It may be springtime, but let’s face it: the weather can be crazy and unpredictable. For those not-so-springlike nights this season, I’ve got a recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Homemade Thyme Croutons that’ll give you an excuse to transform leftovers and get the most out of your farmers’ market finds.
This recipe is a classic example of technique. Once you master it, you can substitute whatever ingredients you choose. Roma tomatoes and onions would be absolutely fantastic with a grilled cheese sandwich. I made Roasted Root Vegetable Soup using leftover carrots and turnips that I’d made for Easter dinner with my Roasted Leg of Lamb and Mint Chutney. I seasoned the vegetables with salt and pepper, then tossed them in a good quality olive oil and roasted them at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. I love reinventing leftovers. It’s ultimately fun to create something totally new with the same ingredients from another dish.
In a food processor or a blender, puree the vegetables until fluid, adding a little chicken broth or water to help the vegetables liquefy. You can also use an immersion blender, but that’s a fancy tool I’ve yet to acquire. If you’d like your soup to have a little texture, don’t puree them totally. Just pulse your blender a few times, leaving some of the vegetables chunky. I enjoy bites of carrot here and there, rather than pure creaminess, but it’s personal preference.
Transfer the pureed vegetables to a stock pot. Then add 3 – 4 cups of chicken broth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Let simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.
I just so happened to have a french baguette on my counter top that was more than a few days old. What better way to give stale bread new life than to chop it into cubes and make crunchy croutons? I did just that. With the Holy Trinity of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil, I added dried thyme, and roasted them in the oven, also at 425 degrees, for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
If you look closely, you can see chunks of carrot adding texture to the soup. With a pop of green color from my carrot tops for garnish and the addition of my Homemade Thyme Croutons, soup never tasted better on a cool, springtime night.
Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need:
Roasted Root Vegetable Soup featuring Carrots and Turnips
1 Bunch Carrots, peeled
3 Large Turnips, chopped
3-4 cups Chicken Broth
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Parsley or Green Carrot Tops for Garnish
Homemade Thyme Croutons
Day old bread or Stale Bread, such as a French or Italian baguette
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil or enough to coat bread well
At my house, it wouldn’t be a dinner party without the smoke alarm sounding at least once or my Shih Tzu, Ewok howling to the top of his lungs and doing the happy dance each time a new guest arrives at the door. That was the scene on a rainy Tuesday night recently when I invited my boyfriend and two close friends over for an early Easter feast. It was an occasion special enough for fine china and the antique, linen seashell napkins my mother gave me. On the menu? Continue reading “An Easter Feast of Roasted Leg of Lamb and Mint Chutney”→
March is finally here and that’s something to get excited about for SO many reasons–1) I’ve got a new episode of “Statesboro Cooks” premiering this Friday, 2) Daylight Savings Time and 3) St. Patrick’s Day!
Here in Statesboro, I’m just a few miles down the road from Savannah, Georgia where one of the largest parties celebrating Irish history and culture, second only to New York City, takes place in the United States every year. Last year was my first experience at the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and what a blast it was! My Savannah-born-and-raised boyfriend and I donned our green, packed a festive picnic including Paula Deen’s Green Grits Pie and Trisha Yearwood’s Green Punch (spiked of course) and spent the day on Johnson Square playing beer pong with complete strangers at 10 a.m., watching the horse and buggies pass us by and enjoying the sound of bagpipes. It was an unforgettable event I believe everyone should experience at least once.
Paula Deen’s Green Grits Pie
Trisha Yearwood’s Green Punch with a few Some Kinda Good enhancements, like Vodka and a green sugar rim.
On my upcoming episode of “Statesboro Cooks,” a local 30-minute televised cooking program produced by students in the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, I share an Irish menu featuring Shepherd’s Pie and a Mixed Green Salad with seasonal strawberries and candied Georgia pecans. To round out the meal, I get a little help from some local businesses: Simply Sweet Cakery provides dessert (you won’t believe these cupcakes!) and Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Cafe sends me home with a loaf of fresh-baked Irish Soda Bread.
With a couple of extra stout Guinness beers and an Irish Coffee or 12, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Savannah style. Also on the show, I couldn’t be more excited to introduce one of my dear and talented friends from Vidalia Georgia’s Tiger Creek Band, lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Dukes. Justin entertains us with one of his new singles, “Rolling with the Flow,” and the two of us join voices singing Luke Bryan’s, “Tailgate Blues.” This is my favorite episode to date and I’m on the edge of my seat just thinking about it. Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!
