Category Archives: i8tonite

I8tonite: Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash and Becoming an Arizonian

Coconino National Forest: Credit National Park Service
Coconino National Forest: Credit National Park Service

I’m an official resident of Arizona today. Changed over my California driver’s license, an anxiety producing event. I find anything automobile-related makes my heart feel as if it’s at an Indy 500 speed. While driving in circles trying to listen to Ms. GPS exact DMV’s location – in Arizona, it’s called MVD — it dawned on me, I learned how to drive in Texas from an ex-boyfriend’s father, Cecil, a big-hearted man with a mustache to match. Two years later, I finally passed the test in Santa Fe – because I didn’t in Big Horn — and drove to Los Angeles in my first car at the age of 27. I was just a punk, urban kid who only knew trees in city parks and my idea of wildlife were sewer rats and feral felines.

Coconino National Park Service:
Coconino National Park Service:

Clearly, this area of the world has been good for me. With blue skies, mild weather and stunning other-worldly, seemingly vast landscapes that are located only in the American Southwest, it’s an ideal place for rejuvenation. This time, I’ve come looking for a respite. The first was a six-month sojourn from New York City to Santa Fe. Then it was game on in Los Angeles, where it was roller coaster life– all of my making — which didn’t stop for the next 20 years.  It’s what I thought life was supposed to be about, lots of dramas. As I get older, I find I want things to change. I know I’m not the same person I was five years ago. Or ten or twenty. Nor do I wish to be.

It was hard to let go of that license. It’s hard to alter what you think you already know. For me that’s the key, I think I know something or someone, I find out I don’t – especially me. I think it’s why so many people don’t do it. We want to sit and complain about our misery but aren’t willing to work our ways out of it. No matter what happens, I’m glad I moved to Arizona.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Country Hash:

Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Hash is re-using leftovers as in turkey hash after Thanksgiving. Or roast beef, duck, or chicken. It’s such a simple thing to make, but I needed to find the right recipe.  Finally, I found one I adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, which meant par-boiling the potatoes, either sweet or white. I liked this because it meant there wasn’t the extra step of roasting the tubers and then sautéing. I could do everything in one skillet, preferably a cast-iron one. By using a cast iron skillet, I get an excellent browning and crust that I want on the finish.

We are going to need:

  • Your leftover meats: chicken, duck (yum!), roast beef, turkey, or sausage. Venison would be excellent as well. Picked clean, no bones and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • One large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes of about 1 inch or so.
  • One red onion
  • One green, red or yellow pepper.
  • Two cloves of minced garlic.
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley.
  • Butter, wine or stock. If you don’t have these, water is great too. It just adds a little more flavor, but never mind – this is a homey dish that can be cheffed-up, hence the wine or stock

Cubed up all the potatoes as uniformly as possible about an inch — if you’re using a large sweet potato, peel it – and remember to make sure to keep the skins on for the white. Throw the potatoes in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. (It makes it feel Western. HA!) Fill the pan halfway with wine, stock or water, perhaps a mixture of both. Cover. Cook until al dente. You don’t want the spuds cooked all the way through.

While the Idahos are cooking, let’s chop up the onion and the peppers.  Keeping everything at about one inch wide. By this time, the potatoes should be just about done – 10, 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes. Wipe out the pan. Place back on hot burner. Throw in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Melt. Add the potatoes and veggies. Stir. Saute. Add minced garlic, the herbs of your choosing and the leftovers. Add a little more stock, water or wine. Just a splash to help steam, reheat and moisten. Press gently down with a spatula. We want a browned crust on the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir. Press down. Cook for another five. Stir. Is it brown enough? If not, stir some more, pressing gently again. Top with fried, scrambled or poached eggs. Awesomeness!

The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Southern chef Hugh Acheson is the cooking star of the moment…albeit one who is humble and has a really good sense of humor. He proclaims on his website, “To Athens, (Acheson) is the guy who owns those restaurants, has one eyebrow, a wife far better looking than he is and two young children who are the apple of his eye.”

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette
Photo Credit: Emily B. Hall

And yes, with humor, there is always a modicum of truth but Acheson isn’t just the chef with one eyebrow, a beautiful wife and children and the guy who owns those restaurants – four to be exact — in Georgia which include his newest, The Florence (pictured above), the National, Empire State South and the one that started it all, 5 X 10. The Canadian-born but Southern food adopted Acheson is the chef who published an award-winning James Beard cookbook “A New Turn in The South” and won the prestigious award from the culinary organization for “Best Chef, Southeast”. In addition to these impressive accomplishments and many more, he has been awarded Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” (2002), “Mentor of the Year” (2012) and his town newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, presented him with “Restaurant of the Year”.

I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette. Photo by Emily B Hall
Photo credit: Emily B. Hall

Currently, Acheson is promoting his book “The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits” (Clarkson Potter, 2015) which showcases his love of vegetables, his family and cooking in the Southern with simple and easy to use recipes.

If you don’t live in the Atlanta/ Savannah, Georgia area, you have the potential of meeting Mr. Acheson in Los Angeles. He is cooking as the “All Star Chef” – along with “Local All Star Chefs” — Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo – for the James Beard Foundation’s “Night of Culinary Stars” on November 6, 2015. On November 7, he will be signing copies of his cookbook as well as demo-ing recipes at The Grove’s Sur La Table.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):


Chicken Arugula with Buttermilk Dressing. From I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

What is your favorite food?


What do you always have in your fridge?

Feta, carrots, eggs, prosciutto.

What do you cook at home?

Roast chicken with gravy and rice.

What marked characteristic do you despise in your customer?

Everyone is different. I rarely despise anyone.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?

Adventurous eating.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?


I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Beer, wine or cocktail?


Your favorite cookbook author?

Paula Wolfert.

Your favorite kitchen tool?

A bench scraper.

Your favorite ingredient?


Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?

Dishes, just like everyone else.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Middle Eastern.

Chef you most admire?

Mike Solomonov.

Food you like the most?

Middle Eastern.

Food you dislike the most?


How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Six. One radish is the only culinary one.

Early Egg in The Hole. From I8tonite: with Chef Hugh Acheson featuring Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Radish and a Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Recipe: Butter lettuce salad with feta, radish, and dill pickle vinaigrette

Clean the lettuce. Dry and set aside.

In a blender, puree 1/2 a dill pickle and then add two tablespoons of cider vinegar and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season with salt. Crumble some feta and slice some radishes, and then add those to the lettuces, lightly torn up to the size of your mouth. Dress to your taste. Toss well. Eat.

The End. Go Eat.