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Filtering by Tag: Cooking

Summer School: RICE 101 - Paella Night

Suzanne Pollak

Hot take — some carbs are good for you! Cole Porter sang of romance: It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely. At the Academy, we sing similar riffs about rice. It’s delicious, it’s delightful, it’s delectable...

Paella Night


Paella might be the pinnacle dinner party menu, the perfect food to knit together a group, especially when cooking over an open fire with guests standing around watching. It’s primal, it’s ancient, it’s deep. First off, to be in the hands of an Engineer of Paella is comforting and exciting. All will be good. You can feel it.

The feast begins with the visual — platters of fish and vegetables, a sack of bomba rice, pot of fish stock, bottle of Spanish olive oil, and tins of spicy paprika and saffron laid out on trays — teasing the eyes. This engineer had the largest tin of saffron the Dean had ever seen! Joy number one: watching a confident cook take charge, knowing exactly what to do with the order of ingredients. Your eyes, nose, and stomach anticipate a feast. A patient wait is required for the ingredients to transform into one of the world’s magnificent feasts, and a patient wait is just what we all need. Off the devices and face to face — right there the night becomes unforgettable. Meanwhile the wood smoke and tomato smells seduce the nose…

This particular engineer knows how to riff like any accomplished cook. No artichokes at the market? So what! Martha Vineyards Morning Glory Farms had asparagus just picked. What to serve first? Not too much at such an opulent feast. But guild the lily with local oysters. In this case honeysuckle oysters from waters pulled just that morning.

Here are the paella steps according to the Engineer’s method:

1. Shuck oysters.

1. Shuck oysters.

2. Build the fire.

2. Build the fire.

3. Lay out ingredients.

3. Lay out ingredients.

4. Sauté onion and green pepper.

4. Sauté onion and green pepper.

5. Sauté soft shell crabs and monster shrimp!

5. Sauté soft shell crabs and monster shrimp!

6. Sauté garlic and green onion.

6. Sauté garlic and green onion.

7. Add tomatoes whirled in the blender.

7. Add tomatoes whirled in the blender.

8. A good dose of paprika…

8. A good dose of paprika…

9. Be generous with the saffron!

9. Be generous with the saffron!

10. A quick stir…

10. A quick stir…

11. Rice makes an entrance.

11. Rice makes an entrance.

12. Time for asparagus and eggplant.

12. Time for asparagus and eggplant.

13. Scallops and swordfish enter the picture.

13. Scallops and swordfish enter the picture.

14. Add stock.

14. Add stock.

15. Add rice!

15. Add rice!

After we’ve heard the rice bottom pop and the paella has rested, it’s time to serve. The engineer decided to put the paella in the middle of the table as centerpiece. Who needs plates? The communion continued with everyone eating straight from the pan. Eat the triangle of paella in front of you. Communion and communication make a dinner party its best.

This Professor of Paella pulled off the two main tricks: all the flavor absorbed in the rice and the crusty layer on the bottom, Mmmmmmm. Plus two other secrets, including a fistful of saffron threads from that bottomless tin. The Dean was so mesmerized she forgot to find out the source and price for a treasure of saffron that huge. The other secret is the Bomba rice. Two expensive ingredients but WOW!

Remember a paella cannot be thick. This engineer owns three paella pans all the same size, perfect for serving six people from each pan so the rice is thin and gets that essential crust. But who wants 18 for a Paella feast? Five or six is perfect.

No One Can Enjoy Delicious Food through Gritted Teeth

Suzanne Pollak

Unless your oven conks out, your Thanksgiving meal will get cooked. Everyone puts so much thought and effort into the food that we just know that the flavor of your meal will be wonderful, wherever you eat it. 

What causes our annual breakout of holiday hives is that Thanksgiving food is endlessly thought about but the entirety of the day can be overlooked. Children need to be entertained, elderly people need to be comfortable, lonely neighbors and acquaintances need to be invited, not to mention you yourself must be taken care of! If you are in charge of the day and you break down, well then, everyone is in trouble. No one will mind if there is no creamed cauliflower, but they will mind if no one is getting along and the children are screaming and the sister-in-laws are bickering and the table is rushed to and and then abandoned in a total of fifteen minutes. No one can enjoy delicious food through gritted teeth. 

  • Start grocery shopping days before and be sure to get to the store first thing in the morning. Do not try to accomplish all your shopping in one fell swoop.

  • Make sure everyone has a task to do. This is no time to be a hero. People like to help. Let them.

  • Set the table the day before if you can. If not, be sure to delegate it to people not actively involved in cooking.

  • Assign the turkey carving to a person of competence as early as possible.

