The familiar taste of a ripe, sweet Georgia peach is the ultimate flavor of summertime. Nothing beats biting into the fuzzy, soft fruit and hearing the sound of the peel break, while the juices run down your chin. Continue reading “Recipe Round-Up: Four Fresh Ways to Enjoy Sweet Georgia Peaches”
Old McDonald Fish Camp Seafood Restaurant
North Augusta, South Carolina
For those of us who grew up near Augusta, Georgia, a trip out to Old McDonald Fish Camp is always a treat. My family has enjoyed going for years–we pick up my Grandma on the way, and head out to the country for some grits and hushpuppies, hoping to get there before the waiting room fills up. We usually visit on a Friday or Saturday night, but recently, I realized we’d been doing it all wrong! Thursday night is Crab Leg Night and the only night of the week my favorite crustaceans make an appearance. Continue reading “Longtime North Augusta Restaurant Serves Up Seafood & Southern Hospitality”
Barbecue restaurants are a dime a dozen in the South, but not all of them shine. A bit off the beaten path, I was recently invited to visit Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ in Atlanta, and while the menu did include some typical side dishes, like mac & cheese and potato salad, the real surprise came in the blackened Mahi-mahi fish tacos, the whole fried okra and the chocolate pecan pie. It was a combination of the menu’s unpredictability and the atmosphere’s eclectic, neighborhood vibe, set to the sound of live rhythm and blues that caught my immediate attention. The smell of smoked pig hovering in the parking lot indicated a good time before we even walked through the doors.
I’m Rebekah Faulk and that’s my boyfriend Kurt and I above, along with Katelynne, our server. We visited Hottie Hawg’s on a Saturday night. As soon as we walked in, we heard, “Hey y’all. Welcome to Hottie Hawg’s! Just have a seat wherever you’d like,” followed by another voice from the bar who hollered, “Welcome to Hottie Hawg’s!”
Shortly after sitting down, we were greeted by Chef Charles, better known by the staff as Chuck. Eager and excited to share his creations, Chuck was from Hinesville, Ga. Then later, Kyle, the owner, AKA Boss Hawg, made his way to our table. We told him to pull up a chair, and he grabbed a beer from the bar and joined us. A straight-shooter and native Texan, he was laid back and easygoing. His passion and drive was infectious, and it was apparent that Hottie Hawg’s was his heart. He could tell you every detail about the Stump’s Smokers they use to cook the meat, the local artwork on the walls and the menu items. Boss Hawg was in his element. “There’s Texas. There’s Georgia. We put it all together,” he said. Here, he explains how the magic happens:
Best known for their sliced brisket, ribs and smoked chicken wings, Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ is the three-time reigning Taste of Marietta champion, having won the competition consecutively from 2011-2013. Their stand out side dishes include fried okra, collard greens and Brunswick stew. You can expect to pay anywhere from $6-$25, depending on your appetite. We shared two meat combos including sliced brisket, chopped brisket, beer can chicken, pulled pork and andouille sausage. My favorite? Beer can chicken. The smoked flavor of the skin was crispy and slightly charred, and the chicken, perfectly moist. On brisket, my favorite was chopped because I found it easiest to eat. Boss Hawg compared the Texas style brisket to steak, explaining it this way—“If you’re a rib eye fan, you’ll probably like the chopped brisket. Filet mignon fan? You’ll liked the sliced.” The chopped brisket tends to contain more fat. Served on a cutting board, the meat combo came complete with your choice of two different sauces: Carolina-style mustard or Georgia style tomato-onion. Many of the menu items are Southwestern influenced, and the meats and cheeses are as locally sourced as possible.
From the moment you walk in at Hottie Hawg’s, you feel comfortable. It’s unpretentious. Nothing fancy. It’s down home, local, informal, casual. It’s where the firemen hangout…an atmosphere where everybody knows everybody. Oftentimes folks think Atlanta is all white table cloths and candlelight, but not so. Sports memorabilia, tag plates and ball caps grace the walls. With a sexy pig for a logo, Hottie Hawg’s brings a fun, party vibe to the outskirts of town.
