Curtis Stone Has the Most Perfect Recipe for Mother’s Day
This Mother’s Day show your appreciation for mom and mom figures by putting these three little words into action: Breakfast in Bed, says celebrity chef Curtis Stone.
Australian-born, Stone is an award winning chef and is chef/owner of Maude in Beverly Hills, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant–and English-style butcher shop eatery, and Georgie by Curtis Stone in Dallas.
Unsure what to whip up? Not too worry. Stone’s got you covered with his ALL-NEW breakfast in bed recipe (approved by his wife Lindsay and kids), that blends savory and sweet in a “sparkling” delicious way using Waterloo Orange Vanilla Sparkling Water.
“My cooking philosophy is to keep it simple and cook with naturally produced ingredients just as Mother Nature intended,” says Stone who is an Iron Chef and is one The Iron Chefs from the new Netflix show (left to right): Marcus Samuelsson, Dominique Crenn, Curtis Stone, Gabriela Camara and Ming Tsai.
Stone has also appeared on Food Network‘s Iron Chef America in the episode “Battle Skipjack Tuna,” where he lost to Iron Chef Bobby Flay and was a judge on the first season of Crime Scene Kitchen, and was also the red team’s chef’s table guest diner during the second dinner service in Hell’s Kitchen‘s twentieth season.
He is the author of six cookbooks including Good Food, Good Life, What’s for Dinner?: Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life: A Cookbook, and Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone.
Orange Vanilla Crepes with Whipped Mascarpone and Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Waterloo Orange Vanilla Sparkling Water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- Whipped Mascarpone:
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese, chilled
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- Caramel Sauce:
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
To make crepes:
1. In blender, combine flour, Waterloo Orange Vanilla Sparkling Water, cream, eggs, sugar, and pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Heat medium (10-inch) frypan over medium-low heat. Melt 1 tsp butter in pan.
3. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into center of pan and swirl to coat bottom thinly. Cook 2 minutes, or until edges of crepe are light brown.
4. Loosen edges gently with thin spatula and carefully turn crepe over. Continue cooking 1 minute, or until bottom begins to brown in spots.
5. Transfer crepe to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, adding butter to pan as needed, and forming about 10 crepes in total.
Meanwhile, to make whipped mascarpone and caramel sauce:
6. In medium bowl, using whisk, lightly whip mascarpone, cream, and zest until soft peaks form. Set aside.
7. In medium saucepan over low heat, stir sugar and 1/4 cup water until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring for about 8 minutes, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any crystals, until caramel is golden brown. Remove pan from heat and slowly whisk in cream and pinch of salt; caramel will bubble vigorously.
To assemble and serve crepes:
8. Lay one crepe flat on work surface and spread some whipped mascarpone over crepe in thin layer. Repeat to assemble remaining crepes. Divide crepes among plates. Spoon caramel over crepes and serve.
Serves: 4 (makes about 10 crepes)
Prep Time: 35 minutes; Cook Time: 25 minutes
Make-Ahead: Crepe batter can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
About Waterloo Sparkling Water
Waterloo, founded in 2017, is committed to creating better-tasting, better-for-you sparkling waters that support a healthy, active lifestyle. With a focus on sustainability, the water used in Waterloo is filtered and manufactured in zero waste plants, packaged in recyclable aluminum cans from 70% recycled material, and actively managed to reduce miles in transit – on average just one day from plant to retailer shelf.
Their flavor recipes are custom-created by in-house flavor artists and include such flavors as Blackberry Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Cherry Limeade, Peach, Grape and two new flavors Ginger Citrus and Orange Twist.
Smithsonian American Table: The Foods, People, and Innovations That Feed Us
Lisa Kingsley quotes the French gastronome Jean Antheime Brillat-Savarin who famously wrote “Just tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are,” in the introduction to her new book, Smithsonian American Table: The Foods, People, and Innovations That Feed Us that culls the vast archives of the Smithsonian Institute where just the word “food” yields tens of thousands of results. The Smithsonian, which opened over 175 years ago, is the nation’s museum, and it’s not a stretch to say that food is the nation’s passion. What Kingsley, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, has accomplished is to provide snapshots of how our environment, availability of foods, and migration have played an important part in what our ancestors ate and what we eat now.
Trying a variety of foods is often called grazing, and Kingsley, who has been writing about food for more than three decades and is currently the editorial director of Waterbury Publications, a company in Des Moines, Iowa that produces and packages books for publishers, authors, personalities, and corporate brands, has created the literary equivalency in presenting a history of foods for our reading pleasure.
“The long history of hot sauce began about 7000 years ago in Bolivia, where chile peppers grew wild,” writes Kingsley in her chapter, “Food Fads & Trends,” which also includes the history of not only our addiction to fiery sauces but also explores snacking, fermentation, the craft beer movement, fad diets, the backyard cookout, and, among others, community cookbooks and sushi. The latter had a much shorter trajectory to fame and availability than one would ever expect of a dish consisting of raw fish and rice often accompanied by wasabi paste and fresh ginger.
“Propelled by an economic boom in Japan and bolstered by American hipster culture, what started as a street snack almost 200 years ago is now as likely to get as a hamburger or hot dog,” writes Kingsley who describes sushi spreading from California where it appeared in a restaurant right next to a Century 21st Century Fox studio to everywhere. That includes your local grocery store.
Trends are fascinating, but so are the other subjects in this book that are highlighted in such chapters as “Innovators & Creators.” That list would have to include Irving Naxon who applied for a patent on a slow cooker he invented in 1936. Now, out of almost 123 million households in the U.S., approximately 100 million have a slow cooker tucked away in a cabinet or pantry or even on the counter. On the opposite side of slow cooking was Percy Spencer whose application of microwave technology to cooking led to the Radarange, the first microwave oven, which was both the size of a conventional oven and sold at a costly $1295 in 1955.
In Chapter Five, we meet the “Tastemakers,” such as early cookbook authors Fannie Farmer, Lizzie Kander, and Irma S. Rombauer as well as chefs who would be the early innovators for the boom in the cult of television chef celebrities of today. Lena Richard, the host of the Lena Richard’s New Orleans Cook Book show that aired in 1948, was the author of the New Orleans Cook Book said to be the first Creole cookbook by a person of color. She would be followed by now better-known names of those early cooking shows like James Beard and Julia Child.
