Ruby Tuesday chef delivers update and great meal

"Get involved with your food," says Chef Peter Glander.

"Get involved with your food," says Chef Peter Glander. He did.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to redeem the many charity auction items I have purchased over the past year or so. To that end, I scheduled Peter Glander, the executive chef of Ruby Tuesday who formerly was with Blackberry Farm, to provide a cooking demonstration and wine tasting last month for 11 of my girlfriends and me.

What fun it was. This was an auction item I purchased at a benefit for the American Heart Association. The good folks at Glass Bazaar in Bearden provided a convenient location for the event.

One of the best things was that I was allowed to select a theme for the meal. It could have been French or Italian, etc. But I chose to ask Chef Glander to create the feast using mostly locally sourced ingredients. This would have been an easy assignment in the summer growing season. But scheduling the demonstration in February made the theme a bit more challenging. Nevertheless, Chef Glander rose to the occasion!

“In the winter time, it is very difficult to make entrees if you are using local ingredients,” Chef Glander said. His solution: potato cakes made with potatoes, local sausage and mustard greens. I never would have thought of that.

Double Blind = delicious!

Double Blind = delicious!

But first, let’s talk about wine. Ruby’s has just introduced four new wines and our group got a chance to taste all of them. We loved them. Unfortunately, they are not yet available at local package stores, but only at Ruby Tuesday or ordered on the Internet. The wines come from a company called Cultivate owned by Charles and Ali Banks. They have a philosophy of giving back, therefore 10 percent of the sales of the Cultivate wines are donated to worthy causes. Go to the website and you can vote on where the money should go. How cool is that?

But the wines are great, too. With appetizers, we tried the Pinot Grigio called Double Blind. It was delicious. My friends know that Pinot Grigio is my favorite wine right now. And this one was perfect — light-colored, crisp and bright. Glander says it is his favorite of the four new wines, as well.

The appetizers already were attractively arranged when we arrived: a tray of local elk sausage and several kinds of local pickles. When I cringed at the mention of elk sausage, my friend Madge Cleveland tsk-tsked me: “Cynthia, it’s just a cow with horns!”

Mickey Mallonee samples the appetizers.

Mickey Mallonee samples the appetizers.

Chef Glander said the elk sausage as well as the sausage he would use in the potato cakes came from The Market in downtown Maryville.

Nora Robiinson and Kim Trent get ready for the demonstration.

Nora Robinson, left, and Kim Trent get ready for the demonstration.

Dream Walking

Dream Walking

I am not a huge fan of Chardonnay, but the one Ruby Tuesday is offering is not a typical heavily oaked Chard. Instead, it is lightly oaked. “It is not an oak that feels like you are sucking on a wood chip,” Glander noted. Called Dream Walking, it is great with food. It was developed by a winemaker named Andy Erickson, whom Glander described as “a rock star of wine.” I liked it, especially with some nibbles.

Speaking of food, the salad course was a salted kale salad with a yogurt vinaigrette.

Glander making the vinaigrette. He said he will provide the recipes for all the dishes, which we will post on this site.

Glander making the vinaigrette. He said he will provide the recipes for all the dishes, which we will post on this site.

Mustard greens and kale, both of which were used in the evening's menu.

Mustard greens and kale, both of which were used in the evening's menu.

The finished kale salad

The finished kale salad

Madge gives it a try. She liked.

Madge gives it a try. She liked.

Gambler, right, and The Feast

Gambler, right, and The Feast

The other two wines were called Gambler and The Feast. Both were red and both were great. Glander said Gambler is the hands-down favorite of everyone who works for Ruby  Tuesday. From the servers to the executives, everyone loves it. It is Malbec. The Feast, described as a special occasion wine, is 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you get an opportunity to purchase a cooking demonstration with Peter Glander, my recommendation is to buy it. A very personable guy, he gives insights into his cooking philosophy (“Food should be fun and real.”), along with tips (“The more orange the yolk, the more I’m going to like it.”) and information about Ruby Tuesday (“Knoxville is our toughest market. Everyone wants Ruby Tuesday to be like it used to be when it was right off Cumberland Avenue.”).

Before we go on with the food, here are some other interesting thoughts from Chef Glander:

  • The grits for the entree course

    The grits for the entree course

    He prefers cooking with grape seed oil rather than olive oil. “It has a 50 degree higher smoke point,” he notes.

