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.

May 31, 2010

Not your everyday Tea

I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead. ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday and terrific Memorial Day! 

Here is a recipe for a delicious and refreshing adult tea. Enjoy!

for each glass:

6 oz triple sec
6 oz sweet tea
5 ice cubes
2 lemons wedges
    Pour the triple sec into the sweet tea and add the juice of 2 lemon wedges.
    Leave lemon wedges in the drink and add 5 ice cubes.
    Stir gently.

    From my cookbook Grits to Guacamole

    May 30, 2010

    My Chicken Salad

    Might just be a beach day

    …but that depends if the weather cooperates. It’s suppose to rain on our parade. Well, I’m making chicken salad just in case.

    I'm just curious to go down to Dauphin Island to see how things are going with the oil spill. Word has it that laborers in hazmat gear, gloves, Tyvek pants, yellow work boots and life vests are combing the beach in battalions picking up small tar balls, laying out skimming booms, building berms using hay and sand, and erecting metal barriers in some areas to keep out the oil should it become a problem. Some islanders seem to be impressed with the effort and some are somewhat amused of the ‘tyvek battalions’, geared up in befuddlement while all the other beach goers are flying kites, playing in the sand and running around barefoot.

    Here is my simple recipe that has a homemade taste that I grew up eating, that’s because it’s how I remember Momma making it. I've made this many times and it is perfect for outdoor outings. Pack sandwiches in a plastic storage container, place in the ice chest and you're ready to go, along with the boiled peanuts I cooked the other day and of course, plenty of beer.

    Drick’s Chicken Salad
    4 to 6 large chicken breasts, depending on size
    1 cup finely diced celery
    1/4 cup finely diced onion
    1/2 cup chopped bread & butter pickles (a type of sweet pickle)
    2 to 4 hard boiled eggs –grated
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    Salt & pepper to taste
    1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or almond slivers –optional

    Remove skin and cook chicken in lightly salted water until juices run clear. Let chicken cool, de-bone and finely chop the meat. Mix vegetables in a bowl adding pickles, eggs, lemon juice and nuts if desired. Fold in the chicken, add just enough mayonnaise to moisten, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Keep your chicken salad simple. Remember, it's chicken salad. The other ingredients are incorporated with the chicken to moisten, add crunch and create a southern flavor I grew up with. It's my favorite recipe, enjoy...

    From my cookbook Grits to Guacamole

    May 29, 2010

    Fajita Steak Pinwheel Skewers

    Rolling into the Weekend 
    Sorry, that’s the best title I could think of…

    Now, I’m not sure how many folks in the states are home this weekend, many are enjoying hopefully a long holiday and I wish everyone a safe Memorial Day.

    This is a little different version of a fajita recipe. It’s one I made up last weekend but it turned out really great. Flavorful, with just a hint of Mexican essence, more of a grilled shish-ka-bob taste actually and that’s just fine with me. I think the next time I might add to the marinade a tablespoon of pureed chipotles in adobo sauce to give it a little more kick. Either way, I think you will like it. Enjoy!

    Fajita Steak Pinwheel Skewers

    About 2 pounds flank or sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
      For the marinade paste
      6 garlic cloves, peeled
      2 jalapeños, stemmed and seeded
      1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
      1 teaspoon crushed oregano
      1 teaspoon black pepper
      1 teaspoon brown sugar
      1 teaspoon lime zest
        For the basting sauce
        1/4 cup soy sauce
        2 tablespoons Worcestershire
        1 teaspoon black pepper
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
        1 tablespoon lime juice
        2 tablespoons Wesson oil
          In a small blender or chopper, pulse the garlic, jalapeños, and onions to finely chop. Spoon into a large bowl and add remaining marinade ingredients mixing well.

          Cut steak into thin strips, half to quarter inch wide, down the longest side of the steaks. Add to the marinade and coat all pieces. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

          Mix the basting sauce together in a small saucepan, warm for a minute or two and set aside.

          To assemble skewers, take each piece of meat and twirl around on a flat surface making a pinwheel. I used a large baking pan. Run a metal or wooden (soaked) skewer through several so that you have 5 or 6 on each skewer.

          Place on a medium high grill, mop with the basting sauce and cook 5 to 7 minutes per side basting several times on each side or cook until desired doneness. 

