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Cooking Class: Southern Supper + Stories w/ University School Evening Classes

Do you enjoy cooking classes? Do you like the one-on-one interaction with a culinary professional? Do you enjoy eating a meal you got to watch be prepared in front of you? Well, I’m offering you just that on February 9, 2018!

It’s going to be my third year teaching a cooking class with my friends at The University School of Nashville, and I’m truly excited for this year’s class. I’ve decided to share with you some stories from my life growing up in East Tennessee. And I hope that doesn’t feel as boring as I think it does, because you haven’t lived until you’ve gotten off the school bus and seen squirrels being skinned or a turtle boiling in an extra large stock pot. Also, spoiler alert, I don’t recommend this class for my vegetarian/vegan friends. Sorry.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a class with The University School of Nashville, then you are missing out. There will be wine, delicious food to gather around, and hopefully you’ll leave with some ‘new’ friends who love a good meal just like yourself! Did I mention, there’s wine?

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Once you register for the class by clicking this link, you will receive an email from USN about the location of the class. Its typically in the home of a parent of a child who attends USN, and the kitchen is always spacious and houses everyone comfortably for the evening. There’s no worrying about the tall guy standing in front of you like a concert at Exit/Inn (you Nashvillians understand where I’m coming from).

http://www.eesomeco.com

Feel free to bring an apron with you if you would like to assist me with any chopping, stirring or maybe just some taste-testing. I encourage all of those things whole-heartedly! I’ve always been a believer that food taste best when enjoyed with company, and I look forward to sharing that belief with you. And I’ll leave you to be the judge once the class is over!

Not too mention! Half the fee goes to fund a need-based scholarship endowment at USN. So you’re eating for a good cause! At least, that is how I see it! There’s more info below from the USN Evening Classes website below. See you there friends!

HOW TO REGISTER 

Online: Go to the Class Catalog to sign up for classes.  We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Phone: Call 615-321-8019 between 9 am and 3 pm weekdays beginning Thursday, December 7th.  Have your class numbers and VISA/MasterCard/American Express credit card information ready.  Please do not leave registration information on the voice mail system: it will not be processed.
Mail:  Print out the registration form and mail it with a check (made out to USN Evening Classes) or your VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit card information to:
USN Evening Classes, 2000 Edgehill Ave., Nashville, TN 37212. Registration forms will not be processed until December 7th, 2017.
Students are not considered registered until full payment is received. Students will receive a confirmation vie email or mail.  Please note: only registered students may attend class.  We do not allow students to bring guests. Students may enroll in most classes up to the date of the class, space permitting.  Instructors cannot accept fees.
These images were taken for a photoshoot for Trim Menswear by my talented friends at Eesome Co.  If you check the website, you might see a familiar face! And grab some incredibly comfortable t-shirts while your at it!

A Simple Soup For Winter

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“Writing is a lot like making soup. My subconscious cooks the idea, but I have to sit down at the computer to pour it out.”
Robin Wells

I don’t have any profound lines for you about what this year will hold. I only know that I want more out of it than I received last year, and I have every intention of seeing it through. I have so much creativity compressed inside me, that there have been moments when it almost brought me to tears. I didn’t know how to harness it and where it should be unloaded. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief for all the words and images that I held inside, and it felt as though there wasn’t enough time to properly organize it all. Like possessing an armful of files but no file cabinet, and no one near to pull a drawer open for you, leaving you to drop the contents that you worked so hard to produce, on the cold hardwood floor. I hadn’t felt the desire to sit down and write in sometime, well that’s a lie, I have been writing. I’ve been writing in my journals on a regular basis. But I have not felt the desire to sit and write here in this space for some time. I made all the meals, and composed all the dishes. I even took the photos, but I wasn’t inspired to pour it into this space. But I’m back. And I pray you are inspired by all that I have to give you this year.

