Your Go-To Guacamole Recipe

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Guacamole is a mixture of avocado, onion, tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno.

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”

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“Nacho” Ordinary Appetizer

Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub
Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub

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…”

Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!
Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!

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!

For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.
For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.

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
  • Salt
  • 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!

Georgia Cocktail Meatballs Make a Perfect Party Appetizer

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Some Kinda Good Georgia Cocktail Meatballs

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. This classic, Southern recipe showcases a few of my favorite Georgia products, plus some staple ingredients you’re sure to have on hand. You can make them for your holiday celebrations, and keep them warm in your slow cooker. The grape jelly keeps the meatballs moist, while fresh parsley lends a homemade touch.

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The Georgia products in this recipe feature Lanier’s Fresh Meat Market ground beef, Braswell’s Red Pepper Jelly, Lanier’s Apple Hickory BBQ Sauce and Georgia Olive Oil of Lakeland, Georgia.

I was recently invited to be a part of “The Classic Southern Christmas,” a Georgia Grown tourism event held at the Georgia Visitor’s Center in my hometown of Augusta. These meatballs were a hit with elementary-aged children to the Marines on site collecting Toys for Tots. Featuring ground beef from Lanier’s Fresh Meat Market , Georgia Olive Farm’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Statesboro’s own Braswell’s Red Pepper Jelly, this recipe is undeniably a product of the Peach State. When you cook with ingredients this good, it’s hard to mess them up. Y’all enjoy, and when folks come calling for the recipe, tell ’em Some Kinda Good sent ya. 😉

Thanks Georgia Grown for allowing me to take part in this spectacular event!
Thanks Georgia Grown for allowing me to take part in this spectacular event!

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound of ground beef
  2. 1/2 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
  3. 1/4 cup of milk
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  9. 1/4 cup of Georgia Olive Oil
  10. 3/4 of 1 (19 ounce) bottle of Lanier’s Apple Hickory BBQ Sauce
  11. 1 (10 ounce) jar of grape jelly
  12. 2 tablespoons of Braswell’s Hot Pepper Jelly

Instructions

Combine the first eight ingredients. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet and brown the meatballs. Remove the meatballs, set aside and pour off the fat from the skillet. Pour the Apple Hickory BBQ sauce and the grape jelly into the skillet and heat, whisking constantly until all of the jelly has dissolved. Stir in the hot pepper jelly. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes. To keep warm place the whole skillet into a slow cooker and keep covered on low. Serve with toothpicks.

Special thanks to Deep South Dish for inspiring this recipe!

Holiday Cheese Ball with Sweet Heat

imageThe cheese ball. What a great concept…a ball of cheese. Who wouldn’t want to eat that?

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Georgia pecans, toasted and chopped

Directions
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.  

Presentation
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!

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Simple Recipes Tailored for Summer Entertaining

Hosted by myself and Chad (left) of The Stylish Steed, "Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!" was held on Thursday, May 15  at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena.
Hosted by myself and Chad (right) of The Stylish Steed, “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” was held on Thursday, May 15 at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena.

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!

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Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese

Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders
Serves 12
Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 12-Pack of Dinner Rolls, such as King’s Hawaiian
  • 1 Package of Spring Mix Lettuce
  • 6-8 Slices of Hardwood Smoked Bacon, Cooked Crispy
Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese
Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese

Spicy Pimento Cheese

  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 Large Sweet Onion, such as Vidalia, diced
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 2 4-oz. Jars of Diced Pimento Peppers, drained
  • 1/2 of an 8-oz block of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of Dukes Mayonnaise
  • Salt, Pepper and Old Bay Seasoning to taste

In a medium bowl, blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer. To assemble a slider, spread pimento cheese onto dinner roll. Top with spring mix lettuce, one fried green tomato and crispy bacon.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 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 + Bacon Grease for frying

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.

Pineapple-Mango Salsa

  • 1 whole Pineapple, Cored, Peeled and Diced
  • 1 whole Mango, Diced
  • 1/2 of a Medium Red Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded and Diced
  • Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 whole Lime, Juiced
  • Dash Kosher Salt

Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa is also refreshing alongside or atop grilled meats such as chicken or fish.

Samples of Honey Vanilla Pound Cake served with fresh macerated berries.
Samples of Honey Vanilla Pound Cake served with fresh macerated berries.

Grilled Pound Cake Served with Macerated Berries 

  • Store-Bought or Homemade Pound Cake
  • 1-2 Pints of Strawberries or a combination of Mixed Berries
  • 1/4 cup of Sugar or more to taste

Remove stems from strawberries. Slice lengthwise. Pour sugar over berries and mix until coated. Set aside and let stand at least 30 minutes. Slice pound cake. Lay on an oiled grill grate just until heated through and grill marks appear. Serve macerated berries over cake. For major indulgence, dollop with fresh, sweetened whipped cream. Any combination of fresh berries can be substituted. Blackberries or blueberries would work marvelously! Always use what’s in season and available.

