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.

April 30, 2010

Tropical Salsa with Grilled Fish

Still fishing around the produce aisle ...
... and look what I caught

When Friday comes around, I always look forward to fish and seafood recipes. I know Lent is over and I'm not even Catholic, but we grew up eating fish just about every Friday. It's hard to break family traditions.

This recipe makes great use of fresh fruit with a homemade salsa served over a simple grilled fish fillet. The sweetness of the salsa, with just enough tangy and spicy flavor compliments the fish just perfectly. There is no need to season the fish with any other seasoning other than a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Go ahead, mix up a batch, light the grill and get that tropical feeling going. Enjoy!

Tropical Salsa over Grilled Fish

for the Tropical Fruit Salsa

1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup mango, chopped
1 cup papaya, chopped
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
    Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 2 hours.

    for the fish

    Olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
    1 1/2 to 2 pounds firm white fish fillets (snapper, swordfish, mahi mahi)
      Rub the fillets on both sides with the oil. Oil the grate on your grill with a little oil and preheat to medium high heat. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the fish. Place the fish on the grill, cook for about 3 minutes and carefully turn over to cook the other side for about 2 minutes more. Remove to a warm plate to rest for about 2 minutes. Serve with the fruit salsa.

      Note: When turning fish on a grill, use a long tined fork to reach under the fish in between the grates and then slide a wide spatula underneath to lift the fish upwards. This will help in keeping the fish intact.

      April 29, 2010

      Cantaloupe Sherbet

       Changing seasons,
      as fruits go...

      As I make my way through a few fruit recipes this week, and venture around the produce markets, to my surprise, I came across several large bins of melons. It seems a bit early for local melons here in the south.

      Watermelons of various shapes and varieties, even the seedless kind; honeydews and cantaloupes all piled in mounds and all were producing wonderful, tropical-like aromas as I walked pass each bin. Of course, I had to pick up and smell, press a little on the outer skin just to make sure they were real, and to judge how fresh they actually were. Imports from South America, but until Florida or local fields come in, these will certainly do.

      Today's recipe is one from a co-worker, rather from his mother and is ever delightful using just about any fruit. When I first heard about it, I thought of an ice cream / sorbet made with cantaloupe I remembered having as a child back in my hometown. You know how southern women can come up with some pretty darn good stuff. Well, this is one of those darn good recipes. Enjoy!

      Mamae McClure's
      Cantaloupe Sherbet
      4 cups cubed cantaloupe
      2 cups buttermilk
      2 cups sugar
      1 tablespoon vanilla
        Place all in a blender and pulse a few times to mix. Adjust sugar if needed. Pour into an aluminum pan and freeze. When this has set, cut into cubes and pulse a few more times until mixute is slushy but with bits of cantaloupe remaining. Refreeze. Scrape and place in dessert cups to serve. 

        Note: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or grated candied ginger if desired.

        April 28, 2010

        Grilled Shrimp & Gingered Pineapple

        Shrimp, pineapple and
        .... maybe strawberries again?

        Folks, get ready for some great, outdoor eating with a delectable taste that will make you wonder why the songbirds stop singing at night. This is truly a great combination of taste.

        Now, I'm not one to push pre-mixed spice blends, you know I normally make my own, but Marshal Creek Spices, a division of Pure & Natural Spices, does an outstanding job on this Orential 5 Spice. Using only fresh ingredients, packed weekly, never sitting around on a shelf - and all 10 to 14 ounces of pure ingredients, their containers are large and all pretty much sell for $3.79 a jar. Plus, it doesn't matter how much or little you buy, they have a flat shipping fee. You can find my favorite spices up there under my header, in my pantry. Now, that's enough of that.

        Fire up your grill and git to cooking - this is some fine eating folks. Enjoy! 

        Grilled Shrimp with Gingered Pineapple

        serves 4

        2 pounds large shrimp, peeled & deveined
        Juice of 1 lime
        2 garlic cloves, minced
        1/2 teaspoon Orential 5 Spice
        1 jalapeno pepper, minced
        1 medium fresh pineapple, cored
        1/4 cup dark rum or apple juice
        2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger root or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
        1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut -optional
        Fresh strawberries and mint leaves if desired
          Using a sharp knife, cut pineapple into 3/4-inch slices; then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
          Mix rum with the ginger root and toss with the pineapple. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
          If using wooden skewers, soak in water for an hour.
          Toss shrimp with the lime juice, garlic, the 5 spice (or I sometimes use oregano) and jalapeño. Let set for 15 minutes.
          For each kabob, alternate on skewer the pineapple chunks with shrimp. Lightly spray cooking grate with oil. Heat to medium heat and grill kabobs 4 to 5 minutes per side or until shrimp is pink.
          Sprinkle with coconut. Garnish with strawberries and mint leaves if desired.
          Sit back, take a bite and start singing.

