Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

new years day

Dip Into Some Delicious To Kick Off The New Year

Two Recipes That Will Start 2019 Just Right

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip and Lucky Prosperity Soup

My grandfather used to say nothing good ever happens after midnight and my parents generally subscribed to the same ideology. So, for the most part, my sister and I especially (not so much my brothers) were required to be home by 11 p.m. starting in 10th grade until college. The one year my parents did make an exception was New Year’s Eve of  11th-grade in high school.  I remember that because of the onslaught of a drunken boy’s midnight “kiss” and the unpleasant aftermath of a cheap Andre’s Cold Duck hangover the next morning – both firsts unfortunately not easily forgotten.

Ever since, I’ve been one to mostly stay home on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. A day of end-of-the year feasting and quiet reflection with friends takes top billing in my book, and so do both of these recipes. Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip, from my latest,  The New Southern Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018), offers just the right blend of ooey-gooey, sweet, buttery, warm blue crab dip for a decadent start and the Lucky Prosperity Soup (from Mashed – Beyond the Potato, Gibbs Smith) a smooth, gilded finish.

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip

(Makes 4 – 6 Appetizer Portions)

Situated literally on the edge of what is alternatively deemed “The Edge of America” (or simply Folly Beach), Rita’s Seaside Grille is just a stone’s throw from the frothy, popular surfing waters of the Atlantic. Its breezy, beachy locale lends itself both to the mood and look of the place, as well as the hefty, gutsy menu options, which include lunch, and dinner and a very popular brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Though casual, Rita’s also retains a kind of muted elegance that comes through its captain chairs, high , glossy wood bars and tables. Beyond beach chic, it’s a great stop before or after the beach, or anytime your belly is aching and in search of a good time. And, your canine pal(s) are welcome on the covered outdoor patio, which also houses some great live bands.

Executive chef Billy Spencer has been at the helm here since Hall Management (of Slightly North of Broad, High Cotton, Halls Chophouse, and Old Village Post House Inn fame), bought it a few years ago. The Johnson & Wales grad describes Rita’s crab dip, which was originally inspired by a restaurant where he worked in Florida, as “creamy, but not too heavy.” It’s rife with crab meat that he sources from a fisherman in North Carolina and as he points out, each portion is roughly 50 percent chock-full of crab. It’s lovely that it can be made ahead and re-heated just before serving.

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip with Warm Pita Chips from The New Charleston Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May, 2018) by Holly Herrick

For the dip:

1 1/2 cups cream cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into strips or a chiffonade

2 cups claw crabmeat

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup roasted, drained and finely diced red peppers

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese for garnish

Serve with tortilla chips or these dipping chips:

Two 6-inch pitas, each cut into eight wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

Generous sprinkling kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Melt the cream cheese and heavy cream together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and set aside to cool. Fold the remaining ingredients into the cream mixture, stirring gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Portion out into six microwave-proof ramekins or small bowls. (Note: The dip can be prepared ahead, covered and refrigerated up to a day in advance).

Meanwhile, prepare the chips. Preheat oven to 4ooF. Toss together the pita wedges with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer, and toast until golden brown (tossing once or twice) about 12-15 minutes. Reserve warm.

To warm the dip “cups,” microwave, uncovered, on high for one minute. Sprinkle each bowl with the cheddar cheese garnish and broil under a hot broiler until melted, just before serving. Serve warm with the freshly prepared, warm chips.

 

Lucky Prosperity Soup 

(Yields 8 to 10 servings)

New Year’s Day in the South ushers in a call to wealth and prosperity, which are symbolized by black-eyed peas (representing coins) and collard greens (representing greenbacks). Often, they’re cooked separately, usually with some ham hock for flavor, and put together on the same plate with rice. This delicious soup takes the best of the bunch and puts them all in one pot, with the exclusion of rice. If you can’t find collard greens, substitute kale or another sturdy green. This soup is finished with a traditional sweet and onion splash from a southern garnish known as chow-chow. If you cannot find it, substitute a traditional relish, but modify the results as suggested in the recipe.

Recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced

3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 cups (1 1/4 pounds/ 565g) re-hydrated black-eyed peas, rinsed

3/4 pound (340g) smoked ham hock

8 cups (1.9l) water

1 large bunch collard greens, rinsed, tough stems removed and discarded, and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or Tabasco

1/3 cup (80g) chow-chow or 2 tablespoons traditional relish

Directions/Method

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to coat. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the vinegar and reduce quickly to a glaze.

Add the peas, ham, water, collard greens, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high and reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, until thickened and the greens have cooked down and the peas are soft, but holding their shape. Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, briefly mash the soup in the cooking pot to help incorporate the beans and the greens. When cool enough to handle, cut off and remove outer fat and skin layers from the hock. Cut off any visible meat, finely chop, and return to the pot; discard the rest. Just before serving, stir in the hot sauce and chow-chow. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve steaming hot and sit back and count your lucky stars.

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Wishing you and all you love all things wonderful and delicious as you transition into a new year and a happy, healthy 2019!

Love,

Holly and Rocky (principal taste tester and best friend!)

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Lucky Start for New Year’s Day

As we all look towards 2017, just hours away, I want to send my best wishes to all of my readers and the world for a healthy, happy, joyful, peaceful and prosperous New Year.  Towards that end, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith, Sept. 2016) as my gift to you as we move into the future. Happy New Year!

Lucky Prosperity Soup 

(reprinted with permission of Gibbs-Smith, Publisher)

Yields 8 to 10 servings

New Year’s Day in the South ushers in a call to wealth and prosperity, which are symbolized by black-eyed peas (representing coins) and collard greens (representing greenbacks). Often, they’re cooked separately, usually with some ham hock for flavor, and put together on the same plate with rice. This delicious soup takes the best of the bunch and puts them all in one pot, with the exclusion of rice. If you can’t find collard greens, substitute kale or another sturdy green. This soup is finished with a traditional sweet and onion splash from a southern garnish known as chow-chow. If you cannot find it, substitute a tradtional relish, but modify the results as suggested in the recipe.

Lucky Prosperity Soup from Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith) by Holly Herrick. A delicious, sweet/hot merger of collards, ham hocks and black-eyed peas.

Recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced

3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 cups (1 1/4 pounds/ 565g) rehydrated black-eyed peas, rinsed

3/4 pound (340g) smoked ham hock

8 cups (1.9l) water

1 large bunch collard greens, rinsed, tough stems removed and discarded, and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or Tabasco

1/3 cup (80g) chow-chow or 2 tablespoons traditional relish

 

Directions/Method

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to coat. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the vinegar and reduce quickly to a glaze.

Add the peas, ham, water, collard greens, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high and reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, until thickened and the greens have cooked down and the peas are soft, but holding their shape. Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, briefly mash the soup in the cooking pot to help incorporate the beans and the greens. When cool enough to handle, cut off and remove outer fat and skin layers from the hock. Cut off any visible meat, finely chop, and return to the pot; discard the rest. Just before serving, stir in the hot sauce and chow-chow. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve steaming hot and sit back and count your lucky stars.

 

This is an absolutely award-winning soup that beats Hoppin’ John any day in my book. Bon appetit and best wishes for a wonderful 2017.

Love, me and Mr. Purrfect, the very handsome cat who thinks he’s a dog.

Holly Herrick cooking

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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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