andrew Olivia, Chef and Partner Brandon Whitestone, and Chef/Owner Zach Shultz (because three Chefs are better than one).

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As for the cocktails, which Cajuns and Savannahians alike consider a crucial part of a meal, Shultz told me that “they were a collaboration of restaurant managers Kimberly Whitestone and Danielle Kratz.”

So why host a Mardi Gras themed dinner in a modern Southern restaurant? Chef Zach considers “dinners like this not only fun for our guests but also really fun for the restaurant team.”

Nothing could be truer considering the room was buzzing with excitement as the servers passed around the first course, a Georgia Shrimp Remoulade. Succulent sweet chunks of shrimp were lightly coated in blackening seasoning and paired with tangy pickled green tomatoes then tossed a lemon-cayenne remoulade, a mayonnaise based French sauce.

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Although slathered in a spices and sauce, every bite tasted light because of the crisp lettuce holding the shrimp and a healthy dose of citrus. The adult beverage paired with the dish was a Crusta, an old fashioned drink normally featuring brandy.

To pay homage to our Cajun brothers, the restaurant used a New Orleans spiced rum in place of the brandy, mixing the drink with Fruitlab orange bitters, maraschino, and lemon. The lemon in the cocktail played off of the lemon in the dish giving your palate a whirlwind of harmonious zest.

Up next was the Alligator Boudin. If you’ve never had boudin, it is truly the staple of the bayou.

Boudin is a sausage that popular as a cajun snack, and can be found almost anywhere in Louisiana: gas stations, corner stores, and roadside stands. In terms of popularity, think of it as the Louisiana version of our boiled peanut.

My uncle, who lives in Louisiana, always brings me boudin when he visits, so I was excited to see how authentic these Lowcountry guys could make it. Traditionally made with pork, rice, and some special seasonings, you can boil it, fry it, steam it, or eat in on crackers.

For this Lowcountry version, Chef Andrew filled sausage casing with tender Louisiana alligator meat and popcorn rice. Accompanying the delicate sausage was a fiery red pepper jam and smoky grilled baguette points.

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Chef Zack created the red pepper jam using “sugar, salt, thyme, and red pepper” cooked down to create the something reminiscent of a pepper jelly that Savannahians love to serve at a party with cream cheese.

The drink pairing was a De La Louisianne: a rye libation with Danielle Katz’s twist of absinthe soaked cherries. The sticky sweet cherries were as explosive as the red pepper jam that guests weren’t shy about smearing on their toast.

Cotton & Rye’s House Sazarac was teamed with a Turtle Bolognese for the third. By no means was this a traditional Bolognese, and, like most of the protein on the menu, the snapping turtle used was procured in Louisiana. Salty Romano cheese, bright chopped parsley, and earthy whole grain mustard encased a deep green spinach tagliatelle made in-house by Cotton and Rye’s sister restaurant Sugo Rossa.

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Normally Bolognese is rich and hearty from a deep meaty red sauce, but this swampy version was full-flavored without being too mucky. The mustard incorporated the right amount of punch, keeping your tongue on its toes.

Jambalaya followed the Bolognese, ending the savory portion of the dinner with fireworks. The Chefs jammed in four types of meat: crab, shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage.

The thick sauce evenly coated every grain of al denti rice, and the quadfecta of meat peppered the velvety platter. The Milk Punch, a creamy cocktail created with Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon, Bacardi Dark Rum, vanilla, milk and nutmeg, acted as the much needed coolant for the fiery rice dish.

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The grand finale came with not one but two desserts. As delicious as Cafe Du Monde’s famous beignets are, Cotton & Rye’s cloud-like beignets were some of the most authentically delicious pastries you could imagine. These mini puffs of Louisiana flare were served with an airy dusting of powdered sugar and accompanied by the best sauce I could imagine to put on beignets.

The coffee anglaise coated my taste buds with the flavor of a perfect cup of joe — deep, sweet, and bitter all at the same time. This sauce would have made an old leather shoe taste delicious, but luckily it was served on doughnuts that tasted like they came right from restaurants on the streets that guard the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Finally each table received their very own King Cake stuffed with cream cheese and lacquered with a milky sugar glaze. The race was on to locate the tiny baby encased in only one table’s gooey yeast cake because the lucky finder received a gift card to return for another dinner at Cotton and Rye.

