Monday, August 10, 2015

09 August 2015

What a sweet and rewarding weekend in Canton, Georgia! It began with the August First Friday, and downtown was packed with friends and families enjoying the music, food, shopping and classic cars. I caught up with my dear friends, Beth and David Riordan, owners of Crabapple Tavern. They commented how much downtown Canton had changed since they moved to the area years ago and how great it was to see the positive momentum. Once again, hats off to our Main Street board and the hard working volunteers who make this and other memorable events happen. Not only do they bring new customers into our downtown shops and restaurants, a fact I witnessed once again on Friday night, they also promote Canton as a destination and wonderful city to live, work and play.

After spending some time at First Friday, I had to retreat to the Kitchen at One Britt to continue my pie baking in anticipation for Saturday morning's first annual Pie Contest at the Canton Farmers Market. I was so excited about this contest, and Micki Farley and the other participants did a fantastic job with the logistics. While I love to cook, I am not necessarily an accomplished baker, but I decided to challenge myself. After lots of deliberation and, what some would call obsession, I decided to bake two pies: a Georgia Peach Pie and a Cast Iron Heirloom Green Tomato Pie. The green tomato pie is an old Southern recipe that was used as a substitute for a Summer, out of season, apple pie. It has similar spices and flavors, yet offers a distinctive and unique personality. While baking my pies, I kept thinking about my grandmother and great aunts. They loved pie, and each of them had their special recipe. They would rotate between each of their homes, with a pie in tow, and enjoy their creations with a pot of coffee, fresh from the percolator. It was so hot, they would pour it into their coffee cup saucers to cool and sip it from there. As an imaginative young Southern lad, I just knew this was how the ladies drank their coffee in France!

I finished my pies around 1:30 AM on Saturday morning and attempted to sleep, but it was impossible in a house filled with the aroma of fresh baked pies! I kept having nightmares about burnt crusts and running fillings, so I finally just got up around 6 AM to check on my creations. They were still looking good, sitting pretty underneath their tea towels. I longed for a percolator but settled for the Keurig, wishing the coffee was hot enough to drink from a saucer. After making some Bourbon whipped cream to dollop atop the Georgia Peach Pie, we carefully wrapped the pies and transferred them like Faberge Eggs to the Farmers Market for the contest. After a meticulous blind tasting by the judges, my efforts paid off, and my Cast Iron Green Tomato Pie garnered First Place in the Adult category. I was very pleased, and congratulations are in order for Shelly Farrar of Riverstone Corner Bistro for her First Place Key Lime Pie winner in the Professional category.

After recovering from a lack of sleep, Sunday was dedicated to some house chores and, of course, some foraging for Sunday Supper ingredients. We finally found some time to venture up to Emily's Garden at Haradon Farm in Ball Ground. This great little farm stand features a variety of locally grown produce and canned items from Robby Westbrook's farm. I scored some of the season's last silver queen corn, banana peppers and two bags of fresh shelled purple hull peas. After leaving Emily's, we swung by Frankfurt Doner and Meats in downtown Ball Ground to pick up some of their infamous smoked pork chops. All of these ingredients found their way into tonight's Sunday Supper, in addition to some local okra that was given to us by our dear friend and neighbor, Pat Gold, jalapeƱo peppers grown by best friend, Cory Wilson, and our very own figs from One Britt. I even resurrected the Bourbon whipped cream for dessert to top my sweet shortbread biscuits with honey and brown butter caramelized figs.

So I basked in the glory of my blue ribbon, and Jeff and I dined like kings with our good friends, Cory and John, on the Side Porch at One Britt. I have no doubt, whatsoever, my granny, Aunt Jody, Aunt Aileen and Aunt Reenie were there too.

The Menu:

- BBQ Smoked Pork Chops

- Fritto Peperonis e Verdura – Fried Pepper Rings, Okra and Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch

- Purple Hull Peas with Smoked Ham Hock

- Okra and Bacon Pancakes

- Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey Caramelized Figs
and Bourbon Whipped Cream

The Recipe – Cast Iron Green Tomato Pie

Dough Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
4 oz. chilled buttermilk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or chilled vodka

Preparation - Dough

Place flour into a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, and butter, mix well. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and pulse together 3 to 4 times until the texture of coarse meal. Return to mixing bowl, then add buttermilk and vinegar or vodka, and work them into the dry ingredients. As a dough begins to form, fold it over itself a few times. Once the dough comes together, transfer to a floured surface and knead once or twice until all ingredients are combined. Divide dough in half and form into two discs. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for 45 mins or overnight. roll about half the dough into a circle 12 to 13 inches in diameter. Lightly flour the side of the dough facing up and place the rolling pin centered on the edge closest to you. Place your thumbs under the edge of the pie dough and roll it up onto the pin. Reserve the remainder of the dough for the lattice on top of the pie. Refrigerate both until ready to use.

Ingredients – Filling

2 slices smoked bacon
6 dark green but firm tomatoes
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. light molasses
Egg wash

Preparation – Filling and Assembly

Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered. Remove bacon and place skillet in a cool place to sit until fat has solidified. Slice the green tomatoes into 8-12 wedges, depending on size. Place wedges into a large mixing bowl; add cinnamon, salt, sugar, and flour, then toss well to coat. Next add butter, lemon juice and peel, vinegar, and molasses. Toss again to make sure all ingredients are combined thoroughly.

Once the skillet is completely cool, spread the bacon fat over the bottom and sides of the pan. Roll one disc on the pie crust into a 12 to 13 inch circle and place into the pan to form the bottom crust. Crimp the edges in a decorative pattern, and pierce the center of the crust with a fork a few times. Layer the tomato wedges inside the crust, and pour over the remaining liquid. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into strips. Braid the strips over the top in a lattice pattern, and brush with egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and tomatoes are cooked through. Cool on a rack before serving.

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