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Tips from the pros

TECHNIQUES, TRICKS AND RECIPES FROM TOP LOWCOUNTRY CHEFS AND COOKS.


You don’t have to go to culinary school to become a better cook. We asked several of our favorite chefs and cooks from local restaurants and clubs to share cooking tips and advice for making the most of meals this holiday season and beyond. Learn where to find the best ingredients, how to use the right tools for the job and how to prepare restaurant-quality meals with easy-to-follow recipes. Food is essential to life; therefore, make it good.


©LISA STAFF

POSEIDON 

Cioppino

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6-8)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 sliced shallots
2 sliced garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme stems
1/4 cup diced fennel
 1/4 diced red pepper 1
/2 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon salt & pepper mix
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 gram saffron
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
2 8-ounce cans clam juice
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chiffonade of basil
24 large shrimp, peeled & deveined
24 littleneck clams
24 PEI Mussels
1 1/2 pounds local fish of your liking (cubed)

DIRECTIONS [1] In a container, combine crushed tomatoes and clam juice. Set aside. [2] In a small saucepan, combine wine and saffron, bring to a simmer, turn off heat, let stand to bloom the saffron. Set aside. [3] In large stockpot, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, fennel, and salt and pepper mix. Cook over medium heat, sweating the vegetables until almost tender. [4] Add celery to mix. Continue cooking until tender (approx. 5 minutes). [5] Add red peppers. Cook until tender. Add wine/saffron mixture; cook until reduced by half. Add clam juice and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add seafood and cook until shellfish pop open. Turn off heat and serve.


CHRIS CARGE 
CULINARY DIRECTOR, SERG GROUP

COOKING TIPS
I like to have a lot of different vinegars in my pantry as they are so versatile. They can be sweet, savory, malty, buttery, sharp, some aged in wooden barrels for a smoky finish. At my house we play with vinaigrettes all the time adding chili peppers, fresh herbs from our garden. I think vinegars brighten and elevate food. Three things a dish should have — fat, acid and salt. A lot of people overcook fish, so all the moisture’s gone from the fish. If you’re looking for that juicy, nice piece of fish, you want a little pink in the middle, that’s perfect. The time depends on your fish and how it’s been cut. For mahi-mahi, depending on the size of the fish, maybe 2-3 minutes on each side. And then right at the end do a little dollop of butter in there, baste it and serve it.

FAVORITE FARMS
We use Whippoorwill Farms (Ridgeland). Marissa Paykos has beautiful chanterelles, sunburst tomatoes and other fresh vegetables. We use Larry Tuten of Tuten Farms (Hampton County) for kale, pecans, squash, potatoes, blackberries and patty pans. Adams Farm (Savannah) supplies us with potatoes, Johnny long beans, corn, spinach and lettuce. B-Bob (Hilton Head) gets us the best tomatoes around from the market. Charles Russo takes care of all our fish and shrimp needs out in Bluffton.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
Every day is different — ingredients, seasons change, protein availability is different day to day. The art and process of creating dishes and menus is always challenging in a good way. The best is when a customer smiles about something we created and truly understands the process and the integrity of the dish.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOL
Hands down, the KitchenAid mixer. It has saved us a lot of time in many situations. If you have one, you know. If you don’t, you should definitely invest in one! Cuts prep time in half such as mixing, chopping, doughs, pastas, ice cream … the list goes on!


©LISA STAFF

SCOTT HASTINGS

CHEF/OWNER, LULU KITCHEN
COOKING TIPS
First is always have a sharp knife. The most dangerous knife is a dull knife. Also when skimming soups or stocks, pull the pot to one side of the burner .. this will push all the impurities to the other side.

FAVORITE FARMS
Of course, we love Dempsey Farms in Frogmore — strawberries, tomatoes and beautiful squash. We also use local fish mongers such as Russo Seafood in Bluffton. He always has a fresh selection of locally caught fish and oysters.

