Mississippi Tamale Trail by Mary Prater

photo by LucianVenutian
photo by LucianVenutian

Growing up, I never knew that what I called a “hot tamale” wasn’t a food born and bred in Mississippi. The Delta Hot Tamale was as much a part of my southern upbringing as college football on Saturday and church on Sunday. There are just some things you don’t question as a Mississippian. A tamale was always “hot”, even if it wasn’t, and it was for sure born in the Delta. Well, call me shocked, but I’ve come to learn that our good friends from a little further south actually created this most delicious morsel. Now to be fair, Mexico may have conceived of the tamale, but the good folks of the Mississippi Delta took this humble food and blessed it with southern grace to elevate it to its revered place in our culture.  In honor of the place that the Delta Hot Tamale holds in the hearts of food lovers from all over, the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail was born to guide pilgrims to the Delta’s temples of Tamales.

The Southern Foodways Alliance teamed up with Viking Range Corporation to develop the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail. They have created a website that gives the history of the hot tamale, recipes and an interactive map to help you find the best tamales “from Tunica to Vicksburg”. www.tamaletrail.com

The Onward Store photo by Natalie Maynor
The Onward Store
photo by Natalie Maynor

My favorite tamales could be found at the Onward Store off of highway 61 in Rollingfork, MS. I stopped in two years ago while on a family history trip with my father and son through the Delta. My son, Jackson, felt right at home when we walked through the old store’s screen door to find three kids under the age of twelve manning the front and playing cards. Nobody was wearing shoes, which sent Jackson immediately back to the car to take off the flip-flops he had grudgingly put on to appease me. We interrupted the kid’s poker game long enough to order cokes and tamales. The method of relaying this was priceless: “Hey Momma! Some people want tamales!” This was yelled from the front door to “momma” somewhere in the back, never to be seen. We took a seat at an oil cloth covered table and considered the possibility that we had made a mistake in stopping. But, before we could make our exit, cokes and three orders of tamales with gravy were delivered to our table. We immediately knew that everything was going to be alright. And it was. Those tamales were perfection. Wrapped in corn husks, spicy and full of flavor and swimming in their cooking liquid. I was in tamale heaven. I heard recently that the store had been sold, so I called and asked if they still sold tamales. I was assured that while they do have new owners, they have the same tamales. Thank God! www.theonwardstore.com

McCarty’s Gallery Restaurant by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

State of the art dining is what guests may expect at the Gallery Restaurant. Just as the McCarty Pottery Barn is a well-kept secret, so too, is their dining offering, which was established by Lee McCarty to give his pottery shoppers a place to enjoy lunch. With a population of approximately 600, eating options in Merigold, Mississippi are limited, but McCarty has created a rare lunch experience in the quaint little village.

 

photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

The McCarty reputation has once again preceded them. Word of mouth has educated people about the tea room’s existence, as it has the Pottery Barn, and likewise, there is no signage to verify that one has arrived. But a collection of bamboo and a cypress fence on Sunflower Street is a clue that Lee McCarty has struck again!  Before entering the distinctive restaurant, visitors walk on a lovely old-brick sidewalk through a lush garden dressed for outdoor dining, which is handsomely highlighted with impressive decorative pieces of McCarty pottery.

photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

The restaurant itself is yet another example of the sophisticated simplicity that is the hallmark of Lee McCarty’s exceptional style.  His personality and exquisite taste infuses every room, and in addition to many offerings of his own art, there is one example after another of his wide reaching interests and his love of art from all around the region and the world.  Unusual pieces of furniture accent the rooms, and artful arrangements adorn each one, including atop the grand piano that sits at one end of the main dining room.

photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

“New York cuisine served with cornbread and iced tea” is how McCarty describes the dining experience, and indeed, that is what diners may expect.  The simple, but elegant, meal is, of course, served on the simple, but elegant, McCarty pottery, beautifully arranged on each lovely table and always including a vase of fresh flowers. Upon being seated, guests are immediately served a small bowl of vegetable gumbo, along with mini cornbread muffins, cheese muffins, and creamy, sweet butter, and they’re invited to have a Bloody Mary or something else from the bar, or an iced tea or other soft drinks.  The menu is limited and seasonal, with a summer offering of chicken salad or chicken crepes, (sometimes seafood crepes) served with two side vegetables. One of the vegetable choices is a fabulous stewed tomato casserole called Merigold Tomatoes— not to be missed!  Dessert is a choice of chocolate cobbler or caramel cobbler, or a “little bit of both,” served with homemade vanilla ice cream and delicious coffee.

photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Diners may, or may not, see McCarty at the restaurant, but his unique presence is clearly evident on all fronts. There is nothing “cutesy” or pedestrian about this operation,  but instead, it’s the clever sharing of a piece of Lee McCarty’s soul and another unique Mississippi experience.

 

See the post on McCarty Pottery http://porchscene.com/2013/06/17/mccarty-pottery/ and visit www.mccartyspottery.com

(Since the publication of this article in 2013, Lee McCarty has left our midst, but his legacy in Merigold, Mississippi remains open for business.)

Farm To Table by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

 

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Hail to the local farmers and growers, who in a struggling economy, continue to operate their small farms and supply communities with fresh, nutritious food, and praise to the communities themselves for supporting the upswing of local markets.  A focus on healthy eating and a need to be conscious of how our food is grown is driving this trend, and innovative people all over the country are bringing it straight from the farm to the table.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Temperature controlled transportation makes it possible to safely transport food anywhere in the world, but buying from a farmer or grower who lives right in one’s own area ensures that fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy are fresh and flavorful in ways that have to be tasted to be believed.  Could there be anything more fabulous than a salad, which is made from a variety of lettuces and tomatoes, picked and eaten in the same day!

Seasonal “road-side vegetable stands” have always been a Southern staple, providing happy travelers with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and farmer’s markets are not a new happening. The neighborhood markets that are commonplace today however, offer not only more and different varieties of produce, such as heirloom tomatoes, (my personal favorite) but flowers, container plants, pastries, breads, coffee, casseroles, jellies, crafts and even doggie treats.  There has been an insurgence of certified organically grown fruits, vegetables and meats, and if not organic, meat, chicken and dairy products that come from grass fed or pastured animals.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

 

Today’s markets are not just a place to shop for dinner, but have become social events unto themselves, often complete with live music. There is sometimes entertainment for children, such as “face-painting,” and kids are given some insight into where their food originates. Friends gather and socialize, often excited to share about something a particular vendor is selling that day or a recipe someone has suggested. But the ability to actually talk to the person who grew what one is serving for dinner tonight is worth the trip.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

There is a diversity of cultures and socio-economic levels at local markets, exemplified in both buyers and sellers, and a unity of spirit brought about by one of everybody’s favorite topics…..food. There is an atmosphere of optimism and a feeling of mutual support, because participating in local markets benefits everyone. – Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Lagniappe with a Capital “L” by Lisa W. Davis

Bayou_des_allemands_2003On our way for a long weekend getaway with friends in South Louisiana, we found ourselves too early for our usual lunch stop at the venerable Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant located near Pass Manchac at the beginning of the causeway to New Orleans.  We hated to miss the fabulous paper-thin, perfectly fried catfish at Middendorf’s, but we had another plan. We continued on the causeway and exited on Highway 310 South toward Destrahan where we crossed the Mississippi River and continued south to US Highway 90 toward Houma, Thibodeax and Franklin, our ultimate destination. As soon as we entered US 90 we began to watch for the historic German settlement of Des Allemands and its highly recommended seafood restaurant, Spahr’s.  We had heard great reports about Spahr’s for years, but heretofore our timing had not been right for a stop.  Today, our timing was perfect.

Des Allemands was settled in 1721 by immigrants from Germany. “Des Allemands, in fact, means “the Germans” in French. The German Louisiana colony was originally located up the Mississippi River in what today is Arkansas, but the local Native Americans there were so hostile that the whole group moved to a safer location much closer to the colonial capital of New Orleans. Over time they intermarried with the French and later the Acadians and helped create the unique Cajun culture. In fact, it was the German settlers who brought the diatonic accordion, which became the main instrument in Cajun music.

spahrs6

Fast forward to the twentieth century when in 1968 the Spahr family founded its namesake seafood restaurant.  Des Allemands is located on a network of lakes and bayous where seafood, especially shellfish, abounds.  Locating Des Allemands, just east of Houma, was easy; locating Spahr’s was a little harder, even with a GPS.  We discovered, however, that virtually everyone in town knows where it is and will direct you.  We finally found it tucked away on a road under US 90. Its exterior is unpretentious, to say the least, and, except for the fairly large sign in front, is not noticeable from the highway.  You really have to be looking for it, but it is well worth the effort.

spahrs

Once inside, the atmosphere is purely local. On this July Friday noon, it was welcoming and casual, and buzzing with conversations of young people at the bar and families at large tables. Everyone seemed to speak with a strong Cajun accent, but German forebears were evident in the facial features and blond hair of many of the patrons. The seafood, however, was pure South Louisiana good!

spahrs8My husband, Albert, ordered a cup of gumbo as an appetizer and one look told me it was a winner.  Clearly made from very dark roux, it was brimming with all manner of shellfish and here and there slivers chicken or perhaps duck were visible.  A good cup of gumbo is a thing of beauty and this was definitely a ten. He generously offered me a taste and after one spoonful, it took all my will power not to take the whole thing away from him. Perfection! I was tempted to order some myself, but our time was limited and I had stuffed crab coming, so I contented myself with a few more spoonfuls. I wanted to order a gallon and take it with us and now wish I had.

When I complimented our young waitress on the gumbo, she told me the original owner makes it daily. The second generation now runs the restaurant, but Papa is still in the kitchen making gumbo. This is a very good thing.

spahrs4In answer to my question about the stuffed crab, she assured us it was fresh and “homemade”.  Indeed it was.  No concoction of breading and a tiny amount of crabmeat or its facsimile in shells from who-knows-where and delivered frozen from some large conglomerate was this. Nope. Like the gumbo, this stuffed crab was the real thing, chock full of fresh crabmeat with just the right amount of breading wonderfully seasoned and cooked to perfection.  I cleaned my plate and wished I had ordered more.

Albert always orders shrimp at a seafood restaurant and can be a bit hard to please with this, his favorite food.  On this day he was very happy with his entrée of grilled shrimp served with Spahr’s “onion sticks”, small petals of nicely-breaded onion and lightly fried. I also had some of these with my stuffed crab, and they were delicious.

sparhs3

Since it was, after all, lunch and we were on our way to three days of feasting with our friends in Franklin, we reluctantly skipped dessert.  Next time we will allow plenty of time to make a meal at Spahr’s a main event and not just a quick lunch stop.  And, you can bet, there will be a next time.

If you venture into Cajun Country near Des Allemands, treat yourself to a meal at Spahr’s.  Start with the gumbo. –Lisa W. Davis

It’s Worth the Wait at the Hunter’s Pub by Tom Lawrence

Courtesy of Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse
Courtesy of Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

The Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse is a cinder block building located on a country crossroad about fifteen miles from Columbus, Georgia. The surrounding land is mainly hardwood forest and is home to a variety of local hunting clubs. The Pub started out as a country store that attracted an after-hunt crowd of beer drinkers and snackers. Over time, the owner decided to add hamburgers and such and this eventually led to somebody suggesting that he grill some steaks.

On my first visit to the Pub, I was totally unprepared for the Saturday night mob scene. We arrived about 6:30 in the evening and there were cars and trucks jamming the parking lot and lining the road for a quarter of a mile in all directions. When we finally made it to the dirt parking lot, there were dozens of people waiting on the porch. I had a sinking feeling that we should have had reservations, however, I later found out that there is no such thing as a reservation, only a waiting list.

Photo courtesy of Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

The young lady managing the waiting list was very pleasant and assured us that things moved fairly fast and that a table would be available soon. We went back outside and took our place among the waiting horde. The hopeful diners could best be described as an eclectic group. The attire ranged from full camo to suits. In this part of Georgia, the locals, as is the case in most of the rural south, are mildly amused by the city folk who are clearly out of their element. Throw in the tourists who have seen the Pub recommended in dining guides and you have an interesting cast of characters.

We mingled for over an hour during which probably twenty parties of diners left. A like number were seated and still more came to wait on the crowded porch. I decided to go in and check on our position on the waiting list and found that we were sixteenth in line. The smiling young lady assured us that the wait would not be much longer. I began to notice that people who had arrived after we came were being seated while we were still waiting.

I gave it another hour and went in to recheck our position on the list. We had moved up to twelfth. I pointed out to the young woman that there had been at least twenty parties seated and we had only advanced by four positions. She gave me a forty watt smile and said,

“Of course, we always seat our regular customers before we seat folks who are probably just a one-time visitor.”

“How do you know who’s who?” I asked.

“If someone comes enough for me to recognize them, then I move them up in the seating line, if y’all show up for a couple of weeks in a row, then I’d move you along as well.”

“Well, you seem to have a great many regulars here tonight.” I mused, just a little piqued.

“We always do.” She replied and I went back to the porch.

Photo courtesy of Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

Normally, I would not even consider waiting for several hours to dine, but tonight the weather was very pleasant, the crowd congenial and I recognized a perverse logic in the Pub’s seating policy. About 9:30 we were seated and by that time I was so hungry that I really didn’t care how good the steak might be, I just wanted it served as fast as possible. I remember the steak being very good, but I would have probably enjoyed the steak at Western Sizzlin I was so desperate.

With my previous experience in mind, my friend Mike and I arrived at the Pub just a little after five on a recent Saturday evening. Cars and trucks filled the parking lot and had begun to line the adjacent roads. There was no one waiting on the porch and we were seated at a table for six immediately. The auxiliary dining room we were in is joined to the main building by a shared kitchen and has its own wait staff. A very pleasant young woman introduced herself and asked for our drink orders.

Photo courtesy of Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

We both ordered the rib eye, which came with potatoes, salad and Texas toast (Editor’s note: The Hunter’s Pub serves a cheese toast appitizer, rather than Texas toast). I mentioned earlier that I really didn’t care too much about the trimmings and concentrated on the steak. This policy will serve you well at the Hunter’s Pub. The steak was of very good quality and perfectly prepared. I have observed that most country steak houses have a real affinity for Worcestershire sauce and lace their marinades with far too much. The marinade at the Pub is very well seasoned and while there may be a touch of Worcestershire, it was not identifiable in the final taste. Normally I don’t comment on the cost of a good meal, but in the case of the Pub, I feel bound to say that the steaks are a very reasonably priced. When you consider the quality and excellent preparation the Pub delivers, it is a good value proposition.

Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

http://www.hunterspubandsteakhouse.com/

(706) 628-5992

11269 Highway 219, Hamilton, GA 31811

TOMATO PIE AT THE MOOSE CAFE IN ASHVILLE, NC by Lyla Ellzey

Photo courtesy of The Moose Cafe http://eatatthemoosecafe.com/
Photo courtesy of The Moose Cafe
http://eatatthemoosecafe.com/

Tomato Pie! That delicious, delightful taste sensation that has become so popular throughout the South. I was introduced to tomato pie at The Moose Café located on a hilltop outside Ashville, North Carolina. My husband and I were visiting friends who escape the heat of their bayside home in Pensacola by spending their summer months in Ashville. After the obligatory, yet fascinating, tour of Biltmore, we decided to do some further sight-seeing in the area. While driving and admiring the lovely countryside our friends recommended The Moose Cafe for lunch. Well, that certainly sounded different so my husband and I eagerly agreed.

Upon arrival, the situation was both good and bad. Good because the parking lot was almost full – which meant it was a popular eating spot so the food must be good. Bad because it was a popular eating spot and would be filled with hungry diners – which meant an undoubtedly long wait to be seated. Then another long wait for our food.

There was a short wait, but  that was fine with me because I could browse around the store and check out the items for sale. Their famous apple butter is a huge seller. We were seated sooner than we thought possible. Our waiter took our orders, and we received our food rather quickly. It was then that I noticed The Moose Café has a huge wait staff so no one has to wait long for anything. The kitchen must have a colossal staff as well, for our fried chicken, chicken and dumplings and fresh vegetables from the nearby farmer’s market were freshly prepared, warm and tasty. Oh, my aching stomach! There were large servings of all the food. It would likely take a lumberjack to eat all the meal plus the dessert. Of course, the biscuits and apple butter provided to each table is devoured with great gusto prior to the arrival of the entrees.

Photo courtesy of Moose Cafe http://eatatthemoosecafe.com/
Photo courtesy of Moose Cafe
http://eatatthemoosecafe.com/

Oh, the tomato pie! Our hosts ordered it and suggested we do the same. I’m a complete convert to The Moose Café tomato pie. It is a luscious, layered slice of goodness on a plate! From the crisp crust (yes, the bottom crust was crisp) to the filling of fresh sliced tomatoes, to the topping of cheese and all the secret ingredients inside all three distinctive layers, this tomato pie was superb.

Eating that pie brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood when oodles of sun-ripened tomatoes, some split with the tangy juices easing down their sides, were laid out on newspapers on our back porch, waiting for Mama to finish canning the first batch before starting on this one. Then it was back to the tomato patch to pick even more. I loved to squeeze the juice from the oozing, overripe ones into a cup for a drink of pure tomato essence.

pie 2I’ve tried tomato pie since then with varying degrees of satisfaction. The Tomato Café in Havana, Florida, located just south of the FL/GA line and near to Tallahassee, serves it, but on my one try I found it to be soggy. I would guess this was due to microwaving to reheat it. The Spring Creek restaurant in Wakulla County, FL serves it both as an appetizer and as an entrée. I tried the appetizer and wished I’d ordered the meal. It was the real deal and very similar to that served at The Moose Café.

I left Spring Creek vowing to learn to make it myself. I searched for recipes and wound up discarding many before settling on a simple one offered by Paula Deen, a recipe that had received five stars from voters who had tried it (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/tomato-pie-recipe/index.html). It is indeed, a five-star recipe. Baking the crust first and slicing, salting and draining the tomatoes are musts. Sealing the edges of the pie with the cheese mixture topping, just like sealing a cream pie with meringue, is essential. I baked it longer than noted because the cheesy top must brown to a glorious golden color. I cooled the pie and dished it up to my husband and a friend who had accompanied me to The Tomato Café where we had not been impressed with their version.

Wow! Instant love! We three took bites of our tomato pie and moaned in true appreciation. I’ve made it since and have learned valuable lessons. I repeat – you MUST thoroughly drain the tomatoes or you WILL have a watery crust, even if it was crisply baked when you started putting together the pie. The seasonings  mainly consist of fresh shredded and chopped basil, green onions and salt. You taste the goodness of the ripe tomatoes, the sweet tang of the basil and the mouth-watering baked cheese. My last pie was hurried and wasn’t so perfect. I guess I need to go back to The Moose Café and get recharged.

