Basic Sauces

Bechamel Sauce (Basic Thick White Sauce)

Basic White Sauce: Can be made in one of three degrees; Thick, Medium and Thin

Depending on what it will be served over, decides the degree of thickness you will desire.  One of my favorite dishes is crab stuffed flounder, topped with the heavy white sauce.  But if I am using it for chicken I use the medium sauce.




white pepper



Into an electric mixer put: 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and 2 cups of hot milk.  Begin at low speed to mix, and then use high for 30 seconds.

Pour sauce into a double broiler and cook over simmering water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Medium White Sauce:  Make as about, using 1/2 of the flour.

Thin White Sauce: Make as above using only 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour.

Cream Sauce:  Make thick white sauce, when cooked, stir in 1 cup of cream and heat through.

Mornay Sauce:  Make Medium Sauce, adding to container along with the hot milk, 4 tablespoons diced Gruyere cheese and 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Cook over simmering water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally; gradually stirring in 2 tablespoons of butter.

White sauce is very basic, and nearly the same every where.

White sauce is very basic, and nearly the same every where.


Shrimp Scorpio

One of the most asked for recipes from the now closed Elite Epicurean, formerly located in Columbia, South Carolina is Shrimp Scorpio.  Named such for the bite from the shrimp being boiled in Ouzo.  Ouzo is the Greek version of vodka.  Topped off with fresh tomatoes, onions and feta cheese, and broiled to mix the flavors.  Try it once, enjoy it forever.


As there were multiple servings prepared at one time, you will have to tinker with the recipe, depending on how much you are planning to prepare.


But here are the basics:


Peel, remove the vein and submerge in ice cold water until ready to prepare.


In a large 6 to 8 quart pot or kettle:  Melt 1 pound of butter, bring to a boil.  Let set until cool, and pour off the water, when it separates from the butter solids.  Add Ouzo, carefully as it with come to a flash point and flame up.  Let the actual alcohol burn off.  Leaving the butter solids and the leftover Ouzo.  Add the raw shrimp and cook until pink.  Remove and let cool down, setting the pan in an ice bath.  Once the mix is solid, pour off the excess liquids.  What remains is basically shrimp in a butter and Ouzo sauce.


Dice fresh tomatoes, onions and crumble feta cheese.


Layer cold shrimp, onions, tomatoes and feta cheese; and broil till hot.Image

Big E Potato, Columbia South Carolina, Elite Epicurean Restaurant

The Big E Potato

The Big E Potato

Making a stuffed potato can be done by anyone. The list of items stuffed inside, is endless.

Chopped vegetables, various cheese, various meats, or any mixture of these allows 1000’s of different combinations.

The Big E though, had a set recipe. Many have attempted to recreate this delight, and have come close. But, it takes a certain combination of sweet, salty, buttery and creamy to get that perfect Epicurean Big E Potato. And that certain combination is from a set list of ingredients and techniques used to create that crunchy breading surrounding the potato

But it is putting the mixture together that is important to make that perfect Big E potato. The butter and whole milk had to be boiled together to separate the water content. The egg wash is a standard recipe, but, the corn meal and flour had to sifted together. And cooling the potatoes down was the key to keeping the breading on and the insides from oozing out during cooking.

Original Big E Potato: Small Batch
Commercial Butter Buds Potato Mix Entire Bag ( 36 ounce bag)
1 pound of butter
2 cups of milk

Mix the potato mixture, but use only half the amount of water. And remember to boil the milk and butter together, pouring off the excess water. You only want the solids.

1 pound of American Cheese or Wisconsin Sharpe (low moisture), chopped into small squares
1 pound of SWEET Ham (dry off any excess moisture) DAK canned ham is the best

As soon as the potato mix is cool enough to work with, pat out enough in your hand that you can make a little bowl shape in your palm, and tuck the ham and cheese into that bowl. Close up. Do not pack too tightly or the fillings will ooze out during cooking. You do not want to see any ham or cheese sticking out or have the potato spread so thin that it visible threw the mix.

Having sifted the plain flour and course corn meal together set aside. The ratio is 5 to 1 of corn meal to flour.

