Sunday Supper: Sort-of Southern Style

My mama is from central Georgia, where I have spent many summers over the course of my life. But I’ve spent a lot less time in the big city of Atlanta until the four trips to ATL (four!) I’ve taken in last 16 months. Last year, after hosting a conference in the Midtown area, I stumbled bleary-eyed, overworked and under-rested into Empire State South. I’d never heard of the place but after eating there I was smitten and have been back to eat almost every trip since. It seemed everyone else was also in gluttonous lust as I soon noticed mentions of the place everywhere in the food writing universe— Bon Appetit, Southern Living,, Garden & Gun, everywhere! — within months of my dining discovery.

For our next Sunday Supper I decided on a southern-ish meal inspired by successful Empire State South meals but with a twist: I used as many locally sourced Colorado ingredients as I could muster. Beyond the obvious reasons of supporting the local economy, the woman behind Colorado’s Eat Local First campaign was one of my dinner guests. It was easy to combine Southern flavors with Colorado-raised pork, Tender Belly bacon, locally farmed chard, and a dessert plate featuring Chocolove and delicious Jumping Good Goat cheeses, to enjoy the Sunday Supper menu below:

  • Pork Roast with Chipotle Bacon Marmalade
  • Vinegar-poached Swiss Chard
  • Empire State South’s Boiled Peanut Hummus + gluten-free rosemary focaccia
  • Cheese Plate: Goat’s milk cheddar + chocolate; snowcap (soft goat cheese) + pecan crackers

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Cold Comfort Curry

Y’all probably know by now that I like curry. In fact, I often default to curry when I feel like I need to be warmed or comforted by my food. Not that I don’t always want my food to be warming or comforting, but ya know, sometimes you just need that little something extra!

Wintertime=crazytime at my work, which means at this time of year I like meals that are as easy and satisfying as possible. Also, I think it can be hard to eat healthy (or maybe easier to eat like crap?) when it’s cold outside. This soup is a one-pot meal, with hearty and healthful sweet potato, butternut squash, and spinach. Easy, simple, healthy, tasty. You know the added benefit of all those antioxidants? Cold and flu fighting super powers!
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I Dream of Chicken Cakes

I have no idea when I may have first had chicken cakes. All I know is that, just like their crabby cousins, one bite was enough to sell me. For years my favorite brunch item was the Zippy Cake (image above) served by a local restaurant — a delicious meal made up of a crispy polenta and chicken cake, tangy tomato sauce, and a poached egg, topped with micro greens. It was the kind of meal I took a picture of every time I ate it, just to fondly remember it by. Sadly the Zippy Cake is no longer made and it lives on only in those photos and in my longing taste-buds.

When I came across a recipe for chicken corn cakes in Janice Cole’s cookbook+memoir, Chicken and Egg, I jotted down the recipe for a craving day. While her cakes aren’t the Zippy of my dreams, the recipe makes a great base to make a variety of chicken cakes. The recipe below is modified from Ms. Cole’s but stands alone as it’s very own patty of chicken goodness. So on this day, the last one of 2012, I think back in fond remembrance of all the Zippy Cakes of years past and look forward to all the new cakes to come. Cheers!
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Sunday Supper: Crunch Time

Putting together a meal is often about timing. Just ask anyone who has worked in a restaurant! Our next Sunday Supper suffered from ill-timing. The chicken was pulled from the freezer late and wasn’t thawed when the time came to assemble everything. The cookies came out first (which is fine because they had to cool) so we ate them first and had dinner in reverse order. Cookies, then tomato gratin and Brussels sprout salad, and finally, the chicken.

The meal was planned in terms of texture: The crunch of raw Brussels sprouts, of baked bread cubes, of panko, of cookies. So when our newlywed guests arrived and none of my non-existent tickets were firing correctly, it was truly crunch time. Still, this is how we cooks learn—we make mistakes! There was plenty of wine and plenty to eat in shifts until all parts of the meal were ready to eat. Good friends don’t care about the best laid plans. They only care that you are feeding them! This week’s menu:

  • Oatmeal Ginger Cookies
  • Tomato Gratin
  • Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • Panko-crusted Chicken

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Addicted To Hash (It’s Not What It Sounds Like!)