The address  is: 570 Brevard Rd., Ashville, NC, 28806. I suggest you visit this wonderful restaurant and order anything you like off the menu. It is certain to be delicious. And DO order the tomato pie. You’ll be delighted you did.  http://eatatthemoosecafe.com/

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Tony’s Tamales by Tom Lawrence

 

Tony's Tamales
Tony’s Tamales

We were in Jackson for a meeting of the PorchScene team, and when we finished our business my daughter, Mary, the brains behind PorchScene, mentioned that she was heading out on Old Canton Road to try a hot tamale joint. She had my immediate attention. She promised to call me on my cell phone and let me know her opinion of the tamales.

Soon she called and reported that they were “as good as Doe’s” (www.doeseatplace.com) and she was taking a couple dozen back to Opelika with her. “As Good as Doe’s” is high praise in my universe of hot tamales; in fact, it is about the highest. Since Clista wanted to drive to Greenville just to buy ten dozen tamales to bring to an upcoming family reunion, I suggested that we beat feet out to Tony’s Tamales and see if they would be an acceptable substitute for Doe’s, thus saving a three-hundred-mile round trip.

Tony's Tamales menuWe found Tony’s in a small kiosk in a shopping center parking lot. Drive up and take out only, no seating. We drove up to the drive-in window and were greeted by a very pleasant lady. I explained that we were from out-of-town and had just been told that Tony’s made a dynamite tamale. I asked if she would sell us a half-dozen and let us sample her wares. She dipped up six steaming hot tamales and supplied us with forks and a ton of napkins.

We drove to a shaded spot in the parking lot and I began to un-wrap the corn shuck from the first of the sample. I gave Clista a bite and then I tried it. We agreed that it was indeed a superior tamale. I pulled back to the Tony’s window and we placed an order for an additional ten dozen to go. We were glad to find that Tony’s always keeps a supply of freshly frozen tamales for just such an occasion. While our order was being filled, I ate the other five of our samples.

photo by www.CynicalCook.com
photo by www.CynicalCook.com
Photo by www.cynicalcook.com
Photo by www.cynicalcook.com

 

They were delicious and I can agree with Mary’s assessment that they were as “good as Doe’s.” Clista chastised me for eating the whole half-dozen close to our planned dinner with friends in an hour or two. I munched right on through her warning and as it turned out I was glad that I did. We had a perfectly awful experience at dinner that evening. – Tom Lawrence

Tony’s Tamales

http://www.tonystamales.com/

http://www.facebook.com\tonystamales

6961 Old Canton Road

Jackson, MS

601-899-8885

Deep Seeded Passion by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Jill Forrester Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Jill Forrester
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

50 pounds of sunflower seeds and a pound of zinnia seeds set the wheels in motion for an unexpected life plan. Had someone told Jill Forrester ten years ago that she would be totally immersed in the world of organic farming, own a “farm to table” restaurant, and that Michael Pollan’s, Omnivore’s Dilemma would be one of her favorite books, she would have laughed. Today however, Jill and Keith Forrester own and operate a successful organic farm in Tyronza, Arkansas, Whitton Farms, participate in several Farmer’s Markets locally, and own and operate a thriving restaurant in Memphis, TN, Trolley Stop Market.

“We had so many flowers we didn’t know what to do with them, and my house looked like a funeral parlor!” At the beginning of their marriage, they had no vision of running a farm or owning a restaurant. Originally living in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Keith’s family encouraged them to move into his grandparent’s vacant farm in Tyronza, Arkansas, and when they planted a small garden which included flowers, their lives were significantly altered.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

“Everything just fell into place.” When they completely sold out of flowers at the Memphis Agricenter booth during their first trip there, the hook was in. “It wasn’t just about making money,” but was something they realized they loved and could participate in together, an important factor. Keith resigned from his teaching position, and Jill left graduate school to take a teaching job, which allowed her to help Keith on the farm in the afternoons. They became wholly absorbed in learning everything they could about organic farming and were the first to sign up for the Memphis Farmers’ Market, now number seven in the country.

 

memphis farmers' market (1280x219)

Every previous job led them to this passion and calling. Keith had grown up around farming and had spent two years with the Peace Corps in Africa as an Ag consultant. Jill had worked in a florist operation and had also worked for a pizza business and now creates and sells her own floral arrangements and pizzas called “Jillbillys” at their Trolley StopMarket.

Trolley Stop Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Trolley Stop
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

“We wanted to be in the business together, but we wanted to find a way that others could benefit as well.” The couple is very community minded and wants to give others the same opportunities they have had. Today Keith employs four full-time workers at the farm and Jill has forty three full-time employees at Trolley Stop, not an insignificant fact, and something about which they are proud. Most of what is served at the restaurant each day has been harvested in the previous couple of days from their farm, and they allow their staff to develop many of the menu items and specials. All meat, fish, chicken, and brats are from local organic sources.  Having been at the local markets for six years before they opened, Jill and Keith became friends with many of the vendors and suppliers whose products they now serve and sell at the restaurant. Locally created art serves as decoration, is available for sale and is a method by which they can help artists receive some visibility and support.

Jill at Trolley Stop Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Jill at Trolley Stop
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

“We try to be as vertically integrated as possible. The basis of our business is our farm, we have our farm to table restaurant and a facility in which we can manufacture our own food line and others can get their small businesses going. It’s kind of our process of economic development.” The Trolley Stop Cannery next door to the restaurant provides a space for baking their breads and desserts and where they are making salsas, jellies and other products in their own food line. With all the necessary certifications in place, they are able to rent it out to local caterers and chefs needing a facility to develop food products, another way the couple supports those needing a “jump-start” in the business.

An exciting CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture program) provides a bag of fresh produce, fresh herbs and homemade bread each week to participants. Varying subscription levels are offered, depending on family size, and pickup locations are at the Jonesboro Farmers’ Market, the Downtown Memphis Farmers’ Market, the Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers’ Market and at the Trolley Stop Market.

Whitton Farms table Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Whitton Farms table
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Ultimate “farm to table events” have been presented at Whitton Farms over the years. “Endless Feast” produced an event on the farm in 2009, televised nationally by PBS, (endlessfeast.tv/203.php) and another national group, “Outstanding in the Fields” produced a similar happening at the farm in 2011. All of the “farm to table” dinners were held outside on the Forrester farm, working in conjunction with local growers and well-known regional chefs to create elegant, inventive and delicious dinners. As many as 150 diners were seated for unforgettable gourmet meals.  

Expansion continues with the opening of a family style restaurant, Tyboggies, near the Forrester farm.

Dinner at Whitton Farms Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Dinner at Whitton Farms
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Tyboggies will feature “country cooking,” bbq, pizza, a soda fountain and live music. Transformation of a building at the farm itself, will allow them to sell fresh produce, food products, flowers, seeds, dog food and chickens. The flower gardens across the street from the farm will also be open to the public.

The Forresters of Whitton Farms,Trolley Stop Market and Tyboogies are innovative and energetic in their love of organic farming and their community, and they eagerly share their deep seeded passion, fresh products and fresh vision. Their enthusiasm for the farm to table concept is palpable, their support for the growth of local economy conspicuous, and their spirit of caring and giving back contagious.

www.trolleystopmarket.com and www.whittonfarms.com

O’Houlihan’s in Fayetteville,TN by Tom Lawrence

downloadOccasionally you stumble on an unexpected treat when all you were looking for was a decent place to eat. This happened to us on a recent antiquing trip to Fayetteville, Tennessee.  We finished our antiquing just at the noon hour and asked the owner of the antique mall to recommend a good place to eat lunch.  He suggested a small sandwich shop just across the square.  He said we would not be disappointed and we decided to give it a try.

We walked across the square to O’Houlihan’s and found a menu of sandwiches, soups and salads.  Now I’m a soup freak, but generally speaking, soups in small cafes tend to be of the Sysco Foods variety and are at best ho-hum.  O’houlihan’s served up one of the best white bean and ham soups I have ever tasted.  It was homemade and near perfection.

We accompanied our soup with a half Ruben sandwich and again, I did this with very low expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The corned beef was done in-house and even the sauerkraut was very good. We were very surprised and pleased with O’houlihan’s  It just goes to show you that good, well prepared food can be served in many surprising places.  If ever you find yourself in Fayetteville at lunch give O’houlihan’s a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

O’Houlihan’s 101 E. Market Street Fayetteville, TN 37334 (931) 433-0557
O’Houlihan’s
101 E. Market Street
Fayetteville, TN 37334
(931) 433-0557

https://www.facebook.com/pages/OHoulihans/237577868696

Not Just Another Pretty Cupcake…by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

cupcakes“Hey, if you can’t sleep Thursday night, could you bake one of your delicious chocolate cakes for my party Friday?” Requests such as this from friends who realized that Kat Gordon was baking cakes at all hours of the night to fight insomnia came with such frequency, that a significant career change resulted. That demand coupled with the realization that she was more passionate about baking for open houses than actually trying to sell the houses, prompted her to leave real estate and open one of the most popular bakeries in Memphis, Muddy’s Bake Shop.

Muddy’s took off like gangbusters and Gordon learned how to run it by jumping in baker’s hat first! She credits her parents with allowing her to pursue childhood entrepreneurial endeavors, which gave her an early interest in business, but she had no idea about hiring and training employees, ordering supplies, getting out payroll or the many other aspects of running a bakery. Kat Gordon was however, equipped with a passion for baking and the energy, spirit and willingness to learn and to accept help where it was offered. Fortified with a recipe collection of her own plus those of family members, she immediately turned out such delicious baked goods that she was running out long before closing every day.

“Without the overwhelming community spirit we received, this place wouldn’t be open!” says Gordon. There was a cooperative spirit from Memphians who were encouraging and supportive, and instead of being mad at her when she would sell out, she received comments like, “Oh my gosh, good for you!  I’ll be back earlier tomorrow.”  She actually had people say, “You look tired; whatta ya need? I used to be a waitress. I’ll wash some dishes!”

Photo by Deborah Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Carpenter

Today, the owner of the successful bake shop is well known for her scrumptious cupcakes, and the icing on top is a dedicated community spirit. Her Grandmother “Muddy,” for whom the business is named always had a corner of her modest kitchen filled with baked goods ready to be delivered to a sick friend or a new neighbor. Refreshing examples of that spirit of giving are evident at Muddy’s Bake Shop in ways as simple as the donation of the “tip jar” money to the charity of the staff’s choosing, or as broad as the initiation of an in-house Community Service Project currently being organized by a former staff member. The staff came together and narrowed their community involvement interests to Education and Hunger, and Muddy’s will allow them to partner with organizations focused on those issues and to contribute their time to such activities as delivering “meals on wheels,” while receiving their regular salary. Gordon hopes this participation in the community will instill in her employees a lasting desire for involvement in service work.

There is only a little green icing to be found in the glass cases filled with delectable pies, cakes and cookies, but green is at the heart of every recipe. All are baked with free range eggs and whole, organic, locally produced milk. Additionally, all of Muddy’s packaging is recycled and recyclable and the business composts organic wastes. Partnered with Project Greenfork, who advises businesses on green practices, they continue to upgrade their methods of environmental accountability and to learn new ways of applying those concepts and to discovering new sources to help sustain their current green procedures.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Gordon’s amazing dynamism is reflected in the attitudes of her dedicated staff members, all of whom learn every aspect of the business from day one. They are a team and perform as one, all dedicated to the continuation of the remarkable vitality that pours from the doors of Muddy’s Bake Shop. Many of the delicious recipes are a result of their contributions and experimentation.

Kat Gordon delivers delicious goodies with a spirit of joy, confidence and universality and oh, did I mention that she has “blue hair”?

Kat

www.muddysbakeshop.com

Memphis, TN

 

 

SWEET BABY RAY’S BBQ SAUCE by Tom Lawrence

BBQ sauce of some type or the other is always incidental to pork ribs or shoulder. Twenty-five years of life in Memphis, TN enabled me to enjoy the best BBQ in the known world. There are a number of top-notch BBQ joints in the Memphis area, and they all have this one belief about sauce in common.

LUntil I was introduced to Sweet Baby Ray’s, I never touched the stuff. Personally, I think sauce is needed only when necessary to cover up the flavor of really bad BBQ. My discovery of Sweet Baby Ray’s however, changed my opinion, and it all came about as a result of some really terrible grilled chicken. Notice that I did not say BBQ Chicken. One grills chicken, beef, lamb, sausage and baloney. BBQ is PORK. At any rate, the grilled chicken was a disaster.

The rookie on the grill used charcoal lighter fluid to start his fire, and he began cooking the chicken long before it had burned off, so the coals weren’t ready for cooking. The result was chicken that was burned on the outside, raw on the inside and had the flavor of BP’s disaster in the Gulf.

Vacationing at a lake that was 35 miles from the nearest Sonic or Dairy Queen, I was presented with the problem of having nothing else to eat, so out of desperation, I reached for the bottle of BBQ sauce on the picnic table. The label on the bottle read: Sweet Baby Ray’s Gourmet Sauce, and I thought, Yeah, right, I’ll bet it’s gourmet; just like this is grilled chicken.

The bird was so bad that the sauce could only be an improvement, so I poured a small glob on the side of my paper plate and stuck my toe in the water. Guess what? Sweet Baby Ray’s was really tasty. I wouldn’t put it on The Rendezvous’ ribs or The Cozy Corner’s shoulder, but if you really need to make something edible, Baby Ray is your guy.

Formulated by a Chef in Chicago who named it for his brother’s hoops handle, Sweet Baby Ray’s came in second out of 700 entrants in the Chicago based Mike Royko Rib Off, and the rest is history. Clearly I’m no authority on BBQ sauce, but SweetBaby Ray’s has a different basic flavor, not vinegar or ketchup based, but smoky and sweet. It is now the dominant premium BBQ sauce sold in America’s grocery stores.

Available in Alabama at Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Publix, I can honestly recommend Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Photo Credit: http://www.sweetbabyrays.com/

Restaurant Epic

Editor’s Note:  There’s nothing like a great meal to start the year right, and Tom Lawrence has found a fantastic restaurant for celebrating the New Year. Epic is located at 1201 Front Avenue | Suite E, Columbus, Georgia. Because they prefer to actually speak with their clientele, there are no online reservations. Jamie Keating and his team invite you to make your reservation by calling the restaurant at 706.507.9909. 

rest8We are familiar with the term hidden gem, and the Epic Restaurant in Columbus,GA qualifies in every sense. Not only is it a world class eatery, it is almost impossible to find. We spent forty-five minutes searching for it using map quest, GPS and directions provided by a young woman at the restaurant. Finally I asked a couple walking in the area, and as luck would have it, they had just had dinner there.

Needless to say, my companion and I were a little irritated at this point and prepared to endure an evening of disappointment. Nothing could have been further from reality. We entered a sedately lit and tastefully decorated space that was as quiet as a library. We were greeted by an impeccably dressed young man who led us to our private booth in the main dining room. He took our coats and introduced our server for the evening.

rest4Before I get to the wonderful meal that we enjoyed, let me spend a minute or two on the wait staff.  In an era of poorly trained and generally indifferent restaurant employees, the Epic virtually stands alone in its delivery of quality, informed service.  Our waiter was dressed in a very tasteful suit, and his manner was thoroughly professional.  He was well versed in the items on the menu, and seemed genuinely interested in the Epic.

Everyone assisting him, from the bus boy to the servers, was uniformly polite and well trained. No one called us “guys,” nor did anyone have visible piercings, tattoos or pink hair.  Even if the food had been less than fantastic, I would be tempted to return to the Epic just to experience the wait staff, a rare pleasure in this day of teenage waiters who don’t know a Kir from a beer.

chefs_2Epic is owned and operated by Chef Jamie Keating and his wife Melissa.  They also own Jamie Keating Culinary Company, the premier caterer in Columbus.  Chef Keating is a gold medal winning International chef and has extensive experience in Europe and the U.S.  The menu at Epic reflects Chef Keating’s wide range of culinary interests.

Once we were seated and had received our beverage orders, we took a leisurely stroll through the dinner menu.  We both chose the foie gras for our appetizer.  It was perfectly pan seared and served with a white chocolate hollandaise.  I have always thought that at least once a week God had foie gras for lunch, at least on the days he didn’t choose caviar or Vicksburg tomato sandwiches.

For her entrée, Clista chose the Grand Marnier braised breast of duck, which came with braised greens and a delicious Semolina cake infused with Asiago.  Clista is a duck maven and orders it regularly, so when she says that the duck at Epic was a good as she has ever had, it includes the restaurant in Beijing that invented Peking duck.  Praise indeed.  Clista ordered a roasted eggplant prepared with Heirloom tomatoes and herb crumbs, and she seemed to enjoy it.  Her meal was accompanied by a very pleasing California Pinot Noir.

 

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I ordered the Lamb loin, which came topped with a pancetta and port wine reduction and a mint pesto.  Lamb is one of my favorite meats, and the Epic’s offering was perfectly prepared and scrumptious.  It is notoriously difficult to cook, and many times the lamb flavor is overpowered by the accompanying goop meant to compliment it, but the wine reduction at the Epic hit the perfect note with the lamb loin.  For my side dish, I had the Truffled Mac and Cheese, and I could have made a meal of that alone.  The truffle flavor melded with the Mac and Cheese and played a symphony on my taste buds.

For dessert Clista ordered the fried strawberries with vanilla anglaise and heavy whipped cream.  Clista has yet to meet the strawberry she didn’t love and this was no exception.  I chose the apple doughnuts and pecan ice cream and was equally as pleased.  We finished the evening with a couple of presses of dark roast coffee.

Epic was a first class dining experience, and the restaurant would be top of the heap in New York, Paris or London.  We are very fortunate to have it in close proximity to us and we’ll go back, assuming I can find it again.

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All images courtesy of Epic.

Soups On! by Mary Prater

dorseyIt’s been real cold lately. So cold I am reminded why I don’t want to move back to Wyoming. The weather reporters can say what they want about “polar air” and “jet stream dips,” all I know is that there is no good reason it should be 9 degrees in Opelika, Alabama. No. Good. Reason.

When I moved back south from Wyoming, I realized that I had spent the past nine years cold. I don’t like being cold, so I’ve been a little grumpy for the past few days. To cheer (and warm) myself up, I decided to cook a pot of soup for dinner last night. The best remedies I know of for being cold are a bowl of soup and a hot bath. I took both.

In the spirit of “we’re all in this together,” I thought I would share the recipe for last night’s soup in a new feature we are calling “Cooking with Dorsey“. I’ve included my sidekick Dorsey because she is right there, under foot, every single step of the way. So here is the recipe for a quick and easy soup to warm you up until God decides to turn up the thermostat.

 The glass of wine is an integral part of cooking this (or any) soup.
The glass of wine is an integral part of cooking this (or any) soup.

