Irish Boxty

Boxty is basically potato pancakes. It is a traditional Irish potato dish which is quite easy to make. The name comes from the Gaelic “Bacstai”. An old Irish poem says:

Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man.

Boxty is an excellent way to use left-over mashed potatoes. Basically it consists of equal parts of raw potato, mashed potato and flour:

1 cup grated raw potato
1 cup mashed potato
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

Grate raw potatoes and mix with the cooked mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper and flour. Beat egg and add to mixture with just enough milk to make a batter that will drop from a spoon.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook over a moderate heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve with a tart apple sauce.

If you’re feeling very Irish, serve with fried bacon, fried sausage, fried eggs, fried black pudding, fried bread, and fried soda bread.

Culinary Fun Fact: Truth or False Salt is optional in most recipes—you can just leave it out.

Even the small amount of salt included in most baking recipes makes an enormous difference. Salt-free cakes are overly sweet but also bland, they called it mild, flat, or dull, you can barely detect any vanilla flavor. Cakes that include salt are also sweet, but the flavors of butter and vanilla were much more balanced and pronounced.

Salt doesn’t just enhance flavors in foods; it also helps mask less agreeable tastes like bitterness. By suppressing bitterness, salt allows more desirable flavors—including sweetness and spices—to come through.

In bread baking, salt controls the activity of yeast, strengthens gluten, and accents the bread’s flavor; it should never be omitted. Adding even a small amount of salt to an egg dish keeps the proteins in the eggs from bonding to each other, thereby producing a weaker protein chain and more tender eggs.

Salt helps improve the texture and flavor of nearly every kind of meat. When salt is applied to raw meat, juices inside the meat are drawn to the surface. The salt then dissolves in the exuded liquid, forming a brine that is eventually reabsorbed by the meat. This brine acts to change the structure of the muscle proteins, helping them hold on to more of their own natural juices.

Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant can also benefit from being salted to draw out their moisture before they’re used in a recipe.

Chatham Artillery Punch

Based upon a recipe in “Savannah Style – A cookbook by the junior league of Savannah.”

It is said that the concoction possesses more of a kick than the two brass cannons presented to Savannah by George Washington. It was first devised in the 1850’s to honor a rival military organization. The Republican Blues, and since then has laid to rest, at least temporarily many an unknown soldier and countless known Ones.

Serves 200

  • 2 gallons tea (green tea – l pound tea to 2 gallons water. Soak overnight in tin bucket and strain.)
  • Juice of 3 dozen lemons
  • 5 pounds brown sugar
  • 2 gallons Catawba wine
  • 2 gallons Santa Cruz rum
  • I gallon Hennessy (3 – Star) brandy
  • I gallon dry gin
  • I gallon rye whiskey
  • 2 quarts cherries
  • 2 quarts pineapple cubes
  • 10 quarts champagne

Mix the tea with lemon juice, preferably in a cedar tub, then add brown sugar and liquors. Let this mixture “set” for at least I week, or preferably 2 weeks, in covered container.

After “setting” period and when ready to serve, pour over cake of ice. Never chill in refrigerator or used crushed ice. When this is done, add cherries, pineapple cubes and champagne. pouring in slowly and mixing with circular motion. The punch is now ready to serve.

Culinary Fun Fact: Adding salt to your cooking water dramatically increases the sodium level of the pasta.

Adding salt to pasta cooking water ensures that the pasta will be flavorful. The preferred ratio of 1 tablespoon of table salt to 4 quarts of cooking water per pound of pasta for the best-seasoned pasta of any shape or size.


Give or take a few milligrams of sodium, all the shapes (spaghetti, linguine, penne, rigatoni, campanelle, and orzo) absorbed about the same amount of salt: 1/16 teaspoon per 4-ounce serving, or a total of ¼ teaspoon per pound of pasta.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) daily for people under age 51 and less than 1,500 milligrams (¾ teaspoon) for those age 51 and older, so even if you’re watching your sodium intake, the amount that pasta absorbs is so small that it’s probably not an issue.

What and where is the First Coast

I receive much of my information from living on the First Coast, so what and where exactly is the first coast?

