It seems like foodies everywhere are buzzing about all of the gorgeous, recently released cookbooks ("Basic to Brilliant, Y'all" by Southern chef Virginia Willis and "Girl in the Kitchen" by former Top Chef winner Stephanie Izzard). It's hard to talk about beautiful cookbooks for 2011 without including Hugh Acheson, chef of Atlanta's Empire State South and Athens' Five & Ten and The National and his book, "A New Turn in the South." 

Here, we chat with Chef Acheson about him being a "transplant" to the South (by way of Canadian roots) and the luscious food photos in the book, and he shares his recipe (from the book, naturally!) for Apple Brown Betty with Sorghum Zabaglione. It would be a perfect addition to any holiday dinner. For more information on "A New Turn in the South" and where to purchase, click here
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Flavors NOW: In general, what was your inspiration for writing "A New Turn In the South"?
Hugh Acheson: I wanted to deliver a clear message about my interpretation of Southern food. A look at the subject through the lense of a Canadian guy with French taught skills.

FN: You're not from the South, yet you seem to have really embraced the cuisine here (sometimes even more than chefs who were born & bred here). Can you tell us why you think that is?
HA: Southern food is a very deep subject and it has become my endless topic. It is the only cuisine in the USA that had such a depth. Literally thousands of books written on it... now one more!

FN: The book looks & feels almost vintage. Why did you decide to go that route?
HA: A wonderful person photographed the book, Rinne Allen and she was very hands on with the aesthetic of the book. Also we had a really great publishing team that was very true to our vision. I wanted the book to look like a notebook and it really came out that way... its one heavy notebook though.

FN: You have some great culinary training. How easy are the recipes in the book for the home cook to replicate?
HA: All of them! Cooking is not that hard. The recipes were selected for novice to skilled cooks to jump into. You can do it!

FN: The photography in the book is gorgeous. Can you tell us a bit about who did the photos?
HA: Rinne Allen. She is based in Athens and is a treasure of a person. We're great friends and she knew just what I wanted. (NOTE: You can learn more about Rinnie Allen at www.rinneallen.com). 

FN: Thank you for sharing a recipe with Flavors readers! What inspired the recipe you're sharing?
HA: A brown betty is a crisp made with bread crumbs! It is a wonderfully simple fall recipe. Great one for the holidays and for kids!

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Apple Brown Betty with Sorghum Zabaglione
Serves 6

6-8 apples (gala or granny smith), peeled, cored, cut into 1/4 inch slices
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ vanilla bean (seeds and pod)
½ teaspoon ginger
1 lemon, juiced
½ loaf bread, crust removed (any type of white bread is fine)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons packed, light brown sugar
3 cups Sorghum Zabaglione (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, lemon juice, and the vanilla bean, seeds, and pod. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
Tear the bread up and pulse through a food processor. Spread out the bread crumb mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes until golden. Set aside.
While the breadcrumbs are toasting, place 1/4 cup of the butter into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the milk solids separate from the fat and the butter begins to brown.
In a medium bowl mix the bread, sugar and warm brown butter together.
Lightly butter an 8 x 8-inch (or something about that size) baking dish.
Add about one quarter of the breadcrumb mixture to the apples. Toss to combine.
Fill the baking dish with the apples and breadcrumb mixture. Tab with the remaining butter.
Cover the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Press down firmly all over the top so that the mixture is tightly packed in the dish.
Bake at 350°F. on the middle rack until the apples are soft and the juices start to bubble, 25 to 35 minutes.
Serve warm and with a half cup scoop of sorghum zabaglione on top of each portion.

Sorghum Zabaglione
Serves 6 or makes 3 cups

1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sorghum
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup Riesling

Put the heavy cream in a mixing bowl and whip it by hand with a balloon whisk until you have softly whipped cream. Most people over whip cream so make sure you have very silky smooth soft peaks and not firm cream with an almost broken texture.  Place the whipped cream in fridge. In a large stainless glass bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sorghum, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, and Riesling until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Create a double boiler by placing a large pot on the stove over medium high heat with two inches of water in it. Inset the bowl of egg yolks into the pot and whisk vigorously. The heat is there but the water is insulating the eggs from scrambling. Whisk for about 5 minutes making sure not to get the egg too hot. If you feel like it is in jeopardy of scrambling, remove the bowl from the heat to reduce the heat and then return it to the pot when it has stabilized. You should have very nice ribbon custard at this point, almost double in volume what you started with. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking until thick and room temperature. Fold the zabaglione base into the whipped cream and set aside.

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Apple Pie Bars

11/29/2011

 
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Reprinted with permission from Two Chicks from the Sticks: Back Home Baking by Jill Schwalbe Means and Jamie Greenland Gorey (2011, Living the Country Life)

Yield: 24 bars
8 cups cored, peeled and thinly sliced apples (you can use Gala, Pink Lady, or Fiji for a sweet filling or Granny Smith for a tart filling)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or butter flavored shortening, cold
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/4-1/3 cup milk
1 cup crushed cornflakes or graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons soft butter for dotting onto filling
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon sugar
Glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Grease a 15 x 10-inch baking pan; set aside.
To prepare apple filling, place apple slices into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add dry mixture to apples and toss well; set aside. (Prepare the filling first and let it rest while making the crust so the sugar and cinnamon have time to permeate the apples.)
To prepare pastry,* in a large bowl sift together flour and salt. Cut in butter or shortening until pea-size clumps form. In a liquid measuring cup, beat egg yolk; add enough milk to measure to 2/3 cup and mix well. Add milk mixture all at once to flour mixture; stir with a fork until combined. On a floured surface, roll a little bit more than half of the dough into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Transfer rectangle to prepared pan. Sprinkle crust with crushed cornflakes. Spread apple filling evenly over cornflakes. Dot apples with softened butter.
On a floured surface, roll out remaining dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Dot water around edges of the bottom crust. Place top crust over apples, press edges of crusts together, and trim excess crust. Brush top with egg white; sprinkle with sugar; cut six 2-inch long slits in the top of the pastry. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the filling begins to bubble through the slits in the top crust. Drizzle Glaze over bars while still warm. Cool on wire rack.

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To prepare glaze, in a small bowl combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
*Our pastry can be substituted with 2 individual store-bought pie crusts. If using, grease a 15-inch round pizza pan, instead of the rectangular one. On a floured surface, roll out 1 pie crust into a 16-inch circle. Transfer to prepared pizza pan and proceed with method for cornflakes, apple filling, and soft butter.
On a floured surface, roll out second crust into a 16-inch circle and continue with recipe.