Archive for the ‘Southern’ Category

Aunt Anna’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese

March 28, 2011

I had a great-aunt who made amazing macaroni and cheese.  Well, honestly, everything she made was amazing.  This recipe is based on a discussion I had with her when I was about 12 years old, and I’ve included aspects of that discussion every time I’ve made macaroni and cheese since.

Prepped for the Oven

Ingredients:

24-32 oz elbow macaroni

16 tbls butter (2 sticks)

16 tbls flour, all purpose

6 cups hot milk

6 tablespoons sweet paprika (not hot, not smoked)

6 tablespoons Black pepper,

salt to taste

4 tablespoons dry mustard

8 ounces sharp aged cheddar

8 ounces gruyere cheese

4 ounces shredded romano cheese

2 15 ounce containers of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

Breadcrumbs

2 Dishes full

Directions:

Cook macaroni in salted boiling water for 8 minutes, or until al dente.  You want it slightly undercooked.  Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and whisk in the flour to make a roué.  Heat the milk in the microwave.  Stir in the hot milk and whisk constantly until thick, seasoning with pepper and salt.

Grate the cheese and add 3/4s of the cheddar and romano to the sauce, stirring slowly over low heat until absorbed by the sauce.  Remove from heat.

Combine the ricotta, the eggs, the dry mustard, and the paprika.

Add the macaroni to a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the cheese sauce.  Add the ricotta mixture and combine thoroughly.  Spoon all this into a large casserole dish; cover with breadcrumbs; and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Ready to Serve

This recipe filled 2 9’x13’ casserole dishes, as you can see.

Ruby Myrick’s Low Country Quail Stew

March 13, 2011

“Stew” is a relative term.  In this case, it refers back to the Southern Coastal Oyster stew.  In fact, if you substitute oysters for the quail, you pretty much have the same dish.  This is not a thick stew, it is a light, rich soup with minimal ingredients.

Quail Stew

I got this recipe two weeks ago when we went quail hunting at Pine Lake Plantation in Carthage, NC.  The hunt was a present from my father, and we had a great time in addition to getting a lot of quail.  In fact, we’re going again soon.  The Myricks are great folks, and Mrs. Ruby Myrick graciously told me her recipe:

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

4 quail

1 quart water, plus

salt & pepper

celery

fresh parsley

3 tbls butter

2 cups half and half, or cream

2 tablespoons manzanilla sherry (optional)

1 small to medium potato, in 1/4 in. chunks (I added this)

Procedure:

Add the four quail to a large non-reactive pot with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Sear.  Remove the quail, and add 1 quart of water.  Scrape the fond off the bottom into the water.  Put the quail back in, and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, just until the quail are cooked.  Remove the quail from the liquid and set aside.

Quail on a plate

To the pot of liquid, add 1/4 cup of fresh celery, or celery leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried celery or celery seed.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Add up to 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley.  Chop a small potato into 1/4″ cubes, and add to the liquid (optional).

Simmer for 45 minutes.  In the meantime, remove the quail meat from the bones and chop it into even pieces.

30 minutes before you want to serve dinner, add the quail meat and the half & half.  Bring the heat up, but Do Not boil the broth & milk mixture.  You want it steaming, but not boiling, and you may have to nurse it, stirring constantly but gently.  With 10 minutes left, add the sherry, stirring gently.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter into the bottom of each serving bowl, and serve the quail stew over it.  I recommend crackers, croutons, or garlic bread.

It was delicious.

Valentine’s Day, post-action report

February 27, 2011

For Valentine’s Day I made dinner for the two of us.  The menu was as follows:

 

Grongnet Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, NV

1st Plate

Shrimp Cocktail

Main Plate

Chicken Cordon Bleu

(with Gruyere and Country Ham)

Asparagus with Béarnaise Sauce

Cheese Soufflé

Dessert

Chocolate Cake

Lemon Mist Cake

 

The desserts came from our local (but famous) store, A Southern Season.  The champagne I learned about from my best local wine folks, currently at 3Cups.  The shrimp were caught off the coast of NC and/or southern VA.  The chicken is from a local farm, just up the road.  The country ham is from A.B. Vannoy Hams, right here in NC and some of the best country ham you can get in this day and age.

