Fried Flour Tortilla Chips

This is what we do with left over flour tortillas from our lunches.  We often serve wraps for our Wednesday noon service lunch and usually end up with some left overs tortillas.  My church family prefer these now over store bought corn tortilla chips so we usually make a huge batch of these whenever we have a Mexican meal.  

Cut the rounds in eighths and separate them before frying in hot oil. 
Preheat oil to 375 degrees F and fry until both sides are golden, about 45 seconds each.  

As soon as the chips come out of the oil, sprinkle with sea or kosher salt and serve with your favorite dip or cheese sauce.  

Fried Flour Tortillas

Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
Flour tortillas, regular or your favorite flavor, cut in wedges of eighths
Sea or kosher salt to taste

Heat 2 inch of oil your choice in large, heavy duty frying pan; larger the diameter the better.  Oil temperature should be between 350-375 degrees F.

Make sure the flour tortillas are separated before frying.  Fry tortillas in small batches, about 45 seconds on each side, turning once or twice.   Using a slotted spoon or a spider skimmer, take fried chips out of hot oil and immediately sprinkle with salt and drain chips on a wire rack or a paper towel lined sheet pan.

Let cool and serve with your favorite dip.


Grilled Peaches with Bourbon Butter Sauce

 Happiness is when you get a case of Lane's peaches from a friend.  What a friend!   I'm grinning from ear to ear looking at the half-bushel box on the dining table.  As the ripening peach scent wafting in my kitchen, and with kinda stupid-happy grin on my face, you'd think my husband has given me another engagement ring.  Food is my love language.   I left the box as the centerpiece for the table for four days, I think.

Another happiness?  Choosing what to do with these glorious Georgia peaches! Miss Sophie and I had crazy wonderful time deciding on which recipe to write and photograph.....yes, we are complete food nerds to the core.  Digging through her recipe boxes, she chose this recipe, along with a few others for her Wednesday food column with Savannah Morning News.  Click here to read.

Grilled Georgia peaches with vanilla ice cream topped with Bourbon butter sauce.... these dog days of Savannah summer just got better.   

Grilled Peaches with Bourbon Butter Sauce
Recipe by Miss Sophie 
Used with permission

2 peaches, ripe ones, cut in half and pitted
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream

Combine butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and bourbon in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until butter and sugar are melted. Remove from heat.

Lightly coat hot grill grates with oil. Place peaches cut side down onto grates. Cook for 5 minutes or until carmalized. Place grilled peach in a bowl, top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with glaze.


Mock Muffaletta Sandwich & Olive Salad

I know I broke all the rules with this one.  No muffaletta bread, instead it was the sour dough.  And I hear it's considered blasphemy to heat the sandwich.  But we did, all of them.  And the Wednesday lunch crowd went wild!  These hearty, delectable sandwiches will be on a very short rotation on our Wednesday lunch menu for sure.    

Slices of ham, provolone cheese, salami, mozzarella, and then da bomb, the olive salad!  Oh, my.  

 Why didn't I make this sooner?  The briny and flavorful olives melded with roasted peppers and artichoke hearts just did it for me.  I'm forever changed and will love this sandwich for rest of my life.  The End.   

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Mock Muffaletta Sandwich & Olive Salad
Makes 4 Hearty Sandwiches

Olive Salad  

  • 1 cup pitted green olives , chopped
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tiny capers
  • 1/3 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup roasted artichoke heart coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pepper, to taste

  • 8 slices of sour dough bread
  • 16 thin slices of ham
  • 12 slices of salami
  • 8 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 cup of freshly shredded mozzarella
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For olive salad, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, season with pepper.  

Preheat a stove top griddle or a large frying pan to medium heat. 

For sandwich, on a slice of sour dough, divide the sandwich ingredients and liberally spread the olive salad.  Top it with the second slice of bread.  Makes four large sandwiches.   Butter the outer layer of the sour dough slices and heat the sandwich through until bread is toasty brown and cheese begin to melt.  Slice diagonally in half and serve immediately.   


Sun-Dried Tomato Corn Bread

This cornbread was a perfect accompaniment to our recent fish fry for our Sunday night fellowship meal. The texture was so moist with just the right amount of sweetness.  How about that, good southern cornbread with a little twist with an addition of sun dried tomatoes!   It was more than fabulous!

Frying 60 pounds of fish well is no easy task.  This borrowed cooker (Thank you, Mr. Joe!)  holds 70 pounds of frying oil and maintains the temperature perfectly.  The cornmeal coated Swai comes out tender inside and super crunchy outside.  But boy, it gets pretty hot near the blazing propane burners; this is where my staff Cheryl and I get our oil/sweat facials, sort of like Oil of Olay.  

We all agreed that this was the best corn bread, everrrr! Hope you'll give this one a try.  

