You girl had a star-studded weekend. It involved food, charity, celebrities, networking, laughter food, wine, food, dope outfits and more networking. I will share it all this week. For this rainy Monday in the DC area, I decided to start out with the most amazing Chef I know and adore Chef Carla Hall and her Calaloo: Crab and Coconut Spinach Soup.
Listen, I’m a good time and I love people who like to have a good time. Chef Carla is a freaking good time, she brings nonstop laughter. On Saturday The Style Medic and I road-tripped to the gorgeous Salamander Resort & Spa owned by the amazing Sheila Johnson to attend the St. Jude Wine Country Garden Harvest. Put a pin in that and we will revisit this a bit more on Wednesday when I give the full recap.
The event is part of a national culinary series; it highlights local growers, wineries and celebrity chefs with a focus on the farm-to-table movement and St. Jude’s commitment to the nutrition and treatment of their patients. We started out with a Cooking Demonstration with celebrity Chef, Carla Hall.
Carla Hall is a co-host of ABC’s Emmy award-winning, popular lifestyle series “The Chew,” seated alongside restaurateurs and “Iron Chef America” stars Mario Batali and Michael Symon, entertaining expert Clinton Kelly and health and wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz. Hall is best known as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars”, where she won over audiences with her fun catch phrase, “Hootie Hoo” and her philosophy to always cook with love. Carla’s approach to cooking blends her classic French training and Southern upbringing for a twist on traditional favorites. She is committed to health and balance in everyday living.
Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen — the chef’s first restaurant —opened in June 2016. A fast casual love letter to Nashville, the restaurant features iconic Nashville hot chicken and Southern sides, which are anchored by Hall’s family recipes and perfected with her personal touches. Her cookbooks are “Carla’s Comfort Food: Favorite Dishes from Around the World” and “Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You”. Hall is a true believer that, “If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation.”
Carla Hall’s Cooking Tips
Tip #1: “If you aren’t in a good mood the best thing to make for dinner is a reservation.” – Chef Carla
Tip #2: Taste your food before you serve it to people.
Tip #3: Salt = Compliments if you don’t use it “you ain’t gon get no compliments“.
Tip #4: Put salt in while cooking ONLY so it can dissolve into your ingredients. If you do it after the salt is just sitting on top of your food.
Tip #5: When you are going to purée food, don’t worry about cutting presentation it won’t matter.
Tip #6: When you cook with vegetables you don’t need stock it will make its own while it cooks.
Tip #7: When cooking with bay leaves or habanero make sure you count them before you put them in the pan to cook. Once the meal is ready make sure you remove the same amount you put in.
Tip #8: DO NOT put lemon juice in your green soup; it will turn your soup brown.
Tip #9: Put a pretty garnish your soup before you serve it.
Tip #10: Enjoy!
After Chef Carla gave us samples she came around and chatted with each of us.
I told you she worked the room. The young lady on the far left is Betsy Davis, Mayor of Middleburg, Virginia. Carla is chatting with Salman, we met him at the event and he even snapped a few photos for us.
Chef Carla Hall’s Calaloo: Crab and Coconut Spinach Stew
- 3 strips bacon
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 8 okra, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 scotch bonnet chile, slit open
- 1 pound king crab legs, cut into individual legs
- 3 cups Chicken Stock, homemade or store-bought unsalted broth
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 pound baby spinach
- In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, turning, until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and reserve.
- To the fat in the pan, add the pepper, onion, scallions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the okra, thyme, and scotch bonnet chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the okra is just tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the crab legs and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the crab legs, chile, and thyme to a dish; discard the chile and thyme. Stir the spinach into the skillet until it wilts, about 1 minute. Transfer to a blender and puree until finely chopped. Season to taste with salt, keeping in mind that both the bacon and crab are naturally salty. Top with the bacon and serve with the crab legs.