If you find yourself traveling in South Carolina,
stop to eat where the ''locals'' hang out, the Okra Grill in Mount
Pleasant, South Carolina. Mount
Pleasant is near Charleston, S.C.
Chef Linda Weiss eats there often and recently stopped by to lend a hand
in the kitchen and find out Chef Tony Page's secret. Gardeners will not be surprised at what she learned. She discovered that Chef Tony is an
advocate for freshly grown local produce (and even locally ground flour). Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie and two
tomato recipes are on the menu this week.
---Anne K Moore
September 11, 2009---
TONY PAGE, OKRA GRILL
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
by Chef Linda Weiss
Photographs by Robert Shober
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to cook for the
second time with Tony Page of Page's Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant, South
Carolina. It was quite a treat for me since I eat there quite often. I think it
means something when people keep going back to the same place because the food
is so good.
I wanted to know what made this food so much
better than at some of the other places. The answer was simple, as I discovered
while I wandered through the kitchen. Tony told me that he uses fresh local
produce. It was obvious that he's not only an advocate for what is locally
grown, but he also uses the best ingredients that he can find, whether it's
green beans or flour, as I would soon learn when I scooped in the flour bin to
make a caramel cake.
Locally grown does make a difference. For those of
us who don't have a garden large enough for everything we want to grow, we buy
local at the Farmers Market. Some of the farmers that I buy from have been
farming their entire lives. That's all they've ever done. And, their livelihood
has come from the produce grown on the family farm.
We have so much to look forward to in our fall
produce with sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and all the fall and winter greens like
cabbage, collards and turnips that I can hardly wait for it to get cool. So,
look for more greens recipes along with a pumpkin cheesecake, and easy sweet
potatoes coming up soon.
In the meantime, I'd love to share the sweet treat
recipe for Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie that Tony and I made on Sunday. We also
made tomato pie because we still have plenty of fresh tomatoes available here,
so the recipe for the savory pie is below as well. It has a secret that makes it the best, or at least my
family says it's the best. I've
also included a grape tomato recipe for you to try.
If you'd like the caramel cake recipe that we
used, please do let us know and I will gladly send it to you. It's the old-fashioned
yellow cake with cooked sugar icing. Tony told me that his restaurant patrons
liked it so much that he is to call one of them when we make it again!
Cream Cheese Pie
1 pre-made graham cracker pie shell
1 (8-ounce) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint or 2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Whipped cream garnish
Using a wire whisk on the mixer beat the
cream cheese with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, until creamy and
smooth. Pour into the graham cracker pie shell. Refrigerate until ready to add
the blueberries. In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of the blueberries, sugar and
cornstarch. Cook until blueberries are thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the
remaining blueberries and stir well. Set aside to cool. Pour the cooled
blueberry mixture on top of the cream cheese and refrigerate.
Use 1 cup cream and whip until thickened.
Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
Use 2-3 tablespoons whipped cream to top each serving of pie. Store in
Note: If you'd like a little zing, try some lemon
zest in the blueberries to taste.
I was on a mini-vacation in Portland, Maine. As
usual, I was wandering through a used book store looking around when I came
across a ''1955 Congressional Record Cookbook.'' I was so surprised to find tomato
pie in the book. It was a little different from the tomato pie that we make
today with ready-made piecrust, because the pie in 1955 had a biscuit crust,
and didn't have basil. All the recipes in the book were hand-written. I was
just fascinated by this book, so I bought it. What a treasure it is. I have
found so many recipes in the book that I thought were fairly new, but cooks
were making them before 1955!
1 pre-baked 9 inch pie crust
1-1/2 to 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon dried basil or 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 small to medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4-1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Blind bake the pie crust according to package
Peel tomatoes, slice into ½ -3/4 inch slices and
set aside to drain.
Place tomatoes in the pie shell in ONE layer (this
is the secret), top with chopped onion and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle
Mix cheese and mayonnaise and spread over the
onions to make a top crust from edge to edge of the piecrust. Bake at 350 degrees for
35-40 minutes. The pie will be bubbly in the center so make sure you cook it
long enough. Wait 20 minutes before serving.
*Small tomato pies can be made in tart pans using
the same method as above. These are great for tea parties.
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Favorite herbs such as thyme or basil
Melt butter in skillet until sizzling. Add grape
tomatoes. Saute until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs just
before removing from heat. Serve hot.
---Linda Weiss attended La Varenne at The
Greenbrier and Le Cordon Bleu of Paris' Catering School. She is a member of The
James Beard Foundation in New York and the Southern Foodways Alliance at Ole Miss.
Linda's first book, Memories
From Home, Cooking with Family & Friends
is available at www.Amazon.com
or at her website Linda currently is a freelance
magazine and newspaper writer, has been the Food Editor for three magazines, as
well as a cooking teacher and a frequent television cooking show guest. Visit her website: www.cheflindaweiss.com and her blog: www.lindaallaboutfood.blogspot.com ---