Cooking with Chef Sian: Road Tripping and Southern Cooking
March 20, 2016
I recently had reason to take a round trip drive along the south and northeastern United States border. When it was all over my joints and my head were completely out of sorts and I couldn’t have been happier. Besides enjoying some good ole Southern cooking and Red Velvet cake while road tripping up and down the NE coast I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for my first genuine road trip. You see, I’m more of an airplane and Amtrak gal so for me this was quite the road trip. As it were, I needed a 2 day recovery and ½ pint of Ben & Jerry’s after midnight to finally sit down and gather enough thoughts to write these words.
Heading north was a quick uneventful journey with the obligatory fast food stops along the way. As we made our way through Georgia and the Carolinas I could almost hear my belly rumbling in anticipation of my return. I just knew I was going to take a long leisurely drive back south. I made a mental note to partake of a proper southern breakfast, lunch and dinner on my way back. Having spent most of my life up north, I was already familiar with the offerings in Baltimore and beyond so nothing piqued my interest. By the time I rolled into Harrisburg on Sunday morning I was more than ready to plop myself down at mommy’s kitchen table for breakfast. Nothing beats mommy’s home cooking.
On the way home, I tried to hold out for breakfast at a proper diner but Bojangles beckoned and I answered. Soft, warm, flaky, buttery goodness wrapped around a moist, perfectly seasoned chicken breast. If you have ever had one of Bojangles’ famous Chicken n’ Biscuits you understand why I couldn’t resist. If you haven’t tried one yet, you should. I’m making myself hungry just writing about it.
Around 2 PM that afternoon I found myself walking into the Olde House Café. A charming little old house turned café in Walterboro SC, the quaint café sits about 500 ft from I-95. Entering the café I stepped into a beautifully appointed gift shop that opens into the main dining hall and buffet area.
Instead of choosing from the varied menu selections, I settled on the $10 lunch buffet. I figured it was my best bet for sampling a diverse amount excellent southern cooking without breaking the bank or my belly. For my 10 bucks I enjoyed a plate loaded with freshly prepared southern staples like fried chicken, green beans, yams, meatloaf, ribs and more. I was definitely in the south. For just a second, I wondered how vulgar would it be to wait a while and go for a second helping? Proper home training allowed me to only grab a piece of rich creamy red velvet cake from the dessert station. I was cheating on my Lenten ‘sacrifices’ by eating cake but I reasoned it was for the sake of artistic integrity or something like that.
That legendary Southern hospitality was in full effect. The wait staff armed with smiles and pitchers of water and iced tea roamed the dining areas. After I finished eating I went to the restroom in back. When I emerged I was informed by the lady at the table behind me that a waitress had touched my cake to remove it. After being corrected the waitress had swapped out my half eat cake for a fresh slice. They both apologized for inconveniencing me.
That there was a tableful of centerfold worthy firemen across the dining room made my lunch all the more enjoyable. After such a hearty lunch I just couldn’t muster up an appetite for dinner so I made another mental notes to head south for dinner in Savannah or maybe Atlanta, one day soon.
Because I didn’t savor the cake as I should have I still have a craving for Red Velvet so what better recipe to share with you this week than my recipe for Red Velvet Cake
RED VELVET CAKE RECIPE
4 oz + 2 TB softened butter
¼ C cocoa powder
1 ½ C sugar (dark brown sugar is preferred)
2 tsp vanilla
2 TB red food coloring
2 ½ C cake flour
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 C evaporated milk
12 oz Cream Cheese frosting (optional.)
Preheat oven to 350° Use 2 TB butter to grease two 9” cake pans. Use 1 TB cocoa to dust cake pans. Set pans in the refrigerator. Using a mixer or whisk combine butter and sugar. Incorporate eggs and vanilla. Stop mixing batter and stir in remaining cocoa and food coloring. Slowly stir in flour and resume mixing. Slowly add remaining ingredients. Continue mixing until batter is smooth. Remove pans from refrigerator. Divide batter between the 2 pans. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes. Insert toothpick into the center of the cake to test for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean remove cake from oven. If cake sticks to toothpick return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes before testing. Cool cakes for 15 minutes before flipping. Cool for another 45 minutes before frosting.
To frost the cake. Remove cake 1 at a time from the pan. Place flat side up on a platter. Spread 1 C. frosting onto of the cake. Add second cake flat side down on top. Finish frosting and decorating.
Sian Rose is an award winning Chef who has appeared on the Food Network. Her first cookbook Nyammings: 88 Authentic Caribbean Recipes, can be found on Amazon.com in print and Kindle. Visit
Sian’s website at www.sianscooking.com and stay up to date with all her culinary adventures.