          See what others are grilling with my good friend Dara and the summertime food event...“Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.”

          May 28, 2010

          Lemon Chervil Fish Skewers

          Fish n Sticks

          Now I know many of you may not think fish would make a great choice for kabobs and if you chose the wrong type of fish, you would be correct.

          When grilling fish fillets, it is important to select nice, thick sections and fish that do well include grouper, snapper, catfish and types of bass and trout. Try cutting these up in small pieces to skewer and they might just fall apart. Some types do better when sliced liked steaks as in amberjack and swordfish. Those that I think do best for kabobs and hold up well are ones with firm flesh like tuna, halibut and shark or mahi mahi. However, the real key is cutting the flesh into uniform squares, about 1-1/2 inch cubes and not crowding them on the skewers.

          Fresh chervil I think is underused and if you have this herb use it on fish. It makes all the difference in the world. It has to be fresh and when it is, has a nice mild tarragon taste with a hint of anise. I prefer the flat leaf variety to the curly type. If you don’t have it, just use parsley, it will be okay. Enjoy!

          Lemon Chervil Fish Skewers

          2 1/2 pounds tuna, halibut, mahi mahi or other firm fish
          4 lemons
          Extra virgin olive oil
          Sea salt
          Freshly ground black pepper
          Fresh chervil or parsley
          Dash of Worcestershire or red wine vinegar
            Cut fish into 1 1/2 inch cubes.

            Using a sharp knife or peeler, remove the peel from the lemons carefully into half-inch wide strips, about half-inch in length. Remove as much of the white pith as possible.

            Squeeze the juice from the lemons, divide in half and set aside.

            Rub the fish moderately with the olive oil and lightly season with a little sea salt and black pepper. Arrange in a glass dish. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of fresh chervil and half of the lemon juice mixed with a dash of Worcestershire or wine vinegar, depending on type of fish. Let set for 20 to 30 minutes covered in the refrigerator.

            Alternate 2 to 4 fish cubes with the lemon peel on skewers.

            Cook the fish turning frequently for about 10 minutes over medium heat or until fish is done and juices run clear. Use remaining lemon juice to sprinkle over fish at serving along with additional chervil if desired.

            May 27, 2010

            Grilled Fruit Skewers with Ginger Cream

            Don’t forget dessert…

            … or maybe as a side dish with the meal, or with a tangy dressing as a salad. Fruit goes well with grilled foods and while the coals are hot, you might as well use the heat for something good.

            These wonderful fruit kabobs would be just great with a sweet, creamy dessert dressing or try the one I just found from my cousin Julia in Huntsville. Her recipe is given below.

            Or, maybe served along side a fondue pot and dipped into the sinful Marshmallow Cream Sauce I posted a while back. Drizzled with a little chocolate would be pure decadence. Oh my goodness - now my sweet tooth just spread across my whole mouth. Enjoy!

            Grilled Fruit Skewers

            1/2 fresh pineapple, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
            3 medium nectarines, cut into 1-inch chunks
            3 medium pears, cut into 1-inch chunks
            3 medium fresh peaches, cut into 1-inch chunks
            3 to 4 medium plums, cut into 1-inch chunks
            10 apricots, halved
            3 tablespoons honey, warmed in the microwave
              Place fruit alternately onto metal or soaked bamboo skewers.
              Grill, uncovered, over medium-hot coals (or heat) until fruit is heated through, about 6 minutes, turning often. Brush with the warm honey for a sweet, golden glaze.

              Ginger Cream for Fruit

              1 cup sour cream
              1 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger
              2 teaspoons powdered sugar or honey
                Mix together and refrigerate until serving time.

                May 26, 2010

                Shrimp KaBoom KaBobs

                The perfect Kabob Grill

                If you’re like me, you just plop the skewers down on the grill, turn a few times, maybe drizzle with a marinade and pretty soon your eating some fine shish kabobs. But during the turning, as I burned my hand the other nite, I wondered if maybe there was something better out there. And that got me to thinking.

                Imagine grilling over an open fire, being able to rotate the skewers evenly over hot coals without burning your hands. 'Wake up Drick, someone beat you to it!' Introducing the Kabobmaster BBQ Grill. No, I'm not making this stuff up folks.

