Pumpkin & Bean Soup

Pumpkin & Bean Soup

Thanksgiving is over, fall is coming to a swift end, and I am so tired of only seeing sweet pumpkin recipes. So many holiday flavors are only used in sweet applications. I too am guilty of making more sweets than savory items.

I decided to challenge myself…and I also had some leftover gourds from my thanksgiving decorations. Why not try to take a commonly used sweet ingredient and make it savory. Who needs another pumpkin pie variation. Making a different recipe requires holding back on the addition of sugar and jamming in savory ingredients. The result is a super hearty and warming pumpkin soup with beans and chicken sausage.

My recipe is extremely simple and extremely flavorful. Perfect for the few chili nights we get here in Savannah. It is also a bendable recipe. You can use any type of bean you prefer. You can use canned or make your own. I used chicken sausage as the protein, but feel free to add in ham, bacon, or anything else.

Also, I added topped the finished soup with some toasted pumpkin seeds for good measure.

 

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New York’s the Fat Radish comes to Savannah

New York’s the Fat Radish comes to Savannah

VEGETABLE forward with meat options—surely a first for Savannah, to say the least. Not only a first, but a first in all of the right ways.

Natalie Freihon and Phil Winser are part of the team that runs a very successful restaurant in New York City, The Fat Radish. The idea is simple: seasonal locally sourced ingredients presented in a simple yet masterful way.

The next step for the Fat Radish came naturally by expanding to serve as the managing partners at Basic Kitchen in Charleston, S.C. There, Executive Chef Nick Wilber joined the team and they branched yet again to our changing town to bring even more innovation.

Savannah’s The Fat Radish opened last week and brought with it a noteworthy buzz and beautiful food.

I sat down with Freihon while the restaurant was still a construction zone to learn about the team’s vision and their story.

Freihon, a Los Angeles native and New York local, informed me, “New York is a very tough market as everyone knows. However, what I found is that by moving down south and starting to work in Charleston, that there is a real opportunity to be on the ground when it comes to developing the hospitality community.”

Since the team looked towards Charleston and began operating a second restaurant there, I asked Freihon why they branched towards Savannah, a sister city that is further south and less developed.

“I really like the dichotomy between Charleston and Savannah,” she says. “I reference it a lot to people that are in New York that Savannah is kinda the lower east side to Charleston’s upper east side of New York, and our restaurant in New York is on the lower east side. This kind of community, with a lot of young people, that is a bit more diverse, I find inspiring.”

To say the least, the food at The Fat Radish is inspired. Inspired by the South, the British roots of Winser, the farmers who provide the produce, the community of Savannah, and by the people and chefs who run the restaurant.

We have seen it time and time again here—Southern food served as a revamped version of the old, tired Southern fare. The difference in The Fat Radish is that while presenting food that nods to the South, the restaurant pays respect to the ingredients and where those ingredients came from. This isn’t your grandma’s Sunday supper.

“We don’t like to be overly fussy with our food,” Freihon elaborates, “We try to keep less than five ingredients on the plate. If you are getting great ingredients, you really don’t need to fuss over them.”

And although the primary focus of The Fat Radish is to bring sustainable farm fresh food to the locals and tourists of downtown, just as much mindfulness is put into their meat options.

I want to talk about the most memorable vegetable dish (at least as it was super memorable for me). The reason is simple: I can’t think of a time that I have eaten a carrot and thought that I really loved it; I probably withstood it at best.

The true test of good food is whether or not you want to eat it again and again, and these carrots I could eat for eternity.

The sweet root vegetable is cooked to absolute tenderness. Pungent goat cheese goes hand in hand with sugary vegetable, and benne seeds are added for crunch.

As a local, I have eaten more fried oysters than anyone should within their lifetime. You can find them almost anywhere in town, the good, the bad, and the greasy.

A simple dish in theory, but when done right, fried oysters can be one of the most sumptuous parts of any meal. Yet, all too often the delicate meat is over battered and over fried.

The Fat Radish’s oysters are so delicate they almost disappear as you eat them. Other than with a deft hand and expert precision, I’m not sure how The Fat Radish pulls off a fried oyster that melts like butter once you place it on your tongue. You will find a light cucumber salad and crème fraiche paired with the mollusks.

The Scotch Egg puts every legitimate Irish pub in town to shame. It is a staple dish that has been on the menu since the beginning, which means you can find it on the menu in New York.

