Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

December 30, 2011

Bourbon and Coke Ham and good foods for New Year's Day

 A ham for all seasons...

I am sure many of you baked a ham over the last couple of holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and many will bake one for the New Year too. In the south, it is a tradition to have ham, or some type of pork served along with the likes of Hoppin' John, White Rice, Collards, Turnips or other greens and cornbread of course.

FYI... in the south, the symbolic pig served on New Year's Day has many meanings. For instance, a pig cannot turn it's head to look backwards without completely turning it's body around, thus to us a pig represents progress, as in always rooting and looking ahead. Pigs are symbolic in both wealth and health.
you can call me Mr. Prosperous
In the past harder times, owning a pig, one was considered better off than most as a family could eat and survive a harsh winter from the fatty meat of just one pig. In many cases, it was a matter of life and death. The most symbolic 'superstitious' thing we believe in is that eating pork on New Year's day will bring us prosperity. You see, to us, eating ham, and lots of it to the point of gluttony, as in 'being a pig' will bring about wealth. Some even think the fatter the pig, the fatter the wallet and some folks believe eating pork on this day means they will never go hungry. 

Now the thing I dislike with most baked ham recipes is that most leave the skin and the thick layer of fat on the ham. Sure, I know it's left on for protection, (and mainly for the superstitious) to baste the ham and help retain moisture, but what I don't like is that all of that wonderful glaze, all of the crispy, succulence of flavor is removed for serving. To me, that's not acceptable. It's like serving a cake and then removing the icing for goodness sake.  

So of late, I have baked my hams in the oven using my method below, first cutting away the un-wanting skin and fats and basting often to retain juiciness. The taste for this ham and recipe is pretty much like I cook my Crocked Ham in the slow cooker. Enjoy!

Bourbon and Coke Ham

Allow the ham to come to room temperature in a cool location for about an hour or so. I like to wash mine under running water and pat dry placing a dry cloth over it as it comes around. Rather you prefer a butt or shank ham is up to you, I like both.
The ham today is about a 12 pound shank, however, I wrote the recipe for the first time I baked one using a 8 pounder. Increase ingredients as needed.

Combine in a small saucepan:

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon

Bring to a simmer and allow bourbon to cook out reducing back to just the butter. Remove from heat and stir in:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar

Set aside and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the ham in a roasting pan directly on the bottom (no rack) of the pan. Notice I placed the ham unconventionally cut-side down. With a sharp knife, remove any skin and cut away the fat leaving only about 1/4-inch layer thickness of fat. Score the ham in a diamond pattern cutting into the meat to a depth not deeper than 1/2-inch.

To the saucepan containing the brown sugar reduction, stir in:

  • 2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, pressed dry
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Rub this mustard mixture all over the ham, bottom too, making sure to get into the cut crevices. Place ham in the oven on the middle lower rack. Immediately, turn temperature down to 325 and bake for 20 minutes.

Add into the roasting pan:

  • 1 -12 oz can of Coca-Cola
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon

underneath side of ham
Use a spoon to mix up the cola solution a bit and coat all of the ham's surface with this basting solution. Baste every 15 minutes ( I use a turkey baster). Cook the ham until the internal temperature is 165 degrees on a meat thermometer and the ham's surface is crispy and dark brown. (Mine took about 2 hours.) Add more cola if the liquid starts to evaporate away although it is fine not to have any remaining right at the end. Remove from oven, place a foil tent over for 15 minutes if serving right away or wrap in foil and let rest if serving time is more that 30 minutes away.
ham-bone stock

Be sure to save the ham-bone for a delicious stock.





Traditional Southern New Year's Foods and the Reasoning


The Triad for Good Fortune: Greens (dollar bills), Hoppin' John (coins), and Cornbread (gold). Also on menus: Ham (wealth/health), White Rice (success), Black Eyed-Peas (luck), Pot Likker (good mojo) and southern Cane Sugar Desserts (contentment).

Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot of Hoppin' John ensures better fortune and luck. The person that receives it in their bowl will have the best of both in the coming year. Of course, swallowing it wouldn't be so lucky.

