Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

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Roasted Chicken – The Feast That Keeps on Giving – Part II

Divine Chicken Divan

Last week, I roasted one 6-pound, $7 chicken and created 4 separate dishes and 16 meals, beginning with the roasted chicken, the ensuing stock, a Chicken and Dumpling Soup made from the stock  a luscious Chicken Divan casserole, and four substantial chicken sandwiches enhanced with a homemade Nutty Whole Grain Bread. That’s going the distance in the economical and no waste cooking department, which was, and for the long-haul is, my most intense cooking ambition these days. Along with keeping things delicious, of course.

Here’s the original post for the roast for easy reference:

Roasted Chicken – The Feast That Keeps on Giving

It was cold last week and like most of us in the snowy, Northern Hemisphere, I was in the mood for some soothing, creamy, savory comfort food.  Chicken Divan, something a Facebook friend aptly described as ‘legacy fare,’ came to mind. Named after the restaurant where it was created in the Chatham Hotel in New York City, divan is a French word meaning ‘meeting place’ or ‘grand hall.’ In addition to being descriptive, like all French words, it sounds prettier than many English words and its base is a mother sauce, a Bechamel turned cheesy, also known as a Mornay sauce. Classically, it’s prepared with broccoli and mushrooms, but I kept broccoli out of the equation (mostly because I didn’t have any to use) and beefed up the mushroom ratio with dried porcini macerated in warm, dry vermouth which was later added to the Mornay. The end result was stunning and doubles as brunch (I served it to friends as such with a side of roasted asparagus), lunch, dinner or a midnight snack.

A word on bread crumbs and mushroom feet:

Unless you are one of the rare few that seldom has a nub of baguette or left-over bread hanging around, there is no reason to ever buy bread crumbs at the grocery. Store the bread bits and pieces in the freezer and crumble them in the food processor as you’re ready to use them, as in the topping for this casserole. Same goes for most types of cheeses (except soft cheeses), which I freeze and use in forgiving dishes such as a casserole or omelet frequently. In cooking school, we were taught not to use the feet of mushrooms in dishes, except in stock, but I disagree. Except for some very tough mushroom types, such as shitake, they are perfectly palatable. With all mushrooms (except morels which are another story), clean them simply by rubbing them down with a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove excess dirt.

Divine Chicken Divan

Divine Chicken Divan

(Makes 10 generous portions)

1 ounce dried wild porcini

1/2 cup extra dry white vermouth

3/4 cup chicken stock (from roasted chicken – see link above – or best quality commercial chicken stock)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

8 ounces, or 2 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced, feet-on

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Mornay:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose

2 cups whole milk

Reserved strained liquid from the porcini mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Compiling the casserole:

Shredded meat from the 1 chicken breast and one leg/thigh from the roasted chicken, skin and bones removed – approximately three cups

5 scallions, finely chopped

1 1/4 bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, halved

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Place the porcini, vermouth, and chicken stock in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cook 3 minutes and set aside, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, stir to coat, and cook over medium low heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the chopped crimini, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to coat and saute until softened, five minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, strain the liquid from the porcini through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set aside. Coarsely chop the porcini and add to the mushrooms in the saute pan and set aside.

Prepare the Mornay.  Melt the two tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Cook 1 minute, or until blond and barely bubbling. Add the milk, reserved strained porcini liquid, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, five minutes or until thickened. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses until melted.

To compile the casserole, use 1 tablespoon of the butter to rub down the sides and edges of a 4-quart casserole dish.  Arrange the shredded chicken meat on the bottom. Scatter with the chopped scallions and reserved mushrooms in the saute pan. Pour the warm Mornay sauce evenly over the top. Separately, melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast lightly, stirring to coat. Top the casserole evenly with the browned bread crumbs.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes until golden, fragrant and bubbling. (Note: Can prepare/compile ahead, refrigerate overnight, and bake just before serving. Also, reheats well in oven or microwave after baked).

Happy cooking! Look for the Nutty Whole Grain Bread and Chicken and Dumpling Soup recipe next week. In the meantime, please remember to keep this upcoming cookbook writing retreat and Folly Beach spring wellness vacation in mind and by all means, tell  your friends about it. We still have spots open. Beckie and I would love to see you there! It’s going to be delicious, fun, and educational.

