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Filtering by Tag: Recipe

Polar Vortex Stew

Suzanne Pollak

Bundle up! No need to lose your cool…

Bundle up! No need to lose your cool…

Want to warm everyone around you, make the house smell amazing, and have something useful (but still easy) to do when you cannot leave the house? Providing you have the ingredients on hand, this stew is soul-satisfying because the flavor is more than just meat . We use a smoked ham hock and bones from the meat to extract even more deliciousness. 


  • 3 pounds beef shank with bone

  • 1 - 1.5 pound smoked pork hock 

  • 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil 

  • 2 cups wine - white, red or a mixture

  • 3 cups water or stock

  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half

  • 8 whole cloves

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • a sprig of bay, or 6 to 8 leaves

  • a couple sprigs fresh thyme

  • 4 carrots, cut in chunks 

  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 3“ pieces

  • kosher salt

  • black peppercorns 


  1. Cut the beef into large pieces, trimming off some of the fat. 

  2. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or casserole and cook the pork hock until lightly brown. Remove the hock. Put the beef pieces into the hot oil, searing on two sides. Add the bones from the meat and brown. 

  3. Deglaze the pot with a little wine. Add the rest of the wine, the meat, ham hock and meat bones and enough water or stock to cover the meat. 

  4. Stick the onion haves with cloves and put in the pot along with the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and celery. Season with salt — not too much because the ham hock will add salt to the stew. 

  5. Bring to a simmer and cook on stove top over low heat for four hours.  Alternatively cook in a 250 F oven. 

  6. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove ham hock and take off any bits of pork and add to the stew. 

  7. Serve with mashed potatoes, thick slices of toasted bread, or a pasta stirred into the sauce before serving. 

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...

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

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.

A Triumphant Triumvirate

Suzanne Pollak

Just as soon as the Deans got our freezers filled we looked around the house to see what else we could get done before the masses descend on us. The freezer was groaning but what about the pantry? Its gaping maw was crying out to be filled with succulent and savory treats for the holidays. Unto the shelves and into the fridge we piled exotic hard cheeses to be cubed, tasty olives, pistachios, dried apricots, whole dried salamis, plus some prosciutto and Bresaola for good measure, candied orange peel, and Jordan almonds for by the door.

We both like a round platter and on to it we pile wooden, crystal and bronze bowls filled with the items from our now stocked pantry. Anyone can drop by anytime and we will be 100% ready.


Into the tiny bit of space we have left in the freezer we are going to fill small round balloons with water so that we have bespoke ice cubes to take our holiday cocktails over the top. Between the cocktails and our samovar of savories our houses will once again be everyone’s go to favorites. 

Bespoke Ice Cubes 

  1. Fill a water balloon slightly less than the circumference of your cocktail glass. Twist a long thin piece of aluminum foil into a ring. Rest the balloon within the nest the ring has created. The ring prevents the balloons getting a flat side and keeps them orbicular while freezing. Put the filled balloons, and his many brothers, into the freezer the day before the party. Plan on one per glass.
  2. At party time, cut the top of the balloon and peel the rubber off the ice. If the sphere is too big to fit into the glass, simply run under hot water until the ice shrinks a bit.

News Flash: The Deans Have Learned Something New

Suzanne Pollak

Guess what the latest tenet learned by Dean Pollak in New York City was just this last week? It has upended everything we thought we knew at the Academy. If we were not rock solid on this science, then every skillet in our cupboard should be shaking about what other enormous unknown lacunae lurk in our supposed breathe of knowledge. It's almost too much for us to take in.

While procuring a bottle of bourbon for a dinner gift (the hosts already own two copies of our book, one from each of us) the omniscient sales clerk decreed that rye is the liquor of choice for Old Fashioneds. Rye has spice top notes, whereas bourbon's are sweet, so rye actually contrasts with the sugar and the orange bitters better. Dean Pollak has ferried this late breaking newsflash back to Charleston and the Deans plan on dedicating December to extensive tastings to verify the veracity of this pronouncement. 

Rye Cocktail

Serves 1

2 ounces of rye whiskey

1/2 teaspoon Demerara sugar

2 dashes of Angostura

2 dashes of Orange Bitters

Pour over large ice cubes. Makes one cocktail.

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.


The Forgotten Fowl

Suzanne Pollak

Cornish Game Hen

Cornish Game Hens have changed since the last time the Deans went to cook them.  The rule of game hens of our youth was one for each person.  Dean Pollak went to cook dinner for herself the other night (her husband was away) and she was shocked about how large the modern day game hen was, but this did not daunt her in the slightest.  She realized that she could get two meals for the price of one.  The game hen retains a hint of gamey flavor, lost in larger chickens.  A simple preparation we find is easiest and tastiest.  Everyone's favorite kind of recipe. 

