Karen and Ben Barker will be the guest speakers for Culinary Historians of Piedmont North Carolina from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. A reception will precede the reading from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. next door at Foster’s Market.
Jill Warren Lucas
There are many home bakers and professional chefs who aspire to be as creative Karen Barker. But now and then, the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef – who used to dazzle customers at the much-missed Magnolia Grill – finds herself in the position of a fan who just has to know how a certain treat was made.
“There is a great coffee place in the East Village of New York City that Ben and I really like called Abraco,” Barker says from the kitchen of the couple’s Chapel Hill home. “They make a sweet-savory black olive biscotti that is just delicious.”
Barker has made her share of biscotti; the twice-baked cookie can be made from a wide variety of ingredients (different flours and fats, with or without eggs) and endless flavor profiles. But there was something about this one that was especially memorable.
“I’m not a big sugar person, so sweets don’t often excite me,” Barker says as she gathered ingredients on the heavy butcher block counter. “Once in Provence I saw someone make a dessert with black olive and tomatoes and herbs. But this was the first time I’d ever tasted a biscotti anything like that. I loved it.”
Barker was making a batch to bring to a meeting the next day of their dinner party club. Ben was prepping an appetizer of brined lamb tongue to be simmered with shallot in a red wine sauce. Karen was making the biscotti to provide a crunchy counterpoint to the final course, a dairy-free chocolate mousse served with a red Italian dessert wine.
“A savory cookie is not for everyone,” she concedes while giving the fragrant, purplish olives a quick mince and grinding a generous amount of black pepper into her mixer’s work bowl. “But dunk this into some wine, or scoop up some chocolate mousse … it’s just perfect.”
Barker says the recipe could be easily tweaked to substitute other ingredients: use lemon zest instead of orange, leave out the olives and add walnuts. “I wouldn’t try green olive, though,” she says, wrinkling her nose. “I just don’t think that would work.”
Barker leaves the end slices on the counter after she returns the cookies to the oven for their final toasting. “Baker’s privilege,” she says, nibbling a slice deemed not pretty enough to serve. She closes her eyes for a moment to let the flavors fill her mouth.
“I have to say, I find these pretty addictive,” she sighs. “I have a hard time just having one of them."
Karen Barker’s Olive Oil Biscotti with Rosemary and Orange
Makes 1 loaf (about 24 slices)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup semolina (fine grind)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsbp. minced rosemary
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup fine chopped black olives (such as kalamata)
a few grinds of black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine first three ingredients in the work bowl of mixer; combine well with paddle attachment.
Add remaining ingredients, mix again. Ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly blended but avoid overworking the dough, which will be sticky.
Transfer dough with floured hands to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly press into the shape of a 12x3-inch log, adding pinches of flour if needed. Chill for at least 40 minutes but preferably about several hours.
Bake for 30 minutes or until loaf is lightly browned. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife and cut half-inch slices on the diagonal; should yield about 24 pieces. Arrange flat on the baking pan - it's OK if they are crowded - and return to oven until toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Turn slices over and toast again, about 3-4 minutes, until golden and crisp on both sides.
Cool biscotti completely. Wrap in parchment paper or keep in airtight container.
by Jill Warren Lucas
CHOP NC Founder Nancie McDermott
Long before some of the most influential members of Culinary Historians of Piedmont North Carolina
got books deals, they developed their craft making things to contribute to bake sales.
“I love and adore bake sales,” said CHOP NC Founder Nancie McDermott, author of two baking bibles, Southern Pies
and Southern Cakes
, both published by Chronicle Books. “They're like lemonade stands, only more substantial, and they speak of people happy to be baking, to be sharing, to be eating, and usually to be raising money for something dear to them.”
Events supporting the national Share Our Strength Great American Bake Sale
are being held across the country to raise awareness of and end childhood hunger in our nation. Several events are registered
for our area, and CHOP NC would like to help you get involved by sharing recipes that can be used for this or future bake sales.
In addition to CHOP NC members and distinguished friends, like Virginia Willis
, we even persuaded Executive Chef David Gaydeski to share the secrets of the chocolate chip cookies served to visitors at the North Carolina Executive Mansion.
"Bakes sales may seem silly but it shows you the power of people doing a little thing,” said Sheri Castle, author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook
(UNC Press) and a recent winner of an International Association of Culinary Professionals award for foodwriting
."You make a little something, sell the slice for more than it's worth, and it all adds up. It's a great premise and a worthy cause."
The recipes that follow cover a wide spectrum of regional flavors, from Atlanta-based Willis’ Shortbread Buttons to Sandra Gutierrez
’s Chile-Chocolate Brownies, and Elizabeth Wiegand
’s coastal Ocracoke Fig Cake to McDermott
’s Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake.
