Cornbread Panzanella Salad

Cornbread Panzanella Salad via The Local Palate Magazine

When we think of summer, we often equate it with being stress-free or being able to worry less. We’ve planned our family vacation to the lake house and the quiet Sunday picnic in the park. We enjoy a glass of wine on our patio and relish at the sight of our blossoming tomatoes. It’s the perfect time of year to brush up on those culinary skills with the local farmer’s markets overflowing with produce and there’s no shortage of recipes on the inter-webs. You might even try asking your local farmer’s what they enjoy making with their own produce. I’m sure you’ll encounter an endless sea of inspiration for your summer cooking.

Oh, yes! While we were in the midst of discussing all this summer goodness, I forgot to share with you. I was selected as The Local Palate Magazine’s favorite blogger of the month which is the best form of flattery. TLP is a southern-based magazine that celebrates the food culture of the south. I delight in knowing there are people out there who enjoy my passion for food and I’m elated to be working with them this month. You can check their blog tomorrow for my post on comfort food in Nashville. I’d love to hear your thoughts on places you find dishes that remind you of home or simply take you to that ‘happy place’.

In my spare time, I enjoy surfing through recipes to find inspiration and challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to meal preparation. We don’t typically eat a lot of salad around Casa de Hunter, we enjoy cooked veggies and sometimes there’s even cheese sauce involved. But I saw this recipe for Cornbread Panzanella Salad on The Local Palate Magazine’s website and I couldn’t resist the temptation to try it out. If you’re a fan of southern cooking, you should definitely check out their recipe archives for some of the best recipes from southern chefs. I mean, if cornbread is involved, then enough said.Cornbread Panzanella Salad

Cornbread Panzanella Salad via The Local ForkfulI’m often looking for ways to bring some southern influence into other genres of cuisine and I love the addition of cornbread to this Tuscan salad as opposed to the typical rustic country miche of some sort. If there’s a food that can take me on a stroll down memory lane, cornbread is definitely at the top of that list. I can hear the butter sizzle around the edges of the cast-iron skillet and smell that rich nuttiness erupting through the corridors of my childhood. And what better way to use those beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs than in such a simple salad with great layers of flavor.

The preparation doesn’t take too long and the best part is the ‘left-overs’ are even better, which is always a plus. As you make this recipe, remember that recipes are merely guidelines. You always have room to improve and with that being said, I added two tablespoons of red wine vinegar and about two teaspoons of kosher salt to this recipe and it was killer. It may even make a guest appearance at the Thanksgiving table wearing fall produce selections. It has such a clean flavor with those fresh vegetables and then a rich corny-nuttiness from the combination of the butter and toasted cornbread croutons. You’re family and friends are guaranteed to love it and if they don’t, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy.Cornbread Panzanella Salad on The Local Forkful Food Blog

I always recommend reading the recipe all the way through before tackling it. It ensures the least amount of mistakes made. No one likes to backtrack when hunger is involved.

Cornbread Panzanella SaladIngredients

1 pint teardrop tomatoes, cut in half
2 each cucumber – cut in half, seeded, cut into half moons 1/8-inch thick
2 each large red and golden beats roasted (*see below)
2 tablespoons chiffonade basil
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 cups toasted diced corn bread
1 tablespoon garlic
2 bunches frisée lettuce, rough cut
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup grated fontina cheese

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For Dressing

¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil

Directions

For Dressing:

1. Whisk the lemon juice and the oil profusely with a wire whisk until you form a temporary emulsion.This means the two liquids will look as though they’ve combined, but its only temporary.

Side Note: This is where I included the ounce of red wine vinegar and two teaspoons of salt into the original dressing recipe. Once you’ve emulsified the mixture, I add the salt and whisked until barely any crystals of kosher salt were left.

1a. Mix all ingredients, except the grated fontina, together in a large bowl. Add a little dressing at a time to the salad until to your liking. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with cheese and serve.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad

For Cornbread

8 ounces butter, softened (plus 2 tablespoons for pan and cubes)
2 ounces sugar
2 ounces powdered sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup milk

Sift together:

1 1/3 cups cornmeal
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10×14 inch square pan.