          April 27, 2010

          Strawberry Cobbler

          Hankering still for berries...

          Can't decide what to do with all those fresh strawberries?

          Bake a homemade cobbler. Nothing taste better (well maybe nothing than biting into a luscious fresh berry) than grabbing a big 'ol bowl of warm, out-of-the-oven cobbler.

          And this strawberry version is just the ticket.  What I like almost as much as the thick berry filling is the crust topping and if you're like me, go ahead, put on a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Oh, the nutty topping is not necessary but sho' is good. Enjoy!

          Strawberry Cobbler

          For the crust
          1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
          1 teaspoon salt
          1 tablespoon baking powder
          2 tablespoons sugar
          6 tablespoons cold butter
          3/4 cup milk
            For the filling
            1 cup sugar
            1/3 cup all-purpose flour
            1 teaspoon salt
            1/2 cup cream
            3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
            2 quarts fresh strawberries, stemmed and cut in half
              For the topping
              2 tablespoons brown sugar
              2 tablespoons butter
              1/3 cup chopped pecans - optional
                Make the crust by combining the dry ingredients in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the cold butter into the mixture until it has the consistency of coarse meal. Add milk and gently knead just until a ball forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

                Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

                In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt for filling. Slowly whisk in cream, lemon juice and stir in the strawberries.

                Place fruit in 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly. Stir mixture in the dish.

                Pinch dough into quarter inch disks about the size of half dollars and place on top of berry mixture covering almost the entire surface. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts if desired.

                Return to oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

                April 26, 2010

                Strawberry Cats

                photo by tasteofhome

                Goodness gracious
                ... what am I thinking?

                I know this may sound strange to some of you, actually it is a recipe I posted a long time ago.

                It is not a recipe I came up with, in fact, one that is served up in many fine Cajun homes along the south. The recipe comes from a newspaper article I tore out years ago and, like many I have added my own touch. And with strawberry season still in full swing, I thought about this as I was munching on a few last week.

                I thought I would put it back out here for you to decide, for you to comment on and for you to tell me what you think of the spicy sweet combination. Is this something you would try? Send me a comment and let me know.

                Strawberry Cajun Cats

                2 pounds catfish fillets
                Salt & black pepper
                2 ounces hot red pepper sauce
                3/4 cup cornmeal
                3/4 cup flour
                2 teaspoons horseradish
                1 clove garlic, minced
                1 1/2 cups strawberry preserves
                1/2 cup vegetable oil
                1/2 cup red wine vinegar
                1 tablespoon soy sauce
                Fresh strawberries
                Parsley sprigs, optional
                1/4 cup seafood cocktail sauce
                  Place fillets in large shallow dish. Season fish with salt, black pepper and hot pepper sauce. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
                  In small saucepan, combine preserves, vinegar, soy sauce, cocktail sauce, garlic and horseradish; simmer sauce over low heat stirring occasionally, while preparing catfish.
                  Blend cornmeal and flour in shallow bowl.
                  Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
                  Drain catfish and dredge in cornmeal mixture, coating on all sides. Add catfish to hot pan and sauté until browned on both sides. Drain well on paper towels and keep warm.
                  Spoon 1/4 cup sauce on each plate; top with catfish fillets. Garnish with sliced strawberries and parsley, if desired.

                  Note - Strawberry Flavored Vinegar may be used instead of Red Wine Vinegar.

                  April 25, 2010

                  Hot Fudge Pie

                  Hot Fudge Sunday ...
                  ... for Sunday

                  This recipe makes two pies and that's a good thing. One will not be enough, I promise.

                  Super moist, this fudge pie is a southern tradition that goes back a long, long time. Some folks will put it into an unbaked pie shell, but I like it served without. Either way, the cooking time will be about the same.

                  Nutty, fudgy and oh so wonderful ... cut it while it's still warm and top each slice with a big dollop of ice cream and then, as pictured, pour on lots of warm hot fudge sauce. Take your time; this is sinfully pure pleasure. Enjoy!

                  Hot Fudge Pie
                  makes 2 pies
                  2 cups sugar
                  1/2 cup all-purpose flour
                  4 eggs, slightly beaten
                  2 teaspoons vanilla
                  3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
                  4 oz (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
                  1 cup butter or margarine
                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
                  Butter well 2 pie pans
                    Place butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over boiling water to melt.

