Taste of Clarkesville

September 27, 2014 Historic Downtown Clarkesville, GA

Yesterday I headed to the square in Clarkesville for the 5th Annual Taste of Clarkesville. It didn’t take long for the crowds to arrive and the lines to form. Oh, the lines. It could take 15 minutes to get to the food and often for tiny portions. The video gives you a taste of the Taste of Clarkesville.

You bought tasting tickets for a buck each with the proceeds join got the hats off to The Copper Pot, Hawg Wild, Yakimono Express and the Midtown Grill for realizing that events like this are a cost of doing business and you don’t try an shave costs by giving out tiny portions. The Attic was serving tasty shrimp cakes the size of a quarter. El Jinete served a nice portion of guacamole or a delicious queso with beef.

Hopefully next year they’ll have more vendors serving food so the the crowd, although having to stand in more lines, won’t have to wait as long in each line. Thank goodness they had tastes of beer as well.

The Real Celebrity Chefs

United States Postal Service Honors Celebrity Chefs with New Forever Stamps
USPS_chefsAlthough I don’t send a lot of snail mail I bought a bunch of these stamps because I can use them… well FOREVER. Regardless of rate changes for postage these stamps will be good, locked in at 49¢. But hurry they are a limited edition.

Everyone knows the names of James Beard and Julia Chid even people who can’t boil water. Edna Lewis, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi and Joyce Chen are not house hold names so a little information is about their culinary contributions are below.

Edna Lewis considered the The Grande Dame of Southern Cooking inspired a generation of young chefs and ensured that the traditional folkways of the South would not be forgotten. She was cooking up Southern cuisine in the heart of Manhattan in 1949. Her cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking is considered a classic study of Southern cooking. In 1979, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times said the book “may well be the most entertaining regional cookbook in America”.

Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, the Peruvian-born chef helped bring a Spanish and Caribbean influence into America’s haute cuisine repertory. He moved to New York City in 1967 and worked as the assistant to James Beard in his Greenwich Village cooking school. He was the founding chef of Dean & Deluca gourmet food store and was named America’s Bicentennial chef in 1976, the same year he became an American citizen. He was credited with introducing Tapas to America. He was only 46 when he passed away of heart failure.

Joyce Chen was credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine in the United States, coining the name “Peking Raviolis” for potstickers, inventing and holding the patent to the flat bottom wok with handle (also known as a stir fry pan), and developing the first line of bottled Chinese stir fry sauces for the US market. Joyce Chen Foods.

Julia Child is perhaps the most well known American Chef. She introduced French cooking for everyday Americans, with her groundbreaking cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and was the quintessential TV cook. Starting in 1962, “The French Chef” ran 10 seasons on PBS.  Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Julia made regular appearances on the ABC morning show Good Morning, America. She won a Peabody award in 1964 and an Emmy Award in 1966. When I was cooking in a French restaurant in Manhattan and there was any question about how something was prepared, it was WWJD.  What would Julia do? You can watch 10 seasons of the French Chef on Amazon Instant Video and if you’re a Prime Member the firs 5 seasons are FREE.

james-beard-stampsJames  Beard  was a champion of American cuisine who taught and mentored generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. His legacy lives on in twenty books, other writings and his foundation’s annual James Beard awards in a number of culinary genres. Check out the James Bead Foundation website, it’s amazing and next time you’re in New York, skip the Broadway show and attend one of the Dinners held at the James Beard House in the West Village. To give you a taste of what one of these dinners is like read my post, “Food is the Star of This New York City Show.”

 I just might have to start sending people letters, or mail in checks in stead of paying online. Here’s a good reason to send a letter.

Jalapeño Poppers

chef humorist Vinny Verelli

Peppers seeded and deveined

The jalapeños are popping up more than our sweet peppers so it was time to make some poppers. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I don’t know of any place in New York that stuffed jalapeño peppers with cheeses and bacon, bread them twice and deep fry them. This time of year in Georgia, you can’t go anywhere without seeing them on the menu.
If you go to a pot-luck in the mountains 2 or 3 people will bring poppers. Sissy Reed made the best ones I ever had, the perfect cheese blend stuffed in a pepper and wrapped with bacon, then grilled.

In the past two weeks I tried 3 different recipes as I experimented with the prolific peppers. I didn’t want to fry or bread the poppers and wanted to control the amount of bacon used. The first batch were made with cream cheese, smoked gouda and some cooked bacon (drained and dried) and some spices. If the peppers aren’t deep enough the cheese when melted runs out. It was messy but delicious.
PoppersHalf

The next batch were prepared by coring out the center of the pepper and leaving it whole. You stuff the cheese mixture into the pepper and then place in a special tray to keep the peppers upright. This time I substituted smoked salmon for the bacon. Ate these too quickly to get a photo.

For the last batch I had no bacon or smoked salmon. So I took a can of smoked salmon, drained and added a tablespoon of mayo before adding 4oz cream cheese and 4 oz of smoked gouda along with ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke and some smoked paprika. This mixture was stuffed into the halved peppers. But to keep the melted cheese from running all over the place, I wrapped the stuffed peppers in some phyllo pastry that was getting past it’s prime. I don’t have any photos of them coming out of the oven but I do have a photo of the peppers the next morning after being browned up in a frying pan and served with scrambled eggs.
PopperBreakfastNOTE: I wasn’t sure how if the peppers would cook enough when wrapped in the phyllo so I roasted the stuffed jalapeño halves for about 15 minutes at 350. Let them cool and transferred the mostly cooked peppers onto the phyllo and wrapped them up. I really don’t like working with phyllo dough as you have to keep it moist or it dries out and is impossible to work with. Plus it takes a lot of melted butter.  

Refrigerate any leftover poppers and heat them in a frying pan when you’re ready to eat. No need to add any oil to the pan. Start the heat low and butter will start to flow from the dough and you can cook to a crispy brown.