FOOD WRITING

Indian Summer Palate

Cooler days call for warmer meals

We survived the brutal humidity, the pesky mosquitoes, and the peskier tourists. It's time to let the brisk morning breezes and big yellow busses lead us into the most anticipated season of the year. From local fairs to harvest feasts, from tailgate parties to after-school treats, the South's fall is dyed deep in the colorful flavors of caramel, pumpkin, maple, and plum. 

 

If we take a deep breath, we smell butter gently sizzling in the cast iron skillet. After months of holding in our poolside bellies, it's time to relax and enjoy a paper cup of vinegary fries and a basket of sausage and onions. 

 

So, grab your red wine or beer stein and settle into this colorful, cooler season of indulgence with a few blue-ribbon recipes of our own. 

At the Altar of the Green Goddess

Bring on spring with new takes on perennial favorites 

These are the days of all things new: bridal showers and honeymoons, delicate pea shoots and mounds of fresh mint, perfect pedicures, and pastel dresses, puppies, and bunnies and fuzzy yellow chicks. Gorgeous green vegetables are in peak season, too. Simply pick, rinse, and enjoy. 

There are invitations (read: excuses to indulge) for baby showers, weekend brunches and the grande dame of spring— Easter Sunday. If you're hosting, consider one of these fresh takes on classic spring dishes. And don't let the pale hue of our green goddess dressing play April Fool's—it's full of fragrance and when drizzled over this salad—it's a Sunday dinner showstopper. Our spin on potato salad may even upstage your entrée with its pretty herb confetti. 

Want a fast and fresh tease for your taste buds? Go for the grape salsa with chili-lime chicken or the otherworldly(!) broiled goat cheese with lemon curd and blackberries. Feeling adventurous? The vegetable carpaccio may be the most daring salad of the season. Imagine a standing ovation, however, when you present your coconut tres leches trifle. It's a delicious dénouement and nearly impossible to resist when it circles back around for second helpings. 

A Midsummer Night's Breakfast

...and other genius excuses to fry bacon after sundown  

You've probably heard the delicious rumor that breakfast isn't just for mornings anymore. It's a bona fire food trend for folks who need to be told what to eat (and when apparently). But, for all of us not-a-morning-person people, this trend is simply a joyful excuse to add more bacon to our lives. 

So, let's celebrate this newfound breakfast-in-bed-at-all-hours freedom. Pour yourself a big bowl of granola (or Captain Crunch) and cuddle up with these morning-to-midnight menu ideas. Our prime-time lineup includes spicy tortillas made with breakfast sausage, three-ingredient biscuits as big and fluffy as your cat's head, smoky pimiento cheese grits, and a smoked salmon toast so elegant, it tempts a cocktail. Breakfast-for-dinner desserts include a puffed up Dutch baby pancake (be sure to circle the guests when you unveil it from the oven) and a French toast casserole bursting with baked fresh blueberries.

Summer is here, friends. Grab a glass of rosé and an egg whisk and let's slay this breakfast dragon.

Pucker Up!

Mad Love for Citrus

Heart-crossed-hope-to-die, grapefruit curd may be the most underestimated elixir ever stirred up in a saucepan. It's lusciously tart, longingly sweet, slightly sour, and sinfully addictive. It's a love potion.

But, why stop there when true love has you by the tongue? Spice things up with a spanking hot lemony quinoa salad or lose your minds over the lemon-caper pasta with shrimp and scallops. Bake a batch of babycakes for Valentine's Day or Galentine's night, or a random Tuesday. 

If love is the drug, then any of these citrus-y dishes will make you dizzy with delight. In this season of mad love for all things citrus, you simply need to pucker up and enjoy.  

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Pie in the Sky

Six simple summer pie recipes

Perhaps this isn’t the summer we imagined. It’s surreal in so many ways—as if the world tilted upside-down and we’re staring into a deep blue pool above us and an endless sky below. We’re desperately seeking summer, but poolside parties, roller coaster rides, and lazy river days aren’t a given.

 

If we are fortunate enough to afford food for our families, we feel our privilege. When so many of our neighbors are struggling, we feel the weight of our former food indifference. We’re stretching our ingredients into multiple meals, wasting less, and appreciating time around the table. Our meals are more meaningful than ever. And if we can spare, we share.

 

In the spirit of sharing, we’ve created six simple savory and sweet pies. Make them as written or substitute ingredients with what you have on hand. The Vidalia Onion, the Bacon, Basil & Tomato, and the Blueberry Ice Box are particularly pie-in-the-sky delicious! And after all, spending time together and spooning into a slice of ice-cold Strawberry Margarita Pie may be just the thing to soothe our summer souls.