Our favorites are by Belle and Evans.

Crispy Cornish Game Hens, Edamame Beans and Juicy Heirloom Tomatoes 

Crispy Cornish Game Hens, Edamame Beans and Juicy Heirloom Tomatoes 



Herbs de Provence


Olive Oil


1.  Run hens under cold water, inside and out, and dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle heavily with Herbs de Provence and Cumin.  Put hens on a plate, uncovered, and let rest in refrigerator until ready to cook, for up to a day. 

2.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Remove hens from frig. 

3.  Place a very light film of olive oil on a saute pan just large enough to hold the number of hens you will be cooking.  Put pan in oven to heat.  When oven temperature has reached 425 degrees F, take pan out of oven using pot holders (pan handle is very hot by now) and place hens back side down in saute pan.  Place back in oven for one hour. 

4.  Remove and eat right away, room temperature, or cold the following day. 

Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival

Suzanne Pollak

The Deans are giddy after our talk at Monticello. We simply had the best time ever. We cannot encourage you more heartily to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival in 2015. We already have next year's event on our calendar.

Monticello invited the Deans to kick off their Art of Living portion of the weekend. We were put up in the most sumptuous guesthouse we have ever seen on a farm in Keswick. On Friday morning we took a walk to get our blood flowing and then on to Monticello for a Behind the Scenes Tour (all four floors) with the most competent tour guide who has ever led us around. The house spoke to us and we listened. Thomas Jefferson is THE founding father of gracious living.

Monticello's Dining Room    Image credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Sequoia Designs   Copyright © Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Monticello's Dining Room 

Image credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Sequoia Designs
Copyright © Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Friday night's Heritage Harvest dinner was sublime; atop Monalto was a glorious food tent filled with the best wines, ciders and foods that Virginia has to offer. Thomas Jefferson was passionate about vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation and sustainable agriculture...a full two centuries ahead of his time!  Aaron Keefer, the head gardener for the famed French Laundry, was the keynote speaker Friday night and the Deans were enthralled.  He led the audience around his garden and even brought samples including a spinach that tasted EXACTLY like an oyster.  Both Deans wanted to put him in a doggy bag and take him home. 

Saturday saw us on a panel with Charlotte Moss moderating, and Annie Vanderwarker (Fearless Flowers), Holly Shimizu (former director of the US Botanic Gardens) and Gabriele Rausse (Monticello's Director of Gardens and Grounds) and the Deans, all answering questions about The Art of Living. After posing for copious photographs, we were whisked away to deliver our own standing room only talk. We left the Visitor’s Center to sign books on the lawn of Monticello, then were in a short video interview and on to an unbelievable dinner at Red Pump. We are tired just reading about it. How we did it we’ll never know, but boy, it was fabulous. Thank you, thank you Monticello.


Fun facts we learned this weekend:

  • Jefferson kept 33 chairs in Monticello's front hall so anyone who wished could wait to see the great man himself.
  • Jefferson was so egalitarian that even in his own house, as well as the White House, seating was first come first serve.
  • There is no central staircase at Monticello because Jefferson thought it was a waste of precious space and heat. The Deans would follow President Jefferson anywhere, but we are not sure he was 100% on this point:-)
  • He made sure his granddaughters were educated because he told them they had a one in fourteen chance of marrying a blockhead.
  • The fact that resonated most with the Deans: Thomas Jefferson used his dining room twice a day! How many times have you used yours in the last year?


The Monticello dining room has seen many fabulous meals in its day.  In the book Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste & Abundance, we have found an authentic recipe from Monticello using Mutton Chops which today can be substituted for lamb. 


Serves 4 to 6


8 mutton or lamb rib chops (at least 3/4 to 1 inch thick)


Whole black pepper in a pepper mill

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup Mushroom Catsup (can be found by some specialty condiment companies)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish


1.  Prepare a grill with hardwood coals.  When the coals have burned to a medium-hot fire, rub the grill rack with a cloth dipped in lard or bacon drippings and position it about 4 to 6 inches above the coals.

2.  Season the chops with salt and several grindings of pepper and grill them, turning once, until cooked to the doneness of choice, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove them to a warm platter and set aside to keep warm.

3.  Bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Add the Mushroom Catsup, additional salt if needed, and simmer for about 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, and pour it over the chops.  Sprinkle a little horseradish over them, and spoon the remaining horseradish around the edges of the platter.