The cheese soufflé is something I’ve been making for 30 years and I’ve always followed Julia Child’s recipe.  Ditto the béarnaise sauce.

 

Bearnaise sauce

I learned how to make my version of chicken cordon bleu from a chef in a Baltimore Maryland establishment in the 1980s.  The major things to note are:

 

1)      After pounding out the chicken breast, soak it in buttermilk for a bit, then dip both sides in the flour / breadcrumbs / cornmeal seasoning.  I use black pepper, salt, and lots of sweet paprika in the seasoning.

 

Prepped chicken

2)      Then layer on the thinly sliced gruyere cheese (go ahead and get a good cave-aged one, you’re not going to use a lot of it anyway), then the razor-thin country ham.  Roll it up and pin with toothpicks.

 

3)      Bake (yes, bake) in the oven on a bed of the rest of the seasoning mix and a little oil.

We had a grand old time for dinner, and just wanted to share our fun menu with you.  A few of the cooking process pictures I shot didn’t come out, and we plain just forgot when I pulled the souffle out of the oven and we immediately sat down to eat.

Southern Fried Duck Breasts

January 30, 2011

These are pan fried duck breasts with a mushroom tarragon cream sauce.

Ingredients:

 

4 duck breasts

 

Peanut oil

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

White wine

Garlic, crushed

 

Salt, pepper, paprika, tarragon

All purpose Flour

 

Mushrooms

½ Large Onion, sweet

Butter

Garlic, sliced

 

White wine vinegar

White wine

Sherry, dry

½-1 cup cream

 

Procedure:

Marinate the duck breasts for 4-8 hours ahead of time in olive oil, peanut oil, red wine vinegar, white wine, and crushed garlic.

Combine a dredging mix of flour, salt, pepper, paprika (sweet), and tarragon.  Be liberal with the herbs and spices.

Finely chop the onion, then sweat the onion, 3-5 sliced garlic cloves, and the mushrooms at low heat in a covered skillet for 10-12 minutes, with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add salt, pepper, and lots of tarragon.  Turn the heat up at the end of this period, and caramelize the onions.  Scrap this mixture from the pan and set aside, but don’t clean the pan.

Add peanut oil (I used refined and a few dashes of unrefined) to the skillet and turn on medium high heat.  The oil should come up to about 1/3rd, but less than ½ the height of the duck breasts.

Dredge the duck breasts through the flour mix, coating them thoroughly, and lay into the hot oil.  Brown 6-8 minutes on each side, then remove from the oil and place into an oven pan in a 350 degree oven while you finish the rest.

Pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of oil, scraping out any large amounts of flour coating that remain.  Deglaze the pan with white wine and a little white wine vinegar, add a couple tablespoons of butter, and add the onion/mushroom/garlic mixture back in.  Pour in the cream and the sherry; bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer.  Taste and season, adding more herbs or spices as desired.  Reduce to desired thickness.

I plated the duck breasts, slicing off a few thin slices to lay by the rest.  We had mashed potatoes and baby butter beans.  I ladled the mushroom tarragon cream sauce over the duck breast (ok, AND the mashed potatoes).

 

Venison Roast

December 21, 2010

A lot of people I know only really eat the loin of the deer as a “piece of meat”.  The rest is either discarded or made into sausage, jerky, or dog food.  But there are ways to cook this lean red meat that lend themselves to the more modern American palette.

Over Thanksgiving my Uncle gave me a whole deer haunch, which we promptly transferred to our freezer.  And yesterday I cooked it, and was rewarded with murmurs of pleasure from my spouse and my son.

So here is a my crock pot venison roast recipe (technically what I was given was a ham I guess, but this should work for any roast of venison).