Each of the chapters is illustrated not only with historic and current photos of people, foods, and products but also full color photos of the 40 plus iconic recipes included in the book such as Beard’s Cocktail Canapes and Child’s Smoked Salmon & Dill Souffle. Of special interest are the sidebars such as “The Black Brewmaster of Monticello,” a reference to Peter Hemings, the enslaved chef of Thomas Jefferson.
Kingsley’s preparation, research, and organization of this book is a wonderful account of the foodways of America and how they came about, and it can easily be read from front to back or delved into according to the reader’s interest. Either way, it’s our history and after reading this you can now look at a chunk of artisan cheese, a photo of the Harvey Girls, or a plate of Korean Fried Chicken and know how they—and so many others—became part of our national food conversation.
The following are from Smithsonian American Table.
Southeast Michigan is home to the country’s largest Arab American population. The first influx of immigrants began in the early 1900s, when — according to local legend — there was a chance encounter between a Yemeni sailor and Henry Ford, who told the sailor that his automobile factory was paying $5 a day. The sailor took word back to Yemen, where it spread. For decades, as people fled conflicts in the Middle East, many sought economic opportunities near Dearborn, bringing their food traditions with them. This recipe comes from Patty Darwish of Dearborn, whose great-grandfather immigrated from Lebanon in the late 1800s. Note: You want the texture to be somewhere between couscous and a paste. If you don’t grind the chickpeas enough, the falafel won’t hold together, but if you overgrind, you will wind up with hummus. This recipe must be made in advance.
From “Smithsonian American Table,” by Lisa Kingsley in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution (Harvest, 2023).
For the falafel:
- 2 c. dried chickpeas
- 1 c. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 of a green bell pepper
- 1 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped, optional
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- Vegetable oil
For the tahini sauce:
- 6 tbsp. tahini
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- Pita bread, warmed
- Tahini sauce
- Optional toppings: pickle spears, pickled turnips, sliced green peppers, diced tomatoes, chopped fresh parsley, thinly sliced onions
Soak the chickpeas in 3 cups of water at least 12 hours or overnight. (Be sure chickpeas are always covered with water. If necessary, add more.) Drain and rinse.
In a blender or food processor, grind beans in batches until almost smooth (see Note). Transfer to a large bowl. Add parsley, cilantro, onion, green pepper and chile (if using) to the blender. Blend until almost smooth. Add to bowl with chickpeas and stir until well combined. Add the cumin, garam masala, chili powder and salt and black pepper to taste. Stir until well combined.
No more than 15 minutes before you cook the falafel, add the baking powder and stir well to combine. Form into patties, using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture per falafel.
In a large deep skillet, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook falafel 5 or 6 at a time until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Meanwhile, prepare the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, water and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more water if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
To serve, place falafel in the middle of a pita bread. Add desired toppings and drizzle with tahini sauce. Fold and serve.
Lena Richard’s Crab a la King
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. light cream or half-and-half
- 1 c. whole milk
- 8 oz. lump crabmeat
- 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped green pepper
- 3 tbsp. chopped pimiento
- 1 tsp. Coleman’s dry mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. dry sherry (optional)
- 4 puff pastry shells, baked according to package directions
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in cream and milk. Add crabmeat, mushrooms, green pepper, and pimiento. Add dry mustard and salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Add eggs and lemon juice. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in sherry, if desired.
Serve in puff pastry shells.
Radaranger photo courtesy of radarange.com
This story originally appeared in the New York Journal of Books.
Celebrating Ancient Grains: Heritage Baking Cookbook
A history major and bread aficionado, Ellen King became intrigued by the abundance of grains once available and commonly grown in the United States that had, since World War II, completely disappeared from the marketplace and which often didn’t seem to exist anymore.
“I spent some time in Norway and bread was about all I could afford to eat,” says King, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and then attended the Seattle Culinary Academy and worked in several Seattle restaurants before she moved to Evanston, Illinois. Shocked at finding that Chicago didn’t have the types of breads she yearned for, she began a search for heirloom grains and began making bread the old fashioned way—using natural wild yeasts as an ingredient, mixing and turning the dough by hand for several hours and then injecting steam for a crisp crust while it bakes in an imported European oven.
But that wasn’t enough for King, who in 2013 opened Hewn Bakerywith partner Julie Matthei in Evanston, Illinois and is the author of Heritage Baking: Recipes for Rustic Breads and Pastries Baked with Artisanal Flour with Amelia Levin (Chronicle Books). For her hand foraged breads she wanted to harken back to the grains of a century or so ago instead of using the homogenous flour currently turned out by big corporate mills.
What good was opening a bakery if I couldn’t find good ingredients, King remembers thinking. Partnering with farmer Andrea Hazard who was interested in growing heirloom grains, the two finally connected with Stephen Jones, a wheat breeder and the Director of The Bread Lab at Washington state University. Jones, who earned a PhD in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, suggested she and, a farmer who was interesting in growing heritage wheat, read old farming journals to find out what varieties that were grown at the turn of the last century.
“There are literally over 10,000 varieties of wheat,” King says. “One person told me 100,000.”
The names are romantic–Rouge de Bordeaux, Turkey Red and Marquis. But the seeds seemed ephemeral. Take Marquis, a hard red spring wheat first introduced in Canada in 1895. It was among the most widely grown wheat in the United States between the 1910s through the 1930s. During the 1920s, Marquis accounted for 59% of the wheat produced in Wisconsin. By the time King went looking for it, Marquis was no longer grown and she couldn’t find the seeds.
But her years during historical research paid off. Countless queries led to a college professor who had 2.2 pounds of Marquis wheat. Planting the seeds King and Hazard were able to produce 30 pounds the first year. Now they hope to have 3000 seeds which will yield enough to both make bread and save seeds.
“That way we can grow more and share with other farmers,” she says.
Selecting a loaf of bread from Hewn is like taking a step back into history. The menu of hand-forged breads made from organic, locally sourced re-discovered wheat varieties include those made with Turkey Red, a heritage variety of wheat grown in Wisconsin and Kansas Lower in gluten the bread has a nutty flavor and Red Fife–a heritage variety of wheat grown and milled in Wisconsin.
