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Friday, December 9, 2011

Breakfast Grits Y'All Will Love

Gena Berry at Conference (
Les Dames d'Escoffier International  is an association of women in the culinary and hospitality industries and this year's annual conference was held in Atlanta.  I had been to Atlanta once before but only had time to visit the cola company museum and always suspected that there was a lot more to the city.  Sure enough, there is.
Ebenezer Baptist Church

A tour of the city included visits to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (  and the Martin Luther King, Jr.National Historical Site (, both appropriately awesome centers honoring these amazing men.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for stepping back in time to revisit history and to remember the monumental strides both President Carter and Reverend King have made towards civil and equal rights for all. 
Presidential Library & Museum
Sonya Signing Her Book

 On a lighter note, the visit to Atlanta to attend the LDEI conference gave me a great opportunity to experience some of Atlanta's best culinary treasures, including a visit to The Sweet Auburn Bread Company, aka "Little Bakery That Could" to enjoy a tasty demonstration and delicious lunch prepared by owner and Atlanta Dame Sonya Jones (

 Later that same day I was at an event hosted by another Atlanta Dame Mary Moore at one of her 4 Cook's Warehouse stores (   The evening starred 4 additional Atlanta members Virginia Willis (, Rebecca Lang (, Angie Mosier (, and newly crowned Grand Dame and culinary icon Nathalie Dupree ( and actually from the Charleston Chapter of LDEI).  (Friend/Dame Gena Berry pictured at the top of this post made sure I had a vegetarian version of the delicious dinner.)   
Me and (Nathalie) Dupree

Much to the horror of the server at breakfast the next morning, when she saw me about to sprinkle brown sugar on my bowl of steaming grits, here's a recipe inspired by my visit to Atlanta.  Although Debbie went so far as to thrust her hand out in the "Stop" position, I did it anyway.  Heck, aren't grits just the Southern version of cream of wheat?  Apparently not according to Debbie, or Gena, or Brenda, or anyone really Southern.  With no disrespect to my fine Southern girlfriends, and inspired by a couple of Georgia's best culinary gifts, I offer these breakfast grits, Yankee-style.

Peach and Pecan Breakfast Grits
2/3 cup regular grits
2 1/3 cups water
4 Tbs. earth balance or butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
4 slices of peach (canned are just fine, in-season fresh would be better) 

In a small saucepan, melt the EB or butter then add the brown sugar and stir until blended.  Cut the peach slices in quarters and add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Add the toasted pecans, heat a couple of minutes, then set aside.

In a small pot boil the water then add the grits, returning to a boil, then simmer with the lid on for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the grits are cooked to pleasure your textural taste buds turn off the heat.  There's enough to make 4 small servings, or 2 medium servings, or 1 big old servings, depending on how hungry you are.  Divide the butter/sugar/peach/pecan sauce to top the portions accordingly.  Sprinkle additional brown sugar if desired.

What's your favorite hot breakfast cereal?
Do you tilt your head when your picture is taken?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Korean Pear and Butternut Squash Soup - Simple and Very Satisfying

You probably have a recipe for butternut squash soup.  When I did a Google search there were 3,820,000 results in 0.11 seconds, and maybe your recipe is one of them.  You may also have a recipe for butternut squash soup with Asian pears or some type of pear, because there were 183,000 results for this search, in 0.28 seconds.  Wow, we're drinking a lot of some kind of butternut squash soup if Google results are any indication.

However, I could not find even 1 recipe for Korean Pear and Butternut Squash Soup, and even though Korean pears are a kind of Asian pear, they are different in that they are specifically from Korea and the growing/picking process is very special.  Extreme care and optimal conditions produce a juicier, better-tasting pear than from other areas.  Check out this video to see how it's done:

Using a butternut squash-Bartlett pear soup recipe from Vegetarian Times as a starting point, then switching out the B-pear for the super-juicy K-pear, substituting shallots in for leeks, going full fat instead of light on the coconut milk (that's what was in my pantry), and then lifting the soup up where it belongs with a couple of tablespoons of cream sherry, you have Korean Pear and Butternut Squash Soup - simple and very satisfying.  I  hope Google takes notice.

Korean Pear and Butternut Squash Soup                               
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 Korean Pears, peeled and cubed (eating 2-3 slices now is fine)
5 cups vegetable broth
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 tsp. fresh thyme
optional garnish:
coconut chips, lightly sweetened with agave syrup then toasted*

1.  Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
2.  Add the minced shallots and cook about 5 minutes until golden.
3.  Add the squash and pear cubes and saute 5 minutes.
4.  Add the vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
5.  Reduce heat and simmer the mixture about 30 minutes until squash is tender.
6.  Remove from the heat and add the coconut milk.
7.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.
8.  Return the pot to the stove on low-medium heat for 3 minutes until the soup is reheated.
9.  Season with white pepper and salt.

*To make the toasted coconut garnish, start with unsweetened coconut chips, toss lightly with agave syrup, then toast until golden brown.  This makes them just slightly sweet and perfectly crunchy.