Tune in to “Statesboro Cooks”on local cable channel 99 at 7:30 p.m. seven days a week beginning Friday, March 7. The show will also air again at 1 p.m and 1 a.m. daily. Be sure to check back right here on “Some Kinda Good” to get my St. Patrick’s Day menu, including all the recipes featured. If you’re not local, no worries! The program will be available on my blog.
Now, here’s an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look on set during the filming of “Statesboro Cooks.” Will you be watching? Thanks for tuning in!
New to Some Kinda Good? Welcome! A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” I’m the Statesboro Herald food columnist as well as host and executive co-producer of “Statesboro Cooks.” Some Kinda Good is a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. I hope you’ll stick around, and follow me on Twitter at @SKGFoodBlog or find me on Facebook. Thanks for visiting!
I recently sat down for a Q & A with Barry Turner, partner at one of my favorite hometown bakeries here in Statesboro, Ga.–Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Café to learn what inspires him in the kitchen, and what the bakery has in store for 2014.
Why was Statesboro the place you chose to open the bakery? I am from here, have lived here all of my life, with the exception of some time in Atlanta in school, and didn’t consider any other place! At the time Statesboro did not have a bakery, and the renovation of Gaslight Crossing offered what seemed to be a good location for the business. So, after careful consideration, the bakery was founded.
I’ve noticed you guys bake with a lot of organic ingredients and sell local products. What’s the philosophy behind Sugar Magnolia Bakery and why? We want to offer good quality, great taste, and whenever possible, options which are as healthy as possible. While we realize that the very nature of many bakery offerings isn’t what one would consider healthy, we want what we offer to be as good as it can be. When feasible, we like to use local products, and we always want to use ingredients of good quality. The local supply can be a challenge, since the volume of ingredients we require often out paces some of the local supplies–however, we still utilize products from local producers when it works for us. Another challenge is having a customer base that is willing to pay extra for ingredients which may cost a bit more. While the idea of choosing organic options, for example, may be attractive in theory, not everyone is really willing to pay extra for food made with ingredients that aren’t mass-produced food service products. It can be a struggle to do what we would like to do, and what we have to do to be profitable. In the end, all the good intentions in the world are for naught if we don’t succeed as a business.
What’s your best-selling bakery item and item on the menu? We have a number of menu items that seem to be more popular than others–they include our ham & cheese rolls, chicken salad, chewy cake, pizza, fresh mozzarella Panini and our pulled pork hash which we offer at Sunday brunch. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of people whose favorites are one of the other items we offer!
What’s your personal favorite thing to eat at Sugar Magnolia? I like the ham & cheese roll, the chicken salad sandwich, and the roast turkey sandwich. For something sweet, I love the carrot cake and chewy cake.
Tell me about your new business partner Adam, and what his role is at the bakery. Adam is a culinary school graduate who has worked in some great places in Atlanta and beyond. He is a Statesboro native, though, and worked with us at Sugar Magnolia previously before coming on as an owner. Adam brings a wealth of knowledge in food service operation, as well as a passion for food and cooking. He is assessing our operation at present, and is helping develop plans for improvement where necessary, and working to expand our menu and service.
I’ve been to an Open Mic Night at Sugar Magnolia before. What kinds of events are on schedule in 2014? We do have the occasional poetry night at the bakery, and also provide a venue for local musicians. We love local folks who play their own music. Since we don’t have a large space, smaller, acoustic based groups, or individuals, is best. We also have local artwork displayed in our dining area. Artists can schedule a show of their work, usually for about a month, and can even sell their work at the bakery. We love supporting the local art scene, in our own small way.
How are you inspired in the kitchen? I get great pleasure out of serving something that people like to eat. I want the food that we serve at Sugar Magnolia to be more than just something to fill the stomach, I want it to be an opportunity to build memories with friends, to create an atmosphere of community, and to be something that someone will remember fondly, but in the end, to be something that is just good! Even though I don’t do a lot of the cooking or baking myself, I love trying out new things and getting reactions from people who taste what I’ve cooked. I like making soups, bread puddings, and other comfort foods.
Tell me about your staff. We have a fantastic group of people working with us at Sugar Magnolia, from our chief baker, Sharena Williams, to our other bakers and cooks, to counter personnel. Everyone here believes in what we do, and they are invested in doing a good job for our customers. While we are in transition presently, with a new ownership structure, we are mindful of keeping the good things that people love, while trying to improve and expand where possible.