  • When someone asks what they can bring assign bottles of wine, or to bakers, a homemade pie.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two days you have people over who may be difficult whether you want them to or not. Although sometimes easier to bite your tongue when someone says something truly offensive, it’s not always best to remain silent. Remember your example to the younger generations, and that some things we should not simply let go. It is possible to respectfully present an opposing view, and then pivot to another subject so the tense moment dissipates. Or better yet, save your discourse for a private moment. Thanksgiving dinner is no place for politics after all, but a time to be thankful for friends, family, and good food!

Why Buy Sauce in a Jar?

A. K. Lister

Marcello's tomato sauce came in a jar.

Marcello's tomato sauce came in a jar.

Sofia made hers the Academy's way.

Sofia made hers the Academy's way.

All right, technically, this recipe for Tomato Sauce takes Ten Minutes to make, plus 45 to cook while you check something else off the list.  But 45 minutes is positively nothing in kitchen years.  Just ask our trusty mascot & dog-bud Teddy.  He's 106 but feels like he's seven (until it comes to hiking up the five flights of Academy stairs...)

Listen folks, it's hot.  The only good thing about being in the Carolina Lowcountry this time of year are the TOMATOES!!!  Only, we're tired of salads and sandwiches.  Aren't you?  Take ten minutes out of your afternoon, whip up this little Stock Pot delicacy, and let it simmer.  

No need to tend.  Set the table!  Make some croutons!  Make yourself a martini.  Put on some mambo music.  Take a bath.  Oh yeah, make some pasta.  Top it with Sauce, maybe some basil if yours survived the heat.   Everything is going to be okay, babies.  Mangia!

It only takes 5 minutes and 3 ingredients to make 1 pitcher of margaritas...

A. K. Lister

OK, OK, 4 ingredients if you count salt.

Sorry to drill it home but Labor Day weekend has arrived (yes, it officially starts Friday AM, class dismissed!) and Summer is packing her bags while Fall cha cha's in the back door.

But it's still hot as Hades in Charleston, and the rain seems like it might wash us all to sea.  Your life raft: a few friends/neighbors, a sassy hat, and a pitcher of margaritas you can make faster than you can say, "Siri, find me a Mariachi Band."  Sassy hat optional.  Mariachi band...strongly encouraged.

Give that old Summer feeling a proper farewell. 

XOXO, the Deans

P.S.  Pro. Tip #1:  

P.P.S. Pro. Tip #2: Do not drink the pitcher all by yourself.  One margarita usually does the trick, but two could have you feeling ten feet tall, bulletproof, and wild as a hornet's nest.  That's what happened to a friend of ours one time, anyway...

So Long, Summer

A. K. Lister

The solstice may be fleeting, but September has arrived & the Academy is in session!  Time for a new season of classes, starting with our quintessential Essential Dinners series.  If you anticipate finding yourself surrounded by hungry friends/partners/kids/co-workers (or even all alone, just starving little old you) and fresh out of satisfying dinner plans, here's your answer.

On Wednesday mornings in late September/early October, let the Dean show you how she wields the workhorses of the kitchen -- the Stock Pot, the Roasting Pan, and the almighty Cast-Iron Skillet -- for Suppertime glory.  Learn how to make everything from Gumbo to freeze-able stocks, from the Academy's prized Pork Butt in Milk to roasted root vegetables, from cheesy rice to eggplant everyone will eat.  Then, enjoy lunch in the Academy dining hall while the Dean fields all of your burning kitchen- (or even non-kitchen-) related inquiries.  

For more information on the Essential Dinners series, check out our calendar or purchase tickets here



Breakfast is for Champions

Suzanne Pollak

Dean Manigault perpetually whines to Dean Pollak that she wants to lose weight, wah-wah. She also always wants her lunch at eleven o'clock. This is because she never eats breakfast. Dean Pollak is astounded that Dean Manigault doesn't know the first credo about losing weight. Breakfast is the essential key element of all thin people. Here's what Dean Pollak knows to be a medical fact: if you wake up and you are not hungry you ate too much the night before.

You should be so hungry upon waking up that you must eat breakfast. Not eating breakfast is out of the question. If Dean Pollak gets Dean Manigault to change one single thing about her life, it will be that she eats breakfast. She is not talking about eggs, bacon, grits, sausage and biscuits. Neither is she talking about pancakes or French toast, although as once a week treats those are all fantastic, especially if they get you to eat breakfast. Dean Pollak eats boring Fiber One and a banana four mornings a week, but Dean Pollak can also wear the same jeans as she did in high school. 




1 cup strawberries or other berries, frozen

1 cup ice cubes

1 cup water

1/2 cup raw almonds, cashews, or walnuts (preferably soaked for several hours in water)

1/2 medium avocado



1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked at least 30 minutes and/or overnight

2 to 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 to 3 drops Wild Orange essential oil, preferably doTerra or other ingestible brand (Optional)

1.  Puree all the ingredients together in a sturdy blender.  

*The measurements are not exact because some people like a thick yogurt-like consistency that requires a spoon, while others prefer a liquid that's sippable right out of a glass.