                Then there’s the one that fits on your existing grill made by Weber. It’s pretty neat, looks a little fun to use but small compared to the kabob master - might better order two.
                Here are two more, both available from
                MR BBQ Grilling Basket

                Charcoal Companion Kabob Basket
                Now for today's recipe. Enjoy!

                Enjoy this southern mouth-fest. The spicy sausage and pineapple actually helps to cool things down a bit. Dip these in your favorite dressing to cool 'em down if desired. You can even stuff some cheese in with the shrimp as in a jalapeno popper.

                Shrimp KaBoom KaBobs

                20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
                Juice of 1 lime
                2 garlic cloves, minced
                1/4 teaspoon oregano, crumbled
                10 large fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
                10 slices of bacon, cut in half
                2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
                3 spicy sausage links, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
                1 large red or green bell pepper, seeded, cut into squares
                  Soak 8 to 12 wooden skewers in water for 1 hour or use metal skewers.
                  Toss shrimp with the lime juice, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Let set for 10 minutes.
                  Place one shrimp inside each jalapeno half and enclose each with a bacon half.
                  For each kabob, alternate on skewer pineapple chunks, bacon wrapped shrimp, sausage, and bell pepper.
                  Lightly spray cooking grate with oil. Heat to medium heat and grill kabobs 4 to 5 minutes per side until bacon is cooked. Check shrimp to make sure it is pink and opaque.

                  May 25, 2010

                  Chicken Kabobs

                  Summertime's just fine 

                  To me, there is nothing better than kabobs grilled outside during the summer. I know, it’s still May but it sure feels like late July or August around here with the heat and all. I’m already thinking about Memorial Day foods like grilled corn on the cob, dogs and cold watermelon.

                  This kabob recipe is one we like and I enjoy grilling it often. The chicken has a wonderful flavor from the marinade and grilled over an apple-wood fire - oh my goodness. My lips are smacking as I write. Try this one next time you feel like a mouthful of sweet, tangy goodness. Enjoy!

                  Chicken Kabobs
                  1/4 cup dry white wine
                  1/2 cup soy sauce
                  1/3 cup lemon juice
                  2 tablespoons Worcestershire
                  1 teaspoon onion powder 
                  1 tablespoon brown sugar
                  2 tablespoons dry mustard
                  1/2 teaspoons salt
                  1 tablespoon black pepper
                  1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
                  3 garlic cloves -minced
                  1/4 cup Wesson oil
                  4 large boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
                    Combine above ingredients and place into a large resealable bag. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

                    Add any or all of the following the last hour: Button mushrooms, red or green bell peppers squares, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash slices, small pearl onions or pineapple chunks.

                    Place on wooden skewers (soaked for 5 hours), metal skewers or in the newfangled grilling baskets. Grill over medium fire basting with the marinade a few times, 4 to 7 minutes each side or until chicken is done.

                    May 24, 2010

                    Cajun Heat Shrimp Skewers

                    Southern Heat

                    I think it’s gotten to me, the hot, humid weather that is. I should be posting cool, refreshing recipes like the one yesterday to combat the conditions we are having but instead I’m turning up the heat. Maybe because it Monday and maybe because I’m a little crazy too.

                    Easy and fast to cook, skewer foods are fun to eat. That’s what I’m doing this week folks so get ready. Today it’s a spicy Cajun version of recipe that I made a while back, actually it was a Mexican version but what the heck. In the original meal, I used a half cup of chipotle puree (chipotles in adobo sauce blended) and in today’s recipe, I replacing that with the trinity of Cajun cooking plus cayenne pepper.

                    Broil this one in the oven, grill it on the stove griddle but if you’re crazy like me, get outside in the heat and light up the grill. It will taste a whole lot better. Enjoy!

                    Cajun Heat Shrimp Skewers

                    1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
                    4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
                    8 garlic pods, minced
                    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
                    1/2 medium onion, minced
                    1/2 medium green bell pepper, minced
                    1 celery stalk, minced
                    2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
                    1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne, depending on your taste
                    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
                    pinch of brown sugar
                      In a skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. In a large bowl, add shrimp, garlic and remaining ingredients. Toss to coat and refrigerate covered for two hours. When ready to grill, skewer shrimp and cook until shrimp just turn pink. Remember, shrimp will continue to cook after removing from the grill. Serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

                      Note: this also makes a fine appetizer

                      May 23, 2010

                      Grandmother's Ambrosia

                      Cold Sunshine

                      Grandmother always made ambrosia for holidays. Sometimes for Thanksgiving and she always made it for Christmas. Well, the only holiday we have coming up is Memorial Day and I can’t ever remember her making it for this day.

