For a guy who was born in Canada, Hugh Acheson certainly makes a good Southerner. He chef/owns the restaurants Five And Ten and The National in Athens, Ga., and Empire State South in Atlanta; he shared a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Southeast with Linton Hopkins, and his book "A New Turn in the South" won a Beard book award for its fresh takes on traditional Southern dishes and ingredients.
And, yes, he got known as "The Unibrow" in his appearances on "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Masters." (Oh-yeah 2: He also occasionally writes some pretty interesting blog posts, mostly on Southern cooking, at the Epicurious blog roll, Epi Log.)
Paging around looking for something to serve with cocktails, I came across this tasty and simple spread from "New Turn in the South." If you make your own boiled peanuts, green peanut season isn't until late summer. But there's a boiled peanut stand at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, or you could use canned boiled peanuts in a pinch.
Tahini is sesame paste; it keeps forever in the refrigerator.
1 cup shelled boiled peanuts (almost exactly the amount you get in one of those little paper bags)
2 tablespoons tahini
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Tiny pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt if needed
Dippers: Pita chips (particularly good), flatbreads, chips or raw vegetables
Combine the boiled peanuts, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and cayenne in a food processor and process on low or pulse. Drizzle in olive oil slowly with motor running. Add 2 tablespoons water and process again to thin to spreadable consistency. Season with salt to taste (taste first - the peanuts may be salty enough.)
Serve with dippers. Keeps a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups, maybe a little less.
PHOTO: Garden and Gun