Today’s post continues our countdown to St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah with my recipe for mini shepherd’s pies! Creamy, cheesy delights, the pie crust makes a delicious vehicle for these hearty handhelds. Meat and potatoes, what’s not to love? Continue reading “Mini Shepherd’s Pies Perfect for Picnics”→
St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah is one of the most anticipated events of the year and I LOVE making festive food to celebrate. I recently had the opportunity to cook an Irish-inspired picnic for my co-workers, and this week, leading up to the biggest party of the year, I’ll be unpacking the recipes from our feast here on the blog. First up is my Chicken Salad Cabbage Cups!
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.
For months now I’ve been reading and hearing about the ubiquitous lobster roll–in Bon Appetit and Cook’s Illustrated magazines, and on TV shows like the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street. I must admit I’ve only eaten lobster on a cruise ship vacation; it is not something I can often afford. Plus, I live in the South and have always associated the lobster roll with Maine and seaside towns like Portland, Oregon. The concept of pairing lofty lobster with the all-American lowly hot dog bun, well, that’s just not something you see every day. So, over the weekend I sequestered myself in the kitchen and set out to make this mystery. I may be in Georgia, but with one bite, I was at a seaside shack on the upper East coast, toes in the sand.
With a little help from the July & August edition of Cook’s Illustrated, the recipe was actually very simple. The most difficult part is getting the meat out of the lobster tail, but no worries. I’ll share a tip that makes it easy. I purchased two lobster tails for $18.95 from Ellis’ Meat Market here in Statesboro, then cooked them for 12 minutes in boiling salted water.
Meanwhile, I toasted two good ol’ Sunbeam white bread hot dog buns in butter and seasoned them with salt and pepper on each side. They didn’t know what to think.
I managed to get all my ingredients locally, which can never hurt. I picked up some lemons, green onions and celery from L&D Produce. Chop about two tablespoons of celery and a teaspoon of the onion. A little onion goes a long way, it shouldn’t overpower the lobster.
Once the lobster is finished cooking (you’ll know when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the tail registers 175 degrees), drain and let it cool. Be sure to take them out of the hot water. I forgot to do this and nearly burned myself cracking the shell because I was so excited to get to the meat. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but to keep the tail meat in one piece, Cook’s Illustrated recommends removing the meat by turning the lobster on its side, and pressing down with both hands until the shell cracks. Then, with the flippers facing you and shell facing down–thumbs on opposite sides–pull back to crack the shell and remove the meat. Works like magic. See? Dice lobster into 1/2 inch chunks.
Next, mix two tablespoons of mayo with a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. Toss in the green onion and celery. Mix well and add lobster meat. Toss to coat.
And now for the assembly. I used a lettuce trio including green leaf, iceberg and radicchio. Line the hot dog buns with lettuce. Then spoon lobster salad into the buns, until it’s spilling out and looking irresistible. Finish with a drizzle of melted butter and a final sprinkle of salt and pepper.
The lobster roll is really the perfect, down home dinner party food around. It’s so approachable and unpretentious. That is of course, if everyone brings their own lobster. Ha! Serve it with potato chips or fries, whatever suits your fancy.
The crunch of that toasted bun with the creaminess of the lobster salad is something to write home about. The lemon juice really brightens the flavor.
Bon Appetit contributor Michael Paterniti says,“For me, the lobster roll is more than just culinary transcendence or proof that simple food made simply is the most soul-satisfying of all. It is summer itself, the baptismal rite after winter and mud season, a diary of days.” That sums it up.
Here’s a quick reference of everything you’ll need.
In my everyday life, I’m connected–connected to my friends on social media, my emails and text messages. Like a large percentage of the human population, I too have a smartphone that I couldn’t do without. Over the weekend however, I experienced a different kind of connection, one I don’t experience often enough–to land and food–at Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet, Georgia.
Despite the rain, I put my boots on and ventured about 14 miles Southeast of town to taste my first grass-fed hamburger and meet the good folks behind this family owned and operated farm I’d heard so much about. On my ride down the two-lane country roads to get there, I passed cotton fields and pecan orchards and a deer that never had a chance. I came upon the 350-acre property and turned onto the dirt road that led me to MooMa’s Farm Store. Immediately, I spotted a few cats–one golden, fat kitty asleep under a bush and another gray kitty purring happily curled up in a ball on the porch. Having grown up in rural Georgia myself, I felt at home as I entered the screeching screen door to the store. Cast iron pans served as wall art on the outside of the red barn-like exterior.
