Author Archives: Alisia Parrott

The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

I have rotating love affairs with different pieces of kitchen equipment and utensils.  Sometimes my fling is because the sea glass green kitchen aid mixer looks so timeless and vintage it’s like she is asking me to come over to bake cup cakes with Lucille Ball.  Or perhaps it’s the immersion blender that magically turns a pot of boiling vegetables into a silken soup with out having to transfer hot liquid in small batches repeatedly.  I also think my piping bag is the bomb.  Cupcakes, Deviled Eggs, Herbed Cream Cheese Canapés- they all come out delicate and elegant from a piping bag.  And as we all know, everything taste better when it’s beautiful.

So despite my rotating favoritism in the kitchen there’s one item that holds the place in my heart like a best friend.  Your knife is the most personal possession you have in a professional kitchen.  It’s easy to wonder what type of knife is the best.  I have had many moments of admiration looking over displays of knives, the gleaming beauty promising a long life of garde manger (please do not ask about the battle spell check and I just had over this word, Siri was no phonetic help either!)  Telling you the best knife for you would be like telling you who should be your best friend.  Only you can know what is most comfortable in your hands.

Some folks swoon for the classic Chef’s knife.  Not me, too big for my dainty hands.  My unconditional love is saved for a medium size Santoku.   I love the scalloped blade.  I love the bull nose tip that can quickly scoop an avocado out of its skin.  I love that the word Santuko means three virtues.  And according to my research assistant, Wikipedia, “The word refers to the three cutting tasks which the knife performs well: slicing, dicing, and mincing. The Santoku’s blade and handle are designed to work in harmony by matching the blade’s width/weight to the weight of blade tang and handle, and the original Japanese Santoku is considered a well-balanced knife.”  Of course I would be drawn to the well balanced knife as a perfect reflection of myself- insert snarky laughter.  My sweet heart loves his cleaver.  This monstrous knife is what he uses as a morph between knife, grill tool, and meat tenderizer.  I think the only way he could love it more would be if tongs shot out of the handle.

So there is always the flip side to unconditional love.  In this case it’s I’m gonna use you everyday and then be frustrated when you aren’t as sharp as I need.  That’s my downfall, I’m terrible at sharpening knives and a sharp knife is your holy grail in the kitchen.  After my man and I had been living together for a while I exclaimed “I LOVE living with you, you always sharpen the knives!”.  To which he replied “And I love living with you because you do everything else.” Funny because its true!  So clearly, I should never hone my knife sharpening skills because a man should have a purpose.

Tea Party!

Sometimes you get what you wish for! I had been filled with lust for a tea party in the spring and I was invited to attend a galant affair of a tea party at the Biltmore Estate hosted by Dawn Starks financial group. My mother is one of her clients and as a show of appreciation she hosts an annual tea party with themes that have altered through out the past four years. This year ladies were invited to have tables to show case their talents, passions, and careers. There was an amazing array of skills from authors, jewelry makers, painters, and quilters. Others shared their passions of working with children in need, having created all female law firms, and spotlighting areas they had chosen to volunteer their time for local organizations.

Being at this event evoked so many different feelings through out the afternoon. First, I was excited to dress up in my frock. I wore strings of pearls, white gloves, vintage heels, and red lipstick. For a fleeting moment one could be fooled that I may in fact be a lady instead of the snarky dry witted chica that typically inhabits my body. To complete my ensemble I desired a hat from a past era complete with a bird cage veil. However, as genetics have dictated, my cranium is way too big to fit in most all hats ever made. My people are a large headed breed, in fact more then once my siblings and I have placed bets on who possesses the biggest bobble head. A bet settled by whipping out a tape measure to settle the matter, and the results are never remembered since the debate tends to only arise following the emptying of several wine bottles. Anywho- I instead crowned myself with a feathered headband. I still brought my hair flair even if it wasn’t a hat. Many ladies did however showcase some amazing hats. It’s so fun to admire the hats ranging from dainty formality that have been passed through generations to hats that had been concocted with whimsy. If I was able to take photos with out feeling like a crazy stalker I should have documented the delightful accessories.

So after getting to play dress up and get all girly and prissy, I discovered mid tea party how girly and prissy I am not. After getting to mingle over champagne, then sit down for tea, plates of tea sandwiches were set before usphoto (2).

Looking at my plate of dainty delicacies made me so happy. Here I was on this beautiful day, surrounded by strong vibrant women, celebrating in the most feminine fashion. After admiring the petite savory bites I couldn’t wait to taste them. They were so delish….chopped beets over a lemon aioli, spring pea hummus with prosciutto, egg salad with creme fraiche, black pepper goat cheese with glazed figs, and sweet cream and cucumber.