Corn and Green Chile Chowder

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

16oz frozen corn

small (4oz) can Diced Mild Green Chilies

2 cans chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3/4 cup 1/2 &1/2

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Cilantro

Saute chopped onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Add corn, chilies, salt, pepper and cumin. Continue to saute a few minutes more. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree. Return to saucepan and add cream and cilantro. Season to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.

chowder

Working Cows Dairy by Tom Lawrence

389059_416988628342940_217866246_nI have a lifelong love affair with cold milk. I grew up in my grandfather’s ice plant in Ruleville, Mississippi circa 1940’s and we had the only cold storage facility in town. Because we kept all of the local dairy products in our coolers, we had easy access to all of the iced cold milk we wanted. Cloverdale Milk was pasteurized but not homogenized, and when shaken and mixed, it probably ran somewhere around 4% butter fat. It was delightfully creamy.

World War II ended and milk soon began to be mass produced. Dairy cows were bred for increased production, and they were fed all sorts of high yield food and filled with a wide variety of pharmaceutical products. The quality of milk in general decreased dramatically. Milk became a commodity and it suffered the price fluctuations of over-production. I still drank a lot of milk, but I often thought of the high quality products of Cloverdale Dairy. Yet another price we pay for our modern society.

About ten years ago, I bought a gallon of organic milk by mistake, and a new world of milk quality opened up. The 2% organic milk tasted as creamy and rich as the 3.5% regular milk. Yeah, it cost more, but the difference in taste made it worth the premium. I rocked along buying the store brand of organic milk until 2010. We began to shop at Earth Fare in Auburn, and one day I happened to pick up a gallon of Working Cows Dairy’s organic milk.

cache_4057090904When I opened the gallon and poured a glass, I was amazed; it tasted just like whole cream. Well guess what, it was a glass of whole cream. Working Cows milk is not homogenized. I shook the balance of the gallon, and it was still richer and creamier than the store organic brand, and it reminded me of those long ago times when we enjoyed the products of Cloverdale Dairy. I wanted to know what made this difference, and here’s what I discovered.

In 1985, Jan and Rinske de Jong came to the U.S. from the Netherlands, where they had been dairy farmers.  They indentured themselves to a dairy farmer in Cottondale,Florida, and instead of a salary, they made a deal to use forty acres of his land and access to the milking barn. The couple leased 55 milk cows and worked 20 hours a week.

In 1987 the de Jong’s moved to a new rented location in Grand-Ridge, Florida and milked the 29 cows that they owned. Their three sons were born there, and by 1991 they had built their herd to 220 cows and moved to their present location in Slocomb, Alabama, a small town near Dothan.

cache_4203273370For over fifteen years, they followed conventional wisdom and fed their cows supplemental foods designed to increase production, treated the cows with hormones and other drugs to further increase production, and kept the cows confined for efficiency. They were able to compete in the highly competitive and low margin commodity milk business, but could see ever diminishing returns on their investment and labor. They needed a way to differentiate their product from the commodity product, and thus increase their margins. In 2006 they made the decision to go organic.

The act of becoming an organic dairy while still running a commercial dairy required a great deal of patience and attention. The first step was to convert the herd to organically certified cows. That meant that over a two year period, the cows had to be fed only organic feed and treated with organic medicines.

While the de Jongs were converting the herd, they had to convert their fields as well. It takes three years of using no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides to have a field certified organic. This was completed in 2009.  The concept of going organic revolved around having the ability to capture a premium price for their products, and to do this they would need their own processing and bottling plant and the infrastructure to distribute the finished product to retail outlets. A large investment but a necessary one.

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The de Jong’s knew from experience that modern production methods put an enormous strain on the cows themselves. The average herd had a short productive life, and while the pounds of milk per cow were very high, the animals suffered greatly and died in a few years. It was impossible to produce really high quality milk under these practices. In addition to going organic, they decided to adopt a much more humane and laid-back approach to managing their herd. Their cows are now allowed to roam free in pastures, eat real grass, and the supplemental food is hay, haylage and sea salt minerals.

cache_4203273791The free range method of herd management resulted in a decrease of 50% of average production, but the resulting product was of a much higher quality. This reduction in volume would have to be increased by consumer willingness to buy a high quality premium priced product. The de Jong’s felt that the market was there and took the plunge.

In addition to going organic and changing their herd management practices, the de Jong’s made another critical decision. They would use low temperature pasteurization methods, and further increase the quality of their product. By heating the raw milk to the minimum temperature to achieve pasteurization, they are able to preserve the beneficial bacteria in milk and increase its health benefits to humans.

And finally, the family decided to forgo homogenization and sell their milk with the cream on top. This is the product that is sold all over Alabama. I am writing this on a Friday afternoon and Fridays are the day that Working Cows delivers their product to our local Earth Fare StoreEarth Fare is the only outlet for Working Cow in Auburn/Opelika, and I will be leaving as soon as I finish this to buy our week’s supply. If I’m later than 5:00 PM getting there, it will be totally sold out and I’ll have to use the store brand of organic for a week. See you later, I gotta go.

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www.workingcowsdairy.com

Working Cows Dairy on Facebook

All photos courtesy of Working Cows Dairy

Great Grits! What’s a “grit”? by Tom Lawrence

DIXIE LILY YELLOW GRITS

Grits photo by Dan4th via www.creativecommons.com
Grits photo by Dan4th via www.creativecommons.com

Everyone north of Tennessee will tell you that grits are an acquired taste. I don’t believe this to be accurate. The problem with grits is that for the most part, they are poorly prepared, even in the south. If you start with a commercially prepared box of white grits, pour them in boiling water and serve, you might as well try to eat wallpaper paste. Eating grits prepared in this way would be an acquired taste, similar to sucking crawfish heads or eating rooster fries.

Just as the taste of any other food depends on the quality of the raw material, grits are no exception. You can still mess up good yellow grits with poor preparation, but you’re dead in the water without a quality product. Every time we see a new brand of southern made grits, we try them out. Most are pretty good, but occasionally we find one that is outstanding and Dixie Lily Yellow Grits are just that, outstanding.

The Dixie Lily folks have been making grits in Saraland, Alabama since 1933. I don’t think they are stone ground, but I never have understood why that would make a big difference anyway. There’s not much that can be said of grits past the fact that they taste good and have a great texture when served, but the rest of the story is all about cooking them properly. Here is Clista Haley’s recipe, and I can tell you she is a grit cooking machine.

Place one and a quarter cups of water in a 1-quart pot. Add one and a quarter cups of half & half and one half tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly add one half cup of Dixie Lily Yellow Grits to the boiling liquid and cook over medium heat for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. When most of the liquid has been absorbed by the grits, add one half stick of salted creamery butter and cover for five minutes. Serve in bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Use Dixie Lily Yellow Grits and this fail-safe preparation method and you’ll acquire a lifelong taste for grits.

Wall O' Grits photo by milfodd via www.creativecommons.com
Wall O’ Grits photo by milfodd via www.creativecommons.com

Responsible Binging by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Those petite, crafty purveyors of fat and sugar have made their annual appearance. Yes, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time. Not only are the enticing little badge wearers situated in front of many grocery stores, catching unsuspecting shoppers at their most venerable and ravenous moments, but there are plans in the making to sell the tasty, addictive treats on line! One may soon be able to purchase Thin Mints from the convenience of a mobile app!!! This year I purchased four boxes via an email communication, mailed a check, and had the cookies delivered right to my door. What a deal!

In an attempt to refrain from eating one sleeve of cookies per half hour, I placed my two boxes of Thin Mints and two boxes of Do Si Dos in the outside freezer. I can now report that Thin Mints are not only just as good frozen, but may be even better!

I visited the Girl Scout site on line and found some interesting frequently asked questions: “What if I’m not satisfied with my cookies?” I’m wondering at what point in the box the purchaser arrived at this complaint. “Why don’t you offer cookies that are whole wheat, wheat free, non-dairy, dairy free, sugar free, casein free, organic, low carb, low calorie, low fat, non-fat, fat free, etc.” SERIOUSLY?

The annual cookie drive is actually loaded with more than just calories. The proceeds remain with the local troops and councils, and provide revenue to fund activities, camps and outings. Additionally, the individual troops often vote to provide assistance to a particular action organization, as was the case with the group from whom I made my recent purchase.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Part of their hard earned profits are donated to Rachel’s Kids, a Memphis organization dedicated to providing opportunities, development, dignity, and improved quality of life for those children who suffer in the inner city neighborhoods of Memphis. Cookies are also shipped overseas to service men and women, and unsold surplus is generally given to local food pantries or other charitable organizations.

So I conclude that eating Girl Scout cookies is a guilt free indulgence that benefits humanity. It is my duty. And not only is it my obligation as an American, but the organization was formed in the southern city of Savannah, so it is also my responsibility as a Southerner. The Girl Scouts of America are committed to making a difference in the world, and the least I can do to help them achieve this goal is to binge on a few boxes of the devilish delights every February.

Southfacin’ Cook: How to Make Southern Fried Chicken by Patsy R. Brumfield

cook-mugSurely, there’s nothing more “southern” than fried chicken, and it’s been my pleasure to enjoy some really good examples. My grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, was one great fried-chicken cooker and taught me how.

Over the years, I’ve watched a few other good friers, including FoodNetwork’s Alton Brown, who knows a thing or two.

I often serving this chicken with white rice or buttermilk smashed potatoes and what my Mama called “milk gravy.” I think the gravy was the first thing I ever cooked. My mother would ask me to stir the roux until it was time to add the milk. Man, it’s good.

This recipe is a little Rosalie, Betty and Alton, and a lot Patsy. Enjoy!

EQUIPMENT

Large frying pan with lid. Tongs, whisk, large mixing bowl, baking sheet, wire rack, measuring cups and spoons. Wooden spatula. Gallon-size zip-lock bag. Vertical thermometer that attaches to the side of a cooking pot.

Photo courtesy of NewinNola.com
Photo courtesy of NewinNola.com

INGREDIENTS

• Enough fried chicken for your purposes. Let’s start with 4 drumsticks, my son’s favorite.

• Flour, 2 cups for starters

• Buttermilk

• Salt, pepper

• Cayenne

• Vegetable oil

Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com
Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com

Rinse your chicken parts in a large bowl, then transfer to a plastic bag. Pour buttermilk into the bag until chicken is covered. Squeeze the air out of the bag, close it and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight. If you forget to do this, a couple of hours will be OK, though not as awesome as overnight.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to prepare the chicken, bring the bag out onto the counter and allow it to warm up.

Place your large skillet on the stove, add enough vegetable oil to cover about half-way up skillet. Add your thermometer and turn on heat to medium-high until it reaches 350.

While your oil is getting hot, in large mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons pepper and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Whisk together. (You may get more adventurous and try other spices like garlic powder, paprika, etc.)

Bring out your baking sheet with the wire rack on top, where you’ll place your chicken before frying.

Photo courtesy of NewinNola.com
Photo courtesy of NewinNola.com

One piece at a time, remove chicken from the buttermilk-bag and coat it in flour mixture. Flip it over and coat again, making sure your flour coats all its surface. Place the piece on your wire rack and coat another until you’re through.

When your oil reaches 350, place about 4 pieces in your skillet and cover with the lid to allow the steam to go to work on the chicken. Turn heat to medium and cook chicken 10-12 minutes, then turn it and cook another 10-12 minutes with the lid off. This allows the pieces to get crispier.

Wash your wire rack and replace it to receive your cooked chicken.

When your chicken is golden brown on each side, remove to wire rack. If you have more chicken to fry, put your cooked chicken into a low-heat oven, 200 or so.

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Serve your fried chicken from the stove or pile it up on a platter for your guests.

 

Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com
Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com

MILK GRAVY

When you’ve finished cooking your chicken, turn on the hot water in the sink then pour out your skillet chicken-oil until you still have about 3/4 cup of oil in the skillet. Place back on stove and, using your spatula, scrape the “chicken crisps” down from the side into the bottom.

At medium heat, add same amount of flour (from the remaining flour you coated the chicken) as oil. You’re making a roux, but not a dark one. More cafe’ au lait, which means regular stirring for at least 5 minutes, maybe a little longer, if you think it needs it.

Add 2 cups of milk to the roux and stir like crazy or whisk to keep mixture from lumping. If it seems a little “watery,” give it a few minutes on medium-low heat and then suddenly, it thickens to suit you. Turn off the heat and move it away from the hot eye or it will keep cooking. Taste it and add salt, pepper if you think it needs it.

I like the gravy on rice. It’s also fabulous on smashed potatoes. (See earlier recipe to cook white rice – equal parts water and rice, salt to taste, heat to boil, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes. Voila!)

Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com
Photo courtesy of Newin Nola.com

 

 

Southfacin’ Cook’s Red Beans & Rice by Patsy Brumfield

cook-mugHello, PorchScene visitors. I’m a near-retirement investigative reporter who got my first big job at the New Orleans Times-Picayune the same fall Ole Miss classmate Archie Manning came to the Saints. During my stint in NOLA, I learned what really good food tastes like and determined to learn to cook some of its standards. In “Southfacin’ cook,” I’ll offer tips and recipes for newcomers, who’d like to adapt culinarily with more help than I had. I’ll also draw from local food legends. Send me your recipe requests, too, and I’ll do my best to help you learn Southfacin’ cookin’, too. patsy.brumfied@gmail.com

ESSENTIAL NOLA RED BEANS & RICE

(You’ll find I don’t always cook like NOLA experts. Some of this comes from my part-French grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial. This recipe started with her and matured in my kitchen across 40 years.)

UTENSILS– Large dutch oven. Wooden spoon. Chopping board, blender, chopping knife. Freezer bags, for storage, if you’re not having a party. Can’t make just “a little” of this.

COOK’S NOTES:You cannot make good beans without good sausage. If you don’t already have a favorite, buy small quantities at your local grocery and see what you like. (Editor’s Note: May we suggest Conecuh) Also, remember, good beans must be cooked slowly. If you try to speed it up with too much heat, the beans will never get tender enough. I learned this the hard way. This recipe is about taste. You will learn what you like and how to adjust liquids, sweet and sour as you go along. A pinch of red-pepper flakes is good, if you like it with a little more pop. Always have Louisiana hot-sauce at the ready when you serve.

Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com
Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

INGREDIENTS

2 lb. bag dried red kidney beans

1-1.5 lbs smoked pork sausage (cut into 2-inch links)

1 small bag carrot sticks

2 large onions

6 cloves fresh garlic or 6T pre-minced garlic

2-3 bay leaves

sugar

lemon

white vinegar

salt, pepper

(Later) RICE, enough for whomever you plan to serve. (I’ve started using brown rice. Cook 1 C with 1 3/4 C water etc. for just 30 mins. Container directions are too watery, mushy for my tastes.)

Serve (bowl or plate) with hot garlic bread and a green salad.

LET’S GET STARTED:

Rinse beans in warm water. Pour away water. In blender, add 1 C. carrot sticks and enough water to puree them. (I know this sounds weird, but trust me and Rosalie.)

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Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

Heat dutch oven on medium burner. Add sausage with 1/2 C. water. Cover. Cook sausage about 5-7 mins (you’re not cooking sausage, you’re sweating out some juice to start your beans in.) Remove sausage to plate.

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Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

Into dutch oven juice, layer bay leaves, roughly sliced onions, garlic, 1 T. sugar, salt, pepper. (Goal is to heat bay leaves to sweat out flavor oils.) Watch this and don’t let anything singe. Feel free to stir after a couple of minutes. If it looks like it needs water, add a little. Cook this 5-10 mins. Add contents of blender, beans and enough water to cover beans. (Remember, the beans will absorb water as they cook, so you will need to add a little water every now and then, as this cooks. The trick is to figure out how much is enough without being too much. We’ll talk about thickening as this gets done.)

Bring bean pot to a slight boil. (Stir every 10 mins or so but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to break the beans as they get more tender.) Turn down heat to simmer uncovered. Return sausage to pot. Don’t add any salt until you’ve cooked 10 mins. (Remember, sausage has salt to impart to juice.) Taste the water and see what you think. Add 1 T. vinegar. (It’s important to taste as you go along. Bean flavor depends on good juice. Now, you’ve got a sweet-sour-salty thing going on. This balance will determine  what you want it to taste like.)

Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com
Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

Continue to simmer and stir every 10 mins. Make sure simmer isn’t too “hard.” Does it need more water? Object is to keep the beans just barely under water.

After an hour of slow simmer, taste your beans for tenderness. You don’t want them so tender that they all fall apart. Keep testing periodically until you’re satisfied. Beans should be getting done soon. Add juice of half lemon. Adjust other flavors as needed. Add pepper flakes now, if you like.

(Time to start your rice. Put garlic bread into oven.)

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Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

When your beans are done, look at the consistency. Do you want it thicker? I usually do.  If so, remove 1-2 C. beans, pour them into a metal bowl and use masher or pastry cutter to mash well for your thickener. When you’re done, add mashed beans back into pot and stir. (Some people use cornstarch to thicken. I’ve done this, too, but the reason to cook a large quantity of beans in the least amount of water is to have enough beans to use as the thickener. I think it tastes better this way.) Taste and make final adjustments like salt, sweet/sour, if necessary. (If you think it’s too sweet, a little lemon/vinegar can offset it. Reverse also is true.)

SERVE: Plate/bowl 3-to-1 beans to rice. Rice goes on bottom, then beans and sausage. And don’t forget the Louisiana HotSauce!

NOTE: Try to make more beans than you can eat at one sitting. They get better with a little time in the fridge (like 2-3 days). They also freeze very well for a dinner treat later without any of the hassle or time required!

Also, whenever you use bay leaves to flavor a recipe, retrieve them from the finished dish before you serve it. While I have never eaten a bay leaf, my mother Betty swore repeatedly it would kill you if you did. ‘Nuff said.

 

GARLIC BREAD

UTENSILS – Baking sheet, aluminum foil, bread knife, small bowl

INGREDIENTS

Loaf of your favorite french bread

1/2 C. margarine or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (remember margarine has more water in it)

1/4 C. olive oil

1/2 C. chopped parsley

4 cloves fresh garlic or 4 T. pre-minced garlic

pinch salt

(Some folks also like to add 1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese to this mixture. This is very good.)

OVEN – Preheat 325

LET’S GET STARTED:

With bread knife, slice loaf down center, lengthwise (horizontally to counter). Open bread, insides up.

In small bowl, combine softened margarine/butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic, pinch of salt (and parmesan, if you like it.)

Spread butter mix onto insides of bread. Put bread back together, wrap well in foil. Place bottom-up on baking sheet. Heat 10 mins. Turn top-side up, heat another 10-15 mins. (If you like your bread crunchier, peel back the foil when you turn it top-side up.

Remove from oven onto cutting board, slice across for serving in bread basket. Cover with clean kitchen towel, to help keep it warm (if it lasts that long.)

** With Red Beans & Rice, plus garlic bread, you are now officially cookin’ New Orleans.

(Contact PATSY with suggestions, questions or requests at patsy.brumfield@gmail.com.)