                      Folks, we’re having our first heat wave down here. I mean it’s hot as in stagnant, airless. There’s a little breeze waving hello and teasing with a wisp but it’s like standing by a hissing and gasping furnace. It’s not fun.

                      So I got to thinking, a rarity, I know. Fruit is refreshing and a cold fruit salad would be too. This will go great with your Sunday dinner. Or, take this one to the beach, to the lake or to the next picnic or outing. That is, if you dare go outside. Enjoy!

                      Grandmother’s Ambrosia
                      Her simple but divine orangery fruit salad

                      6 to 8 large oranges, peeled
                      3 tangerines, peeled
                      1 cup chopped fresh pineapple with juice or canned
                      1/2 cup sugar, if needed
                      1 cup fresh shredded coconut or sweetened coconut
                      1 small jar maraschino cherries -halved (optional)
                        Cut oranges and tangerines in half; scoop out sections as you do grapefruit. Do this over a bowl collecting juice from the sections and discard the white pith, membranes and seeds. Mix all ingredients except cherries adding sugar as needed. Add additional orange juice if needed to keep fruit moist and use fresh coconut if available. Stir and mix well, then add cherries by lightly stirring them in place before refrigerating overnight.

                        Note: Some folks like to add grapefruit sections, red seedless grapes, marshmallows, bananas, pecans and even sour cream, but Grandmother kept it simple, which made it a true taste of her homemade goodness and how we remember it.

                        Folks, I know I mentioned this before - my cookbook featuring family recipes like the one above – over 1200 favorites from my house, family and friends – Grits to Guacamole

                        May 22, 2010

                        Tomato Salsa for Canning

                        My favorite salsa

                        Not only because it is my recipe, this one is a little sweet and is wonderful with so many foods. That is what I like about it. With the added sweetness, it just brings a nice, pleasant taste to your palate with just enough heat all surrounded in a thick and rich tomato sauce.

                        I make this just about every year. That’s how much we eat it. In fact, year before last, we doubled the recipe. During a drive back from Tennessee, we stopped and bought a couple of baskets of Sand Mountain tomatoes, rich red and almost ripe. They were juicy, sweet and I knew they were meant for my salsa. When I got to going in the kitchen, I realized I didn’t quite have enough, so I added several cans of diced canned tomatoes. I really could not tell the difference that year. If you like your salsa saucy hot, add more peppers. I sometimes add in a few pickled jalapeños at serving time.

                        Yes, it is great as a dip. We have a hard time not eating a whole jar in one sitting. It is a great addition to anything you would normally use a Picante type salsa in and because it is a little sweet, it blends perfectly well with all kinds of meats and vegetables. It is a very good table salsa.

                        This is the last of the canning recipes for this week folks but I saved the best for last. Enjoy!

                        Tomato Salsa

                        yields about 8 pints

                        8 cups peeled, chopped & drained tomatoes
                        2 1/2 cups chopped onions
                        1 1/2 cups chopped green bell peppers
                        1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped jalapeño and or Serrano peppers
                        6 to 8 garlic cloves -minced
                        2 teaspoons cumin
                        2 teaspoons black pepper
                        2 tablespoons canning salt
                        1/3 cup sugar, less if tomatoes are sweet
                        1/3 cup white vinegar
                        1 -15 oz can tomato sauce
                        1 -12 oz can tomato paste
                          Mix ingredients in a large pot and bring to a slow boil. Skim off any foam. Taste and adjust peppers if needed. Some folks may want it a little hotter (I have added a jar of pickled jalapeños with success). Simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon into pint jars leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Add lids and seal for 15 minutes using water bath method for canning.

                          From my family cookbook Grits to Guacamole 

                          May 21, 2010

                          Jalapeño Peach Red Pepper Sauce

                          My Grilling Mate
                          ...and so much more

                          You folks know I have many homemade seasonings, blends, rubs, mopping sauces and glazes that I bring out depending on whatever I am cooking at the time. Today I’m sharing a really great secret, an all-purpose sauce that is so versatile.