The choice is yours.  We can already see your inner glow.

A Soon to Be Lost Art

Lee Manigault

Entertaining children at home is a forgotten art.  Helicopter parents over-schedule their children with soccer, art camps, swim teams; anything so as not to have a moment of down time.  

Recently, one of our first grade friends and fans told us about an incident at school. She was incensed when a classmate took over her job as door monitor and had a solution to end the tyranny. She got her backpack and whacked her classmate over the head! We admire her pluck and verve but could not endorse this tactic as a life long plan and her school and parents certainly did not. When she returned home from school, her parents 'punishment' was to have her sit out the nightly TV program with her sister and to help with evening chores instead.  But guess what?  She loved the extra time with her parents.  We were reminded anew that children don't find house work the chore we do if they can learn and be with their parents.  All children might not love the added chores as much as this budding domestic goddess, but they will enjoy having added responsibility. 

Dean Manigault went to her ex-husband's plantation with her daughter and a friend of hers.  There was no wifi, so all attendees were forced to be 'present'.  It was freezing cold so the children were tasked with keeping the fires stoked and the log piles plentiful.  Dinner was provided by Dean Manigault but breakfast and lunch was the time tested "if you can reach it, you can eat it".  The kids were a bit inventive when left to their own menu choices, but no one starved and the kids reveled in their new autonomy.  In fact, Gigi cracked the spine of the Academy cookbook for the first time ever and created the egg strata all by herself. All the entertainments were "in house" and there was lots of downtime together.  It is so much fun to get young people's perspective on the world today.




1 sourdough boule sliced 3/4 inch thick

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Thin slices of Gruyere or cheddar, enough to cover bread on bottom of pan

6 eggs

3 cups whole milk

1 pound bulk sausage, browned


1.  Grease a 9-by-11 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  Spread both sides of the bread with the butter.  Layer the bread in the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with the cheese.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Pour over the bread, up to a 1/2 inch below the top of the baking dish.  Any more liquid will bubble over when cooking.  Add the sausage.  Cover and refrigerate the strata overnight or for up to 2 days.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake the strata until puffy and golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Unstructured time at home is a gift and should be treated as such.  When time is over scheduled outside the home- the domestic skills are left to wither on the vine.  Quiet time together in your own house is not the modern day boogyman.  Quite the opposite.  Revel in before your children are permanently gone and you missed your chance to get to know them and what they can do!

Find creative recipes for everyday & special events

Girls Night Out, In

Allison Jacobson

Dean Pollak gives Southern Charm star, Cameran Eubanks, a lesson on how to host a pre-party with your besties before a Charleston Fashion Week event.

Richard Avedon said style is based on repetition, not duplication.  All you need are a few signature recipes and drinks - and own them.  No need to reinvent the wheel every time you entertain.  Guests will look forward to your specialty.

Instructions as per the Deans:


The Many Benefits of Hosting a Pre-Party Cocktail Hour:

  1. Party where you get all the credit with very little work.
  2. Party takes less than a half hour to put together.
  3. Party is so easy it can be last minute (some of our favorite parties have been last minute).
  4. Party is over before you know it.  One hour and your hosting is done.
  5. Party expense is minimal, but impact is big, lasting and fun.



1  1/2 cups tequila

1 cup citrus juice (mixture of freshly squeezed lime, orange, lemon & tangerine juices)

3/4 cup (or more) soda water

Ice cubes


1.  Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher and stir.

2.  Pour into cocktail glasses and serve over ice.



1 cup olives with pits (use assorted colors)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 strip orange peel

1 chili

1 teaspoon fennel or Herbs de Province


1.  Heat small sauté pan over medium heat for a minute; add olive oil, and then remaining ingredients.

2.  Cook over low heat, stirring, for a few minutes until olives are warm.  Turn off heat and pour olives in a small bowl.

3.  Place a smaller bowl, or cup, near the olive bowl for the pits.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Suzanne Pollak

Everybody we know is totally exhausted right now. Even the Deans can’t figure out why this is, even though we are the two most tired we know. We are exhausted just propping open the Academy doors.

With this level of energy we can’t imagine there are too many dinner parties being thrown. Here’s what the Deans are currently advocating: Tea Time! Tea can be served at any hour, everyone likes it, tea time provides a soothing ritual and tea's preparation is accessible to all. Boil water and dunk a tea bag, or steep a pot and open a tin of short bread.

The Charleston Tea Plantation , home of American Classic Tea

The Charleston Tea Plantation, home of American Classic Tea

 A ritualized tea time started going out of favor in Britain right after the Great War and now the sun sets on the British Empire. Coincidence? We think not. 


