AROUND THE TABLE

Tomato & Bacon Sandwich with Chipotle Mayonnaise | for the love of the south

Tracing the lines down the slats of my kitchen table, sketching over the saw marks with my fingertips. This table gives life in a way, serving as a place to feed family, friends and myself; it’s a safe haven. It’s where we are restored and fortified, empowering us to face the world again.

I’m not a professional chef, but I am a professional eater, a home cook. The story of a home cook is rooted in where we come from, the lives we’ve lived, and the mouths we feed. My favorite cookbooks are written by home cooks. They are the ones that weave stories together; stories strung along about the lives of recipes, succession of meals, characters revealed around the table. My book is a story of the culture I hold dear, but more importantly, it’s a collection of what I eat every day.

Around the Table | for the love of the south

If you’ve had a marvelous tomato sandwich, then you will understand why I’m sharing this recipe from my book. Honestly, a tomato sandwich done right can be one of the most wonderful things in life. It’s simple yet deeply satisfying. Also, this is one of the handful of recipes that helped sustain me while spending countless hours writing and editing my cookbook. It never failed me, and no matter how busy I was, I knew in my kitchen I had the basics; bread, mayonnaise, Tabasco, bacon in my freezer and tomatoes on my countertop. There is such security in knowing I have everything I need to make a juicy and crispy tomato bacon sandwich.

I spent the first two years in my new house without a kitchen table. I couldn’t quite find the right one until I spotted this beautiful reclaimed wood table from Arhaus. It is elegant, sturdy, and full of character. I love how it had a life before it graced our dining room. The kitchen table is something precious to me. It’s one of those things like my skillets, silver, pearls and china I will pass on. This table will see many years of candlelit dinners ending in nights of empty bourbon glasses and caramel wrappers, brunches with antique vases spread about the table filled with blushing blooms, vanilla scented doughnuts, blackberries, chicory café au lait, and late lunches spent over bowls of chicken and sausage gumbo and spicy skillet fried okra. All the while, I’ll be engraving my own stories around the table, the heart of my home.

Tomato Bacon Sandwich from Cookbook | for the love of the south

Tomato & Bacon Sandwich with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Serves 1

This recipe is a grown-up version of my childhood go-to sandwich. If done correctly, a tomato sandwich can be one of the greatest pleasures in life. Since this recipe is simple and requires few ingredients, quality is key, so try to buy the best bread, tomatoes, and bacon that you can.

2 slices thick-cut bacon

2 slices of your favorite bread (I love sourdough or a crusty baguette.)

Chipotle Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

2 slices tomato (1/2 to 3⁄4 inch thick)

In a medium skillet, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with a paper towel. Place the skillet back on the heat and toast up both sides of the bread in the bacon renderings until golden brown.

Spread a layer of the chipotle mayonnaise over one side of each piece of toast. Lay the slices of bacon on top of the mayonnaise. Lightly press down on the bacon, helping it adhere to the mayonnaise. Lay the tomato slices on top of the bacon. Crown the sandwich with the remaining piece of mayonnaise-slathered toast. Press down on the sandwich and cut on the diagonal. This sandwich is best enjoyed standing over the kitchen sink.

CHIPOTLE MAYONNAISE

Makes 1⁄4 cup

1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

Several dashes of Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce

In a measuring cup, combine the mayonnaise and chipotle pepper sauce. Any leftover mayonnaise can be stored in the refrigerator for another use.

 

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CITRUS BONDS

Satsumas | for the love of the south

Lacy railings adorn balconies as we stroll along Royal St. The combination of the faint scent of decay and the citrus growing in ancient pots into the center of courtyards spills out into the French Quarter. Jazz echoes through Pirate Alley as we pass St. Louis Cathedral.