                          Yep, another canning recipe as in food preservation. So, for all you folks who have left messages saying you intend to ‘put up something this year’ – go to it. This is one to add to your pantry.

                          Use this sauce for just about anything. When I say it’s all purpose, it is. Pour it over a block of cream cheese for an instant spread, spoon it over lamb, over shrimp and do what I like to do with it – use it as a finishing glaze for grilled meats. I just bet you will find a dozen or more uses for it. Enjoy!

                          Jalapeño Peach Red Pepper Sauce
                          Great for all grill meats ~ especially fish
                          1 tablespoon olive oil
                          2 cups chopped red sweet peppers, seeds removed
                          1 cup chopped onion
                          1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
                          2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed & diced
                          3 garlic cloves, minced
                          4 pounds fresh peaches, peeled & chopped
                          1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
                          1 -5.5 ounce can apricot nectar
                          1/4 cup rice vinegar
                          1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
                          1 tablespoon soy sauce
                          2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
                          1/4 teaspoon salt
                            Place oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sweet peppers, onions, crushed red pepper and garlic. Remove from heat.
                            Process peaches in a food processor or blender in batches until chopped very fine until you have 7 cup up peaches. Place in a large stockpot. Process the pepper mixture until finely chopped. Place in with the peaches.
                            Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally or until desired consistency. If you want it thick, keep cooking for a bit longer. Skim off any foam during the last 10 minutes.
                            Remove from heat.
                            Ladle the sauce into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe down rims and adjust lids. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remember to start timing when the water returns to a boil.

                            Note: You can also use 3 -16 ounce packages of frozen unsweetened peaches, but thaw before processing.

                            May 20, 2010

                            Golden Marmalade

                            Pickling Reprieve

                            At least for today.

                            Another canning recipe, yes, but since it’s Thursday, I am posting something sweet for you.

                            This is a perfect topping for a scone, a muffin or just plain toast, maybe even an addition to a seafood glaze. This citrus marmalade is a good one folks, a gracious medley of fruit with peachy orange overtones – unbelievable good.
                            Get out your canning supplies and get to work, you’ll thank me for this one come winter. Enjoy!

                            Golden Citrus Marmalade
                            Makes about 5 pints

                            6 ounces dried apricots, halved
                            1 cup water
                            1/2 cup Grand Marnier Liqueur
                            1 -8 ounce can pineapple tidbits, with juice
                            1 large orange, cut in pieces, seeds removed
                            1 small lemon, cut in pieces, seeds removed
                            2 1/2 cups sugar
                            2 pounds peaches, peeled and chopped
                            2 cinnamon sticks
                              In a large stockpot, set apricots, sugar, water, pineapple and juice, set aside.
                              Blend in a blender the Liqueur, oranges and lemon. Add the liquored fruit to the stockpot along with the sugar, peaches and cinnamon sticks. Heat to boiling point, then lower heat and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened. Stir occasionally during cooking. Remove cinnamon and pack marmalade in sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

                              Note: My Aunt Ida made a similar one using golden raisins instead of the apricots and added chopped pecans.

                              May 19, 2010

                              Pickled Shrimp

                              Pickled Pink

                              As you may have guessed, I am pretty much obsessed with canning this week, as in preserving foodstuff.

                              On Monday, I featured my sister’s Pickled Okra that brings a taste of Texas to your palate. Yesterday’s recipe is maybe a little special and one of my favorites, Pickled Green Beans and one I like way too much. Today I give our weekly feature – Shrimp.

                              The art of canning comes in handy these days, especially with this recipe. I mean, now that everyone is stocking up on shrimp along the Gulf Coast. Let’s face it. The freezer can only hold so much. And I know when hurricane season comes around, and it will, these babies will be pretty darn tasty with a box of saltines. Furthermore, when Christmas comes around, these and a lovely chutney cheese on toast will be the hit of every cocktail party on our block. I cannot wait to try these out and I hope you will too. Enjoy!