Hi. My name is Leah. And I’m addicted to hash. Nooooooo, not the kind you get in Amsterdam. The kind you eat. Wait, that came out wrong. We’re not baking brownies here folks, we’re making hash—a coarse mixture of ingredients. We’ve talked about this before. Give me a bunch of veggies and I will likely make hash. It’s easy, it’s tasty, it’s it’s it’s, well, it’s hash for the love of all things good and pure!

Hash is a dish best served warm and is a great way to use up leftovers or stray veggies left in the crisper drawer. This Pulled Pork Hash was served as a brunch dish, complete with poached egg on top, but you could serve it for lunch or dinner as well, complete with a poached egg on top.
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Sunday Supper: Vegetarian Delight

Recently I started a new tradition at our house: Sunday supper. Each week different guests are invited over for a meal. They bring the wine, I provide the food, and together, memories are made. [Insert remainder of Hallmark card here]. The first week I made tilapia tacos, but then I forgot to take pictures. Whoops. I mean, it’s not like I’m used to writing a food blog or anything, eh?

This week’s guests, Amelia and Matt, are vegetarians, which presented a nice challenge. I think sometimes when omnivores cook for vegetarians it can be hard to think past pasta. An added perk is that any or all of the items from our feast below would make great non-traditional additions to Christmas dinner. Bonus! This week’s menu:

  • Saffron risotto
  • Warm garlicked tomatoes
  • Thyme roasted carrots
  • Agave ginger baked pears

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Bye Bye American Election Pie

Election night is exciting for me like the way the SuperBowl is exciting for others. The BFF is really into politics (“junkie” doesn’t begin to come close to explaining his fervor) so watching election coverage is made all the more enthralling when a 34-year-old man is jumping up and down, skipping in and out of the room, and talking to the talking heads talking to us from the T.V.

So for election day eats we needed fast, easy, and hands off so attention could be focused to more important things like watching states turn from yellow to red or blue. Y’all know about my oddly erotic (not really) feelings about pie crusts so naturally, pie-crust pizza served all my needs last night. Quick, easy, delicious. This recipe is a win for America, obviously.

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Drunk on Baking (Which is Almost Like High on Life)

Say “hachiya” and folks might think you’ve got a head cold… The Hachiya persimmon has a funny name, it looks a little funny, and don’t you dare eat it unless it’s completely ripe or it’ll taste more than funny! How do you know when it’s ripe? Well, that’s funny too–a ripe Hachiya feels like a water balloon, all squishy rolling around in your hand. Persimmons, unlike money, grow on trees with ripe fruits that are sweet, soft, and a little chewy. They look a little like an orange tomato, a very seasonally appropriate shade of orange. And they make for great bread.

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz‘s adaptation of James Beard’s recipe, so it’s post-postmodern? Heh. Lebovitz’s recipe is for two loaves but I only had persimmons enough to make 1 loaf so I halved the recipe…but forgot to halve the bourbon! Now that I’ve sobered up, below is a recipe with corrected measurements for you. Remember if you are at high altitude that you may need to adjust the baking soda.
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Use Up Them Green Tomaters

Any gardener will tell you that the end of the season spells one thing: green tomatoes. Tomatoes, a delightfully easy (and tasty) item to grow at home, ripen throughout the course of the summer depending upon their breed, time planted, and if seedlings or established plants were placed in the soil. I grow mine from seed and plant them after the last frost (which in Denver means mid-may). That also means I have to cover my garden with blankets when it starts getting cold, as the garden is still producing through September and into October. When the first real freezes come (any time from mid-October to early November) I have to haul all my bounty inside to ripen there.

Last year, just before Halloween, friends were posting on Facebook about how green tomatoes are only good for frying. My response was akin to something out of Forrest Gump… Green tomato salsa, green tomato chutney, pickled green tomatoes, grilled green tomatoes, green tomatoes topped with goat cheese, green tomato parmesana, and so on. So here’s one more green tomato idea to add to the list!

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Southern Style Chicken, Sort Of

Being from Southern stock, I am always a fan of being Southern fried and satisfied but it’s not always, er, light. Enter the oven “fried” chicken breast. I’ve seen recipes with cornmeal, flour, or panko floating around online, but my old standby breading is the same as the one my granny always used—Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. While I’ve never made the quintessential corn muffins the mix was made specifically for, I have breaded many a piece of fish, eggplant or green tomato slice, pork chop, and chicken breast with that delicious stuff. Just like Granny, I prefer it to the grittier and grainier plain old cornmeal as the Jiffy is soft, sifted, and coats marvelously. Eat up friends, just like Granny always did. Sort of.
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