The warmth and joy of dining is reassuring anytime but during this crisis when we endure isolation and clamor a return to normalcy, it takes on added importance. In that spirit, may these recipes add some thrill to mealtime.
Chef Pano Karatassos, Atlanta
A pioneer of Atlanta’s prominent dining scene, Pano I. Karatassos is executive chef of Kyma, one of the country’s top restaurants and author of Modern Greek Cooking, an acclaimed Greek-inspired cookbook. With more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality business, Karatassos’ decorated career has shaped him into celebrated talent in the culinary industry. His little Greek doughnuts work magic on the palate.
Loukoumades (Little Greek Doughnuts)
Yields four servings
These warm, fluffy, deep-fried balls come covered in Greek honey, chopped walnuts, and cinnamon and melt in the mouth. My father still talks about impatiently waiting for loukoumades as his mother popped them out of the simmering oil. The recipe is easy; if your doughnuts aren’t perfectly round the first time, they’ll still taste great, so keep practicing!
1 cup (250 ml) warm whole milk
½ cup (125 ml) warm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
cups (180 g) cake flour
1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
Three-ounce packets (20 g total) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup (30 g) shelled walnuts
Canola oil, for deep-frying
Greek honey, for drizzling (see notes)
Ground cinnamon, for dusting
- In a large bowl, combine the milk with the water and olive oil. In a medium bowl, whisk 1¼ cups (150 g) of the cake flour with the all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rise in a warm place until it triples in size, about 1½ hours.
- In a small dry skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Finely chop the walnuts.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches (5 cm) of canola oil to 350ºF (175°C). Gently press down the batter. Add the remaining ¼ cup (30 g) of cake flour and hand mix to incorporate.
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a small glass of water, dip a 1-tablespoon measure. Working in batches, drop the dough by the tablespoon into the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the prepared baking sheet as they’re cooked. Transfer the doughnuts to a large bowl, generously drizzle with honey, and turn to coat. Transfer to plates and dust with cinnamon. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and serve immediately.
NOTES. Go for excellent honey here; with so few ingredients (dough, honey, nuts, cinnamon), the quality of each makes a huge difference. Be careful not to overmix the batter. Skim the oil constantly when frying. Dipping the tablespoon in water each time helps the batter slide into the oil.
MAKE AHEAD. The batter can be prepared through Step 1, pressed down, and refrigerated overnight. WINE Sweet, aromatic Greek Muscat; eaude-vie from Thessaly; or aromatic Malvasia from Monemvasia, Paros, or Crete.
Chef Jim Noble, King’s Kitchen, Charlotte, North Carolina
The King’s Kitchen is a model of good citizenship, donating 100% of profits to feed the poor in the Charlotte region. It partners with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center and other local area ministries to provide job-training, life-skills training, social etiquette workshops, financial management guidance and employment intern opportunities to those in search of a new beginning.
Every penny of profit at The King’s Kitchen has a higher calling. Each bite of food features Chef Jim’s signature “New Local Southern Cuisine.” Enjoy one of his favorites:
Aunt Beaut’s Pan Fried Chicken.
1 whole chicken, cut into parts
3 cups buttermilk
Salt & pepper
¼ cup peanut oil
Soak chicken in salt water overnight. Rinse and pat dry.
Place a large cast-iron skillet filled with ¼ cup peanut oil over medium to medium-high heat.
Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk, and then dredge in seasoned flour. Shake off excess.
When oil is hot enough to be slightly smoking, gently lower chicken in, skin side down. Fry until golden brown, then turn. Repeat cooking process on other side. Reduce heat to medium-low, turn chicken back to skin side, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until chicken begins to plump. Remove cover, raise heat slightly, and crisp on both sides to golden brown, being careful not to burn.
Cold Cucumber Soup
Jon Herring, Atlanta
An exceptional cook, Mr. Herring, a retired accountant and über entrepreneur, credits Alene Rich of Burlington, NC. for this recipe, “a favorite of my dinner guests.”
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chicken stock, or more if you wish
3-4 tbs white vinegar
1 bunch green onions
Salt and pepper to taste
Peal, remove seeds of the cucumbers and rough chop them and put into a blender.
Roughly chop the white portion of the green onions. Add the sour cream and then blend. As the blender Is running, add the vinegar (start with 3 tbs) then ad the chicken stock to the thickness you wish.
Now, add the salt and pepper. Taste, you may want an extra tbs of vinegar. The secret is the vinegar.
I add a couple drops of Crystal hot sauce, but then I like a mild wake up. Let it settle and cool in the fridge. This is very refreshing and quite filling. Please enjoy!