MAKES 20 generous canapes


One 17.6-ounce package pumpernickel bread (we prefer Mestemacher Natural with whole rye kernels)

8 ounces creme fraiche

8 ounces smoked Atlantic salmon, sliced thin

1 lemon

2 tablespoons capers

Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Cut the bread into triangles.  Smear creme fraiche on each slice and pile high with the salmon.  Drizzle with the juice from the lemon and top with the capers.  Capers will roll off and serve double duty as decor and garnish.

2.  Sprinkle with the pepper.

The Double Napkin Awards

Suzanne Pollak

There are some current rave favorites that the Deans feel guilty about having kept to ourselves for so long. If we were nominating the James Beard Awards, and we are not sure why we are not, here would be our nominees in the Almighty Sandwich department. If a sandwich doesn’t require at least two napkins it cannot even get in contention! No gluten? No way!


Our six favorites (in no particular order) are:

When in New York, like lemmings to the ocean, we find ourselves pulled towards these two Manhattan jewels: John Dory Oyster Bar’s Lobster Roll and the Russian Dressing Hamburger at the The Mark Hotel Bar.

When fishing closer to home we currently have an embarrassment of riches in Charleston. Having exhaustingly and methodically tasted every sandwich in this city, we have noticed three sandwiches that have consistently pulled ahead of the pack. Butcher and Bee’s Porchetta Sandwich, Artisan Meat Share’s Porchetta (is there a theme here?) and the Wagyu Beef Panini at Ted’s Butcher Shop (be sure to ask for a little extra time in the press so it’s piping hot). And on the lighter side (only on Tuesday) is the Lobster Roll at The Ordinary. If you must go gluten free, we don’t want you to starve, get over to Edmund's Oast for the Charcuterie Boards. We just know you won’t be sorry.  

Lobster Roll from The Ordinary

Lobster Roll from The Ordinary

Edmund's Oast Charcuterie Board

Edmund's Oast Charcuterie Board

Baby It's Cold Outside

Suzanne Pollak

Courtesy of Radio Boston

Courtesy of Radio Boston

In the Spring, springing and farmers markets occur at least three times a week teaming with tender young vegetable and zucchini blossoms crying to be stuffed, nobody is thinking about their pantry. However, when the last three consecutive Monday’s has dumped 72 inches of snow on our heads, and ordering in is not a possibility let alone going out, you throw open the pantry door praying it is stocked and ready. Is it?

The fall is the ideal time to whip that pantry into shape, but it's not too late at the end of February. Winter is still here. Buy boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They will provide the mainstay of your winter diet. Buy pasta in all sorts of different shapes (fettuccine, shells, bow ties, angel hair), cans of tuna, cannellini and kidney beans, all variations of tomatoes (crushed, whole, diced, pureed) and jars of capers, green peppercorns, pimentos, preserved lemons and bottles of rum, vodka and bourbon to nip at while keeping winters chill at bay.



3 ounces dark rum

4 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

A piece of lemon rind

1 dash of freshly grated nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

6-8 ounces boiling water


1.  To a large heavy duty cup or glass, add rum, honey, lemon juice, lemon rind, and nutmeg.  Stand cinnamon stick upright in the cup.

2.  Pour the boiling water and stir well to blend.  Adjust honey to suit your sweetness and adjust lemon juice to suit your taste.

3.  Sip slowly and enjoy.


from the New York Times January 28, 2015


1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1  1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

4 pounds beef chuck roast or steak

1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra as needed 

1 large yellow or white onion, chopped, plus extra for serving

6 large garlic cloves, minced

4 to 7 large fresh green jalapeños (depending on how much heat) stemmed, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons masa harina or 1 corn tortilla torn into pieces (optional)

2 tablespoons ground pure chile powder, such as pasilla, Chimayo or ancho

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 - 12 ounce bottle Negra Modelo beer

1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, or 3 - 10 ounce cans Ro-Tel canned tomatoes with green chiles

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

3 whole dried large red chiles, such as New Mexico

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Fritos or warmed flour tortillas, for serving

1.  In a small heavy skillet, toast cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant.  In a mortar and pestle, or in a coffee grinder, grind to a powder and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, roughly cut beef into 2-inch cubes, or slice it against the grain into pieces about 1/4-inch thick by 1  1/2-inches square. Sprinkle with salt.

3.  In a large, heavy pot over high heat, heat oil until simmering.  Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, brown the meat, turning occasionally until crusty.  Adjust the heat to prevent scorching.  As it is cooked, remove the meat to drain on paper towels.  Add more oil as needed for browning, but do not clean out the pot.