Name an ingredient that’s always in your pantry at home. Now that’s a tough one–we typically always have way more than we need in the pantry and freezer at the house! My wife, Marilyn, and I both like to cook, but typically not together–too much chance for conflicting views on how something should be done! Some basic ingredients that we usually always have, though, which would allow us to whip up a meal for unexpected guests, include pasta, something to make a good pasta sauce, and of course a loaf of some sort of bread from Sugar Magnolia! We usually get something that is leftover at the end of the day, but I really am not kidding when I say we always have a loaf of bakery bread. It is good for grilled or French toast in the morning, for a sandwich at lunch, and as a great accompaniment with that last-minute pasta dinner. Popped into the oven with some cheese, Italian herbs, and a little olive oil, and our French bread or Sourdough is often supper (along with a glass of wine, if you are into that). Our bread keeps in the ‘fridge for a week or more, and is still quite good.
Opened in the fall of 2005, Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Café is owned and operated by Statesboro natives Barry and Marilyn Turner, and Adam Sapp. Specializing in fresh-baked breads and treats, both sweet and savory; including breakfast pastries, cookies and brownies, the bakery is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and my personal favorite– weekend brunch! Sugar Magnolia is located downtown on Savannah Ave. adjacent to Eagle Creek Brewing Company. Be sure to join the nearly 2,000 others that follow them on Facebook at Facebook/SugarMagnoliaBakery for your chance to win a free slice of their scrumptious pizza!
Know of a business you’d like to see featured in The Local Spotlight? Join the conversation on social media by using #LocalSpotlight or email Rebekah at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com.
New to Some Kinda Good? Welcome!
I’m a Georgia food writer and Statesboro-based TV personality. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s The Taste, I’m the Statesboro Herald Food Columnist, and I co-produce and host Statesboro Cooks, airing on local cable Channel 99. This blog, Some Kinda Good™ is a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. I hope you’ll stick around, and follow me on Twitter at @SKGFoodBlog or find me on Facebook. If you want, learn more about me, and thanks for visiting!
This article originally appeared in the Statesboro Herald on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.
It’s a rare day in Statesboro when the weather requires scarves and gloves. This week when the temperatures dropped to 16 degrees, I used the Some Kinda Good™Facebook page to ask, “What’s your favorite thing to eat on freezing days like this?” Many of you responded with exactly what most would–soups, chili, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot chocolate, hot tea–anything comforting and warm. I certainly agree, but the truth is, I’m a warm weather creature. I don’t do well in the cold. Once Christmas is over, I’m ready to go to the beach. If hibernating were an option, you wouldn’t see hide nor hair of me until April when the flowers bloom and the sunny, bright days return. My cold weather comfort isn’t soup. Ironically, it’s beach food. Food that allows me to envision myself on the Georgia coast after a day of basking in the summer sun. So, I cope by cranking up my summer playlist, with songs like Joe Nichols’ Sunny and 75 or Luke Bryan’s Suntan City. I make meals at home that take me to coast and count down the days when I can cruise with the windows down and smile as my 11-pound Shih Tzu cools his belly on the tile floor of the kitchen following an afternoon walk.
If any meal helps me escape the winter, it’s Alaskan Snow Crab Legs with drawn butter. They’re the easiest thing to make. You’ll need salt, Old Bay, Shrimp & Crab Boil, butter and a few pieces of equipment…
A large stock pot fitted with a steamer basket and a lid are essential. Fill the pot about a quarter of the way full. Just be sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the steamer basket. You want to steam the crab legs, not boil them. Then season it with salt and add about a teaspoon of the Shrimp & Crab Boil. Stir.
Bring the water to a boil. If your crab legs are frozen, rinse them good under cold water or thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Place the crab legs in the steamer basket and set the basket inside the pot.
Season the crab legs with several dashes of Old Bay.
Crab Leg facial!
Steam baby, steam.
Then, cover them with the lid. Let the crab legs steam over medium-high heat for at least 8-10 minutes. If frozen, you may want to steam them longer, but no more than 20 minutes.
I melted about a half stick of unsalted butter.
The fat and solids separate.
Meanwhile, melt butter. I like using unsalted butter. To create drawn butter or clarified butter, use a spoon to skim the fat off the top. Once melted, the fat and solids separate (pictured above on the right). Melted butter takes steamed seafood from good to gourmet.
