Low-Country Fare For Memorial Day

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Chef Cindy Wolf is renowned for her contemporary interpretation of low-country cuisine. She and her husband have made a mark on the dining scene in Baltimore, Md., with their restaurant, Charleston, featuring her distincitve French-accented fare.

Low-country cuisine is the food of South Carolina's coastal plain -- a refined mix of English, French, African and West Indian culinary traditions.

No stranger to our Chef on a Shoestring Challenge, Wolf is back with a delicious, but easy meal for Memorial Day with on our entertaining budget of $60 for six people.

Wolf's menu as our Chef on a Shoestring: an appetizer of Chilled Grilled Tomato Soup; an entrée of Grilled Chicken Breast with Wilted Baby Spinach, Bacon and Lemon; and for dessert, Peach Cobbler.

Prior to Charleston, Wolf had won acclaim for her low-country cuisine at Savannah in Baltimore, and Georgia Brown's in Washington, D.C., where she originated the concept and the menu for both establishments.

Before she went north, Chef Wolf lived in Charleston and worked at prominent area restaurants. She apprenticed at Silks, in the Planter's Inn (1984 to 1985), specializing in regional American cuisine. She was also sous chef at Morton's in the Vendue Inn (1986 to 1990), specializing in classical French cuisine with local influences.

Wolf is a 1987 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She 's been featured in many publications, including Food Arts, Food & Wine, Bon Appetite, the New York Times, Mid-Atlantic Country, Southern Living, Cuisine Magazine, Style Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, Restaurant Business, Nation's Restaurant News, Washingtonian, the Washington Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, and the Charleston News and Courier.

Terminology:

Cobbler: A cobbler is different from a pie. While a pie is lined with pastry, a cobbler is not. A cobbler is a baked, deep-dish fruit dessert topped with a thick biscuit crust sprinkled with sugar.

Applewood Bacon: Wolf uses applewood embers to smoke bacon, so the meat will have a rich, smoky flavor.

Recipes:

Chilled Grilled Tomato Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
8 ripe red tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
juice from 2 limes
juice from 2 lemons
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Slice tomatoes into thirds and put in a bowl. Try to catch the juice by slicing the tomatoes over a bowl. Save all the juice.

Season the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the sliced tomatoes on a hot grill. Grill each side for about 30 seconds. Place grilled tomato slices back into the bowl.

Put grilled tomatoes and all the reserved juice into a blender. Add lime juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree on high for 40 seconds or until pureed smooth.

Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Taste. Season again, if necessary, with salt and pepper.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the soup into another bowl and taste again for salt and pepper. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour prior to serving.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Wilted Baby Spinach
Applewood Bacon and Lemon

Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 six-ounce boneless and skinless chicken breasts
olive oil for chicken
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons applewood bacon, cooked until crisp (see method below), diced small or crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 cups of baby spinach, washed and dried


Rub chicken breasts with enough olive oil to coat the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Grill until done, yet moist -- about four minutes on each side.

Just prior to serving, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and crispy bacon to a large sauté pan and sauté for 1 minute on medium-high heat. Then add lemon juice and season again with salt and pepper. Immediately add spinach and sauté for about 45 seconds or until it just begins to wilt.

Plate with spinach salad on bottom and grilled chicken on top.

Method for bacon:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bacon slices on baking sheet; cook until crisp. Remove from the oven and let rest on paper towels to absorb excess grease before using.

Peach Cobbler
Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
six 1/2-inch deep, 3 1/2-inch diameter ovenproof ramekins

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss sliced peaches, sugar, cinnamon, flour, and lemon juice.

Divide the peaches evenly among the six ramekins. Line the bottom of each ramekin with the tossed peaches.

Cover each with topping (see below) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands - breaking up and incorporating the butter. Set aside until needed.
  • Rome Neal

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