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Chocolate Strawberry Bread Pudding

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This weekend we piled into the car and headed along a familiar path up 1-95 to DC. A surprise birthday party for Brit was an occasion we wouldn’t miss for the world, especially because it meant spending the weekend with friends and family we haven’t been able to see since the move. We drank, we ate an insane amount of incredible food, we laughed, and we reveled in the luxury of being able to pop up to Virginia to surprise the ever living heck out of a friend.

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I’ve mentioned it before but one of the things that we love most about Brit and Aaron are that they love to cook and eat as much as we love to cook and eat, which means that when we get together it is beautiful. This party was no exception. Aaron joked that he mostly wanted to throw it as an excuse to make paella, and I think that was only kind of a joke. The paella that Aaron and his friend Tom made was incredible, as was the grilled chicken, the hamburgers (seriously, they were unreal), the cake and everything else. I brought along a bread pudding and even though by the time we ate it we were all a few sheets to the wind, it felt like the perfect continuation of the meal of a lifetime.

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I’ve known Brit for a lot of years and I count her as one of my closest friends (her and Aaron both, really), which made it even more special to see this outpouring of love for her. I felt the same way at their wedding- that only two completely fabulous people could attract such a loving and wonderful group of friends. Happy Birthday Britty! We’re so glad we got to be a part of it.

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In other news, the results of the Saveur Best of Food Blogs competition came in today and while I’m disappointed that we didn’t win I am so incredibly overwhelmed by the amazing response to Biscuits and Such making it to the final round. It was extraordinary how many people reached out, new followers and old, to say how much they love this food blog and that means the world to me. Thank you.

csbp 7 Chocolate Strawberry Bread Pudding

1 loaf of bread (we used challah)

1 pint of strawberries

1 cup chocolate chips

2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cube bread and halve strawberries. Toss together with chocolate chips and spread in a baking pan. Mix together milk, sugar, eggs, and extract and pour over bread. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

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Southern Gin Cocktail

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A few weeks ago I was invited to Chapel Hill for the launch of the Our State Magazine April issue, an issue that focuses on food in the great state of North Carolina. The party was at Crook’s Corner, the famous Chapel Hill restaurant that is home of one of the best adaptations of Shrimp & Grits around (the recipe that taught me everything I know about loaded grits), and the flagship of Chef Bill Smith’s culinary empire.

southern gin cocktail The menu was simple and reflected the food showcased in the issue- benne, deviled eggs, house-cured ham on fresh biscuits, and a cocktail that I thoroughly enjoyed- a gin martini made with Cardinal Gin. Cardinal Gin is distilled in Kings Mountain in small batches and has all the intricate and delicate flavors you hope for with a bottle of nice gin. This is not the gin you blend with a heavily flavored mixer- this is a gin that you sip and let speak for itself.

our state magazine

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I’m pretty terrible at cocktail parties, I get anxious and awkward and have to resist the urge to hide in a corner and just watch. This cocktail party was no exception, especially because everyone seemed to know each other and I felt like the odd duck out. But I didn’t drive two hours to sit in a corner so I got out there and mingled, and I’m so glad that I did. I met a ton of great people, made some good connections, and got to talk about one of my favorite things- Southern food- with other enthusiasts.

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This issue is really fantastic. I always love Our State and the stories that it culls from across the state, but this one spoke especially close to home with stories about Morehead City and small community potlucks. It also gave me some ideas for new places to visit (like Yadkin Valley) and recipes to try (benne!).

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The party was also a huge success in that I got to talk to some of the magazine staff about Tasting North Carolina, an opportunity I’d been hoping to have since I dreamed the project up. It just so happens that they loved the idea of the project and wanted to partner, so for the past few weeks we’ve been going back and forth with different ideas. Without further ado I’m excited to say that starting in May Our State will be publishing the entire series on their newly formed blog. The recipes will be posted on both Our State and B&S which means, hopefully, more people reading, more people loving, and more people sending me recipes. Next up in the series? A trip to the North Carolina Pickle Festival in Wayne County.

southern gin cocktail 4 Southern Gin Cocktail
Adapted from Crook’s Corner

3 jiggers of gin
1 jigger of triple sec
Splash of bitters
Orange peel for garnish

Combine all three liquors in a tumbler with ice. Shake and strain into a glass, garnishing with orange peel.

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Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Award Finalists

saveur screen shot When you start a blog it’s only natural that you look to other blogs around you, amazing ones, to model yourself after. Actually that’s true of everything in life, not just blogs. You look for inspiration in the world and incorporate pieces of what inspires you into your own life. And for the past 4 years (almost 5!) as I’ve been building Biscuits and Such and looking to blogs that inspired me I’ve taken note of what blogs were winning what awards and thought to myself- that is the goal. You’ll know you’ve made it when you’re thereAnd I’m really thrilled and overwhelmed and humbled to say that I found out yesterday that I achieved one of those inspiration milestones. I’ve been nominated for the Saveur Magazine 2013 Best Food Blog Award in the “Best Regional Cuisine Blog” category. I’m up against four amazing blogs from all over the world and part of a cast of a few dozen fantastic finalists. I am so excited and proud and amazed I can’t even begin to express it.

Saveur looked at all the blogs nominated (and thanks to whomever nominated me, that was an exciting surprise!) and chose finalists based on their entire 2012 archive. What I’m saying is that I can only assume I made it this far because of that pan we lit on fire. A vote for me is a vote for cast iron. Voting goes until next Friday, April 19th, and can be done on Saveur’s website, saveur.com. You have to register to vote in order to prevent fraud (like that time I was in a recipe contest many years ago and my mom created a bunch of fake email addresses to vote for me), and can vote once in each category. It’s a huge honor to be a finalist and winning would be, well, unbelievable.

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