Sun-Dried Tomato Cornbread 
Makes 16 squares

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (reserve oil!)
2 tablespoon oil reserved from sun dried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Spray with oil spray 8x8 baking pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and white sugar.  Add eggs until well blended.  Add buttermilk, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and reserved oil until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and fold with the rubber spatula until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cut corn bread.  Serve warm.

Note: For large quantity baking, always measure our dry baking ingredients by weight.  Click here for the conversion chart.
For each full size steam pan (or hotel pan) multiply the recipe X2;  will yield 45 squares, cut 5 pieces by 9.


Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes

 The heat is really cranking up here in Savannah.  And with fresh vine ripe tomatoes in season, what better way to eat orzo pasta than this?  These photos will accompany Miss Sophie's weekly food column in Savannah Morning News today.  Check it out here.

This simple but flavorful pasta dish is an absolute delight.  Perfect touch to any main meal for casual family dinner or a fancy dinner party.  Hope you'll give it a try. 

These are great to make ahead.  Serve room temperature or slightly warmed.  

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Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes 
(Serves 8)
Recipe by Miss Sophie
Used with Permission

8 medium size tomatoes
2 cups orzo, cooked according to package directions
3 tablespoons olive oil, extra for brushing
 ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup feta cheese

 Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Slice off the tops of each tomato and hollow out using a sharp spoon or melon baller. Chop ½ cup of scooped out tomato and add to orzo. 

Stir oil, pepper, fresh basil and fresh oregano and feta cheese into tomato and orzo mixture. Brush a bit of olive inside each tomato. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Invert to drain and let sit for 15 or more minutes. 

Stuff with orzo filling. Serve at room temperature or warm in oven for 10 minutes


Coconut-Lime Bars

Every time I mention lemon or lime dessert, I get a quiet groan from my staff baker, C.   No, not because she has an aversion to dessert or anything.   It's just that when you multiply a citrus dessert recipe by let's say x8 or x16, you just gotta squeeze way too many limes or lemons.     
Though we have a Kitchenaid Food Processor, with the juicer attachment, we tend to resort this good ol' wooden citrus reamer.  It's so much more convenient to use and gets every ounce of that tart goodness out.  That means C gets a good arm workout whenever she makes citrus dessert for church while I do other important things like running the dishwasher.  You try getting 3 cups of lime juice; it's not easy and that's why I have the young people doing it.   
These Coconut-lime bars C made last week was especially good.  Fresh tartness of lime in creamy filling topped with toasty coconut.....you did great, C!  Perhaps a commercial manual juicer would make her dessert making life a bit easier..... 
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Coconut-Lime Bars
Makes 16 bars
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

5 ounces animal crackers
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly

2 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (don't be tempted to use bottled lime juice)

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut , toasted until golden and crisp

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Foil line your 8 by 8 pan, lightly spray with oil spray.  Set aside.

For crust, combine animal crackers, brown sugar and salt in a food processor, pulse until all pieces of cookies are finely ground.  Add melted butter and pulse 3-4 times until it resembles coarse sand.

Pour mixture into foiled lined pan and press down firmly and evenly using a bottom of a measuring cup.  Bake until crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool while making the filling.

Using a hand held mixer in a medium speed, mix softened cream cheese and condensed milk until just combined, add lime zest, salt, and egg yolk until incorporated.  Using a rubber spatular, add lime juice and fold in until combined.

Pour filling into the prepared crust and bake until just set, about 15-18 minutes, longer if doubling or tripling the recipe (cover loosely with foil if top is getting too brown).  Cool to room temperature and then chill, covered in refrigerator, 2 or more hours.

Using the foiled edges, gently lift the cheesecake out of the pan, cut into 16 squares, top with toasted shredded coconut flakes and serve.

Note: for full size 2" deep full size steam size pans (or hotel pans), multiply recipe by 3 for each pan, which will yield 45 servings if cut 5x9


Crispy Pea Cakes with Avocado Aioli

 As some of you may know, I have been taking recipe photos for Miss Sophie, who is a weekly food columnist for Savannah Morning Newspaper.  It has been such an enriching experience for me to have a dear friend whom I can freely talk about food/recipe/life/faith with.  As we talk about our next recipe project and/or dream of a cookbook one day, we become like giddy school girls.  
Miss Sophie's article on peas this week is especially good.  Her story is always laced with personal experiences you might hear from your favorite aunt, rocking the heat away on the front porch while sipping on a tall glass of  overly sweetened iced tea.    
 Top: Pink Eyes, Dixie Lees Bottom: Zippers

 Beautiful green mixure is tossed in Panko bread crumbs

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Crispy Pea Cakes
Makes 8 small cakes

2 cups cooked peas(black-eyed, Pink-eyed, Zippers, Dixie Lees); left-overs are great for this recipe
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided 
1 garlic clove, grated 
1 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided (use only 1/3 cup for pea cake mixture)
1/2 lime, zested and juiced (Save the other half for aioli)
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 eggs

