Full disclosure: The first time I set out to make guacamole, I had no idea my avocados needed to be ripe. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I got home from the grocery store with all my ingredients, and sliced open my hard-as-a-brick, bright green avocados. Much to my dismay, the avocados needed a few more days to become soft and able to mash. Fast forward to today, and guacamole is one of my favorite appetizers to make. Continue reading “Your Go-To Guacamole Recipe”
Leave it to an Irish Pub to re-purpose a potato dish. A recent visit to St. James Gate Irish Pub on Folly Beach introduced us to Tater Tot “Nachos.” What a concept! Who wouldn’t love crispy potatoes topped with good ol’ cheddar cheese, chili and jalapenos? Easy enough to recreate at home, the appetizer left us completely satisfied and reminiscing about our middle school days (Read: carrying our lunch trays through the cafeteria on tater tot day negotiating trades).
Move over tortilla chip, there’s a new nacho vehicle in town!
Paired with a couple good cocktails–a hearty Guinness for my man, and a local ginger bourbon + honey basil libation for me –the nightcap was a surprisingly better alternative to our initial desire for dessert. The waiter had us at “Our special tonight is Tater Tot Nachos…”
Just a few days after our visit, I came across a half bag of frozen tater tots in the freezer at home, just begging to be cooked. As fate would have it, I had some of my leftover Beer Can Chili in the fridge too, as is accustom this time of year. In no time at all, I was serving up “nacho” ordinary appetizer. HA!
Next time you have friends over, or if you’re just in the mood for a good snack, break out this recipe. With little effort and a Some Kinda Good return on your investment, you’ve got nothing to lose!
Tater Tot Nachos
- 1/2 Bag of Frozen Tater Tots
- 1 cup or more to taste of Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Pepper jack is great too! Combine them for fun!)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- Pickled or fresh Jalapenos to taste
- Leftover Chili
- Sour cream
- Fresh Parsley
- Other desired nacho toppings
Bake tater tots according to package directions (I like mine extra crispy for the perfect crunch). Add about a teaspoon of salt (or more to taste) as soon as the tater tots come out of the oven. Top evenly with diced onion, leftover chili and cheese, then pop the tater tots back in the oven until cheese is hot and bubbly (about 5 minutes). Once cheese is melted, take them out of the oven and add desired toppings. I like sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley to liven things up and a few jarred jalapenos to keep things spicy. Enjoy!
Grape jelly combined with apple hickory BBQ sauce and hot pepper jelly is an unlikely combination, but when paired together with perfectly seasoned meatballs, they make the most decadent and savory bite. Continue reading “Georgia Cocktail Meatballs Make a Perfect Party Appetizer”
It’s one of those appetizers that’s always present at family gatherings in the South, especially around the holidays. I’ve seen savory cheese balls and sweet cheese balls. There’s a variety of different recipes out there, but this one comes from Mama with a few of my own touches. I contributed this cheese ball to my office Christmas party and it was a hit! It has pops of red and green color for the holidays, and it’s versatile. You can add or take away whatever flavors you like. Spreadable and creamy, this cheese ball has crunch and sweet heat. It’s cold and satisfying.
The cheese ball comes together quickly and is edible right away, but has a more firm texture when chilled. I recommend making it a day ahead and letting it set up in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, 30 minutes to an hour will do.
- 1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
- A few jarred jalapeno peppers, chopped
- A tablespoon of jarred jalapeno pepper juice
- A handful of maraschino cherries, stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup of chopped onion (I used purple for the color, but a sweet Vidalia onion would be great too)
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Braswell’s Green Pepper Jelly
- 1/4 cup of pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
- Seasoned salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup Georgia pecans, toasted and chopped
Dry roast pecans in a saute pan over medium heat, flipping occasionally until fragrant and golden (5-10 minutes). Set aside. Using a hand mixer, blend the cheeses together until incorporated. Add in remaining ingredients, reserving the pecans for the outside, and season with seasoned salt and pepper. Blend on low-speed until everything is incorporated. Turn the mixture out onto plastic wrap and form it into a ball. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the ball in the chopped pecans until covered. Let chill. Serve with buttery crackers, like Ritz, toasted bread or even Scoops tortilla chips.