Cracking the Cookbook Code. Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat

 

 

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Maple Acorn Squash Soup Makes an Elegant Start to Thanksgiving

Warm Up Thanksgiving with This Exceptional Soup Recipe

In the cooler months, my kitchen counter is permanently decorated with an array of winter squashes. Hubbard, acorn, butternut, pumpkin, turban – whatever I can find at the grocery store or farmers’ market. They serve the dual purpose of appealing to my aesthetic senses as well as fueling my appetite for seasonal cooking. All winter squashes shine especially brightly in soups, which magnify their flavor and color intensity and smooth texture beautifully.  Thankfully, the heirloom varieties (my current favorite is Hubbard) are increasingly available. Lately, I’ve been roasting Hubbard squash, halved and skin-side down in a hot oven (425F) until very soft. Once cool, I mash the flesh with a splash of salt and pepper, cinnamon, perhaps a bit of maple syrup and a pat of butter. It has an exquisite bright orange color and possesses deep, rich winter squash flavor.  With a sauteed filet of salmon or cod, it makes a complete and very satisfying meal.

The acorn squash in this soup is treated similarly and finished with minimalist ingredients so the clean, earthy squash flavor takes center stage.  The maple syrup is cooked into the soup with just a few more ingredients and the elegance of shallots and a tiny bit of cream. It is pureed to a velvety finish with an immersion blender or a food processor. Because it is so elegant, delicious, seasonal, and just the right, light weight, it is the perfect way to kick off any special meal, especially Thanksgiving. The reverence and gratitude associated with Thanksgiving make soup the perfect starter – a slow and easy debut that gives you and your guests time to sink their hearts and minds into the occasion, pausing for reflection and slow sipping as they go. It also gives the turkey and the cook a little much needed time to rest before the gigantic feast begins.

This Maple Acorn Squash Soup from  Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith) was inspired by the maple syrup and butter-filled acorn squash halves my mother made often for my brothers and sisters when we were children. Do use real maple syrup. It makes a huge difference in the authenticity of the soup’s flavor.

Maple Acorn Squash Soup – Photograph by Alexandra DeFurio from Mashed by Holly Herrick. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Maple Acorn Squash Soup

(Yields 6 to 8 Servings)

2 large acorn squash, halved horizontally and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and halved vertically

Generous pinch of kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons bourbon (optional but delicious!)

4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Preheat oven to 425F (22oC). Place the acorn squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh is very tender. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle,  scoop the flesh from the interior of the squash, discarding the shells. You should have about 4 cups.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until just softened. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and bourbon; stir to combine. Cook until the bourbon has reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, water, squash, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high and reduce to a simmer, cooking, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove ginger pieces and discard.

In the same pot, puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Finish with the cream, heating through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot in individual soup bowls garnished with a flutter of fresh chives. (Note: The soup can be prepared ahead a day or 2 and refrigerated, but remember to add the cream and the chives when reheating, not prior).

 

Wishing everyone a beautiful, happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

Holly

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My Maternal Pork Chop Legacy

Pork Chops, Applesauce, and my Mother and Mother-in-Law with Recipes and Such

In addition to being very near and dear to my heart, my mother (Margaret) and mother-in-law (Dori), share three things in common:

1) They were both raised in the Midwest (Kansas and Iowa, respectively).

2) They both have German ancestry.

3) The former is a good cook and the latter was (Dori passed many years ago) a great cook, but they both cooked the hell out of pork chops.

I never understood it, but I think it was born of a fear of trichinosis, as if the wheat and corn fields that surrounded their homes were threaded with diseased pork phobia genetic code. Mom, a Depression-era baby trying to feed four kids on a budget she never could forget even in good times, weekly bought those razor thin “chops” in value packs, layered them into a baking pan, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added a generous drizzle of barbecue sauce. She would then tightly wrap it with foil and bake at 350F for as long as she was sure it was done.  My childhood memory wants to say at least two hours, and I’m not kidding. The result, God bless her, was flavorless shoe leather. A complete disservice to pork and not a favorite childhood food memory, though I sincerely appreciate the effort, and do to this day. Dori, meanwhile, was surrounded with gorgeous corn-fed beef and pig buying options and always brought the most gorgeous cuts.  A lover of her pies and all the goodies that came from her very talented cooking skill set and kitchen, I remained ever hopeful every time she put them on the grill or in the oven. But, sadly, the trichinosis thing took over and even the most beautiful Iowa pork chop imaginable was cooked to death.

