Chef Tom is Feelin’ Mighty Soulful


Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread

Serves 8

Scratch cornbread is THE BEST!

This lightly sweet cornbread has a crunchy, buttery crust, which comes from baking it in a hot skillet. If you have a cast-iron pan, this is the time to use it. The heavy, heat-retaining material will give you the darkest color (which equals the most flavor). But any large ovenproof skillet will work.

If you don’t have a skillet big enough to hold all the batter, you can either halve the recipe or bake the cornbread in 9-by-13-inch pan. (Brown the butter first in a saucepan.) Your bread won’t have the same dark crust, but the moist crumb flavored with brown butter and maple syrup will more than make up for it.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 1/4 cups buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 375 degrees. On the stovetop, in a 11- or 12-inch skillet (ovenproof and preferably cast iron), melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan to lightly coat sides and bottom, until the foam subsides, and the butter turns a deep nut brown. (Watch carefully to see that it does not burn.)

Pour brown butter into a large bowl. (Do not wipe out the pan.) Whisk the maple syrup into the butter, then whisk in buttermilk. The mixture should be cool to the touch; if not, let cool before whisking in the eggs. Then whisk in the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

If the skillet is no longer hot (cast iron retains heat longer than other metals), reheat it briefly on the stove for a few minutes. Scrape batter back into it. Bake until the top is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into it emerges clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

Cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before slicing.


Lowcountry Collard Greens

Serves 6

Collard greens are often cooked down with smoked turkey or pork neck bones. The greens form a potlikker, or broth, full of briny, smoky flavor. When braised with smoked meat, they’re equally delicious as a side or a light one-pot meal. The longer the greens cook, the better they’ll be. Top them with a generous dash or two of hot sauce, and pair with cornbread. 

What tomato soup is to grilled cheese, potlikker is to cornbread.


3 pounds collard greens (from about 6 medium bunches), or 2 pounds pre-chopped collard greens

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

 Pinch of kosher salt, plus more as needed

1 pound smoked turkey (any combination of necks, legs, butt or wings) or pork neck bones

1 cup chicken bone both (or stock)

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

 brown sugar, to taste


Tear the greens from their stems. Take a handful of greens, roll them up lengthwise and slice them into ½-inch shreds. Add the sliced greens to an empty, clean sink full of cool water and wash them, removing all grit, sand and debris. Drain sink and rinse greens thoroughly with cold water until water becomes clear.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add 4 cups of water to the pot. (This will become your potlikker.) Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cleaned greens by the handful, stirring them until wilted before adding more.

Add the smoked turkey, chicken stock, garlic, apple cider vinegar, black pepper and red-pepper flakes to the pot. Bring to a rolling boil, then cover and lower heat to medium-low. Cook until greens are completely tender, at least 2 hours. Most of the water should have evaporated by this point, with just enough left to cover the bottom of the pot, and the meat should pull away from the bones.

Take the meat out of the pot, transfer to a cutting board, and shred the meat with two forks. Add the shredded meat back to the pot and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and onion powder as needed. To cut bitterness, add brown sugar; if you’d like more tang, add more vinegar. Serve hot.

BBQ Ribs

Oven-Baked BBQ Short Rib

Serves 4

These are fall-off-the-bone tender, so they are low and slow. This is an investment in time that’s well worth it.

3 lbs. meaty beef ribs (grass-fed)

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar packed

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons oregano

A bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce


Rinse ribs and dry COMPLETELY with paper towels.

Lightly coat ribs in olive oil.

Mix together seasonings and sprinkle generously over ribs, front and back. (You don’t have to use all of seasoning mix)

Massage the spices into the ribs, adding more olive oil to help distribute the spices well if needed.

Place the ribs in a large Ziplock bag or covered bowl and marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Place the ribs on a foil lined baking tray in a single layer.

Add another piece of foil on top to create a pouch for the ribs to cook in. Be sure to seal the edges of the foil so that it’s tight and steam won’t seep out.

Bake on the middle rack of 3 1/2 – 4 hours. (Mine only needed 3 1/2 hours) Check on it after the 3 1/2 hour mark. The oven temperature is very low so you can afford to cook it a bit longer without worry). When the ribs are done to your liking, drain off the excess fat.

Brush the ribs with a few tablespoon of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Broil on low until the sauce is sticky. (this won’t take long so keep an eye on it)

Serve hot and enjoy!!


Nina Simone

Was in the mood for some Nina.

Mississippi Goddam

I Put A Spell On You – Live in England

Wild is the Wind


And one of my very favorite performances, featuring Nina’s daughter Lisa.

Four Women: Lisa Simone, Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, Angélique Kidjo


Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at

4 Responses to “Chef Tom is Feelin’ Mighty Soulful”

  1. marlene schuler Says:

    YUM for sure and especially love me some cornbread.

  2. I’ll have to try your short rib recipe and share mine. It’s not often you see them. I make mine with crushed tomatoes, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and red wine along with the requisite veggies. It’s the family fav. It’s slow-baked at 325 for about 4-5 hours to fall-off-the-bone state. I just made a pot and am now considering your cornbread instead of the smashed potatoes! Cheers!

  3. Paul Cooperstein Says:

    Wow. Exciting. Thanks Chef Tom!!😁🎉👍💥😁

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