 

Brine the venison overnight, adding a cup of salt per two gallons of water.  Rinse with water afterward.

Trim the meat.  You really must remove any traces of blue-white membrance.  Large pieces of venison likely have the membrane running down through the meat in a couple of places as well as being on the outside.  Don’t hesitate to cut the meat into large chunks in order to get at it.  Basically I trimmed away anything that wasn’t hard white fat, and I didn’t worry about trimming away some meat while I got everything.

I ended up with 8-12 chunks of meat roughly the size of my fist, and tossed them into the crock pot.

To this I added:

1/2 bottle of hard cider (I used Scrumpy’s)

3-6 tablespoons black pepper

1/4 cup of red wine

1 cup of chicken broth/stock

1 coarsely sliced onion

2 tsps dried thyme

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons worchester sauce

The level of the liquid was almost, but not quite enough to immerse the meat.

Turn the crockpot on low and walk away for 9-10 hours

 

The result was flavorful, clearly venison, fork-tender, and yummy.  I roasted some potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash and heated up some of our home-canned green beans, and dinner was served.

Weekly Update, December 12

December 12, 2010

Not a lot to report here.  The leaf mulch is on the garlic, it has been cold and wet, and we haven’t harvested anything this past week.

I’m not inspired to post of the recipes on this week’s menu that haven’t already been posted.

I will however, toss out a couple notes and links regarding country ham.  At one point or another I have personally tried the 1st 5 links to ham, and I like them all.

http://surryfarms.com/

http://www.edwardsvaham.com/

http://site.abvannoyhams.com/

https://bentonshams.com/order/index.php

http://www.countrycuredhams.com/

 

Articles:

http://virginiatraditions.com/assets/news/document/G_GDec2010.pdf

http://www.ediblecommunities.com/piedmont/pages/articles/fall08/ronniesCountryStore.pdf

 

I wish these people did country ham:

http://www.fudgepork.com/

 

I don’t like smoked country ham, it always seems like it is “too much” to me.  But then again, I’m not much of a fan of anything with a strong smoked flavor.  If you’re reading this, and are not in the US, country ham is most similar to a salty proscuitto.

I will go ahead and relink to my red-eye gravy post.  I noticed however, that when I was making it today, that I left something out in that recipe, which I’ll go back and edit in; I add a few shakes of black pepper to it.

Chicken Divan

December 5, 2010

Chicken Divan a la Gus and Julia:

If you look at a google list of chicken divan recipes on the internet, you get some sad and silly results.  Some of the top recipes posted by “famous” chefs use canned soups and other processed ingredients.  When it is so easy to make from scratch, why would TV chefs use such things in a “recipe”.  Campbells posted their recipe before them and it is gonna be just as good, so why bother?

On the other hand, if you want a good from scratch chicken divan recipe made in consultation with a) one of my favorite southern cooks (my aunt), and b) Julia Child, you’ve come to the right place.

Ingredients:

2 whole chicken breasts

2 heads of broccoli

12-16 oz spaghetti

8 oz gruyere cheese

8 oz medium cheddar (or mild hoop cheese)

1 stick unsalted butter

4 cups whole milk

Flour

Salt, Pepper, Cayenne pepper

Breadcrumbs or crumbled corn flakes

Pimento strips

Chicken. Cut 2 whole chicken breasts into long narrow strips and brown in the pan with 1 tbls butter.  Remove from heat.

Broccoli.  Blanch 1-2 heads of broccoli for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and rinse in cold water.

Spaghetti. Boil 12 oz of spaghetti.  Remove from heat, rinse in cold water and drain.

The Sauce.

4 tbs butter, 6 tbs flour.

Grate the cheese and set to one side.

Heat 4 cups of whole milk and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil (you can microwave this).

In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Blend in the flour and cook slowly, stirring, until the butter and flour froth for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the hot milk all at once.  Beat hard with a whisk and blend until fine.

Set over medium high heat and stir until it comes back to a boil, boil for 1 minute.