The restaurant offers some rather “spirited” drinks, like the Rusted Out Muffler and the Adios Mother @%#$&. From the Hawg Balls to the 32 oz. Hawg-a-Rita, Hottie Hawg’s really follows through with the pig theme of things. For instance, the 18-Squeeler:
Open for just three years, Hottie Hawg’s Smokin’ BBQ, has more than 3,000 Facebook fans. They even offer brunch! Be sure to check them out on Lifetime this Tuesday, July 16 for the premiere of Catering Wars. I’ll be rootin’ for ’em.
Note: I was invited to review Hottie Hawg’s BBQ and our meal was comped.
I’ve never met Paula Deen, but this I know: She is not a racist. I write this post on the heels of yesterday’s breaking news–that Food Network will not be renewing her contract.
Like many of her fans, I too am from the South, her native state of Georgia. We share a love for Southern comfort food, seafood and the coast. For years, I’ve cooked from her cookbooks, eaten at Savannah’s The Lady and Sons, visited her gift shop and looked forward to Saturday mornings when I could sit down and learn from her as I watched Food Network. I’ve spent many an hour in the kitchen following her recipes and laughing with my Grandma over how long it took me to bake her lemon cake, and how easy they made it look on TV. I can’t count the number of times I’ve eaten a delicious cake or herb-roasted pork tenderloin with the family, and upon that first bite of pleasure uttered the words, “It’s a Paula Deen recipe,” as everyone tasted in agreement. I’ve read her book It Ain’t All About the Cooking and have found myself in her as I admired her rags-to-riches story. I’ve tasted some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. Paula Deen is a nationwide household name. As fans, we feel a connection to her, relate to her and associate good memories with her food and her name.
Just this week before the news was revealed, I made known my ambitions to cook with Paula on her Best Dishes Food Network show. She has been a huge inspiration for me in the kitchen and without her, I wouldn’t be the cook I am today. Paula paved the way for many Southern TV food personalities that have come and are coming after her. For that, I’m thankful.
I believe Paula Deen is a kind-hearted, generous and caring woman. Her fans–black and white–are loyal. Those that know and love Paula admire her courage. I believe her apologies were sincere. When reading the fan’s reactions to the news on Food Network’s Facebook wall just yesterday, one comment said it all: “Leave my Paula alone. Yes, I am African-American.”
Paula, Michael, Jamie and Bobby…if any of you read this, know that this morning we sit around our breakfast tables saddened. We’re wondering how this will affect Jamie and Bobby’s Food Network shows, how we’ll ever be able to watch the network again without hearing Paula’s laugh and seeing her familiar, friendly face. No matter what lies ahead, we love you all and will always be fans. Know that our thoughts and prayers go out to your family.
Paula Deen is not a racist, and that’s just the truth y’all.
I’ve eaten eggs from the grocery store my entire life. I’m sure at some point in my childhood I’ve tasted an egg fresh from the chicken coop because my Grandpa raised chickens, but that was before my palate was experienced enough to appreciate the difference. It’s true that when you’ve never experienced better, you don’t know what you’re missing.
So, when my good lookin’ boyfriend showed up at my door last week with one dozen, light brown and cream-colored farm eggs in one hand and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the other (I know…keeper), I set my sights on cooking the eggs just the way a farmer recommended: in a little bacon grease with salt and pepper. I’ve never tasted anything like these eggs…it was pure eggstacy (had to do it!). Seriously, the flavor is out of this world, and sure to make you crack a smile (okay, okay). During cooking I found them to be more fluffy than a store-bought egg. Produced by free-range chickens, farm eggs are more nutritious because the chickens are able to roam freely and eat a natural diet. They contain no added hormones or fillers and are not processed.
One meal that exemplifies comfort food for me and really lets the farm egg shine, is the tried and true bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. A fancy meal has its time and place, but it’s not always the five-star, fine dining plates that trip my trigger. Sometimes, a good ol’ familiar meal is the only thing I need to feel centered, satisfied and one with my kitchen again. Served with a side of cheese grits, breakfast for dinner has never been better.
Here’s how I make the classic McDonald’s biscuit-turned-sandwich at home:
- Thick cut, hickory smoked bacon
- Nature’s Own Honey Wheat Bread
- 2 Farm Fresh Chicken Eggs
- Blackberry Jelly (I used homemade jelly from the Amish country that I got from a quaint market, but Smucker’s works great if you don’t have that).