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Not only was the King Cake beautifully coated with the banner colors of Mardi Gras, but it tasted better than any King Cake you could buy from N’awlins. The bread was light and airy due to a perfect rise of yeast, allowing the baked treat to dissolve in your mouth as soon as you bit down.

If you missed this year’s Fat Tuesday celebration, next year is hopeful considering Chef Zach would “like to make the Mardi Gras dinner an annual thing.”

But if you can’t wait that long, the consistently delicious southern food created by Cotton & Rye is available just down the street on Habersham & 34th.

Original Article can be found here

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy…those are only a fraction of the descriptors you can use when describing a dish that can only be found in the northern mountains of Thailand. Reminiscent of a yellow curry, this “soup” is creamier and sweeter than any curry I have ever eaten.
I generally dislike most curry, and until I spent a whooping $1.50 at a Chaing Mai hole-in-the-wall to try this popular dish, my recent fondness of curry had not spurred.
Since returning home to my normal 9-5, I have genuinely missed the kind people of Thailand and its beautiful cities. If you know me personally, you know it is a trip I just can’t stop talking about. (Sorry, friends.) My husband thinks I am crazy because I have craved Pad Thai at least once a week since returning Stateside.


What better way to pay homage to such a wonderful vacation than to try and recreate one of best dishes we tried. Though, my husband really liked the scorpion he ate at the night market, and that probably takes the cake for the most adventurous thing eaten on our trip.
Beware, this recipe has a ton of ingredients. The good news is most of the weird ones can be found at any local Asian market. I would not recommend trying to make this dish if you are a new cook.
Unlike many recipes you will find online for this dish, this one requires you to make your own curry paste — a rewarding but exhausting venture. Also, be sure to get fresh noodles, as the dried ones do not fry well.
You will notice in my pictures that my noodles are thin, do not make that mistake either.Thicker is better!

Khao Soi + Thailand’s Yummiest Dish

Ingredients

  • Tools:
  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Wok
  • Ingredients for the curry paste:
  • 1 whole dried Thai Chili
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 inches from the bottom of a stalk of fresh lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
  • 2 inch knob of fresh turmeric, peeled and diced
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro stalks
  • 1 teaspoon of whole coriander 6 pods of Thai black cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai shrimp paste
  • Salt
  • Ingredients for the "Soup":
  • 1 pound of fresh Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar, brown sugar will work as a substitute
  • 4 chicken legs, split
  • Fish sauce
  • • Lime wedges and sliced shallots for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large piece of aluminum foil, combine all the ingredients for the curry but for the salt. Seal foil well into a pouch, making sure all the edges are sealed. You can cook the packet one of two ways, over burner flame or by placing in a cast iron skillet (it will damage any other kind of skillet) over high heat. Cook the pouch, occasionally turning, until it begins to smoke. This takes about 10 minutes total.
  2. Once the packet is cooled, transfer the contents to your mortar and pestle. Work to the ingredients until a paste is formed. Approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the shrimp paste and salt, working until fully combined. Set aside. (Note: The shrimp paste smells extremely strong — and it is! But follow the amount in the recipe and it won’t overpower the dish.)
  4. Heat wok with enough canola or vegetable oil for frying. Once at shimmering at high heat, fry 1/4 of the egg noodles until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels season with salt, and set aside.
  5. Discard the oil from your wok, then add in 1 tablespoon of oil. Skim 2 tablespoons of fat from the top of your coconut milk and add to wok. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it appears as though the mixture has broken. About 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add curry paste to oil and cook, stirring, for about 45 seconds.
  7. Stir in your coconut milk, then the chicken stock, and finish with your sugar.
  8. Add in your chicken legs, and bring soup to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, being sure to occasionally turn the chicken.
  9. While the soup is cooking, bring a sauce pan full of salted water to a boil. Cook your the remaining rice noodles until al denti.
  10. Drain the noodles, and divide between four bowls. Top the noodles with your soup, and finish with your fried noodles. Serve immediately, and allow your guest to top their soup with the desired toppings.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/02/23/khao-soi-thailands-yummiest-dish/

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Gooey salty sweet homemade caramel buttercream stuffed between three distinct layers of thick, soft, chewy cookie cake layers: rich chocolate chip, buttery white chocolate blondie, and a classic crumbly snicker doodle. This may be the best birthday cake ever imagined.