BIG B BBQ in Alexander City, Alabama by Tom Lawrence

bigbbbqOur regional exploration takes us up U.S 280 toward Birmingham at least twice a month. On the front end of the trip we often stop for an early morning Sausage McMuffin at the Alexander City McDonalds.  After a full day of adventure, we’re usually too tired to think about cooking dinner, so we grab a quick bite somewhere en route.  On several return trips through Alexander City we’ve noticed a sign touting Big  B BBQ, but we had never given it a try.  On our last trip we decided to give it a shot.

Clista is a BBQ sandwich aficionado and loves to have her sandwich soaked in BBQ sauce and piled with slaw.  Her opinion of the sandwich depends as much on the sauce and slaw as it does the pork. At the Big B she pronounced the sauce and slaw to be excellent.  This means that the sauce was not vinegar based and the slaw had more mustard than mayo.  I asked her about the chopped pork shoulder and she replied,

“Oh, that was good too, and the bun was toasted!”

I on the other hand, being a BBQ purist, ordered the BBQ sample plate.  I received three BBQ pork ribs, chopped pork shoulder and sliced pork brisket, all served without sauce.  The ribs were moist, tender and permeated with a distinct smoky flavor.  There is no doubt that I will return to the Big B for their ribs.

The chopped shoulder was again moist and tender and chopped with a generous amount of crispy charred skin, which added to the intense flavorful treat.  Again a keeper.  The sliced brisket might well be the second best that I have ever tasted.  First place is held by Clista’s son Todd, who lives in Virginia, and who prepared his delicious brisket for us during our last visit.  It will be a difficult act to follow, but the Big B came close.

I am really excited to discover a good place to eat in Alexander City and look forward to my next visit.

Elaine’s Chicken Liver Pate by Tom Lawrence

Elaine Lawrence is a professionally trained cook who, prior to a crippling illness, owned a premier catering service in Jackson, Mississippi. During a week-long class in Chicago led by Jacques Pepin, she learned to make the best chicken liver pate I have ever tasted. When she added this wonderful hors d’ oeuvre to her basic catering menu, it became the most popular and requested of her many delicious offerings.

IMAG0306During the preparation of this delicacy, I was allowed to clean up the Cuisinart, a task to which I always looked forward.  The pate became a family holiday tradition, and my brother Steve loved it so much that Elaine would make him his own portion to take home.

I recently found Jacques Pepin’s original recipe, and have made several test batches. I added a touch or two of my own, and the result is very close to Elaine’s version.  Here is the recipe.

Elaine Lawrence’s Chicken Liver Pate.

Ingredients

1/2 pound of chicken livers*

1/2 medium onion

1 garlic clove

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

Kosher salt

1/2 cup of water

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp.

2 tablespoons of cognac or brandy

Freshly ground black pepper

2 packets of Goya Salad and Vegetable seasoning

Toast points

  1. Carefully remove the membrane and closely trim the chicken livers
  2. Thinly slice the onion
  3. Peel and smash the garlic
  4. In a medium saucepan combine the livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Add the water and one packet of the Goya seasoning. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside; about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  1. Discard the bay leaf. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the livers, onions and garlic to a food processor, and process until coarsely pureed. With the machine on, add the butter, two Tbs. at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the other packet of Goya seasoning and the cognac. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and process until completely smooth. Scrape the pate into two or three ramekins and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pate to seal. Refrigerate until firm and serve chilled with toast points.

*If you have the option, choose the paler of the chicken livers they tend to make a mellower and richer pate than the deep red livers.

South Facin’ Cook’s SPICY CHICKEN SALAD by Patsy Brumfield

I love chicken salad, especially with sliced grapes and fresh dill. But I decided to concoct something different with a little “kick” to it. This version will be great, just like you use its more traditional cousin. Adding avocado slices as garnish just makes this one even more interesting. I think your summertime backyard dinner guests will love this. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com
Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

SPICY CHICKEN SALAD

EQUIPMENT – Large baking sheet, parchment paper, medium bowl, large bowl, chopping board, chef’s knife, mixing spoon, rubber spatula, juicer, microplane, colander, measuring equipment, aluminum foil.

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com
Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

INGREDIENTS:

3 large chicken breasts (bone-in with skin)

3-4 large stalks celery, diced finely

fresh cilantro

6 green onions, diced

1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 diced tomato

1/3 cup mayonnaise (Helmann’s)

1/3 cup sour cream (with chives, if you can find it)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (more to sprinkle on chicken breasts)

black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

2 limes, zest and juice

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

ripe avocado for garnish (sliced or diced) lemon juice to keep fresh

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken breasts. Lay them skin-side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Salt and pepper liberally. When oven reaches 400, bake breasts for 1 hour. Then remove and allow to cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash celery, green onions, tomato. Dice finely. Hold in a medium mixing bowl. Wash cilantro, shake and allow to dry slightly. Wash limes.

In larger mixing bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, salt, cumin, chili powder, pepper flakes, lime zest and juice, and red-wine vinegar. Pour can of black beans into a colander and rinse. Shake well to remove water, then add to the mayo-sour cream mixture.

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

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When chicken cools, remove the skin and cut into each breast to remove the meat for dicing. Watch closely for a piece of tough cartilage that runs down the side of each breast. If you see or feel it, remove it. Then begin finely chopping your chicken. When that’s done, fold it into the mayo-sour cream mixture.

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Finally, dice your tomato and rough chop the cilantro leaves you’ve removed from the tough stems. Cilantro likely measures 1/4 cup. Fold these into the chicken mixture, cover with foil and let ingredients meld in the refrigerator at least an hour.

When it’s ready, taste to see if you’d like more salt.

Serve on a crisp lettuce leaf or in a warmed pita with shredded lettuce. Add avocado slices for garnish. Serves at least 6.

HANDLING AN AVOCADO

OK, so you may not need help dealing with an avocado. But, if you do, here’s some advice:

First, find an avocado that “gives” slightly to your gentle squeeze at the grocery store. This may be more difficult than it sounds. I’ve found that often the fruit is hard (which is not ripe) or too squishy (too ripe and disgusting). If you find a good one, it will continue to ripen, if you leave it on the counter. It will stop, if refrigerated. If you can’t find a ripe one, get a firm green one and bring it home to ripen on the counter. It may take a few days. You’ll only know by touching it.

 

Here’s how to prepare a ripe one: On your cutting board, stand the avocado on one end,. With your sharp chef’s knife, pierce the top at a 90-degree angle to the board (straight down to the seed) and run your knife around the fruit until it meets where you started cutting. Grasp each half in a hand and twist it to pull the halves apart. To remove the seed, sharply stab it with the sharp edge of your knife, hold the half in one hand and then twist the seed away from the flesh. It will remain stuck to your knife until you carefully remove it.

To remove the flesh, grasp one half of the avocado, take a large metal mixing spoon and insert it between the flesh and the peel. Run the spoon under the flesh in a clockwise motion until you’ve lifted it from the peel. Set it aside in a bowl and pour lemon juice over it (or it will turn brown.) Repeat the process for the other half.

Sliced, diced or mashed, it’s hard to go wrong with a ripe avocado.

Editor’s note: All photos in this post are courtesy of NewInNola.com. Thank you for sharing!

Easy Frittata by Tom Lawrence

 

frittata cropped 2Tom’s Frittata

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound of chorizo, with casing removed

1 cup of grated cheese of your choice

1 quart of Egg Beaters or similar product

½ cup of sour cream

1 cup of Ro-Tel Tomatoes with lime and cilantro (drained)

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 cup of fresh mushrooms, diced in ½ “pieces.

2 celery stalks, diced

IMAG0454¼ cup of minced cilantro

¼ cup of bottled jalapeno peppers, diced

4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

½ stick of salted butter

2 packets of Goya vegetable and salad seasoning

1 packet of Goya Sazon seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

Spray a large iron skillet, (at least 12” diameter) with non-stick spray such as PAM.  Sauté the chorizo until brown.  Drain and remove the browned chorizo and retain.  With the grease still in the skillet, add the butter and bring the heat up to medium.  Add the onions, celery, green pepper, garlic and two packets of Goya Vegetable and Salad seasoning. Sauté until soft.  Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and japeleno peppers and continue sautéing until the mixture is thoroughly cooking.  Add the retained chorizo and one packet of Goya Sazon seasoning. Stir until all is thoroughly mixed and heated.  Remove from heat.

Pour the Egg Beaters into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the sour cream until completely mixed.

Return the skillet and veggies to a medium heat, and when simmering, stir in the Egg Beaters and allow to cook until a firm crust has formed on the bottom of the mixture–a couple of minutes at most.  Remove from heat and add the cheese to cover the skillet completely. Place in an oven pre-heated to 350F, and bake until cheese has browned.  Approximately 25-28 minutes.

frittata croppedRemove from oven and allow to cool for at least fifteen minutes. Slice and serve. 

 

Makes 6-8 servings.

 

 

 

Southfacin’ Cook’s Crawfish Chowder by Patsy Brumfield

cook-mugHave leftover crawfish from a boil? Try this easy recipe for crawfish chowder. We Southerners smugly think “chowder” (or “chow-dah”) is something Yankees invented and shouldn’t be trotted out in kitchens south of the Mason-Dixon line. Fear not, intrepid cooks. Chowder is just a milky stew of goodness, no matter where it comes from.

This recipe comes to me from a colleague when I worked at my alma mater, the University of Mississippi. I gotta tell you, it’s so good that you’d serve it to Prince Charles and Prince Harry, if they were lucky enough to be in your dining room.

Add a crusty loaf of French bread or steamy cornbread and butter for soaking up the juice, and you’ll be dancing! I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten from this recipe, which has become a favorite with my friends. Now, it’s yours!

CRAWFISH CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS

Photo courtesy of www.newinnola.com
Photo courtesy of www.newinnola.com
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 gallon milk (8 cups – start with 2% and go higher if you’re skinny)
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • 1 3/4 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chives or 3 finely chopped green onions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil
  • 2 cans shoepeg corn (otherwise called white corn)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (for garnish)
  • 2 pounds cooked crawfish (Fresh is preferred, but frozen works fine. If using frozen, thaw 2 12-ounce packages.)

IMPORTANT – Never let any stage of this recipe boil!!

Melt butter in a warm stew pot (level 2 on a gas stove). Gradually add flour and sauté with whisk until thickened. Let this cook slowly at least 5 minutes, whisking often. Congrats! You are making a roux.

Meanwhile, start warming milk (2 cups at a time) in your microwave.

When your roux has reached a light caramel color, slowly whisk the first 2 cups of milk into the flour. Whisk constantly through the first 2 additions (4 cups) of milk to make sure the roux doesn’t lump. Add the remaining warmed milk (8 cups total).

Then warm the Half & Half and add it to the pot. Stir your pot until everything is smooth. Use your flat-edged wooden spatula to scour the pot bottom often to ensure that the roux doesn’t stick.

Add Creole seasoning, crab boil and sugar.

Stir well, turn up the heat a notch and, stirring frequently, cook just under boiling. (This likely will take at least 15 minutes, until you see the steam rising off the mixture. You’ll also see the mixture start to develop tiny bubbles nearest the pot’s edge.) Add softened cream cheese. Beat with whisk until smooth. Reduce heat a half notch (no bubbles near the pot’s edge).

Drain corn in the colander and add to the stew pot.

Dump crawfish into the colander, lightly rinse, then add to the mixture.

Still stirring the pot frequently, cook the chowder until its heated through (about 15 minutes). Check for seasoning and add more if you like it spicier.

Lightly sprinkled with parsley garnish, it serves at least 6-8, with cornbread or French bread to sop up the liquid.

NOTE: This doesn’t freeze well, but it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.

Photo courtesy of www.newinnola.com
Photo courtesy of www.newinnola.com

Editor’s Note: PorchScene would like to thank NewInNola.com for allowing Patsy Brumfield to share her recipes and photos with us. The NewInNola website is a great resource for anything New Orleans. Please pay them a visit and let them know that PorchScene sent you!

Southfacin’ Cook: How to Make Crabmeat West Indies Salad

cook-mugMy brother-in-law, Tommy Ratchford of Pensacola, isn’t much of a cook, but he knows a thing or two about seafood. Hearken to his “Southfacin’ Cook” recipe for perfect boiled shrimp on www.newinnola.com. His “West Indies Salad” is a delicious, light, crisp, tart combination of vinegar-sweetened onions, brine and juicy lump crab meat. Can’t get much tastier than that! It’s gorgeous on toasted french bread slices and even prettier in a stemmed cocktail glass as a true salad or a buffet specialty. Easy, delicious. A great change of pace with summertime fare, too. Enjoy any time of the year, so long as the crab meat is fresh.

WEST INDIES SALAD

EQUIPMENT – Medium-size mixing bowls, glass loaf pan, chopping board, chef’s knife, veggie chopper or food processor, sieve or colander, small rubber spatula, measuring equipment, plastic wrap

INGREDIENTS:

WESTINDIESSALAD.11 pound fresh jumbo lump crab meat

2 large or 3 medium yellow onions

1 bunch green onions (5-6 onions)

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper (more if you like more “kick”)

6 ounces apple cider vinegar

4 ounces extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces water

LET’S GET STARTED:

WESTINDIESSALAD.5In your sink, dump crab meat into a sieve or colander. Under a light stream of cold water, use your hands to carefully rinse crab meat and remove orange bits and any pieces of shell. Be gentle, though, not to break up lumps. Set crab meat aside and allow it to drain thoroughly.

Peel yellow onions, quarter them. In batches, chop in a box chopper or carefully pulse in a food processor until the onion bits are about the size of a black-eye pea (smaller than a dime). Be careful not to chop them too small. Empty onions into a mixing bowl.

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Finely chop green onions and blend with other onions. In glass loaf pan, add half the onion blend, top with crab. End with rest of onion blend. Lightly tamp down to even mixture top.

WESTINDIESSALAD.6WESTINDIESSALAD.7WESTINDIESSALAD.8

Drizzle vinegar, using a side-to-side pattern to cover the top layer. In the same side-to-side pattern, drizzle the salt, then the white pepper. Finish drizzling with olive oil, then water.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 6-8 hours. Salad keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 days.

SERVES 6-8. Looks pretty plated on a lettuce leaf or in a stemmed cocktail glass. Also good on crackers or toasted french bread slices.

WESTINDIESSALAD.9

Editor’s Note: All photos courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

Summer Squash Casserole with The Southfacin’ Cook by Patsy Brumfield

Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com
Photo courtesy of NewInNola.com

Summertime tastes like juicy ripe tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelon, butter beans and, of course, yellow squash. I love squash and enjoyed growing it in my garden for years. For now, because I’m working away from my garden, I get mine at the local Farmers’ Market. This recipe is inspired by one of my and my son’s heroes, Sidna Brower Mitchell, well known as a great cook and food-writer, but perhaps even more important as the unjustly maligned student editor of the Daily Mississippian newspaper on the Ole Miss campus when it was forceably integrated in 1961. My recipe is an adaptation of hers, with a few extra ingredients. Hope you enjoy it while the markets are flush with produce. I think you also can freeze this after you’ve cooked it.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Squash Casserole

 EQUIPMENT : Large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, chef’s knife, chopping board, large sauce pan or dutch oven, measuring equipment, wooden spoons, Pyrex measuring cups, mesh colander, gallon-size zip-top bag, large baking dish, cooking spray

photo 2

INGREDIENTS:

6 medium yellow squash, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

48 Ritz crackers, finely crushed

3 cups sharp Cheddar cheese

3 eggs, beaten

½ cup milk or cream

4 tablespoons melted butter

½ teaspoon salt, ground pepper

Olive oil

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and prep vegetables.

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In saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high, then add onions, bell peppers and squash. Saute’ until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

photo 1 (1)photo 2 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Into plastic bag, put Ritz crackers and smash them or use your fingers to squeeze them into cracker crumbs. In a large bowl, combine cracker crumbs, cheese and green onions.

When veggies are tender, add half cracker/cheese mixture into them.

In small bowl, lightly beat eggs and add cream/milk. Add this to squash mixture, then pour in melted butter. Combine.

 

 

photo 3 (1)photo 1 (2)photo 4 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

In buttered or veg-sprayed casserole dish, spread the squash mixture. Sprinkle top with rest of cracker mixture. (Optional – Dot top with 1 tablespoon butter.)

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Bake in 350 oven 30 minutes, then boost heat to 400 and cook another 10-15 minutes until veggies are cooked through and cheese-cracker crust is golden.

SERVE: Delicious side dish with any of your favorites like fried or grilled chicken, steaks etc. Serves about 6.

photo 3 (2)

Sidna Brower Mitchell can be reached via email as sbmcooks@aol.com. Thanks, Sidna, for it all!

Downtown Small Town by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

The song by Kenny Rogers, Twenty Years Ago was actually written about my hometown in south Mississippi. Today the downtown of my childhood, which was once the pulse of the small town, is struggling to stay alive in a world of big chain stores that sell a little bit of everything for less There are however, small towns which have tapped into strategies that are not only keeping their downtowns alive but assuring that they thrive. In a series called Downtown Small Town, I’d like to highlight some of those places. One method of survival, it would seem, is that communities whose downtowns offer QUALITY dining, art, entertainment and shopping are being supported not only by locals, but by people from nearby communities as well, and those “anchors” are helping to sustain other small businesses in the downtowns areas. Old Town Hall and Café is just such an establishment.

Old Town Hall Cafe photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Old Town Hall Cafe photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Uncontrived ambience, delicious southern cuisine, soft live piano music, original art, and an abundance of genuine southern grace are offered at the Old Town Hall and Café. The charming dining spot is located on the town square of Covington, Tennessee, and yes, the café and the boutique next door occupy a space that was the original town hall, built in 1878.

It’s all Homemade! Whether it’s delicious stuffed bell peppers, yeast rolls or scrumptious desserts, all of the cooking is done in-house, serving “from scratch” recipes that have become customer favorites. Along with an extensive selection of sandwiches, including several hamburger combinations and an eclectic selection of salads, such as Bouquet of Salad, an inclusive plate of pasta, chicken and fruit, there’s a different unique entree and soup every day.

Owner Nancy Peeler and Pianist Andrew Wolle photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Owner Nancy Peeler and Pianist Andrew Wolle photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Southern hospitality is alive and thriving at Old Town Hall and Café, with easygoing cordiality imparted by Nancy Peeler and her upbeat staff. Everyone dining at the lunch spot is made comfortable and welcomed, and Nancy and her employees are competent but unaffected. It’s easy to see why the café is a regular stop for local business owners and other residents, but a destination spot for out-of-towners like me, who just happened upon it and want to return.

Curb Appeal, Curb Appeal, Curb Appeal! Although in the case of the Old Town Hall and Café, the food speaks for itself, the mood of the quaint eatery makes dining special and relaxing. I was searching for a lunch spot in the downtown area, and the curb appeal of the café drew my eye immediately. While curb appeal is vital, atmosphere is critical in a restaurant, and as I opened the door I found a space which quietly said, “come in, relax and enjoy a delightful meal.” Simple elegance is served not only in the form of the delicious homemade fare, but in the unpretentious décor which makes the room inviting and tranquil. Well thought out linens cover each table, a fresh flower arrangement atop each.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Soft ambient light is furnished with an array of table lamps carefully placed around the room, and spots highlight paintings by local artists displayed on exposed brick walls. The soothing atmosphere is further enriched by the soft music provided by pianist, Andrew Wolle several days a week.