Note: If you’re using a food processor to chop your onion and bell pepper, be sure to drain any natural water from the vegetables before adding them to the mixture. Additional water will make your cheese ball runny, and you wouldn’t want that.
Serve the cheese ball on a round dish if you have one! It enhances the natural shape of the appetizer and is fun to surround with crackers. Presentation is everything! I served the cheese ball with snowflake-shaped crackers for a little Christmas cheer, but this recipe is wonderful year around with whatever kind of crackers you like. Enjoy!
As many of you know, I had the opportunity to headline a food and style event recently in Centre, Alabama with my good friend, Chad. It’s been one week ago today, and as promised, I’m sharing the recipes served during the event right here on Some Kinda Good. Whether you attended the event or just happened across my food blog, these refreshing grilled desserts, appetizers and warm weather-friendly beverages are tailored for summer entertaining and don’t even require heating up an oven. They’re simple, yet elevated and certainly Some Kinda Good! Continue reading “Simple Recipes Tailored for Summer Entertaining”
The older I become, the more I realize that so much of life is about our experiences. When I auditioned for ABC’s cooking competition reality show “The Taste” last year, I couldn’t have predicted the friendships that would result and never would have imagined I’d be hanging out in the Music City with the co-owner of an award-winning food truck eating chicken liver pate and drinking cocktails with smoked bacon. I’m talking about my friend, Carlos Davis of Riffs Fine Street Food. You may have seen him on the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street or featured in the Nashville Scene. He’s the coolest Caribbean I know, with a local, inside perspective on good eats. On a chilly Saturday night in early spring, Carlos and I reunited for the first time since we’d both hopped on a plane Southbound from Burbank, California in September 2013. Carlos showed me around a Nashville neighborhood known as the Gulch, and introduced me to The 404 Kitchen, led by Chef Matt Bolus.
As noted on The 404 Kitchen’s website, the restaurant is “Housed in a former shipping container…and offers a modern take on classic European cuisine with an emphasis on local, seasonal fare, including herbs grown on the rooftop garden.”
A semi-finalist in the Best New Restaurant category of the 2014 James Beard Awards, The 404 Kitchen features indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate 56 guests for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
We decided to forgo the entrees all together and jump right in with Starters and Cocktails. We took our seats at the bar where Carlos quickly pointed out The Nearest Green, a libation featuring Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Laird’s Rare Apple Brandy, Benton’s Smoky Mountain bacon and citrus infused Tennessee honey. It had every flavor going for it–fruity, smoky and sweet. Who wouldn’t love a cocktail including bacon? I was all in, and it didn’t disappoint. When I had finished sipping the cocktail, I shamelessly ate the bits of bacon in the bottom of my glass with a spoon to which Carlos commented, “You would be weird if you didn’t!”
The next order of business came in the form of Crudo, an appetizer of Cobia, blood orange, fennel, bee pollen (that’s right, bee pollen), pistachio and vidal ice vinegar. Now, I grew up in Blythe, Georgia and Twiggs County farm country. My folks and I didn’t eat quite like this. I had no idea what the majority of these ingredients were, but I tasted them with gladness and what a refreshing combination! I learned that Cobia is a type of fish. I loved the crunch of the pistachios and fennel. The vinegar and citrus flavors gave every bite a noteworthy kick. As for the bee pollen, I was at a total loss.
Starter number 2 was delivered on a butcher block: Kennedy Farms Chicken Liver Pate, served with whole grain mustard, pickled radish and the Lowcountry’s popular benne wafers. A pate is a mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste. Nothing about that sounds appealing to me, and by the looks of it, you’d think it came directly from a Spam can. Tasting chicken liver pate was another first for me, and the truth is, I really liked it. Reminiscent of humus in texture, its flavor was rich and herbaceous. When the dish came out, I looked directly at Carlos and said, “Alright chef. Teach me how to eat this.” He took a healthy portion of the pate and spread it on the wafer, then topped it with a bit of the spicy ground mustard. I asked, “What about the radish?” to which he informed me it was a palate cleanser. Makes sense! This home cook surely enjoys having chef friends.