With my husband’s birthday sneaking up last week, I knew I had to bake him a cake since I do every year. And this year I wanted to top last year’s Chicken and Waffle Cake.

I am not going to lie; I did not get this one perfect by any means. Just by looking at the pictures you can see how messy the butter cream is in its application, and the slight lean this cake had.

In baking this cake, my day started with three failed attempts at making a caramel (even though I did not stir the sugar), and it continued its path downhill. Between running out of eggs and flour, forgetting to add half of my butter to the snicker doodle layer, under cooking each layer (because I underestimated just how thick each cookie would be), a broken butter cream that had to be re-whipped, and finally, rushing to finish stacking the cake before serving it that night.

Being an experienced baker there are many days you forget just how challenging baking really is, and this cake was a harsh reminder. Luckily, after a practice round I have improved the recipe so it does not have to be as challenging for you.

Due to my failed attempt, you will notice that your layers are not as thick as the ones pictured. I have adapted the recipe to actually make it work, which means slightly thinner layers.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Flour Flour
  • 8 Ounces of Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, baking.., salt, and then eggs one at a time
  4. Mix in flour one cup at at time.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into pan, bake in over for at least one hour.
  7. If after an hour the cake is not done, cook until toothpick comes clean from center.

Snicker Doodle Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/3 of Sugar
  • 2Eggs
  • 1/2 TablespoonVanilla Extract
  • 2  3/4Cups of AP Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 3/4Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • Mixture of 1/4 Cup of Sugar and 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Mix in eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Pour into cake pan, top with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

White Chocolate Blondie Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups of AP Flour
  • 8 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter.
  3. Add in salt, eggs, baking powder, and vanilla
  4. Add eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Mix in white chocolate.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pan, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Of Water
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 9 Egg Whites
  • 6 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat water and 1 and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat, do not stir.
  2. Once the mixture is boiling, stir to dissolve sugar. Do not stir again after this.
  3. Bring mixture to a light amber color, remove from heat, add in cream then salt. Be sure to whisk until fully combined. Set aside.
  4. In a double boiler, heat egg whites and remaining sugar. Whisking until sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
  5. Pour whites into stand mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Add butter, a little at a time, whisking on high until fully incorporated.
  7. Next add in the vanilla, then slowly pour in caramel. Mix until shiny and smooth, for a minute it may look broken.

Assemble the cake, layering the cookie cake layers with buttercream then topping the final layer with buttercream in any decorative manner you like.

Review: Café M

Review: Café M

IT’S BEEN SAID that Savannah is the new Brooklyn. But in my opinion, our quaint city is closer to that of a small European town than a suburb of a thriving mega-metropolis.

Bringing our lush city even more old world flair from America’s posh allies to the east is Cafe M on Bay Street, a restaurant that tricks the mind into believing you have been transported to a tiny bakery on a corner in Paris.

The brainchild of the lovely couple Amanda and Arthur de Bruc de Montplaisir (hence the “M” in Cafe M), Cafe M is a bona fide French bakery that is welcoming and authentic. On their honeymoon traveling from Chicago to Florida, the couple fell in love with Savannah and decided to bring a piece of their childhood to our growing town.

Upon glancing at the menu you will be faced with one immediate dilemma: mimosas or tea? The answer truly depends on the type of “funday” you intend to have, and no matter the decision, I can assure you your palate will fall in love.

The menu offers a plentiful range of teas with a choice between hot or cold. The cold teas are freshly brewed and served with a pitcher of ice, allowing you to chill it then pour your own glass.

The Blood Orange Black Tea has an elegant flavor, first striking the nose with a warm floral aroma, then dancing onto the tongue with a sweet earthy taste. Amanda selected Tea Forte as the brand featured by Cafe M because her brother, who lived in Paris, “would always bring her that tea….and the tea is normally sold in spas or hotels instead of restaurants”.

If you are a true Savannahian, I am going to guess you chose a mimosa. And if you are a true Southerner, you chose the Savannah Peach Mimosa.

A profoundly distinct mimosa, this fusion has all of the classic mimosa ingredients, orange juice and champagne, yet incorporates a Georgia peach summer wine as a boozy substitute for the peach purée that you’d normally find in a Bellini.