Winter is giving me ‘all the feels’ this year. If you don’t know – it is truly one of my favorite seasons alongside Autumn. There is something about stark blue light and sea of gloom in the sky that keeps the light at bay that gives me life. I can’t explain it and I probably shouldn’t try. But I feel a certain sense of revival, the deceased leaves have made their final descension and dance amongst the writhing grass. It’s the season of warm blankets, warm mugs full of tea, and bonfires surrounded by the laughter of friends. It’s also the season for soup-making, and if there is one thing my palate will never deny, it’s a bowl of soup. I like to consider soup the epitome of comfort foods.

There are so many variations that can be birthed from the ingredients in your fridge. A simple chicken noodle soup could be a hearty vegetable soup the next day and a creamy concoction the next. It is simply your perspective on the ingredients that you have to work with. I find it rather annoying when someone feels they have to run to the store to create something exactly the way they think it should be. I say, put radishes in, if you don’t have any celery. Add some bok choy if you don’t have cabbage. Soup is forgiving, it’s not demanding and it won’t ask you to be someone who you’re not, so don’t stress about the lack thereof.

I rarely buy the ingredients to prepare soup. I typically keep frozen broth in the freezer or containers in the pantry, and there’s also coubillion cubes, but steer clear of the ones with palm oil if you can. And I more often than not have vegetables lying around or partial leftovers from the previous nights dinner or that afternoons lunch, that can be added to the mix. This turkey soup was birthed from the turkey legs I had leftover from Thanksgiving. We don’t eat a lot of turkey throughout the year unless it is on a sandwich in the sliced format. Quite often the critics are giving turkey the thumbs down, saying that its bland nature is much worse than that of chicken but I still look forward to a small helping once…or twice a year.

This recipe is pretty similar to how I enjoy eating my chicken noodle soup. Which is with a copious handful of green onions if they are available. I simply enjoy the bright tangy bite that it adds to the rich chicken broth. So this whole bowl of soup is essentially less than five ingredients, because why complicate something simple like a good winter soup?

Simple Turkey Soup

1 quart chicken broth
1 cup pulled turkey meat
2 green onion stalks sliced
3 dashes of Texas Pete or Tabasco
fresh ground black pepper

Method
1. I simply heated my chicken broth up until it came to a rolling simmer. Then, I add some dashes of Texas Pete and taste it to see if its to my liking, and adjust. Pour yourself a bowl of the broth, add your pulled turkey meat. It’s up to you if you want to heat the meat prior to adding it to your broth. I put it in cold and let the broth warm it through for me.

I finished it with a copious palm of the green onions and that’s it. Enjoy.

NOTE: The next day you could add some frozen vegetables to this soup for a heartier version as well as some noodles, barley or rice. You could even add some heavy cream or crushed tomatoes to completely transform it into something different. Just adjust your salt and pepper accordingly.

Chocolate Mint Simple Syrup

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I woke up and lied in bed staring into the ceiling as if it would begin moving like clouds before the rain. I changed my position several times allowing my limbs to find the areas of the sheets that still had just a little chill left. I could hear my neighbor cranking up his F 450 and I was reminded that it was Saturday, the rumble always seemed to beat my alarm clock by minutes, in the annoying way that nature calls moments before your appearance is requested at scheduled event.

I swept the gray elephant laced duvet and comforter back, my wife still curled in the sheets, I placed my bare feet on the cold wood floor. The golden light had begun to make its way through the bathroom blinds, the way it does every morning during the six o’ clock hour. Sometimes I lie and stare into it for several minutes, and it often seems like hours, until the light begins to shift. My mind consumed with what the day will bring, and I begin to anticipate whether or not I will accomplish everything I want to do within the allotted hours. Check lists have never been ‘my thing.’ I like the sound of organization but when it comes down to it – executing the things I set before myself often feels like an interminable task. I was proud of myself for getting my herbs planted this year because last year wasn’t that successful. And my basil died a slow death, and yes, I’m ashamed, but I digress.

