Local Caterers Hit HGTV…and Cook Up a Beach-Inspired Recipe Eleven Courses' Jim and Melissa Benson will appear on an episode of "Beach Front Bargain Hunt" Feb. 3.

Jim Benson.
Jim Benson.

It’s been a weird winter in Maryland, and it’s doubtful anyone would say no to spending some time in a fabulous beachfront home. Can’t get away? Well, at least you can live vicariously through MD caterers Jim and Melissa Benson, who recently went house hunting in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The couple, who own Eleven Courses Catering & Event Co. in Owings Mills, had their journey documented in an episode of “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” on HGTV. The show focuses on families looking to get a great deal on a gorgeous seaside home—and, in the Bensons’ case, a little menu inspo.

“Just like writers need a place to retreat, to think, to ponder and create, so do we.  We were looking for a quiet, peaceful place, where inspiration abounds and we could work on menu development away from it all,” says Chef Jim Benson.  “Don’t get me wrong, we love working in our catering hub, but a change of scenery is refreshing.  We also love incorporating seafood into dishes, so being right on the ocean was ideal and we have a really fun menu line, called Creative Comfort Food, and it doesn’t get better than being in the low country to continue to build upon that.”

While we can’t spoil the show for you—you’ll have to check it our for yourself on Feb. 3—we can share one of the Bensons’ “Beachfront Bargain”-inspired recipes to give you a little taste of the getaway. Bon appetit!


Melissa Benson
Melissa Benson

Spicy Fried Black-Eyed Peas

·       2 Cups Black Eyed Peas
·       Water
·       Peanut Oil (about 2 cups, enough to cover the beans; can substitute canola oil)
·       2 Fresh Garlic Clove
·       1 Tablespoon Old Bay
·       1 Teaspoon Paprika
·       2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Chives
·       ½ cup Peach Juice
·       1 Teaspoon Cayenne

How to Do it:
1. Soak black-eyed peas overnight, then drain and rinse the nest day.
2. Boil in water, peach juice and cayenne until tender (for about 40 minutes).
3. In a deep pot, heat the peanut oil to 350 degrees.  Put two cloves of garlic in with the oil, just long enough to perfume the oil and brown.
4. Remove garlic (save it for another recipe!) and place beans in your “fryer,” AKA the deep pot.
5. Remove black-eyed peas once golden brown and lay on a double layer paper towel to drain excess oil.
6. Toss in the Old Bay, paprika and chives while still hot.  Then, snack at it!


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