To begin . . .
FROZEN PISCO SOURS
Pisco is South America’s answer to grappa, a wallop-packing grape brandy over claims to whose provenance Peru and Chile may come to blows at any minute. I was introduced to it in Peru, so for me, that settles it. Here’s how to make a blenderful of Pisco sours, which will go rather farther than you may expect in inducing partay-tude. Note that this calls for Key lime juice — not from Persian limes (the dark-green usual) but from those half-dollar-size globes with the yellow peel just touched with green. If your store doesn’t stock them, it probably has the bottled juice. Anyhow, these little numbers do wonders in drinks, entrees, and of course (!) the signed-into-law-by-Jebbie-hisseff-TA-DAAA: Florida State Pie.
1 egg white — blend at high speed; add
8 tablespoons sugar — blend; add
1/2 bottle Pisco
1/2 – 3/4 cup lemon juice, with a taste of Key lime juice
[equivalent of] 1 tray of ice cubes
Serve in juice-size glasses, garnishing each with a drift of cinnamon and a splash of Angostura bitters.
Serves 3-4 drinkers 2 rounds (and that’s ALL they should risk).
THE OL’ MISSISSIPPI ONE-TWO
NMC and other foloers celebrated Oxford’s Doubledecker Festival in fines’ style . . .
Recipe for Doubledecker Planters Punch
April 26th, 2008 – by NMC
This makes a lot.
3 quarts + 3 cups each of pineapple juice, orange juice, and sweetened lime juice
2 quarts and 1.5 cups each of white rum, meyers rum, and amber rum
1 1/4 cup grenadine
simple syrup to taste
cayenne to taste
mix together the juices and rum. Add simple syrup till the taste balances out (I’m not sure but may have added a cup or so this morning. It depends a lot on the juices. You don’t want it very sweet). Now carefully add smidgens of cayenne, tasting as you go. The goal here is not to be able to taste the cayenne … it does something to the meld the flavors, the way a pinch of salt will do with desserts. I’m thinking I might have added a 1/2 tsp this morning, perhaps more or less.
Makes just under 5 gallons.
Anyone who figures out where to find me today can try some of this.
Not to be outpoured, Stormy came along and offered as least as volatile a concoction:
This has reminded me of a drink I had at a friends house last summer, it was called “Tie me up and beat me”. I had to go and look up the rec after reading your post and I’m going to share it with you.
1 shot of peach schnapps
1 shot Amaretto
1 shot Southern Comfort
1 shot of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
2 shots pineapple juice
2 shots of cranberry juice.
Kinda shocked that it is a Sunday morning in the Bible belt and we are talking booze ” and here I was putting on a boring roast.
As Phantom observed, in combo these two would offer “a promising alternative fuel source.”
MELISSA KRONENTHAL’S SAGANAKI WITH SAUTÉED GRAPES
*** In an exception to folo LLC’s claim of copyright elsewhere on this page***, I droolingly reprint, with Melissa’s permission, the recipe accompanying her sometimes-spine-tingling travel yarn at travelerslunchbox.com, Cretan Holiday — and if you think this recipe sounds good, just wait’ll you see her photo of it!
Here’s her introduction . . .
I’ll be honest: I don’t think I let a single meal go by in Greece without ordering saganaki. Technically a meze (and thus often part of a large spread), I always ate it on its own as an appetizer; I mean really, what better than fried cheese to get the digestive juices flowing? When I make it myself I usually use feta since that’s what I have available here; if you can find kasseri or kefalotyri, though, they’re actually much more authentic. As for the grapes, well, that’s my innovation – I think their tart sweetness perfectly compliments the rich salty cheese. Serve it as an appetizer, a party snack (in which case you can cut the cheese into smaller pices before dredging, and skewer each piece with a grape on a toothpick), or even as a light meal with some salad and bread.
Serves: 2 (or more)
7 oz (200g) sheep’s milk feta, kasseri or kefalotyri cheese, in one piece
freshly-ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. (225g) red or black seedless table grapes
Cut the cheese into approximately 1/2-inch (1cm) slices (if using a 7 oz. block of packaged feta, split the block down the middle so you have two slices half the thickness of the original block). On a plate, combine some cornstarch (about 1/3 cup maybe) with a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the grapes and sauté, stirring occasionally, until completely soft, about 7-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the remaining three tablespoons of oil to the skillet and place back on the heat.
Run one piece of cheese under the tap and shake off the excess water (be gentle though so as not to break the cheese). Dredge it on all sides in the cornstarch, then quickly place it in the hot pan. Let it develop a nice brown crust on the bottom side, about 2-3 minutes, then flip and fry it on the other side. Using a spatula, transfer it to a clean plate. Repeat with the other piece(s) of cheese (or do them simultaneously, if your pan is big enough).
To serve, top each piece of cheese with some sautéed grapes and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately.
[lotus's note: I slipped some pecan halves in to sauté with the grapes, which certainly didn't hurt matters a-tall.]
Related post here.
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (per person)
2 eggs per pound of chicken
1/4 cup milk per egg
salt & pepper
peanut oil for frying
2 chicken bouillon cubes per cup of water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
chopped green onions
hot rice for serving
Heat water to boiling and dissolve bouillon cubes. Stir 1/4 cup of broth into cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. Stir cornstarch slurry into broth with sugar and oyster sauce. Set aside and let sauce thicken as chicken cooks.