Resolutionary!

Brave new tastes for a spanking new world

Is any object as shiny as a brand-new year? No matter how wonderful (or not so) your 2017 was, the possibilities for 2018 are infinite like wishes whispered into a night of shooting stars. 

For most of us, "eat healthier" (read: lose weight) is resolution #1, on a yearly repeat. We are in a mad rush to reinvent our bodies and ourselves. 

Detoxes, cleanses and fasts, oh my! 

No matter your dieting tribe, these recipes are about shaking you out of your comfort zone and into a brand-new, healthy mindset. Slow=food wins the race. And before you know it, somewhere, over the rainbow of color piled high on your plate, is a brave new you.   

Easter Feast

Where Spring is Served Family Style

Spring in the Carolinas is a promenade of sunny days, seersucker suits, and stunning azaleas that hover above the grass like giant pink parasols in an Easter parade. Streets are canopied with trees whose blossoms spin in the wind like ticker-tape confetti. On Easter, churchgoers can be seen spilling onto the sidewalks in a kaleidoscope of pleated and pressed paisley and floral. It's as if Mother Nature herself is orchestrating the gala.

Indoors, the Easter pageantry is equally splendid. Vivaldi, Alabama Shakes and Adele rotate randomly on the playlist. Spring peas and asparagus are being sprayed cleaned in colanders. Rectangular casseroles, dozens of deviled eggs, and mounds of mint and parsley crowd the kitchen island. Table linens are smoothed and lined with hand-painted China, silver soup spoons, and salad forks. And cakes and confectionaries are unveiled as works of art.

 

The Carolinas come alive on Easter with a celebratory spirit and reverence for their diverse, yet essentially Southern traditions, beliefs, and blessings. Family styles may differ, but one standard stays true: We put on our best.

Now, have a seat before the food gets cold. It's time to eat. 

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From Salt Marsh to Table

Lowcountry Sermons and Wild-caught Cooking

When I time it right, my finest Sunday mornings are spent sitting on our dock in Saint Helena, sipping coffee and staring across a bay of bright green spartina grass as the orange sun spills over the oaks and into the marsh. The pop, pop, pop of bivalves beneath their pluff mud blankets is a tender wake-up call. Dock rails lined with white, feathery egrets shine like pews of splendid ladies. And if the tide is up, millions of silver-blue minnows shimmer and swirl, then pause to congregate – thrilled to be, if only for this moment. But best of all, the deep, hallowed smells of the salt marsh rise and hover around my shoulders like the warm, mysterious breath of life itself. 

 

If this is not church, then I do not understand what is. And like any church-going Sunday, there’s no better way to follow up a great sermon than with a great meal. 

 

The pace of life on this South Carolina Sea Island seems slower than the rest of the state, and that’s saying something. So it’s no surprise that the slow food trend has been trendy here for centuries. Not that there aren’t take-out pizza nights and trips to the drive-thru and the grocery store. But for the most part, when we’re on the island, we’re checking the tide charts; we’re checking the forecast; we’re readying the Whaler. When the timing is right, long days and nights are dedicated to casting for shrimp or fish, sometimes coming home with nothing but an empty cooler or sunburn. We’ve enjoyed endless sunsets while waiting for that perfect five-inch blue crab to discover the chicken necks tied to the end of our lonely, sunken strings. 

 

In the Lowcountry, folks still gig for flounder, and harvest oysters; they will sit for hours, heading buckets of shrimp. As a cook, I find this fantastic:  Real food is not taken for granted. 

 

I appreciate wild-caught, Atlantic seafood more since I’ve started spending time in the Lowcountry. When you’re standing around a fire, sweating in the humidity, swatting no-see-ums and cooking something caught that very day, pluff mud and sizzling seafood smell uniquely like paradise. 

 

This recipe collection is inspired by ingredients pulled from the sea and the salt marsh, with fresh vegetables plucked from roadside markets and our favored Lady’s Island Publix. The mango pico de gallo is my new favorite addition to shrimp tacos, but it also stands on its own as a sweet and hot salsa. And although these shrimp burgers may not rival the experience of trekking to the Shrimp Shack on Highway 21… well, let’s say homemade, grilled shrimp burgers on the back porch are a welcome trek for your taste buds. Enjoy with a cold beverage and a can of mosquito spray.

 

If you find yourself missing breakfast in downtown Beaufort at the Lowcountry Produce Market and Café or Blackstone’s, a slice of the Corn and Crab Quiche and Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf will surely make up for your loss. And if you’re longing for the smell of pluff mud, a slice of gooey, chocolate Pluff Mud Pie will in no way substitute. But then again, that’s probably a good thing.