“I for one am always on the prowl for something a little more edgy: the chipless cookie, the lemon bar made with lime, the gingerbread or even savory item,” McDermott said. “Here’s to chipping in for a worthy cause, coming home with an unexpected goodie for your dear ones, and most of all, to the baking folk amongst us, who make the wheels of the bake-sale bonanza go round and round in the direction of good things for all.”Click through for the recipes
I may come across as a bottomless pit of hunger who will wantonly shovel anything edible (or edible-seeming) into his mouth without a second thought. But I have a secret, a deep, dark secret that I keep hidden away in the darkest recesses of my memory. I, Matthew Lardie, used to be a picky eater. Growing up I liked my food white. White bread, white bagels, plain cream cheese, vanilla ice cream. Exotic for me was fried calamari or a piece of salmon. Luckily I’ve managed to mostly overcome my picky ways, however there are a few vestiges of those dark times still left.
Hardboiled eggs. I hated them. I thought they smelled like farts, and tasted even worse (well, I imagined). My sister would wolf them down as I ran, gagging, from the kitchen. It would follow that I wouldn’t be a fan of deviled eggs as well. Actually, until I moved to North Carolina I had never even heard of a deviled egg. Once I found them though, I avoided them at all costs, and then, just my luck, I married a man who LOVES deviled eggs. He’ll devour a dozen before you can blink. So I figured it was best for me to get on board with deviled eggs, or at least learn how to make them.
Luckily for me, and the rest of us here in the Triangle, we are blessed with the presence of the deviled egg maven herself, Debbie Moose
. Author of Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy
(among other books), Debbie has long been the local authority when it comes to eggs and their devlishness.
While Debbie’s book contains dozens of recipes (dessert deviled eggs anyone?) I decided to stick to the classics and went with Ma-Ma’s Deviled Eggs, the recipe Debbie inherited from her grandmother, Ruth Link Shaw of Statesville. This was your simple mayo-mustard-vinegar deviled egg recipe. Easy, right?
Wrong. Turns out I don’t know how to boil an egg! I’ll spare you the details, but 20 minutes later and one egg short due to an unfortunate peeling incident, I finally had my hard-cooked eggs. As the eggs cooled I went on to the next part of the recipe, pouring myself a bourbon and ginger-ale to recover from the stress of my first egg-boiling fiasco. (Actually that part isn’t in the recipe, but knowing Debbie, I’m sure she’d approve.)
On to the mashing. I had to tweak the recipe slightly since I was short an egg, and the yellow mustard I thought I had turned out to be a VERY spicy French dijon mustard, so I cut that back as well. I also lost an egg-white half while scooping out the yolk...good thing I had my bourbon to see me through.
At this point there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I was going to daintily pipe the yolk mixture back into the whites, so I grabbed a spoon and just globbed it on. Globbed is an accepted culinary term, by the way.
Sprinkle with a little paprika, have the husband take a few pictures for posterity, swig back the rest of your bourbon, and presto! Done! The verdict?
Not bad. My husband enjoyed them, and as for me...I didn’t dislike them. I’ve come quite a long way since my eggs-as-farts days, and I think it might take me a little while longer to get to the addiction stage, but I’m working on it. I might not dive-bomb the deviled egg plate anytime soon, but I will partake of at least one. And no fart jokes, I promise.
Ma-Ma’s Deviled EggsFrom “Deviled Eggs”, by Debbie Moose
yields 12 halves
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, yolks mashed in a bowl
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
- Paprika, to garnish
- Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks and mayonnaise, then stir in the mustard and vinegar. Stir in the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust if necessary. Stir well with a spoon to achieve a creamy texture.
- Fill the egg whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with paprika.
\The Connecticut Yankee, better known as Matt, is the voice behind Green Eats Blog. Follow him on Twitter @greeneatsblog and find him on Facebook.
See related story about Chef Jay Pierce and the Feb. 15 CHOP event at Lucky 32.
By Jill Warren Lucas
Like Jay Pierce’s journey to develop the ultimate fried chicken for Lucky 32, the sweet potato hushpuppies took several detours before landing on the appetizer menu.“The truth?” Pierce said with a born storyteller’s glint in his eyes. “They started out as pumpkin ravioli.”
Before Lucky 32 expanded its name last year to include Southern Kitchen, it reduced the scope of its former global-cuisine menu. One of Pierce’s first targets with the fated ravioli.
“Actually, it was summer and winter squash in the same dish. Blasphemous!” he said with a shudder. Pierce knew he wanted to modify the recipe to keep it seasonal, so he tweaked it several ways before he felt he’d found a tasty alternative: deep-fried pumpkin ravioli in a ham cream sauce. “Everyone loved it but the owner,” he recalled. “I mean, he liked it, but he said, ‘It’s not Southern.’ He told me, ‘You can do better.’”