The savor of the wine is sour from the white grapes with a hint of sweetness from the peaches without losing its extremely comforting effervescence. One would expect the inclusion of peach to overpower the flavor of oranges and champagne, but each taste is well-defined.

As for food, you would disappoint both me and Amanda’s mother (because it is her recipe) if you did not give the quiche a try. Prior to last week I would have never imagined you could use decadent and quiche in the same sentence; but in describing the flavor of Cafe M’s quiche I could think of no other word.

I sampled the bacon, onion, and cheese quiche, or, as it is traditionally called, the Quiche Lorraine. The eggs are not over-cooked and provide the dish the texture of a custard.

First your mouth is coated with the flavor of silky eggs just before they completely melt away, leaving the salty taste of crispy pork. You’ll find fruit and a lightly dressed salad on the side dressed with house-made balsamic, citrus, and basil dressing, which is the perfect addition to cut through such a bold quiche.

Several people have attempted to bribe Amanda in sharing her mother’s recipe, but when you have the key to something so luscious, you keep a close eye on it.

If sandwiches are more your thing, The Normandy is one of the more popular sandwiches on the menu. Layered between two slices of fresh baked French bread comes organic greens, oozy Brie, delicate ham, toasty walnuts, and sugary pears.

The surprising addition that makes this sandwich extraordinary is a slathering of salted butter over each nook and cranny of both baguette slices. Every bite brings a new experience as your tongue unravels each layer of flavor, salty, sweet, buttery, and everything in between.

Every sandwich comes with a heap of vegetable chips that are organic and gluten free. Crunchy, nutty, and toasty is the best way to describe the unique chickpea chips. According to Arthur, they “can make any sandwich vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free.”

If by some chance you still have room (I know by this point I had cleaned both plates), ending the meal with something sweet and a cup coffee is good choice.

The croissants are baked in-house and can be ordered with a sweet or savory filling. Bananas, honey, and jelly are just some of the choices, but when I saw “bananas and Nutella” as an option, I knew my fate was sealed.

This croissant is exactly what you’d expect from a legitimate French bakery. As your teeth break through the hundreds of layers of pastry, you can hear the crunch as each one give way under the pressure of your bite.

Next, a flavor we all know and love, Nutella, rushes in to paint your tongue, but the true creaminess comes from the little slices of banana tucked throughout the filling.

Their coffee is a special blend of Perc Coffee that was created just for Cafe M to “recreate the profile of coffee that can be found in France,” Amanda

Upon drinking a cup you will discover that there is not a single ounce of bitterness, and just a faint touch of nuttiness. This coffee will pair well with anything on the menu, whether you order the breakfast drink iced or hot.

As for the future, Amanda told me, the store is “expanding…and we are even looking for another barista”. They will also be serving an Afternoon High Tea, featuring a gourmet brand of coffee and tea, Cafe Gourmand and a range of sweet and savory bites.

Between the welcoming vibes and the authentic taste of the dishes, Cafe M is as close as you can get to Parisian tradition outside of one of the famous arrondissements of the Mother City herself.

Original Connect Article can be found here

Cheesecake Topped with Candied Blood Oranges and Dark Chocolate

Cheesecake Topped with Candied Blood Oranges and Dark Chocolate

Hi. My name is Lindy, and I am a blood orange addict. As anyone with an addictive personality can tell you, when you want something, you find a way to have it, but it was not until I began baking that I became infatuated with blood oranges. As anyone else who is fascinated with a flavor, I am always trying to come up with new ways to use them in the kitchen.

As many bakers know, blood oranges are suitable for baking due to their extra tart flavor. Due to this, however, if you’re using them in a baked sweet, you really need to find a way to cut through that tartness. Obviously I love to bake, and I know that most of my recipes have been baked goods, but I’ve included this recipe because it shows a different technique to deal with blood oranges in a sweet dish and still get that beautiful tart flavor.

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Candied Blood Orange

Ingredients:

  • 2 Blood Oranges
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2 Cups of Water

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice blood oranges with a mandoline or sharp knife, leaving on the rind.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with water and blood orange slices. Heat on medium until boiling. Let the slices boil for two to three minutes. Drain the liquid.
  3. In the same saucepan add in the two cups of sugar and two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the slices to simmer in the syrup mixture for at least 45 minutes, or until the white part of the rind is translucent.
  4. Once cooked remove slices and let cool on a cookie rack.

