Tasting Western Virginia-Grilled Apple Ginger Trout Fillets

Neither the apple nor the rainbow trout are truly native to Virginia, but both have been flourishing in the area for years. Virginia is scattered with apple orchards open to the public. Every year families are welcomed onto the orchards to pick and bring home baskets full of apples.

Trout were once abundant in Virginia, especially the brook trout, but due to habitat loss the populations have severely declined. Trout need cooler streams, often enjoying mountain streams with cool spring water. Over the last 30 years the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been working to rebuild lost habitats and repopulate the trout. The rainbow trout is native to the West coast of the United States but has been introduced into many Virginia rivers. In May Virginia rivers are stocked with rainbow trout.

This week’s traditional Blue Ridge recipe is slightly less native but still very tasty, grilled apple ginger trout. IMG_20140921_173843_925

1-12 ounces can of frozen apple juice, thawed
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 small bunch green onions, chopped (using the whole onion)
6 7-8 ounce rainbow trout fillets

1) In a large container (with a lid) mix together: apple juice, garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy cause, and green onions. Shake well.

2) Place the fillets in a shallow baking pan and add marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. (marinating overnight is recommended, up to 24 hours is fine)

3) Preheat grill to high, or prep charcoal.

4) Place fillets skin side down, cook for roughly four minutes. Turn and cook for about another minute.



Helpful Hints
* The marinade can be premade and stored if you’re short on time during the week

To make this a full and healthy meal try a side of grilled apple and almond quinoa!


Tasting Western Virginia- Sweet Potato Hash

The third traditional Blue Ridge dish we have prepared is sweet potato hash. Sweet potatoes are a starchy, sugary, root enjoyed by many, especially around Thanksgiving. The sweet potato was originally farmed in Central America but quickly spread throughout the world. Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing the sweet potato out of the Americas and sharing it with the rest of the world, even though he thought he was bringing back a new variety of yam.Throughout the United States many varieties of sweet potatoes have been grown. During the 19th century the Nansemond Potato, grown in Virginia, became a favorite for many cooks in states on the Northern East Coast and Virginia began shipping sweet potatoes north to fulfill the demand for a sturdy potato that could be boiled. Many of the Southern cooks preferred softer potatoes that could be baked and the Southern Queen Potato became popular. Sweet potatoes also became a popular feed for livestock in many IMG_20140920_191756_614Southern states. Sweet potato hash is a simple dish that only takes about 30 minutes to prepare. The sweet potato is equal parts sweet and savory so it is great with dinner or breakfast.

*2 Tablespoons  Butter
*1/2 Cup Diced Onion
*2 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
*2 Teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
*Large Pan



1) Peel and chop sweet potatoes.

2) Heat butter in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions. Stir often, until onions are caramelized.

3) Add sweet potato and oregano. Cook until potatoes are tender. Stir often.

4) Season with salt and pepper.

 Helpful Hints
Make sure the lip on your pan is tall enough for you to stir the potatoes without them spilling onto the stove.

To make this a full dinner try baking some chicken with rosemary and adding a few fresh vegetables! This could also make a tasty breakfast if you add a fried egg, some cheese, vegetables, and of course bacon.


Tasting Western Virginia- Cheese and Beer Soup

For our second traditional Blue Ridge recipe we have attempted a hearty dish that will certainly keep you warm as we head into the cooler fall months. Cheese and Beer soup can find it’s heritage in many European countries, but is most closely associated with Germany. The key to keeping the recipe traditional is to stick with a full bodied lager. German immigrants to the United States brought with them a new style of beer that Americans were not yet brewing, the lager. Before the Germans most beer drinkers were consuming ales but it did not take long for the lager to become the most popular beer style in America. As German immigrants made their way through America many began to settle in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, thanks to this transition we now have Blue Ridge style cheese and beer soup.

Cheese and Beer Soup.

As with the mountain pie the traditional recipes needed to be changed because of the difference in available ingredients. The soup we have created is a true Blue Ridge recipe consisting of cheese, carrots, and…popcorn!

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup popcorn
1 tbs whole butter
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 pound cabbage
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 tbs minced garlic
6 ounces full-bodied lager beer
2 pounds of mild cheddar cheese
2 tbs dry mustard
1 pint heavy cream
tabasco sauce
worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper

*This makes 1 gallon of soup, we cut the recipe in half to serve to a smaller group!

IMG_20140913_183941_634           IMG_20140913_184419_680

IMG_20140913_182359_086        IMG_20140913_183342_351

1) First you need to heat the oil on medium until it warms up. Then remove the pan and add the flour using a whisk. Place the IMG_20140913_191249_813pan back on the stove and lower the heat to low. Continue heating and stirring for 12 minutes.