2. In large mixing bowl whip together the butter, sugar, and powdered sugar until in looks creamy. Add the eggs and continue mixing. While mixing add, a little at a time, the dry ingredients and then a little of the milk.

3. Continue by alternating both ingredients a little at a time until all ingredients are blended. Place in a buttered pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into ¼ inch squares for salad. Toss together in a bowl with melted butter. Toast in oven on sheet tray until browned.

Roasting Beets:
*To roast beets, coat lightly in oil, place on a sheet tray, roast in oven at 375 degrees until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Take a towel and remove the skin from beets. Cut into a medium dice. Set aside.Cornbread Panzanella Salad

Cornbread Panzanella Salad

 

 

 

 

Nanny’s Homemade Pickles

 

Nanny's Homemade PicklesThere’s a minimalist inside of me just screaming to get out. I want to be surrounded by less and somehow I continue to take in more. My affinity for food props and ‘old things’ that appear to tell a story continue to steal my heart with every visited estate sale. How is it these families of deceased loved ones could let go of such treasures. Sets of silver and hand-woven baskets, wood-working pieces and quilts consisting of fragmented memories. It’s a bit melancholy when I reflect on it. I know that some of the pieces I own were simply thoughtless purchases of a scrambling aunt who forgot a birthday or two but it doesn’t mean there’s no value…or maybe it does?

The thought of clutter and neglected things often cause me to yearn for simple things. You know the sandwich your mom used to make with a spread of mustard and a slice of ham nestled between two slices of white bread. Or maybe for you it was a cup of chocolate pudding and a glass of milk. What is it about simple prepared foods that often have our palates pleading for seconds and sometimes third servings? I mean, sure it’s nice to have a piece of smoked meat wrapped in something, suveed in something, cured, smoked again, sliced thin, piled high with a gastrique chasing the plates rim. But that isn’t how the typical person eats or at least I wouldn’t dare to think so?

homemade picklesI’ve run into this time and time again from the recollection of my childhood to the occasional venture to a new dining spot here in Nashville. The dish that has 5 ingredients as opposed to fifteen is the ‘last man standing’. Nothing annoys me more than a chef who over thinks their dishes. It’s often as simple as leaving off that hibiscus foam or random shaved vegetable that could make a dish shine. And leave an everlasting impression on that first-time or returning guests palate that could possibly ignite their passion for food. Not just eating it for necessity but also for sheer pleasure the enjoyment flavor profiles, local ingredients and textbook cooking techniques. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both skilled artisans at these simple things and I could go on and on telling you about some of the best meals I ever ate because they were so simple that they can’t be erased from my ‘food memories’. And I don’t think that I’d be willing to part with them. Nanny's Homemade Pickles by The Local Forkful

I’m sharing these pickles with you today because the farmer’s markets have been overflowing with them and I just couldn’t resist making you a batch of them the way my great-grandmother and her daughter made them. Sometimes I sit and long for the day when I could walk into her backyard and be greeted by the hung sheets on the line, being dried by the suns warm beams. Carelessly running across that fragile bridge that connected to her quarter acre garden in the middle of suburbia. It was perfection at its best and I still long for those days when life was truly simple. These pickles don’t involve a tedious collection of herbs and spices. No boiling of liquids or Ball mason jar’s, no, these pickles only require white granulated sugar and apple cider vinegar. I know you might be thinking, “could it really be that good, if there’s only two ingredients for the brine?” And I tell you, yes, yes they are. And if you aren’t a believer after trying them then back to your usual way’s and I’ll eat them for you.

