Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist


Rutabaga Reigns Supreme at Holiday Table

Buttery Parsley Rutabaga Mash 

It may be considered a humble root vegetable, but the knobby rutabaga is transformed into nutty, buttery elegance in this sunset-yellow mash, lightened by a bit of Yukon Gold potato and made silky with butter, sour cream, and colorful flavor flecks of fresh parsley. The potatoes add fluff while the rutabaga adds girth and the kind of flavor that stands up perfectly to beef rib roast, pork, turkey or duck at the holiday table. It’s so delicious, I eat it straight out of the bowl. It could easily play a starring role at a vegetarian holiday table, as well. It is super easy to prepare and can be made a day or two ahead and reheated just before serving.

Buttery Parsley Rutabaga Mash from Mashed Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith, 2016) by Holly Herrick. Reprinted with permission from Gibbs Smith Publisher.

Ingredients and Method

(Yields 4 to 6 servings)

1 medium rutabaga

1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

Water to cover

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)


1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Using a sharp paring knife or small chef’s knife, remove the outer skin as well as the tough 1/4-inch thick inner skin of the rutabaga. Cut into 2-inch cubes and place in a medium pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the rutabaga starts to soften, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to summer another 20 minutes, until both the potatoes and rutabaga are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Strain in a colander and return to the pan with the sour cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a manual masher or immersion blender until chunky smooth. (If preparing ahead, stop at this point and refrigerate 1 – 2 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator). Just before serving, heat through over medium heat, stir in parsley, and adjust seasonings or add a few tablespoons vegetable stock, chicken stock or water, as needed. Serve warm.

Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate. May it be joyful, blessed, full of cheer, and especially delicious. Remember you can always check in here with any questions about my recipes, cooking classes, and of course, beautiful Charleston.

Bon appetit!



Pot au Feu Weather

I spent most of last week channeling my inner Irish Catholic guilt. I confess that’s because while what seems like the rest of the country was commiserating over the “Polar Vortex,” I was (as my Iowa-born husband used to say) happier than a pig in mud.  Despite the unaturally brutal SC weather, my week was happily spent making one fabulous French stew after another. The kind of stews that take hours to reach perfection, very little effort to make and reward me, the dog, the cat and my neighbors with impossibly delicious feasts. The cold, somehow, made them taste even better. The recipe to follow is one of my favorites. Time to pull out the old Dutch oven (or substitute a sturdy stock pot) and get cooking. Spring, as hard as it may now seem to believe, is just around the corner.  Adapted from my next cook book, The French Cook: Soupes et Daubes (Gibbes Smith, late summer 2014 release).

Pot au Feu

(Makes 6 servings)

Special equipment: Dutch oven, China cap or colander

Pot au Feu (pronounced pot-oh-fuh)  is a centuries-old peasant dish that has worked its way into the hearts of the modern-day French. It’s one pot cooking at its finest and derives its name from the method of which it’s cooked, in a single pot. Similar to Boeuf a la mode in that it uses tough cuts (in this case a chuck roast), and is braised, it is different in a couple of ways. First, the beef is not browned and is simmered with beef marrow bones, in water as opposed to wine, which affords a silky, gelatinous texture to the jus. This jus is served over the sliced beef with a generous side of braised vegetables. A glorious Dijon mustard and horseradish cream as well as cornichons and bread are served alongside. Although it takes a long time (about 4 hours) to cook, this is a wonderfully simple and inexpensive dish to prepare.  Cloves and cinnamon give it a warm, almost medieval exoticism that makes the house smell like Christmas when it’s cooking.

Pot au Feu

Pot au Feu















2 pounds chuck roast

2 large beef marrow bones (about 1 pound)

7 cups water

1 whole onion, peeled, pierced evenly with 5 whole cloves

1 celery stalk, trimmed, cleaned and cut into 3 or 4 coarse chunks

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons salt

1 cinnamon stick

5 thyme sprigs tied into a bundle with kitchen string

For the vegetable garnish:

3 leeks, white and 1” of the pale green leaves only, halved vertically, thoroughly rinsed and tied firmly together with kitchen string

12 slender carrots, peeled, cleaned and tied firmly together with kitchen string

1 large turnip, peeled (cutting into the outer and inner skin, about 1/4-inch deep), halved, and cut into 16 large, equal-sized chunks (about 2” each)

1 – 2 cups water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Mustard Horseradish Cream Sauce:

1/2 cup cold Heavy cream

1 heaping teaspoon prepared horseradish

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven, place the roast, marrow bones, water (adding more if needed to cover), clove onion, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, cinnamon stick,  and thyme bundle, beef down first. Bring up to a high simmer over high heat, reduce to medium low. The goal is a very low simmer – do not boil!  Cook, uncovered for two hours, skimming off rising foam and scum frequently along the way.

Remove the marrow bones and discard or save for your dog. Using a fork, remove the roast from the pan and reserve nearby. Strain the cooking liquid through a China cap or fine colander into a large bowl. Press down on the solids with a ladle to extract maximum flavor then discard the solids.