Heat oil to 350-400° in deep pan or fryer. Cut chicken into small pieces, dredge and let stand in flour for 15 minutes. Mix together egg, milk, and salt & pepper. Remove chicken from flour and let stand in egg mixture for 10 minutes. Roll chicken pieces in flour and deep-fry, in batches if need be, until golden. Drain well on paper towels and keep warm in covered pan in 200° oven.
Serve chicken over hot rice, topped with sauce, cashews, and chopped green onions. Pass soy sauce at table.
PALM BEACH POST GROUPER
(Parmesan baked grouper with tomato/basil/white wine sauce)
A good friend who retired from the Palm Beach Post and moved to Oklahoma says the thing she misses most about her old job is this dish, concocted by the Post‘s chef and served in the employee cafeteria. He shared the recipe with my friend, who sent it along to me. Those to whom I’ve served it have sworn, to a one, that it’s the best thing they’ve ever tasted. I’m inclined to agree.
2 filets of grouper or other firm, white-fleshed fish
flour for coating
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 – 1 1/2 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs mixed with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coat fish with flour, dip in egg to coat well. Coat well with breadcrumbs (you’ll have extra) and refrigerate.
1 large tomato, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup lemon or Key lime juice
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter, softened
Combine all sauce ingredients except butter in small saucepan. Heat slowly and cook until bottom of pan is just wet (don’t let it burn).
Heat oven to 350. When sauce is nearly done, heat an oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add butter or olive oil for sauteeing fish. Brown both sides of fish (do not attempt to cook it – you’re just browning), place skillet in oven, and bake fish uncovered for 8-10 minutes (if using thermometer, fish should reach 140 internal temperature).
As fish bakes, gradually add butter to the reduction, stirring CONSTANTLY or sauce will break. Once all butter is incorporated and sauce is smooth, keep warm to pour over fish.
When fish is done, place each filet on a warmed plate, spoon sauce over fish, and serve hot.
STUFFED ZUCCHINI (KOLOKITHAKIA PAPOUTSAKIA)
Awright, zucchini. Love the stuff, and the very best zucchini dish I ever ate was on Crete. Later in Athens I bought the cookbook that’s become my favorite of the many I own, Chrissa Paradissis’ The Best Book of Greek Cookery, 2nd Ed. (Athens: Efstathiadis Bros., 1972), because its recipe for stuffed zukes is the one I found to be closest to those served me on that hotel verandah in Heraklion.
Here is my adaptation:
2 1/2 lbs. medium-sized zucchini
1 small onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated cheese (any mild one)
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup bechamel sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash of nutmeg (optional)
1 cup milk
Melt butter over a low heat; sift in flour and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg; stir until well blended. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Makes 1 cup.
Scrub and wash the zucchini and cut off ends. Cook whole with one tablespoon salt in boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
Cut an inch-wide strip from one end to the other of each zuke; arrange in baking pan. With a teaspoon, carefully remove centers and chop into smail pieces.
Heat 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan and saute onion till tender. Add chopped zucchini centers and cook for about 5 minutes. Add breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pile mixture into zucchini shells.
Preheat oven to 350. Make bechamel sauce, stir in 4 tablespoons cheese and 1 beaten egg. Cover stuffed zucchini with sauce, dot with remaining butter, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until brown on top. Serves 4.
Stuffed zucchini with meat: Prepare as above, but omit 1 cup breadcrumbs. Saute the onion with 1/2 lb. minced meat.
1 lb fresh okra pods, stems trimmed, pods sliced into 1/3-inch rounds
1/2 cup mixture of equal parts white cornmeal and flour OR 1/2 cup seafood-breading or tempura mix
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Heat your largest black-iron skillet to medium high. In colander, rinse okra rounds under running water, then shake colander to knock off excess water. Salt and pepper okra and shake. With colander still in sink, shake 1/2 of breading over okra, shake to agitate, and add more breading if needed.
Place enough peanut oil in hot skillet to make a thin film on bottom. Place one layer of okra in skillet and cook undisturbed for a few minutes, until downsides begin to blacken. Stir okra occasionally until all sides are crispy and have blackened spots. If pan is small and you need to cook more than one batch, place finished okra on paper towel-covered pan in 200-degree oven or toaster-oven to keep warm until all okra is finished. Serve hot.
MAMA BROOK’S CORNBREAD
There are two theories of cornbread, my family’s and the wrong. The wrong includes sugar. Here is what cornbread, as opposed to corncake, involves:
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup white cornmeal
1 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda, sifted into mixture with
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
Put bacon drippings (or peanut oil, if you must) into cold black-iron skillet and place in cold oven. Turn oven to 450 F. Combine other ingredients. When oven reaches 450 and fat is smoking, pour excess from skillet into batter, stir well, pour batter into hot pan, and get the oven door closed again fast. Bake at 450 about 20 minutes, until cornbread is nicely browned on top. As soon as it’s out of the oven, use a fork to flip pone upside down and prop it against the side of the pan for just a few minutes. Serve hot with plenty of butter. The bacon drippings and black-iron skillet make for a crust you can’t beat.