Avoid foods that will bring bad luck, such as chickens. Poultry scratches backwards which will cause one to dwell on the past or regret. Fowl, like good luck, could also fly away. Be careful of shrimp and lobster on this day as they too move backwards leading to setbacks.

December 28, 2011

Toasted Cheese Grits Casserole

half of recipe
When a bowl just isn't enough...

Sometimes a hearty bowl of grits, as in a simple pot of cooked buttered grits, will go the distance for most morning occasions. Sometimes a handful of cheese melding into the pot will do for many a fine brunch and luncheon events, it will even do just fine for dinner meals. Think shrimp or fish and grits, Creole egg casserole or grillades, all needing a nice creamy bed of cheese grits to rest its merits on. Then there are times when nothing will do but a good casserole of cheese grits, something a bit more heartier, substantial, something with a bit more weight to it.

There are many cheese casseroles featuring grits with all combinations of flavors. Now sometimes, I still want the simple essence of cheese and grits and the flavor of butter. And when I thought of the simplicity of that, I thought of how, many a' time I have taken my buttered toast and mopped up grits on my plate. So it was only fitting that this recipe came about - think cheese grits on buttered toast. Enjoy!

Toasted Cheese Grits Casserole
about 9 servings

2 slices day-old bread, toasted and dry
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup grits (I prefer white stone ground)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Jack (or another cheese)
2 garlic toes, minced
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon paprika
good dash of Tabasco or hot pepper sauce

Grate the dry bread for the crumbs (or use plain breadcrumbs or Panko, but I like the taste of white bread) and set aside.

Cook the grits by bringing the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat and whisk in the grits and salt. Stir for 1 minute, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes stirring every 5 or so minutes to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the garlic and the cheese reserving about 2 tablespoons of cheddar for topping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, blend the eggs with the milk and whisk this into the grits. Add the paprika and hot sauce to taste.

Place grits mixture in a 3-quart shallow casserole dish (or in a baking dish not more than 1 1/2 inches in depth) and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove casserole from oven and cut remaining 2-tablespoons of butter into small cubes and place on top of the grits. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to brown the topping.

Allow casserole to cool about 10 minutes before cutting into squares or spooning onto plates.

December 25, 2011

Tenderloin Steaks with Shrimp Béarnaise

yup, there's a fillet under there
One heck of a steak.

Folks, save this for a special occasion like a New Year's Dinner or as luck would have it, serve when you find beef tenderloin steaks on sale as I did last week. Would you believe the cost was much lower than rib-eyes, T-bones and even NY Strips. Yup, I had to ask the butcher if it was really a tenderloin, not some mock or knock-off like I've seen in some beef cases. It was the real deal, and I felt like it was a steal.

My first thought was Steak Oscar, but that meant a trip down to the waterfront for fresh crabmeat. The shrimp in the grocers seafood case looked pretty fresh to me. Hey, there are not that many hours in a day anymore, ya know what I mean? So a few shorter steps and a little cutting of time here and there is not gonna hurt one bit. Not even heading down the aisle to find a prepackaged sauce blend. Nope.

I like to use a Béarnaise over a good cut of beef when the steak is simply seasoned, the two works well with each other especially when incorporating seafood. I like the creamy flavors of butter, tarragon, shallots and parsley that coats the buttery sauteed shrimp. This delectable sauce along with the shrimp makes for one heck of a topping for tenderloin steaks, or a mignon.

Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin Steaks
for 2 

2 tenderloin steaks, 1 1/2 to 2-inches thick
2 thick slices smoked bacon
olive oil
kosher salt and ground black peppercorns

Wrap a slice of bacon around each of the steaks stretching if needed and secure with a toothpick. Rub a little oil on the top of each steak, season with a little salt and a several grinds of peppercorns. Repeat coating the other side. Let rest for about 45 minutes.

Outside Grilling: Prepare grill for direct grilling, medium high flame or coals. Grill on each side about 7 minutes for medium done or until desired internal temperature is reached, minimal of 145 degrees F. 