                    Blend flour and sugar together, add eggs beating only until blended. Mix in the chocolate mixture and blend throughly. Add vanilla and pecans. Divide batter between the 2 pie pans.

                    Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest 15 to 30 minutes before cutting.

                    April 24, 2010

                    Roasted Garlic Salsa

                    A recant for tomato woes

                    Okay, I know I said yesterday the tomatoes in the produce aisle didn't really have much taste. Well, the Romas taste pretty darn good. And that's a good thing.

                    Nice and juicy, bright and red, full of flavor. Just the way a tomato should be and perfect for making salsa. This recipe is a great one folks, it uses the best in roasting the garlic, and I also added the onion, to really bring out a wonderful flavor.

                    Some would take it a bit further and roast all the vegetables but I like to leave the tomatoes and peppers natural. Oh, add the limejuice if you want, some say it turns bitter after a few days. Ha! Who said any will be left! Enjoy!

                    Salsa for Garlic Lovers
                    1 large yellow onion, finely minced
                    1 large head of garlic, peeled & minced
                    2 teaspoons olive oil
                    3 tomatillos, husk removed and finely chopped
                    6 to 8 large ripe Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
                    1 or 2 jalapeños or Serrano peppers, seeded and minced
                    1 tablespoon ground cumin
                    1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
                    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
                    1 tablespoon fresh limejuice
                    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
                      Toss the onion and garlic with the oil and spread on a rimmed baking pan. Place in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 15 minutes or until roasted slightly. Remove to a bowl and toss with the tomatillos. Let cool.

                      Stir in the tomatoes and peppers. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate if there are any leftovers.

                      Note: Some folks like me enjoy a juicy salsa, if so, add the juice from the tomatoes. Whether you de-seed the tomatoes is up to you, I don’t mind them one bit. To make salsa cruda, do not roast the garlic or onions as everything should be ‘raw’.

                      April 23, 2010

                      Cauliflower Broccoli Salad

                      Bargains in the produce aisle?

                      While many vegetable prices are through the roof this time of year, salad ingredients are less, or at least I think so. Romaine, Bibb, spinach and tender leaf greens seem to be reasonable. Tomatoes are priced right, they just don't taste that great. Spring onions, cucumbers, radishes, young carrots - everything looks to be normally priced.

                      As I make my way around the aisles, filling my basket with produce, my eye sparkles from the glow of mounds coming from beautiful, bright green  broccoli. And, it's price at a steal. Next to it are big heads of cauliflower, so pearly white I need to pop my sunshades back on. Seriously, these are some beauties. Then I head over to the onions - red, yellow, white, sweet - all imported of course and all over $2.98 a pound. Now, what's going on with that! Bell pepper are out of site too. Don't get me started on that one. So, I quickly decided to keep my produce buying to what I had in the basket.

                      This is a nice change of pace, a great marinated salad that is better if left overnight in the fridge. I just didn't have that much time and it still tasted really great. Hope you will give it a try. I'm sure you will change it up a bit, to suit your own taste, use low-fat if desired, I just didn't have any ....

                      Cauliflower Broccoli Salad

                      1/2 cup mayonnaise
                      1/2 cup sour cream
                      1/2 cup sugar
                      1/4 cup light olive oil
                      1/3 cup red wine vinegar
                      1/2 teaspoon salt
                      1/2 teaspoon pepper
                      1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
                      1 head cauliflower, cut in pieces
                      1 bunch of broccoli, cut in pieces
                      1 red onion, halved then sliced
                      Sesame seeds, crumbled bacon or croûtons -optional
                        Make the dressing by combining the first eight ingredients until smooth. Pour over vegetables and let set at least a couple of hours or overnight. Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, crumbled bacon or croûtons if desired.

                        April 22, 2010

                        Strawberry Dessert Sauce

                        Strawberry picking time

                        Just across the bay are fields covered with neatly lined rows of low, lush strawberry plants. A few weeks ago, crops began to come in and fresh berries were plentiful, just in time for pies, cakes, cobblers, jams ... you name it.

                        The stores are packed with rows of strawberries, all on sale, some two-for-one deals, and most shipped in from California. Hey, nothing wrong with the west coast but I say, if you can buy local, why not.

                        Here is a dessert sauce that is easy to make and really delicious on just about any thing from pound and sponge cakes, cream cheese cakes, ice cream - just about any dessert hankering for a dollop of strawberry sweetness. Enjoy!