- Kraft’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese, sliced
Cook three strips of bacon in a skillet on medium heat until just crispy (I like mine slightly underdone). Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off some of the grease, reserving enough to cook the eggs, about 1-2 tablespoons. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper. Pour the eggs into the pan and let set. Cook for about 2 -3 minutes on each side, flipping once for even browning. Meanwhile, slice or grate the cheddar cheese and toast two slices of bread. Spread toasted bread with blackberry jelly, then build the sandwich. Serve with a side of cheese grits for optimum enjoyment!
And remember, when building the sandwich, it’s all about good architecture! Somehow, the sandwich tastes better when cut into a triangle shape too. At least, that’s the way mama always sent me to school, with a neatly packed cut-in-half sandwich in my brown paper sack.
Have you ever tasted a farm egg? If so, how would you describe the difference?
Here in the coastal plains of Southeast Georgia where flip-flops are perfectly acceptable in December, we don’t have many extremely cold nights during the winter season. So, over the weekend when the temperature got down to 22 degrees, dinner called for something warm and earthy. Inspired by an incredible photo in Bon Appetit magazine, I set out to make pot pie–only instead of using chicken, I served it up low country boil style with baby shrimp, roasted potatoes and canned corn, seasoned with none other than Old Bay.
Here’s what you’ll need to create my spin on the classic chicken pot pie:
Baby Salad Shrimp
Roasted Red Potatoes
Splash of Red Wine
Puff Pastry or Pie Pastry
Old Bay Seasoning
Shrimp & Crab Boil
Salt & Pepper to taste
It was like a Shepherd’s Pie remix. In the fridge, I had some red potatoes that I had roasted just a few days before and a few fresh green beans I needed to use up. This dish is fun because you can really use whatever you like. To start, pre-heat your cast iron skillet on medium heat with extra virgin olive oil. Saute the potatoes and chopped onions together, then throw in your remaining vegetables including the kale and cook, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Feel free to get creative.
Once the vegetables have married together (for about 5 minutes or so), add in 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, stirring constantly. Quickly add in your liquid. I deglazed my pan with a splash of red wine for flavor, then added in 2 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup at a time.
I used pie pastry. Sit the dough out on the counter for about 15 minutes before unrolling. With a rolling pin, smooth out any creases. Then, slap that puppy over that beautiful filling in your cast iron skillet, letting the dough drape over the sides. Whip one egg with about a teaspoon or so of shrimp & crab boil. Brush it all over the pastry. Just enhances the flavor! 😉
Cut four slits in the dough, so the steam can escape. Dot it with butter. Then pop that puppy in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees for another 15 minutes until the top is a rich, golden brown.
Barbara Jean’s Restaurant & Bar
St. Simons Island, Georgia
There’s something comforting about the never changing–those restaurants you’ve been going to for years that you know and love, and have come to expect. You know the quality, you would bet your life savings by the she crab soup and nothing excites you more than sharing the experience with friends and family who’ve never tasted and seen. At the corner of Mallory and Beachview streets located in the Pier Village of St. Simons Island, Georgia sits one of my family’s constants: Barbara Jean’s. You may have visited in the Golden Isles, or in one of the four locations in South Carolina or Florida. Whether you go for the famous crab cakes or the pumpkin bread and the sweet jalapeno corn bread with cinnamon butter, Barbara Jean’s Easy Southern Dining makes deciding where to eat lunch or dinner a cinch!
My favorite seat in the house is by the bay window overlooking the Pier Village shops. In the summertime, every table is usually full and the place is bustling with wait staff, bus boys and hungry tourists and locals. Traveling with Fido? Grab a seat on the patio. Dining alone? Pull up a chair at the full bar and order up your favorite cocktail. The menu prices range from $4.99 for a cup of soup to about $24 for the most expensive dinner entrée.
The food is Some Kinda Good y’all, and my best friend swears by “The Chocolate Stuff.” Cobbler-like and better than a brownie, it’s Barbara Jean’s signature dessert and is served in a big bowl with homemade whipped cream. Other menu items include Tuna Steaks, Shrimp & Grits and Chicken Fried Steak. The restaurant is coastal and down home all at the same time…my kinda place!
After dinner, walk along Mallory street or take a seat at the Pier to see what the fisherman are reeling in. Of all the places to eat in the Golden Isles, Barbara Jean’s should be at the top of your list.