Florida’s First Coast is a region of the U.S. located on the Atlantic coast of North Florida. The First Coast refers to the same general area as the region of Northeast Florida. It comprises the five counties surrounding Jacksonville: Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns, largely corresponding to the Jacksonville metropolitan area, and depending who you ask includes nearby areas Putnam and Flagler counties in Florida and Camden County in Georgia. As its name suggests, the First Coast was the first area of Florida colonized by Europeans. The name originated in a marketing campaign in the 1980’s.

The name refers both to the area’s status as the first coast that many visitors reach when entering Florida, as well as to the region’s history as the first place in the continental United States to see European contact and settlement. Juan Ponce de León may have landed in this region during his first expedition in 1513, and the early French colony of Fort Caroline was founded in present-day Jacksonville in 1564. Significantly, the First Coast includes St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the continental U.S., founded by the Spanish in 1565.

The First Coast marketing campaign and identity has been very popular with its spread to other nearby areas, being found as far south as Flagler Beach in Flagler County, Palatka in Putnam County, and as far north as St. Mary’s, Georgia.

Culinary Fun Fact: Should you should add oil to your cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together as it cooks.

Adding salt to your pasta cooking water seasons the pasta from the inside out, but you can skip the oil. It will only coat the pasta when you drain it, and that prevents the sauce from adhering.

The best way to keep pasta from sticking is to use a large amount of water. Use 4 quarts of water to 1 pound of pasta. This means you should be cooking pasta in a 6- or 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven. Stirring the pasta for a minute or two after you add it to the boiling water will also help keep it from sticking.

Culinary Fun Fact: The best way to tell if pasta is fully cooked is to throw it against the wall to see if it sticks.

Throwing the cooked pasta at the wall won’t tell you anything about how done it is, but it will make a mess. Instead, take a piece of pasta out of the pot and taste it. Testing the pasta a few minutes ahead of the cooking time prescribed on the box is the most accurate way to determine the doneness as the boxes invariably instruct you to cook it until it’s overdone and mushy, and definitely not al dente, which is an Italian term meaning “to the tooth.”

Culinary Fun Fact: True or False you should eat oysters only in months whose names contain the letter R.

The “R” rule may have been true 30 or 40 years ago, but thanks to advances in aquaculture it has fallen by the wayside. It used to be fishermen dug for oysters only in the colder “R” months (September through April) to avoid the spawning season.

Warm waters (above 60 degrees) encourage spawning, rendering oysters bland, soft-textured, and small. Once the spawning season is complete, oysters are generally plumper and better-tasting, thus commanding a higher price tag.

Today’s oysters are more likely to be farmed than found, with farmers having more control over the conditions in which they are grown, harvested, and stored. This means that oyster cultivators can plant oysters in cold waters, thereby staggering spawning and keeping their product available year-round. So forget the “R” rule—any time is fine for eating oysters.

Knife DNA 101

The Cutting Edge the sharpened, honed edge of the blade. It should be razor sharp. Chef’s knife blades come in varying degrees of curvature, designed for various tasks, such as cutting, slicing, filleting, butchery.

The Back, or Spine, is the long side opposite the sharp blade. This is where you hold your non–knife hand when rocking the knife back and forth for rapid mincing. It can also be used as a makeshift bench scraper for moving pieces of food around on your cutting board. Never use the knife cutting edge for this.

The Tip is the sharp point at the end of the blade. It’s used for precision work.

The Heel is at the bottom of the blade. In Western-style knives, the metal thickens significantly at the heel. This is to make it easier to grip.

The Bolster is the part of the blade that meets the handle. It is thick and heavy, providing a good balancing point for the blade and the handle. The center of mass should be somewhere near the bolster, so that you can rock the knife back and forth with minimal effort.

The Tang is the extension of the blade that runs through the handle. It provides balance as well as sturdiness.

The Handle is where your hand rests if using the handle grip, or where your three smaller fingers rest if using the blade grip. Handles can be made of wood, polycarbonate, metal, or various exotic materials.

The Butt is the fattened section at the very bottom of the handle.