                        Strawberry Dessert Sauce
                        makes about 3 cups
                        1/4 cup unsalted butter
                        1/2 cup brown sugar
                        4 cups fresh strawberries, halved
                        1/4 cup Grand Mariner or Cointreau
                        1/2 cup toasted pecans or almonds
                        In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the sugar and cook about 3 minutes stirring or until fully dissolved. Increase heat a little and add the berries. Cook stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Cook longer if berries are rather large. Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur and nuts.
                        You can store the sauce in the refrigerate in a sealed container for about a week.

                        Note: If you want to impress your guest, light the sauce in the pan (away from the heat source) before spooning it over your dessert.

                        April 21, 2010

                        Easy Shrimp and Spring Vegetables

                        This one's for you, Mary...

                        ... for many reasons. I know how much you love shrimp or prawns as you call them, I know how you like one-pan meals, normally all tossed together and I know you like crispy fresh vegetables. This recipe is all of that.

                        So, what's a great way to serve fresh vegetables with our regular Wednesday feature? Give it all a simple toss with tender, fresh, market vegetables.

                        Shrimp goes great with so many things - tossing them around with vegetables is just another way to eat them ... Mary and I know this. We want you to too. Enjoy!

                        Easy Shrimp and Spring Vegetables
                        about 4 servings

                        1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
                        2 teaspoons Bay Seasoning Blend or Ancho Chile Rub, depending on which way your taste buds want to go or use any spice blend you like (use you imagination here)
                        1 teaspoon minced garlic
                        2 tablespoons butter
                        2 tablespoons olive oil
                        1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch sections
                        1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 2" strips
                        1 leek or spring onion, cut into slices
                        1 cup broccoli florets -optional
                        1 medium tomato chopped, seeded if desired
                        Chicken, shrimp or vegetable stock
                        Cooked pasta, rice or couscous
                        Parsley and Parmesan cheese
                          Toss the shrimp in the spice blend of choice and let set a few minutes.
                          In a large skillet, sauté shrimp and garlic in butter and olive oil until shrimp turn pink; remove shrimp and keep warm.
                          In the same skillet, sauté the asparagus, bell pepper, leek and broccoli until heated through and crisp tender. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Add the shrimp and tomato to the skillet; toss with the stock to moisten and heat just a bit. Serve over cooked pasta with a sprinkle of parsley and Parmesan cheese.
                          Note: Add a tablespoon of capers, or a squirt of lemon juice to the pan while sautéing the vegetables, it will make a world of difference and yes Mary, a couple of diced hot chiles would be nice too.

                          Find my good friend Mary Moh at Keep Learning Keep Smiling and see what she is cooking up today. You'll be glad you did!

                          April 20, 2010

                          Asparagus Onion Casserole

                          ...with a little cheese please

                          Vegetables seem to be the thing this week as I find myself wanting to share with you this tasty casserole dish that is simple to make and one that is rich, creamy, and full of flavor.

                          You may not be able to see it, but hidden beneath all that luscious sauce is tender bites of asparagus. The sauce with the relish of onion and cheese is just perfect. Not to mention the texture of the topping is another pleasure. Enjoy!

                          Asparagus Onion Casserole
                          4-6 servings
                          1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
                          2 small spring onions, sliced
                          5 tablespoons butter, divided
                          2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                          1 cup milk
                          1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
                          1 teaspoon salt
                          1/8 teaspoon pepper
                          1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
                          1 cup soft bread crumbs
                            In a skillet, sauté the asparagus and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to an un-greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish.

                            In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Add cream cheese, salt and pepper; stir until cheese is melted. Pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

                            Melt remaining butter; toss with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with casserole.
                            Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

                            April 19, 2010

                            Three Bean Salad

                             A mouthful of goodness

                            With summertime approaching, there is nothing better than cold salads to go with grilled and barbecue foods. We like all kinds, from slaw, potato salads, corn relish types and this one my Momma made back home.

                            It's mostly all ingredients from the cupboard - you can add in some fresh ingredients if you prefer, but after marinating and for ease of preparation, your mouth won't know the difference.

                            I've listed alternatives you can add to it to make it your own creation and to suit your own taste. Enjoy!

                            Three Bean Salad

                            1 -15 oz can yellow wax beans
                            1 -15 oz can cut green beans
                            1 -15 oz can red kidney beans
                            1 medium sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
                            1/2 cup chopped green pepper
                            1/4 cup cider or wine vinegar
                            1/3 cup salad oil
                            1/4 cup sugar
                            1 teaspoon celery seed
                            Salt & pepper to taste
                              Drain beans, rinse and place in a bowl. Add peppers & onions. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables tossing lightly. Cover and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight, stir occasionally. Drain before serving.

