Southern Stories
Feb 21/13

On the Menu: Loveless Café Hosts at James Beard House Posted by: Christiana Roussel | 0 Comments

There’s no denying the influence of the South in the culinary evolution of this great nation. Folks far more erudite than this author have oft opined as to the wonders of encountering decent red-eye gravy north of the Mason-Dixon line. Rumors of actual grits being served in Philadelphia have indeed been confirmed. Made-from-scratch, light-as-air biscuits have been eaten as far away as Buffalo.

Even as the South exports techniques and indigenous ingredients, there is something to be said about Place, with a capital “P.” While Allan Benton may ship his unctuous meats to Brooklyn, and Sea Island peas find their way hither and yon, nothing can compare to enjoying those Southern staples in a place steeped in Southern charm and grace, places like Nashville’s The Loveless Café. But you know, we can always try.

And so it was that chefs of The Loveless Café recently hosted a special dinner at the venerable James Beard House in New York City’s West Village. Executive Chef Bart Pickens, Café Chef Daniel Dillingham, Senior Pitmaster George Harvell and Pastry Chef Alisa Huntsman plotted and planned for months what they would serve to their fine fans up north. After much deliberation—and several trials, including one in a to-scale version of the James Beard House kitchen—they came up with the following crowd-pleasing menu…
* denotes recipes to follow

Passed Appetizers
Pimento Cheese* Profiteroles with Bread & Butter Pickles*
Hickory-Smoked Trout on Potato Planks with Lemon Aioli, Mustard Seed Caviar & Micro Dill
Loveless Cafe Pulled Pork BBQ on Blue Corn Hoe Cakes with Sweet Sauce and Sour Slaw
Chow Chow Deviled Eggs
Iron Skillet Fried Green Tomatoes with Farmhouse Cheese

Yazoo Beer, Nashville, Tennessee
Fantinel Prosecco DOC
Charles & Charles Red Blend, 2010
Moonshine Cocktails*

5-Course Dinner
Loveless Cafe Biscuits and Homemade Preserves

Shrimp & Stone-Ground TN Cheese Grits
Braised Southern Greens, Sorghum Drizzle
Cielo Pinot Grigio, Delle Venezie IGT, 2011

“Blue Ribbon” Salad with Baby Bibb
Spiced Pecans, Crisp Vegetable Ribbons, Bleu Cheese, Peach Vinaigrette
Stock and Stien Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, 2011

George’s Watermelon Ribs
Squash Casserole, Fried Squash Blossom with Bonnie Blue Tennessee Goat Cheese
Black Dog Cellars Syrah, Sonoma, 2009

(Served Family Style) Grilled Pork Loin with Peach Preserves, Loveless Cafe’s Famous Fried Chicken,
Creamed Corn, Marinated Cucumbers & Onions, Fran’s Carrot Puddin’*
Duval – Leroy Brut Champagne

Chocolate Raspberry Short Stacks
Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream, Coffee

While nothing can compare to the sheer joy of experiencing those hot biscuits in a homey café adjacent to the Natchez Trace, I am sure this particular night was so well orchestrated that no one was left wanting for a thing…

Want to try recreating this evening at your house? Here are a few signature recipes to get you started.

The Loveless Cafe Recipes

Buttermilk Pimento Cheese
“Cafe Chef Daniel Dillingham adapted this from an original recipe from his wife’s great grandmother. The use of buttermilk rather than mayonnaise results in a lighter cheese and the addition of American cheese yields an exceptionally creamy texture.”—The Loveless Café

4 large red bell peppers
1 1-pound block sharp cheddar cheese
1 1-pound block American cheese
1 cup buttermilk

1) Char the red peppers over an open flame until the skin is evenly charred and blistered on all sides. Place them in an air-tight container for 2 hours before peeling off the outer charred skin and removing the seeds and veins from the inside. Once clean, chop the peppers into a fine dice and set aside.

2) Shred the cheddar cheese by hand (do not use pre-shredded cheese) and cut the American cheese into 1-inch cubes. Place cheeses in a food processor and quickly pulse 2-3 times before adding half of the buttermilk and quickly pulsing until just combined.

3) Transfer the cheese mixture to a mixing bowl, add the diced peppers and remaining buttermilk and blend by hand until fully combined using a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon. Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight. The finished product will keep for up to two weeks.

Babetta’s Bread and Butter Pickles
“Hailing from New Orleans, Chef Bart Pickens created these exceptionally simple pickles and named them for their inspiration, his mother Babetta. Unlike many other pickles, these maintain a delightful crunch that adds to any use.”—The Loveless Café

6 pounds cucumbers, sliced ¼-inch thick (do not use waxed cucumbers)
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup salt
water as needed
3 ½ cups sugar
5 ½ cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric

1) Place cucumbers and onions in a container, add salt and top with cold water until covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours before draining liquid (do not rinse).

2) In a large pot, add sugar, vinegar and spices and bring to a boil. Add the cucumbers and onions and stir well before removing from heat. Transfer to glass jars and refrigerate overnight before serving. Pickles will keep in refrigeration for up to one month.

“Country-politan” Moonshine Cocktail
Be warned: this Southern take on the classic “Cosmo” packs quite a punch!

2 cups cranberry-infused moonshine (see recipe below)
2 cups cranberry Juice
1 cup lemonade concentrate
½ cup Grand Marnier orange liqueur
juice of 1 fresh lemon

Ice and Lemon Peel Garnish
1) Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and blend well.
2) Shake over ice and serve with a garnish of lemon peel.

Cranberry-Infused Moonshine
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 750ml bottle moonshine

In a glass container, pour moonshine over the cranberries and let steep at least 24 hours, but no longer than one week, before straining.

Southern food and lifestyle writer Christiana Roussel lives in Birmingham, Alabama. When not enjoying the occasional biscuit festival or bourbon tasting, there are four chickens, three dogs, two children and one husband who keep her very busy.



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