(This recipe makes a nice 7-8″ skilletful; I double it for the seashell-shaped muffins my good old Williams-Sonoma muffin pan produces. Whether pone or muffins, black iron is essential.)
BROOK FAMILY HOTCAKES
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 to 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hot bacon-drippings or melted butter
Before mixing the batter by adding ingredients in the order of appearance, place the griddle over medium-high heat and lightly film it with a little peanut oil, bacon-drippings, or butter. Mix all ingredients, leaving a few lumps. When a drop of water instantly sizzles away on the griddle, pour the batter in 4-inch circles, leaving space between if you can. (If you want to jazz ‘em up with blueberries, sliced strawberries or banana, pecans or whatnot, sprinkle those on top now.) When bubbles form, flip the hotcakes to brown the other side — which will take less time than the first, so watch carefully. Serve hot on warmed plates with butter and whatever further adornments you like best. You can have my maple syrup.
1 lb. fresh okra, stems trimmed
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
(This is also great for asparagus.) Marinate okra pods in oil, lemon juice, and seasonings for at least 30 minutes. Grill over a slow fire for a few minutes, turning to brown all sides — minor charring won’t hurt, but don’t blacken them entirely.
Serve hot to 2-3.
THE ROTISSERIE’S COMEBACK SAUCE
(recipe courtesy of MSlawyer)
Well, we were all sitting around here at folo one Sunday afternoon when, as will happen among Mississippians, the topic of good eatin’ arose — more specifically, the topic of a local delicacy known as comeback sauce. And then MSlawyer (who hails from Jackson, where there once was a place in Five Points called The Rotisserie, renowned for its comeback sauce) up and says:
My daddy got this recipe from them right before they shut down the place. It is in his cookbook that he printed before he died in 1987. Here goes.
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Heinz chili sauce
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
dash of Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup salad oil (I use canola)
Put all ingredients except salad oil into blender-container. Blend. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream. Keep leftovers refrigerated.
This allegedly righteouses-up just about everything but is especially good for dunkin’ fried dill pickles in, doncha know. (I also hear tell of chopped lettuce and lump crabmeat as a worthy substrate.)
A1A’S RED BEANS AND RICE
3 lbs red beans, well rinsed and inspected for rocks, small dirt clods
3 cups chopped onion (red and yellow)
2 cups chopped bell pepper
2 cups green onion
1 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery (remove the strings before chopping)
1/2 pound bacon
1 ham hock
1 cup chopped pickled pork and tasso, each
2 -3 tablespoons garlic, depending upon your taste
2-3 tablespoons of chopped jalapeno
3 tablespoons A1A’s seasoning (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3 bay leaves
Salt to taste
Black and white pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste
1/2 lb cajun smoked sausage, diced (e.g., Polks)(added first)
1/2 lb andouille, diced (added second)
1 lb spicy smoked sausage, diced (e.g., Conecuh)(added last)
Cooked Rice (I highly recommend a parboiled rice for its tendency to resist rice’s natural urge to form one large glutenous mass)
Soak the beans as follows: One pound of beans to be soaked for minimum 6 hours, no more than overnight (8-9 hours), two pounds soaked 4-5 hours.
For this recipe, you need about an 8 quart pot. I have cooked 3 lbs. of beans in a 6 quart but it’s not easy or a clean job, lots of splatter. Render the bacon, add the celery, the red and yellow onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of A1A’s seasoning. Saute for a few minutes, then add salt, pepper and first sausage drop and tasso and pickled pork. Add beans and ham hocks, give everything a good stir and add water. If you’ve got a ham bone in the freezer, throw it in. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slight bubble. Cook 4-4 1/2 hours adding water as necessary. About 2 hours in, add the andouille. When you think you have about 45 minutes to go, add last sausage drop, tabasco, green onions (not tops), last tablespoon of seasoning, if need for spice. And check salt AFTER you drop the sausage. Once the beans reach the thickness you like, turn off the heat and stir parsley in and cover. You can also season to your taste with other herbs or spices at this point. Let sit for 15 minutes.
One point of advice, you can always add water, you can’t always reduce it out of a dish and maintain the food’s structural integrity.
Serve over rice with a sprinkling of green onion tops for garnish. You can add grilled sausage if you like. Garlic bread or biscuits are good, but cornbread is better. And sweet iced tea with mint is great and helps to cut the heat, should you stub your toe there. The above quantities of spice and herbs are a starting point. I don’t think there is so much pepper, black, white, cayenne or other, that the above amounts will make the dish too hot. I even like to dust the beans with a little fresh thyme and drizzle with a little vinegar from the pepperoncini jar or some plain ol’ pepper sauce.
Hope you enjoy.
A1A’s OUTRAGEOUS CAJUN SEASONING
4 tbsp ground paprika
2 tbsp granulated garlic
2 tbsp granulated onion
2 1/2 tbsp black pepper
2 1/2 tbsp cayenne
2 tbsp ground thyme
2 tbsp ground oregano
1 tbsp ground parsley
2 tsp ground mustard
1-2 tbsp salt (depending upon taste)
The above amounts are based upon using McCormick’s products which tend to run a bit stronger than most.
Changing out a few things and adding others gets you a really nice southwestern spice for fajitas or a nice Caribbean version of the spice.
