I first tasted the fried chicken at Watershed restaurant in Georgia about 10 years ago, while visiting friend and colleague, Angie Mosier. This was also my first meeting with Scott Peacock, the then head chef of Watershed who led them to a James Beard award in 2007.
Scott’s close friend and culinary mentor, Edna Lewis, is hands down the Mother of Soul food, a legendary figure and icon to the Southern culinary world—dare I say the world at-large. Together they wrote, The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks, a staple in my kitchen.
If you’ve been to a convenience store in Alabama, chances are you’ve encountered a fried pie, stowed in a basket at the counter and wrapped tightly in cellophane or butter-drenched wax paper. Growing up, family road trip pit stops didn’t mean Cracker Jacks or candy bars for me; it was the fried pies I coveted, portable pockets of apples and peaches wrapped in a pie crust shell. A certain gas station in Cullman, Alabama, sold my favorite pies, so stopping there was always one of the most anticipated parts of a trip to the beach.
I was inspired to try my hand at the fried pie after a recent brunch at Dyron’s Lowcountry in Birmingham, where I had an apricot-goat cheese fried pie served alongside brown-butter ice cream. This got me to thinking about the endless possibilities of fillings and thus the fried pie experiment began. Two things I’ve since learned: don’t overstuff the pies, and make a large batch because they go fast. Here are a couple of recipes that I hope would make my Southern grandmother proud:
If you ever find yourself with a surplus of strawberries after picking, puree the extra and make a delicious summer cocktail. Any excess puree can also be stored in the freezer for future use; however, strawberry cocktails are popular at my house and there is rarely much leftover puree.
Experiment with any ripe fruit as you progress through the holidays. We’ve previously posted strawberry cocktail recipes: Homemade Strawberry “Fruli” and strawberry-tarragon simple syrup with Prosecco. This recipe from our ‘Celebrate America’ catalog, shared again below, combines watermelon juice and orange bitters. Garnish with blueberries on rosemary stems for the perfect combination of tart, spicy, sweet, and bubbly.
Some five years ago, Martha Hall Foose visited Florence, and made the best strawberry cobbler I’ve had to date. Strawberry season came a little early this year. In early May, my patch began producing. I’m hoping that the plants will continue bearing through the coming weeks so my son, Zach, can make his classic strawberry cobbler for our 4th of July celebration.
We originally shared his recipe in our ‘Celebrate America’ catalog.
Looking forward to the upcoming holiday…
I have collected quite the assortment of cookie and biscuit cutters over the years, all crammed into a drawer in my kitchen. Each year for Valentine’s Day, my daughter Maggie and I make heart-shaped biscuits. We also have a few animal shapes for pet themed birthday parties…
What more appropriate shape for Independence Day than the star?
The colors and shapes of our table setting have bold, graphic qualities with a simple color-blocking that appeals to my design aesthetic.
A traditional southern barbecue will almost always have the option of pork, whether in the form of pulled pork sandwiches, slow-cooked ribs, or smoked pork butt. Our July 4th pork dish may be a little more formal than those options, but it is actually very easy to prepare.
Our pork loin was sourced locally and roasted with fresh herbs from my garden. It looks even more delicious in a Large Serving Dish by Heath Ceramics. The dish helps hold the moisture, keeping the pork moist and allowing the flavors to emerge. I love the red color in contrast to our White and Navy Center Stripe Table Cloth.
Summer is my favorite time of year, although there are some who don’t share my love for the south’s steamy heat. Since the heat can be extreme, one summer staple is a batch of Toddy cold-brewed coffee. It’s so simple to make and has so many variations that it can be the only coffee base you need for the long summer days.
Although the Toddy doesn’t use hot water to devolve all of the coffee’s oils, the fullness of the coffee flavor isn’t affected. In fact, Toddy is actually 67% less acidic than the traditional, hot-brewed version.
We finished our week of MAKESHIFT with Crafting Design, a chair workshop hosted at Partners & Spade in New York City.
From the New York Times piece “Pull Up a Chair, Then Fix It” by Andrew Wagner:
“Last Saturday, as part of a conference called MakeShift, Natalie Chanin, the founder of the fashion label Alabama Chanin, held a workshop to rehabilitate some of these castoffs at Partners & Spade on Great Jones Street. The event, which she called Crafting Design, was dedicated to resurrecting the bent, twisted and broken remnants of what the poet David McFadden has described as ‘the most ubiquitous and important design element in the domestic environment’: the chair.”
Thanks to Garden & Gun for making our dinnerware their Editors’ Pick for the June/July 2012 issue.
Beautifully hand-crafted pieces.
Perfect timing for summer parties and entertaining.
Even better timing for my summer tomato sandwich diet (recipe included).
The etched salad plate is the perfect size for a single, delicious sandwich and I’ve got tomatoes in my garden almost ripe for the picking.
Alabama Chanin for HEATH Ceramics is available for purchase from Cook + Dine or from Heath’s website.
John Bielenberg and his work with PieLab aren’t new to Alabama Chanin, or our blog. We were curious what John has been up to, so we caught up with him between his travels to learn more about Project M, PieLab, and recent goings on in Greensboro, Alabama.
We also got our hands on a delicious recipe from the pop-up café, PieLab, for our Wednesday Recipes.
Their Tart Apple Pie with White Cheddar Crust has a beautiful lattice top that looks like the pies I ate growing up. Combining the tartness of the apples with the savory of the white cheddar makes for a fabulous slice of pie. If only it weren’t a three hour drive down to Greensboro to get a slice. Recipe then Q&A with John to follow: