The Twisted Soul Cookbook

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Dare I say that Chef Deborah VanTrece is my Rizzoli soul sister?!  Well heck, I am going to say it. I am so excited for the latest Rizzoli NY cookbook from a local Atlanta chef. This cookbook is not only a visual treat, but it is also an amazing collection of recipes that infuse Deborah’s vast travel culinary experiences and her Southern soul. Her restaurant, The Twisted House Cookhouse and Pours is a landmark in the community. I was excited to meet her in person at her cookbook photo-shoot in Atlanta last January. We share the same Rizzoli NY cookbook editor, which makes us sisters for sure, right? I was invited to meet her and appear in her cookbook while enjoying a meal. Needless to say, trying a multitude of her recipes all in one sitting was a treat.

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My 5 questions for Deborah:

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Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?

There’s no particular recipe I favor more than another in this book. Each recipe has a personal meaning to me.

Tell me a bit about the inspiration for the book, and the recipe.

This book is inspired by the great soul food cooks of the past and present. It expounds on old traditions by exploring new combinations of ingredients by interchanging cultures and techniques. It is intended to uplift the idea of “comfort food” across all cultures and showcase the impact of the humblest cuisines in our souls and our hearts. 

When did cooking become a passion and then a profession? Was this your path, or was it different? 

As far back as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by food and the fellowship around it.  Being an only child, sometimes I felt so alone.  It was always celebrations, that included food and drink, that erased my feelings of loneliness and created an atmosphere of joy that I wanted to last forever.  Because of this, I developed a passion for cooking, often sharing my creations with friends and family.  I became an international flight attendant, and the exposure to other cultures only increased my hunger for learning how to create new dishes. I finally enrolled in culinary school and my professional journey in the food world began.

How have you been able to pivot your restaurant during Covid?

My pivots with Covid are an entire book within itself. I have adjusted my business model several times to keep in line with safety protocols, as well as government mandates. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still standing, and for that, I am grateful.

Who most influenced you in your cooking?

My family has been most influential in my cooking. From my mother and father to my aunts, uncles and cousins, they have all helped in constructing my culinary foundation. Good food is a part of my history and recipes handed down through generations are so important to my story. These recipes showcase the existence of my ancestors and motivate me to continue the story by adding recipes of my own.

 

Thanks so much, Deborah! xx

 

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Valentine’s Day Sweet:: Chocolate Crepes

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Crepes are an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day treats because they can be made ahead of time. Fill them with chocolate mousse, and they’re even better. This recipe is from the archives, and I know you’ll love seeing it with fresh eyes. Make a batch on Friday and enjoy them all weekend long! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
You will need:

– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt

additional unsalted butter, for coating the pan

To Make ahead
Refrigerate the batter for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the crepe batter from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook the crepes.

To prepare
Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

Easy Chocolate Mousse
Yield: 8 servings
You will need:

– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn
Florals by Victory Blooms

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The pink drink:: the best Valentine’s Day cocktail

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Here’s the perfect pink drink recipe for Valentine’s Day. It’s such a gorgeous color! The balance of grapefruit to pomegranate juice makes for a lovely pairing. Enjoy this week celebrating Valentine’s Day. May today and the rest of the week be filled with love and pink drinks! xx

The Pink Drink
serves 8 (make a pitcher and enjoy it throughout the week!)

You will need:
– Ice
– 6 cups ruby red grapefruit juice
– 1 cup pomegranate juice
– 1 cup ice-cold vodka
– Fresh mint sprigs

To prepare:

Fill large pitcher halfway with ice. Add grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, vodka, and some fresh mint leaves. Stir to mix. Serve in chilled glasses. Garnish with mint sprig. Makes 8 servings.

Note: For a nonalcoholic version, omit grapefruit juice and vodka. Replace with 7 cups raspberry lemonade. Combine as directed.

From: Traditional Home

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Truffle Pasta

After Monday’s post all about truffles, I’ve been dreaming about this truffle pasta from the archives. It’s delicious and a great way to enjoy the flavors of truffles. You can sub zucchini for any other seasonal squash, or another veggie of your choice. Get creative with it, and let the truffles take center stage!

Truffle Pasta
serves 4

You will need:
– – Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound whole-wheat dried spaghettini
– 3/4 pound zucchini sliced into coins
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons minced garlic (NOTE: I always use a micro planer to grate the fresh garlic into the oil)
– 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
– 3 tablespoons truffle oil

To prepare:
Cut the zucchini into thin coins then put oil and grate fresh garlic into a skillet. Heat oil and garlic and add zucchini, saute on high heat until the zucchini is evenly browned. In the meantime, boil the pasta on high, until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the zucchini, and toss with cheese.
Pull off heat and put pasta into a bowl, finish with the truffle oil, salt and pepper. I also like adding truffle salt if you have it. Serve hot with a nice salad.

Serve and enjoy!

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Easy Brunch Cocktail

This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch, but it's also perfect for any party this season. It's great for a crowd too!

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am thrilled to be guest posting today to bring you a festive holiday cocktail: pear prosecco punch.

In my house, I always make a huge Christmas brunch to enjoy after opening presents. The feast starts with sausage balls & pigs-in-a-blanket (oldies but goodies) and coffee for breakfast while we all tear through gifts. Late morning, I pop everything in the oven, and we sit down to a huge brunch complete with berry French toast, quiche, fruit, and of course, a festive cocktail. There are only three of us every year, but we always manage to have a full-fledged feast. This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch.

One trick: freeze a bag of cranberries and keep them on hand in your freezer. Warm prosecco isn’t tasty. Frozen cranberries can be used in place of ice to keep your cocktails cold. They won’t water-down your beverage, and they’ll look festive, too!

Pear Prosecco Holiday Cocktail

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d love to hear what you think. Happy holidays!

xo, Nicole

Pear Prosecco Punch
serves 1

You will need:

– 2 oz Pear concentrate (I use Looza)
– 4 oz Prosecco
– Rosemary sprigs & frozen cranberries for garnish

To prepare:

Pour pear concentrate into a champagne or wine glass. Top with prosecco. Add a rosemary sprig and frozen cranberries for garnish.

photos by Nicole Letts

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