NMC’s FARMERS MARKET RECIPES
The Oxford Farmers Market is hitting high summer. The Bosts were there with mountains of beautiful tomatoes, cantaloupes, shucked corn, and their usual assortment of squashes, pole beans, and the like. Linda Boyd had bags of baby squash, several kinds of green beans, miniature eggplants, and herbs. The Pontotoc Berry Farm people had blueberries and blackberries. L&M was there with cured meats (Dan has been there this summer, and I’m pleased to report they are continuing since the restaurant closed), and there were lots of bakers. I’m going to put some recipes up for folks going back Wednesday midday or next Saturday. As an aside, the Bosts are producing truckloads of cantaloupes, and they are perfect, sweet almost like they’ve been sugared.
I’m going to post some simple recipes after the jump. Obviously, the recipes will work anywhere you can get fresh vegetables from farmers. While in Krogers today, I saw people buying green beans and cantaloupes and wanted to go up to them and say: Stop!
Tomato Pasta Salad
This needs to be served immediately after it is cooked. It cannot be held. It is adapted from a Chez Panisse pasta cookbook. This one is a great meal-by-itself to me, and as healthy as it gets. Only do this when the tomatoes are at their peak and only use fresh herbs.
6 Bost tomatoes
4 oz fusilli or rotini pasta or the like.
2 cups freshly grated bread crumbs from peasant bread (the peasant bread from the Bottletree Bakery works really well for this. There are breadmakers at the Farmers Market, though I wish they’d cook the loaves a tad more…)
a couple of sprigs fresh thyme
a half-handful of basil leaves
4-5 sprigs italian parsley
salt and pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Bake the bread crumbs in a 250 degree oven until crisp but not brown.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Scald the tomatoes in it then put under cold water and then peel and seed and dice them. Salt the water for the pasta. Add the pasta.
3. put the olive oil in a skillet and add the bread crumbs and the garlic and cook until the bread crumbs are brown.
4. Chop the herbs and add to the tomatoes.
5. When the pasta is done, drain it and combine pasta, tomato/herbs, and bread/garlic, toss thoroughly and eat immediately.
1 slice of L&M pancetta (optional)
a tsp or so of butter
5 ears of Bost corn
a cup or so of water or if available home-made chicken stock
If you don’t have the chicken stock use the pancetta and vice versa.
1. Cut the corn off the cob. I highly recommend using one of these.
2. Cut the pancetta (if using) into small pieces, lardon sized. Cook to crisp in a cast iron skillet. Pour off all but 1 tsp or so of fat.
3. Put the corn, water or stock, butter into the pan. Cook until liquid is almost evaporated, stirring regularly from the bottom. Taste, add salt, pepper. If not quite done, add a bit more liquid and cook until done.
Linda Boyd’s smallest green beans, trimmed
either a small chopped shallot, 1/2 tbs butter, 1 tsp lemon juice or
1 tbs butter, chopped fresh savory
1. Bring some water to a boil, salt it, and cook the green beans about 4 minutes
2. Drain the beans and run cold water over them to stop their cooking
3. If you are using the savory– melt the butter and steep the savory in it then strain it
4. Just before eating, heat a skillet and add either the strained savory butter or the shallot and butter, heat, add the green beans, toss and cook till thoroughly hot. If using the shallot, add the lemon juice at the last minute and serve.
Long ago on Baghdad Burning, Riverbend blogged about her favorite Iraqi foods, mentioning something called Bamia. Intrigued, I Googled around and found several recipes from various places in the Middle East. Because they were different enough to confuse me, I emailed two or three to Riverbend, asking whether they were close to her family’s. She replied:
Yes, those are similar, but here’s how we do it. First, we saute 4 or 5 pieces of garlic in corn oil, then we add the okra – whole – only the heads are chopped off. The okra and garlic are sauteed a little bit longer with about a cup of shredded tomatoes, then the cooked veal or beef is added (a few small pieces at most) and about two cups of broth. The whole mix is allowed to simmer for about 5 minutes. About 3 tablespoons of tomato paste is added with some black pepper and salt and the whole thing is covered and allowed to cook over low heat for around 20 minutes. You must be sure to turn it off before the okra gets mushy. Serve with rice. It’s a favorite food here — just amazing. Riverbend.
Ah yes, there are many roads to Bamia in the Middle East, some crossing the stovetop, others entering the oven. One version I found calls for a teaspoon apiece of coriander and cumin, with a tablespoon of tamarind pods (soaked in water then drained) added toward the end of cooking. An Egyptian one, oven-baked and featuring 3 tablespoons apiece of plain yogurt and sour cream, calls for garnishing with thin slices of tomato and lemon. Well, I diddled around on my own a bit and finally came up with this version (because I especially love Greek flavors, I zing it up with dill and mint instead of coriander and cumin, but suit yourself as to savory spices or herbs):
1 lb ground beef (I use sirloin)
1 large onion, chopped
4 good-sized cloves garlic, minced
2 medium to large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or one 14.5-oz can)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (add a pinch of sugar to cut the acid)
1 lb whole fresh okra pods, stalks trimmed just above pod
1 14-oz can low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon dried mint flakes
salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for browning beef
Heat a large skillet or other stovetop pan on a burner set to medium high, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to pan, and brown beef (do this in batches to avoid overcrowding). Remove beef from pan and set aside. Lower heat to medium-low, add onion and garlic, and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Return beef to pan, add remaining ingredients, and stir to mix well. Cover pan and let cook over medium-low heat until okra is fork-tender but not mushy, about 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve over hot rice with salad and hot crusty bread.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more tasty Iraqi cuisine (with a good big side of Iraq’s cultural history), I suggest Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden.
Passed along by a friend who’s lived in the Middle East a good bit. Talk about yum!
In order, add to salad bowl:
Salt (kosher or sea salt, if you’ve got it) to cover bottom of bowl
Dried mint (shot-glass 3/4 full, crushed)
Garlic (5-6 cloves, minced then mashed into the salt to form a paste)
Olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)
Lemon juice (1 1/2 lemons)
Tomatoes (as many as you want, quartered then marinated in refrigerated bowl for at least an hour)
Iceberg lettuce (torn into bitesize pieces and added just before serving)
BAKED SUMMER VEGETABLES
1 lb. zucchini
1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. potatoes, peeled (or not, if you use little new ones)
2 onions, sliced
2 green peppers, seeded
1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parsley, chopped (or dill and mint and plenty of “em)
Scrape and wash zucchini. Slice all vegetables in 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange in large baking pan. Add olive oil and one cup hot water. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley. Cover and bake in 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover for the last 30 minutes. Serves 4-5 (generously).
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in sealable jar, shake well, and let sit to get “em well acquainted
1 package fresh spinach, rinsed under running water and spun or patted dry, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces if need be
half a medium red onion, sliced into rings as thinly as possible (cut slices into quarters if desired)
10-12 button mushrooms, sliced into quarters (if large, into sixths) and marinated a few minutes in lemon juice
1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
1 package of sliced almonds, toasted in a slow oven for a few minutes, until they color a bit
Pile spinach in bottom of salad bowl, other ingredients on top, with almonds last. Don’t toss or apply dressing until at table, or all the goodies will fall to the bottom and get soggy too quickly. You’ll have leftover dressing.
CITY GROCERY SHRIMP ‘N GRITS RECIPE
(recipe courtesy of NMC)
FOR THE GRITS:
1 cup quick grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (white)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
Original TABASCO ® brand Pepper Sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SHRIMP:
2 cups chopped smoked bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds (20- to 30-count) shrimp, peeled
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups sliced white mushrooms
3 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups sliced scallions
Cook grits according to package instructions; as they are finishing, whisk in butter, cheeses, cayenne, paprika and TABASCO ® Pepper Sauce to taste.
TO PREPARE SHRIMP:
Cook bacon until it begins to brown; remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon and set aside. Strain drippings and set aside.
Heat a large skillet until very hot; add olive oil and 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. As oil begins to smoke, toss in shrimp to cover bottom of pan. Before stirring, season with salt and pepper. Stir until shrimp begin to turn pink; let pan return to original hot temperature.
Stir in minced garlic and bacon bits, being careful not to burn garlic. Toss in mushrooms and coat with oil briefly. Add lemon juice and wine, and stir for 30 seconds or so until everything is well coated and incorporated.
WHEN READY TO SERVE:
Stir in sliced scallions and cook about 20 seconds. Serve immediately over the aforementioned, patiently waiting cheese grits. Enjoy, burp, and reminisce about those fine meals at City Grocery.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
GRITS A YA-YA
A food-editor friend sent me this recipe, being very mysterious about the ultimate source. All credit to whoever that is . . .
8 strips bacon, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
3 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
1 portabello mushroom cap, sliced
1/4 cup diced scallions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups smoked gouda cheese grits (recipe follows)
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots. Sauté and then add butter and a splash of white wine. When the butter is half melted, add the shrimp. When the downsides of the shrimp become white, flip them and add mushrooms, scallions and spinach. Sauté for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp. Pour in the heavy cream and let simmer while stirring. When reduced by one third, add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Return shrimp to the sauce and combine. Spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of cheese grits.
Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits:
Bring 1 qt. chicken stock and 2 qts. heavy cream to a boil. Add 1 lb. grits and cook on high heat for 5 minutes stirring rapidly. Add 1/4 lb. butter and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add 1 lb. diced smoked gouda cheese. Stir to incorporate to smooth consistency.
GREEK STEAK SOUP
This recipe is adapted from (my falling-apart copy of) Chrissa Paradissis’ The Best Book of Greek Cookery, 2nd Ed. (Athens: Efstathiadis Bros., 1972).
3 cups V-8 or tomato juice
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt (I use garlic salt)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon each, dried dill and mint
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup rice
1 lb. ground beef (I use sirloin)
In a large, heavy saucepan, bring juice, water, butter, and seasonings to a rolling boil. Stir in onion and rice and crumble in ground beef. Stir well, return mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 35-45 minutes and serve hot. Serves 4-5.
MISSISSIPPI SQUASH CASSEROLE
1 – 11/2 lbs yellow squash, tops & bottoms trimmed, sliced into 1/4-1/2 £³ thick coins
1 large onion (preferably Vidalia), chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 lb) butter
1/2 package saltines (about 30)
salt and plenty of pepper (preferably fresh-ground)
optional: 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped small and sauteed a few minutes
Turn oven on to 350.
Cover the squash and onions with water in a deep saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until vedge is soft (5-10 minutes). Drain well and let cool a minute or two.