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Naturally, we dined like kings in New Orleans. The po’boys from Parkway on Hagan Ave. are served on the softest French bread and then slathered with a thin layer of mayonnaise, thinly sliced tomatoes, cold shredded lettuce and are generously piled with the crispiest oysters you’ve ever had. All you need is a bottle of hot sauce and a pile of napkins as thick as a dictionary, and you are all set. In the heart of the French Quarter, we sat under the green and white awning at Café du Monde with a plate of beignets piled with a mountain of powdered sugar and washed them down with café au laits and hot chocolates. In the Caribbean Room at the historic Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District, we split the Mile High Pie, which is a wedge of ice cream pie with layers of chocolate, vanilla and pink-tinted mint ice cream, crowned with toasted marshmallow and drizzled with melted chocolate. Impossibly crusty bread, decadent turtle soup drizzled tableside with sherry and dark, rich seafood gumbos littered our table at Commander’s Palace.

Satsuma Peels & Coffee | for the love of the south

But all the while, I had a secret. Safely stashed away in a clear cellophane wrapped bag nestled in my purse were sweet and sour satsuma candied peels. I found these to be the perfect travel companions. Anytime I needed a hiatus from heavy dishes, I popped one of these sunny beauties in my mouth and instantly my palate was refreshed. We piled into the car and drove three and a half hours west to Lake Charles. The fresh citrus peeling reminded me of nibbling on a few contraband kumquats in the center of one of the courtyards in the French Quarter.

Satsuma Tree | for the love of the south

I woke up in my grandparent’s house the next morning. Immediately, I made a steaming cup of café au lait and walked all the way to the left of the yard to the great satsuma tree, which gave off the scent of sweet honeysuckles after an afternoon rain. I gently twisted the fruit off the tree and peeled back the thin, supple peeling. The cold juice from the swollen segments dribbled down my chin. I quietly sipped on my coffee and finished off half a dozen of freshly picked satsumas on an old ladder next to the tree.

On our way back to Nashville, we made our way past sugarcane fields being cleared, and I couldn’t resist reaching into my bag and pulling out one of these satsuma peels. During this time of year, I have a deep connection with these little fruits. They remind me of home, and that’s a very strong bond indeed.

Sweet & Sour Satsuma Candied Peels | for the love of the south

Sweet & Sour Satsuma Candied Peels

Makes about 2 cups

Adapted from Rebekah Turshen of City House in Nashville, TN

Note: Satsumas are my favorite citrus to use since the skin is thin and peels away with ease, leaving the rest of the fruit intact. This makes for a perfect snack for later!

P.S. You can find citric acid at spice shops or online!

 

6 medium organic Satsumas

2½ cups granulated sugar, divided

1 tablespoon citric acid

½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

 

Scrub the satsumas, and carefully peel the satsuma in one long piece if you can, trying not to break the peel so you can easily cut the peeling in long, thin strips. Cut in ¼-inch thick strips. You should end up with about 2 cups of sliced peelings. (Save the segments for snacking!)

Bring peels and 4 cups water in a small saucepan to boil for 5 minutes.

Drain and repeat process twice, using fresh water each time.

Return peels to pan and add 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a soft boil and cook until peels are soft and translucent, about 30 minutes.

Drain and transfer peels in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Chill for 20 minutes.

Mix citric acid, remaining ½ cup sugar and vanilla seeds in a medium bowl with your fingertips. Toss the chilled peelings to coat. Return to rack and let sit at room temperature for 4-12 hours. You want the peels to be completely dry before storing in an airtight container.

Stays good for 1 month!

 

SEASON of CHANGE

Bacon Latticed Apple Pie | for the love of the south

In this capricious world, I look forward to the promise of the change in seasons. No matter how unbearable summer is, the heat eventually subsides, the trees sigh in relief and leaves begin to transform before our very eyes. In a realm resistant to change, nature inevitably begins to beam one last time before winter.

In life, we don’t possess the ability to control, but we do have the power to embrace. There is security in knowing the blistering days are behind us, and we can hold fast to a brand new season.

Bacon Latticed Apple Pie Prep | for the love of the south Summer has been lovely. I’ve had my fair share of ruby red tomatoes, emerald okra, summer ice creams and fruity lemonades. Now, it’s time for smoky, roasted meats, speckled apples, crisp, honey-scented pears, fragrant cinnamon and warm cider. There is comfort in their seasonality and predictability. Their customary arrival is welcome in my home and celebrated at my table.