There’s no need for me to write out a method for them. You simply rinse and slice 3 medium cucumbers about a 1/4 inch thick slices. Place them in a mixing bowl or storage container with 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a smidgen of kosher salt. I gently stir them until I see most of the sugar is dissolved and be careful not to bruise the cucumbers. Let them sit at room temp for one hour stirring every 15 minutes to insure all cucumbers come in contact with the liquid. I like a bit of spice in mine so I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes. They are ready to eat at the end of the hour but if you’re a chilled pickle fan then put them in the fridge for about thirty minutes. These pickles also taste fantastic on burgers, or just eat them when no one else is around. Nanny's Homemade Pickles by The Local Forkful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Chicken Salad & “My Writing Process Blog Tour”

Homemade Summer Chicken Salad & My Writing Process Blog TourSummer time is the perfect time to get back to kitchen basics. Those recipes that mom made which are still your favorite, with a short ingredient list and lots of love. Well, this homemade summer chicken salad recipe is just that but first, lets talk about the “My Writing Process Blog Tour”. It is an opportunity for bloggers to get to know each other better and for you to share some of your favorite bloggers that you might follow. The tour is also a great way to share what you are currently working on as well as what inspires you to blog.

I was asked to participate by Teresa Blackburn from foodonfifth.com. Teresa and I have become friends not only via blog but in person through our love for food, good writing and food photography. I’m always inspired after reading one of her posts and I absolutely love the ‘warm feeling’ captured in her food styling. So thanks Teresa for inviting me along on the “My Writing Process Blog Tour”.

1. What am I working on?

By day I work in a kitchen from 7-3 pm and on the weekend I’m a Sous Chef at Mangia Nashville on Friday and Saturday. I work six days a week and I’m currently working on my desire to be a personal chef. It has been a project in the works over the last year or so that’s beginning to gain more traction and I’m super excited about it. I enjoy being creative and the ability to discuss with clients their likes and dislikes and then create a menu, just makes my heart flutter. Its what I love to do and what I’m most passionate about. So if you know anyone looking for a personal chef or wanting to take cooking lessons, click the Cook@Home or Contact tab and lets talk.

2. how does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure where to begin. I’ll focus on when I’m working with clients for personal chef projects and blogging. I do my best to allow a little part of me to shine through in everything that I do. I recollect experiences from my past that are relevant to present day to tell stories of my love for food and cooking. I try to let my “love affair” with art, words and emotion all shine through in my food styling, blog posts and menu selections. I want people who admire my work to feel a sense of connection. The world is full of chefs and food bloggers alike but I want to leave an everlasting impression that isn’t like the rest.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. Its been one of my greatest outlets to release all of my creativity without having to stop and paint whenever I have something that needs to come out. Because I do love to paint, but I don’t get to do it very often.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert at writing. You may have already come across many an error but it doesn’t deter me from doing so. I have journals dating back to my pre-adolescent years, laced with dis-conjugated verbs, fragment sentences and the rambles of a frustrated boy growing up in an estrogen-filled environment.

My affinity for all things culinary runs quite deep and blogging has been a vessel in which I can share the things I love about cooking. A source that I can come back to and find ways to improve upon what I once may have believed to be the “perfect” recipe. A letter to my offspring in which they can have a little piece of me for years to come. Something filed away in the rolodex of technology that I don’t have to worry about being lost in the little tin box of an estate sale or lost in a fire.

All in all, I write what I write because I’m inspired by life and the fact that I’m blessed to have the talents that I do. I enjoy sharing food, life and all things local with people who love to do the same.

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m not even sure if I have a writing process. I cook according to what’s in my refrigerator. Some meals are inspired by seasonal produce but that isn’t always the case. I may cook and photograph three recipes in an evening and they may be out of season before I even blog them. I’m not sure but sometimes I think I suffer from mild version of ADHD, if that is possible. My mind is always a little bit of everywhere. I find inspiration in so many things that reflect in the mood of my writing. Rainy days, grey skies and windy mornings are some of the best days to be inspired. I’m an observer. I watch the details of life that most may look over on a daily basis. Mothers interacting with their children, people crying on the phone and young men who open the door for the elderly all inspire me to write. Memories of my grandmother’s Saturday morning breakfast spreads, the fabricating of fish and deer on the sun porch. Her nightly bowl of wheat cornflakes, sliced bananas and %2 milk.