At the start of each new season, there are a few dishes I anticipate cooking greatly. My Apple-Pecan Honey Stuffed Pork Chops in White Wine are at the top of the list in the fall. Apples, onions, pecans and nutmeg exemplify autumn in this comforting, home-cooked meal. It starts on the stove top and finishes in the oven. Special enough for company and simple enough for a weeknight, these tender, juicy pork chops put chicken and beef to shame. It ought to be a crime to eat this good!
Let’s get cookin’! Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3-4 thick cut pork chops
- Salt, pepper and nutmeg seasonings
- 1-2 Tbs honey
- 1 medium granny smith apple
- 1 small Vidalia onion
- 1/2 cup pecans
- Unsalted butter
- White wine of your choice, I used Pinot Grigio
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Start by dicing a granny smith apple, an onion and your pecans. Be sure to dice them up small, keeping them the same size for even cooking. A smaller dice will also make your pork chops easier to stuff.
Melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the diced apples, onions and pecans, season with salt and pepper and dot with butter. Cook for a few minutes, then drizzle in some honey for a touch of sweetness.
You’ll need a small, sharp pairing knife to make the incision. Cut them right down the middle, keeping the back and sides of the pork chop intact but making a large enough incision to create a good size pocket. Don’t be scared. Own it!
By this time, your stuffing will be ready. With a large serving spoon, fill each pork chop to the brim. Pack the stuffing in there, getting down in the crevices. Don’t overfill them, but make sure each one is plump. If you put too much stuffing in the pork chops, it’ll just fall out during cooking. You want them to hold as much as possible. Just remember, deep pockets do the trick. You can use toothpicks to secure them, but I find they just get in the way.
In the same pan (easier clean up and building flavors – winning), melt another tablespoon or two of unsalted butter. Gently lay your stuffed pork chops in the pan and brown on each side for 3-4 minutes until the outsides are golden brown and caramelized. When you flip them, handle with care. You will lose a little stuffing, but don’t fret. Before transferring to the oven, hit the pan with a good splash of white wine and inhale. 😉
Finish cooking the pork chops in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. I find it much easier to finish a thick cut of meat in the oven than on the stove top. The meat cooks evenly and you don’t have to worry about one side getting darker than the other or constant flipping. Plus, you’re not standing over the stove and you can take a moment to sip some wine or devote your attention to side dishes.
They taste phenomenal–warm flavors of nutmeg and pork compliment tart apples in every sweet and savory bite. Don’t forget to drizzle the chops with the pan juices. Having one of these on your plate is like having your own little gift. You’re also getting fruit, protein and vegetables all in one little package. What’s not to love?
Feel free to change-up the stuffing. Rosemary is awesome with pork. Don’t like pecans? Use walnuts. Even if pork is not in your diet, chicken is always an alternative. The idea is to have fun and experiment with flavors. Enjoy!
What are your favorite fall meals?
Skillet Barbecued Pork Chops Good Enough for Company
In the South, barbeque is a holy subject. Opinions about it begin forming at a very early age. At an after-church dinner recently, my sister-in-law and I were serving our plates and chatting about how good the barbeque looked, when a young boy not more than ten spoke up, confidence in motion, to let us know that while lunch was nice, it was his dad who made the best barbeque in all of Bulloch County. We take our pork seriously. Harrison and the staff at Southern Soul Barbeque on St. Simons Island get that. It’s an expression from their very soul, spoken in tender pork, slow cooked and oak-smoked for hours over burning coals and served to anyone with sense enough to stop. You can see the smoke and smell that barbeque coming from the outdoor pits as soon as you hit the parking lot.
That’s Harrison Sapp, the owner. He was an all around nice guy and made me and my Shih Tzu, Ewok, feel as welcome as a whelk in its shell. This guy gets up at 4 a.m. everyday and begins cooking at 6:30 a.m. to have lunch ready for all the hungry folks in the Golden Isles. Passion is the only thing that would motivate one to do something so well 7 days a week.
He showed me around and lifted the lid on the smoker to reveal these beauties. Seasoned with a sweet dry rub and sprayed with a little apple juice throughout the cooking process, the result is pure pork flavor, juicy and tender.
Ewok made himself right at home on the cool cement floor while I waited for my sandwich. The staff even brought him a bowl of water to drink. These long picnic tables are situated on the porch under a vaulted ceiling with big fans and drop lighting. It’s the kind of casual atmosphere where it’s perfectly acceptable to stroll over off the beach in your swim suit.