 

Grilled Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and grilled Italian bread.
Grilled Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and grilled Italian bread.
Samples of Grilled Panzanella
Samples of Grilled Panzanella

Grilled Panzanella

  • 2 large bell peppers (any color), quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Medium Onion, cut in half
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Brush grill with olive oil, season vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill bell peppers, zucchini and onion for about 4-5 minutes, turning once until grill marks are visible. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cucumber into the same bowl. Remove bread from grill, cut into cubes and toss together with the vegetables. Drizzle the mixture with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to dress the salad lightly, and season with more salt and pepper. Squeeze about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice over the mixture. Toss in fresh basil. Devour!

Watermelon Refresher

  •  4 cups of sliced seedless watermelon, rind removed
  • 1 16-oz carton of Lemon Sorbet
  • The Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Watermelon wedges and mint, for garnish

In a blender, combine the first four ingredients until smooth. Pour over ice and serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with fresh mint and a wedge of watermelon. If you’d like to make this recipe a cocktail, vodka is a great addition. Recipe inspired by Paula Deen.

 Watermelon Skewers
Serves 25
Prep Time: 30 Minutes

  • Seedless Watermelon
  • Feta Cheese
  • Fresh Basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Using a small melon baller, scoop out 25 balls of fresh watermelon. Cut feta cheese into medium size cubes (You don’t want them too small because they will crumble when skewered). Pick 25 small basil leaves from a basil plant. Skewer ingredients on wooden skewers in this order: watermelon, feta, basil. Pour about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small bowl. With a grill brush, dip the brush into the balsamic vinegar and gingerly brush the skewers with it. If the feta cheese gets too damp, it will crumble and fall off the skewer. Serve in a tall flower or frog vase for an interesting display! 

A special thanks to all who attended “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” If you make these dishes at home, please let me know how they turn out. To see photos from the event, visit Some Kinda Good on Facebook.  Now you’re set on the menu for your summer party, but don’t forget to check out The Stylish Steed for tips on what to wear and how to decorate!

Cheers…to good food and good company.

New Flavors with Nashville Friends: A Food Adventure at The 404 Kitchen

wpid-0329142036.jpgThe 404 Kitchen
Nashville, Tennessee 

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.

wpid-0329142033.jpgAs 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!”

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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.

wpid-0329141912.jpgStarter 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.

wpid-0329141932a.jpgNext 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.

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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.

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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.

The 404 Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Farmers’ Market Summer Bruschetta

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Farmers’ Market Bruschetta

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.

Learn more about the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market and Tuesday Market in the Park.


Farmers’ Market Summer Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions
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.

Special Event
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.

The Best Crab Cakes in The World

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.

Combine one pound of lump crab meat with chopped pepper and garlic chives, then season with cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt.

Beat one egg white lightly and pour over the crab mixture.

Fold everything together gently. Once the crab meat has absorbed the egg white and is sticky to the touch, sift one tablespoon of all-purpose flour into the mix.

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.

Combine a teaspoon of peanut oil and about a tablespoon of butter in a skillet and let it get hot. This is the secret to a beautiful, crunchy crust.

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. 😉

Serve them on a bed of greens with lemon wedges, a side of grits and a cold glass of sweet tea. It’s sure to be a lowcountry experience no matter where you live.


Recipe Recap
Excerpted from “The Pat Conroy Cookbook” by Pat Conroy copyright © 2004

Pat Conroy’s Crab Cakes

Ingredients

  • 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

Cooking Directions

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.


New to Some Kinda Good?

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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.

Homemade Pimiento-Cheese, A Revelation

 “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…

They smell really good all diced up! Drain the vegetable mixture to get rid of the natural water from the peppers and onions. This will help your mixture to be less runny.

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.

Put about a teaspoon of the mixture in each cherry tomato halve, then top them off with slivered jalapeno peppers. They make such pretty, colorful bites and are fun to serve.

Be sure to try the spread on crackers too.

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!

Farm to Table Fried Green Tomatoes

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.

I prefer my Fried Green Tomatoes crunchy, so I like to slice them thin, but it’s personal preference. My mom prefers hers on the thicker side.

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.

I took this tip from Paula Deen. Put your salted tomatoes in a colander in the sink and allow them to drain for about 30 minutes before cooking. There’s nothing worse than a soggy, fried…anything.

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.

Fry the tomatoes, flipping once during cooking, just until golden…

…then remove and drain on paper towels.

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.

My favorite way to eat a Fried Green Tomato is on a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. Now, there’s a way to elevate a classic to the next level.

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.

Ingredients
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

Directions:
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!