The result is beautiful, tender, succulent crab meat fit for a king. I served the crab legs with rosemary roasted potatoes and a fresh green salad, but another complimentary side dish is good ol’ Southern grits.
Nothing makes me happier than a whole, intact piece of crab meat fresh from its shell. Thank you, Jesus. The art of cracking crab legs takes some time, but oh, is it worth it. Boy, is it ever. Dunk the meat in the butter for optimum food nirvana.
The aftermath. It may not be summertime yet, but a girl can dream.
When a single place comes to mind for lunch, going out on a Friday night and entertaining company, it’s a winner. That’s Gnat’s Landing of Statesboro. The versatile bar & grill is family friendly and college town worthy. It’s a natural choice for lunch before a Saturday afternoon football game in the Eagle Nation, or place to catch a good band and go out dancing on a Friday night. It’s that hometown joint you can hardly visit without running into someone you know. Christmas lights year ’round. Live music every weekend. Beer can and chicken wire decorum. What’s not to love? The local favorite boasts a wide selection of American food with a Southern, coastal vibe in a casual and bright atmosphere.
My staple: Shrimp & Grits.
The Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad is a flavorful and light option.
The BBQ Sandwich is served with a vinegar based sauce and Gnat’s signature battered fries.
Gnat’s is my all-time favorite spot for lunch in the ‘Boro. My friends and I call it “Ol’ faithful.” Nowhere else in town offers lunch for $7.47. Spending $15 going out to lunch can get expensive, and unfortunately, that’s easy to do in a lot of places when you consider tax and tip. I have two lunchtime standbys at Gnat’s and they never fail me: 1) Shrimp & Grits and 2) the Crab Cake Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries. The food is always on point. The Shrimp & Grits is served with andouille sausage and bacon surrounded by toasted bread. Seasoned just right, it’s warm, comforting and takes me to the coast. Served with cocktail sauce, the Crab Cake Sandwich features a large crab cake that’s seared to perfection and served on toasted bread with tomato and lettuce. On occasion, I branch out and try something new like the BBQ Sandwich or the Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad pictured above. The menu also offers wraps, a great grilled chicken sandwich and unexpected side options like grits. I enjoy the cook’s attention to detail and presentation…they always sprinkle the rim of each dish with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
Seating includes booths and tables with checkered flooring.
Beer cans from around the world decorate the walls secured behind chicken wire.
Open more than seven years, Gnat’s Landing of Statesboro is one of only two locations in Georgia. I’ve also visited the St. Simons Island restaurant in Red Fern Village. Though the weather is rarely cold enough to use it, Gnat’s dining room in Statesboro even has a fireplace which creates a wonderful ambiance in the winter. Located on South Main Street in the heart of town, the restaurant also offers ample parking. Depending on when you go, the environment at Gnat’s is bustling. Visit for Trivia on Tuesday nights, Karaoke on Wednesdays and Happy Hour all day on Sunday and Monday. No matter the time of day, they’ll always have affordable drinks, daily lunch specials and a football game on the big screen.
THE GOOD TIMES:
My friend April (right) and I enjoying the Daniel Johnson Band on the dance floor at Gnat’s on a Friday night.
Hanging out on the patio with April (right) at Gnat’s on game day. Go Eagles!
A lunch date with my friend Jennifer, and her sweet baby Lily.
My friend Tori (right) and I after another great meal!
With a name like Gnat’s Landing, this Statesboro front-runner is right at home in the “Gnat Capitol of America.”
Food tastes better when you buy local. For Sunday morning brunch recently, I made french toast and bacon, but not just any french toast and bacon. On Saturday, I visited the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market where I purchased a pecan loaf from Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Cafe and a pound of smoked bacon from Hunter Cattle Company. The sweet bread was the perfect thickness when sliced just right, and the Georgia pecans provided a nice crunch and texture that regular loaf bread lacks. Dusted with a touch of confectioner’s sugar, it was all I could do to take one picture before I savored every bite. And the pig. Never have I tasted the flavor of hog meat so profound and assertive.
Only available on Saturdays, the $4.50 pecan loaf at Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Cafe is hand-shaped into a round and baked. When the bread comes out of the oven, the top is sliced into what resembles a tree to allow steam to escape. When purchased, the bread is so fresh, you can still see the white flour on top in its brown paper sack. It’s so rustic and fun. For french toast, slice the bread about a 1/4 inch thick.