If you can’t make it for lunch, throw a party! The café is open for lunch Monday through Friday, and the first Saturday of each month, but the attractive environment is available to rent for receptions, business meetings, luncheons, showers and parties. An all-encompassing menu is available to those wanting food provided when they rent the room, and catering is another feature of the restaurant which makes party giving a whole lot easier no matter the location. From tomato feta appetizers to shrimp and grits, the extensive menu has something for every taste and occasion.

Homemade pastries 3.5 inches
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

I once spent an entire summer on a campaign to locate the best coconut cake in Memphis, and gained 15 pounds in the process. My first encounter with Nancy was her arrival at our table with an assortment of pastries which included fabulous coconut cake. Many of the desserts appear on the menu every day, but there is often something new and special when Nancy or her chef wants to experiment with a new recipe.

Hope springs eternal for the revival of downtowns in small towns. My theory that quality almost always survives was confirmed in Covington, Tennessee, where a small top-notch eatery is contributing substantially to the success of the downtown area.

South Facin’ Cook: Shrimp & Grits by Patsy Brumfield

cook-mugHow to Make Shrimp & Grits Like a New Orleans Native …

Actually, Shrimp & Grits is dish that’s gone from the mundane to haute cuisine in just a decade or so.

My rendition is a bow to the famed version at Oxford MS’ City Grocery, although I’ve always thought CG’s was too pepper-hot. I’ve adjusted this one accordingly.

The recipe is perfect for an entree for 4, plus french bread and a tasty salad.

EQUIPMENT – Chopping board and knife, measuring equipment, dutch oven, medium sauce pan, wooden spoons, metal whisk. Extra mixing bowls or plates.

ingredientsINGREDIENTS:

For the Grits:

1 Cup 5-minute grits

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 Cup grated, sharp cheddar cheese (white or yellow)

1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 Cup finely chopped smoked Gouda

1/4 Cup heavy cream

1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons paprika

1 Teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Salt/pepper to taste

For the Shrimp:

2 Cups chopped, smoked bacon

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds raw, 26-30 count shrimp, peeled

Salt/pepper

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons white wine (or 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar)

2 Cups sliced green onions

 

LET’S GET STARTED

GRITS – Cook according to package instructions, except salt. Whisk in butter, cheeses, cream, spices. Mix thoroughly and season with salt/pepper to taste.

gritbacon in skilletshrimp

 

 

 

 

 

SHRIMP – In a large iron skillet, cook bacon until it begins to brown. Remove it from the heat onto a plate or to a large bowl, and reserve bacon and drippings. Bring skillet heat back to very hot. Add olive oil and 2 Tablespoons bacon grease.

As oils begin to smoke, toss in shrimp to cover pan bottom. Season with salt/pepper. Then stir until shrimp begin to turn pink all over. Remove shrimp to a plate or bowl.

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Let pan return to original heat, then toss in garlic. Be careful not to burn. Add mushrooms and quickly coat with oil. Add lemon juice and wine/vinegar. Stir until everything is well coated, about 2 minutes. Toss in green onions and stir about 1 minute.

Return shrimp to skillet mixture and turn off the heat.

 

 

TO PLATE – Pour a generous amount of creamy grits, then top with shrimp/mushroom mixture. Serves 4.

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All Photos For This Post Are Courtesy of www.newinnola.com

Southfacin’ Cook: HOW TO BRINE A TURKEY by Patsy Brumfield

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of recipes from our SouthFacin’ Cook, Patsy Brumfield, that we are posting to get our readers in the mood for some great Thanksgiving food. We will be posting one each week until Thanksgiving. Thank you Patsy!!!

 

cook-mugHOW TO BRINE A TURKEY FOR A THANKSGIVING FEAST

A few years ago, I watched food guru Alton Brown propound the virtues of brining a turkey. He explained that the salt water brine changes the turkey’s cellular structure so that it pulls out the water, while seasoning the meat.

Boy, was he right! This has been my favorite way to roast a turkey ever since, and I’ve got a least one friend who insists it saved his family holiday meal. Amen, brother.

Of course, this recipe and approach can be used with other meats, especially chicken and pork loin. For example, if you’d like to roast a whole, fresh chicken, half the recipe below.

You also should change your perspective on how long to cook the big bird. Buy yourself a meat thermometer and cook by the internal temps, not how long it’s been cooking. You’ll be amazed at how much more flavorful the meat will be.

The Bird - 2007BRINING YOUR TURKEY

 I have lots of Turkey Day guests, so I buy two birds – the biggest one I can find and then another, probably 16-18 pounds for leftovers. There’s almost nothing worse than not having enough turkey for those gorgeous sandwiches with homemade mayo, a little layer of dressing  and a slather of cranberry sauce.

EQUIPMENT

  • 2 large plastic garbage bags (the unscented kind)
  • large container like my gumbo pot which will fit into your refrigerator
  • measuring equipment
  • chopping board
  • knife
  • long-handled wooden spoon

This recipe is for a 14-16 pound whole turkey. I make only slight adjustments because my birds are bigger.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BRINE

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons garlic or 3 whole cloves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 gallons water

LET’S GET STARTED

Three to four days before roasting, begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Day before your feast:

Combine the brining ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring the liquid to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Take your plastic bags, inserting one into the other.

Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) into the plastic bags, breast side down, and then place the bagged turkey into the large pot, which will hold it in the fridge. Pour your brine into the turkey bag. Leave a little air in the brine bag, then twist the top tightly closed. If you don’t want to use bags, weigh down the bird in a large pot to ensure it is fully immersed and cover the pot. Refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

ROASTING YOUR TURKEY

EQUIPMENT

  • large roasting pan with metal rack on which to place the bird (no lid needed)
  • aluminum foil
  • probe thermometer

INGREDIENTS (besides your thawed turkey)

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 celery stalk
  • vegetable oil

LET’S GET STARTED

Remove your turkey from the fridge and drain away brining liquid* (leave it in the brine pot) an hour before you begin the following:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the bird inside and out with cold water. (*I save the brine for my second turkey, which will go in the oven later in the day.)

Place the bird on the rack of roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, celery stalk and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add those steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and thyme. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with vegetable oil. You won’t need salt/pepper because they’re already in your turkey meat from the brine.

Boil a kettle of water. Before you close your oven with the turkey, pour about an inch of boiling water into your roasting pan. Try to maintain this level during the cooking. It will make the pan much easier to clean and give you some drippings to work with for gravy, if you like to do that.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes without the top on. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 165 degrees. If the turkey breast begins to brown too much, make a tent of foil, slip it over the breast and continue baking. (I usually do this. The brown sugar in the brine almost always “darkens” the turkey skin as it roasts, so don’t be alarmed.)

A 14 to 16 pound bird should require about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving.

cartoon turkeyCarve and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Southfacin’ Cook – Southern Cornbread Dressing by Patsy Brumfield

HOW TO MAKE CORNBREAD DRESSING LIKE A REAL SOUTHERNER

cook-mugThanksgiving turkey isn’t complete without moist, yummy cornbread dressing. It’s taken me years to get this one right, so I’ll share my experience with you.

First, my wonderful mother, Betty – who adored Thanksgiving and cooked for weeks in anticipation of hosting a crowd that day – died on Halloween 1999 and left me, the eldest child, to make our first holiday meal without her. I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness she left recipes, although some have taken years to get just right. (You know how cooks are about secrets.)

This is her cornbread dressing, which I like topped with a splash of smooth turkey giblet gravy. It’s also fabulous to slice thinly onto leftover turkey sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise and a sliver of cranberry sauce. Goodness, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

 

CORNBREAD DRESSING A LA BETTY

FIRST THE CORNBREAD:

Photo Courtesy of www.newinnola.com
Photo Courtesy of www.newinnola.com

EQUIPMENT

  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring equipment
  • Wooden spoon
  • Medium-size cast iron skillet

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups yellow corn meal (stone-ground, if you can get it)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large tablespoon of cooking oil, melted shortening or bacon fat

(There is no salt in this because you’ll add salt to the dressing mixture.)

LET’S GET STARTED

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees with the iron skillet in oven.

Mix buttermilk and the egg. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk egg mixture. Stir and mix into corn meal. Add 1 tablespoon of melted oil/shortening/bacon fat.

ingredin ovencornbread

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into your hot skillet, pour 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, then pour cornbread mix. Smooth out evenly with wooden spoon.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool. (You can make cornbread ahead of time, freeze it and bring it out when you’re ready to make the dressing.)

 

NOW THE CORNBREAD DRESSING:

NOTE: When I make dressing, I make a lot of it – maybe 2-3 times as much as this recipe calls for, so I adjust ingredients accordingly. I also mix it in my 4-gallon gumbo pot with a long-handled wooden spoon.Alton Brown would love this multi-use.

EQUIPMENT

  • large mixing bowl
  • large sauce pan or medium dutch oven
  • chopping board
  • chopping knife
  • measuring equipment
  • wooden spoon

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pan of cornbread (per recipe above)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4-6 stalks)
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
  • 1 package herb-seasoned bread croutons (Kellogg’s  and Pepperidge Farm are my favorites)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • salt, pepper (1 teaspoon each)
  • chicken broth (total 10 cups)
  • 4 raw eggs

LET’S GET STARTED

In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, cook celery, onions and butter/margarine in about 4 cups of broth. Cook until tender (15-20 minutes).

onionscrumbsmix it

 

 

 

 

 

 

In large mixing bowl or stewpot (for me, that’s the gumbo pot), crumble corn bread and add seasoned croutons. Then add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Combine thoroughly.

Pour broth/celery/onions mixture into your cornbread pot and combine with wooden spoon.

dressing6Add 6 cups broth, beaten eggs and combine thoroughly. Your dressing mixture will be almost “soupy.” Remember, you are making a pudding of sorts, and you will bake it until it’s the consistency you want. But it needs to start out “wet” or it will end up dry. (This wet state is important. Don’t be afraid of it. My children are sick of my annual invitation to them to “come, look at the dressing.” I want to make sure they know what it’s suppose to look out because I didn’t know when I first took on this responsibility.)

Pour dressing mixture into 9×13” casserole and bake 45-60 mins.

Start out with it covered by foil, then remove foil with 15 mins to go so the top can brown. Check it for doneness like you do a cake by sticking in toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. Serves 8 to 10.

 

dressing9

 

All images are courtesy of Patsy Brumfield and www.newinnola.com

Southfacin’ Cook’s – Southern Sour Cream Pound Cake by Patsy Brumfield

cook-mugMy father didn’t do much cooking. Chiefly, he’s remembered for accidentally setting fire to the kitchen while trying to cook bacon and watch the World Series simultaneously. We’ve never been much for multi-tasking. But the man could make a really good pound cake – dense, crusty, delicious. Where he got his recipe is unknown to me, but lately I found one very much like it in my mother’s recipe box. It was an old, brown newspaper clipping taped to a file card. It is beyond delicious! It’s tall and just the right density, and so buttery. You will love it, and your guests will think you are the greatest baker ever.

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE

EQUIPMENT:

  • stand mixer (hand mixer will do, but you may get tired)
  • two mixing bowls
  • sifter
  • measuring equipment
  • pound cake ingredientsrubber spatula
  • tube cake pan
  • flour-cooking oil spray

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda
  • 2 sticks margarine, softened (to room temp or 15 secs in microwave)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or lemon extract or both)

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

sifting flourSet mixing bowls side by side. Measure flour into one bowl. Set sifter into the other bowl, transfer flour into sifter and sift. Repeat two more times back and forth. On second sift, add soda and dash (1/2 teaspoon) of salt.

In your mixer, cream the softened margarine on medium-low speed (Use the batter beater, not the whisk one).

Slowly add 3 cups sugar and cream well until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl bottom with your spatula to ensure everything incorporates well. Add 6 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

add flourStir in sour cream. Lower mixer speed. (If the mixer’s on too fast, it will blow flour all over the place. Carefully add dry ingredients 1/3 cup at a time, beating constantly. Scrape bottom with spatula again.

Stir in vanilla extract. (Just don’t over-beat the batter. I have no definition for “over-beat” – just do it long enough to incorporate everything.

Hold your tube pan over the sink and spray it thoroughly inside, tube too, with flour-cooking spray. Pour cake mixture into it.

batterbakers joycake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake 1 hours 15 minutes (75 minutes).

Allow to rest 10 minutes, then place large plate on top of cake pan and (with heat pads) carefully flip so that the plate is on the bottom. Carefully lift cake pan away from cake. Place another plate onto the cake’s bottom (which is facing up.) Flip cake/plates again so that your cake is now upright and ready to cool. Terrific plain, but out of this world with real whipped cream (and some berries, too).

NOTE – This cake can be frozen, but I say just eat it! If you want to freeze it, wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil.

poundcake9

 

All Photos Courtesy of Patsy Brumfield and www.newinnola.com

SOUTHFACIN’ COOK — How to Make Crawfish Strudel by Patsy Brumfield

HOW TO MAKE CRAWFISH STRUDEL

 

cook-mug

New Orleans’ world-famed Jazz Fest inspires from many angles, but music and food are the most obvious.

That’s where my daughter, Margaret, introduced me to Crawfish Strudel. For those of us expecting something sweet and fruity, get over it! This dish is savory and spicy – delicious.

Its consumption inspired me to create my own knock-off, which I decided should taste like a crawfish boil in a light crust. It worked.

Give it a try, it’s not difficult. Just takes a couple of steps. I also think this would work with shrimp cut into half-inch pieces.

 

CRAWFISH STRUDEL A LA PATSY

EQUIPMENT- Chopping board, chef’s knife, cereal bowls for veggie prep, medium sauce pan, medium dutch oven, rubber spatula, wooden cooking spoon, microplane, paring knife, tasting spoon, 1 baking sheet per 6 strudels, parchment paper, flour for working with dough, measuring equipment, small baking brush (I use a small paint brush), ramekin with lid, pizza cutter.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 STRUDEL1EDIT

 

1 pkg frozen crawfish tails (sorry, I refuse to peel fresh ones)

3 small-medium red potatoes (do not peel)

bunch green onions

½ cup fresh parsley

½ red bell pepper

3 celery stalks

4 sheets philo dough (2 packages from freezer section)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground thyme

4-5 Tablespoons flour

¾ cup sour cream

1 lemon, zested / juice of half

½ stick butter, melted in ramekin

1 tablespoon Zatarain’s crab boil (granulated)

 

LET’S GET STARTED

STRUDEL4STEP ONE: Wash all our fresh veggies, chop into similar sized pieces (about the size of a dime). In sauce pan, put your potato bits, cover with water and add crab boil. Cook about 10 minutes until just tender. Remove from heat and let stand while you get other things done. (I want potatoes tasting like they were in your crawfish pot!)

STEP TWO: Heat dutch oven on medium high, add olive oil, celery and bell peppers. Add salt, pepper, thyme, wine. Sweat 3-5 minutes. Add corn, green onions, parsley. Cook another 3 minutes. Add flour to thicken and cook another 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Fold in sour cream, lemon zest and juice. Drain potatoes and fold in 1 ½ cups of them. Taste to make sure you’ve got enough salt. Place your butter into the ramekin and microwave 1 minute to melt. Turn your stove oven to 400 degrees.

 

STRUDEL5_edited-2STRUDEL6 (1)_edited-1

 

STEP THREE: On your kitchen counter, place a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than one sheet of philo dough. Sprinkle flour on it, spread the flour around and unfold your dough. Place it on the flour. Sprinkle flour on the side toward you. Flip the dough and repeat. Transfer your floured dough to another sheet of parchment paper. (I can’t find my rolling pin, so I used a drinking glass to roll out the dough to a somewhat larger, thinner piece, although it’s not greatly larger than the original – maybe a couple of inches width and depth.) Using your pizza cutter or a paring knife, gently cut the dough up the fold seams and across in the middle – you will have 6 pieces, longer than they are wide.

STRUDEL8_edited-1

Brush the dough with butter, then add 1-2 tablespoons of filling down the center of each dough rectangle. Grasp your first filled dough, turn it sideways, gently pull the front side of the dough over the filling and roll it to meet the other side like you’d roll a cigar. Fold the ends toward the back seam and place the filled dough “cigar” on a separate parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling the others. With your paring knife, slice gently across the top of each about 3 times for dough vents. Then, brush butter across the outside of each.

STRUDEL9_edited-1

STRUDEL10_edited-1

Repeat with each sheet of philo. The filling recipe is enough for 24 “cigars.

Cook for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before you bite into this deliciousness!

SERVES 12. I recommend serving it alongside a hearty salad or with jambalaya or gumbo. An all-around crawfish delight. (BTW, if you’re allergic to bell peppers, just skip them.)

 

STRUDEL12

 

For another taste of New Orleans Jazz Festival, see our August 2013 article, “A Big Bang for the Buck”

How to brine a pork tenderloin for your summertime feast …By Patsy R. Brumfield / Southfacin’ Cook

1.brining

Most folks think that if you throw a hunk of meat onto the grill, it’s going to be good. Not really.

It’s good because you prepare the meat in some way – you give it a flavor rub or you age it or you brine it (my personal favorite).

Brining isn’t just for turkeys, although it’s the best thing that happened to Tom Turkey since dressing and gravy.

So, take a little time this summer for your pork, fish, steaks or chicken. You’ll thank me, really.

EQUIPMENT – Medium sauce pan with lid, chopping board, chef’s knife, gallon-size zip-lock plastic bags, large mixing bowl, baking sheet, measuring equipment, wooden spoon. Grill and meat thermometer.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 2.ingredients jpg

(I you don’t have all the exotics, don’t worry – the salt and normal spices will work. I just like the flavor layers you get from the weird stuff.) To be used for 1-2 pork tenderloins. If you get a really thick one, cut it in half. It will brine better.

 

Brining Liquid

½ cup kosher salt

7 cups of water

½ lemon

sprig rosemary

½ apple, quartered

2 bay leaves

2 Tablespoons minced or 2 cloves whole garlic

1 Tablespoon black peppercorns

1 medium onion, quartered

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon (each) cinnamon, cocoa powder

1 teaspoon (each) ground cumin, chili powder

1 cup strongly brewed coffee

(Optional) 1 Tablespoon coffee beans

 

Let’s get started

In the saucepan, add water and everything else. Stir. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low 20 minutes.

3.brine

 

Meanwhile, rinse meat, pat dry and place in zip-lock bag(s).

When brine is ready, place uncovered pot in sink. Cover drain and add cold water half-way up the side of your pot to start cooling the brining liquid. Add ice in sink water, if you have it. (You may need to repeat this phase.)