NOTE: Readers who are not concerned with authenticity or who are unable to grill-broil may use the oven broiler.  Position a rack about 6 inches below the broiler and preheat for 20 minutes.  Rub the broiling pan rack with lard or drippings and lay the chops on it.  Lightly brush them with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.  Broil, turning once, until done to taste, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.


This Weeks NYT Food Section

Suzanne Pollak


Dean Pollak's favorite restaurant of 2014 is the Saltry, on a tiny slip of an island, Halibut Cove, (population 30) off Homer, Alaska. She's been wondering how to get herself back to the coolest spot on the most western tip of the United States to relive an extraordinary July day feasting, boating, and hanging out with the Hotes Foundation gang. Today's NYTimes Dining Section came close to the rescue with a lovely profile of Saltry and its owner, Marian Beck. The Times photos capture the spirit of the restaurant, sitting on stilts overhanging Halibut Cove.

Maybe because Marian Beck grew up on Halibut Cove, she had to learn how to do EVERYTHING. Cook, bake bread and pies, grow vegetables and flowers, preserve moose plus berries, catch salmon, halibut and cod, paint, fillet fish (I watched her fillet a giant salmon with the ease that I chop cabbage), greet customers and make the world's most extraordinary chocolate cheesecake. So Academy fans won't feel left out, we've copied Marian's cheesecake recipe below, from her fabulous cookbook, Salmon Patties & Rosehip Pie



Serves 24

A Saltry Classic; Saltry Restaurant, Halibut Cove, Alaska


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup butter, melted

3 pounds cream cheese, softened 

6 eggs

2 cups sour cream

1 pound high-quality semisweet chocolate (Marian Beck: top quality European chocolate)


1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2.  Prepare a 12-inch springform pan by cutting baking paper in a circle to fit the bottom.  Mix graham crackers, 1/2 cup sugar, and butter together and press against the bottom and sides of pan, keeping the top edge uniform so it will be attractive when sliced.

3.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Add eggs, 2 at a time, and sour cream, mixing all the while.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and when it's completely melted and silky in texture, add it slowly to the cream cheese mixture, beating constantly.  Pour into the pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours.  Watch it carefully; you don't want it to crack or the edges to puff up too much. 

4.  Serve with a drizzle of chocolate and whipped cream.

Enough with the Summer Salads - The Deans Crave Meat

Suzanne Pollak

The Deans consumed so many salads this summer we are a tiny bit bored. Is our skin turning pale shades of green and leaves sprouting from our ears? We do not know. We do know our bodies need a big hunk of meat.

What better choice than prime rib? Prime rib belongs on many more tables than December's Christmas Dinner. It's a one roast wonder. Sliced left overs can fill french rolls, replace ham in cocktail biscuits, cut into thick strips and tossed into tomato and peach salads, diced for breakfast hash or chopped and combined with something fat and stuffed inside ravioli...the question is when isn't prime rib appropriate? 

The Deans are of two minds when roasting our slabs of ribs. Sometimes we salt them all over and pop in a 425-degree oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Other times we need a quicker job. The oven is cranked up to 500, the meat slathered with salt and pepper and slit randomly with a knife tip to insert bay leaves into those slits. This roast cooks for 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes at 325.

Naturally, the Deans have a few tricks to put up your sleeves: 

  • Make sure your oven heats to the temperature that it says it is. 
  • Use a meat thermometer - at 125 your meat will be rare and delicious. 

Gin and tonics and cold prime rib are a match made in Academy heaven. For the best tonic order Charleston's finest, Jack Rudy

Outside summer buffets, garden cocktail parties, picnics - all are perfect opportunities to showcase the summer prime rib. Its an unusual hot weather menu choice which immediately establishes you as a free thinking original hostess. No one needs to know that you learned the surprise summer menu trick from the Deans. 

Newsflash! The Deans are not as smart as they thought they were.

Suzanne Pollak

everyday (26).JPG

Heretofore, we have been so in love with our own food that we have been too afraid to give up any control when entertaining. Well, getting older has its benefits and one of them is getting a little wiser. Giving up control also can means giving up 18 hours of extra work. The Deans have started embracing an idea we used to find anathema: the potluck. It's not for every entertaining occasion, but when it suits, the potluck affair is genius. Just make sure that one person delegates who brings what so that the meal does not consist of four chocolate cakes and no roast beef.  And did we mention savings? If everyone brings one bottle of wine instead of one person buying five, well, even the math challenged Deans can tell you that the host is saving quite a bit. Participants splurge since they are only buying one bottle, so the quality of wine will be better as well.