My mom used to make simple meals that didn’t take much time to prepare and I try to introduce that simplicity in some of my blog posts. All these things, food-related or not, all inspire my writing process. I don’t want to make a recipe several of times so I use my knowledge of food with the assistance of research tools and friends to tackle the best techniques in which to create new recipes. I’ve been known to spend up to two weeks working on a blog post that should be finished but it isn’t perfect and I’m waiting to figure out what the missing element is.

It is getting better over time as I receive offers to write for brands and do sample reviews of products that I enjoy. My lackadaisical nature is the only thing that keeps me from monetizing my site thus far. I have two jobs and I’m not quite sure three would do me any good, but one day.

…Who’s next in the blogging tour, and some bloggers whose sites I recommend you check out?…

Unfortunately, I don’t have three bloggers to tag. but you will enjoy Lindsey’s blog over at DIY Dietitian. Lindsey is a registered dietitian who’s passionate about helping you live a healthier lifestyle. I enjoy her simple recipes like the Baked Black Beans & Sweet Potato Flautas or her simple equation recipe for Basil, Goat Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta which is perfect for the summer time.

Also, check out Angela of Spinach Tiger, Matt of Real Food by Dad, and Jill of Jill Cooks Here for their blogging tour posts.

This recipe for chicken salad is so easy, you actually don’t need a recipe. Wait, scratch that, you do need a recipe or else I wouldn’t be posting this. Silly me, summer time is the best time for easy foods that are low-maintenance and reliable for quick go-to meals that can be eaten more than once. Anytime I make chicken salad, most of the time I opt to roast a whole bird. This way you can control just how much chicken salad it is you desire to make and use the remaining chicken for a different meal of some sort.

My wife and I enjoy the addition of grapes to our chicken salad for that sweet fruity burst of flavor that contrasts well with the richness of the mayonnaise and savory tang of the green onions.Homemade Chicken Salad

Homemade Summer Chicken Salad

2 pounds of pulled roasted chicken
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 halved seedless grapes
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Everyone makes chicken salad slightly different. So feel free to adjust the ingredients accordingly but I have a feeling you will enjoy this as much as we do.

 

Homemade Summer Chicken Salad You can find the recipe for how to roast chicken here.

 

Homemade Summer Chicken Salad & My Writing Process Blog Tour

Homemade Buttermilk & Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

Homemade Buttermilk Pie & Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful

How come no one told me that buying a house is so stressful? Well, I guess my ignorance could be based on the truth of ‘not asking’. I honestly don’t remember how many properties we’ve viewed at this point, or how many layouts we’ve scoffed at nor the times my wife has said, “Eww!” at the sight of hideous wallpapers and dirty bathrooms. No, nobody warned us, but my gosh, we’ve learned quickly. And all that late-night HGTV House Hunter watching is not necessarily the go-to if you need questions answered.

 

I’m learning that while looking for a home you desire some of the same characteristics that were/are present in the home you grew up in. You want to pull into the driveway and feel at home. You’d like to walk in the front door and the creak of the hinge greet you ever-so gently. You want to step foot in the room and be greeted by warm snapshots of life hanging on the walls and rays of sunlight reaching across the floor. You simply long to be at rest and to have a place worthy of providing that for you when the day is done.

Homemade Buttermilk Pie & Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkfulfresh farm eggsHomemade Buttermilk Pie & Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful

Well, the search for this place continues and while I don’t want to get my hopes up. We have recently put in a bid on what I’m sure has the potential to be all those wonderful things mentioned previously. It’s the emotions of a warm slice of buttermilk pie from grandma’s windowsill. Of course, my grandmother never put pies in the windowsill, no, they were on top of the washer and dryer which sat next door to her stove in the kitchen. I remember buttermilk pie from my great grandma’s, who we affectionately called “Nanny”, like I remember walking down the hardwood steps as a child pleading for a cup of apple juice (according to my parental units).
Homemade Buttermilk Pie & Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful

What is it about pie that has the ability to slow the heart-rate, calm the nerves and soothe the soul? Is it that flaky crust, the warmth of that creamy or fruity filling? Or maybe it’s the warm memories that it evokes in every swift stroke of the fork? Whatever it is, its quite magical and its my desire that if you’ve never had it before this recipe will make you a believer.