Make egg wash: One egg to each two cups of whole milk and set aside.

Dip the potato into the dry mix first, and then egg wash. Then repeat a few times, until a nice layer of cornmeal covers the potato. The last dip should be of the dry mix.

Store on a tray, close but not touching each other and refrigerate until completely cool, usually over night.

Straight from the refrigerator to the hot oil at 325 to 350 degrees in a deep fryer. Cook until golden, but not so long that the inside bubble out.


Tiropita-Greek Cheese Rolls

I’m Dreaming of Feta Cheese

The individual Tiropita of the Elite Epicurean, were buttery, flaky, piping hot appetizers. Though, found in many Greek cook books, what is not found, are the secrets of creating these individual appetizers, without having the creamy center blow out the sides of the flaky pastry.

Whether you are making the individual finger sized appetizer or the triangles, the key is to not put too much egg in the mix, to use the mix while it is room temperature, and work quickly. Remember to leave a little space on the sides when rolling or folding the cheese roll, to have room for the cheese and eggs to expand. Other wise, you will end up with toasty brown, but empty pastry tubes. The piles of cheese mix on the outside, rather than a creamy filling on the inside. Once a sheet is filled, top off the tops with butter and cover with wax paper. Freeze solid! Do not go straight for the cutting board to the oven.

The original ingredients were for a large vat of cheese mixture. I have cut it down to make and serve myself. The original recipe, make up to 1000. I doubt you’ll need that many. The smaller recipe makes enough for up to 10 people, but is easily doubled, tripled, or multiplied as you wish to fit your needs.

Smaller Batch Recipe:
8 ounces of cream cheese
8 ounces of feta cheese (wet is best)
1 beaten egg
1 box of Phyllo pastry sheets
1 pound of salted butter, boiled and water poured off
Parsley or dill to taste

Tools needed:
Pastry or filling bag
Number 10 Pastry Nozzle
Flat trays
Tin Foil
Butter brush
Sharpe Knife
Two clean towels (one moist, other dry; to cover the pastry sheets while working)

Butter the tray, and lay on a flat surface, two layers of pastry sheets on top of each other. The individual appetizers are cut into strips and a dab of cheese filling in the middle of each, leaving room to fold the edges over, before rolling up. Roll up all but the end seam, dab a little more butter and shut.
Transfer to the tray. Put on the tray about 1/2 inch a part, in rows that are 1/2 inch between, and put the freezer. If you are making a large batch, then alternate between two trays, stacking the them layer on layer.

Place on cooking sheets, still on the tin foil, straight from the freezer. No need to thaw. Pop straight into a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

It’s that easy!

Big E Potato, Columbia South Carolina, Elite Epicurean Restaurant

Meals of the Southern American Semi-Royalty

The Elite Epicurean operated at the corner of Main Street and Laural Street in Columbia, South Carolina until 1997.  Guests dined on two-inch thick pork chops, rib eye steaks, lamb chops and sea food as would royalty.
Many people passed through the Main Street red awning covered door way. Movie stars, president elects, rock stars, judges, juries, senators, and governors visited the Elite. Brides and grooms made announcements, retirees threw parties and Prom King and Queens enjoyed the fan fare.
There was another crowd at the Elite Epicurean. They did not come in through the front door, but the side door, from Laural Street. Movers and shakers of another type. There were those, like myself who spent muggy hot summers, and later made it to the pay roll, and those who could not cut the heat. I only dined in the dining room 3 times, in over the 25 years my mother worked for the Elite Epicurean. But I ate 100’s of meals, standing at the butcher block that I worked from in the kitchen.
Whether someone was a mover and shaker, a law-maker, movie star, a regular or just passing through Columbia, South Carolina they had a favorite dish at the Elite Epicurean.


The Elite Epicurean Restaurant

The Elite Epicurean Restaurant, closed July 1997. Located at the corner of Main Street and Laurel Street, in Columbia, South Carolina. Everyone that visited this once great Columbia Hot Spot has a favorite dish or meal.

Big E Potato, Columbia South Carolina, Elite Epicurean Restaurant

The Elite Epicurean Restaurant