Generously wrapped in sausage, the center features a sumptuous soft boiled egg. The sausage is coated in breadcrumbs before receiving a hard cook.

The cornichon, a small tart French pickle, is something I would never think to add to a scotch egg, but I will now never eat a scotch egg without one. The tiny little sour vegetable cuts through any heaviness that you would find from an egg covered in sausage.

I saved the absolute best dish to talk about last. The Pastrami Brined Chicken Schnitzel. It puts our Southern fried chicken to shame.

By first brining the chicken, the end result is a tender and moist white meat that could make you pass on even the best cooked steak. The schnitzel batter is light yet crisp, while the pickled vegetables served with the bird is the perfect counterpart to the bone sticking meat.

I did not forget to ask (and sample) the cocktails—one of the more important menu items for locals. Freihon, the creator behind it, tells me, “We are doing a cocktail program that is very similar to New York. It represents the same ethos that our food menu represents in that we try to make them simple, delicious, and fun, use local ingredients that we source locally and we try to make it low waste.”

The team wants to bring change to Savannah, and in their few short weeks of operation have already implemented more than this town has seen in a long time.
I look forward to seeing what The Fat Radish brings to our community and how it will also inspire others within the neighborhood.

Original article is here.

Georgia Brunswick Stew

Georgia Brunswick Stew

Today marks the day that I institute some changes for my blog. Lately I have been very inspired to learn more about the history of Southern cuisine, which forms the basis of my food history and influence.

I cannot list one specific reason as to the inspiration, but a slew of events accumulated over the last few months that pushed me here. Getting an invite to the private screen of Netflix’s Chef’s Table episode on our local chef, Mashama Bailey, was the starting point.

Next came the discovery of the Southern Foodways Alliance (here is there website) which documents the history of southern cuisine. I quickly became a proud member.

Not long after I visited with my dad and my Uncle Dusty (who is Cajun) and naturally fell into conversations about food of each of their regions. It seems as though I always fall back on or lean towards making food that has roots in the south.

Finally, I have realized that as a food writer in Savannah, I should educated myself more on the food I am writing about as to bring my readers some knowledge of their region.

To implement this change, I am going to start with a dish that I ate all the time growing up. When you live in certain parts of Georgia, semi-rural, there are only so many restaurants available. Most are chain restaurants like Long Horns or McDonalds, so the legitimate food selection is scant at best.

Birthdays and certain holidays resulted in eating out at the ‘fancier’ restaurants or the local mom and pop restaurants that the entire family loved. On our short list of go-tos was Wallace Barbeque, a shack of a BBQ restaurant that serves pulled pork by the pound with a bowl of vinegar-based barbeque sauce on the side. It is loved so much by my family that anytime my Uncle Dusty visits Georgia from his home in Louisiana, Wallace Barbeque is his first stop.

Like any good Georgia barbeque restaurant, Brunswick stew is readily available on the menu. As a result I have eaten gallons and gallons of Brunswick stew in my lifetime.

Brunswick stew is a hunter’s stew which combines any meat that is available, sometimes even squirrel, with any vegetables that are locally available. The result is a bone sticking stock that is chock-full of sustenance.

It is also important to note that Brunswick stew recipes change by the region. Georgia’s versions is traditionally sweeter due to the use of a barbeque sauce poured in the stock. Virginia’s version just uses a tomato base.

A good point of reference for the difference in each region’s Brunswick stew is the Southern Floodway Alliance’s Community Cookbook. It lists a recipe for North Carolina Brunswick Stew. I could not find one for Georgia. Instead of using a sweet barbeque sauce like in my recipe below, the recipe calls for the combination of ketchup, vinegar, and sugar.

Regardless of the region, the modern Brunswick stew features two meats, pork and chicken. Gone are the days where most southerners used what they caught or what was readily available on the farm to cook. The surplus of local supermarkets has made placed cheap meat in every home.

The recipe below is merely a starting point. I based my recipe on the countless bowls of Brunswick stew I ate growing up. You can switch out the vegetables, lookup versions from other regions or just throw in anything that suits the moment.

A big pot of hearty brunswick stew and slices of bread

If you do not feel like making stew at home, here is my recommendation on a good local bbq spot.

Apricot Roasted Chicken

Apricot Roasted Chicken

There are often extremely difficult moments in life—days during which you feel as though you will not be okay. In the end, time will heal almost everything, but waiting seems impossible.