Why did these varieties disappear, I ask King.
“After World War II the cherished varieties fell out of favor,” she says. “And when we did that we lost the uniqueness of each region where the wheat grew and we lost the flavor. Along with the homogenization of our wheat, we added fertilizers and products like Round-Up and made bread less healthy.”
It was all about efficiency and mass production.
“General Mills flour is always exactly the same and large scale baking needs that consistency,” she says. “At Hewn, I invest in people, not machinery. For us, it’s about training the baker in how to treat and understand the flour.”
Just as wine connoisseurs can recognize the terroir of grapes, King can do the same with wheat. And though heirloom produce like tomatoes, squash and peppers has become a major player in farming, she says wheat varieties are still lagging.
But she enjoys the challenge of finding farmers who are growing them.
“There are more and more people doing it,” she says. “I met this guy who is growing Pedigree Number 2. At first I couldn’t find any one growing Red Kharkoff anywhere, but now I’m connecting with a farmer in Washington state who is growing it and all sorts of grains. It takes time, but it’s worth it—it’s better for the soil, for the environment and for our health. It tastes great. And also, it’s history.”
Heritage Corn and Berry Muffins
Excerpted with permission from Heritage Baker by Ellen King
Note: Most of the recipes in Heritage Baker require preparing a starter which is a process that takes several days. King recommended that beginners start with one of her muffin recipes as they are the simplest to make. She also notes that the flavor of flint corn is rich and pronounced but if you can’t find Floriani, any flint corn variety from your region will work well for this recipe. You can also, more easily, substitute regular or coarsely ground cornmeal which is found in supermarkets. Be sure to avoid finely ground cornmeal. Brands available in grocery stores like Bob’s Red Mill offer coarse ground coarse meal and a variety of flours. There are several places in Michigan where you can order specialty heirloom flours.
Country Life Natural Foods in Pullman, Michigan is a wholesaler but also sells in small amounts. They offer mail order and delivery. 641 52nd St., Pullman, MI 800-456-7694.
DeZwaan Windmill on Windmill Island in Holland, Michigan sells stone ground cornmeal and flour. Click here for more information about their products.
Ingredients for some of the grains in King’s book such as flint corn can be found online, at specialty stores or at farm markets.
Janie’s Mill in Askum, Illinois offers a wide variety of flours including Organic Black Emmer, Organic Einkorn, and Organic Red Fife Heirloom Flour as well as other products such as Whole Organic Spelt Berries, Organic Bloody Butcher Cornmeal, and Organic Turkey Red Flour among many others.
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 13/4 cups sifted heritage flour, such as White Sonora or Richland
- 1/2 cup fine-milled Floriani Flint or other heritage cornmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cup strawberries, quartered, or blueberries
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup stone rolled heritage oats
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin pan.
To make the batter, stir together the granulated sugar and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla, followed by the melted butter. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until combined.
Using a wooden spoon, very gently fold in the berries. Do not overmix. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups; the cups should be three-quarters full.
To make the streusel topping, combine the brown sugar, oats, and butter in a small bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, stir until the mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the topping over each muffin.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a metal skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, or freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. To reheat, set on the counter until thawed and warm in a 325°F oven for 10 minutes.
Hewn in the News: Food & Wine magazine featured Hewn as one of the Best Bakeries in America and in the article The Best Bread in Every State. Hewn was listed among the Best Bread Bakeries at the Food Network, and as one of the Best Bakeries in Chicago by Thrillist. Click here to listen to their recent interview on the WBBM Noon Business Hour. Click here to read Midwest Living Magazine’s “Best of the Midwest.” Click here to watch Steve Dolinsky’s recent segment on the bakery on NBC5 Chicago. To learn more about their expansion to Libertyville, click here.
Photos by John Lee reprinted with permission by Chronicle Books. Additional photos by Siege Food Photo, Kailley Lindman and Julie Matthei
The Spicy Plant-Based Cookbook: 200 Recipes For More Flavor
Vegan and vegetarian doesn’t have to be boring. Hard to believe? Then check-out The Spicy Plant-Based Cookbook. Featuring 200 easy-to-make, plant-based recipes that transforms everyday meals from “blah” to “bam,” this book is perfect not only for vegan and vegetarian eaters but for anyone wanting to increase the number of plants into their diet and are looking to kick things up a notch by adding spicy flavors.
From Jalapeno Hash Browns to Mango Chili Sorbet, this book has recipes for every meal of the day and also includes a beginner-friendly guide to the plant-based diet (plant-based is plant-forward, but doesn’t necessarily require followers to cut all animal product options).
Here are some recipes to try.
Bourbon and Chili Brownies
yields 12 big brownies
This recipe yields dense, chewy brownies with spicy hints of chili and bourbon. Sprinkle extra chili powder on top after baking for extra heat.
- 4 ounces vegan chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 stick vegan margarine, softened and cut into small cubes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 cup bourbon
- 1⁄2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8″ square baking pan.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and margarine. Microwave 20 seconds at a time until melted; stir until smooth. (You can also melt the chocolate and margarine in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.)
Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
Add egg replacer and stir until smooth. Add vanilla and bourbon, then stir.
Add flour, salt, cinnamon, and chili powder. Stir gently until smooth.
Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and bake for 20–25 minutes, until just set in the middle and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Let brownies cool before cutting.
Calories: 218 | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 31mg
Cajun Tempeh Po’Boy
This hot and spicy recipe makes two very large sandwiches, so bring your appetite—or you can save some for later.
- 1 (13-ounce) package tempeh, cut into small, bite-sized squares
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- 5 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium loaf French baguette, sliced crosswise and then lengthwise in half
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 2 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced
In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except bread, lettuce, and tomatoes. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
Assemble the sandwiches on bread by layering the tempeh, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Note: All “dressed” up
Traditional New Orleans po’boys are served either plain or dressed. Dressed means it’s topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise, but you can substitute Vegenaise to keep the sandwich vegan.
Yields 2 cups
Salsa has a variety of uses, and this recipe adds color and variety to your usual chips and dip or Mexican dishes. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and enjoy with tortilla chips.