Next up came my pick for the evening, and my favorite of all: 14 Month Aged Benton’s Country Ham served with buttermilk biscuits, Tennessee whiskey jelly and red-eye gravy. In the moment the plate came, Carlos tweeted, “#CountryHamAndBiscuits @The404Kitchen. @SKGFoodBlog just squealed.” It was true. I had church with this appetizer. The biscuits were perfection, the country ham was salty and sliced to the perfect thinness, and the jam? I can’t. I could have turned the red-eye gravy ramekin up and drank it, but civility got the best of me.
With each new dish, the bartender switched out our silverware and brought new small plates. Lastly, we tried the Burrata featuring celeriac, grapefruit, black truffle, pine nuts, leeks and calabrian peppers. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Smooth like butter, I’d never known a cheese could be elevated to such heights. Other Starters on the menu that night featured Lamb Sugo, Winter Squash Soup and a 3 Cheese Plate. Entrees included Rabbit, Cioppino, Swordfish, Pork Ragu and other mind-boggling dishes. Dining in a place like The 404 Kitchen reminds me of just how much I have to learn about the world of gastronomy.
We wound the evening down with dessert. The grand finale was brioche bread with bittersweet chocolate, and a banana nut loaf alongside cold ice cream. With a daily changing menu, this is a place I could return again and again.
With clean plates and full hearts, we left The 404 Kitchen satisfied, anticipating the next great food adventure. From the service to the atmosphere, topped only by the food, The 404 Kitchen was Some Kinda Good, and the perfect spot to catch up with my culinary pal. After all, good food and good company is what it’s all about.
Grape tomatoes are abundant at farmers’ markets this time of year, and I’ve got the perfect way to use them up! My recipe for Summer Bruschetta is a scrumptious starter course and makes one fine appetizer with drinks. Fun fact for ya: The Italian word Bruschetta translates to, “slice of toasted bread seasoned with oil and garlic.” If you’ve never cooked slices of bread in melted butter on the stove top, start living. There’s no time like the present!
I’m a firm believer in supporting Georgia farmers and shopping local whenever possible. All of the ingredients in my recipe are locally sourced, but can certainly be substituted wherever you live. I encourage you to visit a farmers’ market near you for fresh, local and nutritious ingredients! This recipe is simple, sweet and satisfying.
Farmers’ Market Summer Bruschetta
- 2 Tablespoons of Georgia Olive Oil
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- Half of 1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
- 2 pints red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
- Balsamic Vinegar to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 bunch fresh basil, separated into leaves, rolled up tightly and sliced (chiffonade)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Café Baguette
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
- 1 stick of butter
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and onion and stir for about one minute. Pour into a mixing bowl and let cool slightly.
Add tomatoes, a splash of balsamic vinegar, sugar and basil. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. If time permits, refrigerate for one hour. If not, it is fine to use immediately.
Cut the baguette into diagonal slices. Melt half the butter in the same skillet you used for the garlic. Cook the baguette on both sides until golden brown. Rub toast with one whole garlic clove while hot. Repeat with remaining butter and bread.
To serve, stir the tomato mixture and spoon generously over toasted baguette slices.
You’re also invited to join me at the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market this Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. I hope you’ll stop by the Celebrity Chef tent to say hi and get a taste of my Summer Bruschetta! Be sure to listen out for my radio commercial (below) on air this week promoting the market.
Some folks say “Yum!” Some let off a long, low “mmmmmm.” Me? I praise the Lord. I mean, I have church. It’s the perfect bite that brings it out of me. It can happen anywhere–in a restaurant, at my mama’s table. When I taste it, the words just naturally roll off my tongue. Crunch. Thank you holy Jesus. Taste. Glory to your name Father. Swallow. Halleluiah. It’s not every time I eat, but when it happens, you’ll know. I raise my hands in praise and get the oddest looks from those around me. When I made these crab cakes, it happened.
This is what a crab cake should be. This my friends, is the best crab cake in the world. If heaven were a taste, you’re looking at it. Made up of lump crab meat and a few spices with only an egg white to bind everything together, the flavor of crab meat is the main event. No saltines, no breading–this is a true crab cake. Inspired by the King of the Lowcountry himself, the late beloved writer Pat Conroy, this recipe comes from “The Pat Conroy Cookbook.”