                              Note: Changing the type of vinegar will alter the flavor of the vinaigrette base. Use whatever vinegar you are accustom to as here in the south, we prefer cider whereas the French prefer wine vinegar, Spain likes sherry vinegar, Italians do the balsamic variation, Brits and Canadians like Malt and to our East they prefer Rice vinegar.

                              Alternatives: add or substitute with black beans, garbanzo beans, stuffed green olives, sliced black olives, diced celery, roasted peppers, garden fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kernel corn, artichoke hearts, palm hearts, green onion slices, diced cucumbers – in other words – just about anything can be added to bean salads.

                              April 18, 2010

                              Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

                              Dressing in Disguise

                              The thing about this wonderful salad dressing is, well it’s not just for salads. Think about it. How many ways can you use ranch dressing? Unbelievably, I really enjoy using it over steamed vegetables.

                              And the thing I like most about this recipe is that it is a much lower calorie version than many – still very flavorful and so very fresh tasting.

                              per 2 tablespoon serving ~ about 31 calories with 2.0g total fat

                              Like all homemade dressings, make up a batch and store in the refrigerator for about a week, stirring before every use. This recipe makes about 2 cups. Enjoy!

                              Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
                              makes about 24 servings (2 tbsp ea)

                              1 1/3 cups low fat buttermilk
                              1/2 cup fat free sour cream
                              3/4 cup (6 oz) low-fat mayonnaise
                              4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
                              1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
                              1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried dill weed)
                              2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley flakes)
                              2 tablespoons minced fresh chives (or 2 tsp dried chives)
                              2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
                              1 teaspoon onion powder
                              1/4 teaspoon sea salt
                              1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                              1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
                              1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
                                Combine all ingredients in a quart jar. Screw on lid and shake until smooth. Allow to set overnight in the refrigerator before serving. Always shake before serving.

                                Store the sealed jar in the refrigerator up to a week.

                                Find the Nutritional facts here

                                April 17, 2010

                                Ancho Chile Rub

                                Rub a Yum Yum

                                Before I close out the week featuring seasoning mixes and spice blends, I want to share a simple recipe I use often to give foods a Mexican flavor. I use it on a lot of things.

                                There is really no end to the many foods you can use this in adding flavor and seasoning. It is great on all meats, especially steak and chicken (with lime of course), vegetables of all kinds (thinks roasted potatoes), and as shown on the nice bed of greens, sprinkled on the shrimp and scallops before grilling. All seafood will like a douse of this rub. Mix up a batch and try it. You will like it so much you will make a whole jar the next time . . . I promise.

                                Ancho Chile Rub
                                1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
                                1/2 tablespoon sea salt
                                1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
                                1 teaspoon ground cumin
                                1 teaspoon smoked paprika
                                1 teaspoon cocoa powder
                                  Mix all ingredients together.

                                  April 16, 2010

                                  Boiling Live Blue Crabs

                                  Southern Kitchen Classics: Crab and Shrimp Boils

                                  Get out of the way...

                                  It's time for a crab boil folks. Ever since I posted the Bay Seasoning Blend last Wednesday, I knew what I had to do. Boiling live crabs is something I grew up doing as my family spent many summers at the beach catching blue crabs during the early mornings or late afternoons and in no time flat, had us a fine mess of good eating.

                                  If you are lucky to catch your own, you want to keep them on ice. This will keep them from being so active and of course, fresher. By putting them on ice, it sort of puts them to sleep and if you have ever dropped a fully 'live' crab into boiling water, it's not a pleasant sight, at least not to me anymore. This way is a little more humane.

                                  A large outdoor steamer pot is what you need, like a shrimp boiling pot shown above with a heavy lid.

                                  Fill the pot with about a quart of water
                                  4 lemons cut in half
                                  about 4 cans of beer (what ever you drink)
                                  1/4 cup of red pepper flakes
                                  and about a cup of the Bay Seasoning Blend or use the The Seafood Boil Bag recipe (see below).
                                  The Boil Bag is different, choose which ever one you might prefer, I like them both ... equally.

                                  I also like to do something my nephew shared with me, something from my brother's way of cooking, and that is to throw into the basket a grapefruit, couple of oranges, all quartered and maybe a lime or two. Bring this to a rolling boil. Let it boil with the spice for 10 or so minutes. You will also need to add some salt since the mix does not have it in it... not too much, little more than a half of cup should be fine for the above recipe.  Some folks like to steam the crabs without submerging in water, if so, do not add nearly as much salt.