In those moments, food plays an important role for many. Personally, I gravitate towards homecooked meals that warm and ease my soul.

Two weeks ago I made the difficult decision to let go of my dog and best friend of 13 years. Although I know it was the correct decision to ease her suffering, it was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. My friends and family really stepped up to be there for my husband and I. The showering of food (and booze if I am being honest) kept my home full while my heart was empty.

I cannot think of a more soul warming meal than roasted meat and a couple of sides. A meat and two or three (or four) is a staple southern meal. Growing up, dinner most nights included meatloaf, country fried steak, pot roast, salmon patties, or pork chops.

So when you go through something difficult you often lean towards bits of nostalgia—the good moments. A full plate of love-filled food is a plate full of nostalgia for me. A lot of my childhood consisted of sitting in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked me dishes from the heart.

Although she never roasted chicken like this, I think this recipe is easily one that you can add to your repertoire of food to cook and share with others. The preparation calls for an arrangement of vegetables at the bottom of your roast pan and a slathering of sweet sticky apricot preserves. The result is a juicy home roasted chicken with a slight Asian flare.

I am going to leave this recipe here because it is my hope that you share a homecooked, heart-filling meal with friends or family. Even if you are not going through your own battle, and just want a good meal, this dish will serve you well. Now get in the kitchen and make memories.

Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Asian cuisine may be the holy grail of all food. I am of the opinion that most Epicureans adore Asian fare because it is so balanced. Every dish is filled with salty, sweet, tangy, crunchy,  savory, and umami goodness.

Most people get their Asian fix through cheap takeout or delivery food, so many people are really missing out on the full pleasure of good Asian cuisine. Part of the problem is many towns do not have legitimate quality sit-down Asian restaurants, aside from the oh-so-common Japanese Steakhouse (which is delicious for its own reasons). As a lucky Savannahian, I am part of a sea port that has a variety of quality Asian restaurants to choose from.

An easy and great way to try higher quality Asian food is to make it at home. I assure you, replicating takeout food is not as difficult as it may seem. If you are a good Southerner that knows how to fry chicken, than you can conquer this dish. A few extra ingredients from the store (most of which you can find anywhere) and you are ready to cook.

For this recipe I used Hawaiian bread sandwich rolls, which adds just a touch of sweetness to this spicy sandwich. The pickles on top are the much needed addition to cut through the richness of the powerful chicken. Making things even easier, you can pair any side dish with this sandwich; sweet potato fries, chips, corn, slaw, etc. (It’s even okay to buy them pre-made if you want to cut a few corners.)

Korean Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Thighs, deboned
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 3/4 Cup of Water, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon of Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of Gochujang
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying, about 2 Quarts

Directions:

  1. The night before or morning before you plan on cooking, combine one cup of water, rice wine vinegar, and salt in a sealable Tupperware container. Place chicken in the brine, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. When ready to cook, remove chicken from Tupperware and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. Combine your sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a small sauce pan, heat over medium until the ginger and garlic are fragrant. 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of water, sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce until smooth. Set Aside.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. While your oil is heating, combine flour, con starch, and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl.
  7. Set wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside.
  8. Dip your thighs into your flour mixture, allowing excess batter to drip into bowl before adding to your hot oil. Once all the chicken is in the oil, increase your heat to high to cook.
  9. Once coating is starting to lightly golden on each side, about 10 minutes, remove from heat and transfer to your prepared rack.
  10.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, turn the heat down on your oil to medium.
  11.  After 5 minutes, turn the oil back up to high and continue to cook the chicken until golden brown on each side. About another 10 minutes.
  12.  Once crisp remove from oil and return to wired rack to let stand for 2 minutes before tossing chicken in your sauce.

Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • 2 Shallots, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Cup of Julienned Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup of Sliced Cauliflower
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Directions:

  1. In a heat proof bowl, combine carrots, shallots, garlic, and cauliflower. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat to a low boil.
  3. Pour heated vinegar mixture over vegetables. Set aside until ready to use.

Asian Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil
  • Directions
  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully combined. Set in fridge until ready to use.

KFC Sandwich

Directions:

  1. Using bread of choice, place your chicken onto each bun.
  2. Coat the top bun with a healthy helping of Sesame Mayonnaise
  3. Top chicken with pickled vegetables.
  4. Eat!