Served on a toasted bun with pickles, the Jumbo Pulled Pork Sandwich is a beautiful display of the restaurant’s finest. I ordered creamy mac & cheese as my side with a tall, cold glass of sweet tea. Suffice it to say, it’s the best $6.50 I’ve ever spent.
Is your mouth watering yet? I drizzled my sandwich with a little Sweet Georgia Soul Sauce and dug in. Jars of sweet and hot sauce, vinegar and Texas Pete grace the tables. If slaw suits your fancy, they’ll top your sandwich with it at no charge.
Formerly a 1940’s gas station, tag plates and catchy signs decorate the restaurant front and posters advertising local events fill the windows, giving the place that hometown, log cabin-like feel. I particularly love the Dig on Pig sign. On the menu, you’ll find grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, beef brisket, chicken strips, ribs, even sausage and burgers. The sides are soulful too including selections like Brunswick stew, hoppin’ john, fried okra and fried green beans.
No worries for all of you that prefer to beat the heat. Pull up a bar stool inside in the air conditioning and have a cold one. Southern Soul Barbeque is open Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
As seen in leading magazines like Georgia Trend, Garden & Gun and Southern Living and on major television networks like TLC and Food Network, Southern Soul Barbeque is no secret. Guy Fieri himself has been here and has featured the restaurant on his show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. This Southeast Coastal Georgia Smoke Joint gets around.
Not in the South? Not a problem. Now, Southern Soul Barbeque offers nationwide shipping! Located on the round about at 2020 Demere Road, be sure to pull in on your next visit to the Golden Isles of Georgia. It’s worth the stop and good for your soul. 😉
If Georgia were a food, it would be a fried peach pie with bourbon and cinnamon. Nothing says pride in the Peach State like a made from scratch buttery pie pastry, filled with local, sweet peaches fresh from the Farmers’ Market. At first taste of Fried Peach Pies with Bourbon and Cinnamon , you won’t even need to visit the fair when it comes to town. The flaky, crunchy exterior of this turnover with soft, bright red-orange peaches in the center, dusted with cinnamon sugar is one fine way to celebrate this summer fruit. Don’t limit these peach pies to dessert–pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and savor one for breakfast!
First things first. I’m all about a short cut folks, but nothing beats homemade pie dough. Combine self-rising flour, sugar and kosher salt with cold, cubed butter and a little egg wash and you’ve got yourself something to write home about. A food processor is the quickest way to bring everything together. Divide the dough onto a floured surface into 10 equal discs. Then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for at least 45 minutes.
Now, while everything gets underway, go ahead and crank up Georgia Blues by Jimi Hendricks and Lonnie Youngblood.
Lately, Saturday morning finds me at the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. I really enjoy talking with the area farmers and learning about what they grow and how they like to cook their crops. These were some of the most beautiful peaches I’ve ever seen, grown by Jacob’s Produce, a family farm located off of GA Hwy 17 in Screven County.
To peel peaches, forgo the vegetable peeler. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add peaches one at a time with a slotted spoon. Let them boil for about 45 seconds, then remove them from the boiling water and put them directly into an ice bath for about 20 seconds. This is the best way to get the most fruit out of your peach. Man alive, those are pretty!
Once your peaches are peeled and sliced, transfer them to a large skillet and add in a good quality bourbon (I like Bulleit Rye American Whiskey), lemon juice, brown sugar, tapioca and cinnamon. You’ll let those flavors marry for about 10 minutes before cooking them.
In an earlier blog post, I mentioned tapioca and many of my readers had questions about it. This is tapioca. Tapioca is an ingredient in tapioca pudding. It can be found on the baking aisle of your grocery store near the cornstarch and baking powder. Tapioca is used as a thickening agent and to sweeten fruit pies.
Once the peach mixture has set and cooled in the freezer for about 20 minutes, create an assembly line for the fun part! You can use water to moisten the edges of your pie dough, but I used milk for added flavor.
Fry the pies in vegetable oil by the batch. The length of time you’ll fry them will depend on how hot your oil is. My first batch took a little longer than the others. You just want to achieve that deep, dark golden brown color. Remove them from the oil and onto a paper towel-lined plate and immediately dust them with cinnamon sugar. The kitchen is smelling Some Kinda Good at this point, y’all.