- 1 medium mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
- 2 medium tangerines, peeled and chopped
- 1⁄2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1⁄2 medium red onion, peeled and minced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1⁄2 medium jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Gently toss to mix well.
Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend. Store any leftover salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Per 1 Cup
- Calories: 178 | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 587mg
- Carbohydrates: 45g | Fiber: 6g
- Sugar: 35g | Protein: 3g
Tasting History: Explore the Past Through 4,000 Years of Recipes
“even if we never make these dishes of ancient times, Miller’s book is a fascinating read.”
“They say ‘history is written by the victors,’ but in my experience, history is written by those who write stuff down, and food is no exception,” writes Max Miller in the introduction to Tasting History, his new cookbook that delves into the foods we’ve eaten throughout millennia.
Four years ago, Miller had little interest in cooking. But when a friend became sick while they were vacationing and they watched seasons of a cooking shows while overindulging on nachos, that all changed. Developing a passion for baking, he soon was taking his cakes and pastries to Walt Disney Studios where he worked. Besides sharing his creations, Miller also explained the origins of the recipes. Suggestions from friends influenced him to start a YouTube show titled “Tasting History with Matt Miller.” Shortly after, the pandemic hit, Miller was furloughed from his job, as were many others, and his show became a hit to all those stuck at home.
Now Miller has taken it to the next level with this deep dive into food history that includes original recipes and Miller’s adaptations for home chefs as well as photos, original drawings, anecdotes, and cook’s notes.
The recipe for this stew is easy, but even if a person could, though it’s unlikely, find the fatty sheep tails, another ingredient—risnatu—has no definite translation, though Miller says it’s commonly agreed upon that it’s a type of dried barley cake. He solves both those problems in his adaptation of the recipe by providing appropriate substitutions that honor the dish’s origins but make it available to modern kitchens.
But even if we never make these dishes of ancient times, Miller’s book is a fascinating read. As we get closer to our own times—the book is arranged chronologically—we find dishes that are more recognizable such as precedella, a German recipe originating in 1581 that instructed cooks to “Take fair flour, a good amount of egg yolk, and a little wine, sugar and anise seed and make a dough with it.”
Of course, modern pretzels don’t typically have wine and anise seeds in them, but Miller provides a recipe using all those ingredients so we can get the same flavor profile as the precedellas that were baked almost 500 years ago. It is indeed tasting history.
Miller has culled recipes from around the world. The book also includes the foodways of medieval Europe, Ming China, and even the present with a 1914 recipe for Texas Pecan Pie that Miller describes as “a time before corn syrup came to dominate the dessert.” His adaptation of the original recipe uses sugar since corn syrup didn’t begin to dominate until the 1930s. The 1914 recipe also calls for a meringue topping, an addition not found in modern pecan pies. So even within a short time span of just over 100 years, Miller shows us how a recipe has evolved though he assures us, we’ll like the 1914 version best.
This article previously appeared in the New York Journal of Books.
Great Reasons to Make LaGrange, Georgia Your Next Destination
Guest Road Tripper and award winning author Kathy Witt takes us to LaGrange, Georgia in her latest travel piece.
Hidden away in southwest Georgia, LaGrange is a small town with Southern heart and French-laced history. A textile town founded in 1828, LaGrange’s moneyed roots show up in the stately manses and architecturally significant buildings surrounding Lafayette Square, the city centerpiece named for the Marquis de Lafayette, and its countless cultural assets.
The town itself takes its name from an estate belonging to the Marquis and it is a statue in the French nobleman’s likeness that tops the tiered water fountain anchoring Lafayette Square. Ringed by flowers, trees and greenspace, it is a gorgeous place to sit, stroll and take in the picture postcard setting of downtown with its boutiques, restaurants and museums.
Nearby, the free-admission Legacy Museum on Main is tucked into a 1917 bank building, the steward of a section of steel from a structural column from one of the World Trade Center Twin Towers destroyed on September 11, 2001.
Learn about the Nancy Harts, a women’s militia named for the American Revolution heroine from Georgia that defended LaGrange during the Civil War. On the quirkier side, see the world’s oldest cotton bale. “Hitting the Road: Shifting Through Automobile History,” runs through June 16, 2023, and goes full throttle into America’s love of the car and car culture.
Also downtown is the free-admission LaGrange Art Museum, housed in an 1892 Victorian building that was originally the county jail. The museum’s permanent collection was established in the early 1960s when one of the most influential Georgia artists of his generation and a pioneer of arts education donated a painting. That was Lamar Dodd (1909-1996), who grew up in LaGrange and at one point worked as an official NASA artist for rocket launchings, including Apollo 11.
Three floors of gallery exhibits, both permanent and rotating, showcase the works of local and national artists across a range of mediums—painting, photography, print, sculpture.
The Lamar Dodd Art Center, located on the campus of LaGrange College—the oldest private college in Georgia—hosts everchanging art collections in an enormous three-story facility that is open to visitors when classes are in session. Also here is Price Theatre, which produces high quality student productions throughout the year, also open to the public.
Enjoy the artistry of Mother Nature with a stroll on The Thread, a 12-foot wide multi-purpose trail wending through picturesque neighborhoods and marked by pocket parks, historic cemeteries and boardwalks. It is accessible downtown at Southbend Park, a new park with playgrounds and skatepark, and Sweetland Amphitheater, which hosts a variety of entertainers, including comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who will perform on April 29, and the Southern rock band, 38 Special, appearing on May 4
The Lafayette Loft (www.visitlagrange.com/things-to-do/the-lafayette-loft), rented through Airbnb with Superhosts Lisa and Leon, is located on the second floor of the 1875 Historic Davis Pharmacy Building, overlooking Lafayette Square. Comfortable with a modern edge, the Loft has plenty of cushy seating warmed up with wood flooring, plus equipped kitchen, king bedroom and queen bunkbeds. Outside, two seating groups on the public pavilion are perfect for watching the goings-on at Lafayette Square.
