A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

1. Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake 2. Chocolate Chess Pie 3. Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits 4. Atlantic Beach Pie 5. Squash Casserole 6. Mom’s Prized Pineapple Pig Pickin’ Cake 7. Tar

Madison County Championship Rodeo

1. Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake 2. Chocolate Chess Pie 3. Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits 4. Atlantic Beach Pie 5. Squash Casserole 6. Mom’s Prized Pineapple Pig Pickin’ Cake 7. Tar

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

1. Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake 2. Chocolate Chess Pie 3. Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits 4. Atlantic Beach Pie 5. Squash Casserole 6. Mom’s Prized Pineapple Pig Pickin’ Cake 7. Tar

The 13 Best Recipes of 2019


Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 16 servings.

For the cake:
1 pound unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk, warm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate royal icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Butter, cream cheese, and eggs should be at room temperature. Cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cover with foil until completely cool.

For the chocolate royal icing: In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix lightly. In a separate bowl, mix egg whites, vanilla extract, and half of the cream. Add to the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, mix on low speed, and gradually add the remaining cream. Mix until the icing reaches the consistency of thick syrup. Turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is light and fluffy, like meringue.


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Chocolate Chess Pie
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 8 servings.

½ cup salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell (unbaked)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. In a bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and spread it evenly along the edges. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve with whipped cream (optional).


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Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits
Recipe by Steve Gordon

4 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup lard

Preheat oven to 500°. Lightly grease a baking pan or cast-iron skillet with lard or butter.

Fill a sifter with flour, about 4 cups. Sift flour into a large, wide bowl. Make a well in the center of flour with your hand. Add lard and buttermilk. Squish the lard and buttermilk together with your fingers until lard is in small clumps.

Place fingers straight down into the center of the bowl and start making small circular movements. Continue to stir, in small circles, while gradually working in flour from the sides of the bowl. You’ll work in most of the flour, but probably not all it.

Sprinkle some of the excess flour on top of the dough ball and fold the dough into itself a time or two. Knead the dough just a few times until it’s fairly smooth, then shape into a thick rectangle.

Clean any dough off of your hands before proceeding. Flour both hands prior to shaping and forming the biscuits.

Use your fingers and pinch off a section of dough that’s slightly larger than a golf ball. Roll this ball in the palms of your hands to smooth it out using slightly firm pressure at first and then lighter pressure as it becomes a bit sticky again. Try not to overwork the dough. Drop the ball back in the flour and coat lightly with flour. Roll the ball in the palm of your hand for another second or two and then flatten it like a hamburger patty.

Place the biscuit dough on your greased baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet. For softer biscuits, make sure sides are touch. For biscuits with crispier edges, space them out. Repeat the process until all the dough is used or your skillet is filled. Use the back of your fingers and gently press down on each biscuit. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Brush melted butter on top of each biscuit. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for a few minutes prior to serving.


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Atlantic Beach Pie
Recipe by Crooks Corner

Yield: 1 pie.

1½ sleeves of saltine crackers
⅓ to ½ cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup lemon or lime juice, or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350º. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.


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Squash Casserole
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 6 servings.

3 yellow squash
1 large yellow onion
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Using a cheese grater or food processor, grate the squash and onion into a mixing bowl. Stir in cheese, eggs, and melted butter.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add dry ingredients to squash mixture and lightly toss until incorporated.

Pour squash mixture into baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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Mom’s Prized Pineapple Pig Pickin’ Cake
Recipe by Mavis Brannon of Mooresville

Yield: 1 cake.

For the cake:
1 box butter golden cake mix
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, chopped into smaller pieces (Do not drain)
4 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil

For the frosting:
1 (16-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
2 (8-ounce) containers whipped topping, thawed

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans with vegetable shortening.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, and mandarin oranges with their juice.

Divide batter between pans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Turn the cake out of the pan and place onto a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, stir together the drained pineapple and pudding mix. Once combined, fold whipped topping into pineapple mixture.

Frost each layer and sides of the cake. Serve soon or loosely cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.


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My Perfect Tar Heel Pound Cake
Recipe by James Villas

Yields: 10 to 15 servings.

Crisco shortening for greasing pan, plus ½ cup, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 3 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Generously grease a 10-inch tube pan with shortening, add the 2 tablespoons of flour, turn the pan to coat evenly with flour, tap off the excess, and set aside. (Or spray the insides of the pan generously with a cooking spray.) In a bowl, combine the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until thoroughly blended; and set aside. Pour the milk into a large glass or small bowl, add the 3 extracts, stir till well blended, and set aside.

In a standing mixer, combine the butter, remaining shortening, and sugar, and cream the mixture at medium-low speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating about 15 seconds before adding another, and scrape sides of the bowl (do not overbeat).

In batches, alternately add the flour and milk and beat just till the batter is smooth and silky. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and firmly tap the pan on a counter to allow batter to settle evenly.

Bake in the center of the oven 1 hour and 15 minutes, never opening the oven door.

Carefully transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool in the pan about 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely before slicing. Store the cake in a tightly covered cake plate up to 5 days (never in the refrigerator).


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Carolina Okra Beignets
Recipe by Community Cookbook Series

1 pound small, firm, fresh okra
2 medium onions, minced
½ small green bell pepper, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon half-and-half
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Vegetable shortening for deep-frying

Rinse okra, remove stems, and thinly slice pods. In a bowl, combine okra, onions, and bell pepper, and toss until combined.