4.  To the empty but crusty pot, add onion, garlic, jalapeños, masa harina or tortilla (if using), chile powder, cumin-coriander powder, and oregano.  Cook, stirring, until onion has softened, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add meat, beer, tomatoes, chocolate, whole dried chiles and 1 quart water.  Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for about 1  1/2 hours, or until meat is fork-tender.  Remove the dried chiles.  Taste and add salt if necessary.

5.  Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate.  (The chili tastes best one or two days after it is made.)  Reheat over low heat, if necessary, and serve in bowls, sprinkled with chopped onion and cilantro.  Add Fritos for crunch or dip tortillas into the spicy gravy.


SERVES 4 to 6


Kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 pound penne pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 - 32 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

1/4 cup vodka

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Finely chopped parsley, to garnish


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add penne and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 11 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and vodka and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir until smooth.

2.  Drain pasta and transfer to pan with sauce.  Toss pasta with sauce until evenly coated.

3.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.

Monday Morning Quarterback

Suzanne Pollak

Even the Deans learn something, if not every day, at least every Monday morning about food. We always start our workweek by rehashing what went right as well as what went wrong the previous weekend. It’s not just your parties we are analyzing. We also scrutinize our own parties in the extreme but our passion for critiquing focuses most often on our number one activity, our family meals. That’s the beauty of there being two Deans, we are equally passionate on the topic of our own cooking. Like discussing a painting, a book or a pair of shoes with your best friend, discussing cooking with a friend can help you find solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had.

Take our world famous croutons. Traditionally we always fry these in olive oil. Last week Dean Pollak decided to use the fat from her roast chicken to fry the croutons for her ubiquitous salad. Even the Deans who adore chicken drippings more than most, found these were too heavy and unpalatable. Dean Manigualt suggested she use half olive oil and half chicken fat, which prompted Dean Pollak to say, ‘why don’t I quickly toss the croutons in chicken fat and then roast them until crisp while the chicken rests.'

Et voilia! If Dean P had not opened the discourse with Dean M then the solution would never have presented itself to Dean Pollak.

Charleston Academy Croutons

1.  Using a day old country loaf, toss a large handful of torn bread (you want uneven edges for these croutons) in a mixing bowl with a spoonful or two of chicken fat.

2.  Place the croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 375 degrees F.

3.  Once toasted, check to see if nice and crispy then serve.

New Year's Eve is For the JV Squad

Suzanne Pollak

New Year’s is for the JV team. We Varsity players stay at home. We either indulge in Oyster Pan Roast or Creamy Scrambled Eggs with shaved fresh truffles, or at least we imagine ourselves doing this. Neither one of us has actually shelled out for a truffle yet, but living in the low country the pan roast is well within our grasp, because even the Deans can harvest oysters.

To inflate the oyster meal to New Year’s status the Deans pair the pan roast with a Gougeres hors d'oeuvres, a tart side salad and finish with a chocolate tart. And even if you are a bench warmer and not on any team, everyone drinks champagne on New Year’s Eve.  

Merry Christmas

Suzanne Pollak

Christmas Day is the one day that the Deans are convinced houses are being actually lived in and used. People take the time to make a tasty breakfast, talk to each other, lounge around in their pajamas while opening gifts, many of which are for the home, and enjoy a meal seated around the dining room table.

What the Deans want to see, minus the gifts, is you people doing this once a week all year long. Our gift to you is leading the way on how to live a beautiful life and to stay on top of you until you have learned.




Suzanne Pollak

The Thanksgiving meal is way too delicious to be served only once a year.  Our cry is that a once a year tradition for this meal is insane.  All you people are only serving this turkey dinner in November because of the myth perpetrated down through the ages: this meal takes 18 days to put together at the very least.  Dean Manigault loves turkey and it’s trimmings so much she made Feast again for her tree trimming party just last night and plans to make it again for Christmas and then again in January once the family has cleared out and she can have some friends over.  She proved once and for all that this meal need not be a behemoth.

holiday pic.jpg

Having made the stuffing the day before (stuffing is the most labor intensive of all the dishes weighing in at 45 minutes) and concurrently roasting the sweet potatoes for tomorrows Thanksgiving, the majority of the labor was already out of way.

Day of Feast

Heating the oven takes longer than getting the turkey ready.  Jean Anderson told us in her cookbook Food of Portugal to not touch the turkey while it’s in the oven to obtain the crispiest skin, and she is 100% right.

  1. Dean Manigault puts the turkey in the pan and the pan in the oven (5 minutes).
  2. Assemble Medway Sweet Potatoes (20 minutes).
  3. Make the cranberry sauce and serve warm (from start to finish 10 minutes, only 1.5 minutes of actual labor).  Dean Manigault’s trick is to boil the cranberry sauce on super high until the cranberries all pop.
  4. Trim two bags of Brussels sprouts (7-10 minutes) cooking time (10-15 minutes).
  5. Dean Manigault’s CSA arrived just in time to join Feast, and in it was a baby turnip and carrot recipe.  The CSA suggested roasting them, but Dean Manigault served the turnips and carrots julienned raw with a light vinaigrette as a fresh, crispy contrast to the heavy food.