Cheesecake Batter

Ingredients:

  • 1 Sleeve of Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter, melted
  • 32 Ounces of Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/3 Cups of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup of Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of All Purpose Flour

Directions:

For the crust:

  1. With a food processor, crush graham crackers until they are a fine consistency. Grease and line a tin spring form cheesecake pan.
  2. Fill the bottom with your graham cracker crumbs, then pour over melted butter. Mix the butter and crumbs, with you hands, fully incorporated.
  3. Push down, making sure then entire bottom of the pan is evenly covered.

For the Cheesecake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats, combine your cream cheese and sugar into a stand mixer. Mix on medium until the sugar is fully incorporated into the cream cheese.
  2. Add in your vanilla, salt, baking…..
  3. Add in your eggs, one at a time, being sure each egg is combined fully.
  4. Mix in your flour.
  5. Once smooth, pour mixture over crumb crust.
  6. Fill a large baking sheet with water, then gently place the cheesecake on the sheet. Very gently place the baking sheet into the oven.
  7. Let cook for at least one hour, or until the jiggle in the middle is slight.
  8. Once cooked, turn off the oven, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven leaving the oven door open, as this will prevent cracking on the top.

For the Cheesecake Topping:

  • 1 Bar of Dark Chocolate (the kind for baking, not eating)

Directions:

*It is your choice on how you want to use the chocolate. You can dip your candied oranges in the chocolate to coat,  you can drizzle the chocolate over the oranges once they are on top of the cheesecake, or create a drip cake effect. The options are endless.

  1. Create a double boiler by heating water over medium in a small saucepan on your stove, then topping the saucepan with a metal bowl. Do not let the bowl touch the water.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add your broken up chocolate into the metal bowl
  3. Stir constantly until about halfway melted. Then remove the bowl from the water.
  4. Keep stirring until all of the chocolate has melted, and fully combined.
  5. Use the chocolate to decorate how you would like. Dipping the oranges…etc.
  6. Top the cheesecake how you would like, see pictures for reference.

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Review: Lili’s Restaurant and Bar

Review: Lili’s Restaurant and Bar

It’s not very often that French, South Asian, and Southern, all of which have very different base flavor profiles, are melded together, and it’s even more rare that it’s done so harmoniously.

However, Chef Mir Ali, the brains behind Lili’s Restaurant and Bar on Wilmington Island, believed that such a combination was possible. Lili’s was brought to Johnny Mercer Boulevard on Wilmington Island in 2014, and, since its inception, Chef Mir has not taken his foot off of the pedal of flavor-forward dining.

According to Chef Mir, the true hero in this story is his wife, Azi, who three years ago “gave me the courage to take the next step.” The restaurant is named after their daughter Lili, who lives in France.

But what makes Lili’s special besides such inspiration? Savannahians are famously difficult to persuade to try new food; it may or may not be the Southern in them. To be fair, it’s hard to beat really good fried chicken with all the fixin’s.

However, Lili’s menu offers something for everyone; those less adventurous can come in for a salad or fried shrimp and leave having experienced something new like tandoori spices or naan bread.

Though some spices and dishes may seem a bit exotic for the meat-and-three eater, Chef’s layers of comfort and warmth through piquancies are familiar to every Southerner’s palate.

Chef Mir shared a good many of his adventurous dishes, and not a single dish disappointed. Let’s start with the salad.

The appearance of the Citrus Berry Salad is awe inspiring. It arrives at your table sprinkled with a rainbow of seasonal berries, edamame, oranges, and feta. In stark contrast, a house-made, deep, dark, and thick reduced balsamic vinegar dressing adornes the side of the plate, adding sweetness as a beautiful foil to the feta.

The salad has everything you could want: plump tangy berries, salty, smooth feta, umami-filled edamame, and a coating of powerful balsamic dressing that finishes with a bit of sweetness to tame it all. Each element works together, but each stands on its own as a delectable accoutrement.