Warm, crusty bread and herby olive oil dipping sauce are a prelude to a memorable meal at Venucci’s (www.venuccis.com), a small, upscale restaurant located on Lafayette Square. Venucci’s is known for heaping portions of authentic traditional Italian fare, a cozy setting with soft lighting and distressed brick wall and impeccable service, all in an atmosphere that feels like Sunday dinner with family.
Chef Tulla White is a fourth-generation restaurant owner who says cooking is in his blood. From washing dishes to making desserts to bussing then waiting tables to attending culinary school and eventually opening his own restaurant, White’s path eventually led to his opening what has become a favorite evening out for locals and visitors alike. Reservations are strongly suggested.
What began as a small plot nearly two centuries grew to encompass gardens arranged in a formal Italian design of boxwood patterns on descending terraces. The themed gardens of Hills & Dales Estate, the historic home of textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway and his wife Ida Cason Callaway, date back to 1832. Considered among the best preserved 19th century gardens in the Southeast, it is filled with fountains and statuary, all selected to enhance the Italianate character.
The centerpiece of Hills & Dales Estate is the classically designed Georgian Italian villa, its white columns and stucco and terra-cotta roof tiles in sharp contrast to the lush green gardens and surrounding countryside it overlooks. Containing more than 30 rooms, the house is furnished with family heirlooms and antiques, including a mid-18th century Chinese export porcelain punch bowl and a circa 1800 sarcophagus-shaped tea caddy made of yew wood with inlaid boxwood lines.
Hills & Dales Estate offers a guided house tour and self-guided tours of the gardens, where something is abloom year-round. In March the gardens rouse from winter slumber with azaleas, camellias, forsythia, pansies, redbuds and other plants, each adding a splash of color to the landscape. April brings more showy shades with Carolina silverbell, Spanish bluebells, candytuft, rhododendron, roses, dogwood and more.
What it was like in biblical times in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the streets of Jerusalem? Book an Empty Tomb Tour with the Biblical History Center (www.biblicalhistorycenter.com) and take a walk into history and Holy Week with guides dressed in period attire and learn about the day-to-day lives of the people as well as historical and archaeological details of the events that transpired. As part of the experience, see over 250 ancient relics—tools, pottery, farming equipment, coins, oil lamps and more.
Ninety-minute tours take place Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 8, 2023. The Center’s Biblical Meal Experience is an add-on option—and well worth the time and money. Recline like the Romans did at a triclinium (three-sided table) for a 4-course meal that includes soup, salad, fruit, main course and dessert—15 different food items—in a first century-style dining room. This tour lasts two and a half hours. Visit the website or call 706-885-0363 for details, ticket prices and reservations.
For more information about planning a trip to LaGrange, GA, visit www.visitlagrange.com or stop by the Visit LaGrange Visitors Center, which features artwork from the LaGrange Art Museum.
Chef Tulla White’s Shrimp and Scallop Fra Diavolo
Makes 2 servings.
The owner and chef of Venucci’s Restaurant in LaGrange, GA, shares a seafood recipe with a spicy tomato wine sauce—a favorite recipe of his and his customers.
- 10 (16/20 count) white shrimp
- 6 (10/20 count) sea scallops
- 1 small can whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 1 TBSP fresh ground garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/3 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 4 oz butter
- 3 cups Carlo Rossi Chablis
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Coat shrimp and scallops with flour.
In sauté pan heat olive oil.
Sear shrimp and scallops on both sides and remove from oil. Coat half the butter with flour and add to pan, add all spices and stir. Add white wine and whole peeled tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and scallops back to sauce till finished cooking. Serve over linguine pasta. Top with chopped parsley and pecorino Romano cheese if desired.
About Kathy Witt
Writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild
She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait
NEW: Cincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures arriving October 2022.
NEW: Perfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 2023.
Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient
I still remember the lard we used during my high school cooking class — big cases of off-white clumpy fat that looked and smelled unappetizing but turned our pie dough and biscuits into luscious tasting triumphs. So I couldn’t resist a cookbook with lard in the first word of its title. And it didn’t disappoint.
“Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient” (Andrew McMeel) offers 150 sweet and savory recipes, beautiful photos and fond anecdotes from cooks nationwide about an ingredient once frowned upon and now (doesn’t this always happen) purported as healthy in some ways as it contains only 54 percent of the saturated fat found in butter and is free of trans fats when rendered with care.
And, of course, as I found out long ago in junior year cooking class, lard is the secret to turning out such marvels as southern fried chicken, green tomato pie and intriguingly the much more sophisticated Beef Wellington.
The recipes were culled from the archives of Grit, a bi-monthly magazine that’s a paean to rural traditional and values featuring articles like “Modern Day Barn Raising” and “Beyond Iceberg: Heirloom Lettuce Varieties.”
Founded 130 years ago, the names of the recipes found in the cookbook — Sand Hill Plum Dumplings, corn pone, World War II Cake with Basic Buttercream Frosting and Hot Cross Buns — read like a time capsule. And though lard figures into everyone, it often plays a small part, maybe just a tablespoon like that used in Old Fashioned Green Beans.
“Lard makes awesome fried chicken,” says Hank Will, Grit’s editor-in-chief who holds a doctorate in lipid chemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago and was a college professor for 16 years before quitting to farm full time. “If you look at lard, it’s very similar to butter. What we did is vilify it.”
Will, who still farms part time, renders his own lard from the pigs he raises. He doesn’t spread it on a piece of bread for lunch like his grandfather did back in North Dakota, but he and his wife use it for baking and cooking.
He blames lard’s demise on the industrial food industry. And indeed, reading about the development of Crisco, the first hydrogenated — the process of turning liquids into solids — shortening shows how advertising and testimonials helped convince a nation that hydrogenated shortening was good and lard was bad. Common wisdom became that unsaturated fats or trans fats of hydrogenated vegetable oils were better than saturated fats found in butter and lard.
Though scientific studies indicated even back in the late 1950s that trans fats weren’t all that good and might be the reason for an increase in coronary heart disease, it took 30 more years for it to finally be established.
And so by returning to lard, Will believes we’re not only returning to a traditional “real food” that improves the taste of what we eat but also is better for us.
But even a lardophile like Will doesn’t recommend gobbling up a lot of lard. It is a fat after all, but like butter healthier than trans-fat.