BACK-OF-THE-HOUSE STORY
Well, they are just like Las Vegas … what happens there stays there…LOL. I can tell you that my journey has brought me to meet many wonderful, famous and rockstar types. My very first job we had (in his prime) Billy Squire come in and the owner had no idea who he was. What I remember about him is how short he was.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
For me it’s the ability to be creative. To see a new dish flourish and make someone happy. Food in Lulu is more then just filling the hunger void, its about transforming food.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOLS
Two tools I can’t live without: First, that sharp knife I spoke about and a close second would be my chinois — a conical sieve with extremely fine mesh. It takes purée and sauces to another level of smooth.

BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
I have worked for and with many quality chefs throughout my career and have been given much advice … but the best piece came from my wife to finish my cookbook/bio which should be in stores by late spring 2022.


TREY PLACE 
CHEF, MICHAEL ANTHONY’S CUCINA ITALIANA

COOKING TIP
Always use unsalted butter so you can control the salt content. I also prefer European butter because it contains more butterfat, which makes for a richer, creamier product.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOLS
Knives are the backbone for any chef, and each has a different use. No matter how expensive your knives are, the most important thing is to keep your knives sharp. A dull knife requires more pressure, making it more likely to slip and cause an accident.

MICHAEL ANTHONY’S CUCINA ITALIANA
Creamy White Bean and Sausage Soup

INGREDIENTS (beans)
1 pound cannellini beans
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and small dice
1 carrot, peeled and small dice
1 celery stalk, small dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chicken stock, as needed
DIRECTIONS [1] To prepare the beans, soak them overnight or at least 8 hours covered in cold water. [2] In a large sauce pot, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves, and saute until vegetables are tender. [3] Strain the beans from their overnight soak and add to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. [4] Cover the beans with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are soft and tender.

INGREDIENTS (soup)
4 cups cannellini beans, cooked
4 cups cannellini beans, pureed in a blender or food processor Vegetable or chicken stock as needed (about 2-3 cups)
2 pounds Italian sausage, cooked and ground
2 cups blanched spinach, chopped
1 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated
1 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS [1] Add the cannellini beans and the pureed cannellini beans to the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. [2] Add the cooked and crumbled sausage, the blanched spinach, salt and pepper. [3] Simmer for about 20 minutes. Before serving, stir in the Parmigiano and parsley.


NICOLE GARDNER 
FOUNDER & CEO, THE G-FREE SPOT

COOKING TIP
Set out all of your ingredients before you get started and don’t be afraid to add, delete or substitute items you may like or have in your kitchen.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
Cooking is relaxing and a creative outlet that yields yummy results.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOLS
My knife and my large saute pan. They’re useful in so many practical ways and are the staple in every meal we make.

BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
Be creative! Cooking is my art. Baking is my science.
THE G-FREE SPOT 
Breakfast Bake

INGREDIENTS (9 servings)
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk (or heavy cream or half and half)
1/2 cup spinach (frozen, thawed and drained or fresh)
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup bread pieces, cubed
DIRECTIONS [1] On stovetop, cook bacon and spinach in a small pat of butter together until soft. [2] Scramble eggs and milk. Add bacon and spinach mixture, cheese, and bread to eggs and mix gently until bread is moist. [3] Line an 8-by-8 pan with parchment paper and fill with mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. [4] Cool slightly, cut and serve.

Pro tip: This is a perfect make-ahead option for an easy morning breakfast. Simply refrigerate up to two days, reheat in the microwave and serve.


NOT TOO CRABBY

Alexander’s crab soup is perfect for the cooler weather. As a note, this recipe has been converted from a large batch recipe, so not all of the base may be necessary in accordance with the 2 quarts of milk.