Beat in ¼ to ½ cup of cheese:  half medium cheddar and half gruyere, grated.  Beat until melted and blended.

Remove from heat, add 1 tbls pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cayenne.  Taste and adjust.

Casserole. In a casserole dish, spread the broccoli spears, spaghetti, and chicken in layers (in that order).  Cover with remaining cheese.  Pour the cheese sauce.  Top with a thin layer of the breadcrumbs and the pimento strips.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and melted (everything is already cooked).

The Thanksgiving Post

November 28, 2010

The Thanksgiving Post:

 

Gobble Gobble

 

Friday:

I got up this morning, the Friday after thanksgiving.  This week the leaves all fell in about three days, after one of the most remarkable fall color spectacles we’ve had in a few years.  It was so sudden and so complete, that it reminded me of cherry blossom time in the spring.

Right now, the rain is attempting to account for a few more leaves that have clung to their branches, little flags of glory waving just a little bit longer.

The fresh herbs I’ll be using to cook our “day after” thanksgiving dinner are being washed by the rain.  And the sound of the rain on the gutters and the windows is a gentle background rhythm to my typing.

We visit my Uncle’s house in Raleigh on Thanksgiving, a tradition that has existed since they took over the even more ancient habit of visiting my grandmother, and instead started having my grandmother come to them, along with the rest of us.  It is one of those markers of continuity in my life, if I get to go to my Uncle’s house on Thanksgiving and I get to hear “Alice’s Restaurant”, the life is good.  Not being able to do things like that would indicate to me that something was dreadfully awry.

So after a “thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat”, we drove over to my father’s house, where he and my step mom were entertaining more of our extended family this year; and we had *another* ‘thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat”.  My father was cooking the turkey in an iron dutch-oven thing over a gas burner on the back patio, and I spent much of my time there sitting with him in quiet conversation that reminds me how much I value him.  Oh, and drinking French 75s with St. Germain is fun too!

Among other things served at these meals, we had oyster casseroles, buttery smooth salty country ham, rolls, gravy, turkeys, butter beans, green beans, creamed sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing (stuffing, just not in the bird), coconut cake, chocolate chess pie, sweet potato pie, whiskey-fig cake, pumpkin-pecan bars, and other delicious delights.  Charles Dickens is the only person I’ve read that manages to make long lists of so much food that it makes you both salivate and feel slightly ill at the same time.  But when I get to recounting our family Southern repasts, it frequently reminds me of him.

And today, well today we do it again.  We’re only cooking for here at home today, (and vanilla rum cakes with brown-sugar rum glaze to take tomorrow), but it’s still a thanksgiving meal all over again.  We have the turkey, the cheese pudding, the dressing, the mashed potatoes, and a few other items, and I plan to be toiling in the kitchen throughout the day.  I’ll be trying to remember to shoot a couple pictures, and then we’ll post a few recipes, notes, and tips herein, in case any of this is attractive to you.

 

Rum cakes with rum glaze

 

Saturday:

Today we got up, and with food in hand, headed off to another of my Uncles, where we were meeting up with the 30+ members on that side of the family in order to celebrate our being able to all get together again.  In this day and age, that is not so small a thing.

We had grilled chicken breasts, grilled pork loin, fingerling potatoes, cheese pudding, stuffing, Caesar salad, sweet potatoes, greens (collards, kale, cress, mustard, etc), asparagus casserole, fruit salad, macaroni & cheese, home-made rolls.  We had Italian caramel cake, blueberry pie, trifle, pumpkin cheese cake and other desserts.  We had home-made asian baked turnover/samosa like things that we dipped into sweet garlic chili sauce, and hummus, and chips, and iced tea.  Between the food and the company, we had a grand time.

 

Sunday:

No big news for the garden this past week, though the garlic continues to sprout, and the greens are growing nicely.  I’ll be mulching some leaves this week, and covering the garlic beds.  In a little bit I’ll be making turkey hash, served over toast, with creamed hash browns for breakfast.  Yum!