When liquid is cool, pour it into your bagged meat. Seal tightly, forcing out as much air as you can. Place full brining bags into mixing bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Overnight is even better. Shake the bag(s) occasionally to ensure brine comes in contact with all sides of your meat.

4.Bagges

 

Two hours before cooking (unless it’s chicken or fish), remove meat from fridge, remove it from bag, rinse under cold water. Place on a baking sheet and pat dry. (Dry meat crusts better.)

Before grilling everything but fish, consult the Internet or meat thermometer instructions about the best internal temperature for how you like it cooked. Insert thermometer into the meat center, then grill.

NOTE: You also can do this in your oven, if you don’t have a grill. Just consult Internet cooking sites for best oven roasting temperatures. The internal meat temperature doesn’t change with your cooking platform.

5.Pork

All photos provided by Patsy Brumfield

CULINARY QUEST by Tom Lawrence

1.Galaroires

Galatoire’s Restaurant, New Orleans, LA

The quest for delicious food is something most of us can sink our teeth into. Heated discussions take place regularly over who has the best barbeque or the most authentic ethnic delicacy. We’ve all experienced memorable cuisine, and our measurement of the establishments in which we enjoyed those meals is often passionate.

Having had the good fortune to dine—a word I don’t use lightly–in many really fine eateries around the world, I feel at least reasonably qualified to offer my opinion on the superiority of some of them. Through absolutely no prejudice on my part, my current list contains an overwhelmingly large number of restaurants that are located in the South. Okay, maybe I’m just the least bit biased in my leanings toward southern fare, but there’s no denying it, the southern United States is home to some of the best places to eat on the planet.

Restaurants that immediately come to mind are the first list that I’d like to share with you, and it’s an all-inclusive one, incorporating establishments from all over the world. Just my opinion, you understand, but as an enthusiastic participant in food indulgence, I think I’ve assembled a diverse and substantial collection.

Restaurant reviewers usually insist on delivering a numerical grade, indicating the relative quality of each establishment, as if all restaurants were playing on a level field. Michelin and Mobile use a system of stars. The more stars, the better the restaurant. I’ve devised my own system, which recognizes that all eateries should not be judged by a single offering, but divided into categories based on what they are trying to achieve. The relative quality of each place in the category can then be judged more fairly. My system recognizes these categories, and uses a five plus-sign rating system. After I have actually visited a restaurant, I’ll take the time to rate and review it, only if I feel they are worthy of at least one plus-sign.

Several establishments that I’ve chosen to represent here have gone out of business for one reason or another, but were so outstanding during their run, that they deserve recognition. Occasionally a restaurant is so bad that I just can’t keep quiet, but I’ll treat those merely as “Avoid at all cost!”

2.Noja

Noja, Mobile, AL

As I continue to pursue my gastronomic passion, my list will grow and I’ll happily share it with you. To get things started however, here are my current ratings. I’ve reviewed some of these in the past on my personal blog, www.tomlawrenceblog.com, so you may enjoy reading brief postings on individual spots. Certainly not everyone will agree with my entire list, or maybe any of it, but I love to try new places, so feel free to comment and send me your suggestions.

3.Doe's

Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville, MS

 

FINE DINING

L’Ambroisie                                                         ++++          Paris

The Connaught Hotel Dining Room    +++++       London

Lutece           (Closed)                                        ++++          New York

Le Cote Basque      (Closed)                         ++++          New York City

Chez l’Ami Louis                                                ++++          Paris

La Pergola,                                                             ++++          Rome

Galatoires                                                              ++++           New Orleans

One if by Land, Two if by Sea                    +++              New York

Commanders Palace                                       +++              New Orleans

NOJA                                                                         +++              Mobile, AL

Bern’s                                                                        +++               Tampa, FL

Café Epic                                                                 ++                  Columbus, GA

Walker’s Drive Inn                                           ++                  Jackson, MS

Antoines                                                                  ++                  New Orleans

Arnaud’s                                                                  ++                   New Orleans

Upperline                                                                ++                   New Orleans

Warehouse Bistro                                             +                       Opelika, AL

 

STEAKHOUSES

 

Doe’s Eat Place                                    +++++          Greenville, MS

Smith & Wollensky                           ++++              New York

Peter Luger’s                                         ++++               New York

Ruth’s Chris                                            +++                  Chain

Morton’s                                                   +++                  Chain

Tico’s                                                           +++                   Jackson, MS

Charlie’s                                                    +++                   New Orleans

Jimmy Kelly’s                                         ++                      Nashville, TN

The Hunter’s Pub                                 +                         Columbus, GA

Outback Steakhouse                         +                         Chain

Flemings Steakhouse                        ++                       Chain

Bone’s                                                          ++                       Atlanta, GA

Chop’s                                                          +                          Atlanta. GA

Hunter’s Pub                                           +                          Columbus, GA

 

ETHNIC RESTAURANTS

 

Hunan Homes (Chinese)                 +++++              San Francisco

Karam’s (Closed) (Mexican)         +++++              San Antonio, TX

The Columbia (Cuban)                     ++++                  Tampa, FL

The Red Iguna (Mexican)                +++                    Salt Lake City, UT

Athena (Greek)                                      +++                    Chicago

Manale’s (Italian)                                  ++                       New Orleans

Maggiano’s (Italian)                            ++                        Chain

Valentino’s (Italian)                            ++                        Nashville, TN

Pompilio’s (Italian)                              ++                         Cincinnati OH

The Mayflower (Greek)                    +                            Jackson. MS

Pete & Sam’s (Italian)                         +                            Memphis, TN

Wok & Roll (Asian)                               +                            Opelika, AL

P.F.Chang (Asian)                                  +                             Chain

 

AMERICAN HOME COOKING

 

Louie & the Red Headed Lady  ++++                 Mandeville, LA

K-Paul”s                                                   ++                      New Orleans

Red Maple                                              +++                    Gretna, LA

The Buckhead Dinner                    +++                     Atlanta

Mosca’s                                                    +++                     Westwego, LA

Emeril’s                                                     +++                     New Orleans

Crook’s Corner                                    ++                        Chapel Hill, NC

JAlexander’s                                         ++                        Chain

The Tin Angel                                        +                           Nashville, TN

Mendenhall Hotel                              +                           Mendenhall, MS

The Loveless Café                               +                           Nashville, TN

Sperry’s                                                      +                           Nashville, TN

 

BBQ & SMOKED MEATS

 

Morris BBQ                                         +++++                     Eads, TN

The Cozy Corner                              ++++                        Memphis, TN

The Rendezvous                               +++                           Memphis, TN

Corky’s BBQ                                        +++                           Memphis, TN

Chuck’s BBQ                                        ++                              Opelika, AL

 

BREAKFAST & BAKERIES

 4.Abe's

Abe’s Grill, Corinth, MS

 

Mother’s                                       +++                              New Orleans,

Camilla Grill                               +++                               New Orleans

A Spot of Tea                             ++                                  Mobile AL

The Pancake Pantry             ++                                  Nashville, TN

Abe’s                                                ++                                  Corinth, MS.

 

HAMBURGERS & SANDWICHES

 

The Parkway                              ++++                          New Orleans

Huey’s                                             +++                             Memphis, TN

White Castle                               +                                   Chain

Rortier’s                                         +                                   Nashville, TN

 

MISCELLANEOUS FOODS

 

Doe’s Eat Place (Hot Tamales)                      +++++      Greenville, MS

Airport Café            (Hot Tamales)                 +++             Cleveland, MS

Acme Oyster House (Oysters)                      ++++           New Orleans,

Wintzell’s (Oysters)                                             ++++            Mobile, AL

Central Grocery (Olive Relish)                      ++++            New Orleans

Pannie George (Fried Chicken)                     +++               Auburn, AL

Sara Jay’s (Fried Chicken)                                 ++                  Opelika. AL

Chicken Salad Chick (Chicken Salad)        ++                   Auburn, AL

Mayflower Café (Comeback Dressing)     ++++            Jackson, MS           

 

Photo of Galatoire’s by Louis Sahuc pulled from Galatoire’s website: http://www.galatoires.com

Photo of Noja from their website: http://www.nojamobile.com

Photo of Doe’s Eat Place from their website: http://doeseatplace.com

Photo of Abe’s Grill from their website: http://abesgrill.com

MAKING SUMMERTIME BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH SOUTHFACIN’ COOK PATSY BRUMFIELD

1.Blueberries8_edited-1

Blueberry muffins usually aren’t my first choice – they tend to be dry, floury and not very fruity.

But this recipe is quite the opposite, and I suspect it could be used with seasonal strawberries and other delights, even chocolate chips, if that suits your taste buds.

I found blueberries on sale for a ridiculously low price, so that’s what prompted my immediate internet search to ensure I had everything I needed. You can’t miss with this one!

 

BLUEBERRY (or whatever) MUFFINS

 

EQUIPMENT – 2 large mixing bowls, medium mixing bowl, whisk, wooden spoon, microplane, wooden spoon, rubber spatula, ice-cream scoop, cooling rack, muffin tin, paper muffin cups, measuring equipment. Cooking spray.

2.Folding in the blueberries

 

INGREDIENTS

(FOR Bowl #1)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon baking powder

(For Bowl #2)

2 Tablespoons milk

1 stick butter, melted

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

Zest of 1 lemon

(For Bowl #3, medium size)

1 ¾ cups blueberries

1 Tablespoon flour

 

3.

 

LET’S GET STARTED

Pre-heat oven 400 degrees F, rack in lower middle

Place blueberries in medium bowl and dust with 1 Tablespoon flour. (This prevents them from sinking into the muffin bottom.)

Spray muffin tin inside cups and on surface, then drop paper muffin cups into place. Set aside.

Whisk dry ingredients in Bowl #1.

Whisk together wet ingredients in Bowl #2. Adding 1/3 dry ingredients at a time, combine into wet ingredients with wooden spoon.

Then, add blueberries and softly fold into batter using rubber spatula. When thoroughly combined, use ice cream scoop to fill paper muffin cups. There’s plenty of dough, so be generous and pile dough high!

 

4.

 

Bake 20 minutes, then turn muffin tin and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and check to see if muffins are done by inserting a toothpick or wooden skewer into the center of a center muffin. If the stick comes out smooth, without dough, it’s done. If not, return to the oven for another 2 minutes and check again. Watch out your muffins don’t get too brown. If you notice that happening, apply an aluminum foil tent.

Allow muffins to cool 2 minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool at least 20 minutes before you bite into one.

Yum! Finally blueberry muffins worth waiting for!

YIELD: 12 large golden muffins

 5.Patsy's Muffins

 

 

 

The photos of the blueberries in the basket and Patsy’s baked blueberry muffins by Deborah Fagan Carpenter (Baking Patsy’s Muffins for the cause!)

All other photos were provided by Patsy Brumfield

HOW TO MAKE GIARDINIERA (PICKLED VEGETABLES) by Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

cook-mugWhen I was a kid, our neighbor, Wilbur Pickett, made hot sauce on an open fire on the vacant elementary school-yard between our McComb, Mississippi, houses.

I didn’t think too much about why until years later when I made my first batch of garlicky dill pickles from garden cucumbers – and stunk up my house without the possibility of parole.

Luckily, I’d acquired a small, bottle-gas burner for football tailgating. From then on, I cooked my pickling juice out on the porch to avoid the penetrating aroma. It’s mighty good in the jar, but it’s a bit something to take into your nose when it’s steaming hot. It also infuses itself into drywall (just my opinion – not a scientific fact).

Now I know why Wilbur’s wife, Gladys, sent him to the school yard for his vinegary concoction.

This recipe for giardiniera mimics those fancy, expensive pickled veggies in the grocery, but is easy to make at home. It makes a pretty gift for friends, too. Try it.

 

GIARDINIERA

 

8.Giardiniera 

 

EQUIPMENT

  • chopping board
  • chef’s knife
  • paring knife
  • mixing bowl
  • colander
  • large non-reactive stewpot
  • large pot for blanching
  • measuring equipment
  • 6 lidded quart Mason/Ball jars
  • wooden spoon
  • slotted spoon
  • one-burner bottle-gas stove (easy to find at big-box stores or camping suppliers)

INGREDIENTS

Veggies

  • 2 bell peppers (one red, one yellow)
  • 6 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 head of cauliflower (a small bag of pre-cut cauliflower works fine too)
  • small bag of baby carrots
  • bunch of asparagus
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 6 teaspoons fresh or freeze-dried dill (enough to sprinkle a little on top of each jar)
  • 18 sprigs fresh thyme

Pickling juice

  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh or freeze-dried dill
  • head of garlic
  • 9 cups water
  • 3/4 cup coarse salt
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons fresh or freeze-dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks (I use the small ones at the heart of the stalk)
  • 3 teaspoons black peppercorns

7.Giardiniera

LET’S GET STARTED

In your dishwasher, thoroughly clean jars, lids and tops. Here are some canning 101 tips if you’ve never canned this before.

Fill large blanching pot half full with water and bring it to a boil. (Blanching means to immerse in boiling water just long enough to barely soften whatever it is. Oftentimes, the blanched veggie is then “shocked” in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. You don’t need to do that here.)

Meanwhile, wash vegetables and prepare for jars – lightly crush six garlic cloves (don’t mix them up because you need one clove per jar), thinly slice peppers, chop celery, cut cauliflower into bite-size clumps and chop off woody ends from the asparagus to a length that will fit into each jar (or cut them in half).

Into the bottom of each jar, drop a garlic clove, 2-3 thyme sprigs, sprinkle of pepper flakes and 5-6 peppercorns.

Then begin to layer or arrange carrots, bell pepper and celery into the jars. These don’t need to be blanched.

Into the boiling water, add small batches of asparagus. I count to 20 then remove them with a slotted spoon into a colander to drain. Be careful not to heat these too long or they lose their crispness. Do the same thing with the cauliflower.

When these are cool enough to handle, begin arranging them into the jars.

Continue layering/arranging the carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower and asparagus until you’ve tightly packed the jars. Sprinkle a little dill on top. Set the lid on each jar for a loose cover and set aside for the moment.

4.Giardiniera

In the non-reactive stewpot, add your pickling mixture – 1 head of garlic, 6 sprigs of thyme, 1 carrot, 2 small stalks of celery (heart pieces are good), sliced onion, water, salt, sugar, cumin, peppercorns, turmeric, cloves, bay leaves, dill and pepper flakes. Start your outside burner and place pot on top, then add vinegar. Cover and heat on medium until it’s boiling and the onions have wilted. Should take about 15-20 minutes.

5.Giardiniera

While this is cooking, place newspaper or some other covering on your outside worktop. Now move all your filled jars outside to your worktop and remove the lids. If you don’t have an outside work space, you can do this inside but it will create a pungent odor. Open as many doors and windows as you can and turn your AC on to the “fan” setting to circulate fresh air.

Once your pickling mixture has cooked, use a glass measuring cup to ladle the pickling mixture into each jar.

6.Giardiniera

Fill nearly to the top. Wipe the mouth of the jar, then seal with the lid, then softly screw on the top. Allow to cool, then tighten the screw-top.

7.Giardiniera

When jars cool, wipe the outside with a damp cloth, then move them to a countertop where they should stay for 24 hours before being refrigerated. They will be ready to eat in 7 days. They’ll “keep” well for weeks and months, although you and your company are likely to eat them all before then.

8.Giardiniera

SERVE:

Eat giardiniera like you’d eat pickles, like antipasto, atop salads or spoon in a serving bowl as an accompaniment to whatever you’re eating. Yum. Here are some more serving ideas from the New York Times.

Servings: 6 quart jars

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Difficulty: easy to medium

Photos courtesy Patsy Brumfield

TAILGATE LIKE A REAL SOUTHERNER

Rebel Football team walks through the Grove before the Arkansas game. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
       Ole Miss Football team walks through the Grove  Photo by Kevin  Bain/Ole Miss Communications

 

 TAILGATE LIKE A REAL SOUTHERNER

By Patsy R. Brumfield

The Southfacin’ Cook

 If you’ve never tailgated, you’ve missed lots of good food and fellowship.

            Tailgating can wear you out or it can be as simple as you want it to be. Acquire all kinds of tables and cloths, chairs, tents, cooking equipment and a TV/generator. Or bring a few folding chairs, a blanket and a couple of coolers. You choose.

            My tailgating experience comes from one of the South’s most beautiful (yea, may I say, THE most beautiful) setting – Ole Miss’ Grove, where tens of thousands of bleery-eyed fans enjoy themselves to the fullest before, during and after the campus gridiron matches.

            Having gone from lavish to simple, let me recommend a few recipes to be prepared in advance, then stored in hot or cold boxes (coolers?) to get you where you’re going. I also recommend acquiring at least one dolly or hand-truck, and going to the Big Box warehouse store for a couple of stainless chafing dishes with sterno heat, if you’re too fancy for the throw-away aluminum pan style. I’ve done it both ways.

So, here’s our Fall 2015 menu

If it’s a morning game, start with breakfast:

  • Sausage & Egg Breakfast Casserole
  • Cheese Grits
  • Biscuits (buy those frozen ones at the grocery store)
  • Orange juice, coffee etc.

Lunch (or dinner):

  • Red Beans & Rice
  • Garlic bread
  • Green salad
  • Sour-cream Pound Cake

As for drinks, you’re on your own. But a caring host provides plenty of bottled water.

If all else fails, call your local deli for a meat and cheese platter, then pick up an assortment of breads, condiments and plastic tableware. And don’t forget dessert, olives and pickles.

 

RECIPES

Sausage & Egg Breakfast Casserole         Serves – 6-8

(You may want to make several batches, depending on your anticipated crowd. Prepare a day before the game.)

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. ground pork sausage

6 slices bread (try a french bread loaf for variety)

Butter, softened

1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

5 eggs

2 cups Half & Half

1 teaspoon dry mustard

 

LET’S GET STARTED

Preheat oven 350.

In skillet, brown sausage into crumbles. Drain on paper towels. Spread butter on bread slices, then cut into cubes. Layer bread in 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle crumbled sausage, top with cheese. Combine rest of ingredients, beat well and pour over casserole contents. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4-6 hours.

Game day, preheat oven 350. Cook covered casserole 40 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10-15 minutes until top browns.

 

Biscuits

Make this easy: Buy those frozen ones in the big bag. Bake them at home and butter when they’re done. Bring along your favorite jams and jellies with plastic spoons to serve them. (These can be kept warm in the chafing dishes, too.)

 

Cheese Grits                          Serves- 8-10

 

2.cheesegritsINGREDIENTS GRITS:

1 cup grits (I use 5-minute. Never use instant.)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

 

REST OF IT:

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz. shredded gruyere cheese

1 stick butter or margarine

2 eggs, well beaten

1/4 cup milk

 

LET’S GET STARTED

Preheat oven to 300.