Inside Stove/Oven Method: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium high heat on stove for about 3 minutes. Add steaks placing at least 1-inch apart. Sear meat for about 2 minutes on each side to form a nice brown crust. Place pan in oven and cook for 4 or 5 minutes for rare / 6 or 7 minutes for medium rare / 8 minutes for medium. Remove and test with a instant read thermometer if desired. Tent with foil for at least 5 minutes or until ready to plate (within 15 minutes).


Sauteed Shrimp with Béarnaise

1/2 pound extra-large shrimp, about 12
Béarnaise Sauce
2 tablespoons butter (or 1 tbsp with 1 tbsp olive oil)
1 garlic toe, smashed
1/4 cup dry white wine (I like to use dry vermouth)
dash of salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Peel and devein the shrimp, wash and pat dry. Put aside.

Make the Béarnaise sauce using your own recipe if you have the time or for quickness, Knorr's prepackaged is pretty good. I like to add a pinch of cayenne which I know is not in a typical Béarnaise, but what the heck, it's my taste buds I'm pleasing, right?

Heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat, add butter; swirl to melt. When foam subsides, add garlic and swirl pan to flavor the butter being careful not to burn the butter. Remove from heat as needed cooking until oil becomes fragrant and garlic turns light brown. Discard garlic. Add wine and simmer rapidly until reduced in half. Add shrimp, salt, pepper, lemon juice and arrange shrimp in single layer. Continue cooking over medium high heat. Turn shrimp over once cooking until shrimp is translucent and liquid is mostly cooked out. Shrimp will cook very fast. Remove shrimp to a warm holding plate covered.

To Plate: Remove toothpick from the steaks for goodness sake and place each on a warm plate. Place half of the shrimp on top of each steak and generously top with Béarnaise sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or scallions if desired.

December 19, 2011

Sticky Pecan Apple Cake

Warm and fuzzy time of year...

This is the time of year when fruit bowls, trays and baskets pile up in many homes, ours included thank you very much.These gifts are meant to convey not only a wish of good tidings in the spirit of loving friendship but in a deeper meaning, an act of goodwill in sharing concern on one's good health. A gift of healthy fruit shows the importance a giver feels of the recipients' care and well being and even though the fruit may only last a short while, the act parallels the need of daily fruit as well as the need for such friendship.

Not wanting to waste any fruit, I immediately thought of ways to use it in cooking. I was reminded to use the apples to make a cake, the one that everyone loved so much last year, I actually made several. Then, I reminded myself, as a recipe blogger, there is constantly the need to make something different, something to share and record. That's when I came across a recipe I had tucked away from Cooks Illustrated for an apple cake along with notes of 'must try' recipes from Smitten Kitchen and from Michael Toa back when he was going through an apple craze (I think he just finished). This is what I came up with, a little something from all three. Enjoy!

Sticky Pecan Apple Cake

for the pan
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

cake batter
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons Cointreau or orange liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of cold butter, sliced in tbsp pieces, set at room temperature for 30 minutes

for the apple mixture
4 green apples, peeled and diced
1 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Grease a 12-cup tube or bundt pan with the butter. Sprinkle the sides and core with half of the granulated sugar and evenly sprinkle the rest in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle evenly as possible the brown sugar using your fingers. Put pan aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and set oven rack in lower center.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs and whisk in the cream, Cointreau and extract. Put mixture aside.

Toss the apples in a bowl with the two sugars, cinnamon and pecans. Set aside.

Place sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in mixer bowl and stir with mixer on lowest speed for about a minute. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time waiting about 15 seconds after each addition and continue beating until mixture resembles coarse meal or butter in no larger and small English peas. Add about a 1/2 of egg mixture, increase speed to medium high and slowly add remaining egg mixture in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides and beat at medium high speed another 30 seconds. Remove paddle.

Now folks, this is where I will alter today's recipe the next time I make this, and I will make this again. Today I alternated the apple mixture with the batter twice starting with the apples on the bottom. It stuck just too much for my liking even though I was warned from the Cooks test kitchen. Of course, I did add more sugars ...

