Persimmon Kale Salad

Persimmon Kale Salad

Just like the rest of the world, I am cutting back on calories. As much as I love food, the holidays test my tolerance of eating and drinking excessively. Frankly, I am tired of overeating.

Cooking healthy does not have to be tasteless and boring. After cooking for so many years I have discovered that cooking fresh and seasonal is the easiest way to eat healthy and flavorful. Produce at its peak makes the job of conscious eating actually desirable.

The even better news is that this recipe is beyond simple. The trick to making a delicious salad at home is making your own dressing. I always make my dressing in my small food processor, and this recipe is no different.

I take fresh seasonal persimmons, puree them, then throw in the rest of my dressing ingredients. A quick chop of walnuts, kale, and pear results in a super easy and super healthy dinner.

You can add protein or cheese for an even more delicious variation. To really cut down on the bitterness of the kale, I let the kale sit in the dressing for at least thirty minutes before serving.

Here is another delicious salad recipe

Butternut, Collard, & Pear Pizza

Butternut, Collard, & Pear Pizza

As a long time home cook it is often extremely difficult to come up with new recipes, especially quick and easy weekday meals. If you are anything like me you find yourself cooking the same chicken dish over and over. Inspiration can be hard to find.

A few weeks ago I took a gamble. I ordered a box of fresh vegetables and fruit from Misfits. The idea is way different than those meal delivery kits. For a few bucks you get an assortment of fresh produce. Each week the box is a surprise. The best part, it has actually inspired me to come up with the recipes.

This recipe is a result of a Misfit Box. One week I received a whole bunch of mismatched fall vegetables and could not think of what to do with them. So, I roasted them and threw them on a pizza. Ta-da, a unique and new recipe.

Like most savory recipes, this one is up for interpretation. You can exchange out the vegetables for whatever is in your fridge or for whatever is seasonal. It would even be cool to go to your local farmers market and use what you find there.

I threw on the pear for a pop of sweet crunch. The onion and collards add a deep umami flavor, and the base of goat cheese adds a real punch. The crust is thin as to not overcrowd the entire dish. Hope this inspires you.

Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana

Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana

For several months the foodies of Savannah have patiently waited to see Chef Kyle Jacovino’s next move. Some were even scared he might take pack up his chef knives and take his genuine food far away from Savannah. Those same foodies—including myself—were ecstatic to learn that Chef Jacovino opened the doors his very first restaurant, Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana, last week. Just look for the line around the shipping containers of Starland Yard, and you will find his new spot.

Instead of taking a deep dive into the nuances of Jacovino’s superiorly crafted and cooked pizza, I wanted to get his perspective on the culmination of his dreams coming to fruition. Because it goes without being said Chef Jacaveno puts out the best pizza in our Ghost City.

The true sign of an authentic pizza craftsman is when you look around a pizzeria and see that patrons have not left a single piece of the crust behind on their finished plate. When the base that holds the sauce and cheese taste just as good as sauce and cheese, you have a product created by a master.

The menu features a few favorites from Chef Jacavino’s days at The Florence, and is the only local pizza spot that is hand tossing dough made with dough created with handmade yeast starter. By the way, his pizza has sold out every night since opening last week.

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Q: Why did you want to open a Pizzeria?

“After The Florence, the idea was always to try and get the pizzeria open. It took a lot longer than expected. Originally I was going to try to do it in the Starland Dairy and that fell way behind, timeline wise. I didn’t see any real opportunities coming my way,so that is when I started shopping around in San Francisco, the Atlantic, and eventually back to Philly. That is when Pila [Sunderland] caught wind of that, and he approached me about Starland Yard. At first I was like nah, I don’t do food trucks I do brick and mortar, and they told me we will build you brick and mortar out of shipping containers.”

Q: After your menu at 1540, why open a pizza spot?

“Everything about The Florence was my dream restaurant. From handmade pastas and pizzas—those were always my two favorite things. You can find interviews with me way back in Atlanta. There is an interview with me that I did when I was twenty-three and the question was, what do you want to open? And it was only about a pizzeria and pasta. When Florence was going good the first year, I was like let’s follow up with a dope pizzaria. We were selling so much pizza at the Florence it was insane.”

