RECIPES: When it’s a short distance from farm to table

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails, known for its garden, gets creative with produce

Nestled in the Crabapple Historic District in Milton, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails recently celebrated its 16th anniversary.

The restaurant’s long-running farm-to-table concept is driven by a kitchen garden known as Milton’s Acre. And executive chef and managing partner Derek Dollar, who has been at Milton’s nearly 12 years, curates events among the vegetables, fruits and herbs.

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Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

One favorite, the Farmyard Chow Down, has been dubbed “a Lowcountry boil on steroids,” with up to 300 guests, who enjoy an Airstream bar and live music, in addition to the sumptuous dinner.

“We grow everything we can — anything that’s good for Georgia,” Dollar said during a stroll through the garden one hot afternoon this summer.

That includes lettuces, summer squash, green beans, multiple varieties of heirloom tomatoes, okra, peppers, corn and cucumbers, plus blackberries and muscadine grapes, happy sunflowers and bug-fighting marigolds.

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Sometimes there are visiting critters, who enjoy the bounty, too.

“We still have deer problems,” Dollar allowed. “They’ve created a palate over the years. They like okra and green beans a lot now. It’s kind of strange because it used to be tomatoes and arugula.”

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Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

For his kitchen, Dollar is especially fond of just-picked tomatoes.

“We say they still have the sun in them,” he enthused. ”We really like to grow Cherokee Purples, which are indigenous to this region. I like Green Zebras a lot, too. I don’t think they need salt, and they’re nice and tangy.

“In season, we’ll get 60-80 pounds a day coming in the back door. We try to use tomatoes in anything we can, from all kinds of salads, to just making jams, and succotash is great. The garden helps food costs, and you also know where your food comes from.”

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Most of the year, Milton’s Acre is maintained by a single gardener, Charlie Boatright, but the staff helps out during planting time in early April, and again in late summer.

“Not a lot of people have a farm that’s a hundred yards down the hill,” Dollar said. “The flavor, the freshness, the moisture content, and the nutrients, that’s what we’re after.”

Beyond that, Dollar is a big fan of bold flavors and bright colors.

“If you put something like lemon grits on the menu, it better taste like lemon,” he said. “Obviously, you eat with your eyes first, so I like to use different colors, and sometimes that’s how dishes start with me. And I’m all about doing classics with a twist.”

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

RECIPES

These recipes from Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails executive chef Derek Dollar feature vegetable-driven dishes inspired by the restaurant’s kitchen garden, known as Milton’s Acre. There’s also a brie cheesecake from pastry chef Michelle Chan that’s topped with honey and fresh blueberries.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Chatel Farms Rib-eye with Succotash ‘Oscar’

The rib-eye is the most popular steak on the Milton’s menu. It’s served with succotash made with the farm’s Silver Queen sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and asparagus. And it’s spiced with house-made smoked paprika chimichurri.

Rib-eye Steak
  • 1 (14-ounce) boneless rib-eye steak
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • Succotash “Oscar” (recipe follows)
  • Season the rib-eye with salt and black pepper. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the butter, garlic and thyme. Raise the heat to medium-high and sear the steak 3-4 minutes on both sides. Remove from heat and allow to rest 3-4 minutes.
  • Spoon the succotash over the rib-eye and serve immediately. Serves 2.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving (steak only): 900 calories (percent of calories from fat, 82), 38 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 83 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 261 milligrams cholesterol, 179 milligrams sodium.

Succotash ‘Oscar’
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 2 ears) Silver Queen or white corn cut off the cob
  • 1/2 cup asparagus, sliced on the bias in 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 pound lump blue crab, picked over for shells
  • 1/3 cup Smoked Paprika Chimichurri (recipe follows)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a saute pan, melt the butter over high heat. Add the corn and asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the crab, chimichurri and water. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to rest for 1 minute in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 180 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 13 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 9 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 414 milligrams sodium.

Smoked Paprika Chimichurri
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula or your preferred hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Unused chimichurri can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 weeks in a plastic, airtight container. Makes 2 cups (1/3 cup used for recipe).

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 20 calories (percent of calories from fat, 90), trace protein, trace carbohydrates, trace fiber, 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 11 milligrams sodium.

Credit: Brandon Amato

Credit: Brandon Amato

Summer Squash Casserole

Summer squash and zucchini are abundant during the summer at Milton’s Acre, and squash casserole is a good way to use them up. But this version of the popular Southern side dish is almost hearty enough to be a main dish.

Summer Squash Casserole
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, more as needed
  • 2 pounds yellow squash, 1-inch dice
  • 2 pounds zucchini, 1-inch dice
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup roasted, canned piquillo peppers cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • To a small pot over medium heat, add the cream and cook until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the Asiago cheese, basil and thyme, whisk together and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil and saute squash and zucchini until tender. Add onions and saute until tender. Add piquillo peppers and the reduced cream mixture, stirring to combine, then simmer until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, top evenly with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 373 calories (percent of calories from fat, 68), 10 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 29 grams total fat (16 grams saturated), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 297 milligrams sodium.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Green Tomato and Peach Chow Chow

Milton’s zippy green tomato and peach chow chow is often served over fried green tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese. It’s also great on roasted chicken or fish, or as an accompaniment to a cheese plate.

Green Tomato and Peach Chow Chow
  • 1 quart chopped green tomatoes, seeded and membranes removed
  • 2 cups yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed
  • 2 cups red bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed
  • 2 cups yellow onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and membranes removed
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 pounds peaches, skins and pits removed
  • Working in batches, puree the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and jalapenos in a food processor. Transfer the pureed vegetables to a heavy-bottomed pot and add the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, yellow mustard seed, red pepper flakes and celery seed.
  • Simmer over even, medium heat for about 30 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, puree the peaches. Add the peaches to the pot and cook an additional 10-15 minutes. Makes 3 quarts.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per 1/4-cup serving: 35 calories (percent of calories from fat, 6), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 293 milligrams sodium.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Brie Cheesecake

You’ll need a 12-inch springform pan, heavy-duty aluminum foil, and a large roasting pan for the water bath. But the result is a creamy and delicious no-crack cheesecake, drizzled with honey and topped with blueberries.

Brie Cheesecake
  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 pounds softened cream cheese
  • 1 pound softened brie cheese, without the rind
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Honey and fresh blueberries or other seasonal fruit, for serving
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the crust: Combine the ground cookies, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well. Press the mix into the bottom of a 12-inch springform pan. Bake 8 minutes, and allow to cool. Do not remove crust from pan.
  • For the filling: To the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, add the cream cheese and brie. Beat slowly on low speed to combine until creamy. With the mixer still running, add the sugar, heavy cream, flour and vanilla, until combined. Then add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl to ensure there are no lumps, and the mixture is smooth.
  • Line the sides and bottom of the springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent water leaking into the crust and filling. Pour the filling over the crust, then place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and add boiling water to about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake 1 hour, rotating once.
  • Remove from oven and let cool 30 minutes at room temperature, then place in refrigerator to cool for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Slice the cake and serve topped with drizzled honey and fresh blueberries or other seasonal fruit. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 997 calories (percent of calories from fat, 55), 25 grams protein, 88 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 62 grams total fat (35 grams saturated), 329 milligrams cholesterol, 965 milligrams sodium.

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