a dinner worth (saliva)ting over + a new look (for the blog)

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Cover shoot … Saliva’s couch! Photo by Allen Clark Photography

Well … there have been a host of things going on around here, a few of which I can’t wait to share with you! It’s interesting the way life works out. It seems to be a constant revolving door of the people you meet, the people they know and the stories you live to tell about after the dust settles.

So fast forward to my thirties … I had the pleasure to collide with Saliva. They’ve played in front of the masses and their “Click, Click, Boom” is played at just about every sports venue throughout the year. Shockingly enough, the band is comprised of some of the most down-to-earth, gentle spirits you will ever have the pleasure of encountering. And, this gal was tasked with creating an enchanting evening of Southern-inspired fare for their last evening at EastSide Manor Studios (they’re recording their long awaited followup album).

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Saliva on break and waiting to eat …

First and foremost, yes … you should go buy the album as soon as it drops! Secondly, and I’ve said this before … BUT, you know you’ve completely NAILED a meal when everyone goes completely silent and all you can hear is the symphony of chewing, knives scrapping plates and “mmmms”. If you’ve not had the pleasure of such an experience, just keep at it! You’ll never feel better than in that moment, make it your milestone and keep cooking!

So, what does one make for a group of Southern-bred men who happen to be rock stars? I went with some tried & true favorites elevated just a pinch. Here’s the menu:

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browned butter, molasses, orange + rosemary … skillet bread!

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Browned Butter, Molasses, Orange + Rosemary Skillet Bread

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups plain white cornmeal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • zest & juice of 1 large orange
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 6-8 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of canola oil
  • Optional toppings – orange marmalade, honey, or butter

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pour canola oil in cast iron, place in oven and forget for now.
  3. Combine cornmeal, egg, buttermilk, powder, salt, zest, orange juice, molasses and rosemary. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated well.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat butter to medium … once butter browns, pour directly into batter and continue to mix in.
  5. Remove cast iron from oven and pour batter directly into skillet. Edges will brown immediately (perfect).
  6. Bake for approximately 20-25 mins, until golden brown.
  7. Serve with orange marmalade, butter, honey or nothing at all. Enjoy!

bourbon glazed sweet potatoes

What you’ll need:

  • 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup quality bourbon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tbps. butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Toss potatoes with bourbon and orange zest. Pour all into a backing pan.
  3. Top with sugars and bake for 1 hour. Tossing every 20 minutes.
  4. Once potatoes are tender. Remove from oven, toss with butter, and allow to cool a bit (about 15 minutes).
  5. Serve and enjoy!

green chile mac n’ cheese

What you’ll need …

  • 16 oz. cooked and drained shell pasta
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup queso asadera
  • 1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 poblano peppers, roasted, cooled & chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

What you’ll do …

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, add 8 tablespoons of butter. Allow to melt slowly, whisking consistently. Then add one at a time, the tbsp of flour … again, whisking to combine rapidly and consistently. Add the half & half in the same fashion.
  3. Once sauce begins to thicken. Add peppers, queso asadera and cheddar.
  4. Then pour cheese sauce over the the pasta in a 9×12 pan.
  5. Top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling.

seriously, the best buttermilk fried pork chops ever

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Seriously, the best Buttermilk Fried Pork Chops Ever!

What you’ll need:

  • 6 boneless pork chops, about 1″ thick
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 adobo seasoning packets ( I use Goya)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan-reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. course ground black pepper
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine cayenne, adobo and buttermilk.
  2. Arrange chops in a single layer and pierce with a fork all over. Then pour buttermilk mixture over and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (up to 24).
  3. In a skillet (I used a cast iron), heat your oil to medium. And preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Set up your breading station. You’ll need 3 bowls. In the first, place the salt, pepper and flour and combine. In the second, beat the egg and stir in the water. In the last bowl, combine the panko, parmesan-reggiano, and parsley.
  5. Remove a pork chop from the buttermilk marinade and remove excess.
  6. Move through breading station – coat with flour, coat with egg wash, and last coat with the panko mixture. Place carefully in the oil and allow to brown for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  7. Once both sides are browned, place on cookie sheet and repeat for each pork chop.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!

vegetarian beer-braised collard greens

What you’ll need:

  • 5 pounds washed, stemmed, and chopped collard greens
  • 12 ounces of amber ale (I used Fat Tire) – 12 for the greens and 12 for the cook!
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbps. crushed red pepper
  • 6 tbps. quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves smashed
  • 2 tsps. balsamic vinegar
  • about 2 tsp. salt

What you’ll do:

  1. Heat oil to medium in a small stock pot.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper until fragrant.
  3. Pour in vinegar, beer, stock and salt. Increase heat to medium high & bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Add greens in batches until all are in the pot. Combine all ingredients well.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, folding every 15 minutes. Takes approximately 45 minutes to reach desired tenderness.
  6. Enjoy!

bacon + corn chowder

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. quality bacon
  • 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 1 russet potato peeled and diced
  • kernels from 6 ears of corn
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley to garnish (optional)
  • truffle infused olive oil for garnish (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Dice bacon and cook thoroughly on medium high in a stock pot. Remove bacon and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add butter.
  3. Add onion, garlic and thyme and cook until herbs are fragrant and onion is slightly translucent. Approximately 8 minutes.
  4. Dust mixture with flour and gently fold to incorporate.
  5. Add stock and bring to rapid boil.
  6. Add cream and potatoes. Allow to continue cooking for about 8 minutes.
  7. Add corn kernels and allow to cook for another 12 minutes (potatoes should be cooked through).
  8. Portion into bowls and top with reserved bacon, parsley and a drizzle of truffle oil.
  9. Enjoy!