ALEXANDER’S 
Lowcountry Crab Soup

INGREDIENTS
1 cup carrot, large dice
1 cup celery, medium dice
1 cup yellow onion, medium dice
1 pound crab base
2 tablespoons clam base
1/4 pound unsalted butter, cubed
1 quart sherry
1 tablespoon Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme blackening seasoning
2 cups all purpose flour
2 quarts heavy cream
2 quarts whole milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS [1] In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, add butter. Once melted, add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook until carrots are cooked through. [2] Stir in the base, Paul Prudhomme, hot sauce, sherry, and lemon juice. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. [3] With stick blender, process the mixture until well incorporated, leaving tiny bits of carrot. Next, whisk in flour until well incorporated. Set aside. [4] In a large sauce pot, add heavy cream and whole milk. Over medium-high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. [5] Once dairy has come to a boil, quickly remove from heat and whisk in the crab soup “base”. [6] Return to stove on low heat and whisk frequently to prevent burning. Once soup has thickened, season to taste with salt, pepper, sherry, and lemon.


LENNY GIARRATANO 
EXECUTIVE CHEF, MOSS CREEK

COOKING TIP
Let large proteins rest after cooking. Legitimate rest makes a difference. People often brag about their 18-pound turkey or large holiday rib roast, but then they proceed to carve it just moments after it leaves the oven. I recommend resting large rib roasts or turkeys as long as one full hour before carving. Kept away from drafts or cool air; they will still be plenty hot inside.
FAVORITE FARMS
Small traditional farming and indoor “micro” growing has really taken off over the last few years, which is great. Rather than name-drop a trendy new farm, however, I’d prefer to salute a very quiet and humble Bluffton legend, Howell “Jiggs” Goethe. Mr. Goethe is 93 and still lives on the Bluffton property where he was born. He taught this “darn-Yankee” how to farm in the South and educated me on truly local preferences, such as using red field peas in Hoppin’ John instead of the ubiquitous black-eyed pea.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
The ability to gather groups of people, sometimes large groups, to enjoy nothing more than the experience of the meal and each other’s company. This is what makes professional chefs and home cooks alike wake up early and peel potatoes with a smile.
FAVORITE COOKING TOOL
A Weber kettle charcoal grill. I can do almost anything on one of those. Grill, of course, but also true low n’ slow barbecue, “air-fried” crispy wings, and reverse-sear technique for larger cuts. I stand by my assertion that reverse sear is better than sous vide for steaks.
BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
Leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need.

MOSS CREEK 
Reverse-seared tomahawk ribeye with caramelized shallot-vermouth butter and “one stir” cast iron sweet potatoes

INGREDIENTS (potatoes)

4-5 each medium sweet potatoes cut into 1/8ths
4 tablespoons pure (not virgin) olive oil
4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 medium onion, julienned
Large seasoned cast iron skillet and convection/fan oven preferred
DIRECTIONS [1] Pre-heat convection oven to 350 degrees with iron skillet in the oven, empty. [2] Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl to evenly distribute seasoning. [3] Promptly add potato mixture to the hot skillet and spread out evenly. [4] Bake 25 minutes. [5] Stir well using a metal spatula. [6] Bake 25 more minutes, and serve hot.

INGREDIENTS (shallot butter)
1/2 pound unsalted butter
3-4 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons dry vermouth
DIRECTIONS [1] Rest butter for three hours to room temperature. [2] Caramelize shallots in a small non-stick pan, set aside to cool. [3] Place all ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and whip until fluffy and light. Set aside until needed.

INGREDIENTS (ribeye)
Bone-in tomahawk ribeye, 2-2 1/2 pounds
Enough coarse kosher salt and coarse black pepper to liberally coat the steak
Any two-zone grill (gas grills can be used, but the flavor achieved by using charcoal and hardwood are unparalleled)

RECOMMENDED
A bluetooth thermometer with at least two stations.
Charcoal starter chimney, charcoal and natural charcoal starters (no fluid).
A chuck or two of hardwood of your choice. I generally use hickory or oak for beef.