So, as I grew older and started learning more about cooking on a personal and professional level, pork chops (and all other chops) was the first thing I tackled after trying to master Dori’s pie crust.  Making beautiful pork chops is not hard and there really are only a few rules to keep in mind.  Begin with buying the best quality chop possible. All chops are cut from the loin that runs perpendicular to the pig’s spine. My favorite of these are the rip chops (cut from the rib portion of the loin) and the center cut pork loin with contains a T-shaped bone (as pictured here).  Thick cut pork chops are about 1 1/2 – 2″ deep and usually weigh about 12 ounces, or 3/4 of a pound. Bring them to room temperature before cooking, removing from the fridge about 30 minutes before you begin. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. Using a seasoned cast iron skillet or an enamel-lined cast iron skillet or the heaviest, best quality, oven-proof saute pan  you have, heat about 2 tablespoons each butter and olive oil over medium high to high heat. When sizzling, add the pork chops (leaving space, I do two at a time).  Cook until golden brown and easily pulled from the pan, about 3 minutes. Repeat on the second side. Turn over again. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the chop draws clear juices.  The chops should be firm, but slightly pliable to the touch. (Note: If you prefer to use a meat thermometer, insert into the thickest part of the chop. You’ll want a reading no lower than 145F and no higher than 160F).  I like to brush mine down lightly with barbecue sauce on both sides (I know, old habits die hard), rest on a clean plate drizzled with all the pan juices and loosely covered with foil, for about 20 minutes. The resting is one of the most important steps and not to be taken lightly. It allows the fat and juices and flavor to re-absorb into the meat where it will be waiting for your knife and fork and grumbling belly.

Pork Chops Taking on Nice Color in a Hot Skillet in my Home Kitchen – Halfway to Perfection!

Applesauce

Pork Chops with applesauce are a common pairing for a reason – they’re smashing together. The sweetness of apples with the milky sweetness of chops are a match made in heaven especially when paired with the earthiness of sage (add that to your chop seasoning mix) and cinnamon in the applesauce. It may seem a little early to speak of apples and fall, but hints of its imminent (and always welcome to this New England girl’s soul) arrival are everywhere. Kids are going back to school, Halloween candy is in the stores, and that subtle shift of fall light has barely begun.  This is a lovely recipe from one of my cookbooks,  Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith). Its simplicity makes it divine and it is both beautiful and healthy. Make it a day ahead and serve room temperature alongside your pork chops.

Roasted Applesauce

(Yields 2 1/2 cups)

Roasting apples with a bit of lemon juice and sugar ensures that all of the juices, flavor, and nutrients stay in one delicious place, and it also yields apples so tender they are nary in need of  mashing. The McIntosh virtually melt on their own, while the slightly sturdier, sweet-tart Jonathan variety require a quick final mash. Perfect on its own, warm from the oven, this applesauce is lovely with a swirl of unsweetened cream over yogurt or ice cream, or as a side to pork roast and chops.

3 Jonathan apples, peeled, quartered, and cored

3 McIntosh apples, peeled, quartered, and cored

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss all of the ingredients together on a rimmed baking sheet, coating evenly. Arrange in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the apples are very soft and easily break to the touch. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

While still warm, place the apples and all of their juices into a manual bowl. With a hand-held masher, gently mash until the applesauce is chunky smooth. Serve warm or cold. Will store, refrigerated and covered, for several days.

Roasted Applesauce from Mashed by Holly Herrick. Photography by Alexandra DeFurio. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

 

Happy and delicious cooking out there, my friends. Cooler days are ahead and pork chops and applesauce season is almost here. If you’re ever in greater Charleston, SC, remember to look me up for a private personalized cooking class in my kitchen. I’ve just updated the link on this site with new details and pictures. Here’s the link:

Cooking Classes

 

If you’re looking for a wonderful gift for the Charleston lover in your life (and really, who isn’t one?), consider purchasing my latest cookbook, The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May 25, 2018) to learn more about the history and food traditions of this town, visit with 80 of her best chefs, and cook from their magnificent recipes. Available online at Amazon and major and boutique bookstores now. I can always sign one for you in person at any of my cooking classes.

New Charleston Chefs Table book cover

The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018) by Holly Herrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bon appetit,

 

Holly

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Introducing The New Charleston Chef’s Table

Voila! She’s Finally Here and A Cookbook Give Away

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited. It’s been a very busy and wonderful year.  In addition to a new cookbook (number nine), I have a now sixteen month-old  puppy named Rocky (Rocken Roll) and have been enjoying writing press and news for a large Charleston restaurant group.

