In a Dinner Rut?

Culinary instructor and chef suggests a few Southern specialties to help you try a new food style to break you out of that routine and treat your taste buds to something new.

Cheesy grits

Cheesy grits

iStockphoto.com/Nell Redmond

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Falls Church, Virginia – Let’s face it, we all get into food ruts, where we have been eating the same dishes over and over and are itching to try something new. The best way to break the hold of that rut and give your taste buds a treat is to try some new food styles. If you haven’t before, or if it has been a while, step back in time and have a southern food night.

“There are many traditional southern food favorites,” says Rahman “Chef Rock” Harper, celebrity chef and adjunct culinary instructor at Stratford University. “Not only can they be easy and fun to make, but they will give your family something new to experience. And you may even find a couple of new favorite dishes to add to your household menu.”

Southern food – traditional dishes typically found south of the Mason-Dixon Line – are rich in history, flavor and culture. There are different varieties, each having their own distinct style and taste, including Cajun, Creole, Soul Food and Low Country cuisine. Many of those popular options incorporate deep-pit barbecuing, grits, black-eyed peas, hot sauce, crawfish, okra, cornbread, pecan pie, bread pudding, catfish and boiled peanuts. And, where beverages are concerned, sweet tea takes the prize in the South. The sugary beverage has a long-standing reputation for refreshing and quenching.

The next time you want to expand your culinary horizons and sample something new, keep these southern food specialties in mind and give them a try:

 

SWEET TEA

8 cups water
4 tea bags
1 cup sugar
8 cups cold water
In teapot, boil 8 cups water. Add tea bags and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes, or to taste. Strain tea into gallon-size pitcher and add sugar. Add remaining cold water to pitcher and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

CREAMY CHEESE GRITS

12 cups Chicken Stock
4 1/2 cups course stone-ground White Grits
1 cup heavy Cream
Salt and White Pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Marscapone Cheese
Bring chicken broth to boil in heavy-bottomed stockpot or large saucepan. Slowly pour in grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir so that grits do not settle to bottom and scorch.
In about 5 minutes, grits will plump up and become a thick mass.
Continue to cook grits for about 20- 25 minutes, stirring frequently. The grits should have absorbed all the chicken stock and become soft.
Stir in heavy cream and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The grits should have a thick consistency and be creamy like oatmeal. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.
If the grits become too thick, add warm chicken broth or water to thin them down.

 

CRABCAKES WITH SOUR CREAM REMOULADE

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoons seafood seasoning (like old bay)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt, to taste (careful with the salt, the seafood seasoning has plenty)
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Dashes of Tobasco, to taste
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) + 1 cup, divided
1 pound pasteurized blue crabmeat, picked free of shells (preferably jumbo lump or larger)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or clarified butter, divided
In large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for crab, 1 cup of panko and oil.
Gently fold in crabmeat and ¼ cup panko until well mixed. Add more bread crumbs if needed. Shape into cakes and dust the top and bottom with panko.
Heat oil or butter in large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve hot with Sour Cream Remoulade.

 

SOUR CREAM REMOULADE

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of white pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
Combine ingredients.

 

“You are sure to discover some southern foods that your family will enjoy,” Chef Rock says. “It’s a lot of fun to prepare and taste foods from different areas of the country, or even the world. It’s like a culture and history lesson all rolled into a savory meal.”

Stratford University offers an advanced culinary arts professional program. They also have a variety of degree and non-degree culinary arts and hospitality courses. The culinary degrees at Stratford University include advanced culinary arts, as well as baking and pastry arts. The school also offers one-day culinary workshops that are open to the general public. The topics of those workshops include beginner cooking, sweets, sushi, cupcakes, bread making, Easter dinner made easy, vegetarian, fish, homemade pasta, cuisines of the world, and much more.

Stratford University operates campuses in Falls Church and Woodbridge. It offers 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Health Sciences, Business Administration, and Information Technology. The degree programs are offered both on campus, as well as online. For more information on Stratford University, visit the website.