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The Crab Cakes are an absolute must and a perfect interlude to marry traditional Southern food with flavors that are a bit more adventurous.  It is at this point that I must confess: I do not like crab cakes, and, in the few short years I have spent on this earth, I have yet to find one that I love. That has changed, and West Indian curry is to thank.

The dish is served as a sandwich at lunch on a brioche bun, and it stands as a perfect appetizer for dinner, both served with a fresh and creamy lemon aioli. The two succulent mounds of flavor are seared on each side giving them a thin but crisp crust.

The addition of curry, red peppers, and onions highlight the buttery crab and shrimp without overpowering their delicate flavor. The center of each cake is not only filled with bits of exquisitely cooked meat but also creamy, contrasting the paste-like texture of some crab cakes.

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Chef Mir attributes the addition of eggs, which allows each cake to rise like a souffle, to what I would call the impeccable texture of his crab cakes.

Next were Chef Mir’s lamb chops. The Lamb Chop entree arrives at your table glistening with herbs and garlic, each one sitting atop a heap of wilted spinach. Upon the first bite, your tongue is coated in the luscious flavor of rendered fat, then the full flavor of tender lamb hits your palate.

Like the crab cakes, the chops are seared with love and given a beautiful crust. The lamb is cooked with precision allowing them to be delicate yet juicy in the center.

Chef’s techniques are shown in the impressive “Frenching” of the chops, allowing the diner to pick them up by the bone and eat them with their hands, which is how the dish is intended to be eaten. According to Katherine Alt, lead server, this dish is “Chef’s favorite.”

In addition to bold seasoning and technique, Chef Mir puts sustainability at the top of his list when creating a menu item. Take for example the Seafood Stew, which Katherine told me “showcases [Chef Mir’s] personality” while describing the dish.

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Short of the kitchen sink, this fare has everything you could want and more, since one or two types of seafood is apparently not enough for one dish. Shrimp, red crab claws, calamari, and salmon all make an appearance atop a bed of al dente basmati rice, which allows the stew to invade all the nooks and crannies of the rice.

Why red crab in lieu of Savannah’s traditional use of blue crab? Chef Mir explains he uses the Atlantic Red Crab Claws as they “are more sustainable than blue crab…because their claws grow back.”

Coconut milk and cream contribute a sweet and velvety counterpoint to the spicy curry powder and delicate saffron packed into the sauce.  Between the flaky salmon and deep flavored stew, this potion is sure to warm your belly.

Always striving for creativity, Lili’s hosts a unique seated dinner three to four times a year. Most recently the restaurant hosted a “Wild Night in January” with a menu that featured unique proteins with wine pairings.

Find the original Connect article here

Smoked Oyster Linguine Featuring a Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Smoked Oyster Linguine Featuring a Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Oysters in Savannah are as common as gnats in the summer. During the winter, most parties feature some sort of oyster roast, fried oysters, or another oyster dish. Personally, I love oysters almost any way you can cook them, and my love for oysters did not bloom until I moved to Savannah.

Most of the time, a party leaves behind a good many oysters that the hostess has nothing he/she can do with them. Well, that has all changed.

After our most recent party (that, of course, featured oysters), I found my self with a half of a bushel of oysters still alive. The challenge became how to utilize such a large amount of fresh oysters. Again, searching my pantry, I came up with a pasta that is reminiscent of a true carbonara, but a bit more refined.

Be warned, this pasta is extremely decadent and can go a long way. The addition of a sous vide egg yolk really sets it over the edge. I liked using two egg yolks per person.

My recommendation is to start the oysters first. With about 30 minutes left, begin the bacon, then the sous vide egg. Next shuck your oysters. Once finished with the oysters, start the water for the pasta.

Smoked Oysters

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a Bushel of Fresh Oysters

Directions:

First soak the flavored wood chips you intend on using for at least one hour prior to cooking. When ready, heat your big green egg or smoker to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at the correct temperature and holding, add in a few wood chips. Be careful to watch the temperature of your smoker after adding in the wood chips because when they catch fire, the open flame can raise the temperature quickly, given the low temperature of 175 degrees. Layer your raw oysters in single layer on the grate. Close the lid, and let smoke for 2 hours at 175. If before your two hours is up the smoke slows down, feel free to add more wood.

Once two hours have passed, remove your oysters. Clean the meat from each oyster, remove the adductor muscle, and store the meat in a sealable container.