2) Next add the chicken stock to your mixture and let it simmer for   45 minutes. Remember to use the whisk   to keep it from getting lumpy. After 45 minutes strain the mixture with a mesh strainer.

IMG_20140913_192225_2233) Pop your popcorn and set aside. It is okay to eat a few pieces to make sure they’re good!

4) Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add in your vegetables and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are halfway done. They will continue cooking with the rest of the soup.

1 hour before serving

5) Add the vegetables to the soup


Thirty minutes before serving

6) Bring the soup to a simmer. Using your whisk add the beer and cheese. Continue to simmer the mixture until the cheese completely melts, but do not let it boil.

*We chose Devils Backbone’s Vienna Lager.


7) Make a paste using the dry mustard and water then add the paste and the heavy cream to the soup. Continue to simmer.                              IMG_20140913_211437_062

8)  Add as much Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper as you’d  like.

9) Serve the soup into dishes and top with popcorn


Helpful Tips:
*If you’re serving for a large group it might be easier to leave the seasonings out and let guests add them to their own dishes.
*If you’re not a huge fan of cabbage spinach is a nice substitute, just add it later because it will wilt quickly (that’s what we did)

For something a little heartier sausage or bratwurst are good additions that won’t take away from the rustic taste of this dish.

Tasting Western Virginia- Mountain Pie

Food has always been, and will always be, a defining aspect of a region’s culture. To many food is not only a means of survival but also a means of expression. Dishes are passed down from generation to generation reflecting the harvest that year, the changes in culture, and new trends. Western Virginia is an area scattered with small mountain towns, each with their own traditions and recipes. The New Blue Ridge Cookbook examines the traditional foods and recipes of the Blue Ridge. Throughout September we will be attempting to create some of these traditional recipes and sharing them with you.


Mountain Pie.
Upon first reading the words “mountain pie” most readers probably shuttered with fear at what a mountain pie could possibly consist of. But, rest easy, a mountain pie is pretty much a cobbler. Nothing too scary or intimidating about a cobbler. In fact, for most, cobblers are sweet reminders of childhoods and picnics. For our cobbler we chose a filling native to our great state, blueberries. Blueberries are actually one of the few fruits that predate the European Settlers in North America. Blueberries have been picked and enjoyed in North America as long as people, and some bears, have been here. Blueberries can be found throughout the Blue Ridge region, along with blackberries which also make a good cobbler filling.

 While no one can say with certainty when and where the cobbler was birthed into existence it is widely accepted that the cobbler is an American creation. When European settlers arrived in North American they brought their traditional recipes for pie with them. Quickly finding that the ‘new world’ did not have the same ingredients readily available that Europe offered they were forced to improvise. Through some experimentation came the cobbler, and in the mountains of Virginia that cobbler was given the name mountain pie.  Our mountain pie recipe comes from Blacksburg and can be IMG_20140901_102448_851found on page 8 of The New Blue Ridge Cookbook.


1)  The first step in baking this dessert is to gather your ingredients and utensils. This dish requires surprisingly few ingredients and steps, which is important for those of us with little baking experience! 


                      *Milk- 3/4 cup                                                                         
                      *Flour-1 cup                                      
                      *Baking Powder-1 1/2 tsp                             
                      *Salt-1/8 tsp                                             
                      *Butter-1 stick                                    
                      *Sugar-1 1/2 cup                               
                      *Blueberries-1 quart                           

                     *Pan-13 by 9 
                     *Mixing Bowls-2
                     *Measuring Cup
                     *Measuring Spoons
                     *Large Mixing Spoons
                     *Oven Mitts!

2)  Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Place the stick of butter in the pan and then in the oven to melt the butter. 

3) Begin by mixing the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Then slowly stir in the milk. 1/4 a cup at a time is usually a pretty good pace. Continue stirring until completely mixed, a metal wisk will really help you get the batter nice and smooth. 




4)  Remove the pan from the oven after the butter is completely melted. Make sure you spread the butter on the sides of the pan so nothing will stick. 


5) Add your batter to the butter in the pan. The batter should cover the entire base of the pan. 


6)  Mix the remaining sugar in with your blueberries. 


7)  Add the blueberries and sugar to the pan. The berries will sink through the batter as it bakes. 

8)  Bake for about an hour. Since every oven is different check on the dish periodically and adjust your baking time. The berries should be on the bottom, and the batter should be solid, and slightly browned. 

9)  Let the cobbler cool, then cut and serve!

For a little extra deliciousness we suggest some vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on the side! 


This dessert is simple and delicious! The New Blue Ridge Cookbook also suggests using peaches in this recipe.