Southern food is a huge passion of ours at Southern Weddings–we love learning about it, cooking it, eating it, and even designing photo shoots inspired by it (remember the biscuit shoots in V4 and V6 and the pie shoot in V5?). The thing we love most about it, though? The community it creates–around a dining room table, or any time Southerners anywhere in the world bond over a shared love for shrimp and grits or hummingbird cake. Most recently, our love for Southern food led us to Elena, who started her blog, Biscuits and Such, when she was hunting for her grandmother’s country-style steak recipe, and couldn’t find an online source for Southern food that resonated with her. Hundreds of recipes and three cookbooks later, we’re thrilled that she has filled that void herself, and gave us a peek into the kitchen she shares with her husband, Dan. Just like any good Southern kitchen, Elena’s blog makes me want to sit a spell and stay awhile…especially if I can get a taste of one of those fried chicken biscuits!
By day: Dan is a web developer for a company based in San Francisco, and he works from our home in Wilmington. I teach Montessori preschool, which means that I spend my days with the most insightful, hilarious, crazy people you can imagine. In 2008, I started a Southern food blog, Biscuits and Such, which has taken me on an amazing journey that has included three cookbooks and some of the most incredible experiences and opportunities.
How they met: We met at the Maryland Institute College of Art. We were in a two-year curatorial studies course together and became great friends. After a few years, we took the leap and started dating, and we haven’t looked back since.
Their wedding: We were married in Beaufort, North Carolina in late September 2009. It rained like crazy, I wore a seersucker dress, and it was totally perfect. We were young and fresh out of art school, so we did everything ourselves, from letterpressing the invitations to DJ-ing the reception on our laptop. The biggest compliment we received was that it felt like us. It was a great day.
The meal planning: Meal planning is collaborative. We try to follow the seasons with our meals, which means that we have different go-to recipes during different times of the year. Each week, we’ll both suggest a few things that we’re hankering for, and we’ll build the menu from there, drawing inspiration from what is available at the farmer’s market and grocery store.
The cooking: I do most of the cooking, though Dan is no slouch in the kitchen. We work together when we host people, and he is an amazing sous chef. Lately, he’s also been experimenting with charcuterie, which is something I completely support!
Their favorite meal-related memory: We’ve eaten a lot of great meals together! Usually, we eat pretty simply when it’s just the two of us and pull out all the stops for guests. Recently, we decided to treat ourselves and made a really extravagant dinner in: sous vide steak, buttery smashed potatoes, wilted arugula, and creme brûlée. It was so nice to refocus our culinary energy on each other–it’s a good reminder of what is important!
Elena and Dan’s ten favorite recipes:
1. Chicken Biscuits: This is one of my favorite foods, and lately, I’ve been making them with jalapeño honey and dill pickle slices. They hit the spot!
2. Fresh Pasta: We made fresh pasta with friends recently and were so blown away by how easy and delicious it was. I don’t think we can go back!
3. Shrimp and Grits: Everyone has their own take on this classic Southern Lowcountry recipe. I like mine with slow-roasted tomatoes, bacon, and just a little bit of brown sugar.
4. Pulled Pork Tacos: My students will tell you in a heartbeat that my favorite food is tacos, and pulled pork tacos are up there on my list of all-time favorite meals.
5. Pimento Cheese Squash Blossoms: I am itching for spring to come for so many reasons, not least of which, I am ready to fry up another big batch of pimento cheese squash blossoms!
6. Ginger Syrup: I cannot get enough ginger lately, and ginger syrup is a great way to add a splash of flavor to sparkling water or a cocktail.
7. Eastern North Carolina Barbecue: One of the things that North Carolina is known for is our tangy, vinegar-based barbecue. I myself am partial to the Eastern NC treatment: apple cider vinegar, red pepper, and salt.
8. Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce: I want to pour this burnt orange caramel sauce all over everything.
9. Cherry Mountain Pie: Every year growing up, my grandma would make me a mountain pie, which is pretty much a dump cobbler, for my birthday. It was one thing that made my birthday special, and every year I still celebrate with a mountain pie on my birthday.
10. Recipes from Not Without Salt: Not Without Salt and her series “Dating My Husband” has been one of my favorites over the past few years. Her book is gorgeous, and I’m excited to keep cooking from it!