                              Pickled Shrimp

                              for the boiling brine:
                              1/2 cup chopped celery
                              1/4 cup pickling salt
                              1/4 cup crab & shrimp boil seasoning
                              2 gallons water
                              2 cups white vinegar
                              2 1/2 pounds small shrimp (51/60 count), deheaded
                                for each pint jar:
                                1/4 cup sliced white onion
                                2 small bay leaves
                                2 tablespoons white vinegar
                                1 teaspoon capers with juice
                                1/2 teaspoon celery seed
                                1 teaspoon pickling spices
                                1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                                1/4 teaspoon sugar
                                Louisiana hot sauce to taste
                                  Place the boiling brine ingredients except for the shrimp in a stockpot and bring to a rolling boil. Add shrimp, return to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove shrimp into a strainer, peel and devein. If using medium shrimp, cut into bite size pieces. Rinse under running water. Let drain.
                                  Alternate shrimp, onions and bay leaves in pint size jars leaving 1-inch head space. Add the vinegar, capers, celery seed, spices, black pepper, sugar and hot sauce as desired. In a separate large pot, bring about 1 gallon of water to a boil. Add about 2 tablespoons pickling salt and stir to dissolve. Cover shrimp with the salt water leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. Adjust the lids on the jars and process for 45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure on the dial gauge at sea level.

                                  Note:s A slice of lemon is sometimes added to each jar.
                                    This recipe uses the pressure cooker for canning, unlike the water bath method discussed yesterday. Refer to your owner's manual for complete directions.

                                  See also my recipe for 24 hr Pickled Shrimp

                                  May 18, 2010

                                  Pickled Green Beans

                                  About Canning

                                  There are two canning groups: acid foods like tomatoes, fruits, pickles, relishes etc and low-acid foods like meats, vegetables, soups etc. Recipes like the one yesterday, Pickled Okra and the one today are of the acid group and processed in a boiling water bath to reach the 212 degrees F. (some say 180) but I do it as taught.

                                  Use a vessel deep enough to allow water to come two inches above the jars and another inch or so for boiling room. Place jars on a rack to allow circulation. If canning cool uncooked ingredients pour hot water into the pot containing the jars and if canning hot, cooked ingredients, pour in boiling water. Canning time begins when the water starts to boil and needs to boil continuously for the time required. Cover the jars with a tight fitting lid.

                                  Sterilizing is the first step of preserving foods. Use only jars made for canning and sterilize all jars, lids, rings or seals and tools before starting. Wash jars, lids and items with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 F degree oven for 25 minutes. On the other hand, you can boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes. Never touch with your fingers the inside of sterilized jars, lids or the ring itself – use sterilized tongs or a clean cloth.

                                  Packing: It is best to heat fruits in syrupy solutions and vegetables in pickling brine before packing. You can heat tomatoes without adding additional liquid and pack in the natural juice, which will cook out. Have food at or near boiling point when filling jars, always pack loose, and with the correct space required at the top. Work out any air bubbles using a clean plastic knife or spatula. Wipe jar mouth, inside, top and outside, with a clean damp cloth or paper towel. Adjust lids immediately – refer to manufacturer’s directions.

                                  Process the jars at once in the water bath for the recommended time. Remove and let jars cool naturally. When at room temperature, check to see if they are sealed – if not, refrigerate for immediate use or reprocess. If using bands, you may remove them the next day. Store foods in a cool dark dry storage place at about 70 degree F for best preservation. There are many sites devoted to preservation of foods and canning. Angie at Southern Grace Gourmet gives another take on how she puts away foods. Take a look and at her wonderful recipes.
                                  Now on to today’s recipe. I used about 6 pounds to get 4 pounds of perfect, 4-inch lengths. Enjoy!

                                  Pickled Green Beans
                                  makes 10 pints
                                  Great out of the jar ~ especially good with a Bloody Mary

                                  4 pounds trimmed fresh green beans
                                  5 cups white vinegar
                                  5 cups water
                                  1/2 cup salt
                                    For each jar:
                                    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
                                    1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
                                    1/2 dill seeds
                                    2 garlic cloves
                                      Wash and cut ends to fit in tall one-pint jars leaving 1/2 inch from top of jars. Bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil. Place spices in each jar, pack with green beans and pour liquid into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process jars in a water bath for 5 minutes after return boil.

                                       From my family cookbook Grits to Guacamole

                                      May 17, 2010

                                      Lee's Pickled Okra

                                      Fruitless love?

                                      Today’s rambling hopefully will inspire maybe just one of you to follow in the path of our ancestors in the art of preservation.