Sage Dressing (Stuffing)

November 28, 2010

Stuffing, Not Stuffing

We call this “dressing” because we never actually stuff the bird with anything but a half an onion, fresh herbs, and maybe a lemon.  It’s baked separately, and you don’t have issues with “is it cooked?” or having to dig it out of the bird carcass.

Stuffing

Ingredients:

1 Cup finely grown white cornmeal

Boiling Water

About 1/2 pound of dried stale mixed bread remnants from a variety of different breads (mostly dried crusts)

1/4 pound unsalted butter

1-2 cups chopped celery

1-2 cups chopped onions

3 cups chicken stock, turkey stock, or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon of dried thyme

Fresh sage leaves, chopped, about 1 cup

Fresh parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons black pepper

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Procedure:

This time I was able to pick up a bag of mixed bread crusts and bits from the local bakery.  These had already been dried and were the approximate texture of croutons – you can just leave bread out overnight after being sliced, and then roughly chop it up if you can’t buy it like this.  This bag was wonderful, it had rye, pumpernickel, whole grains, rustic, etc.

All my life I’ve made “cornbread dressing” wherein I cooked the cornbread first and let it cool.  Last year, I cut out the extra milk and eggs from the dressing recipe, and this year I decided to refine that even further.  The earlier cornbread recipe I knew was to mix cornmeal and boiling water until it was a thick batter (not quite pourable) and then fry that in a pan with oil.  So I added boiling water to a cup of cornmeal and kept stirring, adding a bit more water until it was the consistency of thick grits.  This was added to the mixture made below.

Sweat the onions and the celery in the butter at low heat, covered, for 15 minutes.  Add the stock, the thyme, the fresh sage, parsley, and the spices.  Pour all of this over the bread/cornbread in a large mixing bowl and stir.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes to soak up the liquid, then spoon into a flat casserole dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

Note:  This recipe used to be all cornbread, and had eggs in it.  This current version appears to last longer as leftovers, and has a great texture, and if you really need it to be a bit wetter, just add gravy when you eat it (yum).  As of the 2011 edit of this recipe, the texture remained moist and flavorful for days.

Cheese Pudding

November 28, 2010

Go-Go’s Cheese Pudding:

(This is a recipe that my grandmother made for us at all major family gatherings.  Actually, the source of the recipe is not her, but I didn’t even know *that* until my Aunt told me just a couple of years ago.  Besides, what my grandmother had written as the recipe was *not* what she cooked every time, and if she caught you watching her to see what she was doing, she would change it.  Between my dedicated Aunt and myself, we have managed to reconstruct this recipe, mostly due to her watching my grandmother surreptitiously, and realizing that when the original recipe included “onions” that we had never had it with onions in it in our lives.

Cheese pudding

9 slices of ordinary white bread

1 stick melted unsalted butter

2 cups warm whole milk

3 eggs, separated

8 oz medium cheddar, grated

4 oz sharp cheddar, grated

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Drying bread

Set out the white bread slices to get stiff and dry (preferably overnight but a few hours will do), then tear/crumble/chop into pieces the size of your pinky toe or so in a mixing bowl.

Pour the warm milk and the melted butter into the bread.

Mixing it up

Beat the yolks of the 3 eggs and add to mixture

Cheese

Stir in the grated cheese

Add the salt, dry mustard, and cayenne and mix well.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into the mixture.

Whipped egg whites

Pour into large flat glass or ceramic (not metal) pan(s), no more than 1 inch thick, cover, and let sit in refrigerator (min 1 hour, preferably overnight)

Gloop

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, when it will be golden in the middle and just starting to get nice brown bits on the edges.  Keeps for days, reheat and serve as necessary, or eat cold with a sandwich.

Cheese pudding

Yes, I know that the name of the dish is off-putting for some, but there you go.  And it’s not a souffle, really, and not a casserole or any of several other things.  But the best thing about the name is when people at the buffet pass up the dish, because that means the rest of us get more…