Any good cook will tell you, a beautiful meal starts with the finest ingredients. Prosser’s Wholesale Shrimp is a hidden gem in Brooklet, Georgia. It’s where the locals go to get wild Georgia shrimp, crab legs, crab meat and all the fixin’s for their lowcountry boils. It’s where I went to get my crab meat. Even while I shopped, the owner’s father was shrimping on the Southern seacoast.
At the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market, I picked up some homegrown hot peppers and a bunch of garlic chives. I seeded and chopped the pepper, and it gave my crab cakes a nice kick and punch of color.
The recipe makes eight cakes. They are very fragile. To form the cakes, divide the crab mixture into eight balls. Then flatten each one slightly with the palm of your hand. Season each one with a little more kosher salt. Refrigerate the cakes for at least an hour.
Gently lay the crab cakes in the skillet. I put my first one in the pan as if it were a hamburger and it immediately crumbled. It’s all good though, because you’ll have eight chances to get it right. When you flip them, a small flat spatula will make the job easiest. Keep them very close to the bottom of the pan and be as delicate as possible. Not going to lie, flipping crab cakes is a stressful experience. Here’s the good news: they’re edible no matter what their shape. 😉
Excerpted from “The Pat Conroy Cookbook” by Pat Conroy copyright © 2004
Pat Conroy’s Crab Cakes
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over and cleaned, with all shell fragments removed
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten (until just foamy, not stiff)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely snipped
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil
- Lemon wedges
Place the cleaned crabmeat in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the egg white over crabmeat slowly, stopping occasionally to mix it through. When the crabmeat has absorbed the egg white and feels slightly sticky to the touch, sift the flour over crabmeat and sprinkle the chives, black pepper, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon of the salt evenly over the top. Lift the crabmeat from the bottom of the bowl, turning it over gently, to mix the ingredients without overhandling.
Separate the crabmeat into 8 equal portions and gently roll each between the flattened palms of your hands to form loose balls. Flatten slightly and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle both sides liberally with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cooking.
Line a baking pan with paper towels. Fry the crab cakes in two batches to ensure a crisp crust. Using a small (8-inch) heavy skillet that conducts heat well, melt half the butter and oil together until the mixture is foamy and begins to brown. Carefully place the crab cakes in the hot fat and fry until a crust forms, turning only once, about 2 minutes per side. (The fat should be sizzling hot, enabling a crisp crust to form before the crab absorbs the cooking fat. This is the Southern secret to perfect crab cakes.) A small pastry spatula (with a thin tongue) will make lifting and turning the delicate crab cakes a lot easier. Remove the crab cakes and drain in the prepared pan. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the second batch.
Carefully pour off the cooking fat from the first batch, wipe out the pan, and return it to the heat. Prepare the second batch of crab cakes using the remaining butter and oil.
Serve hot with lemon wedges. Makes 8 crab cakes.
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Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program “Statesboro Cooks.” From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, her work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for moms and modern women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.
“Juicy tomatoes and pimiento cheese are dreamy together. Especially when they’re in bite-size form.” – Denise Gee, Porch Parties
If I’m being honest, my memories of pimiento cheese are not fond. The words alone make me envision those store-bought, orange-colored round tubs that my grandma kept faithfully on the second shelf of the refrigerator growing up, at eye level next to the sweet tea. I will never forget her spreading that unappetizing orange substance between two pieces of white bread. Fortunately, however, making pimento cheese at home takes on a whole new meaning. This Southern classic is really nothing more than a combination of garden-fresh vegetables and delicious cheeses bound by mayonnaise and seasoned to taste. It’s really quite versatile–spread it on crackers, use it to top off your hamburger or in this case, fill up plump cherry tomatoes.
This recipe was inspired by Porch Parties, a fantastic entertaining book I picked up on St. Simons Island. With only a few ingredients, the most time-consuming part about it is slicing the tomatoes and removing the pulp. You’ll need a small onion, 3 fresh garlic cloves, some jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes and of course a 7 ounce jar of sliced pimientos. As for the cheese, you’ll use a 1/2 pound of yellow mild cheddar and 1/2 pound of white sharp cheddar, shredded. The mixture is then seasoned with white pepper and held together with a cup of mayonnaise.