Next time, I will do it a bit different. Here's how: Place just a few spoonfuls of the apple mixture in the bottom of the pan, not even enough to cover and top with one-third of the batter. I think the batter should reach down into the apples and sugar mixture and the topping will be just fine, and beautiful, kinda like many I like from Michael's kitchen. Evenly spread half of remaining apple mixture on top of the batter, repeat with another third of batter and remaining apple mixture. Spoon remaining batter on top and even out. Now the batter is rather thick and you will need to use an offset spatula to really get it all smooth, but it is a very good, almost pound cake texture that is also light and plays nicely with the pecan caramelized tasting apples.

Place pan in center of oven and bake for 45 minutes. Check with a cake tester or skewer, or when cake begins to pull away from pan. I trust the skewer insert method over the touch method on this type of cake. When skewer comes out clean of crumbs (not sugary mixture) immediately remove from oven and invert on a cake platter. Tap top of pan or carefully bang plate on counter to loosen cake. Replace any stuck apples to the top of cake (hopefully, there will be few) and allow cake to cool at least an hour before serving.

Dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

December 16, 2011

Southern Coffee Punch

Sing a round with me...

Most gatherings at holiday times are lifted with songs in a spirited way; growing up at our house was no exception.

There is a commercial currently airing on TV that is precious yet the song itself reminds me of our many late night attempts of caroling around town.

The lyrics (after a bowl of punch) goes something like this:


Fleas naughty dog,
There's fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from your dad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Police car ahead,
Police got my dad,
Police go ahead,
Protect us from the policeman's dad
.


This punch is similar to many and as the recipe varies in ingredients, so does the name. My favorite around Christmas is Santa's Helper as I'm sure if you leave a mug of this out on the eve, the big guy will not only get a jolt of goodness but just maybe you'll get something extra under the tree.

Enjoy!

Southern Coffee Punch

8 cups strong, warm coffee
1 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
one-fifth Jim Beam Bourbon or your favorite
Whipping cream if desired

Allow ice cream to soften a bit and mix with the warm coffee. Stir in the bourbon and fold in desired whipped cream. Place in a punch bowl.

Alternative: Ladle punch into cups, add a dollop of whipped cream, a candy cane if desired and serve.

December 13, 2011

Tomato Potato Bacon Gratin

it may not be pretty, but it sho is some kind of good
A better pie . . .

Friday night is normally steak night at our house, has been for some time now as a way to reward us for our grueling week at work. The steak varies; on a good week I'll grill some rib-eyes which is our favorite. Other times it might be the best sale of the week like a T-bone or NY strip, and sometimes I'll coax and pamper a sirloin or a chuck mock steak and treat it like tenderloin or mignon (or think about one anyway), whatever the budget allows. Heck, I've even grilled hamburger steaks and ladled on fancy sauces. I don't let much get in the way of steak night.

Sometimes, when I find myself 'downgrading' on the steak, I'll make a better side dish other than our normal twice baked, double stuffed potatoes. I have made umpteen variations of potato gratins, each with a different spin. To us, ya gotta have a potato dish with steak. Now, this folks is one heck of a different spin, almost bringing a summer feel to the nippy cold night we had last steak night. You might have made this before; I have made it trying different ingredients several ways but this time I wrote it down and I think I got this gratin just the way I like it best. Down here we also call it pie. Try it and let me know.

Enjoy!

Tomato Potato Bacon Gratin
serve 4 to 6

2 thick slices bacon, diced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic toes, minced
6-8 new red potatoes, cleaned
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
4-6 Creole or Campari tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
heavy cream, about 1/2 cup
four cheese shredded blend
Panko


Cook bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon.Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Toss shallots in skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Cook about 10 minutes until brown and caramelized adding the garlic after the first 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase heat to medium high and cook until there is no liquid. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons butter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking dish or large pie plate with oil (or cooking spray).

Slice the potatoes and tomatoes 1/4-inch thick. Arrange tomatoes and potatoes in the baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the caramelized bacon reduction  over the top and be sure to evenly dribble the butter sauce too. Pour enough heavy cream in the dish until it comes up half-way of the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove foil, sprinkle lightly with cheese (okay, as much as you want) and top with a thin layer of Panko bread crumbs. Slice the remaining butter in thin slivers and random place on top. Bake uncovered another 15 minutes or until gratin is toasted and brown.