Pierce went back to the drawing board and to his culinary awakenings in Florida and the Gulf Coast. There, he said, hushpuppies are big and fluffy -- “not the scrawny Civil War rations” found in some North Carolina eateries.
“Some people think they’re not really hushpuppies because they’re bigger and less sweet,” he said. “They taste like what they are: earthy sweet potatoes.”
The dark, crispy globes are served atop a pool of creamy ham sauce scattered with green onion. Light and savory, they are a perfect start for a fried chicken dinner.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s Sweet Potato HushpuppiesDisclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size. Copyright 1989-2012 This recipe is property of Quaintance-Weaver, Inc. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.
- 2 cups roasted sweet potatoes
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/3 cup yellow corn flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp allspice
- 3/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 8 eggs
- Mix all ingredients in a mixer with paddle attachment until well combined.
- Refrigerate until cold.
- Drop desired size hushpuppies into a deep fat fryer and cook until done.
by Matt Lardie
If there is one defining characteristic of the Southern culinarian that I most adore it is that she is an ardent proponent of pork. The pig is the mascot of the Southern kitchen, and every part of him is revered. Pork rinds, barbecue, ribs, chops, jowl, sausage gravy...all sing the praises of the mighty porker.
Growing up in Connecticut my exposure to the pig was mostly limited to pork chops, pork loin, and bacon. Ribs were mostly of the beef variety, and barbecue was a verb, not a noun. Don’t get me wrong, pork chops can be a revelation when they are done right, but when they are done wrong; let’s just say you’d be better off putting gravy on a football. It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that I fell under the spell of the pig, and now I’m addicted. I can make sausage gravy in my sleep, I have learned that bacon is a flavoring as well as a food, and if you need to find me at a pig pickin’, I’ll be the one finger-deep into the pork jowls, face dripping with fat. I’m not exaggerating when I say that a pig tattoo might be somewhere in my future.
Hams have always escaped me though. Buying a huge ham to cook for two people has always seemed like a waste, and I can never get the 1960’s ham-and-pineapple image out of my head. There just seemed to be so much more to pork than ham, so I generally left it alone.
And then I got a copy of the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook. There, in the gravy chapter (a whole chapter on gravy!) was a recipe for Ham and Redeye Gravy. It called for coffee. Coffee! Who the heck ever heard of coffee and ham, together? I remain convinced that this recipe must have been the concoction of some hung-over, or possibly still drunk, cook who mistakenly poured his coffee into the skillet instead of something else.
Nevertheless, I’ve made a commitment to explore some of the South’s most famous recipes, and Redeye Gravy is surely up there at the top of the list. I picked up a ham steak (something else you’ll almost never find in a Northern grocery store) and got to work.
First of all, the recipe is deceptively simple. It is basically three ingredients - ham, coffee, and brown sugar. I cheated a bit and rendered the ham fat in my skillet with some leftover bacon fat, but I figure that only Southern-fied it even more. Once I got going the aroma was intoxicating. Now I’m an impatient cook, but I made myself follow the directions of waiting until you see the first wisp of steam before removing the lid from the skillet, and I’m glad I did. I was hit with a burst of sweet, caramely, hammy steam that almost made me drool right into the pan.
My only concern with the recipe is that it says to wait until the the ham browns before continuing on to make the gravy. Sounds easy enough, but I quickly realized that when you cook ham in a coffee gravy it pretty much turns everything brown. I decided to let it cook another five minutes just to be safe, and everything seemed to work out fine.
The recipe says to serve the ham with biscuits for sopping, but since my husband is in the midst of a gluten-free experiment I settled on mashed potatoes, but I would urge you to go with the biscuits. Everything is better with biscuits. And bacon. Heck, make an extra side of bacon to go with the biscuits and ham. Any way you approach it, things will taste delicious once smothered in Redeye gravy.
Country Ham with Redeye GravyRecipe by Allan Benton in the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
Makes 2 servingsIngredients
- 2 slices country ham, about ¼-inch thick
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, as needed
- ½ cup fresh, hot coffee, divided
- 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
- Trim the fat from the ham slices. Put the fat in a large cast-iron skillet and set the ham aside. Cook the fat over medium heat until it renders, about 3 minutes. (If there isn’t much rendered fat, add the vegetable oil. This is where I used bacon fat.)
- Pour ¼ cup of the coffee into the skillet. Add the brown sugar and stir until melted. Place the ham slices on top and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook over medium heat until wisps of steam come out from under the lid (it took about 5 minutes), then uncover and cook the ham until it is lightly browned.
- Transfer the ham to a warm plate and keep warm. Discard any remaining pieces of fat. Add the remaining ¼ cup of coffee. Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring up from the bottom, until the gravy comes together and cooks down a little, about 2 minutes.
- Serve hot with the ham slices, as well as biscuits for sopping.