{In celebration of the arrival of the new season, I am giving away a copy of Southern Living Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Foods. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below letting me know your favorite fall recipe between now and midnight, September 29th. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be contacted via email on September 30th! Limit 1 comment per person, pretty please! Good luck, y’all!} Congrats to Caitlin who is the winner of the giveaway! 

Bacon Latticed Apple Pie | for the love of the south

Recipe: Bacon Latticed Apple Pie

Inspired by The Loveless Cafe + Southern Living Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Foods

Serves 12

Note: This pie is both sweet and savory, which is my favorite combination for dessert. As the fat renders from the bacon, it actually begins permeating the crust of the pie with its smoky drippings. It’s lovely! If you prefer, you can buy a center cut bacon for this dessert. Center cut slices have more meat and less fat than other bacon slices.

Pie Dough:

1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 cup of ice water

1 egg

Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Create a well in the center and add the butter. Mix on a medium speed until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the ice water. Tablespoon by tablespoon, add the ice water mixture to the flour and butter mixture, mixing in between additions. Add the water until the dough forms a ball. The dough should not be sticky or crumbly. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until 9 or so inches in diameter. Gently place the dough into an 8” pie plate. Crack the egg in a small bowl. Without breaking the yolk, use a pastry brush and gently brush a thin layer of the egg white onto the bottom of the dough. This will create a barrier between the filling and the piecrust as it bakes. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

Filling:

5 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Juice of ½ a lemon

¾ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Combine all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Toss with your fingertips until the apple slices are coated evenly with the juice, sugars, cornstarch and spices.

To Assemble:

8 strips of smoked bacon

Preheat oven to 425oF

After the pie crust has chilled for 30 minutes, place the filling into the prepared pie plate. Place bacon strips horizontally onto the pie. Start placing bacon strips one-by-one vertically, lifting every other strip to create a lattice pattern. Crimp the edges of the pie, tucking in the ends of the bacon slices as you crimp the edges. Slightly beat the remaining egg and brush gently onto exposed edges of the piecrust. Place the pie in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow the pastry to set.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Rotate, lower the oven temperature to 375oF for another 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cover the edges with foil if they get too brown. Let cool for 1-2 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OKRA WHEN IT SIZZLES

Smashed Cayenne + Cornmeal Crusted Fried Okra | for the love of the south

Sometimes sweet summer pleasures come early in the South. As Michael and I walked toward our local farmers market last week, Michael looked at me and said, “Maybe they will have okra!” I sweetly stated it was probably too early in the season for okra. Honestly, I didn’t want to be disappointed but secretly hoped there would be some too.

Fresh Okra | for the love of the south

As we got closer to the market, the first thing to catch my eye was a wooden crate filled to the brim with pinky-sized okra pods. My heart skipped a beat. The first okra of the season! I quickly grabbed a bag and began picking through the precious pods. Almost immediately my hands started to sting a little. The lady tending the market noticed I began itching the back of my hands. “It’s from the okra, isn’t it?” I nodded that indeed it was, but this little bother was about to be well worth it.

Fried Okra Ingredients | for the love of the south

Whenever I returned home, I laid the emerald beauties on white marble and gently began smashing the ends of the okra with a wooden pestle. As soon as I inhaled the grassy scent of fresh okra and listened to the symphony of sizzle as the cornmeal batter hit the hot oil, I knew I was right. In life, the good far outweighs the bad, and in the end, there’s fried okra.

Smashed Okra | for the love of the south

There are some ingredients that beg to be transfigured and transformed like a strawberry pleading to be roasted and paired with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or sweet white corn steeped in cream, creating a lovely base for a summertime ice cream. But then there are those ingredients I can’t help but prepare the same way, time after time. I have yet to find a more comforting use of okra as being bathed in buttermilk and tossed in cayenne and cornmeal and quickly fried. I believe frying okra is the way nature intended it to be prepared. Why else would it endure and thrive in the Southern summer so much if it didn’t love to sizzle?

