Butter Beans

Here’s what a butter bean most certainly is not: a conventional lima bean that Southerners have given a more palatable moniker. Butter beans aren’t green; they’re creamy white. They should never be served from a can; look for them sold straight from a cooler in plastic bags along Southern roads for about a three-week period sometime between June and August. And they don’t have any tartness; they’re sweeter and smoother than their sometimes off-putting mass-market lima cousin. Also known as a Dixie bean or sieva, the butter bean has been a go-to hereabouts for succotash and stews since the 1700s. You can boil them until tender and dress simply with lemon zest, sea salt, and olive oil. Or cook them with a big ol’ ham hock and spoon them over hot crusty cornbread for a classic helping of Southern goodness.

~ “S is for Southern,” by the editors of Garden & Gun

Culinary Fun Fact: How To Use Gelatin

Gelatin is a protein that dissolves in hot liquids and gels when cold. It is used to set light custards such as panna cotta among various other uses both sweet and savory.

The natural gelatin contained in meat and bones is what causes cold broth consommé or aspic to set.

Many of home cooks don’t like gelatin because if overused, it makes things rubbery. It’s best used in the smallest amount needed to get a liquid to set, about half the amount specified on the package, which says that one packet will set 1 cup liquid. In fact, one packet will barely set, which generally what you want, 2 cups of liquid.

When using powdered gelatin, soften it in about 3 tablespoons cold water per packet before adding it to hot or warm liquids.

Some recipes call for sheet gelatin, which happens to be the preferred form in Europe. When using sheet gelatin, soak it first in cold water until it becomes soft. It’s difficult to arrive at equivalents between sheet gelatin and powdered gelatin because different brands of sheet gelatin contain different amounts of gelatin per sheet.

Veal Cut Profile: Veal Shank

Description: Veal shank the lower portions of both the front and rear legs, is legendary for its rich, smooth, melting texture.

Meat Characteristics: Shank meat is tough and lean, with small muscles surrounded by connective tissue. Braising turns it smooth and rich.

How much should I buy: For Osso Buco one crosscut round, 12 to 20 ounces each, per person. A whole shank serves four.  You may also serve a smaller whole veal shank.

Common flavor combinations: Bay leaves, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, golden raisins, lemons, marjoram, oranges, porcini mushrooms, red onion, white truffles, white wine.

Snails with a Mushroom Duxelle in Puff Pastry (Escargots Pot Pie)

Les escargots Avec UN Duxelle de Champignon Dans la Pâte feuilletée (Tarte de Pot d’Escargots).

1 Can of Escargots

1 Box Puff Pastry

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound wild mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and finely chopped

1 large shallot

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup white wine or chicken broth

Salt and black pepper

1 egg

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add mushrooms, shallot and minced garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.  Drain.  Add cup of wine or chicken broth and bring to a simmer cooking until liquid is absorbed seasoning with salt and pepper.  Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 450 or directions on puff pastry box.  Add two tablespoons of mushroom Duxelle to a ramekin.  Add 3 -6 snails depending upon size and preference.  On top place a 1 teaspoon of butter.  Cut puff pastry to size to cover ramekin.  Crimp puff pastry over the ramekin and brush with a beaten egg.  Cut a small slit in puff pastry to release steam.  Place in oven until puff pastry if golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence

6 dried bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 teaspoons crumbled dried lavender buds

In a small bowl, combine the bay, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender and mix well. Transfer to a tightly capped jar or other airtight container and store in a cool, dark place. Use the blend within 3 to 4 months.

To use, pulverize the herbs in a mortar with a pestle, if you prefer a coarser texture, or in a spice grinder for a finely textured blend.

Cooking Method: Dans un Blanc

Definition: Cooking in a water, flour, oil, lemon, salt solution for ingredients that easily discolor such as artichokes, salsify, offal and Veal.

