Joni Woolf: Two new main dish recipes — for self and others

Published 11:17 am Sunday, May 12, 2019

A weekend trip to Saluda, North Carolina, to visit my former business partner, Lynn Cass and her husband, Mike, resulted in my coming home with two new main dish recipes, as well as good memories of the visit. Lynn entertains beautifully, and it seems, effortlessly. There is an art to that, and she is in full possession of it. Accompanying me on the visit were Terry Holland and Jeff Logan, who treated the group with a small dinner party on Sunday night, so I came away with recipes worthy of passing on.


Most of us have heard of, perhaps ordered at a restaurant, or even prepared a recipe for Shrimp and Grits. Some years ago, I wrote in this column about the Shrimp and Grits recipe from Crooks Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It has become the standard by which many cooks judge their own efforts. But this recipe is not your typical offering. Called Shrimp and Grits Dressing, it is a casserole dish, and gives new definition to Shrimp and Grits. I recommend it highly.


Shrimp and Grits Dressing

1 pound peeled, medium-sized raw shrimp

3 cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup uncooked regular grits

½ cup butter

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

1 cup chopped green onions

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Devein shrimp, if desired. Bring broth and next two ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in grits, and return to a boil; reduce heat to low, and stir in butter. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir together eggs and next four ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grit mixture into egg mixture; add egg mixture to remaining hot grits mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp until well blended. Pour grits mixture into a lightly greased 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until mixture is set. Let stand 10 minutes. Add a side of fresh asparagus, cooked just until crisp, a good French bread, and a nice white wine, or lemonade, and you have a splendid meal for family or for guests.

Saturday night we dined at a new restaurant called Azalea Bistro, on Saluda’s main street. It had opened only three days before and was working to get the kinks out. Offering a five-course meal, it was a bit of a stretch in a small mountain town, but tourism is important to the local economy, so perhaps they’ll make it. Sunday night, Terry and Jeff entertained a dinner party of eight, with their own rendering of Beef Stroganoff. It was delicious.


Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds filet tenderloin, cut into large bite-size pieces

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ cup Marsala wine

Flour (about ¼ cup)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms or ½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons oil

2 cups beef broth or ½ of a 10 ½-ounce can beef bouillon

1 can golden mushroom soup

½ teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce (optional)

1 pint sour cream

Marinate beef with salt and pepper, Worcestershire, and wine for 15 minutes. Dredge meat with flour. Saute over high heat until lightly browned (about 3 minutes). Blend flour, tomato paste, golden mushroom soup, and beef bouillon together with whisk, and add to meat, pouring off any excess oil first. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender (Time will vary according to the tenderness of the meat). In another pan, brown onions in the butter. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute; add remaining marsala wine. Add to meat along with all other seasonings and cook together about 30 minutes on low. Just before serving, add the sour cream, and more red wine, if needed. Serve over fluffy rice or buttered noodles. (Serves 6; eight recipes for 50 people.)


It is a compliment to the host to ask for a recipe, so don’t be shy. If you enjoy the meal, and would like to try it yourself, ask politely for a copy. Chances are you’ll be sent one by email, saving the need for transcription. The internet is filled with recipes of all kinds. A safe bet is to enjoy new recipes at a friend’s house, where the recipe has been tried and tested. Then it’s ready for your table.


Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at