Cornmeal Crusted Smashed Okra | for the love of the south

Recipe: Smashed Cayenne + Cornmeal Crusted Fried Okra

Adapted from Southern Living | June 2014

Makes 4-6 Servings

Note: The original recipe leaves the entire okra pod whole, without cutting off the tops. Personally, I eat the pod whole, but after serving these whole, I found the fried tops left on the platter. So, I decided to take that extra step and cut the tops off since most people don’t like eating the entire pod, but it’s completely optional!

1 pound of fresh okra, washed and dried

1 ½ cups of buttermilk

2 cups of fine yellow cornmeal

½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Using a flat kitchen utensil like a pestle, meat mallet or even the bottom of a Mason jar, gently smash the okra, starting at the fattest part of the pod, working your way down to the skinny tip of the pod.

Optional Step (see note): Once the pods are smashed, cut off the woody top (or the “head”) of the okra pod. (I acted like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland yelling, “Off with your head,” at this step to keep myself entertained, you may do the same!)

Place the buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place the cornmeal and cayenne pepper in another shallow dish. Season both the cornmeal and buttermilk with desired amount of salt and pepper.

Dip the smashed okra into the buttermilk and dredge in the cornmeal, shaking off the excess.

Pour oil to a depth of 2-inches in a large cast-iron skillet. Heat to 350o. Fry the okra in batches, 2-3 minutes or until golden and crispy, turning once. Remove the okra and drain on paper towels and season lightly with kosher salt. Devour immediately!

Smashed Cayenne + Cornmeal Crusted Fried Okra | for the love of the south

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TICKET GIVEAWAY FOR THE SOUTHERN C SUMMIT IN NASHVILLE

I adore spending time with fellow Southerners, sharing our passion for the South, the culture, the cuisine, and, of course, the folks who make it so darn charming. Gabbing over biscuits and sweet tea on a front porch is one my favorite places to be in the entire world. The Southern C is a virtual front porch in which I’m a proud contributor for, and I am inviting a special reader to The Southern C Summit taking place in my hometown of Nashville, TN on October 17th. I’ve also included  personal snapshots in this post of my favorite spots in the Nashville area!

All you have to do is leave a comment below, telling me your favorite aspect of Southern culture! I’ll announce the lucky winner on Tuesday, September 24th and contact them via email to get their contact information. I’m giddy as a schoolgirl about this event, and I hope to see you there!

Congrats to Nick for winning The Southern C Summit Ticket Giveaway! Thank you for everyone who participated! 

Here is a link for the schedule of the event. Below is more information about the event from the creators of The Southern C!

Cheri & Whitney’s Top Ten Reasons to Attend The Southern C Summit in Nashville

1.  It’s Nashville!  Need we say more? 

2.  Our venue is beyond cool! Ruby Nashville is located on the edge of Hillsboro Village, surrounded by Fannie Mae Dees Park (aka Dragon Park) and across the street from the Vanderbilt.  The space has been referred to as contemporary, industrial, historic and natural – almost anything other than institutional.  It is housed in what used to be a Primitive Baptist Church (constructed 1945).

3.  Our host hotel, The Loews Vanderbilt, is the only AAA Four-Diamond hotel
in Tennessee for over 28 consecutive years and they just completed its $17
million renovation in July 2013! Swank! 

4.  Can we say VIP?  Take a chartered shuttle (ie. party bus) to Fontanel
and get your Goo Goo on as you sip some Whisper Creek Tennessee SippingCream.  Third time Summit attendee and Goo Goo Cluster Marketing Director Beth Sachan is cooking up a fun plan with the Whisper Creek folks for a big time on the bus!

5.  Can we say double VIP?  Go on a private tour of the Southern Living Idea House and hear from the big man himself… Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Bierman!