  • They aren’t local, but he says San Marzano are the best canned tomatoes in the world. “If you buy Hunt’s and you try San Marzano, you’ll never go back,” he said.
  • “In the summer, go to the farmers’ market and buy all the garlic you can. Put it in your basement to store. Local garlic is like local honey — it is very specific to the area where it is grown.”
  • Cook grits in water, Glander recommends. Not cream or milk or chicken broth or anything else. “Let the product taste like what it is. With grits, you want to taste corn.”
  • Recommended reading: a new set of books called “Modernist Cuisine.” It’s a five-volume set that costs about $500. “As a chef, I had to buy it,” Glander said. “It gives you an understanding of the science of cooking.”
  • His favorite Knoxville restaurant? The now-defunct Pasta Trio, formerly located in the Old City. (Alan and I loved it, too.)
  • “People want red peppers,” he said. “In this area, peppers are very important. They are one of the vegetables you can grow in the heat of summer.”
  • Ruby Tuesday introduced a new menu last month. It’s black. Also a new television ad campaign will hit 75 percent of the restaurant chain’s markets.

OK. Back to the food.

As part of "getting involved with the food," Chef Glander tells Gina Changas to smell the unique aromas of the local sausage.

As part of "getting involved with the food," Chef Glander tells Gina Changas to smell the unique aromas of the local sausage.

Glander smashing the potatoes for the cakes.

Glander smashing the potatoes for the cakes.

The potato cakes were baked. Preheat the baking sheets -- not just the oven -- when you bake, Glander advised.

The potato cakes were baked. Preheat the baking sheets -- not just the oven -- when you bake, Glander advised.

The finished entree. It was delicious.

The finished entree. It was delicious.

Judith Foltz enjoying the main course.

Judith Foltz enjoying the main course.

Melinda Meador, too.

Melinda Meador, too.

Part of our group

Part of our group

The other part

The other part

Dessert was an unbelievable bread pudding. I’ve never liked bread pudding, but I do now!

Use rich brioche, Chef Glander said.

Use rich brioche, Chef Glander said.

"We are in the South," he joked. "You have to use Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk!"

"We are in the South," he joked. "You have to use Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk!"

Nora Robinso takes a whiff of the bread pudding, which were baked in muffin tins.

Nora Robinson takes a whiff of the bread puddings, which were baked in muffin tins.

Plating the puddings

Plating the puddings

The grand finale

The grand finale

Kim Henry approves.

Kim Henry approves.

Christi Branscom

Christi Branscom

The Glass Bazaar gave 10 percent discounts on anything we purchased that night. Gay Lyons found towels to match some Knoxville plates she has.

The Glass Bazaar gave discounts on anything we purchased that night. Gay Lyons found towels to match some Knoxville plates she has.

Sisters Ellen and Nora Robinson did a little browsing.

Sisters Ellen and Nora Robinson did a little browsing.

Ashley Glanders gave her husband a helping hand.

Ashley Glander gave her husband a helping hand.

14 Responses to “Ruby Tuesday chef delivers update and great meal”

  1. I love the kale salad, too! It was a really fun night.

  2. It was all just as delicious as it looks here. Looking forward to the recipes.

  3. Peter was a great teacher — this ol’ dog learned a couple of new tricks! Cyn, thanks for the fun evening and for including all of us. I still think about that bread pudding and actually bought some sorghum as a result. Had it on pancakes this weekend — yum!

  4. I am looking forward to the recipes, as well, Gay. Will let everyone know when they are posted. Thanks to all my friends who helped me with this task of using up the auction items. More to come!

    You know what I can’t believe I didn’t think of? Heat the darn baking sheet when you pre-heat the oven! Duh!

  5. Cyn–I know. Preheat grill, iron skillets, etc—hadn’t done it with baking pans. Good tip. Makes so much sense. Guess that’s why he’s the chef, and we are the apprentices?

  6. What a fun evening, with fun people. As a new resident in Knoxville, it was interesting for me to learn about what is grown locally and when it is available and at its peak.

    As you can see by the picture…loved the bread pudding!

  7. Hahaha, Nora! Loved that pic of you and the bread pudding! We are happy to have you in Knoxville and as part of our merry band!

  8. Peter does a great job teaching and is a fabulous chef! Everyone should try out the new menus at Ruby Tuesday’s, developed under his watchful eye and supervision.

  9. Jeanne: Several of us are making plans to do that based on this dinner. We agree about his teaching and cooking abilities. So much fun.

  10. Here are Peter Glander’s recipes for the components of the salad course:

    Salted Kale Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing
    4 Servings

    Creamy Yogurt Dressing

    1/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
    1/4 cup Homemade Mayonnaise (see below for recipe)
    1 tsp Cayenne Pepepr
    1 tsp Kosher Salt
    1tsp Lemon Juice

    Using a whisk, combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Set the dressing to the side while you prepare the kale.

    Homemade Mayonnaise

    Yield: 2 cups (stored under refrigeration, this mayonnaise will last for up to 1 week)

    3 each Egg Yolks
    1 TBL Cold Water
    2 cups Grape Seed Oil
    1 TBL Lemon Juice OR ½ of a Small Lemon, juiced
    1 tsp Kosher Salt
    1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

    Whisk the egg yolks and water together in a bowl until frothy. Whisking briskly, start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken to create an emulsion. Once you reach that point, increase the oil flow to a constant thin stream. Once combined, add the lemon juice and seasoning and stir together. Cover and allow to chill for 30 minutes prior to using to allow the flavors to come together.

