published Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Braly: Sunday Supper includes Lindley

Daniel Lindley, a three-time nominee for Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, will be among 24 chefs gathering in Atlanta on Oct. 28 for an event to raise funds for the foundation's scholarship program.

Sunday Supper South will be hosted by award-winning chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, owners of several Atlanta restaurants. The two dozen visiting chefs, all James Beard award winners, nominees or semifinalists, will prepare the family-style dinner.

Lindley, chef and owner of St. John's Restaurant, The Meeting Place and Alleia, all on Chattanooga's Southside, will be preparing many of the hors d'oeuvres served during cocktail hour. He said he plans to make quail breast served with smoked apple relish, Sequatchie Cove Cumberland cheese gougeres (French cheese puffs) and fried grits with heirloom pepper jam.

With 23 other chefs cooking, is there such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, I asked him.

"No, it's an honor to be in the same kitchen with the region's best chefs," Lindley said. Plus, it helps that the chefs will be working in three kitchens.

"I did a Sunday Supper event in New York City two years ago and had a spectacular experience," he said.

Sunday Supper South will be held in the Westside Provisions District. Supper will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a seated dinner at the district's promenade near the footbridge at 1170 Howell Mill Road.

Tickets are $225 for James Beard members and $250 for nonmembers. Make reservations as early as possible by calling 404-365-0410, or log onto www.sundaysuppersouth.com.

While the price may sound steep, this is a golden opportunity for any foodie to meet these chefs all in one place, sample their culinary creations and support a cause that's dear to their hearts.

The foundation is named for the late cookbook author and teacher who helped to educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts.

"I strongly believe in supporting the James Beard Foundation in any way I can," Lindley said. "Their mission is vital in enhancing and preserving our food culture and heritage."

On a visit to Vermont years ago, I witnessed the "farming" of maple syrup and had a slice of maple cake, a rich mix of maple syrup and pecans. It was one of those tastes you never forget.

I had never made one, but I recently happened upon a blog praising these remarkable, simple cakes. It struck me as a good cake for fall, an alternative to the traditional pumpkins and spices.

Reading the blog prompted me to find a recipe and try making one myself. This recipe from food.com fit the bill.

Maple Upside-Down Cake

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

6 pecans, halved (12 pieces total)

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Heat syrup until boiling, and pour it into a rectangular, oven-proof dish that is about 2 inches deep, with dimensions of about 6 by 10 inches. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt, and add to butter mixture, alternating with additions of the milk. Pour batter into the hot syrup. Bake at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake 10 minutes, and heat a platter. Run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Flip the cake onto the heated platter. Dot the top with the pecan halves, and cut into portions. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Note: I did not bother to heat a platter. It's a nice step to take but not necessary if you serve it soon after removing it from the oven. You can reheat any leftovers in the microwave.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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