Q: What is the mission?

“To make great pizza, and make everybody happy, and myself happy. I think the mission is to be excited about food again. To be really excited about the neighborhood I am in. Like I said, I always wanted to be back in Starland, and I think the mission is to let people know that I finally have a real neighborhood spot that they can come to and hangout. It is one of those spaces where I want to be able to cook pizzas and also be able to go out and talk to customers.”

Q: How did you pick your oven?

“That was a no brainer. The one at The Florence was a Neapolitan builder, from Naples as well. The original oven that I wanted at The Florence is the one I have now, but back in the day, about six or seven years ago, the guy that I have now, he did not have the right licensing to sell in America.”

Q: How did you create the menu?

“It was pretty simple. It was a lot of stuff I made at The Florence and spruced up. A lot of the stuff that has been close to my heart for a long time. It is everything I love about food.”

Q: What sets your dough apart?

“We are the first ones, for sure, in Savannah. We do all natural fermentation so there is no commercial yeast in our dough. It sounds kinda nerdy, but I compare it to why kombucha is kombucha and why everyone loves kombucha; because of the probiotic in the fermented tea. If you take that same idea and put into what we do with our yeast. That is how we make our yeast. It is pre-fermented flour.”

Q: Are you using a certain ratio of flours to create your starter?

“Yea, spelt and 00 flour”

Q: Where are you sourcing your ingredients?

“We are doing flour from King Arthur as well as Anton Mills in South Carolina. We are also trying to seek out another awesome mill outside of Utah but we do not have that yet.”

Q: Can patrons expect any events?

“I would like to do some sort of family meal like I did at 1540. I think the inside would be awesome for that since it is only fifteen seats. To be able to do a one seating at fifteen people. I can still do some of my pastas. I will be able to do homemade manicottis and all that kind of stuff, and bake it in the oven and serve it family style. I would really like to do something like that, but that is going to take a little but of time.”

“I would love to do some beer diners down the road. We have probably the best neighbors in the world, Two Tides. Their beer is so good. I would love to do a beer dinner with them.”

Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Last week I gave you a simple recipe that used seasonal local ingredients. My Onion, Fig, & Feta tarts used cheese from a local goat farm and seasonal fresh figs. And although the tarts are extremely delectable on their own, I created them with the intent to include the pastries as part of a larger meal that is just as simple to prepare as the first portion.

Fig pastry recipe is here: Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

If you have thumbed around my blog, for even a second, you will notice that it is filled with hearty southern food and decadent baked goods. I am not a one trick pony, I do (quite often) make healthy(ish) food. I swear you can find a salad recipe some fifty posts ago.

Like my fig tarts, and this recipe uses fresh local ingredients; plus, you can whip it up in a dash. My homemade salad dressing, which sets any salad apart, is made with local Savannah honey and white balsamic for a punch.

I crisp of some salty prosciutto and sprinkle over pistachios. Served on the side, which add sweet and savory notes, are the fig tarts posted last week.

This one is a dinner party show stopper (along with well cooked protien) or a satisfying weeknight meal that is better than that frozen pizza we always go to.

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Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

I cannot say that this recipe is a traditional southern one, like most of my posts are. But maybe you will find it so delicious that it will be incorporated into your traditions or celebrations.

The idea behind this recipe is simple: using farm fresh, seasonal, sustainable, and local ingredients.  A tenant which can be said to be southern. Edna Lewis and so many other inspriational southern cooks just like here based their kitchens around this idea.

Truly, there is no better food that what is local to your area and what is in season.

It is finally fig season. It lasts a very short time, but if you are lucky enough (like I was) to source fresh figs you buy them all up. Unlike my husband, I was not lucky enough to grow up with a giant fig tree close by which produced an abundant amount of the unique fruit. My mom preferred her peach tree.

As for the feta, it is locally sourced from Bootleg Farm. Savannah’s beloved goat farm which produces fresh goat cheese. Read more about them Here.

A quick carmalization on some onions and I had a winning recipe. Buttery puff pastry sits at the base for these ultra savory and slightly sweet seasonal tarts.