I deem The New Charleston Chef’s Table “number nine” with some hesitation, as I’m not sure exactly what to call a new edition of an old book (the original Chef’s Table came out in 2009). Is that really a new book? But since it’s essentially an 80% new book, that is almost all of the old book was pulled and new restaurants, chefs and recipes were added, I’m going to go with number nine.

The reason so much of it is new is that Charleston went through yet another massive restaurant renaissance during the past decade. What was delicious got even more delicious and the boundaries for types of food and restaurant locations and styles got even broader. Increasingly, Charleston taste buds veered farther from formality and more towards casual ethnicity diversification, but always, always with a demand for outstanding cuisine. Because, if it was not delivered, those restaurants went away in short order.

Reluctant at first to take on such a huge task, I was glad I did, and am grateful for the opportunity from Globe Pequot Press. The New Charleston Chef’s Table truly reflects the Charleston of now, which was my intention. I pursued recipes that were less structured and more adaptable for the home cook. Some of my favorites include Leon’s Whole Grain Spoon Salad,  Fig’s Classic Arugula Salad,  Crust’s Chilled Summer Corn Soup, Lewis’ Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding, The Ordinary’s Fish Schnitzel, and The Daily’s Buttermilk Rhubarb Fool.  In this book, more than in the original, I let the book morph with the commentary and thoughts of the chefs. For example,  Matthew Niessner at Halls Chophouse didn’t want to share just one recipe, but an entire meal catered to this audience, just as he likes to do for groups when they come to Halls. So he shared recipes for creamed corn, iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, and how to perfectly prepare a restaurant style ribeye. Meanwhile, at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina I surfed with Ryan Jones into the Baja, California peninsula and cool surfer mentality with cantina chicken tacos and stewed lima beans slow and steady with Martha Lou Gadsen of Martha Lou’s Kitchen.

The design and editing team did a beautiful job of designing the book, which is verdant and fresh with lots of green color and beautiful photography, and has an equally more casual and modern look, reflecting an ever morphing Charleston.

New Charleston Chefs Table book coverThe book was released this past week and is available at major bookstores and online now. I’m offering a signed cookbook to one of you. Just click like on this post or elsewhere where you see it  and I’ll do a randomly picked number search on June 4 and announce the winner that day.

Wishing you a beautiful and soulful Memorial Day!

Holly

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Christmas Guacamole – Shiny, Bright and Healthfully Wrapped

The holidays are moving at warp speed. I hope we all will take time to sit back and enjoy the ride and the reason. Cooking is a big part of my Christmas joy, and this recipe from my new cookbook (working title Mashed, fall 2016 release), is pure pleasure to make and eat.  I call it “Christmas” Guacamole because two of its main ingredients (pomegranate and citrus) are in season this time of year, and the colors are red, green and simply luscious. Even better, this recipe is made in minutes, gone in less, and ridiculously healthy at a time when most of us need more of that. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I’m wishing you all that it be beautiful and bright and full of love and delicious food.

Christmas Guacamole with Pomegranate and Fresh Orange Juice by Holly Herrick. hollyherrick.com

Christmas Guacamole with Pomegranate and Fresh Orange Juice – hollyherrick.com

 

Christmas Guacamole with Pomegranate and Orange

(Yields about 2 cups or 16 appetizer servings)

The shimmering, ruby red and jewel-like arils of winter’s pomegranate shine against the backdrop of mellow green of creamy avocado in this so-good-you-cannot-stop-eating it holiday treat. Packed with three “super” foods and magnificent, fruity flavors, it’s also nothing to feel guilty about going back for more. Make up to an hour before serving (to prevent discoloration) and serve room temperature with best quality pita chips or toast points.

2 ripe avocadoes, halved and seeded

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 cloves garlic, smashed and very finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon, best quality, fruity extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dried (Valencia) orange peel

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Scoop out the flesh from the avocado with a soup spoon and mash, with a fork or manual masher  in a medium bowl with the orange juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Fold in the orange peel, pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley. Serve immediately or tightly wrap (to the surface of the guacamole) with plastic wrap and serve within the hour. Garnish with a few more pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.

Pomegranate Power

Considered a super food for its high nutrient content, pomegranate can be purchased in its whole form during the cooler months, and increasingly, already seeded or juiced. The seeds are called arils and they look like little rubies. Getting them out of their tightly-knitted pockets can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. An easy way to get to the fruit is to quarter the pomegranate each of the four “cores” will be revealed to peel back the bitter pith pockets and release the seeds. One pomegranate will yield one to two cups of seeds.

Bon appetit! Let me know what you think. I believe you’ll love this one. Merry, Merry, Holly.

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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.

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