You don't have to go down south to get a taste of down-home cooking. Just make yourself a batch of Paul Jagielski's South Carolina Shrimp and Grits. The chef, who owns Henry's at the Barn in Avon where Low Country cuisine is the specialty of the house. He wowed folks with his appetizer at Cleveland's Finest Hors D'oeuvre Contest sponsored by Our Lady of the Wayside this past February, walking away with first place honors. Sauteed shrimp, a splash of white wine, andouille sausage, sweet peppers and, he says, "just enough spice to keep things interesting," served over speckled hard grits, elevate the humble mush to high-class fare. A generous- hearted guy, he didn't hesitate when we asked if he'd share his prize-winning recipe.
The chef, who's from Elyria but attended culinary school in Charleston, has some tips for getting beyond cheese and crackers at your next party.
Think of starters as mini versions of a main course.
Don't limit yourself to finger foods; small plates are okay.
Make soup, serve it in shot glasses.
Everything's better on a homemade biscuit, and you can bake them in advance.
And, most importantly, "get out of the kitchen and join the fun. That's southern style."