  • 2 Quarts, 4 ounces (2 liters)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce (21 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 ounce (10 grams) coarse salt

In this example we are cooking four artichokes or 2 pounds of salsify, offal or Veal.

Combine water, oil, lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and salt.  Add ingredient to be cooked.  Over high heat bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly. Cook at low boil for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Allow item to stand in liquid one hour.

Pommes Rissolées


Pommes Rissolées: Shaped potatoes are blanched, then sautéed and finally roasted.

  • Tourneed:
    • Cocotte: 5 x 1.5 cm (2 x 5/8 inches)
    • Chateau: 7.5 x 3 cm (3 x 1 3/16 inches)
  • Diced:
    • Parmentier: 1.5 to 1.8 cm (5/8 to 3/4 inches)
    • Vert Pres: 5 to 7 cm (3/16 to 1/4 inches)
  • Balls:
    • Olive: elongated ball
    • Noisette: round ball
    • Parisienne: small ball


  • Place shaped potatoes in a pan just large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Add just enough water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Drain.  Do not shock in ice water.
  • Dry on paper towels in a single layer.
  • In a pan large enough to hold potatoes in a single layer add fat and place over medium high heat.
  • When fat is very hot, but not smoking add potatoes.
  • Raise the heat and sauté potatoes. When light brown drain off fat and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees when ready to serve.
  • Add butter to pan and toss to coat.
  • Place pan in oven.
  • Roast, shaking pan from time to time.
  • Remove.  Drain off excess fat.  Salt.
  • Serve immediately.


101 Ways To Cut Yourself: Vegetable Knife Skills


101 Ways To Cut Yourself: Vegetable Knife Skills

The chinois, a conical strainer with a handle, is a useful, even necessary, chef’s tool, but not a glory tool. The glory tools are your personal set of knives. They are the tools you think of first and last when you think of a chef. Knives are usually the personal property of each chef in a professional kitchen and are guarded as such. The kitchen may have some general knives, but they are not usually of the highest quality. A prudent investment in fine knives early on in your career can be a lifelong one. It is no different for the home cook. A set of fine knives will make everything easier and more enjoyable in the kitchen. After all cooking and being in the kitchen should be enjoyable, should be fun.

Most knives are made of either high-carbon or forged stainless steel. These metals are resistant to rust and corrosion, besides they do not stain easily. One of the most important criteria when choosing a knife is the material it is made from. Some of the desirable materials are:

Carbon steel: an alloy of carbon and steel. Its primary advantage is that it holds a fine edge. Its major disadvantage it requires a high degree of maintenance as it corrodes quickly, isn’t suitable for salt-air climates or highly acidic food.

Stainless steel: a combination of iron and chromium or nickel. A very popular medium for chef’s knives. Resistant to abrasions and corrosion, but does not maintain a fine edge.

High-carbon: made up of many different materials including chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. Most professional knives are in this class. Blades are less resistant to abrasion than stainless steel knives, but are much easier to sharpen.

Professional knife kits contain at minimum all of the following knives and tools:

Chef’s Knife: The most versatile of all the knives in your kit. Used for chopping, dicing, slicing, and filleting. The blade can range from 6 to 14 inches in length.

Utility Knife: Used for coring vegetables, slicing tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

Boning Knife: Used to bone various meats and poultry. Has a 6 to 7 inch curved blade that may be either firm or flexible.

Fillet Knife: A very sharp knife with a flexible blade that is essential to filleting.

Slicing Knife: Used for slicing large cuts of meat or fish such as roasts, hams, and smoked salmon. Blades range from 12 to 16 inches. May be round tipped or pointed.

Paring Knife: A small bladed knife used for peeling vegetables.

Serrated Knife: A bevel edged knife used for slicing breads, rolls, and other soft items.

Steel: A hardened fine, ridged rod used to keep a knife’s edge aligned.

Sharpening Stone: A natural stone, carborundum stone, or diamond studded block that is available in a variety of grits used to sharpen knives.