French toast is awesome for a few reasons: 1) It breaks up the monotony of pancakes and waffles, 2) Everything you need to make a batter for it is usually readily available on-hand or easy to get, and 3) It takes no time! For the batter, beat two eggs, whisk in a cup of milk or half & half, cinnamon sugar and a pinch of salt. Soak slices for about 30 seconds on each side.
Melt half a stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Toast slices about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and beautiful like the one in the center. Flip. Repeat.
Meanwhile, cook your bacon. For one pound of Hunter Cattle Company smoked bacon, you’ll pay a little less than $10, and when you think about what you’re getting, you can’t put a price tag on your health. Learn how choosing pastured pork can benefit your well-being. You’re guaranteed to taste the difference.
Drizzle it with syrup or eat it without. You decide. There you have it. Breakfast locally inspired.
Local restaurants are the jewels of small towns. You may have your go-to dish at a well-known chain, but exploring indigenous places to eat–that’s where the magic happens. The truth is, I love Red Lobster’s Seaside Shrimp Trio and the Crispy Chicken Tacos at Chili’s. I can’t go to Cracker Barrel without ordering hash brown casserole as my side dish. However, no matter where I travel, these great restaurants will only offer more of the same. To understand the real picture of a city’s culture, people and food, you’ve got to venture outside the chain-restaurant-comfort-zone. It’s there, at places like downtown Statesboro’s 40 East Grill, you’ll find homegrown flavors, and in this case, experience the true vibe of small town America with a modern twist.
Offering lunch and dinner, 40 East Grill opened in August 2012. With a locally focused menu that changes every few months, they pride themselves on cooking with a fusion of native products featuring B&G Honey Farm, cheese from Flat Creek Lodge and beef produced by Southeast Georgia farmers. Chicken and seafood are other great options. My go-to lunch combo is She Crab Soup paired with the Three-Cheese Panini, pictured below. I often add a side of crispy sweet potato fries to round out the meal. My co-workers and I have made 40 East Grill a regular lunch stop. It makes for a fantastic date night too.
The menu, presented on a clip board with a clothes pin, even includes fun drink choices outside the norm, like an Arnold Palmer (half tea/half lemonade) or blended coffee. Most recently, they’ve added a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich to the menu! That’s not something you see every day and that’s exactly what’s to love about 40 East Grill…it’s creative, classy and unpredictable. The restaurant’s best sellers include the Southern River Farms Ribeye , Chicken Pot Pie and the Maryland Style Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes topped with a lemon beurre blanc.
Buffalo chicken sandwich served with crispy sweet potato fries.
The buffalo chicken sandwich is topped with a cold tomato slice and ranch dressing.
A great lunch combo! She Crab Soup with half a sandwich.
Grilled ham & cheese panini. Warm, crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth fabulous.
Dinner is served! Pasta in a tomato-based sauce topped with Parmesan cheese.
Utensils are bundled in black napkins with a clothes pin. It’s all in the details!
The featured wall art was created by Georgia Southern University’s Art Department.
A typical mid-day crowd at 40 East Grill.
Community support and outdoor dining are big attractions.
The front entrance is bright with natural light.
40 East Grill has a quaint, urban feel that’s trendy and warm with exposed brick throughout, a welcoming chalk board at the entrance that lists daily specials, original hardwood floors, earthy paint colors and modern lamp lighting. Outdoor seating is available with a great view of downtown Statesboro, onlooking the Emma Kelly Theater and Averitt Center for the Arts. Live music happens often too, varying from country, rock and bluegrass. Even the talent is local! Additionally, the ladies restroom is among the cutest I’ve seen complete with a luxurious crystal chandelier and vessel sink.
Happy hour is every evening from 5 – 7 p.m. Stop in for a signature cocktail at the 18 foot copper top bar, like the 40’s Perfect Margarita or Cucumber Melon Martini. During Happy Hour, wells and house wines range from $2 – $3. Not quite ready to go home? Stay for chicken parmesan or a 12-ounce bone-in, pan seared pork chop and watch a game on the flat screen TVs.
Aside from delicious food, the thing that sets 40 East Grill apart is the service. Time and again, I’ve been impressed by the servers’ attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile. They’re consistently well dressed, friendly and accommodating. The restaurant is open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 – 9 p.m., also on Saturdays from 5 – 9:30 p.m.
When quality like this exists in your own neighborhood, it’ll make you think twice before venturing out-of-town.