December 10, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

To the toes...


The latest cold front to come through made everyone shiver from head to toe and the remarks from most weren't exactly meant to share in a friendly Christmas spirit way. We really do not like cold weather in these parts so when it dips below 30 degrees many of us start doing and saying things we normally would not. I have always found there is nothing better that a bowl of some hot goodness to warm you up and get you speaking pleasantries again. Something that will warm you up from head to toe like this wonderful bowl of soup that reminds me of spending leisurely days in Mexico.

This is one of my favorite recipes, so rich in flavor and so good for you too; chocked full of vitamins, antioxidants with enough capsaicin to clear up a stuffy head, plus all the 'feel-good' tastes. I like to make it for a casual lunch or a simple dinner and it is perfect as a soup course when serving Mexican or Tex-Mex flavored meals. It is also great to share with a sick friend, a shut-in or a neighbor.

Try it, it will warm you up too.


Chicken Tortilla Soup
-or leftover Turkey

2 main or about 4 soup course servings

2 medium tomatoes
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 garlic clove, peeled
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 boneless skinless chicken breast half
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 corn tortillas (6 inches)
1/2 cup diced zucchini
2 tablespoons chopped carrot
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup spicy hot V8 juice
1/3 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cubed avocado
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped (optional for garnish)

Set oven on broil with rack about 4 inches from heat source.

Brush tomatoes, onion and garlic with 1 teaspoon oil. Broil for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, turning tomatoes once. Peel and discard charred skin from tomatoes; place in a blender. Add onion and garlic; cover and process a couple of minutes or until smooth.

Sprinkle chicken with lemon-pepper and salt; broil for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Cut one tortilla into 1/4-inch strips; coarsely chop remaining tortilla. In a large saucepan, heat remaining oil. Fry tortilla strips until crisp and browned; remove with a slotted spoon.

In the same pan, cook the zucchini, carrot, cilantro, cumin, chili powder and chopped tortilla over medium heat for 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato mixture, broth, V8 juice, corn, tomato puree, jalapeño and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Cut chicken into strips and add to soup; simmer 5 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with avocado, cheese and tortilla strips. Add additional chopped jalapeno if desired.

December 7, 2011

Momma's Tarlienne and My Tarlerinine ~ beef, corn and noodle casseroles

 So what's in a name?

This is the time of year that I kinda get a warm feeling to bring out family favorites, recipes that made history in our household as not only being exceptionally good but uncommonly unheard of to the rest of the world. At least we thought so, as we grew older and shared these meals with others, folks around exclaimed they had never heard of such yet gladly cleaned their plate at our tables.

Of late, I have amused myself with seeing such wonderful, family recipes being shared by many of you and those in the subscribed papers and magazines. The names of these heirlooms are priceless. Several weeks ago before Thanksgiving, Aunt Caroline's Sweet Potato Bomb got my attention, as did MeMaw's Sticky Dream Pie and recently, Polly's Pink Stuff.  Some just have the interest factor like Granny's Scrambled Ham, Uncle Red's Smoked Butt, and Aunt Lucy's Goosey Gander.

The recipe today is one from my own kitchen derived from one of my Mommas, Tarlienne, and one I have yet to come across, at least with the same name. Somewhere along the way, I suppose the name of hers became mistakenly misspoken as in the pronunciation differed with our dialect and all; imagine that if you can. There are two with similar spelling relating to her recipe; one being Talerini, similar in ingredients adding chili powder and omitting the mushrooms. Then there is the other, almost a clone use of ingredients as Mommas called Talerine with the heavy addition of black olives. Since all recipes have one common component being noodles, I suspect all names are derivative of Tagliarini, an Italian thin noodle. The recipe Taglarini goes in another direction with the use of cream corn and tomato soup along with the mainstay of beef, corn and noodles. However,  a direction that I wanted to try, using Momma's recipe, leaning toward a Talerini but with a Tex-Mex, chuck-wagon meaty, cheesy and tomato-like appeal is the one I came up with - Tarlerinine. Enjoy!