“Butter and lard are both animal fats — lard from pigs and butter is mostly from cows,” says Corinne Powell, former extension educator Consumer and Family Sciences at the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Lake County. “If you read the labels you’ll see a lot of hydrogenated fats in baked goods because it lengthens their shelf life.”
According to Powell, many companies put labels on the front of their products saying no trans fats but that doesn’t mean there’s no fat in it and therefore, it’s important to read the list of ingredients.
“Fat is a good source of energy and it provides satiety,” she says, “which is that feeling of being full.”
Alas, we can’t just run out and buy a container of lard at the local grocery store.
“Most lard at the grocery store is hydrogenated,” says Will. “But artisan meat producers and farmers markets should have lard that hasn’t been hydrogenated.”
And though Powell notes that all fats, including lard, have a lot of calories she has tasted its goodness too.
“Lard is usually considered to be the best to use for pie crusts — it has a good flavor and makes flaky pie crusts,” she says. “I’ve judged pie crusts at fairs and the best usually have lard.”
Old-Fashioned Green Beans
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 12 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet, melt the lard over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Add the sugar and water; stir and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beans and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, until the beans are soft and all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve immediately.
- 1 (6.5-ounce) can crabmeat, drained
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion (white and green parts)
- Salt and black pepper
- Lard, for frying
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, place the crabmeat, bread crumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and onion. Season with salt and pepper; mix well. Shape into 4 equal-sized patties. (If more moisture is needed to form patties, add a dash of melted lard.) In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium-high heat. Fry the patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Strawberry Soda Pop Cake
- 3/4 cup lard, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
- 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (7-ounce) bottle strawberry soda pop
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 5 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- 2 tablespoons lard, softened
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle or can strawberry soda pop
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with lard; dust lightly with flour and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the lard and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on low speed. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture and the strawberry pop to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the nuts; fold in the egg whites. Distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. To prepare the frosting, combine the lard, salt, confectioners’ sugar, and just enough strawberry pop to moisten the mixture; blend well until smooth and creamy. To frost the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand and frost, using an offset spatula. Position the second layer atop the first and repeat.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
- 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-¼ cups lard, cold and coarsely chopped
- 1 egg
- 5-½ tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture is very fine. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, water, and vinegar. Make a small well in the flour mixture and add the liquid; mix just until the dough comes together in a ball. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and flatten into disks; wrap individually in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. To make a double-crust pie with a solid top crust, roll out 2 disks of dough about 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Fit one crust into the bottom of the pie plate. Fill the pie with the desired filling; slightly moisten the edge of the bottom crust. Take the second crust, fold it in half, gently place it over the pie filling, and unfold, centering it on the pie plate; press the edges into the bottom crust to seal. Trim the excess dough to leave and overhang of about ¾ inch. Crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. To allow steam to escape, gently prick the top crust with a fork several times or slash vents with a sharp knife.
Makes 4 single or 2 (9-inch) double crusts.
Grandma’s Homemade Biscuits
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon lard, cold and coarsely chopped, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2-½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with lard and set aside. Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and the salt in a large mixing bowl; whisk together. Using a pastry blender, work the lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and stir. On a sheet of wax paper, sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of flour. Turn the dough mixture onto the wax paper and knead for 5 minutes. Roll out the dough to a 1-inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter; alternatively, drop the dough using a large spoon and pat down onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 1 inch apart. For color, brush the biscuits with melted butter, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Makes 1 dozen.
Henrietta’s Spicy Fried Chicken
- 1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 (2-½ to 3-½ pound) frying chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2-¼ teaspoons garlic salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- Lard, for frying
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine the black pepper, poultry seasoning, paprika, cayenne, and dry mustard. Dredge the chicken pieces in the spices. In a paper or plastic bag, combine the flour, garlic salt, salt, and celery salt; shake to mix. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Heat the lard to 340 degrees and 2 inches deep in an electric skillet or on medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the chicken pieces and fry for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Increase the heat to 355ºF for an electric skillet or medium-high for a regular skillet. Fry for an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink at the bone. Remove the chicken from the fat and drain on paper towels.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
SOURCE: “Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient”
The Life of Loi: Mediterranean Secrets
Early on Maria Loi learned to appreciate the bounty of her Greek homeland. She foraged for the aromatic oregano which, caressed by the sunshine, grew wild and flavorful in the nearby mountains. With her grandfather, she harvested the black honey they found in forests that had stood, almost untouched, from ancient times.
In Thermo, the small village in southeastern Greece where she grew up, Loi cooked from her parents and grandparents, not sparing in the use of the golden oil pressed from olives after they had ripened under the hot sun. She raised both vegetables and chickens, and cooked the freshest of fish that came from the waters around her home. Loi’s passion for the foods of her country which she shared in her 36 cookbooks earned her the title of Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy an honor awarded by the Chef’s Club of Greece.
Now Loi, now chef/owner of two restaurants– the award-winning Loi Estiatorio in Manhattan and Kouzina Loi in the port town of Nafpaktos in Western Greece, is takes us further into the culinary treasures of Greek cooking in her 13-part national public television series The Life of Loi: Mediterranean Secrets which premiered on December 31.
The ever enthusiastic Loi takes us on a series of adventures–island hopping from Athens to Naxos to Evia, exploring the olive groves that produce the olive oil she so values as essential to our health, visiting a mushroom farm on Evia Island, cooking on a boat moored in the beautiful Aegean Sea, and in the kitchen of her Manhattan restaurant.
Beyond using the best ingredients from her native country, Loi is also about easily accessible recipes. She certainly makes it look like a breeze on her TV series. But beyond authenticity and ease, Loi is all about healthy eating.
It started, she says, when her grandfather fed her two tablespoons of olive oil—Greek olive oil of course—not that stuff from Italy or Spain–every morning and a teaspoon of black honey every night–the honey she and her grandfather had harvested together.
“He told us the olive oil would flush out the toxins from our body and the honey would kill the germs from our day,” she says.
It’s become such a mantra that patrons seeing her at Loi Estiatorio confide they’re taking their daily dose of olive oil just like she recommends. Her staff has lost weight following her Greek dieta or diet (think Mediterranean but the Greeks really invented it she tells me) and she is healthy as a horse.