Total time: 36.5 minutes of labor

Of course everything takes time to cook, and she did have to borrow her neighbor’s oven, but for a such a delicious outcome she would go to far greater lengths.  Just like Tom Sawyer she can sit back and watch people wrangle the lights on the tree without a flicker of guilt because they are all so well fed.

*For summer Feast the Deans plan to fry our turkey and serve with a bread tomato salad, a panzanella. Our mouths are watering already and we haven’t even digested last night’s feast. 

The Deans Have Cryogenically Frozen Christmas and You Can Too! Here's How....

Suzanne Pollak


Dean Pollak woke this morning already dreaming of Christmas breakfast. As ever, she believes there is no time like the present, so she whipped out her handy silpat, bag of flour and ice cold butter and biscuit making commenced. As she got further into her task it occurred to her that not everyone might have Christmas breakfast already chilling in the freezer, and almost as magical as baby Jesus himself, a new Christmas miracle was born. Of course none of the Deans friends will forgive them if they don’t receive a trove of their spicy crispy cheese coins, but now, in addition, they can expect a dozen frozen biscuits ready to be popped into the oven on Christmas morn. Has anyone ever had more thoughtful friends than the Deans?

The Academy's Southern Biscuit

MAKES 12 to 18, depending on size of biscuit cutter


3 cups self-rising flour, preferably White Lily

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces

1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk


1.  Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough almost forms a ball.  Place the dough on a silicone baking mat and begin folding up the sides, right and left, until a ball forms.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness.  Fold one side of the dough into the center and then fold in the other side.  Roll out again and refold in the same manner three to six times.  (Each roll and fold creates flaky layers within your biscuits.)  Roll out one final time until the dough is 3/4 inch thick.

2.  Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or an inverted glass.  Place the biscuits on a nonstick baking sheet.  Gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut out more biscuits until all of the dough has been used.  (At this point, you can cover the unbaked biscuits with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 3 weeks).

3.  Bake until lightly browned on the top and bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.  (Bake frozen biscuits at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.)

At Christmas time, the Deans receive a cruel lashing from friends if they attend any event without bearing canvas bags overflowing with cheese coins.  They are the Academy's signature treats and Dean Manigault's muscled arm is a testament that the cheddar is lovingly grated by hand.  Sometimes this can mean up to 25 pounds of cheddar because we have so many friends and students to bestow our coins upon.

A Treasure Trove of Cheese Coins

MAKES dozens


16 ounces shredded sharp cheddar

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups flour

1 heaping teaspoon cayenne

22 twists freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt


1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2.  Using a standing mixer or food processor, whirl all the ingredients until combined.  Form the cheese dough into 2 logs, about 1 inch in diameter.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 6 weeks).  

3.  Cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices and place on baking sheets.  Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.  

4.  Serve warm or at room temperature (or let cool and store in airtight containers for up to 7 days).

Having solved the Christmas morning debacle for every and all, we now set our sights to plugging up other holes in the Christmas dike. We are always telling people to cook together and we’ve said it so often that we almost forgot to practice what we preach. This week is going to be dedicated to not only biscuit making, but we are ratcheting up the fun another notch by making batches of gumbo for our freezer too.

Now we are not only ready for Christmas breakfast but pop up dinners too. 

5 Things to Make in Charleston This Fall

Suzanne Pollak

1.        Rye Cocktail

2 ounces of rye whiskey, 1/2 teaspoon demora sugar, 2 dashes of Angostura, 2 dashes of Orange Bitters. Pour over large ice cubes. Makes one cocktail. 


And yet another great drink. . .

2.       Wild Mushrooms on Puff Pastry

          Serves 4

2 tablespoons salted butter

2 shallots, minced

1 tablespoon minced thyme

1 pound wild mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 package of Dufour's Puff Pastry

1 egg

Melt the butter in a hot skillet and when the foam subsides lower the heat and add the shallots.  After two minutes add the mushroom and cook until they release most of their liquid.  Add the cream and thyme and heat until hot and the cream has reduced by half.  

Meanwhile, thaw the pastry and cut into a square and line the outside of the square with strips of pastry to form a box.  Brush with the egg.  Bake according to directions and when puffed and golden remove from oven. Place mushrooms in the center of the pastry and serve. 

Serve with a tart side salad for a lunch or a light dinner.  So woodsy and autumnal. Dean-licious.

