Tag Archives: top chef

Cookbook 4: A New Turn in the South

By now you all know I live in the south, I’m a transplant like the author of A New Turn in the South, Hugh Acheson. I had the pleasure of styling a feature for him in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine last year in the September Stylemaker issue. Hugh’s from Canada but has adopted the southern lifestyle as his own. In his first cookbook he shows you how he embraces and enhances southern style food. I have to mention that Rinne Allen did all the photography, I have known the talented Rinne for many years, in fact she shot my first entertaining cookbook prototype many many years ago, and we still hope to shoot that book someday. I digress. This book is wonderful, check it out, it’s become one of my go tos and one of the mainstays of my collection.

Hugh owns 3 of my favorite restaurants, Empire State South, here in Atlanta, and 5&10 and The National in Athens, Georgia. He is also a regular {my favorite} uni-browed Judge on Top Chef, check out his blog here. You’ll love this stuffed date recipe. This snackie takes the richness of the dates and counters it with the sharpness of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the crunch of celery. It’s a great match as the sweetness finds a nice savory foil to dance with.

Medjool Dates Stuffed With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Celery

Hands on: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes

Serves 4


  • 8 medjool dates, slit lengthwise and pitted
  • 1 stalk celery, peeled and cut on the bias 1/4-inch thick and 1-inch long
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2-ounce piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar


  • In a small bowl, combine the celery, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and salt. Toss well and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Grab about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the stuffing between your thumb and forefinger and place a date in your other hand, with the open area facing out. Place the stuffing in the date and gently close your hand around the date to secure the filling.

    To serve: Place the stuffed dates on a small platter and drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar and the remaining olive oil.

    Buy this book here

    Photos by Rinne Allen

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