6.  The Southern Living Idea House will be decorated for Christmas… squeal!

7.  Two words:  Come hungry!  From Callie’s Charleston Biscuits Breakfast to lunch from Nashville favorites (shrimp & grits from The Southern!) to delicious desserts provided by Husk Restaurant and Grey Ghost Bakery to freshly made pralines prepared by Epting Events and featuring Schermer Pecans, be ready to eat!

8.  All together now… SWAG BAG!  No more words necessary

9.  Educational sessions focusing on social media and marketing strategies with award-winning internet consultant and nationally acclaimed speaker Ryan Dorhn of Brain Swell Media, Southern Living Homes Editor Jennifer Kopf, culinary author & food stylist Libbie Summers and lifestyle blogger Cassie Kelley of Womanista–Inspiring panel discussions with Leapfrog PRGreen Olive Media and Recipe for Press author Amy Flurry with Nan Myers, event designer & owner of Firefly boutique

 10.  We have some surprises in store for you!

A RUSTIC PEACHY KEEN TART + A COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY

Peach Tart

This cookbook came into my life at the perfect time. And by the perfect time, I mean the first week of peach season. On the cover of Southern Living: Feel Good Food, staring right smack dab at me is a perfectly poised peach pie, just begging to be devoured. Flipping through the rest of the book is a delight as classic Southern dishes are given modern-day spins from the South’s most trusted Test Kitchen. Chapters in the book are based on emotions with recipes that are “Gracious”, “Indulgent”, and “Celebratory.” Feel Good Food celebrates and honors Southern memories, traditions and dishes.

You know the saying; “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, in this case, you can judge a book by its cover if its cover is a picture of a glorious peach pie from the South’s most trusted Test Kitchen.

Southern Living Feel Good Food

To enter to win a copy of Southern Living: Feel Good Food, just leave a comment below of your favorite feel good food between now and midnight, June 16th. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced right here and on Twitter on June 17th! I will contact the winner through email to get their mailing address to have this wonderful book shipped on over. Limit 1 comment per person, pretty please! Good luck, ya’ll!

Congrats to Jenny who won the Southern Living Feel Good Food Cookbook! I’ll be emailing you to get the details! Thank you for everyone who shared your favorite feel good foods! I loved reading over each comment!

Recipe: Southern Living: Feel Good Food

Serves 8

Note: To make a rustic tart, just follow the recipe for the dough and filling recipe as follows and create 2 tarts with the dough and divide the peach filling between the 2 tarts. After rolling out the dough, place the filling in the center and roll up the edges around the fruit. Seal the edges by pinching them together, brushing the egg wash on the edges, and continue with the rest of the recipe as follows.

1 1/3 cups of cold butter

4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided

1½ teaspoons of salt

½ to ¾ cup ice water

8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches (about 4 pounds)

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of salt

1 ½ tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Cut 1 1/3 cups of butter into small cubes, and chill 15 minutes. Stir together 4 cups flour and 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas. Gradually stir in ½ cup ice water with a fork, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and dough begins to form a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap; press and shape dough into 2 flat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around a rolling pin. Place rolling pin over a 9-inch pie plate, and unroll dough over pie plate. Press dough into pie plate.

Roll remaining dough disk to about ½-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 3 (1 ½ – inch wide) strips and 8 (¼ -inch wide) strips using a fluted pastry wheel.

Peel peaches, and cut into ½-inch thick slices; cut slices in half. Stir together brown sugar, next 3 ingredients, and remaining ¼ cup flour in a bowl; add peaches, stirring to coat. Immediately spoon peach mixture into piecrust in pie plate, and dot with 1 ½ tablespoon butter. (Do not make the mixture ahead or it will become too juicy.)

Carefully place dough strips over filling, making a lattice design. Crimp edges of pie. Brush lattice with beaten egg; sprinkle with 1½ tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Freeze pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a jellyroll pan in oven for 10 minutes. Place pie on hot jellyroll pan.

Bake at 425 degrees on lower oven rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; bake 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly (juices will bubble through top.) Transfer to a wire rack; cool 2 hours before serving.