3.       Charleston Banh Mi 

Fill soft rolls with roasted sliced okra, peanuts, mayo, herbs, sweet soy and jalenpeos, shredded carrot and cucumbers.

The key to a Banh Mi is a soft roll. 

4.       Benne Dressing 

1/2 cup olive oil 

1 teaspoon mustard

1 chopped shallot

Juice of 1 lemon 

1 teaspoon benne seeds

Whisk together. Use on any lettuce. 

5.       Fall Vegetable Melange  

2-3 large yellow beets 

1 large butternut squash

2 onions

1/4 pound wild mushrooms,

Flat leaf parsley

Olive oil 

Place large yellow beets, scrubbed clean, in a shallow casserole. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of water. Cover with tin foil and roast at 425 degrees for 60-75 minutes, until a knife inserted in beet can pierce flesh easily.  

After putting beets in the oven, toss large chunks of peeled butternut squash and peeled onion quarters with a little olive oil to lightly coat. Place on a baking sheet and roast on another rack in the same oven  turning once, for 45 minutes.

Wipe any dirt off of mushrooms, cut off woody stems, toss very lightly with olive oil and place on baking sheet. When butternut squash comes out of oven, put mushrooms in the oven. Butternut squash and mushrooms should crisp at the edges.

When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into large wedges. Place all roasted vegetables in a large bowl, toss with chopped parsley leaves, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Delicious hot, room temperature, or cold. 

What's for Dinner?

Suzanne Pollak

Image Courtesy of Tania Lee

Image Courtesy of Tania Lee

Everyone, everyday, asks themselves, “what’s for dinner?” The Deans will prove once and for all that cooking for your family is the second most important thing you can do.  We are still working on number one. Our students come together over bubbling pots and simmering stews and our alums and book fans are armed and ready to tackle satisfying even the most persnickety palates.


Nobody has the time or desire to make a flaky croissant first thing in the morning.  The Deans are here to tell you that you can make far more delicious biscuits yourself.  Well, the Deans do and so should you.  Smeared with your own homemade preserves or filled with ham or melted butter- this treat is a love letter to your family first thing in the morning. 


Makes 12 to 18, depending on size of biscuit cutter


3 cups self-rising flour, preferably White Lily    

1 tablespoon baking powder              

1 teaspoon salt                         

1/2 teaspoon baking soda      

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces       

1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk      


1.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it forms pea-size pieces.  Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough almost forms a ball.

3.  Place the dough on a silicone baking mat and begin folding up the sides, right and left, until a ball forms.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness.  Fold one side of the dough into the center and then fold in the other side.  Roll out again and refold in the same manner three to six times.  (Each roll and fold creates flaky layers within your biscuits.)  Roll out one final time until the dough is 3/4-inch thick.

4.  Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or an inverted glass.  Place the biscuits on a nonstick baking sheet.  Gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut out more biscuits until all of the dough has been used.  (At this point, you can cover the unbaked biscuits with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze up to 3 weeks.)

5.  Bake until lightly browned on the top and bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.  (Bake frozen biscuits at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.)

Image Courtesy of Tania Lee

Image Courtesy of Tania Lee


Lunch is when the Dean’s genius is in evidence. Transforming last night’s dinner into a healthy and satisfying lunch is our specialty. Almost any leftover - fish, fowl or meat - can be placed between two pieces of crisped bread and made into a wonderful meal for lunch or a simple dinner.  Chicken Salad is the perfect meal for eating at home, taking to the office or putting in a tart shell for an elegant lunch party. 


Take the leftovers of your roasted chicken and create a variety of meals using simple ingredients found in your refrigerator.  

  • Carve out an avocado and place the chicken mixture and avocado inside the shell to transport to work. 
  • Wrap your tasty leftover chicken inside a crepe and marry with mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.
  • Take thick slices of sourdough crisped in hot olive oil and layer with roasted peppers, shaved red onion, and your leftover chicken mixture.


We’ve heard every excuse why a home cooked family dinner is not possible - every single one. Stop yakking at us about this. All stews benefit from a night in the refrigerator and a reheat the day of serving.  The minute you walk in the door, put a pot of water on to boil to make rice, pasta or boiled potatoes to serve the stew over and dinner can be ready in 20 minutes, far less time than gathering everyone up and going out.  Below is the Deans favorite stew.  To take it even one step further, pair your stew with beer you’ve bought at Charleston's Beer Exchange or your local brewery.  


Serves 4      


4 Lamb shanks                               

Onion, chopped


Red Wine

Salt & Pepper    


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Sauté lamb shanks in a little olive oil in a sauté pan, over high heat, to lightly brown each side.  Remove shanks, season with salt and pepper, and place in stock pot.

3.  In remaining oil, sauté onions until lightly browned.  Place onions in stock pot.  Cover lamb shanks with red wine and thyme and simmer for 2 hours.

