Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tis Not the Season

What happened to December?  I thought I had tons of time after Thanksgiving, but suddenly it's January.  Oh no!  Even if we don't really celebrate it, there was lots of baking to be done, gifts to be given and always, always chicken to be fried.

Speaking of that fried chicken I make every Wednesday, I actually had the chance to try some of it recently.  Henry's brother was in town  (on a Wednesday no less), so we decided to take him to Watershed for dinner.  Now, you should know that once I stagger home after frying it all day, I am pretty much worthless - not to mention that everything about me smells like fried chicken.  Going out on a Wednesday night is never on my agenda, but I made the sacrifice for Danny, came home, cleaned up and raced back to the restaurant to meet him there for dinner.  As soon as we were seated, we were informed that they were about to "86" the chicken.  In restaurant speak, that means it's gone, baby.

I jumped on it and ordered it immediately.  About time I tasted my own work, don't you think?  And if I do say so myself, it was fantastic.  Whew!  I have absolutely earned my title of "Chicken Bitch."  If you live in Atlanta, get yourself over there (early) on a Wednesday to see for yourself.  If you don't live in Atlanta, then it might just be worth the price of a plane ticket......

If you are not on a diet right now (like the rest of the world), are you planning a brunch anytime soon?  If so, I have just the ticket for you.  I made it recently (for a brunch) and it was a huge hit.  Even I liked it and that's saying something.  Unfortunately it calls for berries, which aren't exactly seasonal this week (unless you live in Chile), but what the hell.  Make it anyway.  Yeah, it's that good!

Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crumb  (adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson)

For the fruit:
1 pound berries (left whole if small, sliced if larger) to equal 6 cups, prepped
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brandy or pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together the berries with the sugar and the brandy or vanilla extract.  Set aside at room temperature.

For the topping:
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup diced candied ginger
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature

Combine the brown sugar, flour, salt and ginger in a small bowl.  Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using either your fingertips or a fork, until the mixture forms crumbs.  Place the topping in the freezer while you proceed with the recipe.

For the cake:
1 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs (I used extra-large)
2/3 cup whole milk

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, ginger and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter and using your fingertips, work it completely into the dry ingredients. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together and stir them into the dry ingredients until combined.  Do not overmix.  Spread the batter into a 9-inch square, buttered baking pan.

Distribute prepared berries on top of the batter then scatter the chilled topping over the berries. 

Place the pan in the center of the oven.  Bake until the berries bubble and the cake is firm, about 40 – 45 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes and serve warm from the oven.  Or, wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, the cover pan with foil and reheat for 15 – 20 minutes until warm.

Serves 8 - 10

*  According to Ms. Richardson, the original recipe harkens back to 1945 and was called a long cake because the frugal amount of fruit in it went a long way.  Speaking of the fruit, feel free to use whatever works for you.

*  The great thing about this recipe is that you don't need any equipment, like an electric mixer.  Just a little arm action (and you can call it part of your January workout).

*   It will look like too much for your 9-inch pan, but persevere anyway.  It works.  Just to be safe, however, bake it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  That way I won't feel guilty if it overflows and burns on the floor of your oven.

*   I love the earthy "peasant-ness" of this dish because of the cornmeal.  My friends loved it also and said that every bite tastes just a little bit different.  I think the ginger has something to do with that.

*  When it comes to cornmeal, I am a big fan of Nora Mills Granary, right here in Georgia.  You can order it from them online (along with their oatmeal and 10-grain cereal, which you should not miss).  Here is the link:

*  And just in case you are one of the two people on the planet who aren't on a diet right now, this is also a great dessert.  

Happy New Year to all of you.  May it be a year of peace, joy and good health for all of us.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I love you guys!


  1. Happy 2013 to you too! I'm looking forward to more delicious recipes from you, but I'll have to wait a month or two before I can indulge. I'm paying for my gluttony now...

  2. I always enjoy your blog, my friend. And we love you too. Happy New Year.

  3. Congratulations on your Watershed chicken being selected as the best dish of 2012!

  4. By the Atlanta Journal Constitution readers