Melt the butter and pour it into a casserole dish (or do it the lazy way: place it on the burner that vents your oven); anyhow, make sure the dish is greased to the top all around.
Break the eggs into the buttered dish and beat slightly.
Place the saltines in a sealable plastic bag and, with a rolling pin or heavy can, smash them to nearly powder.
When vedge is well drained, dump it, half the saltines, salt and pepper, and bell pepper (if any) into the casserole and give everything a vigorous mash/mix with a potato-masher. Sprinkle remaining cracker crumbs on top.
Bake until nicely puffed and golden (30-45 minutes).
Mighty-good peasant food, I gar ron tee.
1 unbaked pie shell
1 lb zucchini, sliced into thin coins
1 medium onion, sliced thin or chopped
2 C light cream
1 C shredded cheese (Jack, Swiss, mozzarella — whatever you prefer)
dried dillweed, salt, and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Saute zukes and onion in a little butter until tender (5-10 minutes), drain a little, and spread evenly in pie shell. Beat eggs, mix in cream and seasonings, fold in cheese, and pour over vedge. Bake 15 minutes at 425, then 30 minutes at 300 or until center is set and knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes and serve warm with a nice green salad and wine.
ASPARAGUS WRAPPED IN CRISP PROSCIUTTO
Yippee! Good ol’ Pfiff has celebrated asparagus season in Germany by sending me a ver’ tempting recipe . . .
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 appetizer servings
Note: This extremely simple recipe is a combination of two old favorites: basic roast asparagus and steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. The contrast between the soft asparagus and the crisp prosciutto is delicious. Serve this with iced Champagne and plenty of napkins to wipe asparagus juice from your fingers.
1 pound asparagus, medium thickness (about 16 spears)
1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced medium-thin, about 16 slices from the smaller end
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut off the bottom 1 to 1 1/2 inches of the asparagus spears and, if the spears are thick, peel them. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each spear spiraling upward, with the fatty stripe of the ham at the bottom so it creates a barber pole effect up the spear.
2. Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil and smear it lightly with the olive oil. Arrange the wrapped spears in the pan and place in the oven. After 5 minutes, shake the pan vigorously to turn the spears. Roast another five minutes and shake again. Roast until the asparagus is very tender and the prosciutto is somewhat crisp, about 15 minutes total. Serve immediately.
CLAUDINE’S CARROTS IN ORANGE GLAZE
2 tablespoons butter or oleo
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons orange zest
dash salt & pepper
1 lb. (about 3 cups) baby carrots (or 6 medium ones thinly bias-sliced)
In saucepan, melt butter then stir in brown sugar, honey, orange zest, salt & pepper. Add carrots and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until crisp tender. I prepare them about an hour before dinner so they can season well, then reheat for serving. Serves 4.
MATTYE GREENE’S SHRIMP CREOLE
Okay, here’s my momma’s Shrimp Creole, just as she wrote it (pre-reading definitely advised). I’m so everlasting glad that, the Christmas before what would prove to be her last, I sat her down with a pen and a stack of index cards and DEMANDED recipes. Now when I see her handwriting, it’s like she’s standing there in the kitchen with me again, talking about “srimp ” without the aitch.
2 T. Olive or Wesson Oil
2 (medium sized) chopped onions
1 chopped green Pepper
1 can (small) Tomato Paste (Be sure it’s Paste & not Tomato Sauce!)
2 T. Flour
2 t. sugar – 2 t. salt
1 C. water
Saute onion in Oil for 4 or 5 min – then add Pepper and saute a little longer. Don’t overcook, because the green Pepper is better if it’s not mushy. Sprinkle flour over and stir – Add T. Paste, then water, stirring till thickened. Simmer another C. of water with 2 or 3 T. Shrimp spice (preferably Rex Crab & Shrimp Boil) for a few minutes. Do this before you start sauteing so it will be ready by the time you need it. Strain and add to Sauce and cook a minute or two longer – just till thickened to right consistency.
Bring water to a boil – enough to cover Shrimp. Add salt (a tablespoon or so). Simmer 1 1/2 lbs. shelled Shrimp in salted water for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain Shrimp and add to Sauce. Serve over Boiled Rice.
NMC’s CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO
This [wrote NMC on March 9, 2008] is a post about something very personally special to me, and because of that I want to share it. Bear with me and you’ll get a good recipe in the deal.
The Delta and Chicago blues musician Honeyboy Edwards is the last living musician who actually learned songs from Robert Johnson. He was a running buddy of Johnson’s, and is one of the witnesses who was around him near the time he died. Edwards was also recorded by Alan Lomax in the early forties and is the author of the finest memoir by a blues musician, The World Don’t Owe Me Nothin’. I just got an email about a dinner I cooked for Honeyboy a few years ago, during a Living Blues symposium at the University of Mississippi and am going to brag on myself by quoting it. After that, my recipe for chicken and sausage gumbo. I can’t remember if I cooked chicken or seafood gumbo for Honeyboy. It was one or the other. The “ride back” referred to in this email was from Holly Springs, Mississippi, to Chicago. Here’s what I got in the email:
The reason for my email is that I have always wanted to relay to you how much Honeyboy enjoyed your hospitality and that homemade Gumbo. As you may recall, Honeyboy played in Holly Springs at a Juke Joint for the first time in 50 years, and we had to leave after his show (around midnight) and head home and the ride was long and tired. Honeyboy only said about 3 sentences the whole way back, and it was each time only about that Gumbo! He kept saying, in that Honeyboy voice “Man, that sure was good gumbo wasn’t it? ” – About every 3 hours he’d rise up again and repeat “that sure was some good Gumbo – I could go for some of that now “. It was evident, even at your house, that he enjoyed the good food – he really enjoys such simple things and I’ve always remembered that trip back home. ” I will never forget that trip, and most of all what stuck with Honeyboy- that good gumbo!!!