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a medium-high heat and sauté onion and red bell pepper.  Transfer to a large bowl and cool.  
Drain cooked peas well.  Pat dry with paper towel.  Put the peas in the food processor and pulse 4-5 times in a quick interval.  Do not over process.  You want the mixture to be somewhat chunky but mashed.  Add peas to onion and red bell pepper mixture.  Add garlic, 1/3 cup of Panko, and the remaining ingredients.  Combine well.  Mixture will be a little wet but it will cook and get firm.  
Divide and make into 8 cakes.  Roll the cakes in 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs.  Using the same frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil to medium-high heat and cook 4 cakes until the crust is golden brown and cake is firm about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Add the remaining oil and repeat.  
Serve hot with Avocado aioli.  
Avocado Aioli
1 avocado, ripe but firm, pitted, and peeled, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise, Hellman's
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 clove of garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whirl all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Add more salt to taste. Refrigerate until needed.  


Simple Chocolate Bread Pudding & Independence Day

Did you all have a wonderful Independence Day?  My day was filled with family, friends, awesome food, and music.  The entire Heritage Clan was invited to celebrate the Independence Day with Chef Nick Mueller and his beautiful wife, Tracy, at their ranch home/restaurant in Guyton.
The guests were asked to bring a covered dish to add to his famous Pork BBQ, shrimp, and Gator Gumbo. I repeat, Gator Gumbo.  Taking food to the finest chef/caterer in town can be a bit nerving, even to this seasoned cook.  So I took this simple Chocolate Pudding.  I figured you can't go wrong with chocolate.

Chef Nick and Tracy's ranch is filled with beautiful nostalgic surprises at every corner of their yard and home. 

My youngest can peel shrimp like a pro; a typical southern boy. 

Wonderful to meet up with Jules and her cool, saxophone playing husband Josh.  Jules is Savannah's renowned make up artist. Check out her site, it will blow you away. 

As the cool fans blowing the heat away, beautiful impromptu folk music break out session began, thanks to Chris Desa, the President of Savannah Folk Music Society and his friends.  

Thanks for such an amazing day, Nick and Tracy!
If you have a special event coming, give these guys a call.  The food will be phenomenal, service above par.    

Simple Chocolate Bread Pudding
Adapted from Bon Appetite
Serves 12

8 cups 1-inch cubes crustless white bread (one 20-oz loaf)
1/4 cup  unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tablespoon Kahlua
1 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
1/3 cup almond slivers

Optional: sweetened whipped cream and caramel sauce

Toss cubed bread and melted butter together in a buttered 9x13 glass baking dish.

In a large heavy saucepan, add half and half, cream and bring it to simmer (do not boil).  Remove from heat and stir in chopped unsweetened chocolate until melted. Add Kahlua.  In a medium bowl, stir together egg yolks and sugar.  Add a few tablespoons of hot chocolate/cream mixture into egg yolk/sugar bowl, whisking to combine.  Repeat until both mixture are well incorporated.  This way the egg mixture won't curdle.

Pour the chocolate custard mixture over bread.  Sprinkle chocolate chips and almond slivers.  Cover the top with plastic food service wrap, and weigh it down with another pan and let stand 1 hour so custard will absorb into bread or refrigerate overnight.  Can be made a day ahead.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F

Bake pudding until center is set for about 40 minutes.  Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.


Church Cooks Unite!

Hospitality: welcoming strangers among us.  
I love this definition.  

It's been very exciting to attend 3-day food service conference organized by GACHP and graciously hosted by Savannah Christian Church this past weekend.  The church cooks/chefs/food service directors across the country gathered together to INPIRE and EQUIP one another.  And my staff and I truly felt encouraged to do better as we return to our church kitchen and armed with more knowledge.  And we all took ServeSafe class for certification to improve our food handling techniques. 

Open reception catered by Paul Kennedy Catering Co. 

With my friend and a fellow blogger,  Susan

Two of my wonderful and beautiful IPC staff members: Susan Liana and Cheryl

Our photographer on a cherry picker for our group photo.

Board and charter members of GACHP; thanks guys, it was an amazing experience for my staff and me.  
Chef Frederick Tiess doing cooking demo and taught us a bit on food chemistry.  Chef Tiess put together The Culinary Reference Guide and it is by far the best information one can have for large volume cooking.  Click here to get one.  

Members from Florida Chapter

First day lunch was provided by Mercy Chefs founder Gary Leblanc , Chef Paul Sofka, and other volunteers.  

And Jeffrey R. White , Savannah renowned artist,  painted this most beautiful oil painting during on site and donated it for an auction.  

If you cook for your church or are in catering business, this conference is a must.
Not only the keynote speakers inspiring, we had several breakout session topics like Efficient Kitchen Design, Wedding 101, and Purchasing which were so helpful. 

Next year's conference will be in Orlando, Florida
June 27-29

To find more info on GACHP, Click Here