4.  Eat right away, make in the morning, or the day before (even tastier).  

*You can stretch one shank to feed three people by shredding the cooked meat.  Reheat in the wine sauce and use the meat and sauce for pasta another time.  Dean-licious.

You can find all of these recipes and more by visiting us at the charleston academy


What Shoes Are You Wearing?

Suzanne Pollak

Jackie Onassis knew that being properly dressed for every occasion is the ideal.  Not over, not under.  Just right.  Unless you are a professional chef, you have most likely given no time to the shoes in which you cook. We teach you how to live a beautiful life and this blog is about your shoes in the kitchen.

The Deans know first hand that cooking starts from the ground up, literally. Dean Pollak used to wonder why three days after she spent a day baking bread her legs ached, and she was only 30. Every day she was playing two hours of tennis, and of course those four children never left her side, but the day of bread baking was the breaking point. It took her a long time to look down and realize it was the shoes in which she was standing for six hours that was the genesis of the problem. Dean Pollak can say with authority that after three years of baking in flat thonged leather sole Jack Rogers that these are not baking shoes. 

There are so many obstacles to getting people back in the kitchen that if aching legs are one of them, we are never going to see the resurgence of domestic bliss that we are so longing for. Most girls love their shoes- starting at a young age.

Different recipes, however, call for different types of shoes.  

If you are putting out chilled champagne and pitted olives for your paramour then those five inch Louboutin's with the stacked heel are the perfect choice for this amount of cooking.

If you are cooking anything that involves boiling water, oil or sauce, then long pants and closed toe shoes are mandatory because if the liquid falls on you it's better to scald your pants or shoe than your skin.

If you are going to spend multiple hours standing in the kitchen then sneakers are your choice.  You can slip into a more sexier shoe before the meal is served.  Here we are showcasing the Adidas Stan Smith Sneaker.

If you are taking our advice completely to heart and feel that you are going to live in your kitchen, then go ahead and install a cork floor. If that is not an option there are floor pads to put in front of your sink and stove. You may want to try this one-- GelPro Elite. If you have wood floors you are in luck but you still may want to augment with these pads.  We know from our own experiences that the worst floor surfaces for the kitchen are marble, stone and brick. No matter how good they look, they will reek havoc on your legs. 

Living a beautiful life starts from the ground up and we hope you continue to build your foundation one step at a time.





The Deans Divide

Suzanne Pollak

She Crab Soup - one of us can't get enough and the other won't touch it. Dean Pollak stated "it's just like drinking heavy cream", and Dean Manigault said, "Exactly!"

Dean Pollak thinks fresh picked crab is tastier cold and luxurious all on it's own. She wants as little tampering with the pristine jumbo lump crabmeat as possible. She likes a squeeze of lemon and a few twists of black pepper, no more. Dean Manigault, on the other hand, thinks that hot and creamy crab is the bees knees, be it in a soup, puff pastry, or in a souffle. Dean Pollak just realized that if you were to break down the Deans go to flavor profiles, Dean Manigault prefers hot and creamy, and Dean Pollak dry and crispy. Examples can be found in our different preferences for Thanksgiving stuffing (p 119 of our book), fried oysters and crab preparation. If you live in South Carolina, you can catch the crabs yourself. Crabbing is such a fun activity to do with friends and family.  Just grab some chicken parts, string, a bucket to fill with sea water and crabs, and a long handled net.  Find shallow sea water near the shore and start crabbing. Picking the crab clean is a bit of a chore, but the end result is well worth the effort.  

"Lowcountry Crabbers" by Charleston artist Doug Grier

"Lowcountry Crabbers" by Charleston artist Doug Grier

One of Dean Manigault's favorite soups is from our friend Paula Deen.  Don't forget to watch us on her new network.  We are in the Naked Hot Wings segment and the Leftover Do Over Chicken Pot Pie segment.  Here are two recipes to use for your crab!


(from Paula Deen)


3/4 cup chopped green onion, with tops
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups fish stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shell

1/4 cup sherry
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

1.  Sauté chopped green onion and garlic in butter until tender.  Stir in flour, stirring until well blended.  Slowly add 2 cups of the fish stock, continuing to cook until smooth and bubbly.  Slowly add cream and milk.  Stir in crabmeat.  Add sherry, lemon-pepper seasoning, salt and white pepper.  

2.  Simmer until piping hot; adjust seasoning (sherry, salt, and pepper) to taste.  

3.  Serve in bowls topped with cheese and chives.

Dean Pollak's favorite way to eat crab:

Pick jumbo lump crab meat carefully to remove the cartilage, leaving the crab piece in tact.  Chill crabmeat.  Snip chives on top, add a slice of lemon and serve in cocktail glasses.