While at dinner, Honeyboy regaled us with stories … I got to hear about him busking in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in the thirties, for instance, a story that is not in the memoir.
So with that preface, ya’ll want my recipe? I don’t use filé (dried ground sassafras leaves) in gumbo, although a real cajun version of this would be likely to do so. If you want to throw caution to the winds, use rendered duck fat for the roux. If you want to take the fat level down some, you can use 1.5:1 flour to fat ratio and still make it work. There really is no way to make this soup work without a traditional roux. One heretical part of the recipe is the omission of chopped bell peppers.
1 chicken, cut up
2 ribs celery
2 peeled carrots
2 onions, peeled and halved
a leek split and cleaned (optional)
5 pepper corns
a bouquet garni of bay leaf, several thyme sprigs, several parsley sprigs (that is, tie these things up in a bundle with cotton kitchen twine)
1 cup canola or peanut oil
1 cup flour
Another tbs or so of oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tbs finely minced chopped garlic
2 cups finely chopped celery
2 bay leaves and 3 sprigs thyme tied together
1 lb of smoked pork sausage, preferably real andouille cut split in half lengthwise and then sliced into ½ inch pieces. If andouille not available, the best generally available substitute is Conecuh (get the hickory smoked) from Alabama, which Walmart carries
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp or so red pepper
1 tsp finely minced garlic
Cooked long grain rice
Note: If you already have on hand 2 quarts of stock, you can use that and poach the chicken breasts in it and skip step 1 and at step 5, just pull out the breasts, remove the fat from the stock and you’re ready to go.
1. Take all of the chicken except the breasts and put it in a stockpot with the ribs celery, the peeled carrots, the peeled, halved onions, the leek (if using), the bouquet garni, and the peppercorns. Cover with water that goes at least 2 inches above the top of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes or so. Skim periodically.
2. Add the reserved breasts to the stockpot and make sure they are covered with the liquid. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes
3. If you are up for multitasking, somewhere in there toward the end of the 45 minutes you should start the roux.
Combine the flour and oil in a cast iron skillet over heat. If you’re experienced at this start at high heat if not more cautiously. Be careful! This is called Cajun napalm for a reason. Stir pretty close to constantly with a wooden spoon, more constantly if the heat is higher. Do not under any circumstances use one of those fancy new rubber spatulas that are supposed to be good at high heat. Your grandmother used a wooden spoon for a reason and she was right. She was also right about cooking in cast iron. Any thin cooking utensil would be trouble here.
4. You are going to cook the roux till it is about milk chocolate color. This will take longer than you want it to take, but if you hurry it too much you will get little burned flecks in there and that means trouble.
5. Either while you are doing the roux or before, and when the breasts have had their fifteen minutes of simmer, fish them out of the stockpot and reserve them. Now strain the stock. I don’t use the dark meat in the gumbo because I like the texture & etc. of the properly poached chicken breast. You can use the meat for something else or put it in the gumbo if you insist. Remove the fat from the stock. You should have about 2 quarts. Wipe out the stock pot and return the stock to it. Put it on the stove.
6. Another multitasking issue: At this point I would get a skillet going with the oil, and, when hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook till wilted. Then add the celery and cook 10 minutes at least. Longer isn’t bad but don’t brown anything.
7. Is the roux done? If you get in a hurry you can stop short of milk chocolate you can wimp out but you will be sad. Anything short of fairly dark brown risks making a library-pasty-thing that is not gumbo and will bring shame to your household. When you’ve gone as long as you can, move to the next stop.
8. This is the big opportunity for a burned arm. Be careful. If you have another careful kitchen assistant, all the better, but there has to be some mutual trust there. While whisking violently (hint: I use one of those battery operated hand blenders) add the roux to the stock spoonful at a time. The object here is to get the thing blended together like a sauce or gravy and to not have it “break ” (e.g. have clear liquid and roux still visible as distinct things in your gumbo). Once you’ve combined it well it will stay that way.
9. When the onions are fully cooked stir them in. Now add the bay leaf /thyme, the sausage, the black and red pepper.Bring to a simmer.
10. Somewhere along in here cook the rice. The quantity all depends on whether you are going to eat this all in one sitting or not. You want about a 1/3 cup of rice per bowl of gumbo.
11. Cook for about 45 minutes.
12. While the gumbo is cooking, skin and de-bone the cooked chicken breast. Cut into bit sized pieces.
13. After the gumbo has cooked 45 minutes, add the chicken and taste for salt. Add the fresh garlic, stir, cook long enough to heat the chicken through, remove the bay leaf/thyme (if you can find it!), and spoon into bowls, putting a scoop of about 1/3 cup of rice in the middle of each bowl.