It was about this time that I realized it was fun to dress up for the moment and be a person I am normally not because I couldn’t imagine doing it for more then a moment. Eating with white gloves is really really hard. After the dessert course they became dotted in chocolate and had to be tossed in the bleach load of whites when I returned home. The second we sat down I had to kick my shoes off under the table because after having two babies my feet squeal at me when I try to rock the fashionable pointy toe high heel. I tried to focus on having polite poised posture but it was hard to pay attention when the points behind my ears were throbbing from where the head band felt to be clamped to my noggin.

I am thankful that while I got to participate in a style of gathering that is so historical and formal it has also evolved so much. I’m certain in generations past, tea parties weren’t centered around the incredible strength and diversity of the women hosting and attending them. It is an amazing community we live in where we support each other so much locally as well as being women supporting women.

And on that note, I cheers you with a tea cup being held with a gentle grasp and curled pinky…..and hope it’s holding tequila!

The Incredible Edible Egg

The Incredible Edible Egg…

I have been head over heels for eggs as long as I can remember.  I ate them as cheap meals in college, I lusted for their protein when pregnant with both my boys, and I marvel at their versatility. Currently, I have had a round of nostalgia for the deviled egg.  How could you not love them- even the name is sassy!  With deviled eggs the sky is the limit for flavor profiles.  I love them in all forms, Bacon & Blue Cheese, French Dijon, Truffled, Green Olive & Chive, Caviar Topped.  These little bites can be dressed up or down, like the “Little Black Dress” of hor d’oeuvres….the bite that can go from day to night!

Recently, I was enjoying a post work cocktail at King James when I was reminded of the cousin of the deviled egg; the pickled egg.  For many many years I thought pickled eggs were an example of food in the grossest form.  My only exposure being gallon jars filled with neon pink eggs that were sitting on gas station counters adorned in a film of dust.  Seriously, who ate these things?  Clearly, they were placed there for comedic decoration to illustrate how rural of an area you had stopped for gas.  Then it happened, I was with my dearest friend and she was Pickled eggPROUDLY offering to share her Granny’s special batch of pickled eggs with me.  Not only was I terrified of the taste but the anticipation of the smell when she opened the jar was almost enough to make me politely bow out and insist she not have to share the coveted eggs with me.  But wait, what did you say??? They are  in pickled beet juice?  Well, now you have just combined two of my favorite things, I love beets (especially pickled ones) almost as much as I love eggs.  It helped immensely that these eggs had arrived in a classic ball canning jar and were hardly reminiscent of the neon stunt doubles from the gas station.  After this introduction to pickled eggs, I had joined the cult following.  I still have not “enjoyed” one from a gas station, but when I found them at King James prepared in beet juice I was tickled pink.  I immediately had to take a photo to send to my old roommate as an ode to her Granny who has since passed.

When Easter rolled around (Granny’s egg pickling season) I had found myself craving them but with out the patience or time to allow a good pickling, so I decided to create an inside out pickled egg.  Hence, the pickled beet and horseradish deviled egg was born, such a pretty little thing.  And to offer a bit of color contrast I made a sibling of curried cucumber deviled eggs.  Maybe someday my grandkids will be scaring their roommates with fushia morsels in my honor!

Gourmet deviled eggs

The Arrival of Spring!

I am so excited about our Farmer’s Markets waking back up for the season.  The delicate Easter radishes, baby lettuces, and freshly cut ranunculus woo me in with their beauty.  I immediately have visions of tea parties with radish and salted butter tea sandwich.

Radishes

I admire all the little baby plants poking all their green shoots up asking to be taken home and put in a pot of dirt.  But this is when I must have an intervention with myself.  The skills I have in the kitchen ABSOLUTELY do not translate to the garden; my thumb is not green in the slightest.  When I fail to remember this about myself because I am lusting for green after a chilling winter I will get flats of flowers and herbs to plant. This is just the first step in the plant massacre to follow.  Apparently, plants don’t enjoy being seriously over crowded in pots to the point they must competitively kill each other.  Another thing that plants don’t thrive from is erratic watering- as in don’t wait for the dirt to become Sahara dry before you decide to unleash the gardening hose monsoon.

All this being said, my utter lack of gardening skill is what makes me so grateful for the farmers in our community.  It is a luxury to be able to walk the stalls of the market and collect the beautiful bounty of other’s efforts.  So I will forget gardening and instead love spring in all of its glory with the flowered trees raining petals in the breeze pronouncing the arrival of picnic season!

ranunculus