Before and After: Lotus Root and Chips

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

The beauty of the lotus root.
Peel, slice, fry, salt, repeat.

Lotus root…before. 
Lotus Root, Food Styling, Food Photography, Libbie Summers
Lotus root…after.
Fried Lotus Root, Lotus Root Snacks, Unusual Snacks, Libbie Summers, Chia Chong, food Styling, Food Photography
Spiced Lotus Root Chips
(try with any of the finishing salt recipes below) 

What you need:
1 lotus root, peeled using a vegetable peeler
juice from one lemon
canola oil for frying
Dry Herb Finishing Salt (recipe to follow)
Chai Spiced Finishing Salt (recipe to follow)
Sweet Onion Finishing Salt (recipe to follow)
Coriander and Pepper Finishing Salt (recipe to follow)

What to do:
Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Squeeze lemon into a medium mixing bowl filled halfway with water. Set aside.

Slice lotus root into 1/8-inch thick slices (we used a mandoline). Place in the lemon water while your oil is heating up.

Heat oil in a wok or heavy pan until it is hot, but not smoking (approximately 300 degrees F.) Working in batches, pat dry lotus root slices before lowering into the hot oil. Fry lotus root slices until golden brown, turning as needed. Remove with a spyder or slotted spoon to the paper-towel lined baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with a Finishing Salt. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Dry Herb Finishing Salt
In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried dill, 1 tablespoon dried parsley flake and 1 teaspoon flaked or kosher salt.

Chai Spiced Finishing Salt
In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar and 1 teaspoon flaked or kosher salt.

Sweet Onion Finishing Salt
In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion, 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar and 1 teaspoon flaked or kosher salt.

Coriander and Pepper Finishing Salt
In a small bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon flaked or kosher salt.

Before and After: Spring Onions and Waffles

Recipe and Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Spring Onions…before.
Garden Vegetables, Spring Onions, Onions, Food Photography, Food Styling, Libbie Summers, Chia Chong

Spring Onions…after. 
Breakfast recipes, Waffle Recipes, Savory Waffles, Libbie Summers, Chia Chong,
Savory Spring Onion and Pancetta Waffles
(maple butter, sea salt)
makes 5/serves 4 for breakfast or dinner/serves 20 for an appetizer

1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
3 cups All-Purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup melted butter
3 eggs, separated
4 ounces diced and cooked pancetta
3 spring onions diced, green and white parts
Maple Butter (recipe to follow)
Sea salt for sprinkling

In a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in sugar and allow mixture to sit until it begins to bloom (foam). In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour with the salt and pepper. Whisk in the yeast mixture, milk, butter and egg yolks until smooth.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter and let stand for 20 minutes. Just before cooking, fold in the pancetta and spring onions.

Preheat the oven to 200ºF

Prepare a waffle iron by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and heat. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the batter into the iron and cook until the waffles are golden, 6 minutes. Transfer the waffles to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with a dollop of Maple Butter on top and sprinkle with sea salt.

Maple Butter
yields about 1 cup

1 cup Irish butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons good maple syrup

In a small mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together. Serve with warm Savory Spring Onion and Pancetta Waffles.

Lamb and Fennel Mint Salad

Recipe by Brenda Anderson for Smith Brother’s Butcher Shop
Photography by Chia Chong
Styling by Libbie Summers
Wine Pairing by Grapefriend 

The promise of spring on a plate. 

Lamb and Fennel Mint Salad
serves 4 

What you need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon anise seed
Juice of one lime
1 rack of lamb
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups mixed greens, washed thoroughly
Fennel Mint Salad Dressing (recipe to follow)

What to do:
In large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel, lime juice and anise seed, brown slightly, leaving fennel crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.

Allow lamb rack to come to room temperature and rub with cracked pepper, coarse salt and garlic powder. Cook rack of lamb in the same pan fennel was prepared in over medium high heat. Cook until medium rare (about 6-7 minutes) turning once halfway through the cooking time. Set aside. Let rest for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the meat away from bone and slice into 1/2-inch medallions.

To assemble the salad, divide salad green among 4 plates and top with equal parts of the fennel. Top with lamb medallions and drizzle Fennel Mint Salad Dressing over to taste. Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing by Grapefriend:
You need something with enough body to match the pan seared lamb, but you’ve also got all that great anise spice in the fennel. A Spanish rosado will go with this like a champ: these rosés tend to be darker in color, and full of juicy red berry flavors. As a bonus, they’re the big bargains of the rosé world (most are around 10-15 bucks). I love the ones made from Garnacha grapes, but I like the Tempranillo-based ones too. Plus it’s spring so why not start popping some pink?