A pimento or cherry pepper is a variety of a large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper that’s sweet, succulent and more aromatic than the red bell pepper. In my grocery store, they were located on the international aisle with the salsa, not on the aisle with the pickles and olives, like you might think.
Slice off the stems of your cherry tomatoes, then with a melon baller, scoop out the pulp. You’ll need about 24 tomatoes.
While the tomatoes drain on paper towels, remove the seeds and the veins from your jalapeno peppers, de-skin the onion and hull your garlic cloves. Quarter the onion to help your food processor out, throw everything in and give it a whirl…
Meanwhile, shred up your cheeses.
Combine the drained pimientos and the chopped vegetables with the cheese. Then add in your mayonnaise. The recipe called for 1 cup, but in hindsight, I would’ve only added about half. I ended up adding more cheese to balance things out. I am not a fan of mayonnaise so, if you’re like me–there’s good news! You can’t taste it. The mayonnaise really just serves as a binder, the taste is very subtle. Season generously with white pepper and a little salt.
The jalapeno-pimiento cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes are sweet with a little heat and the flavor of the sharp cheese is a nice bite. On the next go ’round, I’ll make just a few tweaks: include less mayo, cut back on the onion, include more cheese–add Wickles.
What’s your take on pimiento cheese? If you’ve never made it at home, give it a chance!
A visit to the lowcountry these days or any seafood restaurant worth its weight wouldn’t be complete without a taste of Fried Green Tomatoes. Once considered a poor man’s food, today the dish is served with fancy dipping sauces all over the South and prices range anywhere from $7 for an appetizer to $16 or more for an entrée. For me, the Fried Green Tomato symbolizes stories of days gone by and aside from their crunchy, salty exterior, it’s the farm to table concept and nostalgia factor that make them so appealing.
It’s been said that Fried Green Tomatoes came about because when there was little to nothing to eat, farmers would harvest the green tomatoes before they ripened and fry them up. I don’t have a farm, but thankfully, you can purchase green tomatoes at Farmers Markets and in most produce sections of the grocery store.
Once your tomatoes are sliced, you’ll want to lay them on a baking sheet and salt them well. I used kosher salt because the pebbles are bigger and it really brings out the flavor. The salt also will draw the moisture out of the tomatoes.
My Great Aunt had 1 brother and 2 sisters, and recently shared with me that my Great-Grandmother would fix fried green tomatoes in a cast iron skillet, using cornmeal ground from fresh corn on the family farm in the 1950s. These are the stories that make a recipe rich. I used equal parts cornmeal and self-rising flour, then seasoned the mixture with 2 tsp of Old Bay and a healthy dash of black pepper. I’ve seen many variations of the recipe, but no buttermilk is needed!
After the tomato is coated good on each side, shake off any excess before dropping it into the hot vegetable oil. Be sure to roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, for a nice, even coating.
This was my first time making the lowcountry dish, and I gotta tell ya, it wasn’t hard at all. Look how pretty they turned out! Serve them hot.
What’s your take on the Fried Green Tomato? Love it? Hate it? Tell me how you like them! Is there a certain sauce you enjoy eating with them? I asked two of my favorite chefs to recommend a sauce, and one recommends a goat cheese basil sauce and the other, a zesty citrus remoulade.
I’m looking forward to experimenting.
3 Large Green Tomatoes
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup self-rising flour
2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Vegetable Oil for frying
Green Onion for garnish, optional
Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick. Place them on a flat surface and season with salt. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and allow them to drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a cast iron skillet or 10-inch frying pan with vegetable oil halfway full and set over medium heat. The oil will be ready for frying when sizzling occurs after gently sprinkled with water. In a small dish, use a fork to combine the cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture on each side. Roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, to ensure an even coating. Shake off any excess before dropping the tomato slices into the hot oil. Fry the tomato slices until golden brown, turning once during cooking. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels. Garnish with green onion. Serve warm with Ranch Dressing if desired.
Watch me cook this recipe of fried green tomatoes on an episode of Statesboro Cooks!