    Preparing the Kale

    1 TBL Kosher Salt
    2 TBL Grape Seed Oil
    1 LB Kale, clean and washed

    NOTE: For this salad you will want to use a very fresh and crisp kale, the variety really does not matter as long as it is fresh. The kale can be black, red, or green. Wash the kale with colder water and remove and discard the stems. Slice the washed kale into thin strips, 1/4-to-1/3-inch thick and place in a large bowl. Add the salt and oil to the kale and using your hands, work the greens vigorously with your hands to break down the cell structure in the kale. You will notice at this point that the kale has begun to lose some of its volume. By doing this, you are creating a quick pickle and the salt is breaking down the greens. Once well mixed, allow the greens to rest for 10 minutes then top with the yogurt dressing.

  11. Here are Peter’s recipes for the main course:

    Potato and Sausage Cakes over Pimento Cheese Grits
    4 Servings

    Pimento Cheese Grits

    Pimento Cheese:
    This will make enough for an appetizer as well while you are cooking to keep your guest happy!

    6 TBL Homemade Mayonnaise
    2 TBL Pickle Juice
    1 tsp Your Favorite Hot Sauce
    ½ tsp Kosher Salt
    1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    1 cup Chopped Pimentos (or roasted red peppers)
    1LB Sharp Cheddar Cheese, coarsely grated

    In a mixing bowl, add the mayo, pickle juice, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and pimentos and mix well. To this mixture, use your hands to toughly knead the cheese with the wet ingredients to mix well. Let this mixture set for at least 30 minutes before you eat it, overnight is better to let the flavors marry.

    Grits:

    4 cups Water
    ½ cup Stone Ground Grits
    2 tsp Kosher salt
    1 cup Pimento Cheese (see below for recipe)

    Please note that grits will take 1 hour to cook so prepare this first.
    In a thick-bottom pot bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits and reduce the temperature to a lazy boil stirring with a whisk or a wooden spoon every 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and has a texture like oatmeal. Remove from the heat and stir in the pimento cheese and serve immediately.

    Potato and Sausage Cakes

    1lb Boiled Red Potatoes, chilled
    1lb Rustic-Style Sausage (Benton’s sausage is a fantastic choice)
    2 each Whole Eggs
    1-1/2 TBL Kosher Salt
    1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    3 cups Turnip Greens or Spinach, thinly sliced

    Preheat the oven to 400°F with a baking pan in the oven.

    Place the chilled potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and using your hands smash the potatoes into pieces, no smaller than a silver dollar. Add the sausage and eggs to the smashed potatoes and mix together until the mixture is tacky and will form into a ball. Add the seasoning and greens to the mixture and combine, being careful not to over-work the mixture. Separate the mixture into twelve equal portions and shape them into patties as if you were making hamburgers. Remove the preheated pan from the oven, add the patties, and place back in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the cakes over after 10 minutes and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the sausage is cooked through.

  12. And here are Peter’s instructions for that fabulous dessert:

    Pecan Caramel Bread Pudding
    4 Servings

    Pudding
    3 cups Cubed Brioche Bread, 1/2″ pieces
    3 each Whole Eggs
    2 cups Half and Half
    1/2 cup Molasses (Sorghum or honey could work as well.)

    Place the bread cubes on an ungreased baking sheet in a preheated 300°F oven for approximately 10 minutes or until they are a light, golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses, and half and half until well combined. Fold the toasted bread into the egg mixture and allow the bread to soak up the liquid. Divide the bread mixture into four greased muffin tins and place in the preheated 300°F oven for 20 minutes.

    Pecan Caramel

    1/2 cup Toasted Pecans, roughly chopped
    1 cup Granulated Sugar
    6 TBL Unsalted Butter
    1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

    NOTE: Before you begin preparing your caramel have all ingredients set out and ready to add. Making caramel is a fast process that will burn if you do not work fast.

    In a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan add the sugar and bring to a moderately high heat. As the sugar begins to melt, whisk vigorously. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop whisking, but continue to carefully swirl the pan. As soon as the sugar crystals have melted and the sugar becomes dark amber in color, immediately add the butter to the pan and whisk to incorporate. Once the butter has melted, immediately remove the pan from the heat, count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan, whisking constantly. Please note that when you add the butter and cream to the pan the mixture will foam up, so make sure you are using a large pan. Whisk the mixture until the caramel sauce is smooth and add the pecans. Allow the caramel to cool slightly and serve over the warm bread pudding.

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