                                  Lift up the basket, place about a dozen crabs in the basket and lower it into the boiling water. Place the lid on wait until it starts to boil again. Cook 10 to 15 minutes. The crabs should be a fiery red. Now if you want to place in some vegetables, now is the time. Corn on the cob, new potatoes, snap beans, mushrooms - whatever you like. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes or until done. If not adding vegetables, cook crabs another 5 or 10 minutes. Carefully remove strainer, drain and get to picking and eating.

                                  Seafood Boil Bag
                                  For every 5 pounds of shrimp or crab.
                                  2 tablespoons whole cloves
                                  2 tablespoons mustard seeds
                                  2 tablespoons red pepper flakes or to taste
                                  2 tablespoons paprika
                                  1 1/2 tablespoons whole allspice
                                  1 tablespoon coriander seeds
                                  1 tablespoon black peppercorns
                                  1 tablespoon dill seeds
                                  1 tablespoon crushed oregano
                                  1 tablespoon dried thyme
                                  1 tablespoon garlic powder
                                  1 teaspoon celery seeds
                                  1 teaspoon dried marjoram
                                  6 medium bay leaves
                                    Tie everything in a muslin cloth or spice bag. Add to boiling water and boil 15 minutes before adding seafood. Add salt to the water according to taste.

                                    Note: You do not have to use this in a bag, some folks just prefer spices in a bag.

                                    April 15, 2010

                                    Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Topping

                                    Great on tarts too

                                    Can't leave out the sweet tooth...
                                    While mixing up batches of spice seasonings and blends this week, we can't leave out desserts. This one is a great topper for many things, not just for ice cream but it sure does add a lot of wallop to a regular scoop.
                                    Use this on crumbles, runts, pies, bread puddings  - a great addition to glazed cakes, cupcakes and I have used it sprinkled on my sweet potato casserole. See, I told you it was a great topper. Mix up a batch and get to topping.
                                    Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Topping
                                    1 cup sugar
                                    2 tablespoons water
                                    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
                                    2 teaspoons light corn syrup
                                    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
                                    1 1/2 cups toasted pecan pieces
                                    1 cup puffed rice cereal
                                      Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. In a medium heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup to a boil over moderately high heat. Lower heat to moderate and simmer. Do not stir. Cook until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pecans and cereal. Scrape mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, spread evenly and let cool for 30 minutes or until it is hardened.

                                      Break mixture into pieces and transfer to a heavy plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to crush the pieces into smaller crumbs. Serve over ice cream and desserts or any thing you set your mind on.

                                      April 14, 2010

                                      Bay Seasoning Blend

                                      Not a secret any more...

                                      Since I'm pretty much featuring seasoning blends this week, I might as well share one for shrimp. Actually, this is great on all seafood and vegetables and any other thing you like to use Bay Seasoning on. It has a different taste I think but to me it's more pleasing.

                                      I like to sprinkle it on foods like this shrimp before and after cooking. Use it in marinades; add it to soups, stews and of course, gumbo. Stuffed crab, crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish boulettes, oyster and fish bisques, dressed fish, lobster, steamed crabs - you name it - this is an all-purpose fish and seafood seasoning blend. Enjoy!

                                      Bay Seasoning Blend

                                      3 tablespoons celery seed
                                      3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
                                      2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
                                      1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
                                      18 small bay leaves
                                      8 whole cloves
                                      3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
                                      1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
                                      1/2 teaspoon ground mace
                                      1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
                                      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                      1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
                                        Place all in a spice grinder or food processor with a metal blade. Process for several minutes until well blended. Store in a tightly sealed container.

                                        Note: this mixture does not contain salt, add according to your recipe.

                                        April 13, 2010

                                        BBQ Rub for Pork

                                        Tickled Pink

                                        I got an email from a fellow overseas asking for the rub recipe I used on the pork roast we enjoyed last week, our first pulled pork of the season, and I was tickled pink in the request. I mentioned the pork really as the meat dish to the bean recipe I cooked in the slow cooker, Frijoles Charros, which we enjoyed a second helping as it is an awesome side for grilled and barbeque meats.

                                        This is a versatile rub I use on many pork ribs, chops, loins and especially roasts. Like using all rubs, I believe you need to pat down the meats with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Many meats could use an extra douse of oil rub into it which will do several things like help adhere the rub but most importantly, keep moisture inside. I like to rub the meat heavily with seasonings, actually kinda massage it a little (more therapy for me I suppose) and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. Remove it at least an hour before placing it on the grill. And don't forget to give it a good douse of some sort of moisture toward the end of cooking time like the mopping sauce I use for ribs. Pork and chicken love vinegar and makes it tender and also makes your mouth sing.