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Chocolate Mint Simple Syrup, Nashville TN, Chocolate, Easy Bartender Recipes, Cocktail Mixers, Mint Tea RecipesI’ve been watering my mint for a few months now and I could never seem to find the time to make the simple syrup, despite the fact that the mint was simply thirty footsteps or so away. I’m working on it friends, everyday presents me with the opportunity to be better than the day before. But nonetheless, here is your recipe and its the desire of my heart that this syrup will make its way into your evening tea, top off your backyard cocktails, be drizzled over that ice cream nightcap or just a shot in your morning coffee. I hope that was enough inspiration to pause Netflix and get to work! Let me know your latest herb concoction in the comments or how would use this recipe to bring some joy to your life?

Chocolate Mint Simple Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup filtered warm water (tap if you must)
1/2 ounce chocolate mint (rinsed, stems & all)
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Chocolate Extract
smidgen of kosher salt

Method

1. Over medium heat, combine the sugar, salt and water, whisk together until most of the sugar dissolves. Add the rinsed mint with stems and leaves, you may chop it up if you like, but not necessary.

2. Bring syrup to a simmer for about 6 minutes or so, remove it from the heat, stir in chocolate extract and allow it to come to room temperature before storing it. I didn’t have some ‘cool bottle’ to put it so I sprung for one of favorite storage vessels, my Weck jars. Order them here.

Note: I stored this simple syrup at room temp in a cool place (but not the fridge) for two weeks and it kept beautifully. Also, try a little bit of this in your Mint Julep for a new twist!

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Bulleit Bourbon Banana Curd

 

The first time I made The Faux Martha’s Banana Curd, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time. It took no time to make and it was pure unadulterated joy in a jar if you know what I mean? So this week when I realized the bananas on the counter wouldn’t be consumed in time, it only seemed natural to revisit this recipe again. But I wanted to do something slightly different this time – I wanted to up the ante, so the addition of bourbon only felt right. I enjoy how cooking with alcohol can transform what you’re making into something a little more magical than what you started with. And bourbon is one of the alcohols that I enjoy adding to my desserts. I think you’ll enjoy this addition to an already delicious fruit spread/topping.

I didn’t eat a lot of bananas growing up because they made me itch, but if they were cooked in something, it didn’t seem to bother me as much. I talked about this allergy in the previous grape vinaigrette post, check it out. My most familiar memories of banana creations growing up was my mom’s warm banana pudding. (yes, I said. “Warm.”)


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Do you remember walking in the house as a kid and the smell of something sweet caught your attention with the first squeak of the front door? Your feet landed across the threshold and you knew something good was happening, and you completely forgot that dinner had to precede your destiny with that slice of cake or pan of brownies. Your eyes swelled with anticipation and your nostrils were intoxicated by the heavenly aroma. And sometimes my mom would make me a small separate one with no bananas, just cookies, banana cream, french vanilla pudding and cool whip. Every bite inspired another sigh of joy that it was in my hands and entertaining every taste bud.

I often tell people about this dessert and I see the look of wonder in their eyes at the thought of warm banana pudding, but you shouldn’t second guess it. It’s amazing…well, at least to my family. But I digress, let’s make some boozy curd. If you really enjoy banana desserts, I’m sure this will make it to your top ten of delicious things to make for friends and family, your co-workers if you actually like them? (I, kid! :-)) I’m also contemplating a cocktail to make with this creamy goodness, so stay tuned for that!

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Bulleit Bourbon Banana Curd

Yields: 2 1/4 cups

3 over ripened bananas (smashed)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 egg yolks (large eggs)
1/4 cup Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Method

1. Smash your bananas in a bowl using a fork until you obtain a lumpy and creamy consistency. Yes, we’re talking bananas so the contradiction of lumpy and creamy works here. 🙂 Set aside.
2. Whisk your egg yolks in a separate bowl and set them aside.
3. Over medium-high heat in a 1.75 qt sauce pan, melt the butter first, then add your sugar, lemon juice, kosher salt & vanilla. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes until you achieve a smooth sauce and the sugar has fully dissolved.
4. Add your smashed bananas, stirring constantly, allow sauce to cook for about 4 minutes and mixture starts to bubble.
5. Remove about 1/4 cup of the hot banana sauce into the eggs, but you have to whisk it in quickly or else you’ll have scrambled eggs. Then you’ll have to crack more eggs and try it again.Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan, once again, whisking quickly to combine the ingredients. Add bourbon.
6. Allow sauce to cook for about 3 to 4 more minutes until the mixture becomes slightly transparent when coating a spoon. Taste to see if the bite of the alcohol has cooked out or if you want it a little on the boozy side, your good to go!
7. Transfer to blender, food processor or use a beurre stick to puree the mixture until smooth. I transferred it to my favorite Weck jars and store it in the fridge up to 3 weeks.

