Going Nuts for GREENville - St. Patrick, Pecans, March Hares, and Small Plate Crawl (y'all)

small plate crawl

First things first!  This coming week, Mar. 22nd - 24th, Greenville is throwing a Small Plate Crawl and the Swamp Rabbit Inn is participating with the Food Truck Stop, so, sign up and come on down!

Greenville Small Plate Crawl is a fun, interactive, self-guided restaurant crawl. Print the Passport and visit as many restaurants as you can at your own pace. Each restaurant is offering a special Crawl Menu priced from $4 to $10.

If you wish to be entered in prize drawings, go to your App store and download a FREE QR Code Reader to your phone or mobile device. Scan the QR Code at the first restaurant you crawl and you will be re-directed to ChekTrek.com to Register. OR, Register at ChekTrek.com (http://chektrek.com) before you crawl if you don’t want to bother with Registering while you are crawling. If you Registered during a previous ChekTrek event, you just need to Login and crawl.

Food Trucks at Swamp Rabbit Inn

Menus posted at each truck


Tuesday, March 22 Lunch: Circa Doughnuts, King of Pops, Gypsy Kitchen Dinner: Gypsy Kitchen, Automatic Taco

Wednesday, March 23 Lunch: Circa Doughnuts, King of Pops Dinner: Automatic Taco

Thursday, March 24 Lunch: Circa Doughnuts, Gypsy Kitchen, King of Pops Dinner: Gypsy Kitchen


CRUNCH!!  “What the…?”  THUNK!  “Huh?  Oh, are these ACTUAL pecans?  Like, the ones you can eat?”  Why yes, Dear Visitor to The South, they are.

The pecan tree is a species of hickory (ever heard of a ‘hickory switch’?  Mmm hmm!).  “Pecan” is an Algonquian word meaning ‘a nut requiring a stone to crack’.  They take 12 years to mature from a seedling before they can produce nuts and can live for more than 300 years.  You can find practical info and more details here: http://www.wikihow.com/Harvest-Pecans.

If you live in the South, pecans are ubiquitous.  Which may explain why the Carolinas are a haven for squirrels!  If you don’t have one in your own yard, there is one next door, on your street, near your work, your school… They are everywhere, all the time.  There is a  30 foot specimen shading the back deck of the Swamp Rabbit Inn.  Each good rain storm knocks the nuts down in various stages of development.  They begin to fall in… the fall, but that doesn’t mean there are ready to eat.  Edible pecans litter the yards, roads and our deck in late winter/early spring.  All pecans are not created equal.  The cultivated varieties are larger, have thinner shells, and come out of the shells more easily than the wild ones we crunch under our feet.  However, they are still quite tasty if you are patient (pick them up before you step on them) and don’t mind your pecans in smaller pieces.

What to do with all those damned pecans?  Whether you buy yours at a store (wise) or scoop them from the grass (paleo), I thought I would be helpful and post some great recipes to use them up!

You can make all these easily and delight your friends, yes you Pe-CAN!

Spiced Pecans, Alton Brown

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add both sugars and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheetpan and separate them with a fork or spatula. Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Can be stored up to 3 weeks.

Basil Pecan Pesto, Bunny Blogger

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed well and dried well, then finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted golden brown and cooled
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you want a more rustic texture you can chop by hand, or forego the chopping and prepare this in a food processor.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Stir and taste, adding salt and pepper to your liking.  Keep refrigerated.  Use for pasta, sandwich spread, or dip.  Best when allowed to sit a few hours for flavors to combine or overnight before serving.

Pecan Sandies, Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined. Fold in pecans.

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, and place on two baking sheets, 2 inches apart. With the dampened bottom of a glass, lightly flatten each ball.

Bake until cookies are golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

Cinnamon Pecan Rugelach, Elizabeth Karmel, Seattle Times

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup sour cream

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the butter, then use a pastry cutter or two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour until fully incorporated and the mixture resembles small peas.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sour cream, then add to the flour mixture. Mix well to form a dough. Shape the dough into a disc, then dust with flour.  Divide the disk into thirds, then wrap each piece in wax paper.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, in a food processor combine both sugars, the pecans and cinnamon.  Pulse until finely ground, then set aside.

When ready to assemble, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with either a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Work with one piece of the dough at a time, leaving the others in the refrigerator until needed.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick and 12 to 13 inches around.  Sprinkle a bit of the filling over the dough, then use a rolling pin to gently press the topping into the dough.  Use a paring knife or pizza cutter to cut the circle into 16 wedges (make 8 cuts across the circle).

One at a time, roll up each wedge starting with the wide end. Gently curl the ends inward to resemble a croissant. Sprinkle a bit of the filling over the rolled rugelach, then place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wedges, then repeat the entire process with the remaining thirds of the dough.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned on top and the sugar has melted and caramelized around the sides of the cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in airtight containers.

Maple Oat Pecan Scones, (like Starbucks) Food.com

  • 1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups flour
  • 2  tablespoons sugar
  • 1⁄2  teaspoon salt
  • 1  tablespoon baking powder
  • 2  tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons cold butter (small pieces)
  • 1  large egg
  • 1⁄2 cup  half-and-half or 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1⁄2-3⁄4  teaspoon maple extract
  • 2⁄3  cup coarsely chopped pecans

Maple Glaze

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Using a food processor or blender, finely grind oats.  In a mixer, mix flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Add maple syrup and butter and mix well.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with the cream and maple extract.  Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well.  Add pecans and mix just to incorporate.

Place dough on a floured surface. Knead and pat dough into a 8 to 10 inch circle and cut into 8 wedges.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place wedges on top and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until light brown.  Remove scones from oven to wire rack. Let cool about 3 to 5 minutes.  Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Adjust the amount of water to get to the desired consistency. I like the glaze to be rather thick. Spread lots of glaze over each scone and dry about 15 minutes before serving.

March Hares

march hares

However you choose to spend your St Patricks Day, with traditional foods and beverages, or maybe a little river dancing, do enjoy and stay safe.  Know that I, Percy, will be imbibing.  Why? Well, Easter is coming and for starters my brother in law, Harrold won’t stop modeling for these: 

When you have 37 sisters one of them is bound to marry a marshmallow head!  And the season is only just beginning...  Sheesh!   Cheers!