Manners tip: even if one dish is far superior to the others, make sure everyone gets thanked and praised, at least by you. 

everyday (32).JPG

The Deans look for silver linings wherever we can find them. Embracing this positive attitude, we noted that spring is tardy this year and rejoiced that stew season has been extended seemingly indefinitely. Everyone still has an opportunity to enjoy Beef Bourguignon - A Potluck Star. No one makes this behemoth for one, so start stewing and invite some friends to bring the salad and dessert.  Eating outside will have to wait until a bit later, but we can all still enjoy some indoor fun together.

Dean Manigault enjoys a dinner with her family

Dean Manigault enjoys a dinner with her family

For more tips on making entertaining easier buy our book here

The Four Horses of the Apocalypse

Suzanne Pollak


This plate depicts all the thrilling activities that can be generated in your living room especially when you serve these amazing hors d’oeuvres! Let the excitement begin!

The name alone connotes guardian angels battling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And to think of that going on in your own living room! If your guests do not go insane upon seeing deep-fried oysters with bacon, then you need new friends. What an outrageous treat and you are a phenom for having provided such a luxury snack. Only you and the Deans will know how easy they are to create.


Makes 24 Hors D’Oeuvres.

Vegetable oil, preferably peanut oil

2 dozen oysters, shucked

12 thin slices bacon, halved crosswise

Pour enough oil in a deep saucepan to reach a depth of at least 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Wrap each oyster with a half piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Add the oysters in batches to the hot oil and fry until the bacon is crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the oysters to a paper towel to drain. Serve hot.

What's a Weekend?

Suzanne Pollak

Photo by Charlest Birnbaum: 2008

Photo by Charlest Birnbaum: 2008

The weekends are not the only two days acceptable to invite people over. Just to prove the point, Dean Manigault invited nine people over Monday night and a raucous chatter filled her halls. The trick to a Monday night party is to keep the evening moving forward, but this does not mean you have to skimp on getting out your silver, china or be relegated to eating in the kitchen, although you may opt to do that. Beginning or mid-week jump-ups can be tons of fun, because people are glad they do not have to provide their own weekday dinner, however most guests still want to get their eight hours so a slightly earlier than usual start time is not out of order.

Dean Manigault’s secret weapon for a Monday night dinner party was simple, fresh and light food. She resurrected shrimp cocktail, which sadly has almost completely disappeared from home retinue, roasted three chickens with an eye for leftovers for the rest of her week, and patronized the finest local bakery to stock up on mixed berry tarts. Before she knew it, her guests had stayed till ten and left en masse with a smile on their faces and a renewed sense of camaraderie.

Recipes for Cocktail Sauce

One again a chill has settled over the Academy. Dean Pollak just asked Dean Manigault how she makes her cocktail sauce and she said she opens a jar. Dean Pollak’s face froze in undisguised mortified rigor, and so hence, both recipes follow.

Dean Manigault’s Cocktail Sauce

1 jar of cocktail sauce on shelf closest to the shrimp is her favorite.

Open jar and serve with shrimp.

Dean Pollak’s Cocktail Sauce

Catsup with copious amounts of hand grated horseradish, lemon juice and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. 

Emergency Plan

Suzanne Pollak

The Farmer's Almanac, which has so far predicted to the day the last two storms, is calling for another ice storm in the Southeast in two weeks. The Deans already know the picnic we are packing for when the Ravenel Bridge closes again and we are stuck in the morass that is the Don Holt Bridge when it is the only artery to and from Mt Pleasant. You can turn that frown upside down when your 20 minute commute stretches into five hours and you will be the envy of all the fellow drivers when they spy you leisurely reaching into your back seat and plucking delicacies laden in your hamper. You will be grinning from ear to ear as you blithely toss chicken bones and champagne corks out your window while listening to soothing tunes on the radio. Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow! If the people in Atlanta had consulted the Deans so much misery could have been averted. It wasn't the evacuation plan that was amiss, it was lack of planning for the evacuation itself. Just don't forget a couple of adult-size diapers, and just like astronauts of yesteryear, you will be ready for any length of car stay. 


After roasting nine thousand chickens, it would be too sad for words if the Deans had learned nothing. Felicitously, we learned plenty, but one fact stood out the most.  A chicken left completely unmolested during cooking renders the crispiest skin of all. No basting or shoving emollients under the skin is necessary.  You can, but it's not needed and we prefer leaving the chicken alone.  We all know about the need for many colors on a plate, but for a car picnic, simplicity cannot be topped.  Ice cold champagne and cold chicken can momentarily turn your Prius into a Rolls Royce.  Just make sure the driver drinks water. No drinking and driving during winter storm evacs, please.

Ingredients: One 4 -5 pound chicken, two teaspoons salt, two tablespoons butter.

