Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Best Restaurant in the History of Ever

We went to Atlanta for a Celtics-Hawks game a couple of weeks back (big haha to the overzealous guy in all blue yelling at us that the Hawks were clearly better). While we were there, we wanted to try out somewhere new to eat. We started at Taco Mac the night of the game, and it was good for a wings place - and had a very impressive tap listing. The next morning we hit up Hugh Acheson's creation Empire State South for brunch. Hugh recently took home TWO James Beard Foundation awards for his cookbook A New Turn in the South and also won as Top Chef in the Southeast (for his Five and Ten restaurant). 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ugli Fruit

"Ugli Fruit"

Yesterday I posted a photo of a fruit I found at my local Publix labeled "Uniq Fruit". After a brief search today, I found it to be more commonly called "Ugli Fruit". I was curious. I bought it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Little Donkey

Little Donkey Kitchen and Bar

Last night, Jennifer and I were invited out for a preview night at Little Donkey, the new Mexican restaurant in Homewood, just south of Birmingham. As if we needed another Mexican restaurant... But this is something fresh and new. It's not typical Tex-Mex. It's somewhere between Southern food and traditional Mexican fare. Nick Pihakis, a founder of local BBQ staple Jim n Nick's, is behind this bad boy. So after gorging ourselves and taking a few notes, here are my thoughts before it opens this Tuesday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

If you follow my tweets at all, you know I like pimento cheese. Not the store-bought, in a tub, fauxmento cheese. The creamy and bold homemade stuff. I put it on plenty of different things - a practice which only recently developed. Everything from sandwiches, to snacks, to tacos. It adds a completely unique flavor to things which call for other cheese. This is my mom's old recipe (gussied up a bit), which I wasn't a fan of as a kid. But hey, I wasn't a fan of steak either. You get wiser as you age.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buffalo Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
I promised myself when I started this I wouldn't just use other people's recipes and share them all the time - so far, so good. But then, Jennifer found this recipe for Buffalo Mac and Cheese over at Table for Two, which you should go check out. I hadn't seen it until she showed me this recipe - good stuff. Anyway, she wanted to cook it for me - and it ain't bad! She knows that I constantly joke to people that I'm a connoisseur of both Shrimp n Grits and Mac n Cheese. She also knows that I'm probably really not joking so much. But this is great stuff - a combination of a southern classic and something good and spicy? Hard to beat. And seriously, check out Table for Two.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Southwest Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Southwest Salad

We had a birthday party for my mom at a family member's house a couple of weeks ago. It was southwestern/tex-mex themed, and I was asked to bring a salad. I've made a southwestern salad a few times before and thought it would be easy to do. Several people (surprisingly) told me it was their favorite part of the meal. So I decided to reproduce it here so they - and you all - could see it. It's colorful, hearty, and healthy. And it's great as a side - or if you want to use it as an easy meal, add some grilled or rotisserie chicken and you have a quick and easy meal.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Butts To Go

Ribs from 'Butts To Go'
It's March, which means it's officially grilling season in the South. Not that we weren't grilling anyway, what with the 70 degree winter days and all, but now it's official. And I love grilling. Meat, vegetables, everything. And I love barbeque. I love all the different styles. I really do. All of them are great. I like judging a city based on its BBQ.

Memphis dry rub style is probably my favorite - maybe because growing up near Memphis gives a lot of character to Birmingham Q. There is also a considerable amount of Carolina-style, vinegary Q around here. And of course, the Kansas City-style with lots of thick, sweet sauce is great too. As long as you start with a good meat, it's hard to beat. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bourbon Pecan Tarts

Bourbon Pecan Tarts
I've had several people ask me about the pecan tarts I mentioned in my post on what to think about when you want to use bourbon in dishes. They seem to be a simple version of a favorite Southern dessert - the pecan pie. Well, it's not really a pecan pie in the way we think of it down here. It's actually a lot more similar to a butter tart, a common Canadian dish. And even more similar to a buttermilk pie (one of my favorite desserts). The basic idea is melted butter or margarine, sugar, and egg. The standard version is definitely more of a custard than what we think of as pecan pie. Adding/changing other ingredients is what makes it a more Southern dish - buttermilk or the sweet, rich, and buttery pecan. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Poblano Chicken Chowder

Poblano Chicken Chowder

I love southern food, and the various cultural influences on it. There is definitely an undeniable Hispanic influence on our food here - rich, earthy, robust, flavorful foods are a staple of that cuisine, and it fits well with our food here.  I've posted about liking spicy foods before - so when I developed my first recipe from a blank piece of paper, I decided to do something full of flavor with a little kick. Someone I was talking to mentioned wanting to make a chowder with poblano and corn. I've made plenty of soups before, but not chowders. Chowders can be incredibly flavorful and actually aren't too difficult. To start developing the recipe, all I needed to know was how to make a base for chowder. I read about that for a bit and began.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roasted Peppers

Charred Poblanos
After FoodBlog South a couple of weekends ago, I decided I really wanted to start developing my own recipes to share. There was a great session with Virginia Willis discussing a general how-to of recipe development (she should know - her books have some of my favorite recipes). It was a lot more complex than I originally thought it would be. It actually made me want to develop my own even more. I enjoy using other people's recipes, and will continue to do so and occasionally post about them. But I assumed that creating my own recipe from nothing other than the basic knowledge of a food type would be more gratifying than using a recipe in existence and changing it some. I was right.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fish Tacos with Lime Cream Sauce

Sometimes I get bored at home. When I get bored, I decide to cook. This often involves me looking around for what I have that needs to be used before it spoils. A couple of weeks ago, I had a few things that needed to be used and I decided to use them together. The result was fish tacos. They're really quick - and more importantly - really tasty. They're also easy to customize if you want to make it your own.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie
There are so many desserts that are typically viewed as southern - peach cobbler, chess pie, pecan pie... I'm not big on sweets - I know, I know... But it's true. I do love some desserts though. Pastries and creamy types of desserts - bread pudding, crème brûlée, and custards - are my favorites. So it follows that one of my favorite southern desserts is Buttermilk Pie. Since today is National Pie Day, I figured it was a good day to profess my love for this sweet and creamy pie.  

 There are a million different recipes and everyone will, of course, tell you that their grandma's is the best. I've looked at a dozen different ones and did a little mix-and-match before I found the one I liked. I made two around the holidays to take to various family functions. Everyone loved them - those who would try it. Buttermilk being an ingredient REALLY turns people off. Buttermilk was used in the south a lot because it could stay fresh longer in the warmer climates - and there were plenty of people in the South who didn't have ways to keep milk cold. The recipes I read claimed varying amounts of flour or biscuit mix, and various flavorings such as lemon zest and vanilla extract. I tried baking two at one time and leaving them in longer - neither one of them fully cooked and set. Go with one at a time. You can enjoy this chilled after cooking or warm. I prefer warm.

My combined/altered version goes a little something like this:


In the shell
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons biscuit mix
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 unbaked 10-inch basic pie crust shell


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer religiously), combine the sugar and biscuit mix. Whisk the eggs into the mixture individually. Stir in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the pie shell (I love having Jennifer make a shell from scratch - the lard isn't so great for you, but they're pretty and tasty) and bake until the top is lightly browned and the center sets, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Slice the pie into individual servings. You can garnish with various things like mint for a pop of color. I love using a drizzle of sorghum syrup over the top.

Let me know if you've made it other ways, or if you try the recipe. I think you'll enjoy it.