Banana Curd, Bourbon Banana Curd
This recipe would make a great gift for your foodie friends, a baby shower, housewarming etc. A dollop goes great in your acai bowl, granola cereal, oatmeal, a smoothie or nestled between two scoops of your favorite ice cream. The options are endless and I intend on coming back with a cocktail for you so there’s that!

Recipe adapted from The Faux Martha dot com

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Roasted Grape Vinaigrette

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I hated grapes as a kid but I made an exception for them if they were peeled. Yes, I was that kid and it still pertains to some tannic skinned fruits today. I also didn’t like the seeds which just made me all kinds of high maintenance for my mom when trying to get me to eat them – whether it be an afternoon snack or snook into my Marvel comic laced lunch box.5b9e1356-8d89-4234-978c-d4cf317d2f31

aac18d07-cd28-4cbb-970a-25da0a8e3c62And then when I was around 6 or 7, I’m not sure, we found out that I was allergic to everything that bloomed or breathed in nature. It was a rough life as a kid but it was a good life nonetheless, once you find out all the things you’re allergic to, you simply calculate your next move, like chess, and carry-on. There were moments when I’d reach for something and forget to read the label, a few arm scratches later and all my senses were aroused and I was scrambling for Benadryl and a puff of my inhaler. Yes, allergies and asthma is no fun as an energetic youth who had a passion for life the way I did. But I survived and I’m here to tell you all about it.

These days my allergies have somewhat tamed down. I no longer require a weekly visit to get allergy shots and I am able to eat half of the foods I used to be allergic to. So I occasionally enjoy a handful of grapes as long as they’re washed thoroughly – because I learned that with some of my allergies it was about the tree or vine that the fruit itself grew on…interesting huh?3fa33a5e-400a-4597-8750-3ea5fef82c62

I later learned that it was called OAS, Oral Allergy Syndrome, and it happens when one eats  raw or uncooked fruit. You can read more about it here. Once I discovered that it had a name, life became a little bit easier and I was like give me all the fruit pie I can stand! And one frustrating thing about the allergy is that I didn’t always have symptoms – it happened when I was about 7 or 8 years of age. And till this day, there are those days where I all I long for is a juicy peach or sweet gala apple to be devoured in the palm of my hand.

I won’t even tell you about how heartbroken I was when tomatoes got thrown in to the mix…le sigh. Any who, I’m done depressing you about my allergy problems, let’s get to the roasted grape vinaigrette. I really hope you all will give this a try. It’s really delicious and I believe that it would be great on/in a variety of things from salads, wraps to your yogurt bowl (yes, your yogurt bowl).2de95a07-f590-422b-8f58-8bb9f9e19256

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Roasted Grape Vinaigrette

1.5-2 lbs seedless grapes
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

Method

1.Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove your grapes from the vine, rinse them thoroughly and pat them dry. Place them in a bowl and toss them in 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle a about a teaspoon of salt making sure that everything is coated evenly. Pour onto a sheet pan and roast for about 16-20 minutes, or until skin begins to wrinkle and juices begin to caramelize on the pan. I used my Williams-Sonoma Gold Touch non-stick pan for easy clean up.

2. Once the grapes are room temp or completely cooled, transfer them into a blender with the oil and puree until smooth. There is no need to stream in your oil. Scrape down the sides and once your puree is nice and smooth, add your vinegar, sugar and a little salt as you go until it is seasoned to your liking.

3. Transfer your vinaigrette to an airtight container and keep it in your fridge, it will keep a little over a week if you let it last that long.

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