Summer is wrapping up even crazier than it started, but a cool, rainy Sunday reminds us that Fall is on its way. The drenching rain was such a welcome sight, and it inspired a lot of catching up on inside chores, scheduling and organizing for the weeks ahead. The three week countdown to our Australian adventure has begun, but we have a lot to accomplish before the epic journey. Next Saturday, September 24, I am honored to be the guest chef for a fundraising dinner to benefit the Upper Etowah River Alliance. This group does really great work in calling attention to the importance of the Etowah River to our community, and I am happy to support them in any way possible. Next week, thirty guests will gather at Buckeye Creek Farm to taste appetizers and a five course meal prepared from locally sourced ingredients. It's been a lot of fun putting the menu together, and the connections I have made with local farmers and purveyors over the past few years has really paid off. In addition to Liz Porter's outstanding contributions from Buckeye Creek Farm, I am thrilled to work with Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Whim-Wham Art Farm in Canton, Jeff Dobson's Artisinal Appalachian Ham in Knoxville, Loud Mouth Mushroom Farm in Talking Rock, Mountain Valley Grass Fed in Ellijay, CalyRoad Creamery in Sandy Springs, Feather's Edge Vineyards in Ball Ground and other local suppliers. In addition to food items and produce, my awesome client, Mercier Orchards, is also donating a selection of their natural hard ciders to enjoy with the appetizers! Grant Design Collaborative did all of the package design for Mercier's ciders, and it's been a blast working with them. We were amazed to see our packaging for this client featured last week by Russia's largest online design association, so Georgia's products are getting some international recognition.
In preparation for the Etowah Harvest Dinner, I have been experimenting with some of the dishes at One Britt, so tonight's Sunday Supper featured a few of them. I am happy with one of the appetizer creations, pimento cheese cups with cayenne pepper jelly. It is a simple combination but a perfectly balanced bite. Someone may take away my Southern card for admitting this, but I have an aversion to mayonnaise, and my pimento cheese is made without this condiment. However, I think it tastes just as good! For the second course of the Harvest Dinner, I am using some of Loud Mouth Farm's beautiful mushrooms to make a creamy, earthy soup. You can find them at the Canton Farmers Market or featured on the menu at the best local restaurants. They are amazing, and I have now made this soup three times to ensure the right flavors. It was especially satisfying on a rainy Sunday night! For the main course, I am preparing a collard and apple stuffed heritage pork tenderloin from Mountain Valley Farm in Ellijay. Susie Wright has been very generous, and her grass fed beef and heritage pork are the best around. It is worth the drive to Ellijay to shop at her farm store which is open seven days a week, 10 am - 6 pm. For tonights Sunday Supper, however, I substituted turkey tenderloin for the pork, and it was almost as delicious. As a side dish, I made some "gritslenta" from Buckeye Creek Farm's medium grind grits. They are simply the best, and I can't wait to feature them at the dinner. I was going for polenta, but the grind is somewhere closer to grits, so I am calling them gritslenta. I aslo used Buckeye's fresh ground corn meal to prepare some jalapeno cheddar mini cornbread muffins, and they were heavenly. I will serve these in a bread basket along with my salt and pepper "crack" cream biscuits.
I will save the remaining dishes and event details for another blog, but I am hoping for a successful outing. Until then, wish me luck, and if things don't go well, at least I will be hiding out Down Under for a few weeks until my reputation recovers.
- Pimento Cheese Cups with Whim Wham Cayenne Jam
- Cream of Loud Mouth Mushroom Soup
- Collard and Apple Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Turkey Tenderloin
- Buckeye Creek Farm Gritslenta
- Buckeye Creek Farm Mini Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
The Recipe – Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds sliced fresh mushrooms with 1 pinch salt
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 TBSP all-purpose flour
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 TBSP Sherry or to taste (optional)
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves for garnish, or to taste
Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms with 1 pinch salt and cook until they give off their juices. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until juices evaporate and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Mix onion into mushrooms and cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir flour into mushroom mixture and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes to remove flour taste.
Tie thyme sprigs into a small bundle with kitchen string and add to mushroom mixture along with garlic cloves. Pour chicken stock and water into mushroom mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 1 hour.
Remove thyme bundle then transfer soup to a blender in small batches and puree on high speed until smooth and thick. I use an immersion blender to make this job easier! Return soup to pot then stir in cream, sherry (if using) and vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve in bowls garnished with reserved mushroom slices, a few thyme leaves and a squeeze of lemon if desired.