DIRECTIONS [1] Bring steak out to room temperature two hours before cooking. [2] Place about 10-12 briquettes in the starter chimney and light until just about ashed-over, 10-15 minutes. [3] Bank hot coals on one side of grill with wood touching the hot coals to produce smoke. [4] Close grill and adjust airflow until temperature settles between 250-300 degrees. [5] Liberally season steak with salt and pepper and then place steak(s) on opposite side of grill from the coals and cook indirect until it reaches an internal temperature of about 100 degrees. This could take 30-45 minutes. [6] Light another 3/4 chimney of coals and add to the bank. By the time they are lit, about 15 minutes, the steak should be approaching 115 degrees. [7] Move steak(s) over direct heat to sear, about two to three minutes on each side. [8] Remove from grill and immediately smear with shallot butter. [9] Rest 10 minutes and then add another dollop of butter on top of steak to slowly melt down for the remainder of the rest period, about 20 more minutes. Slice and serve!


JOSH CASTILLO 
EXECUTIVE CHEF, CHARLIE’S L’ETOILE VERTE

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
The thrill of not knowing what I might be inspired to create that may leave a lasting impression on our guests.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOL
French Mandolin is one of the most versatile and dangerous tools in a kitchen. You can cut the thinnest peach or potato (or most any vegetable) for different plate preparedness. Just be careful with your hands!

BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
Today’s preparation is tomorrow’s performance. No matter how good your dish is, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it.

SAUTEED TO PERFECTION
Charlie’s flounder dish is swimmingly delicious. It’s best served with potatoes au gratin and some fresh vegetables.

CHARLIE’S L’ETOILE VERTE 
Flounder Satueed Meuniere
INGREDIENTS
4 filets flounder
2 cups flour
4 eggs
1/4 cup blended olive oil
1/2 stick butter
1 cup white wine
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS [1] In a rectangular plastic container, lightly flour filets by gently pressing them to the flour. Make sure that both sides of the flounder are covered, and then shake off any excess. [2] In another container, whip the eggs slightly. Then, dip the floured filets in the egg. [3] Warm the oil in a large saute pan. When the oil begins to pop, carefully place filets of flounder in the pan. [4] After both sides of filets have become golden brown, pour off any excess oil left in the pan. [5] Return pan to heat. Add butter, lemon, and white wine. Let simmer for a couple minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly in bottom of pan. [6] Serve immediately with your favorite sides.


EAT MORE CHICKEN
If you’re into chicken thighs, consider this French favorite from the good folks at Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte. Coq au vin might sound fancy, but it is really just a simple, great-tasting chicken dish that anyone can master.

CHARLIE’S L’ETOILE VERTE 
Chicken Coq au vin

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 ounces pancetta, small dice
2 large carrots
1/2 bunch celery, large batons
1 medium onion, diced
6 chicken thighs
1/4 ounce thyme sprigs
10 large mushrooms, halved
2 cups red wine
4 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch (mix with water)
3 tablespoons water
DIRECTIONS [1] Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start with a Dutch oven over medium heat with extra virgin olive oil. Cook pancetta until golden brown, 8-12 minutes. [2] Once the pancetta is cooked, pull out of the pot and set aside. [3] Now salt and pepper the chicken thighs and start to sear them, skin side down. Cook for 5-8 minutes on each side. Set chicken to the side. [4] Take out 1/3 of the oil in the pot and add vegetables along with herbs. Sauté until vegetables start to brown and tenderize about 6-10 minutes. [5] Add wine and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2 minutes then add chicken stock and chicken. Bring to a boil and cover the pot, place in oven 45-60 minutes. [6] Using tongs, remove chicken from the pot. Place pot back on stove and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. [7] Add cornstarch slurry and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. [8] Add chicken back to pot to warm. Serve.


PASCAL VIGNAU 
CULINARY SERVICES DIRECTOR, VINEYARD BLUFFTON

COOKING TIPS
A good cast-iron pan is always best. Low maintenance and easy to clean. Do not boil vegetables. Roasting them results in the best flavor. Cut root or hard vegetables the same size, and soften using olive oil at medium-high heat.

FAVORITE FARMS
The Farmers Market of Bluffton has the best.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
Changing direction, making challenging menus and discovering new ways to create a dish. Cooking is never boring.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOL
A 12-inch French knife with a great balance. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. It’s all about the operator.

BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
We all have good and bad days. Stay dedicated.

HOORAY FOR FLAMBE
Chef Vignau whips up a mean flambé. Try your take on his recipe with bacon, onion, sour cream and more.

VINEYARD BLUFFTON
Tarte Flambe

INGREDIENTS
1 5-ounce ball prepared pizza dough
5 ounces thick-cut smokey bacon, cut 1 inch wide
1/2 medium red onion, cut pole to pole and sliced the same way
2 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces sour cream
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS [1] In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, place bacon and cook to almost crisp. Remove onto paper towel to dry. [2] Add onion to the skillet with bacon fat and cook until soft. Remove with bacon and discard remaining fat. Dry the skillet with paper towel, leaving a nice coating of bacon fat. [3] Preheat oven to 450 degrees. [4] Mix the cream cheese and sour cream. Add the nutmeg and pepper. [5] Roll dough very thin and place in cast iron skillet. Roll to edge if necessary. [6] Spread mixture with bottom of a spoon to make sure the dough doesn’t tear. [7] Sprinkle the bacon and onion and place in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. If not crisp enough, turn the oven to broil and finish to desired doneness. Remove and serve.


FARRO-OUT, MAN!
Chef Nunzio Patruno from Nunzio Restaurant + Bar shares his grilled octopus recipe that’s got some Spanish flare to it.
NUNZIO RESTAURANT + BAR
Grilled Spanish Octopus and Farro & Baby Arugula

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)
1 medium octopus, 4-5 pounds
1 cup farro grain
1 pound baby arugula
Juice of two lemons
3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
1 dozen black olives, pitted
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat or Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup plum tomatoes, diced
DIRECTIONS [1] Cook octopus in boiling water for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Remove octopus from the pot and place on cutting board. Slice the tentacles diagonally and set aside. [2] Cook the farro grain in salted boiling water for one hour at medium heat. Once grain splits, strain and saute the farro in olive oil with scallions. Set aside. [3] To prepare octopus, season the tentacles with olive oil and grill on both sides until charred. Remove and place into a mixing bowl. [4] Add lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, black olives, capers, tomatoes, and parsley. Toss together and set aside. [5] Plate the dish by placing the farro on plate first, followed by the baby arugula and octopus on top. Finally, drizzle the dish with remaining juices and serve.


ESPRESSO YOURSELF
These caffeine-filled brownies from Odd Birds Cafe will have you coming back for seconds.
ODD BIRDS CAFE 
Odd Bird’s Blackout Brownie

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 sticks butter
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup milk chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup black cocoa powder or any Dutch process cocoa, sifted
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder
6 eggs, cold
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
DIRECTIONS [1] Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the sides. [2] Melt chocolate, butter, and oil together in medium saucepan or double boiler over medium-low heat. Once combined, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly. [3] Whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside. [4] In a mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugars together on high until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. [5] On low, pour in chocolate mixture. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just combined. [6] Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool in pan. Slice and enjoy!


MICHAEL AND FREDERIKA LIENE FEKETÉ
OWNERS, JAVA BURRITO

COOKING TIP
Clean as you go.

FAVORITE FARM
Keegan-Filion Farm (Colleton County). A local family who is using the same agricultural methods their family has always used in raising their livestock in open fields with fresh grasses.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT COOKING?
The smiles on people’s faces when they taste our creations made with the freshest ingredients.

FAVORITE COOKING TOOL
Super-sharp knife. Definitely.

BEST PIECE OF COOKING ADVICE YOU’VE GOTTEN?
Proper food preparation.

JAVA BURRITO 
Pico De Gallo

INGREDIENTS

Fresh tomatoes
Sprinkle of cilantro
Onions, freshly chopped
Jalapeños, to taste
Lime juice
Pinch of sea salt
DIRECTIONS Mix all ingredients and enjoy. Eat with pita bread, add to burritos, top nachos, add to quesadillas — there is no limit to the many ways you can use it to add flavor to meals.