Sweet Pea Soup

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong for Savannah Magazine
Hosted at Grove Point Plantation
Assisted by David Dempsey, Candace Brower, Anthony Lunnsman
Benefiting The Fresh Air Home

When the spring peas make an appearance, my go to dish to make is this soup. Really, there is no soup easier, more beautiful and more delicious. The strawberry garnish is everything!

Sweet Pea Soup
Serves 6

What you need:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts), roughly chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Pea shoots for garnish (optional)
Sliced strawberries for garnish (optional)
Chopped chives for garnish (optional)

What to do:
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter, leeks and onion. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent and leeks are tender (about 5-10 minutes). Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the peas and honey, then cook for 3 minutes, until the peas are tender. Remove from heat and add the mint. Salt and pepper to taste.

Working in batches, place 1 cup of the soup in a blender, place the lid on top and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the vent hole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed.

Just before serving, warm soup over low heat and stir in yogurt. Spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with pea shoots, sliced strawberries and chopped chives.

Strawberries, Spring, Dinner Party, Flowers, Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life

Grove Point dinner by Libbie Summers, Spring, Strawberries

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.

Precious Sausage-Stuffed Deep-Fried Dills

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Moving to rural North Carolina from the ever hip and haughty Vail, Colorado, was a lesson in the proper way to eat humble pie. I opened my heart and mind to things that were “precious”—a word that Southerners use interchangeably with the phrase “bless her heart.” Hell, I even added the word precious to my vocabulary. I slowed down long enough to recognize that the bag of still-warm duck livers left on my doorstep by my duck-hunting neighbor was a precious gift, that being alone in a handmade canoe as dawn broke on the river was a precious moment. And discovering that the pickles you get on the side of your North Carolina barbecue are fried—now, that that was a precious surprise!

Precious Sausage-Stuffed Deep-Fried Dills
+ sweet horseradish dipping sauce
yields 12 to 18 pickles

What You Need
1(46-ounce) jar whole dill pickles, drained and patted dry
1⁄2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed, chopped, and fully cooked
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
1 cup Budweiser beer (or your choice beer)
1⁄2 teaspoon Texas Pete hot sauce
Peanut oil for deep-frying
Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Slice 1/4 inch off both ends of each pickle. Working on one end of each pickle at a time, use a paring knife (working it like a corkscrew) to carefully hollow out half of the pickle. Repeat from the other end. Transfer the insides to a cutting board and finely chop.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the finely chopped pickles and the sausage. Stuff each hollow pickle with the sausage mixture and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the buttermilk, beer, and hot sauce and continue whisking until the batter is smooth. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while the oil is heating.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or deep-fryer to 360 ̊F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Pour the remaining flour into a medium mixing bowl. Working in small batches, dredge the stuffed pickles in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip the floured pickles into the batter and shake off any excess. Gently slide the pickles into the hot oil and cook until lightly browned. Remove to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle with salt while the pickles are hot. Serve warm with Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Pickles, Deep Fry, Whole Hog Cookbook

Sweet Horseradish Dipping Sauce
yields scant 2 1/2 cups
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Pinch of kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir well. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

2 Fabulous Flatbread Recipes

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Flat breads are an easy intro into bread baking. Somehow, even if you think they aren’t going to work out…they always do! Here are two of my favorites.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Bread Recipes
Flat-chested Flat Bread
(grilled, sweet, spicy, + cheesy)
yields 8

A training bread, if you will. A soft, chewy, simple bread grilled and brought alive with the sweet heat of brown sugar and chile oil. A bread to honor flat-chested girls everywhere. I was once one of you . . . spicy, sweet, and just waiting to rise.

What you need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for the grill
3 cups warm water
2 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons salt
1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons chile oil (available in the international section of your grocery store)
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the 1 tablespoon vegetable oil with the water. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours to the yeast mixture and mix on low speed just until a loose, raggedy dough forms. Cover the bowl of the mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt and yogurt to the dough and mix for 5 minutes, until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl to form a loose ball. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill to high.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Divide the dough into eight equal portions and roll out each portion to 1⁄4 inch thick (or press with your hands). Don’t
worry about uniformity: the less perfect, the better. Stack
the dough rounds on the bottom of an overturned baking sheet, placing a sheet of oiled plastic wrap between them so they won’t stick together.

Brush the grill liberally with oil and, working two at a time, grill the flatbreads for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until there is a nice black/brown char on the grill side and the top is puffing up. If the dough sticks to the grill when you try to turn it, the flatbread has not cooked long enough.

When the flatbreads are hot off the grill, drizzle them lightly with chile oil (a little goes a long way) and sprinkle with a little brown sugar and cheese. Serve warm.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Bread Recipes,
Forgiveness Naan
(pillowy garlic butter flatbread)
yields 10

Naan is my yeast-based guilty pleasure. Wherever I may be traveling in the world, I’m searching for this pillowy flatbread with the crisp bottom. If there is a restaurant with naan on the menu, mark my words, I will find it.

Although I have yet to taste dreamy Chef Suvir Saran’s naan (he promises to make me some one day), my favorite naan is made at a seedy back-alley restaurant in the West Indies by a guy named Sanjay (come to think of it, most of the naan bakers I’ve met are named Sanjay). I’ve been lucky enough to land on Sanjay’s island many times over the years while cooking on boats. Even luckier, he has always been around, is always wearing too much cologne, and is always willing to bake me a fresh basketful of naan—no matter what time of day. Each piece of Sanjay’s naan is the size of a roadmap, spilling over the sides of the basket of bread he brings to the table. It has the perfect charred bottom and buttery flavor . . . with just a hint of Old Spice.

Once you start baking your own naan, you’ll quickly discover what all Sanjay naan bakers already know: Naan gets better every time you make it. Like an elastic waistband, the dough is very forgiving.

What you need:

6 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1⁄4 cups warm milk (110° F)
3 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Use a small bit of the clarified butter to lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, brown sugar, and milk. Briefly stir with a spoon. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, or until
it begins to foam. With the mixer on low speed, add the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter, and the salt. Add the flour, starting with 2 cups and mixing well to combine. Gradually add enough flour until the dough forms and cleanly pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Mix for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in the greased mixing bowl, cover, and let it
rest at room temperature for 11⁄2 to 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into ten equal portions. Use your palms to form each into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500° F. Position one oven rack on the lowest level of the oven and remove or place the other rack high enough in the oven to stay out of your way. Place a baking stone (or pizza stone) on the lowest rack. Have a spray bottle of water and a cooling rack ready.

Stir the garlic into the remaining butter.

Roll each piece of dough out (or pat the dough out with your hands and fingertips) to an 8- to 10-inch circle. Pull one end of the dough to form a teardrop shape. Brush the dough lightly with the garlic butter. Working with one shaped piece of dough at a time, carefully place it on the hot baking stone and spritz the dough with water. Bake for about 4 minutes, until brown spots start to form on top and the dough begins to puff up. Remove the naan from the oven and brush again lightly with the garlic butter. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough, keeping the cooked naan covered and warm until ready to serve. At my house, the naan doesn’t stand a chance of getting cold. Every piece seems to disappear as soon as it comes out of the oven.

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