Return the roast to the original Dutch oven with the cooking liquids. Place the leek bundle, carrot bundle and turnips around the beef in the pan. Add more water to cover, about 1 to 2 cups. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Bring up to an aggressive simmer over medium high and reduce to medium low. Tuck the vegetables down around the beef. Simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the vegetables are very tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized, cold bowl. Whisk vigorously to combine and mount into a soft whipped “cream.” Taste and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To finish/serve the pot au feu, remove the beef from the pot. When cool enough to handle, arrange it in the middle of a large serving platter. Drain the vegetables from the pot and arrange artfully around the beef in their bundles (minus the string). Cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid down over high heat until there are just two cups left. Taste and adjust seasonings. Strain and drizzle about 1/2 cup over the meat and vegetables. Place the rest in a gravy boat or pitcher. Present with the jus and a bowl full of the mustard horseradish cream. If desired, scatter a dozen cornichon pickles around the platter.

Bon appetit. I promise you (remember, Catholic girls don’t lie) this is truly delicious. So delicious you can probably make whomever you prepare it for fall in love with one bite – it’s just that good.


St. Patrick’s Day Surprise – Shapely Shepherd’s Pie

Even though I’m about 50% Irish, my maiden name is McCauley, and my grandfather on my father’s side was born in the old country,  I  really struggle with St. Patrick’s Day. I’m extremely proud of my heritage, and to see it reduced to green beer, frequently sodden behavior, and frequently bad food leaves me grumpier than an extremely unlucky leprechaun. That is, until someone makes me a really top-notch Shepherd’s Pie, like the one in the recipe that follows.

Adapted from my cookbook,  Tart Love – Sassy, Savory, and Sweet (Gibbs Smith, October, 2011),  the traditional free-form potato-topped casserole is encased with a pie pastry. Truly delicious and nutritious, it can be made ahead of time, and the only (real – not dyed!!)  green thing about it comes from the peas and the parsley. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Lovely photo by Helene Dujardin

Shapely Shepherd’s Pie

(Serves Eight)

Fluffy mashed potatoes topped with fragrant grass-fed beef (or substitute lamb) and a layer of spring peas wrapped with a casing of buttery pastry makes this dish a winner any time of year, but it’s particularly well-suited to early spring, and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day.

Equipment needed: One 9-inch deep-dish (2 – 3 inches deep) pie pan

1 Recipe Master Savory Pastry

2 1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

2 sticks (1 cup) AA grade unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

3 tablespoons ice- cold water, or just enough to hold the pastry together.

Mashed Potatoes

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Water to cover

1/4 – 1/2 cup whole cream (depending on desired texture)

2 – 3 tablespoons sweet butter

1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


2 cups shelled fresh peas, blanched and refreshed, or 2 cups frozen peas

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt

Meat Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground grass-fed beef (or substitute lamb or traditional ground beef)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 1/2 cups minced fresh carrots

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 egg wash (yolk mixed with a sprinkle of water, dash of salt)

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, pulse together the salt and the flour to combine. Add the butter all at once, and pulse 40 – 50 times or until the butter is roughly the size of small peas. Through the mouth of the food processor, very slowly stream in the water while pulsing, until the pastry just holds together in a messy, loose clump. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, form into a 1″-inch high disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or over night. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and line the pie pan with the pastry, forming a pretty, slightly elevated border. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the mashed potatoes, place the peeled, chopped potatoes in a medium pan with salt and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander; return to the same pan and let them steam over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to remove any excess water. Add the cream, butter, horseradish, and seasoning. Mash with a potato masher, stirring to incorporate all of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Let cool, then refrigerate to cool completely.

For the peas, bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add peas and blanch for about 1 minutes. Drain in a colander and “shock” by running very cold water over the peas. (If using frozen peas, skip this step.)

To make the meat filling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, season generously with salt and pepper, and brown for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring to break up and cook evenly. Drain off any excess fat, leaving 1 – 2 tablespoons in the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, and carrots; stir to coat. Let vegetables cook into the meat until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in parsley, scallions, Worcestershire, and mustard. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Refrigerate to chill the meat mixture completely.

Putting it together: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Gently brush the bottom, sides and edges of the chilled pastry shell with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Spoon about 1 cup of the potatoes into the bottom of the prepared pie pastry, smoothing to distribute evenly along the bottom and about 2 ” of the sides. Add all of the cooled beef mixture, and spread evenly. Top this with the cooled blanched peas or 2 cups of frozen peas. Top with the remaining mashed potatoes, smoothing gently with a spatula and leaving at least 1/2-inch (including the crust) free of filling, since the potatoes “puff” while they cook. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, mustard, horseradish and pepper. Bring to room temperature before serving. Place a generous dollop on or near each slice of the pie.

Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

Latest from the Blog
Never Miss a Post!

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post or give-away.