Saturday, November 23, 2013

Buttermilk Scallion Corn Cakes

A traditional staple of the Southern table is cornbread, whether made in a skillet or as muffins or cornpone. Another option is to take that same batter and turn it into corn cakes. I'd long suspected that my mother's simple Georgia cornbread recipe would make excellent corn cakes. I put the idea to the test recently, tweaking the recipe just a bit to make it suitable for griddle cooking, and a little more interesting than just plain corn cakes.

It's common for corn cakes to include corn kernels for a little texture. Instead I went the flavor route and did a riff on Asian scallion pancakes. The result was very satisfying. They were good all on their own as a side; even better with some butter. (Isn't everything?) Next, I used the scallion corn cakes as a base for for serving chili, and that was definitely a winner. I can imagine the would be a good base for any sort of stew, or pulled pork or beef.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mini Chocolate Empanadas

It was a tough week. It started on Sunday with a difficult evening on the personal front, then it evolved into a long work week. (Because we can't let personal issues get in the way of work, can we?) I'm not a chocoholic, so I'm not a person who keeps bags of Hershey's Kisses around for emotional emergencies. Still, I'd been thinking for a while about experimenting with an idea I'd had for chocolate empanadas, and even I am not immune to the power of chocolate. So, it seemed as good a time as any to give it a go.

Mini Chocolate Empanadas

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chef Charlie Trotter Passes

Sorry for the lack of posting lately ... I have some topics in the hopper just waiting for a lull in a very busy fall. In the meantime, it's worth noting that Charlie Trotter died today. For those who are relatively new to the foodist world, the name might not mean much, because he doesn't fit the mold of the current "celebrity chef." A lot of what we take for granted in the current American restaurant and food landscape is due to the vision and efforts of Trotter, however. He opened his landmark Chicago restaurant in 1987 and many darlings of today's national food press are proteges or friends. If you were lucky enough to catch his short PBS series The Kitchen Sessions, you were able to see a master at work. I'm proud to say I own autographed copies of the book from that series and of his "Dummies" book.

This article from The New York Times gives a little insight into how influential he was in shaping the way we eat in 2013.

Charlie Trotter, Chicago Chef, Dies

A few other points worth mentioning:
  • Tasting menus are all the rage in fine dining. He started the trend.
  • Ditto vegetarian tasting menus.
  • Trotter's was the first restaurant I'd heard of to pair non-alcoholic beverages with courses. I've since enjoyed similar service a couple of times at Nashville's Catbird Seat restaurant.
  • Trotter also introduced a "chef's table" that was in the kitchen of the restaurant; now chef's tables or counters are all over the place. In fact, the entire Catbird Seat restaurant is essentially a chef's table.