“Of course you should always talk to your doctor,” she says with a broad smile, most likely because she believes that any doctor would back up her claims. “Even the FDA has adopted now that we have to do two tablespoons of olive oil every day.”
After a quick search, I find that Loi is correct. According to WebMD, the FDA has approved a new qualified health claim for olive oil based on studies showing that consuming about two tablespoons of olive oil a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
This, of course, is not news to Loi who has learned from the land and her ancestors about the wonders of eating.
Oh, and not only does she cook and consume olive oil, but she also puts some on her hair at night and shampoos in the morning. Her hair looks great and so does she. Obviously I should put olive oil on my grocery list.
Named one of the top Women Makers by Whole Foods Market and one of the best female owned and operated brands/suppliers with whom Whole Foods Market works, Loi was also selected as one of the Top Women in Food Service & Hospitality and is called the “Julia Child of Greece.”
With her distinctive blonde bob, oversized dark rimmed glasses, wide smile and engaging, friendly manner, Loi comes across as my new best friend. This after an hour Zoom chat. That’s how easily she connects.
Or at least that’s the impression I get after spending an hour chatting on Zoom.
“Oh these are great questions,” she tells me, looking over the list I’d sent her publicist a few days prior to the virtual interview.
“Oh thank you, that makes me feel so good,” she says, when I tell her that after watching her cook on the terrace of the historic Hotel Grande Bretagne, a luxury hotel in Athens that overlooks the Acropolis that I am totally ready to buy every one of her 36 cookbooks and learn to make the dishes of her native country.
“I feel healthy already,” I say, after listening to her extoll the virtues of eggplants, tomatoes, and especially Greek feta.
But when we talk about feta, she becomes much more serious. Loi doesn’t like the idea of us buying inferior ingredients. You can buy feta crumbles in the grocery store to sprinkle over your salad but don’t say that to Loi who is repulsed by the idea. Greek feta, made from either sheep or goat milk or a mixture of the two is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product as is Champagne (France), spaetzle and sauerkraut (Germany), and such cheeses as Parmesan and Asiago (Italy). PDOs are products that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognized know-how of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned.
“People say they’re buying feta and you know what it is,” Loi asked. But she doesn’t stop long enough for me to answer. “It’s cow’s milk. It’s not feta, it’s just white cheese. Feta comes from Greece because the climate affects the soil, and the production is unique.”
I silently swear to myself that I will never buy anything but Greek feta again. It’s not a hard promise to make. I remember my Aunt Daneise, who was Greek and a great cook, making sure that she always had a block of feta sitting in its liquid so that it didn’t dry out. It glistened when she took it out and cut it into slices which by the way, Loi tells me, is what feta means in Greek—slice. Who knew?
I ask Loi which of her cookbooks she would recommend to readers who want to cook Greek but she says she really doesn’t want to sound like she’s plugging her products. The same goes with her line of foods that includes (and I only know this because I went online and looked) olive oil, black honey, wild thyme and flower honey as well as Greek pastas, and smoked eggplant. There are jars of such items as her Feta-Yogurt Pougi—a concoction that can be served hot or cold and used as a spread, dip, or sauce and her Garlic Potato Dip (Skordalia in Greek), a vegan product that not only is a dip but can also be used for marinating and sautéing.
“How can I make suggestions to readers if you won’t give me some ideas?” I ask. I finally get her to talk about “The Greek Diet,” one of her cookbooks. Oh and she did mention that she’s working on another cookbook that will be out soon. Yes, really. I think that will be number 37.
But what Loi wants to talk about are her charities.
According to Total Food Service’s digital magazine, Loi has become one of the nation’s leading chefs, philanthropists, brand creators and ambassadors. During the pandemic, she turned her Manhattan restaurant into a soup kitchen, feeding the homeless and also prepared thousands of meals for first responders and patients at many area hospitals. She co-founded the Elpida Foundation to help fight childhood cancer. Her Loukoumi Make A Difference inspires kids to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
I ask Loi if she’s having as much fun as it looks like she is on her show.
The answer is yes and it boils down to this.
“I’m passionate and driven,” she says. “If you’re not, what is there?”
For more program information, visit: https://www.pbs.org/food/shows/life-of-loi-mediterranean-secrets/
To view recipes featured in the series and more, visit Chef Loi’s social media platforms @ChefMariaLoi (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter).
The following recipes are courtesy of Maria Loi.
Garides Me Kritharaki / Shrimp with Orzo
“This quick and easy take on a Greek classic will have dinner on the table in 20 minutes, from start to finish,” says Maria Loi. “The timeless flavors of tomato, lemon, oregano, and olive oil paired with the delicate sweetness of the shrimp are married perfectly with the tart, creaminess of the feta garnish.”
- 8 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 pieces of shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Dry Greek oregano, to taste
- Feta cheese, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Add orzo to a large pot of salted boiling water, and allow to cook for 7 to 9 minutes, until desired texture. Strain, and reserve.
While orzo is cooking, add the chopped onions, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 7 cherry tomatoes to an oven safe dish, season with salt to taste, and stir to combine. Add shrimp on top of the mixture, and top with the remaining 5 cherry tomatoes: season with pepper and Greek oregano, and top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake for 4-5 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, and tomatoes have a slight char.
Serve over a bed of orzo, topped with crumbled feta and dressed with olive oil.
Greek Honey Cheesecake (Melopita) – from The Greek Diet Cookbook
“Melopita translates as ‘honey pie,’ but this dish is my healthy version of a ricotta-style cheesecake,” writes Maria Loi in the introduction to this recipe from “The Greek Diet Cookbook.” “Light and fresh with a hint of lemon, this cake has the perfect tang from the yogurt. Drizzle with some honey to keep it classic.”
- Olive oil, for the pan
- 1 pound anthotyro (ricotta cheese)
- 1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 cup Greek honey, plus more for garnish
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- Ground cinnamon, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil, line it with a round of parchment paper, and lightly oil the paper.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, yogurt, eggs, 1⁄2 cup honey, lemon zest, flour, and sugar. Beat thoroughly, either with an electric mixer or a whisk.