You can eat these savory puff pastry tarts on their own or pair them with dinner. I will post later detailing what I did with these little beauties.

An overhead photo of the warm tarts

My Mama’s Meatloaf

My Mama’s Meatloaf

Every southerner has certain foods that are quintessential nostalgia. Growing up most southern mothers had a select few recipes that were rotated around their weekly dinners. My mom’s favorites were meatloaf, salmon patties, vegetable soup, roast in the crock pot–my favorite was her meatloaf.

Without hesitation she passed down the recipe. Recanting, a dash here and a pour there…without many measurements. I wrote down her recipe, which was scant on direction, and treasured it. She gave it to my at least five years ago, and it has taken just that long to get the recipe close to how she makes it. I still have yet to perfect that special something that comes only when a family member makes your food.

So yes this is my mother’s recipe but with a few liberties (or at least some tips I found useful along the way).

Meatloaf is a budget friendly meal. One pound of ground beef is relatively cheap at the grocery store and can be stretched by adding a few ingredients to make a hearty family supper. My mom always served hers with mashed potatoes and those little sweet green peas. I like to eat it leftover between two slices of toasted bread and a slathering of mayonnaise.

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Cajun Meat Bread

Cajun Meat Bread

Most southern food is bone sticking and hearty. A style that can be contributed to the economics of survival.

This recipe is not different. A full loaf of bread is stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables before being baked off. The result is a spicy gooey filled bread that acts as the perfect appetizer for any party.

This is a dish that I have eaten since I was a little girl, even considering it is difficult to find many versions of it in cookbooks or online.

Everyone in my family loves it. It originates from my Aunt’s mother, Mary Joyce, who is Cajun through and through. It is one of those items that is always present at family gatherings – especially large ones. A fact that is evident by the size of the portions used in the original recipe that was given to me:

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Personally, I do not cook for 80-100 people. I have a small family. So, the challenge with recreating this recipe was doing so in a way that would feed a smaller group. Lets say 10-12 people.

During my first test run of the condensed version of this recipe, I realized that the original recipe was missing some important instructions. A lack of instruction can easily be attributed to the fact that May Joyce has made this time and time again, so writing down all of the finite details was not something she needed to do. She has them all memorized.

To fill in the gaps, I did a little digging.  I found a recipe for creole meat bread by Emeril Lagasse, click here.

There is a large difference in creole and cajun food. Creole food is the result of many nationalities who settled in New Orleans. In many creole recipes you will find inspiration from West African, Spanish, Haitian, French, and many other cultures.

Cajun food comes from the Acadian people and has a French influence. You will find Cajun food primarily outside of the city…where my family lives.

Comparing the two, although one cajun and one creole,  helped fill in some of the gaps.

I present my version of meat bread. Of course it will never be good as the original I ate growing up. It is not easy to include the love that is thrown into every family recipe that is made for you, instead of by you.

For another Louisiana inspired recipe, click 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.

Seasonal Citrus Salad

Seasonal Citrus Salad

Citrus was put on this earth to help get everyone through the cold winters in the south. You see us southerners, especially in the low country, thrive in thick sticky heat. The second the temperature drops below 70 degrees, madness ensues.

Around the same time the winter blues make us yearn for a day on the boat and some warm salt air, citrus comes into season. A little fresh vitamin C pick me up always helps make the long winter nights seem shorter. Every time I peel a juicy ripe orange I am immediately reminded of sipping a Mai Tai by the pool.

If you look in my pantry this time of year, you will always find a mound of sumo oranges. My husband loves to bring them home to me as a treat, unless I really need some chocolate.

This recipe came together by walking around my local market and picking out what was ripe and in season–citrus. And of course I included sumo oranges.

I love a recipe that is a simple-to-make showstopper. When you use really good in-season ingredients it does not take much work to make the finished dish taste good. All together this Seasonal Citrus Salad took around ten minutes to throw together, and the result was one I was proud to serve to my friends for dinner. This salad would also be a lovely addition to any brunch or breakfast.

Because this recipe is seasonal, you can use any citrus that is available near you. Please do not feel constrained to use what I have listed, go out and grab your favorite winter citrus.