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse and pat dry chicken.  Sprinkle with salt.  Melt butter in 9 inch cast iron skillet and then add chicken.  Place skillet in oven and remove after one hour.  Let stand for 10-15 minutes and serve at once or refrigerate for trips unknown.

Valentine's Academy Style

Suzanne Pollak


Our Valentine's Day class sells out instantly for a reason. The Deans are not only the Doctors of Domesticity, but we have also dabbled in the dark arts of seduction. You don't need to read Fifty Shades of Grey to be ready for tonight. All that swinging around on ropes and spanking seems exhausting to the Deans and possibly a bit contrived. If you are into that, the Deans bless you, but we've been romantics for decades and have yet to herniate a disk in the process. Romance to us is a bit more subtle. We ply our prey with the briniest, coldest oysters we can find, but if we feel especially loving, we run these bivalves under the broiler with spinach and Hollandaise, turn the lights down low, and pop open the coldest bottle of Veuve Cliquot. No need to reinvent the wheel for every occasion. Undoubtably, oysters and champagne have been used before for an aphrodisiac, but why? Because they work! And pink flowers and dark chocolate go a long way as well!

Recipe for Oysters Rockefeller for Love




Super Bowl 48 is Upon Us

Suzanne Pollak

Lately, we have been ruminating on how the Deans read from the same playbook as NFL coaches. Experts are experts after all. 

The Super Bowl is starting off on quite a high note this year, literally. Super soprano Renee Fleming is singing the National Anthem and the Deans would watch just for that! First we will dabbing Renee’s signature fragrance, La Voce, behind each ear to get us in the mood, for what, we are not sure.

Just for your edification, Deans contacted an NFL coach on the proper rules and regs of Super Bowl parties. Since he is married to Dean Pollak’s daughter, he had to take the call. In order for a Super Bowl party to go as smoothly as possible, remember these guidelines straight from an award winning coach.

The people who want to watch the game, really want to watch the game. Do not interrupt with any questions, stupid or otherwise. During the Super Bowl the commercials are just as mandatory as the game.

Provide two rooms so the talkers can be sequestered far from the watchers.  This will prevent fist fighting, which could interupt the flow of the festivity.

For our Super Bowl parties we always serve our patented cheese coins. They are the perfect pairing with beer. Any type. Just this once we will let you in our secret. These cheesy coins are our good luck charms. 

A Treasure Trove of Cheese Coins

The Deans receive a cruel lashing from friends if we attend any event without bearing canvas bags overflowing with cheese coins. They are the Academy’s signature treats and Dean Manigault’s muscled right 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.

 Makes about 2 dozen

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

½ teaspoon salt 

Using a standing mixer or food processor, whirl all the ingredients until combined. Form the cheese dough into 2 logs, about 1 inches 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).

Preheat the oven to 325°. Cut the logs into ¼ inch slices and place on baking sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature (or let cool and store in airtight containers for up to 7 days). 

Recipe: Homemade English Muffins

The Deans


Why are homemade English muffins necessary to your life? Eaten for breakfast, slathered in melted butter and honey, they are sublime. And have you ever put your grilled hamburger on one? Beyond good. If you go to the trouble to make these yourself you must fork-split them, which means going around the circumference of the muffin plunging the tines of a fork towards the center until the muffin breaks open. The irregularity of the cut is what creates all the famous nooks and crannies for capturing precious juices.

Makes 8-10 (or 20 minis)


¾ cup buttermilk

1 tablespoons sugar

1 package active dry yeast (do not use quick action)

1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt

3 cups unbleached flour

Cornmeal, for sprinkling

Warm the buttermilk in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat. Mix in the sugar until it dissolves. Let cool. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until bubby and creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the warm buttermilk, yeast mixture, butter, and salt. Stir in 2 cups flour with a wooden spoon and beat until smooth (alternatively, beat in a standing mixer). Continue adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, to make a smooth soft dough that is just slightly sticky. Knead the dough for a minute. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. A chilled dough is easier to handle. Alternatively, cover and let rise in refrigerate overnight.

Punch down the dough. Using a pastry cutter or knife, divide the dough into 8 or 10 pieces; roll into balls. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Set the dough balls on the pan and press each round with the heel of your hand to slightly flatten. Flip rounds over so each side has a bit of cornmeal sticking to dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for ½ hour. Muffins can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to three days.

Preheat oven to 250. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the dough rounds and cook slowly until lightly browned, turning once, about 20 minutes. When muffins are finished cooking in the frying pans, with a spatula place them back into their baking sheets. Bake in oven for another 10 minutes to finish cooking.  Let cool. (The muffins will keep in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

To serve, split the muffins with a fork and toast both sides.