I recently had the opportunity to meet Chef Todd Richards at an event put on by Georgia Grown. Richards is a self-taught chef with several restaurants in Atlanta who is known for his Southern cooking and elevating culinary traditions of the South in general and of soul food in particular.
I was able to get my hands on his new book Soul, a Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes, to review for the next edition of Southern Soil.
As I was reading this book, I came across many recipes that I was eager to try out and Memorial Day seemed like a good day to get started … mainly because it meant I could cook in my sister’s kitchen (much more photogenic than my own) and I’d have extra hands around to help (especially with the cleanup).
I chose Sausage-Stuffed Onions (on page 51) and Blueberry Fried Pies (on page 89).
Now, this is the point in the narrative when I need to confess to you that, while I’m a pretty decent cook and an ok baker, I’m notoriously bad at following recipes. This means that I picked these recipes out by looking at the pretty pictures and reading most of the list of ingredients.
Fortunately for me, I have a sister who is quite good at following recipes (which apparently includes reading them all the way through). So, she had already decided that she didn’t have time to wait on me to get started and the stuffed onions were mostly prepared when I got there and they turned out just as they were supposed to! Which was quite delicious.
I started on the blueberry hand pies after lunch, thinking it’d be easy-peasy to whip some up. Easy as pie, right? I mean, it’s literally the phrase that means something is simple. Unless that’s a phrase with implied sarcasm … which is a theory of mine that’s starting to feel pretty legit.
Long story short, my pie filling was too runny; my pastry too sticky and cut too small; and my patience was (as usual) too thin.
Just as all hope was nearly lost, I remembered that I’m nothing if not resilient and that I am excessively familiar with having to abandon Plan A and come up with a contingency. And sitting right there in front of me was a lovely tasting pie filling and some lovely pie pastry. And maybe I wasn’t going to be able to pull of blueberry hand pies to wow my family, I was pretty sure I could pull off baking a pie.
Feeling disappointed that I had screwed up Chef Richards’ lovely recipe, I was encouraged that evening as I read the following quote from Soul. “… the act of cooking is really about losing yourself in the process and showing people how much you love them.”
All’s well that ends well. I think Chef Richards would approve after all.
(And, yes, I used dog bone cookie cutters to top my dog ugly but remarkably tasty blueberry pie!)
P.S. Many of the blueberries in that pie came right out of my yard!
P.S.S. That crust was the most delicious pie crust I’ve ever tasted (I’m usually not a big fan of pie crust) and it can be used for sweet or savory and I’m making a chicken pot pie with it tonight.)
P.S.S.S. Please note that I take full responsibility for any failures in the hand pie process … I feel quite sure that someone other than me following the recipe would have been successful in their endeavor. Also, I’m notorious for making substitutions, skipping steps, forgetting to set timers, missing ingredients entirely …
P.S.S.S.S. If you are wondering about the #YOUMATTER tshirt I’m wearing … check out SD Gunner Fund on Facebook. It’s an awesome nonprofit. (As a volunteer and board member, I promise that my assessment is completely unbiased) :)