Fennel Mint Salad Dressing
1 cup Fennel Mint Simple Syrup (recipe to follow)
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon cracked pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until well mixed. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Shake before using.

Fennel Mint Simple syrup
makes 2 cups

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup mint, rough chopped
1 cup fennel, rough chopped

In a large sauce pan comb all ingredients. Once it comes to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and let liquid cool.


Libbie’s Food Styling Props: (top image) Shot on an old small tabletop. Salad greens are in a green glass bowl picked up at a yard sale in Savannah, GA. Dressing is setting on the bottom of an uber cool butter dish. Dressing is in a Weck jar. Cool spoon I picked up in Birmingham, AL from Table Matters. Lamb is setting on an old pie tin from Habersham Antiques Market. (bottom image) Shot on the same old table top. The green glass salad bowl is now sitting on top of a milk glass serving bowl. The napkin used to be a duvet cover from my son’s bedroom that he never used, so had it made into napkins (PS I gave him a set for Christmas/PSS He wasn’t impressed). The uber-cool salad tongs are from Rethink Design Studio.

Raspberry Pavlova

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith for Thom Magazine
Shot on location at Alex Raskin Antiques in Savannah, GA

I was 26 when I served my first pavlova to a bunch of Ski Patrol hooligans in Vail, Colorado. It was a ballsy move to serve as the last course of a wild-game heavy dinner to a group of men of whom most would rather wrestle a bear than use a cloth napkin.

Appetizer course pheasant. Main course elk. Dessert course baked meringue?

I’d seen the recipe in a cookbook by Lee Bailey and thought it was the most beautiful dessert ever created. At the time, I didn’t know that the lack of humidity in Colorado would make it a slam dunk dessert for me, I just wanted to be as cool as that guy, Mr. Bailey, who’s slight body and inviting smile graced the cover of the book. So, macho guests be damned, I made pavlova.

I don’t remember everything about that night –just a few life changing points. I remember a few guests were left on my sofa and elk scraps were left for the dog, but not a crumb of pavlova was left on the dessert platter. I remember I went to bed that night with the cutest and smartest guy at the table –the same guy I make pavlova for today. 
Raspberry Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova from Libbie Summers
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack
serves 8

8 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar (pulse sugar in a food processor for superfine)
½ teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup heavy cream whipped with 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form
1 cup raspberry puree (from fresh berries)
1 cup fresh raspberries
¼ cup chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)
mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 250º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until they hold soft peaks. With the mixer running, begin adding the sugar a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat until the meringue is very shiny and holds a stiff peak. Beat in the extracts. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch with a spatula. Divide the meringue evenly between the the two baking sheets with the meringue in the middle of each sheet. Using a spatula, spread the meringue out to an 8-inch circle.

Bake until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color (about 65-75 minutes). Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (I let mine cool overnight). The outside will have cracks, but the inside will have a marshmallow consistency.

To Assemble: Place one meringue round on your cake stand. Top with half of the whipped cream and swirl in half of the raspberry puree. Top with the second meringue and repeat. Finish with fresh raspberries, chopped pistachios and a few fly away mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers (Photography by Cedric Smith)
Raspberry and Lemon Pavlova Stack from Libbie Summers (Photography by Cedric Smith)

Rhubarb Bellini

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Assisted by Candace Brower

Rhubarb is no different than any other fruit and vegetable in season. It comes all at once and you don’t always know what to do with it. This puree is perfect for keeping in your freezer and mixing in a variety of desserts (like my Rhubarb Profiteroles or Ginger Rhubarb Pie). For now, just make a puree so you can raise a glass this weekend.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Bellini, Cocktail recipe, Rhubarb

Rhubarb Puree
makes about 3 cups

3 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb pieces (leaves removed)
1 cup light brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 large orange

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan add all the ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until the rhubarb is tender (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add cooled mixture to the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Rhubarb Puree will hold refrigerated for 10 days or frozen for 120 days.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Bellini, Cocktail recipe, Rhubarb

Rhubarb Bellini
makes 1

2 ounces fresh Rhubarb Puree (recipe above)
3 ounces Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
Rhubarb stalks to stir (optional)

Add Rhubarb Puree to the bottom of a champagne flute or other small glass. Pour Prosecco or sparkling wine over. Stir and serve.