                                        BBQ Rub for Pork

                                        4 tablespoons chipotle chili pepper
                                        3 tablespoons salt
                                        2 tablespoons dry mustard
                                        2 tablespoons crushed oregano
                                        2 tablespoons finely crushed dried rosemary leaves
                                        2 tablespoons paprika
                                        2 tablespoons garlic powder
                                        1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
                                        1 tablespoon onion powder
                                        1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
                                        1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
                                          Mix well and store in an airtight jar.

                                          April 12, 2010

                                          Cajun Mayonnaise

                                          Looks can be deceiving...

                                          ... as is this green mayonnaise. Once you taste it, you will make it again and again ... I  promise.

                                          When you need to add a little zip to your next salad dressing, a sandwich and even a vegetable dish, this zesty mayonnaise is perfect. A little hot and spicy, it will make everything taste better, especially great in potato salads and yet better with seafood.

                                          The recipe contains raw eggs and if you are concerned about the safety of consuming raw eggs, use pasteurized eggs in the shell or pasteurized liquid whole eggs instead. By using pasteurized eggs, this mayonnaise will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. By using whole eggs yolks as in the recipe, it will keep for 5 days if covered in the refrigerator.

                                          Cajun Mayonnaise
                                          makes 1 cup

                                          1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
                                          2 egg yolks at room temperature (or 1/4 cup pasteurized eggs)
                                          1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
                                          1 teaspoon sea salt
                                          1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
                                          1 garlic clove
                                          1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
                                          1 cup olive oil
                                            Combine everything but the oil in a blender and blend for a full 2 minutes, any less and the yolks will not emulsify correctly when the oil is incorporated. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the oil in a steady thin stream into the feed tube until it is incorporated into the mayonnaise. Scrape down the sides and bottom to make sure all residue is collected, replace lid and blend another 30 seconds. Store in the refrigerator covered.

                                            April 11, 2010

                                            Spring Chicken

                                             Cluck, Cluck

                                            My Grand Daddy "Cotton" as he was called was a spry fellow, even in his elderly years and often would go about the house dancing little jigs and strutting his stuff like a proud peacock. Often he would say, "Why, I feel as young as a ..." yeah, you get it, it's the name of today's recipe.

                                            The thing about springtime is the awakening of buds outside on trees and flowers and the great tastes around the dinner table too. For some reason, springtime brings out the best in flavors, maybe we're just tired of winter comforting foods, I don't know. But I do know, this dish is awesome, and your taste buds will appreciate the fresh springtime taste the ordinary ingredients gives to the chicken. Enjoy!

                                            Spring Chicken
                                            1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
                                            1 young baking chicken, cut into serving pieces, skin removed if desired
                                            4 tablespoons flour
                                            1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                                            1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                                            1 teaspoon dried dill weed
                                            3 tablespoons butter
                                            1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
                                            4 garlic cloves, chopped
                                            1/2 teaspoon tarragon
                                            1/3 cup dry white wine
                                            1/3 cup chicken broth
                                            1/4 cup lemon juice
                                            1/3 cup heavy cream
                                            3 scallions
                                            1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
                                              Blanch green beans in lightly salted water, drain and put aside.

                                              Place flour, salt, black pepper and dill in a bag. Pat chicken dry and place a few pieces at a time into the bag, shake to coat and continue until all chicken is dusted with the seasoned flour.

                                              In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium high heat, add chicken and brown on all sides. Stir in the garlic, tarragon and reduce heat to medium.

                                              In a small bowl, mix the white wine, chicken broth, lemon juice and cream together. Add mixture to the skillet, top with the scallions and lemon zest. Let mixture come to a simmer, add green beans to the sides, cover and simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes.

                                              Note: Any spring vegetables are great with this chicken dish like asparagus or tiny green peas.

                                              April 10, 2010

                                              Frijoles Charros

                                              All Day - Fast & Slow

                                              Last Wednesday, I knew it would be a day spending time outside, doing mostly yard work. The night before I soaked a couple bags of dried beans to put in the slow cooker and rubbed down a Boston butt pork roast to put on the grill. I put the roast on the next day about noon and from time to time, drizzled it with my pork mopping sauce, the same one I use on my ribs. That night, we enjoyed our first pulled pork this spring along with roasted garlic smashed potatoes, yellow corn fried with roasted red peppers and these wonderful flavored Mexican beans that is as close to Ranch Style Beans that I have ever made. My intent was to make cone pones to go with the beans but by the time supper came, I was too tuckered from the yard work, we settled on Texas toast.