ATTYMS’s MAMA’s PEANUT BRITTLE
2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
2 cups sugar
1 cup white Karo syrup
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tsp. soda
Heat and stir sugar, syrup and water in 3-qt. saucepan until sugar dissolves. While syrup mixture boils, blend in butter. Stir often after 230 degrees is reached on thermometer; add nuts at 280 degrees. Stir constantly until hard crack stage of 305 degrees. Remove from heat; quickly stir in soda, mixing well. Pour onto large cookie sheet. Stretch thin by lifting and pulling from edges with fork. Loosen from pans as soon as possible and break into pieces.
KIWI – STRAWBERRY TART
An easy-to-make, refreshing dessert for all seasons (in December here in lotusland, it goes by “Christmas Lights Tart “).
Pastry for one 9-inch pie
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla or (better yet) 2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole fresh strawberries, stemmed
1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced into thin discs
1/4 cup apricot jam
Pre-heat oven to 425. Roll out pastry to 1/8-inch thickness; fit into a 9-inch false-bottomed tart pan. Cover bottom pastry with foil (c’mon, NOT the tinfoil from your hat — use fresh); cover foil with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake pastry shell at 425 until sides brown and puff away from pan (about 12 minutes). Remove weights and foil; cool pastry completely. Reduce oven heat to 325.
In a bowl beat egg yolks; add cream, sugar and vanilla or Cointreau; stir to combine. Pour mixture into cool pastry shell and bake at 325 until firm (about 35 minutes). Cool completely. Arrange strawberries, stem end down, around rim of tart; cover middle of tart with single layer of kiwi slices. Heat jam just until melted and brush over fruit with pastry brush.
To serve, lift tart from rim of pan and place on cake plate or pie stand; convey to table; graciously receive acclaim.
THE TALE OF THE DASTARDLY DOUGH
Good morning, though I must say, I’m “wo out and ready for bed again. Just had me a kitchen adventure that I won’t be repeating.
You ever made yeast bread from scratch? I’m not a huge baker but do make my own pizza dough and, a few times a year, bread or rolls. So I kinda know my way around doughs, okay?
Well, the other day at the store I saw this box of Krusteaz bread mix that, according to the package, was to produce one loaf of “country white ” bread. So okay, a couple of their other mixes ( “play like you made it from scratch now that we’ve gathered all the ingredients for you “) had come out respectably enough for me, so I bought it. And this morning I woke up early and thought, “Okay, I’ll mix that sucka up and knead it some, and after it rises for an hour, I can have me a good hot loaf to sample for breakfast . . . ”
All you hafta add is a cup of room-temp water, right? Then mix up the dough, knead for 12-15 minutes, and let it rise, right? Well, I thought this dough looked a leetle loose as I scraped it onto the floured kneading board of my granny’s baking table, but hey, you can always work in a skoosh more flour if it’s too gloppy, so no big. I mean, when you first start kneading, all dough is grabby, but keep at it, and after a few minutes it firms up into a nice smooth ball and stops being sticky.
So I plunged my hand-petals into this mass.
Glue. Tar. Gum arabic. Gummiest gum in the world. Exxon Valdez. No Exit.
Unrelenting glop covers my hands top and bottom to halfway to my elbows, oozing and lopping this way and that, not letting go. Finally I get most of it up off the board and into the air where I can lift one hand then the other, stretching rather than kneading it (like a Vegas dealer riffling a deck of cards?) — anything to make it let go. Ten minutes, shoulders getting tired. Fifteen minutes, no improvement in my stuckedness, shoulders screaming, nothing else I can do, nothing else I can touch, nowhere else to put this monster, stretch stretch stretch, glop glop glop. I can’t even stop moving my hands cause it’ll just glop over onto more of me. Twenty minutes, 30 minutes, on the verge of tears cause I can’t get loose enough to grab a knife and gut myself. Eventually I’ll need to go to the bathroom this morning — then what? Here lies the flowah, kilt by gluten.
By now whimpering and just sick that I hadn’t at least turned on the radio for some company before starting this, I spied on the counter by the stove a piece of foil I hadn’t slicked up last night (thankyajeezus!). Staggered over to it and, with my last strength, lifted these mobbled mitts and let gravity take its course: the evil mass — much of it anyhow — plopped onto the foil. Cheers!
Got the tap turned on with my elbow and let that glorious water do its magic. Scrubbed my paw-petals nilly off, then hid the evildoer from human sight forever in a wrapup of foil and flang it inna the trash. Hosanna, this is pick-up day!
Maybe I’ll thaw a bagel. . . . …
But no — HAW! It’s rising in the trash — pushing outta the foil and lifting the Krusteaz box I threw in on top of it!
Too bad, dough, apology not accepted. You da trash-truckers’ problem now. Just soon’s I get back enough strength enough to haul you downstairs . . .
At this point I’m just hoping the Dastardly Dough Episode really IS over. See, I dumped that trash bag headfirst into a larger one that I then took downstairs to dump into the rolling trashbin for the hauling service. On the second dumping, there was a real-heavy WHOP at the bottom of the bin.
Help me beseech the Universe not to have broken the big trashbag and let that menace loose in the bin that’s now been sitting out in the hot sun waiting for pickup for 4 hours . . .