Make your grits according to the package. Here’s my advice for novices: After you pour the grits into boiling salted water, set 5 minutes on your timer and whisk about 30 seconds. Cover, reduce heat to simmer. After about 2 minutes, carefully lift the lid and whisk again because you’ll find the grits has settled to the bottom. With about 1 minute to go, do the same again. Be careful because hot-popping grits will really hurt.

When grits are done, add butter/margarine and grated cheese. (Yes, I am using the same model food processor as you see on “Golden Girls.” Thanks, Mama.) Stir to melt butter and cheese into grits.

In a cereal bowl, beat your eggs well, then add milk and beat some more.

Turn off the heat under your cheesy grits. Slowly stir small amounts of egg/milk mixture into grits. Taste to see if you want more salt. (Unlikely it needs more but they are your tastebuds.)

Pour into buttered casserole dish.

Bake 1 hour. Cover with heavy foil for traveling.


3.cheesegrits
(NOTE – I’ve never done this, but I suspect that if you poured the grits mixture onto an inch-deep, buttered baking sheet and baked for 20-30 minutes, you’d have something like polenta, which you could cut into rectangles or other shapes and serve fancy with chic omelets, barbecue or whatever.)

  • •  •

 

Red Beans & Rice                 Serves – 8-10

(This recipe started with my part-French grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial and matured in my kitchen across 40 years. Remember, you cannot make good beans without good sausage. If you don’t already have a favorite, buy small quantities at your local grocery and see what you like. Also, remember good beans must be cooked slowly. If you try to speed it up with too much heat, the beans will never get tender enough. I learned this the hard way. And always have your preferred brand of hot sauce at the ready when you serve.)

 

INGREDIENTS

BEANS

2 lb. bag dried red kidney beans

1-1.5 lbs smoked pork sausage (cut into 2-inch links)

1 small bag carrot sticks or shredded

2 large onions

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 6 teaspoons pre-minced garlic

2-3 bay leaves

Sugar

Lemon

White vinegar

Salt, pepper

RICE – 1 cup raw for about 4 servings. (I’ve started using brown rice. Cook 1 cup with 1 3/4 cup water etc. for just 30 minutes. Container directions are too watery, mushy for my tastes.)

 

LET’S GET STARTED:

Rinse beans in warm water. Pour away water. In blender, add 1 cup carrot sticks and enough water to puree them. I know this sounds weird, but trust me and Rosalie. Leave the carrot slush in the blender for now.

Heat dutch oven on a medium burner. Add sausage with 1/2 cup of water. Cover. Cook sausage about 5-7 minutes. You’re not cooking the sausage. You’re sweating out some juice to start your beans in. Remove sausage to plate.

4.redbeans.  Leave the pan juice in your dutch oven and layer bay leaves, roughly sliced onions, garlic, 1 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. The goal is to heat the bay leaves to sweat out flavor oils. Watch this and don’t let anything singe.

Feel free to stir after a couple of minutes. If it looks like it needs water, add a little. Cook this mixture 5-10 mins. Add the carrot slush from the blender, your rinsed beans and enough water to cover the beans. Remember, the beans will absorb water as they cook, so you will need to add a little water every now and then. The trick is to figure out how much is enough without being too much. We’ll talk about thickening as this gets done.

Bring your beans to a slight boil, reduce heat to simmer uncovered. Stir every 15 minutes or so but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to break the beans as they get more tender. After 20 minutes, return the sausage to the pot. Don’t add any more salt until you’ve cooked 30 minutes. Remember, sausage has salt to impart to juice. Taste the water and see what you think. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar. It’s important to taste as you go along. Bean flavor depends on good juice. Now, you’ve got a sweet-sour-salty thing going on. This balance will determine what you want it to taste like.

Continue to simmer and stir every 15 minutes. Make sure the simmer isn’t too “hard.” Does it need more water? The object is to keep the beans just barely under water.

After an hour of slow simmer, taste your beans for tenderness. You don’t want them so tender that they all fall apart. Keep testing periodically until you’re satisfied. Beans should be getting done soon. Add juice of half a lemon. Adjust other flavors as needed. Add pepper flakes now, if you like.

5.redbeans  (Time to start your rice. Put garlic bread into oven. See recipe below.)

When your beans are done, look at the consistency. Do you want it thicker? I usually do.  If so, remove 1 to 2 cups of beans, pour them into a metal bowl and use a masher or pastry cutter to mash well for your thickener. When you’re done, add mashed beans back into the pot and stir. (Some people use cornstarch to thicken. I’ve done this, too, but the reason to cook a large quantity of beans in the least amount of water is to have enough beans to use as the thickener. I think it tastes better this way.)

Taste and make final adjustments like salt, sweet/sour, if necessary. If you think it’s too sweet, a little lemon/vinegar can offset it. Reverse also is true.

Remember: Whenever you use bay leaves to flavor a recipe, retrieve them from the finished dish before you serve it. While I have never eaten a bay leaf, my mother, Betty, swore repeatedly it would kill you if you did. ‘Nuff said.

 

SERVE: Serve 3-to-1 beans to rice. Rice goes on the bottom, then beans and sausage. Another version – serve with a scoop of rice centered on top of the rice.  Serve with hot garlic bread and a green salad.

NOTE: Try to make more beans than you can eat at one sitting. They get better with a little time in the fridge (like 2-3 days).

 

Garlic Bread                 Serves – 6-8 per loaf

 

INGREDIENTS

Loaf of your favorite French bread

1/2 cup margarine or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (remember margarine has more water in it)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

4 cloves fresh garlic or 4 tsp pre-minced garlic

pinch salt

(Some folks also like to add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese to this mixture. This is very good.)

 

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven 325.

With bread knife, slice loaf down center, lengthwise (horizontally). Open bread, insides up.

In small bowl, combine softened margarine/butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic, pinch of salt (and parmesan, if you like it.)

Spread butter mix onto insides of bread. Put bread back together, and wrap well in foil. Place bottom-up on baking sheet. Heat 10 minutes. Turn top-side up and heat another 10-15 minutes. If you like your bread crunchier, peel back the foil when you turn it top-side up.

Remove from oven onto cutting board and slice across for serving in a bread basket. Cover with clean kitchen towel to help keep it warm (if it lasts that long).

  • •  •

 

Sour-cream Pound Cake       Serves – A dozen, depending how you slice it

 

6.poundcake(My father, Bob, didn’t do much cooking. Chiefly, he’s remembered for accidentally setting fire to the kitchen while trying to cook bacon and watch the World Series simultaneously. So much for multi-tasking. But the man could make a really good pound cake – dense, crusty, delicious. Where he got his recipe is unknown to me, but lately I found one very much like it in my mother’s recipe box. It was an old, brown newspaper clipping taped to a file card.

It is beyond delicious! It’s tall and just the right density, and so buttery. You will love it, and your guests will think you are the greatest baker ever.)

 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon soda

2 sticks margarine, softened (to room temp or 15 secs in microwave)

3 cups sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla (or lemon extract or both)

salt

 

LET’S GET STARTED

Preheat oven to 325.

Set mixing bowls side by side. Measure flour into one bowl. Set sifter into the other bowl, transfer flour into sifter and sift. Repeat two more times back and forth. On second sift, add soda and dash (1/2 teaspoon) of salt.

In your mixer, cream the softened margarine on medium-low speed (Use the batter beater, not the whisk one).

Slowly add 3 cups sugar and cream well until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl bottom with your spatula to ensure everything incorporates well. Add 6 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in sour cream. Lower mixer speed. (If the mixer’s on too fast, it will blow flour all over the place.) Carefully add dry ingredients 1/3 cup at a time, beating constantly. Scrape bottom with spatula again.

Stir in vanilla extract. (Just don’t over-beat the batter. I have no definition for “over-beat” – just do it long enough to incorporate everything.)

Hold your tube pan over the sink and spray it thoroughly inside, tube too, with flour-cooking spray. Pour cake mixture into it.

Bake 1 hours 15 minutes (75 minutes).

Allow to rest 10 minutes, then place large plate on top of cake pan and (with heat pads) carefully flip so that the plate is on the bottom. Carefully lift cake pan away from cake. Place another plate onto the cake’s bottom (which is facing up.) Flip cake/plates again so that your cake is now upright and ready to cool. Terrific plain, but out of this world with real whipped cream (and some berries, too).


            NOTE – This cake can be frozen, but I say just eat it! If you want to freeze it, wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil.

 

OTHER SUGGESTED TAILGATING DISHES:

  • Pulled pork BBQ with soft rolls
  • Coleslaw, preferably not mayo-based
  • Favorite pies
  • Lasagne, garlic bread, salad
  • Red or white chili, cornbread, pasta salad
  • Seafood gumbo, french bread

 

Recipes for the gumbo, lasagne and white chili can be found on my Southfacin’ Cook blog on www.newinnola.com .

Homecoming Tailgating. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
Homecoming Tailgating. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

 

Food photos provided by Patsy Brumfield

Ole Miss tailgating photos courtesy University of Mississippi Communications

How to brine a turkey for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast – Patsy Brumfield

 1.Thanksgiving Turkey2

How to brine a turkey for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast

A few years ago, I watched food guru Alton Brown propound the virtues of brining a turkey. He explained that the salt water brine changes the turkey’s cellular structure so that it holds more moisture, while seasoning the meat.

Boy, was he right! This has been my favorite way to roast a turkey ever since, and I’ve got a least one friend who insists it saved his family holiday meal. Amen, brother.

Of course, this recipe and approach can be used with other meats, especially chicken. For example, if you’d like to roast a whole, fresh chicken, half the recipe.

You also should change your perspective on how long to cook the bird. Buy yourself a meat thermometer and cook by the internal temps, not how long it’s been cooking. You’ll be amazed at how much more flavorful it will be.

 

Brining your turkey

(I have lots of Turkey Day guests, so I buy two birds – the biggest one I can find and then another, probably 16-18 pounds for leftovers. Almost nothing worse than not having enough turkey for those gorgeous sandwiches with homemade mayo, a little layer of dressing and a slather of cranberry sauce!)

EQUIPMENT – 2 large plastic garbage bags (the unscented kind), large container like my gumbo pot which will fit into your refrigerator, measuring equipment, chopping board, knife, long-handled wooden spoon.

This recipe is for a 14-16 pound whole turkey. I make only slight adjustments because my birds are bigger.

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE BRINE

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 quart vegetable stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

4 sprigs rosemary

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons garlic or 3 whole cloves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cinnamon sticks or 2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 onion, halved

2 gallons water

 

            Let’s get started

2-3 days before roasting, begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Day before your feast:

Combine the brining ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Take your plastic bags, inserting one into the other.

Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) into the plastic bags breast side down and then place the bagged turkey into the large pot, which will hold it in the fridge. Pour your brine into the turkey bag. Leave a little air in the brine bag, then twist the top tightly closed. In the alternative, without bags, weigh down the bird in a large pot to ensure it is fully immersed, cover. Refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

 

            Roasting your turkey

EQUIPMENT – Large roasting pan with metal rack on which to place the bird, aluminum foil, probe thermometer

 

INGREDIENTS (besides your thawed turkey)

1 red apple, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup water

4 sprigs rosemary

fresh thyme sprigs

1 celery stalk

vegetable oil

 

Let’s get started

Remove your turkey from the fridge in its brine an hour before you begin the following:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the bird inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. (I use this brine for my second turkey, which will go in the oven later in the day.)

Place the bird on rack of roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, celery stalk, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add those steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary, thyme. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with vegetable oil. (You won’t need salt/pepper because they’re already in your turkey meat from the brine.)

Boil water in a kettle. Before you close your oven with the turkey, pour about an inch of boiling water into your roasting pan. Try to maintain this level during the cooking. It will make the pan much easier to clean and give you some drippings to work with for gravy, if you like to do that.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 165 degrees. If the turkey breast begins to brown too much, make a tent of foil, slip it over the breast and continue baking. (I usually do this. The brown sugar in the brine almost always “darkens” the turkey skin as it roasts, so don’t be alarmed.) A 14 to 16 pound bird should require about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes

Thanksgiving

Turkey photo by CC By 4.0 — linked to www.blog.tidalcreek.coop

Holiday Dinner à la New Orleans

 

Holiday Dinner à la New Orleans

By Deborah Fagan Carpenter

christmas in nola

Christmas in New Orleans is much like celebrations of any kind in the Big Easy—scrumptious food is front and center! The unique southern city is brimming with celebrity chefs, so we decided to research what they like to serve their own families and guests for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.

Some of the recipes we’ve chosen are traditional holiday dishes, but some were just so enticing, that we couldn’t resist including them. All would be wonderful at any time of the year.

 2.Donald link gumbo from pinterest

SHRIMP AND CRAB GUMBO

GUMBO, a traditional dish, is so versatile that it can be used as a soup course for a formal meal, or a main course for any occasion. Every New Orleans chef has his or her own version, and here we present an offering from chef/owner Donald Link of Herbsaint.

 

Ingredients.

STOCK:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 gallon plus 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 8 bay leaves

ROUX:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

GUMBO:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 pound okra, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons file powder (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Salt
  • Shelled and deveined shrimp (from the stock)
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
  • Steamed rice, sliced scallions and Tabasco, for serving

 

Directions

MAKE THE STOCK: In a stockpot, heat the oil. Add the shrimp shells and cook over high heat, until starting to brown, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to stick to the pot, 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 25 minutes. Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE ROUX: In a saucepan, whisk the flour with the oil to make a paste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the roux turns golden brown, 30 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and cook, stirring, until the roux is dark brown, 10 minutes longer. Scrape the roux into a bowl and reserve.

MAKE THE GUMBO: In the stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic, onion, and celery; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add the roux and cook until bubbling. Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until no floury taste remains; skim off the fat.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the green pepper, okra, chile powder, paprika, file, oregano, thyme, cayenne and white pepper. Season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, 5 minutes. Stir in a ladleful of the liquid in the stockpot, scrape up the browned bits and transfer to the gumbo in the pot. Simmer, stirring, for 1 hour.

Add the shrimp to the pot and cook, until just white throughout, 2 minutes. Stir in the crab; season with salt.

NOTE:

File powder is made from ground, dried sassafras leaves. It is available from www.cajungrocer.com

 

3.shrimp remoulade

SHRIMP REMOULADE

 SHRIMP REMOULADE from Chef John Besh, owner of August, Besh Steak, Luke, Domenica, Johnny Sanchez, and Borgne. A typical New Orleans salad course or a light lunch with crusty French bread. This recipe is an excellent choice for entertaining because it is almost entirely prepared ahead.

Boiled Shrimp Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp each cayenne and garlic powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp each whole black peppercorns and ground coriander
  • 24 jumbo shrimp, unpeeled

Method for the Shrimp

  1. To a large pot over high heat, add the onion, garlic, lemon juice and the remaining herbs and spices. Add 1 gallon cold water and bring to a boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Take the pot off the stove and let the shrimp finish cooking off the heat until they are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Drain the shrimp and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, drain and reserve, covered in the refrigerator.
  5. About two hours before serving, peel and devein the shrimp.

Remoulade Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp each: fresh lemon juice and hot sauce
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp each: cayenne and garlic powder
  • 6 cups baby arugula, mâche, or other greens

Remoulade Method

  1. In a large bowl, stir together all of the remoulade ingredients except the arugula and set aside.

Shrimp Remoulade Assembly

  1. 1-2 hours before serving, toss the shrimp with the remoulade sauce. Let the shrimp marinate, covered and refrigerated.
  2. Serve the shrimp over the greens.

 

4.pork loin

PORK LOIN WITH DRIED FRUIT AND ORANGE CIDER SAUCE

Chef Emeril Lagasse of Emeril’s New Orleans, Emeril’s Delmonico and NOLA serves his guests this simple but impressive pork loin with a silky sauce and plumped dried fruit. It works well as a holiday meal or as a family weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • One 3-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed and tied
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed lightly and peeled
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups 1⁄4-inch sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3⁄4 cup dried apricots
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cherries
  • 1⁄4 cup golden raisins
  • 1⁄4 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Mashed sweet potatoes, for serving

Directions

  • Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of the kosher salt in a small bowl and stir together to mix well. Set aside.
  • With a small knife, make twelve 1 1⁄2-inch-deep, evenly spaced slits around the outside of the pork loin. Cut 6 of the garlic cloves in half lengthwise and insert 1⁄2 clove into each slit. Rub the pork on all sides with the seasoning mixture.
  • In a 12-inch sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pork loin and cook each side until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the crock of a 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Add the remaining 2 smashed garlic cloves, the onion, and thyme to the same pan and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Surround the pork with the dried fruit. Top with the onion, then add the remaining teaspoon salt, the orange juice, and vinegar. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F, 2 1⁄2 to 2 3 ⁄4 hours.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker, transfer to a cutting board, and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Gently stir the butter into the hot sauce. Remove the twine from the roast and slice the pork. Arrange on a serving platter and top with the sauce and plumped fruit.

 

5.BACON AND LEEK SOUFFLE

BACON AND LEEK SOUFFLÉ

Another offering by Chef Emeril, a Bacon and Leek Soufflé, could be used as a side dish with a simple roasted meat or it could stand on its own as a main dish for lunch or dinner, served with a salad and crusty French bread.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup leeks, white parts only, washed, chopped (about 1 large leek)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 6 ounces bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

 

  • Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Butter a 6-cup soufflé or straight sided baking dish with 1 tablespon of the butter. Dust the interior of the dish with the Parmesan and knock out the excess.

In a medium-size sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoons of butter over low heat, and gently cook the leeks until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool when done.

  • To prepare the soufflé base, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-size sauce pan. Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to foam. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the hot milk. Simmer the mixture over medium heat until it becomes thick, about 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the salt, cayenne, and nutmeg; slowly add the egg yolks one by one. Set aside.

In a stainless steel or copper bowl, slowly begin to whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer on medium low speed. Once the egg whites are frothy, add the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt and increase the speed of the mixer to medium and then to medium high. Beat the whites until stiff and they form shiny peaks being careful not to overbeat them.

Add the leeks, half of the Gruyere and the bacon to the soufflé base along with 1/4 of the egg whites and mix well. Delicately fold the remaining whites along with the remaining cheese into the base, being careful not to overmix. It is fine to have some unblended whites.

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish and set in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375º F. Bake until the soufflé has puffed and is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately.

 

6.poached pear and brwon butter tart

POACHED PEAR AND BROWN BUTTER TART

Chef John Besh loves using winter fruits in desserts and salads. This Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart is one of his favorites, and it’s the perfect finish to a holiday dinner.

