The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Pick Up Some Soup … and Keep the Beautiful Bowl

What’s better than buying a nice big bowl of homemade soup to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday – or any cold winter’s day, for that matter?

Getting to keep the bowl, too.

And not just any bowl, but a beautiful ceramic one handcrafted by West Virginia artisans whose work is often on display at Tamarack.

This Saturday, just a day before the big game, Unity of Kanawha Valley will hold a “Souper Bowl Saturday” soup and bowl sale at the church, on the corner of Bridge and Myrtle roads in South Hills.

Homemade soups, breads and tasty baked goods will be sold, along with the opportunity to purchase ceramic soup bowls created by regional potters. The Tamarack Foundation worked with artists from St. Albans to Hinton to donate bowls for this weekend’s sale.

You can purchase just the soup or the soup in a decorative bowl. Potters will also have order forms on hand in case you’d like to purchase additional matching bowls or a complete set.

Get some soup to eat in, purchase a bowl to take out or stock up for the game.

Sounds souper!

The sale will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, with proceeds going to the church. For more information, call 304-345-0021.

West Virginia Gin Comes Up Short at ‘Food Oscars’

You may have read earlier this month that an up-and-coming West Virginia distillery was nominated as a national finalist in the prestigious Good Food Awards.

Considered the Oscars of the industry, the Good Food Awards reviewed nearly 1,400 entries before selecting Lewisburg’s Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin as one of only 184 finalists from 31 states to make the cut for this year’s ceremony.

The awards were handed out last week and, alas, Smooth Ambler didn’t win. But as they say at the Oscars, it really is an honor just to be nominated among such great company.

Smooth Ambler’s gin was nominated based on product quality (as judged through blind tastings) and their approach to environmental and social responsibility. It was West Virginia’s only finalist, although 14 honorees come from a Washington, D.C.-anchored “food shed” that covers West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Although I’m not a gin aficionado by any means, I have sampled Smooth Ambler and have to say it’s pretty special. Earning a score of 91 (and comments like “it really sings” and “it’s perfect”) by American Craft Spirits, Greenbrier Gin blends its juniper base with citrus and black-pepper spice to create a crisp, smooth and luxurious finish.

To learn more, visit and

Huntington Restaurant Offering Inaugural Meal

If you happened to catch the presidential inauguration on TV this week, you may have wondered just exactly what all of those dignitaries were noshing on when they sat down for an elegant luncheon after the ceremony.

Well, wonder no more.

Savannah’s Restaurant in Huntington (a fantastic place, by the way!) is celebrating the 57th Inauguration of the President of the United States this weekend by recreating the meal served that day. The three-course menu includes …

  • First course: Lobster Tail with New England Chowder Sauce
  • Second course: Grilled Bison with Red Potato Horseradish Cake
  • Third course: Apple Pie with Ice Cream, Cheese and Honey

The menu is available as a three-course prix fixe meal or individual courses may be ordered a la carte. Wine recommendations for each course also will be included on the special menu, which is available tonight and tomorrow night only, Jan. 25-26.

For more information or reservations, call 304-529-0919 or visit The restaurant is located at 1208 Sixth Ave. in Huntington.

It’s National Pie Day. Bake, Slice and Celebrate!

Wednesday (Jan. 23) is National Pie Day – WOOT! – so here are a few fun facts from various sources to mark the occasion …

  • Nearly one out of five (19%) of Americans prefer apple pie, followed by pumpkin (13%), pecan (12%), banana cream (10%) and cherry (9%).
  • Pie isn’t just for dessert anymore! Thirty-five percent of Americans say they’ve had pies for breakfast. Pies as lunch (66%) and midnight snacks (59%) also have a popular following.
  • When asked what dessert Americans would prefer a friend or family member bring to their house for a holiday dinner, pie was the winner with 29%. Cake (17%) and cookies (15%) rounded out the top three.
  • The expression “as American as apple pie” traces back to 14th century England. The Pilgrims brought their pie-making skills, along with      apple seeds, to America. As the popularity of apple pie spread throughout the nation, the phrase grew to symbolize American prosperity.
  • The term “upper crust” refers to early America when the economy was difficult and supplies were hard to come by. Only affluent households could afford ingredients for both the upper and lower crusts of a pie, thus the term “upper crust” was born.

Now, go make one. 🙂

Pumpkin Sage Pasta a Satisfying Winter Dish

Although it’s generally enjoyed as part of a bountiful fall harvest, pumpkin should definitely stay in your cooking repertoire throughout the winter months, too.

Pumpkin Sage Pasta
Pumpkin Sage Pasta

Its earthy flavor adds a special “oomph” to savory soups and stews, risottos and casseroles. And we all know the starring role it plays on the sweet side – in pies, muffins, pancakes.

After a usually mild December gives way to January and February’s bone-chilling cold, I find myself craving warm, hearty pasta dishes more than usual. And there’s a place for pumpkin in those, too.

Try this awesome Pumpkin Sage Pasta, which adds fresh sage, Gruyère cheese, white wine and shallots for a richly satisfying dish.

The recipe is included below, and you can see it being prepared by clicking on this demo.


6 cups cooked short-cut pasta, such as trottole, spirals, penne or bow ties, kept warm
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon instant chicken flavor bouillon
1 can (12.5 fluid ounces) evaporated lowfat 2% milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons grated Gruyère cheese
Ground black pepper to taste

  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage leaves and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in wine and cook for 2 minutes or until reduced slightly. Stir in water and bouillon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to infuse flavors. With tongs, remove and discard sage leaves.
  3. Stir evaporated milk and pumpkin into skillet and heat through. Stir in Parmesan cheese and Gruyère cheese until melted. Add cooked pasta to skillet, then stir to coat and heat through.
  4. Season with pepper and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves, if desired, before serving.

Leftover Eggnog? Make Tasty Scones, French Toast!

So here’s the thing …

I love a mug or two of eggnog this time of year. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top (maybe) and a splash of rum, whiskey or brandy inside (definitely).

The holidays just aren’t the same without it.

But after a few days, I’m pretty much over it until next Christmas. I mean, the stuff is pretty heavy – like drinking melted ice cream – and there’s only so much abuse your arteries can take.

So what to do with your eggnog leftovers?

I shared an awesome recipe (below) for Eggnog and Dried Cranberry Scones a few weeks ago. And here’s another idea: Eggnog French Toast. Oh yeah.

For breakfast Sunday morning, I soaked a couple thick slices of whole grain bread in a bath of whisked eggs, eggnog (instead of milk) and a dusting of cinnamon. Then I cooked it up in a skillet just like regular French toast. Man, was it good!?

Eggnog Scones with Dried Cranberries

3 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cups dried cranberries
grated rind of half an orange

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and stir until the mixture forms coarse crumbs, leaving some large crumbs. Add dried cranberries, orange rind and eggnog, and stir gently until the dough pulls together and no dry parts remain in bowl, being careful not to over-mix.

2. Gather dough and knead a few times to make a cohesive mass. Roll out to a thickness of 1 inch and cut into triangles or desired shape. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

3. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar before placing in oven. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Serve warm.

Makes 24 scones. Recipe from Shelburne Inn & China Beach Retreat in Seaview, Wash.