Pour the batter into the pan and gently rap it against a hard surface to release any air bubbles.
Bake the melopita for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling sets. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool. Refrigerate the cake for 2 or 3 hours.
Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and release the sides. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.
Carefully remove the bottom of the cake pan and the parchment paper.
Serve the cake sprinkled with some cinnamon and drizzled with a little honey.
Based on a similar article that appeared in the Herald Palladium.
A Great Winter Caving Experience: Kentucky’s Carter Caves State Resort Park
A post from Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt
With 25 percent of travelers preferring wintertime vacations, Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill, Kentucky, has the perfect setting, scenery—and stalactites—for cold-weather wanderers.
“You can take a hike in the winter and see all the cliff lines and other geologic formations from far distances due to the leafless forest landscape,” said Park Adventure Officer Coy Ainsley. “You have a better chance of getting a last-minute reservation in the lodge and cottages, can experience the park with less visitors and enjoy some warm-up time in front of the fire in the lodge lobby.”
Winter travel has its advantages. And if it snows?
“Carter Caves is a beautiful place under a blanket of snow,” said Ainsley.
Founded in 1946, Carter Caves State Resort Park is home to an expansive system of natural caves; in fact the Carter County region has the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky. And the park is one of only two in Kentucky’s state park system that has caves visitors can explore.
Follow the stone staircase into X-Cave and the Great Chandelier—the largest formation of stalactites in the cave. The 45-minute tour meanders through two narrow, vertical-joint passages marked with such descriptive formations as the Pipe Organ, Giant Turkey and Headache Rock, each a geologic marvel in its own right. Be prepared for 75 steps and to duck and stoop in different parts of the cave as well as inch sideways through some of X-Cave’s skinnier passages.
Scenic Cascade Cave offers a tour with its own arresting formations, including a dragon lunging from the ceiling in the Dragon’s Lair that looks like it is about to breathe fire. The hike is generally an easy one, in spite of the 250 stairs throughout the cave, and leads cavers to a reflecting pool in the Lake Room, the North Cave’s Cathedral and the Dance Hall—where a previous owner once held dances. The pièce de resistance? The illuminated 30-foot underground waterfall. The 75-minute tour covers a distance of less than a mile and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a resident bat named Bruce.
Both Cascade Cave and X Cave are open year-round for guided tours with trained interpretive staff members who cover the history and geology of the caves as well as cave ecology. Dress for the weather as parts of both tours take place outside and cave temperatures can dip as low as 30 degrees.
Explore the caves, then head to the park’s beautiful, glass-fronted fieldstone lodge for some downtime, so inviting with rockers and overstuffed sofas and chairs. A wall of windows frames the landscape beyond, parts of it marked by cliffs and caves, arches and natural bridges. Relax by the fire in the lobby, play boardgames or binge on favorite shows. (Wireless Internet service is available throughout the lodge.)
Wintertime at the park is a quiet time of year, a chance to slow down and catch up with reading, photograph the park’s winter landscape, hike the trails to spy wildlife, stargaze the night sky and browse the gift shop for Kentucky handcrafted items.
Some of the 28 rooms at Carter Caves’ Lewis Caveland Lodge have a private patio, opening to views of the winter woodlands. (Note: Lodge rooms are available Wednesday through Saturday night in winter.) Cottages are open year-round, as is the campground with its choice of primitive, RV and equestrian campsites.
Kentucky State Parks pride itself on serving Kentucky Proud products and using local meats and produce when possible in dishes that showcase the region as well as Kentucky fare: fried catfish and hushpuppies, fried chicken, pinto beans, baked spaghetti, barbecue ribs, banana pudding.
One item that is synonymous with Kentucky cuisine and served at all Kentucky State Park lodge restaurants, including Tierney’s Cavern at Carter Caves, is the Hot Brown. Pure down-home deliciousness, this hearty dish is made with roasted turkey breast and country ham stacked on toast points and topped with crispy bacon and a juicy tomato slice and smothered in cheese sauce.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Carter Caves is less than a 25-minute drive to Morehead and two activities ideal of wintertime, both located at Morehead State University.
The Space Science Center’s 100-seat state-of-the-art digital planetarium offers full-dome planetarium movie feature shows at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month throughout the year and a 6:30 p.m. laser show. The shows are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets can be purchased at the door by cash or check. Note: credit cards are not accepted. See the schedule at www.moreheadstate.edu/events/#f1=star-theater.
At the Kentucky Folk Art Center, see works from a 1,400-piece permanent collection of self-taught art displayed in the first-floor gallery. In the second-floor gallery, changing exhibits show off folk art, fine art, textiles and photography. The gift shop is considered to be one of the finest in the region, with original folk art, crafts and jewelry as well as books, toys and other items. Learn more at www.moreheadstate.edu.
Susan Reigler’s The Complete Guide to Kentucky State Parks was published in 2009, when there were 49 state parks and state historic sites (there are currently 45), but it remains a valuable guide and planning resource and one enhanced by beautiful full color photography.
For more information about planning a visit to Carter Caves State Resort Park or any of Kentucky’s 45 state parks, visit https://parks.ky.gov.
Kentucky State Parks’ Kentucky Hot Brown
- 2 slices white bread
- 1 1/2 oz sliced turkey
- 1 1/2 oz sliced country ham
- 1 C cheese sauce (see recipe below)
- 2 strips bacon
- 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 slice tomato
Hot Brown Cheese Sauce*
- 1 quart milk
- 2 oz melted butter
- 1/2 C flour
- 8 oz easy-melt American cheese
- 2 tsp chicken base
Melt butter and mix in flour. Add in 1 quart of milk and 2 teaspoons chicken base. Cook until thick. Add 8 ounces of easy-melt American cheese and blend until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
*NOTE: Prepare cheese sauce ahead. Sauce will make 5 to 6 Hot Browns.
Cook bacon and drain. Toast bread and top with sliced turkey and ham. Cover with about 8 ounces of warm sauce. Top with sliced tomato. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Place bacon on sides. Bake in 350-degree oven till hot and cheese browned.
About Guest Blogger Kathy Witt
Award winning writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild
She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait
NEW: Cincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures is now available.
NEW: Perfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 2023