Add flour, bread crumbs, and ½ teaspoon salt, and toss again.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, half-and-half, and Tabasco. Pour over the okra mixture, stir until all ingredients are incorporated, and let stand for about 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of shortening to 375° on a deep-fat thermometer, drop okra mixture by tablespoons into hot oil. Fry until golden brown and crisp on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and serve piping hot.


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Moravian Chicken Pie
Recipe is from the North Carolina Elks: Our Favorite Recipes cookbook

Yield: 6 servings.

1 (3-pound) chicken
2 whole chicken breasts (or 4 halves)
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cube or package of chicken bouillon seasoning
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
1 (2-crust) box refrigerated piecrusts, divided

Preheat oven to 450º.

Place chicken in stockpot, and cover with water. Add onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic salt, and bouillon cube. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high, and continue to cook for at least 1 hour.

The chicken is done if meat falls from the bone when lifted with fork. Remove chicken from pot, and cool.

Strain broth, save it, and do not remove fat. Discard vegetables.

When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bone, and discard. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.

Place one pastry round in a 9-inch pie pan. Put chicken into pan, and pour broth over pieces to almost cover. Include floating fat.

Cut up 2 tablespoons butter, and dot over chicken. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with flour.

Place the second crust on top, and seal the edges. Cut slits in top crust.

Skim off 1 tablespoon fat from remaining broth, and spread over the top. Dot crust with 1 tablespoon butter.

Bake at 450º for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375º, and continue baking for 1 hour. Tip: If the crust begins to brown too quickly, cover it gently with aluminum foil.

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Shrimp & Cheese Grits Casserole
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 4 servings.

4 cups chicken broth
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
½ cup half-and-half
¼ cup cooking sherry
1 cup sharp cheese, shredded
1 cup Gouda, shredded
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 green onions, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound medium fresh shrimp, peeled, tails left on
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, combine broth and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to a rolling boil; stir in grits. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and grits are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in half-and-half, sherry, and cheese; remove from heat. Gradually whisk in eggs until smooth.

In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, red bell pepper, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add grits mixture to onion mixture; stir to combine. Bake until set, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, paprika, and nutmeg. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until pink and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon shrimp and 1 tablespoon melted butter over grits. Garnish with green onion and serve immediately.

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School Days Peanut Butter Cake
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 24 servings.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
(do not use natural)
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature,
slightly beaten
½ cup buttermilk, at room

For the frosting:
1 stick salted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a saucepan, add water and butter; heat on medium and bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and oil until well blended. Mix in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla until blended.

Pour batter into flour mixture. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Batter will be loose. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly to all corners. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven.

To make the frosting, bring butter, peanut butter, and buttermilk to a rapid boil. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in vanilla and powdered sugar. While the frosting is still hot, spread over the warm cake. Let cake cool completely and cut into bars.

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Eastern Carolina Fish Stew
Recipe by Vivian Howard

Yield: 12 servings.

1 pound sliced smoked bacon
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 pounds white or red potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled, halved, and cut into ¼-inch slices
6 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)
3 pounds fish steaks, about 3 ounces each, with bones intact (red drum, rockfish, or sheepshead are good options)
1 fish head, rinsed well (optional)
2½ tablespoons salt
1½ teaspoons chili flakes
1 dozen eggs
1 loaf white bread

Cut the bacon slices into 1-inch squares. Brown it in the bottom of an 8- to 10-quart Dutch oven or cast-iron pot. Once it’s crisp, remove it and reserve. Whisk the tomato paste into the bacon fat, making sure you scrape up all the bits left from browning the bacon.

With the heat off, begin layering the ingredients. Keep in mind you want to end up with three layers. Start with a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of onions and of garlic, if using, followed by a layer of fish. Top the fish with a third of the salt and a third of the chili flakes. Repeat with two more layers. Fill the pot with enough water to just barely reach the top of the fish. If there’s a little fish peeking out over the top, that’s ok — better than if it’s swimming in water. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring it to a boil slowly over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it cook at a high simmer for about 15 minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness. They should be barely tender, not falling apart.

Taste the broth and add more salt if needed. Then, with the stew at a good simmer, add the eggs one by one in a single layer over the top of the stew. I like to crack the eggs into a small cup before I drop them in. What you’re trying to do is cook whole eggs in the broth. Once the eggs are cooked through, use a large ladle to portion the stew. A proper serving is at least one piece of fish, two potatoes, some onions, and an egg swimming in broth. Shower each bowl with some bacon and set it up with a slice or two of white bread.


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Summer Squash Fritters
Recipe by Lynn Wells

Yield: 12 fritters.

4 yellow squash
1 small sweet onion
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon canola oil
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
Canola oil, for frying

Using a cheese grater, grate the squash and onion into a mixing bowl. Add the cheese, eggs, oil, cayenne pepper, and salt. Mix until well blended. Add flour and cornmeal. Blend ingredients together, taking care not to overmix.

Heat oil in skillet until it reaches 350°. Drop spoonfuls of the squash mixture into the hot oil. Fry fritters for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, using a spatula to turn. Remove fritters from skillet and place on paper towels. Add salt to taste.


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This story was published on Dec 19, 2019