Cutting Vegetables


Cutting vegetables with proper technique ensures uniform size and shape resulting in even cooking. In a professional kitchen this allows more than one person to do the preparation. Practice, practice, practice is the only way to learn the cuts and yield uniform vegetables. The traditional cuts are as follows:

Emincer: to thinly slice.

Ciseler: to finely diced onions and shallots. This method keeps the juices from being forced out as standard chopping does.

Tronconner: to cut into 4 to 7 (1 ½ to 2 ¾ inch) centimeter segments.

Parer: to trim round slices of tronconneed vegetables to obtain a flat surface on every side.

Jardiniere: thin sticks, 4 to 5 (1 ½ to 2 inches) centimeters long.

Julienne: very thin sticks, 1 to 2 millimeters (1/32 to 1/16 inch) square and 5 to 7 centimeters (2 to 2 ¾ inches) long.

Macedoine: small cubes, 5 millimeters (3/16 inch) square.

Brunoise: minute cubes, 1 to 2 millimeters (1/32 to 1/16 inch) square.

Chiffonade: this method produces thin strips of herbs

1. Wash and thoroughly dry

2. Lay the leaves in a flat stack of three or four

3. Roll the stacked leaves into a cigar shape

4. Cut the leaf roll crosswise to form thin strips

Concasser: to coarsely chop a vegetable, usually tomatoes.

Hacher: to finely mince small bunches of herbs

Mirepoix: unshaped large chunks. These pieces are used as the aromatics, almost always strained out at the end of the cooking. It is important all pieces are of uniform size to provide even cooking. This term is often applied to a mixture 50 percent onion, 25 percent carrot, 25 percent celery.

Commercial Fishing, Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Longlining —> Longlining is one of the most productive methods of catching fish. Lines of varying lengths, some as long as 50 miles, are rigged with baited hooks at set intervals throughout the water. Bottom fish such as cod, halibut, and monk fish are caught with anchored lines set horizontally and are marked with surface buoys for Tuna and Mahi Mahi, whereas swordfish lines are set closer to the surface.

Horizontal lines are also employed and anchored to the bottom and buoyed on top. Longlining is a controversial fishing method because it indiscriminately catches unwanted fish species as well as marine mammals and birds, in particular the albatross. Methods deemed friendly to sea birds include fishing at night and setting streamers on the lines to scare the birds away. Eliminating, minimizing, or utilizing waste from fish fabrication is another step in the right direction. New methods are turning the fish by-products into usable fish meal on board the vessel. This encouraging development goes a long way toward true sustainability.

Gillnetting —> Gill nets are long walls of nets set close to or below the surface, on the bottom, or at various depths depending on species and location. They can be easily located along a known migration path to catch large quantities of fish. Varying in mesh size, these nets are invisible to the fish as they swim into them. Once their heads and gills go through the net, they become entangled and die, which drastically affects the quality of the fish, so speed in harvesting is essential.

Drift Nets —> Trapping fish in the same way as gill nets, drift nets are not affixed to anything and silently move with the tide, entangling the fish. Used at sea to catch squid, tuna, salmon, and other valuable species, these nets have prompted the United Nations to recommend a global moratorium on large-scale high-seas drift netting to protect the large pods of dolphins and turtles from becoming entangled in nets up to 3,000 yards long.

Easily lost, and invisible, they are referred to as ghost nets; they drift and fill up with fish until the weight causes them to sink to the bottom of the sea. Once the entangled fish are consumed by other marine life, the net floats back up to the surface repeating the process. Unfortunately, modern nylon nets do not disintegrate but stay intact, rising and falling in the sea. A disadvantage of both drift and gill nets is the indiscriminate catch of species.

Trawling —> Trawling is a method of fishing that pulls different sized nets through the water to capture various species of fish and shellfish. Boats can operate in tandem, pulling large nets through the water, or a single vessel can use a beam, which holds the net open as it is dragged along the ocean bottom or at various depths. Bottom trawlers have chains attached that stir up the seabed and force ground fish up into the waiting net. Trawling nets are controversial because of the damage they cause to the ocean floor.