Ingredients

crust

  • Vegetable oil spray, such as canola
  • 13/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 4 tablespoons of ice water

pears

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups semidry white wine, such as Riesling
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 sage leaf
  • 4 whole cloves
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 4 Bosc pears—peeled, quartered and cored

filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar and salt and pulse once or twice until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Lift the lid and sprinkle with the egg- yolk mixture. Pulse 5 or 6 times, until the dough is crumbly.
  2. Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust. Use a flat-bottomed glass dipped in flour to tamp it down. Bake the crust in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until it is golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
  3. In a large saucepan, combine the water with the wine, sugar, sage, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the quartered pears. Cover with a large sheet of parchment paper and a lid slightly smaller than the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until the pears are just softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached pears to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool slightly. Cut each wedge in half lengthwise.
  4. In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes; pour browned butter into a small cup. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla seeds, orange zest and salt. Add the flour and beat at low speed until smooth. Add the brown butter and beat the filling at low speed until incorporated.
  5. Pour the filling into the baked crust. Arrange all but 3 of the pear wedges on the custard in a slightly overlapping circle, with the narrow ends pointing toward the center. Trim the remaining 3 pear wedges and arrange them neatly in the center. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard is golden and set. Let the pear tart cool completely before serving.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The finished pear tart can be stored in an airtight container overnight at room temperature.

 

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, filled with friends, family and memorable, delicious banquets. Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Streetcar photo in New Orleans is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.nola.com

All other photos were pulled from www.pinterest.com

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SANTA! Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SANTA!

By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

1.patsy

Every region has its historic recipes, but we Southerners boast of some pretty good stuff coming out of our kitchens. Many of us are fortunate to have great recipes handed down across generations. One of them is Aunt Tonnie’s Tea Cakes – the most delicious sugar cookies (with sour cream) ever. The recipe makes a ton, so be prepared to spend an afternoon in the kitchen. I don’t like to bake multiple sheets at a time because it gets too crazy getting them quickly onto cooling racks. A Santa favorite, for sure! Enjoy.

AUNT TONNIE’S TEA CAKES

 

2

 

EQUIPMENT – 2-3 baking sheets, parchment paper, metal spatula, mixer, 2 mixing bowls, large cereal bowl, measuring equipment, whisk, rubber spatula, large cooling rack.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups granulated suga

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks)

1 cup sour cream

5 eggs, beaten

2 Tablespoons vanilla

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven 325. Cover each baking sheets with parchment paper.

In mixer, thoroughly cream butter and sugar. In cereal bowl, beat eggs then beat in sour cream. Add egg-cream mixture to butter-sugar in mixer. Combine well, add vanilla.

 

 

3.mixing

While butter and sugar are creaming, in separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. If you don’t have a sifter, just whisk it thoroughly to make sure everything’s well distributed and you’ve put some air into the mixture. Slowly (1/3 at a time) add it to your wet ingredients in the mixer. Combine well, but don’t overdo it.

Use 2 teaspoons to drop about ½ teaspoon of dough onto baking sheets per cookie. Leave about 2 inches between. Bake about 15 minutes watching closely to remove when you see golden edges and tops. Don’t be too anxious to take them out – let them get golden. Using a stiff spatula, quickly remove each cookie onto the cooling rack. As for your real cooking time, try your first batch and adjust if necessary.

 

 

4.just before

Between batches, keep the dough in the refrigerator. When one batch has been in the oven about 5 minutes, drop another dozen or so to get ready for the oven. When you’ve finished removing baked cookies to the rack, you’ve given the oven a quick recovery, so go ahead with the filled baking sheet.

5.tea cookies_edited-1

 

These cookies keep great in the freezer, which is where my Aunt Tonnie kept them in tins when we came visiting her River Road home in Greenwood, MS every summer. (Aunt Tonnie was really Mrs. Katie Walt Scales, who was sort of adopted by my grandmother as her aunt because they had mutual friends. I met many a cute guitar-playing guy during those idyllic 1960s summers. Only the cookies remain, but I think perhaps they were the better outcome.)

 

 

A Southern New Year’s Day Table by Joe Goodell

A Southern New Year’s Day Table

by Joe Goodell

1.hoppin john

Prescribed by Southern tradition, and recommended for good luck throughout the year, the dinner of choice for New Year’s Day is built around an entrée of Hoppin’ John. Notions for origins of this name abound, although the French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons,” is most probable.

This delectable blend of black-eyed peas and long-grained brown rice is served in bowls, piping hot, flavored by pork and garnished with bacon. Alongside will be a plate of ribs, sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs and greens.

The “good luck” part is guaranteed by the greens, whose leaves look like money and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The greens are most likely collard or turnip—with the turnips diced in, or mustard—grown and enjoyed throughout the South. They are pot simmered for hours, with browning pork, onion, garlic, a whole pecan and other seasonings to taste, then served with hot pepper sauce and vinegar added to the plate.

2.the southernc

To the side will be an ample slice of corn bread, unspeakably rich in flavor, crunchy in texture. (Oh, the poor little boy or girl who has never melted a lump of butter onto that hot slice of Mama’s cornpone). In many homes it is customary to leave three peas in the bowl for assurance that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance.

In soothing conclusion, a dessert of pecan pie and coffee, strong, hot and gratifying will round out the perfect Southern New Year’s Day table.

3.pecan pie

Happy New Yearfrom Joe Goodell!!

 

Hoppin’ John photo is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.foodista.com

Pecan pie photo is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.Epicurus.com

A Southern New Year photo is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.thesouthernc.com

Make a King Cake like a New Orleanian!

Make a King Cake like a New Orleanian!

By Southfacin’ Cook

Patsy Brumfield

 

 

 PHOTO.NEW.PATSYsized for porchscene

What better way tosay/eat Mardi Gras than with a home-baked King Cake, that delicate pastry with the purple, gold and green sprinkled icing. Some folks fill it with a sweet creamcheese or cherry-piefilling or crawfish, but this one’s the traditional KC from New Orleans favorite chef (well, mine) John Besh.

KING CAKE

EQUIPMENT – 2 mixing bowls (one large), dough scraper, measuring equipment, thermometer, 3-4 ramekins, 2 cereal bowls, microplane, juicer, rubber spatula, large baking sheet (mine’s square), parchment paper, 2 spatulas, serving platter

2.King Cake ingredients

Serves 10-12

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dry yeast (1 pkg)

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup melted butter

5 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Several gratings of fresh nutmeg

 

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup condensed milk

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars*

1 fève (fava bean/red bean) or plastic baby to hide in the cake after baking

For the icing, change the previous recipe to show:

LET’S GET STARTED

  1. For the cake, pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
  2. Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a second mixing bowl, combine remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula.

3.collage

 

  1. After the dough comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  2. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free place to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough between your palms into a long strip, making 3 ropes of equal length. Braid the 3 ropes around one another and then form the braided loaf into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the braided dough on a nonstick cookie sheet and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.

4.braiding

  1. Once it’s doubled in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

5.bake braid     6.glazing

ICING

  1. For the icing, while the cake is cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more condensed milk; if it’s a touch too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.
  2. Once the cake has cooled, tuck the bean or plastic baby into the underside of the cake. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold decorative sugars while the icing is still wet. Using a spatula(s), slide the cake onto a platter.

different cake

* What if your grocer doesn’t have the right color sugar-sprinkles?

Apparently, I will dream up anything in a pinch. Couldn’t find purple sprinkles, so I came home, pulled out the food coloring. Heat your oven to about 170. In a small ramekin I mixed up what the packing said would make “grape.” It looked weird, but I went ahead – what’s a 1/2-cup of raw sugar if it didn’t work? I poured the ½ teaspoon or so of color into the sugar, quickly mixed it, then into a parchment-paper lined pie pan, I spread out the purple sugar. After it had “dried” in the oven for about 30 minutes, it was ready for the top of my King Cake along with the green and yellow (no gold in town, but maybe I’ll try a little red coloring on the yellow to make a brighter tone). If your color/baked sugar come out of the oven a little stuck together, just let it cool and break it apart. Simple.

 

Photos provided by Patsy Brumfield

Gingerbread Men—for the fun of it! By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

Gingerbread Men—

for the fun of it!

PHOTO.NEW.PATSYsized for porchscene

By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

Years ago, my mother got a yen for English afternoon tea and was given a cookbook with recipes for scones, gingerbread, biscuits etc., which you’d expect to serve for such an occasion.

1.afternoon tea

Recently, my sister gave me an adorable cookie cutter in the shape of a tiny man – perfect for classic gingerbread. So, that’s what I did in anticipation that my grandson, James, would love them. Of course, he will have no idea what they are but he’ll surely like the taste.

Here’s how it goes, from “The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea” by Angela Hynes. Inside its cover, the book gets more nostalgic with Christmas 1990 childhood signatures from my kids to my mother.

If you don’t fancy GB men, find cute seasonable cookie cutters and make some fun anyway!

 

GINGERBREAD MEN

Equipment: Mixing bowl, small saucepan, 2 large baking sheets, rubber spatula, metal spatula, rolling pin, measuring equipment, plastic wrap, cookie cutters, wire cooling racks.

 

INGREDIENTS

2.ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground gingerbread

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ cup molasses

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening

1 tablespoon milk

 

LET’S GET STARTED!

3. recipe

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves into a medium-size bowl; set aside.

In a small saucepan, whisk together molasses, sugar, shortening and milk. Bring to a boil and remove immediately from heat.

Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, then pour in molasses mixture. Stir into a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate an hour.

4.cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 375. Grease baking sheets; set aside. Turn out dough and cut in half. Place half onto a very lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin (I use a glass), roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Cut out cookies and place on baking sheet.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until cookies are deep brown. Move to cooling racks. Makes about 15 standard gingerbread men or a couple of dozen smaller cookies. (My tiny cutter made about 60 men!)

5.gingerbread men

NOTE: If you want to ice them with faces and buttons, use the icing recipe on the packaging for powdered sugar. Or mix powdered sugar and condensed milk to an icing consistency. I used a toothpick to “paint” eyes, smiles and buttons on the gingerbread men. Kind of tedious, but the result was good enough for kids.

 

Photos by Patsy Brumfield except header photo, which is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to supervalu.ie

SPRING QUICHE by Southfacin’ Cook

SPRING QUICHE

By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

PHOTO.NEW.PATSYsized for porchscene

Quiche is one of the easiest, cheapest, most adaptable go-to meals ever. After its simple base, you just go with what you like in the fridge or freezer or pantry, within reason. Remember, though, that fresh ingredients like onions and mushrooms, as well as raw meats, should be sautéed before incorporating to ensure they are fully cooked and at their tastiest.

In celebration of spring’s arrival, I’m using frozen spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, red bell peppers, green onions and English peas.

 

UTENSILS:

Mixing bowl, whisk, fork, ladle, micro plane, chopping board, chef’s knife, cereal bowls for chopped ingredients, baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

2.Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

Deep dish frozen pie crust

6 eggs

8 oz. shredded cheese (Use several favorites, like cheddar and Monterrey Jack, or Swiss and Gouda)

2/3 C milk/cream/half-and-half

1/4 C Greek yogurt

salt, pepper (I like a pinch of cayenne, too)

1/4 t grated nutmeg

olive oil

Chopped veggies – about 1/2 cup each: mushrooms, English peas, frozen or roughly chopped fresh spinach, red bell peppers, green onions

(Other ingredient choices – sautéed onions, shrimp, crabmeat, ham, bacon, shredded chicken, ripe olives, artichokes, broccoli, and fresh herbs (you get my drift.). Thinly sliced tomatoes are good, no cooking, just remove the seeds because they have a lot of water in them.)

3.veg mix

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven 350. Take fork and repeatedly pierce bottom of nearly thawed pie crust in its pan. (Generally, this is to prevent the bottom from rising up. If it does just a little, don’t worry about it.) Place crust-pan on baking sheet, bake 10 mins. Remove from oven and sprinkle half of shredded cheese on bottom of crust.

If you have chosen ingredients that need sautéing (which means to mostly cook them), add a little olive oil to your sauté pan and do that while the crust-pan is baking. In this version, I’ll sauté chopped mushrooms and asparagus stems.

In medium-size mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk/cream, yogurt, pinch salt, pepper. Micro plane nutmeg into mixture. Whisk well.

Layer chopped veggies atop melted cheese into pie-shell. Top with half of remaining cheese.

Ladle egg mixture into stuffed pie crust.

Top with rest of grated cheese. (Careful sliding pie on baking sheet into the oven. Don’t want filling to “slop” around.) Bake 30 mins. Check to see if middle doesn’t “quiver” when you shake baking sheet slightly. If it does, cook another 10-15 mins. It should have puffed up nicely with a golden top, though it’s likely to deflate slightly by the time it’s cool enough to eat.

Cool a few minutes (5-10) before cutting into wedges. You might sprinkle a little paprika over the top for color and slight flavor.

4.ready for oven

SERVE – Plate quiche wedge alone or with favorite sides (could be veggies like asparagus, roasted squash or sweet potatoes, or bacon or ham) and a green salad. How good and easy is this? Answer: Very and very. Leftovers aren’t quite as good as the original, but cold or briefly microwaved, they still beat fast food.

ready to eat

KLUG’S AWAKENING

FLASH FICTION

KLUG’S AWAKENING

 

By Tom Lawrence

caveman

Klug stood in the opening of his cave, and stared at the stack of smoldering wood he had covered with muddy dirt just before sundown last night. There were still wisps of blue smoke coming from a hole near the top of the stack. Klug was comfortable with the aroma of burning wood. Fire had been the only thing that made it possible to live here in the hills of what would one day be called Tennessee.

There was something strange about the smell of this smoke, something more acrid and bitter. Klug shrugged it off, figuring it was probably caused by something in the dirt. Later that day, he kicked some of the dirt off the pile, and was surprised to find black hunks of what appeared to be wood ashes. He picked up a piece and found that while it looked like wood, even had the same grain as wood, it was almost half the weight of wood.

He gathered a pile of the new material and put it near his fire pit in the cave. He wasn’t sure why he saved it, but he did. Klug was a member of a small band whose members had been following the retreating ice caps for thousands of years. They were frightened by the loss of ice, and tried to stay as close to the caps as possible. They understood this icy environment, and feared global warming, much like their ancestors would 12,000 years later.

Klug and his mate had lived in the family cave, just as his forefathers before him. In the short summer months they gathered edible plants, and all winter they lived on meat killed by Klug and his buddies. A couple of days before, Klug had managed to kill a large hairy boar, and his family had been sticking pieces on sticks and holding them in the fire. The burned meat was bitter and tough, but it kept starvation at bay.

As the winter sun sank below the river bluffs, Klug began to set up his night time cooking fire. He piled a small bunch of twigs and moss, took a burning ember from the main fire, and lit the little pile. He tossed on twigs and small sticks until the flames were flickering off the cave walls. He looked at the fire and thought, “Oh what the hell,” and tossed all of the charred wood he had salvaged onto the flame. A strange thing happened. Rather than burning away like wood, the stuff got very hot, and soon Klug had a glowing bed of coals in his fire ring. He noticed that the strange stuff burned much hotter than a bed of wood coals, but he went over to the boar’s carcass anyway, and sliced off a large section of ribs.

The fire was much too hot to hold the slab of ribs with a stick, so Klug piled his firestones a little higher and balanced the rib rack above the fire. Soon the cave was filled with the aroma of grilling pork. Klug carefully turned the ribs when the first side was done. When both sides were ready, he removed the slab and cut off a single rib and took a small bite.

Not only did Klug’s life change that day autumn day, but likewise, would the entire course of mankind. Klug and his little family soon stopped chasing the receding ice cap, and decided to plant some grass seeds down by the creek. Soon their whole standard of living began to improve, and all of it could be attributed to the magical properties of what is now a Memphis tradition–and hands down, the best in the world–barbecued pork ribs.

 pork ribs

 

This piece first appeared on www.tomlawrenceblog.com

 

Fire image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to jknewspoint.com

The illustration is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.pixaby.com

Barbequed ribs image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked toen.wikipedia.org

 

How to Make Classic Banana Pudding Like a True Southerner

How to make Classic Banana Pudding like a true Southerner

By Southfacin’ Cook Patsy Brumfield

PHOTO.NEW.PATSYsized for porchscene

 

This is one of the most nostalgic desserts ever. Don’t kid yourself that the yellow powder in the box will do – it won’t, once you’ve tasted this. Sure, it takes a little longer. But damn!, my fussy grandmother Rosalie Dial would have said: This stuff is bowl-licking good!

EQUIPMENT – Mixing bowls, cereal bowl, whisks, heat-proof rubber spatula, measuring equipment, large heavy saucepan or medium-size dutch oven, paring knife, ladle, plastic wrap, 9×12 casserole dish (I’m using the 9-inch round Corningware casserole with a glass top because I can get at least 3 layers of bananas and wafers, but it takes longer to cool than the flatter casserole dish.)

INGREDIENTS

Pudding:

6 large egg yolks

4 cups whole milk

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

¾ cup granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small bits

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Box or bag of vanilla wafers

3-4 bananas, cut into ¼-inch thick slices

PUDDING3

Topping:

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

First, put one mixing bowl into the freezer. It’s easier to whip cream with a cold bowl.

Make the filling: Separate eggs, yolks into mixing bowl and whites in a cereal bowl. I use my hand to let the white slide through and hold onto the yolk. It’s sticky but easy. (Freeze those whites for later, maybe a great omelet. Mark the plastic bag to show how many whites you’ve got in there.) Add ½ cup milk to the yolks and whisk thoroughly. Add sugars, cornstarch and salt. Whisk well.

In your heavy saucepan or dutch oven, add remaining 3 ½ cups milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat – whisking often until it gets hot, then constantly until you see you’ve got a frothy steaming pot going. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Into your egg/sugar bowl mixture, slowly whisk in the hot milk (¼ cup at a time. You do not want to “cook” the eggs. This is what’s called “tempering” the eggs.) Pour milk/egg mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with spatula until bubbles rise and the mixture has thickened after about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Let the pudding cool 15-20 minutes. (I like to put the saucepan in the sink, then carefully add cold water into the sink – not the pudding pan. Be sure you don’t splash water into the saucepan. Ugh.)

Layering the pudding: In your casserole dish, add a layer of wafers (don’t forget wafers standing on the sides), topped with banana slices and slowly ladle the pudding about a third of the way up the dish (or at least to cover the bananas). Repeat wafers, bananas and pudding until you’ve filled the dish. (I usually get 3-4 layers in the Corningware dish, but it takes longer to cool than a flat 9×12 casserole. Keep that in mind.) When you’ve poured the last, top layer of pudding, cover it with plastic wrap and press the wrap softly against the pudding. This will prevent a “film” from forming on top, although I’m not so sure the pudding-eater will care.

Refrigerate at least 4-5 hours.

Whipped cream: Take the cold bowl out of the freezer, add heavy cream and whip into stiff peaks with a standing mixer (whisk attachment) or hand mixer. When the cream starts to firm up, add 1 tablespoon sugar. When your pudding is firm and cool, take out your cold bowl and whip the cream. Add sugar when it starts to firm up. Then top individual servings. If you top the pudding in the fridge, the cream will collapse a bit before serving, so wait until the end to dollop on the whipped cream.

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