Sous Vide Egg Yolk

Ingredients:

  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

Preheat your sous vide machine to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place your egg yolks in a sealable, heat proof container. Slowly pour over enough olive oil to fully submerge the egg yolks. Cover container, and gently place into the warm water. Sous-vide for at least one hour. The eggs yolks can sit in the sous vide for up to an additional hour before over cooking.

Smoked Oyster Linguine

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices of thick cut bacon
  • Smoked Oysters, see above
  • 1 Box of Linguine
  • 3 Cups of Fresh Spinach
  • 6 tablespoons of my Parmesan Parsley Butter (find it here)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 8 Sous Vided Egg Yolks
  • 2 Cups of Grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a two sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. Layer your bacon on each pan in a single layer. Bake for about one hour, until the bacon is the color you prefer. Drain on paper towels, then crumble.

While the bacon cooks, prep and cook your egg yolks.

Once you have the egg yolks going, start a large pot of salted and oiled water over medium heat.

Get your oysters cleaned and ready.

Once your pot of water is at a boil, throw in your pasta. It should take about 9 minutes to cook the pasta al dente.

Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Throw in your butter and let melt. Then add the spinach. Cook your spinach for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Once wilted, add it the zest of your lemon, plus the fresh juice. Stir in your parmesan, bacon, and oysters.

By this time your pasta should be ready, so drain the noodles and add to the sauce.

Serve the pasta immediately in individual bowls, topping each with 2 egg yolks and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan.

Blood Orange Upside-Down Pound Cake

Blood Orange Upside-Down Pound Cake

Tis the season for blood oranges! I popped by Whole Foods the other day to pick up a couple of things, and per usual I ended up loading my cart with a few (and by a few I mean a lot) items that were not on my list. Upon spotting the display of citrus with skin that looks stained with red juice, I could not help but grab they few that were left. Blood oranges are one of the more beautiful fruits, so once a year when I spot them it is impossible to resist.

Due to my distraction in the fruit, I did not think far enough into the future to grab any other special items needed for baking. This recipe would have to be one I made with items I already had in my pantry….eggs, sugar, butter, and milk. Sounds familiar right…so pound cake it is!

What better way to showcase the unique color of these gothic orbs than to make it the top of a cake.

Be warned, blood oranges are more adept for baking instead of juicing. Their juice is much more tart than the naval oranges we are used to.

This cake is made in a loaf pan, resulting in a much smaller portioned cake. The buttermilk poundcake is buttery and rich, and the blood oranges on top add quite a bit of tang.

Blood Orange Top

Ingredients:

  • Two blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Directions:

  1. Zest a blood orange and place the zest in a small mixing bowl. Peel the blood orange, then slice the meat into rounds. Place rounds in the same bowl as the zest and set aside.
  2. With the second orange, zest it into the bowl you are going to mix your cake batter in. After zested, juice the orange and place the juice in a small sauce pan.
  3. Add your sugar into the saucepan with the juice. Cook on medium until slightly reduced.
  4. Pour reduced juice mixture over orange rounds and set aside.

Blood Orange Upside-down Buttermilk Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one blood orange (from above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a bread loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Add your butter and sugar into the bowl with your zest (from above). Cream together until smooth.
  3. Add your eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  4. Mix in flour and butter, alternating each until fully combined. Set aside.
  5. Arrange your oranges slices in a single layer on the bottom of your greased pan, then pour the reduced juice over the slices.
  6. Slowly pour your batter into the pan, as to not splatter the reduction.
  7. Bake on middle rack for one hour. Let cool fully before inverting cake from the pan.

Review: Pie Society

Review: Pie Society

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‘TRADITIONAL’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the food industry. I must say, if I was forced to pick a single term to describe the menu, ambiance, and attitude of Pie Society, I would be remiss to not describe it using that pesky term.

I ain’t talking about saying the blessing while holding hands before a meal, I am talking the type of tradition that makes the food of our ancestors so delicious.

Founded in 2013, Pie Society opened its first location in Pooler, and only a year later opened a second location in the historic district of Sa

vannah. This restaurant and bakery is steeped in tradition and is owned by a family, the Wagstaffs, born and raised in England; they relocated to Georgia to bring Savannah its only authentic British bakery.