Tarlerinine

1 -16 ounce package Ruote (wagon wheel) pasta, just undercooked
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
Taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 can kernel corn, drained
1 -14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 -16 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces shredded American melting cheese blend
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium high heat until brown and liquid has reduced to just the grease in the pan. Add the onion and bell pepper, tossing to coat and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, push meat mixture to one side, and tilting the pan, soak up any grease with paper towels on the opposite side. Return to heat and stir in the seasoning mix stirring well. Add the beef broth and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium low until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the corn, tomatoes and gently fold in the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and fold in the melting cheese.

Place the pasta in a 13x9-inch greased casserole dish. Spoon the meat mixture over the pasta and spread evenly. Mix with a spoon to randomly toss about the mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top. Bake another 15 minutes uncovered until cheese melts.

Note: Serve with buttered tortillas, cornbread and add broken corn chips as a topping along with sour cream, salsa and pickled jalapenos.

Momma's Tarlienne
from Grits to Guacamole Cookbook

6 ounce package egg noodles, cooked
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can kernel corn, drained
1 can mushrooms, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese -divided
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onion in the butter until clear and add the beef. Cook until browned and remove excess grease. Stir in the corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and half of the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place cooked noodles in a buttered casserole dish and pour the meat mixture covering the noodles.Cook covered at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove cover, top with remaining cheese and bake another 20 minutes until cheese starts to brown.

December 2, 2011

White Lima Bean Soup from Ham-bone Stock

Good for the soul...

Known to many southern and soul food enthusiasts, beans play a very important part of our diet. The fact that dried beans are cheap makes them a significant star at every meal. Thank goodness there are hundreds of varieties of these legumes and they come in all sizes, colors and varying shape which are woven into our history. Farmers plant beans along side grain, in harmony, as each helps the other to grow. Beans are an essential part of our diet and cooks from all over the world combine the amino acid of beans along with that from grains in forming a complete protein thus laying a foundation for growth and development for our bodies. However, many of us do it unknowingly, without thought or knowledge, we just know it goes together so well.

Take this interpretation of an old southern recipe for example. It makes a creamy full-bodied soup broth and with the help of traditional cornbread used to sop up the thick, gravy-like liquid, together the two creates a harmonious yet joined complete meal. The recipe is the same between kitchens and households with an omitting of an ingredient and maybe an addition or two of others but, the essence remain in tact. The meat flavoring of choice by many is smoked pork neck bones or ham hocks, smoked turkey legs and my favorite, the one I am using today, a leftover ham-bone with a good bit of meat clinging to it. The choice of vegetables is solely up to you as to your liking and more important, what’s available in the storage bin or pantry. I’ve seen kale, collards, leeks, root vegetables, even hominy added; whatever makes your tongue quiver. And too, the type of beans used depend on what’s available. To me, the giant white limas are quintessence of this treasured recipe and a few to mention are beans such as Corona, Gigandes, Madagascar, White Runners or any white well flavored flat bean will do just fine.

Enjoy!

White Lima Soup
made with ham-bone stock

6 cups soaked large white lima beans (1 pound dried)
2 quarts chicken stock
1 meaty ham bone
2 small bay leaves
pinch of thyme and oregano
3 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic toe, finely chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped ham
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight however you like, I prefer the stove top/oven method (see Soaked and Cooked Tender Beans). Drain and put aside. Now if you are in a hurry, 4 -15 ounce cans will do, just be sure to rinse well.

In a large stockpot, simmer the ham bone in the stock along with the bay leaves, thyme and oregano for at least a couple of hours, the longer the better. It is ready when the meat falls off. Remove bone and ham from the pot and place on a platter discarding the bone. When cool to touch, shred or tear the ham into bite size pieces. Put aside.

In a skillet, fry the bacon until fully cooked. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion, celery, garlic and carrots to bacon grease and sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent. Remove vegetables with the slotted spoon and add to the stockpot.

Add the limas, ham to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, bacon, salt and pepper to taste, and bring back to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce to a slow simmer; cover and cook on low for about 45 minutes or until beans are tender and begin to break down.

Serve with hot cornbread and butter.