                                              Now if you're from Texas, from the south or have ever had these canned beans, you know the flavor - slightly spicy with saucy tomato gravy that makes beans dance on your tongue. Seriously folks, this is some fine eating. I use two types of beans for added flavor, the depth of beef stock, ham and bacon along with the Mexican spices that to me, add more layers of flavor to the beans. Try this one next time you grill out or want a delicious bean dish.

                                              Frijoles Charros
                                              1 -16 oz bag dried pinto beans
                                              1 -16 oz bag dried small red beans (frijoles rojos pequenos)
                                              4 slices bacon
                                              2 large white onions, diced
                                              1 large green bell pepper, diced
                                              2 jalapeño peppers, seeded
                                              6 garlic cloves, minced
                                              2 -14 oz cans beef broth
                                              1 cup cubed smoked ham
                                              1 tablespoon brown sugar
                                              2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
                                              1 teaspoon paprika
                                              1 teaspoon cumin
                                              1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
                                              1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
                                              Salt and black pepper to taste
                                              1 -15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
                                                Soak the beans over night in a hot waterbath adding a teaspoon of baking soda or vinegar. Drain water and rinse.

                                                In a large skillet, cook the bacon until brown, remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the onions and bell peppers to the grease and brown. Add the jalapeños and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the beef broth and about 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and spoon mixture into your slow cooker. Add the beans and remaining ingredients except the tomatoes. Add just enough water to cover beans. Cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce temperature to low and set for another 4 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.

                                                About 2 hours into this setting, test the beans, they should be just about tender. If so add the tomatoes and cook remaining 2 hours. If not, let cook until beans are bite tender before adding tomatoes, then cook another couple of hours.

                                                April 9, 2010

                                                Steamed Ginger Fish

                                                What's that you say?

                                                Now some of you may just think you're on the wrong page and some of you may say, 'What? Drick has done lost his mind.'

                                                And for many reasons. To my knowledge, there is no species of fish called ginger fish (not talking about the Manson drummer) and for those of you who follow me regularly, this recipe might seem out of place. It's actually healthy.

                                                Well, folks ... I like to eat good, tasty things and that includes good, healthy foods too. Like this Asian recipe using a few simple ingredients. Enjoy!

                                                Ginger Steamed Fish
                                                2 pounds halibut, snapper, sea bass or other white fish fillets
                                                1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
                                                2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienne
                                                1 large stalk scallion (mostly the tender green part), cut into 2 inch pieces and julienne
                                                3 fresh green chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
                                                1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
                                                2 tablespoons light soy sauce
                                                1 tablespoon peanut oil
                                                1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
                                                1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro sprigs
                                                  Pat fish dry with paper towels. Rub both sides of fillets with salt. Scatter the ginger over the top of the fish and place onto a heatproof ceramic dish.

                                                  Place into a bamboo steamer set over several inches of gently boiling water, and cover. Gently steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

                                                  Pour accrued water out of the dish and sprinkle the fillet with green onion and chiles. Drizzle both soy sauces over the surface of the fish.

                                                  Heat peanut and sesame oils in a small skillet over medium-high heat until it just begin to smoke. When the oil is hot, carefully pour on top of the fish fillet. The very hot oil will cause the green onions and water on top of the fish to pop and spatter - be very careful.

                                                  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve immediately.

                                                  Note: If a bamboo steamer is not available, place ceramic dish on a saucer in a large covered skillet. It will work just fine.

                                                  April 8, 2010

                                                  Lemon Coconut Pie

                                                  Good Neighbor

                                                  This past Sunday, for Easter, our neighbor Marilyn brought over a beautiful pie. And it tasted wonderfully delicious, at least the last piece did as by the time I got to it, that was all that was left in the pan.

                                                  Marilyn had also given us the pie pan used to cook it in. Isn't she a sweetheart? She swears by it, an aluminum 8-inch wide, 1-inch deep pan that really does perform well. Made by Ware-Ever, it won't set your pocketbook back either.

                                                  Now, about that pie, she called it a French Coconut Pie. Well, I don't care what country it comes from, I'm just glad she made it for us. Full of coconut with just enough lemon to round out the filling. Sweet and yummy! Go ahead and give this one a try, Marilyn shared her recipe. I told you she is a sweetheart. Enjoy!

                                                  Lemon Coconut Pie
                                                  3 large eggs, beaten
                                                  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
                                                  1 1/2 cups sugar
                                                  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                  4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
                                                  1 1/2 cups (3 1/2 oz) grated coconut
                                                  Crust for single pie
                                                    Mix sugar and eggs well in a bowl using a wire whisk. Add melted butter, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir in coconut last. Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 43 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

                                                    Note: Marilyn uses Eggland's Best egg whites and Land O'Lakes butter...