Over nine years ago, Del and Debra Ferguson along with their oldest son and daughter (pictured left), found the land and decided to relocate there to raise their families and grow their own food. Today, the family’s “accidental business” provides grass-fed beef to restaurants all over Southeast Georgia, many right here in Statesboro like Chops on Main and South & Vine Public House and at Savannah’s popular Green Truck Pub and Moon River Brewery.
Local businesses like Sugar Magnolia Bakery also sell Hunter Cattle Company’s free-range eggs. They participate in the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market (which kicks off April 6 this spring!) and the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah. Most recently, Hunter Cattle Company earned the University of Georgia sponsored 2013 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest in the meat category for their pork sausage. They’ve been featured in Southern Living magazine, The South magazine and Savannah magazine among countless other news outlets, solely by word of mouth.
Now, about that hamburger. I could try and describe the flavor to you, but I like the way my butcher friend, Chad of Carne Bellingham, described the difference between grass-fed cattle vs. “factory” farm meat best: “It’s like Chips Ahoy versus mom’s homemade cookies.”
My grass-fed hamburger served with mac & cheese and sweet tea.
Hunter Cattle Co. is committed to providing the healthiest, best tasting beef, pork, poultry, and eggs to their customers. It shows!
I ate every bite.
Hunter Cattle Company’s passion for education is evident. Their animals receive no added growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics and are not subject to feedlots or cages. Committed to the humane treatment of all the animals, the pigs and chickens are free to roam and graze and are raised on Georgia grass. After spending just a few hours at the farm, I was enlightened to learn:
Factory farms use 80% of the United States’ antibiotic supply for livestock
If cows, chickens and pigs are given the ability to roam freely and eat what they were created to eat, they are healthier, and as a result so are we!
Livestock living conditions and diet are key factors when considering healthy benefits of American meat
I will certainly never look at a package of ground beef at the grocery store the same again!
If you’ve never had the opportunity to see a newborn baby pig, it’s a must. The pigs were my favorite part of the day.
They even have peacocks and turkeys!
This beautiful peacock was perched up on the smoker.
Me hanging out next to the Massey Ferguson tractor on the farm.
Chickens laying eggs.
I loved the chicken coop!
If Southern hospitality describes anyone, it would be the Ferguson family. They fed me, showed me around and even sent me home with a Hunter Cattle Company T-shirt. By the end of my time there, I was hugging their necks and feeling like one of the family. Whether you’re local or not from around these parts, make time to visit Hunter Cattle Company. From birthday parties to overnight accommodations, they have it all. Most importantly though, you’ll be reminded what it’s like to hear the chickens peck, smell the cow manure and watch little boys drink from a garden hose.
I couldn’t be more excited to tell y’all about the Inaugural Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival happening this September at Gascoigne Bluff in my favorite vacation destination…the beautiful Golden Isles of Georgia.
If you’re like me and love seafood and Southern cuisine, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Headlined by James Beard – award-winning television personality, cookbook author and grand dame of Southern cooking – Nathalie Dupree and her co-author, Cynthia Graubart, the festival will highlight the talents of many major players in the culinary world.
Nathalie Dupree was a household name when I was growing up and like many of you, I am a very big fan of her cookbooks. Other participants will include Atlanta chef of No. 246 Restaurant, Ford Fry; food blogger and cookbook author Libbie Summers and Saint Simons’ own beekeeper, Ted Dennard, founder of Savannah Bee Company.
Think wild Georgia shrimp & grits. Crab cakes. Local honey. Fine wine. The food is sure to be Some Kinda Good, but the cause is even better.
While celebrating the bounty of Georgia’s Golden Isles, the Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival will raise dollars and awareness for Hospice of the Golden Isles, the only community-based, non-profit hospice serving the area. A variety of ticket prices will cater to every budget.
Culinary talent, bluegrass musical performances and local, coastal cuisine–what’s not to love? I hope you’ll join me and area restaurants, regional farmers and artisans at the first event of its kind September 21 – 23.