Co-owner Gillian Wagstaff, mother to the other co-owners, brought a refrigerator from her home in England and placed it in the store — you cannot miss it behind the counter with a giant flag on the front.

The walls of the Pooler location are adorned with photos as time-honored as the recipes  cooked daily within the confines of the business. Most notable is a blown up picture of the Wagstaff’s family’s shoe shop, in Birmingham, England. Pictured in black and white, you can see their great grandfather, Thomas Sylvester Wagstaff, second to the right. Co-owner Melissa Wagstaff proudly poses in front of the picture.

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The Pooler location “is much bigger…and we sell more things such as British groceries and frozen items like English bacon and sausages” says Melissa, setting itself apart from the sister location in City Market.

Those are not the only things that make the Pooler location unique, they now offer traditional (in the truest sense) British Fish and Chips. Even if you don’t live near Pooler, these fish and chips are worth the short drive to experience the most authentic British Fish and Chips around.

The dish is so authentic, any Englishman would be proud to dub Pie Society a Chip Shop or Chippy, a title given to most fish and chips shops across the pond.

Each plate is cooked to order to ensure optimal flavor and that it arrives at your table piping hot, which only takes about five minutes. With the full portion of fish you get an eight to ten ounce deep fried filet of Alaskan cod that is balanced atop on a mound of thick hand cut “chips,” or fries as we defectors call them here in the States.

According to co-owner Emma Wagstaff, “the fish is fried in beef tallow (fat) in accordance with the traditional British method” to make these fish and chips as proper as the Queen herself.

The tallow is what lends the fish its unique flavor. The cod is meaty yet moist with oversized flakes, and coated in thin crisp batter that makes an audible noise when you tear off a chunk.

The fries that sit beneath are golden brown with a crunchy outer layer, and a pillowy, salty potato inside. At lunch the restaurant offers a half portion of fish that still comes with chips, a sauce of your choice, and a drink.

If you are of the belief that fish and chips must include a cold frothy beverage to wash it down, Pooler’s Pie Society offers several options in beer in wine, including Stella Artois and Newcastle.

As for sauces, the choices of pairings for your fish and chips are limitless considering each accompaniment is as good as the last. The extra creamy tartar sauce, a classic southern pairing for fish, is robustly chunky with bright parsley, sharp shallots, and briney capers.

The second option is preferred by most Brits: fresh mushy peas that are made from lightly blanched garden peas and finished with a touch of mint. It’s sort of a British version of refried beans.

Gravy, a third sauce pairing, is served warm with tiny chunks of steak floating about. This gravy is made using all of the leftover pie gravy from each morning’s bakes, and is hearty like a steak sauce but with a deep flavor of beef.

Lastly, yellow curry is available as an option to dunk your fish and chips in. Again, made from scratch in-house (like most everything on the menu), the curry is studded with caramelized onions and has the ideal amount of spice.

Emma Wagstaff recommends mixing the curry and gravy, her favorite way to eat fish and chips.

To finish your meal, a pastry and some tea is a must considering the head baker and co-owner, Ed Wagstaff, along with his team, begins baking every morning at one am to ensure both stores have the freshest baked goods available.

 The millionaire shortbread, an upscale take on a Twix candy bar, comes layered with chocolate and caramel resting smoothly a top a base of shortbread.A true bake of love, the caramel is just thick enough to ensure it does not overpower the slightly bitter chocolate. Each bite finishes with the sandy texture of a textbook shortbread that dissolves in the blink of an eye leaving behind the sapor of butter.

To wash it all down, the Wagstaff’s recommend the PG Tips tea, a tea that can be found in every English home. The drink is reminiscent in flavor of an Earl Grey, but coats your palate in a subtle floral flavor.

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I ask Emma her recommendation on how to dress up the tea:

“Absolutely with milk…sugar if you like, but you must first let the tea sit and brew,” she says.

As for the optimal amount of milk is almost a science,but the right amount results in a subtle caramel color.

As the recent winner of Best Savory Taste at Savannah’s Food and Wine Festival, Pie Society will have much more to come in the future considering they beat the competition with a Thanksgiving meal featured in a pie.

Melissa says her family would “like to open another place in Savannah that’s more accessible to locals.”

Find the original version in print with Connect Savannah, or online here.