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Goat’s Milk & Pimento Cheese Squash Blossoms

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Dan and I talk often about how lucky we are to have surrounded ourselves with so many incredible, inspiring, and caring friends in Wilmington. In the two years since we made the move back South we’ve become part of a supportive and encouraging community that continues to grow. Our friends introduce us to their friends who introduce us to their friends and on and on to the point where I’m convinced that Wilmington is a city of 100,000 amazing people doing inspiring things.

 

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A few months ago I was talking to one of our Wilmington friends and he mentioned that one of his friends was starting a new event series at their farm, Greenlands. Greenlands is a farm located in Bolivia, NC, that grows organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, raises chickens for eggs, goats for milk, llamas for… llamaing, has a petting zoo, a summer camp, a country farm store, and much more. It’s a farmstravaganza!

 

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Greenlands is a true family operation, founded by Heather and Henry Burket and operated alongside their daughter, Maud. Their dinner series, Farm to Fork, allows people to come and see the farm, learn about them and the operation, and taste what Greenlands and the surrounding area have to offer. A mission I support completely. When our friend connected Heather and I it felt like a great match, so I agreed to come on board for their very first dinner in late June.

 

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A week before the event Heather sent me a list of everything that was going to be available from the farm and we started to scheme up a menu. We decided on a five course meal that started with something I’ve never tried before- fried squash blossoms. Because when you’re cooking a plated dinner for 15 it’s absolutely the time to edge out of your comfort zone.

 

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photo (left) by luke; my cousin elizabeth let me know that the blossoms were a hit!

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photo by luke

 

As the guests were arriving I stuffed a few dozen beautiful fresh squash blossoms with pimento cheese, dipped them in a goat’s milk and red pepper batter, and lightly fried them. I was nervous, but any anxiety I had about them turning out well vanished when I took a bite out of the first blossom. They were light and crispy and the tangy goat’s milk was the perfect balance to the rich pimento cheese and the delicate blossom.

 

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This dinner also happened to take place when a lot of my family was in town for a beach vacation, so I was able invite my cousin Elizabeth and her husband Luke to join us. Luke was even kind enough to snap some pictures of the tour they went on of Greenlands, which is something I wish I’d been able to see for myself! The reports from the diners (and my insider info from Luke and Elizabeth) were all incredibly positive, which was thrilling. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination and I have no experience cooking for people outside of dinner parties at my home, so this was a big leap. I am so thankful that Greenlands took a chance on me (thanks, guys!), and I’m relieved that everything went as seamlessly as it did!

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photo by luke

 

I’d also like to take a moment and give Dan kudos- he took a half day from work so that he could come to Bolivia with me and be my sous chef. He brought his A game and completely kicked ass- making the melon soup, sous vide-ing the steaks, and taking care of every thing that needed to be taken care of with no complaints. When we met 9 years ago I’m sure he had no idea that one day he’d be frantically charring and stuffing peppers on a farm in rural North Carolina, but he’s a natural. A gem, that one.

 

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Goat’s Milk & Pimento Cheese Squash Blossoms

 

24 squash blossoms

2-3 cups of pimento cheese

2 cups all purpose flour

3-4 cups goats milk (add as needed)

2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp red pepper flakes

Peanut or sunflower oil for frying

 

Mix together your pimento cheese (recipe & instructions here). Stuff each blossom with 1 tablespoon of cheese and crimp the flower petals around the cheese to secure.

 

Heat oil to 375F.

 

Mix the goats milk slowly into the flour until the consistency is approximatley the same as pancake batter- thin enough to pour easily but not soupy. Dip each blossom into the batter so that the bloom is coated almost to the stem. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown. Allow to drip and firm up and then serve hot.

 

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Lovely Internet 7.11.14

7.11.14

1. This is just so true. Just… all of it.

2. It is going to take him forever to say all those names.

3. This, always.

4. Free Her

5. Since we’re in the middle of a house design project (yaaay moving!), this advice struck a chord.

6. Southern Women

7. I wish I had the opportunity to see this before it closed.

8. The Resurrection of Fish Pepper

9. As an education professional, I second all of these.

10. Kitchen conversions everyone should know.

P.S. I did an interview with Food & Wine this week!

P.P.S. The American Cookbook (and me!) featured in the Winston-Salem Journal!

P.P.P.S. There’s still one day to enter the contest and win a copy of The American Cookbook!

For more tidbits from Elena the person, follow me on twitter (@elenabrent or @biscuitsandsuch), instagrampinterest or facebook. Follow along with MissElenaeous for thoughts on everything other than Southern food.

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Huevos Rancheros & a Birthday

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Happy July! Today is my 28th birthday, and we’ll be celebrating with tacos, margaritas, and a concert with good friends. After a long and exhausting weekend of packing, moving, unpacking, and then repacking so that the painters could paint, Dan and I are ready for some relaxation, fun, and tequila. And queso, of course.

 

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I thought that today, in honor of one of my best days of the year, I’d share one of my favorite recipes from The American Cookbook. To be totally honest, this is one of my favorite recipes from life. On average, since we learned how to make them in 2008, Dan and I have eaten huevos rancheros at least once a week. We spent years perfecting our method and so I was thrilled when the recipe made it on to the content list of the cookbook. It’s simple, easy, and so delicious that on more than one occasion Dan and I each finished our plate and then fried up another serving. Worth it, every time.

 

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Also, in honor of my birthday and America’s birthday, we thought we’d do a little giveaway. We’ll be giving five copies of The American Cookbook to readers, and all you have to do to enter is answer the simple question in the comments:

What are your birthday traditions?

I eat something different every year, but I always have blueberry mountain pie for dessert. It’s a family tradition started by my grandmother, Bobbie. I can’t wait to hear all of your traditions!  Winners will be selected randomly on July 12, 2014. Good luck!

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Tommy, Carm, Becky, Alex, and Caitlin!

 

the american cookbook

 

And, for posterity, a picture of me as a mermaid, circa sometime in the 90s.

 

elena mermaid

 

Huevos Rancheros

 

Drizzle of olive oil

4 large flour tortillas

8oz/ 226g Cheddar cheese, grated

4 eggs

1 425g can black beans

1 tsp smoked chipotle

Salt and pepper

1 avocado

Pico de gallo:

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, minced

½ red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ bunch fresh cilantro

2 large limes, juiced

Salt and pepper

Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside. In a medium sauce pan heat black beans, in liquid. Stir in smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot place tortilla in the center of the pan. Make a ring of shredded cheese and crack an egg into the center, containing the egg. Let cook until the cheese has melted and then use a spatula to flip the tortilla and the egg. Let cook for 2-3 minutes for a runny yolk or 4-5 minutes for a firm yolk. Use a spatula to lift the tortilla and the egg, flipping egg side up onto a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Thickly slice avocado. Strain black beans and top tortilla and egg with black beans, pico de gallo, and avocado.

Tips: Use a wide spatula to flip the tortilla so that the egg is cradled in the middle, helping to keep everything together. Flip quickly and confidently!

 

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