Homemade Buttermilk Pie

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs (beaten)
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup whole fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest

for Chocolate Buttermilk Pie:
add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon fine ground coffee (dark roast). combine with dry ingredients.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Stir in egg one at a time. Add your butter, then buttermilk, kosher salt and vanilla.
2. Pour mixture into your shell. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until you insert a knife and it comes out clean. Allow the pie to cool and serve with coffee/milk and whipped cream. I also enjoy a dollop of lemon curd on top.
Homemade Buttermilk Pie & Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful

Basic Pie Dough

If I may be honest with you for a minute, as a chef I hardly ever use recipes for what I have been taught to be must-have basic kitchen staples. Like making pie dough, biscuits, “mother sauces” etc. So at the bottom of this post there is a tried and true recipe for pie dough that I have used in the past that always delivers great results.

If I were to give you my recipe, it would go something like this:

1 1/2 handfuls of flour
a smidge of kosher salt that I process in my spice grinder to break it down
a few tablespoons of ice-cold water
a few pats of chilled butter or the frozen grated stuff

1. Combine butter, salt and flour until it forms into pea-sized crumbles. add water by the tablespoon until dough holds together. Then form a ball. allow to rest for 15 minutes.
2. flour your rolling surface and pin. place ball in the center and roll until the proper circle size of your pie pan. Roll the dough on to your rolling place and unroll over buttered pie pan. tuck the dough in around the sides and trim the excess. Using a flour-ed fork press the edges of your crust or use the thumb-index finger method.
3. Prick the bottom of the dough and the inside seam a few times and bake for 4-5 minutes. I do this to ensure crispy crust from top to bottom because I hate soggy bottoms.

:-D Then carry-on with the recipe as usual.Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful

Now, for some of you. You might be thinking, oh, that’s simple enough. But for the rest of you who tend to be right-brained organize kitchen cooks here’s the play-by-play via Williams-Sonoma Pie Dough.

Basic Pie Dough via The Local Forkful Food Blog

 

 

 

 

Generous Helpings & A Giveaway! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Second Harvest Food Banks GenerousHelpings RGBSecond Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee started in 1978 with dedicated community leaders who wanted to provide a central distribution center for companies, groups and individuals who desired to help provide food for hungry people in Middle Tennessee. Second Harvest’s mission is to feed hungry people and work to solve hunger issues in our community.

Did you know that one in four children in the state of Tennessee are food insecure? Could you imagine not knowing where your next meal was going to come from? Having to juggle which is more important, getting gas for work tomorrow or buying dinner for your family? Well, you may have never faced these challenges but many families in Middle Tennessee and across the state are. The Second Harvest Food Bank provided somewhere around twenty-million meals to hungry children, families and seniors last year?  

The SHFBMT will be hosting its annual Generous Helpings Fundraiser on Thursday, May 15 from 6-9 p.m. at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. And I’m elated to be partnering with them in giving away two tickets to one lucky winner. How awesome is that?! I love these kind of events because my work schedule is hectic and these awesome events allow me to sample cuisine from restaurants I haven’t had the chance to dine at. I’ve heard the event is phenomenal and I am looking forward to seeing you there! The event will feature 30 of Nashville’s finest restaurants and local beverage/wine distributors. It will be a night full of stuffing your face and mingling with some of the most talented chefs in Nashville. You can find out more on the event here including the list of participants!

Second Harvest Food Bank

The contest rules are simple and as follows:

1. Join Second Harvest’s e-mail list at secondharvestmidtn.org
2. Follow Second Harvest on twitter : @2HarvestMidTN and if you don’t have a twitter account, you can follow on facebook.
3. Follow me on twitter @localforkful and retweet the contest.
4. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment stating that you have completed all three tasks. The contest ends on Wednesday Monday May 5th. A winner will be chosen and notified via e-mail.

I mean, could it be more simple for a pair of tickets worth $100 value which reminds me. If you don’t happen to win the contest, this is such a great cause that I encourage you to head over to the website and make a donation. What better way to bless someone than with food?!