Midwater trawling deploys a large cone-shaped net from the stern of the boat and pulls it through the water scooping up anything in its path.  Once full, the net is hauled onboard and the fish are placed in the hold. Unwanted bycatch and damage to the fish as they are lifted onto the vessel are disadvantages of this method.

Trolling —> Trolling utilizes lures or baited lines from the stern of the boat to capture valuable game fish such as Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish. Weights are connected to wire lines with 15 to 20 leaders, each of which is pulled behind the boat. Each line can also be rigged individually and winched in to quickly recover the fish alive. This method is especially beneficial for Tuna because their body temperature can increase drastically during the fight and proper bleeding and immediate cooling are important to the value of the fish. Fish can also be more easily targeted by utilizing specific jigs and live bait.

Purse Seining —> Purse seining encircles schools of fish with a wall of net that is then pursed (drawn together) on the bottom, trapping the fish. The entire net is brought to the side of the vessel and the fish are pumped or scooped onboard. Targeting large shoals of Tuna and Mackerel, this method became controversial in the 1970s when dolphins were deliberately encircled to facilitate catching the Tuna with which they congregated.

Fish Traps or Pots —> Lobster, crab, and fish are caught using various sized pots made of wire, metal, wood, and line. The pot is baited, thrown overboard, and sits on the bottom attached to a buoy. The entrance is designed to prevent escape from the trap. An advantage of this method is that it is highly selective; everything is caught alive with little or no bycatch or habitat destruction. Pot sizes vary; with Alaskan red crab, pots are able to hold hundreds of pounds of crab. Fish traps are especially popular throughout the warm calm waters of the world for their ability to catch specific varieties of fish.

Dredging —> Primarily used for shellfish such as clams, scallops, mussels, and oysters,a dredge is a metal basket with a type of rake or teeth assembly that aids in removing mollusks from the seabed. Clam dredges at sea are very large and must be towed from a sizable vessel. Modern dredges pump pressurized water in front of the rakes to loosen the silt and churn up the shellfish. Towed from bars off each side of the boat, the number of baskets or dredges deployed from a single vessel may reach several dozen depending on the catch. Dredging is controversial because it can tear up and disrupt the sea bottom, as well as have a negative effect on the natural sediment of the spawning habitat of shellfish.

Divers —> Divers utilizing scuba gear, or air pumped from the surface, collect a wide range of shellfish from the sea bottom.  Scallops collected this way are referred to as day boats because the divers harvest and return on the same day. Due to the high cost of harvesting, these items command a premium market price.

Sources —> “Kitchen Pro Series: Guide to Fish and Seafood Identification, Fabrication, and Utilization.” Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Mark Ainsworth. 2009.

Diagrams —> https://www.msc.org/home

Photographs —> © Mark Peterson

Sweet Tea

“She [my mother] still made sweet tea, of course, being a Southern woman of whom having iced tea on hand is expected. But instead of sugar, my mother used Sweet’N Low, which is kind of like making chocolate cake with dirt. She insisted no one could tell the difference: “They’re both sweet.”

“To say Southerners drink sweet tea like water is both true and not. True because the beverage is served at every meal, and all times and venues in between—at church and at strip clubs, at preschool and in nursing homes. Not true because unlike water or wine or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass. Like Guinness in Ireland. Or ouzo in Greece.”
~ Allison Glock, from “Sweet Tea: A Love Story” Excerpt From “The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide To Living The Good Life.”

Simple Sweet Tea

6 family-size tea bags
8 cups boiling water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups sugar

Place the tea bags in a large glass pitcher, pour the boiling water over, and steep for 15 minutes. Stir in the baking soda to remove bitterness and sugar.

Remove the tea bags and discard. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator.


#SweetTea #SouthernCulture