                                      You see, today’s recipe reminds me of an episode of one of the few sitcoms I watch on the tube, In the Middle. The Mother’s Day episode where Frankie (the mother) gets to have ‘her day’, breakfast in bed (a disaster), a visit from her mother (Pat) who doesn’t show and Frankie’s loving family giving her at the last minute a useless inflatable foot massager. So Frankie decides to drive hours to spend the afternoon with Pat so she would not be alone which is what Pat really wanted in the first place. Well, things start to blow after Frankie gives her mother her gift, a brand new food dehydrator that from the look on Pat’s face is almost as nice as the foot massager. Finally, Pat tells Frankie relatively frankly how useless the gift really is … think about if Frankie, why would anyone spend $4.99 on a pound of grapes, days and electricity to produce what comes from a 99 cent box of raisins.

                                      Well, be it love or just craziness, sometimes putting away your foods as in canning is just a good thing. And that’s what today recipe is about folks. I know we all can reach on that shelf in the grocer and purchase a jar of pickled okra but I guarantee you, it won’t have that same taste, it won’t be made with love and it won’t be my sister’s recipe. That is what makes all the difference. Enjoy!

                                      Lee’s Pickled Okra
                                      makes 9 pints
                                      2 pounds young okra pods
                                      1 quart white vinegar
                                      1 quart water
                                      9 garlic cloves peeled
                                      9 fresh hot peppers -split in half
                                      1/2 cup sugar
                                      6 tablespoons pickling salt
                                      1/3 cup mustard seed
                                      3 tablespoons whole dill seed
                                      1 tablespoon celery seed
                                        Wash pods under cold water, cut off bottom and leave 1/3 of cap on pod. Cover with ice and water for 1 hour.
                                        Drain, pat dry and place in pint size sterilized jars, caps down. Leave 3/4 inch space from okra and top of jar, trim if necessary. Place 1 pepper pod & 1 garlic clove in each jar.
                                        In a large pot add the rest of ingredients and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, divide evenly the spices among the jars and cover pods with hot liquid leaving 1/2 inch from top of jar. Shake to remove air pockets. Secure lids and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool before storing for at least 4 weeks before opening.

                                        From our family cookbook Grits to Guacamole Now Eligible for FREE Summer Shipping

                                        May 16, 2010

                                        Oven Mushroom Brown Rice

                                        When the cupboard is bare...

                                        ...I know there is always fine eating from what ever is left up there. This is how I learned to cook many years ago growing up in my Momma and Grandmother’s kitchen. In fact, many times it is how I cook today, looking into the cabinets and after scratching my head a few moments, I come up with something that usually tastes pretty darn good.

                                        I mentioned this to one of my good friends, Emily, who just got married and has a really great hubby who she recently referred to as the DapperDanMan, she is just too funny. Anyway, if you can reach into the cupboard and come out with a darn good dish, you’re a pretty good cook and my folks would approve. My mother would certainly approve of the one Emily posted this past week, the Grilled Salmon with Dijon-Walnut Sauce dish she made as her first meal for her hubby, and my grandmother would also approve of her reaching into the cabinets and coming up with this mighty fancy offering. For those not familiar with Emily, find the newlyweds at Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.

                                        This is one similar to a mushroom rice recipe in my cookbook, only it has a tad more vegetables and is somewhat like a pilaf that I saw in Food & Wine a while back. If you’re inclined, you can add a little meat to make it more like a meal. (I thought newlyweds might like that). Enjoy!

                                        Oven Mushroom Brown Rice
                                        2 cups brown rice
                                        2 tablespoons French Onion Soup mix (reserve remaining package for another use)
                                        1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
                                        1 tablespoon olive oil
                                        2 garlic cloves, minced
                                        1/2 cup chopped celery
                                        1 cup chopped onion
                                        1 cup chopped mushrooms
                                        1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
                                        1 cup cubed cooked meat (leftover chicken, pork, or roast beef)
                                        2 1/2 cups water
                                        2 or 3 green onions, for garnish
                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the rice, soup mix, bouillon and vegetables together in a large oblong casserole dish. Stir in the meat if desired along with the oil and toss. Add the water and stir. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and check rice adding more water if needed. Cook another 10 minutes uncovered or until the rice and vegetables are tender.

                                          Note: If your cupboard is bare of brown rice, white rice will do. Just brown it in a little butter or olive oil to give it that nutty taste.

                                          May 15, 2010

                                          Sautéed Shrimp with Green Chile Tequila Sauce

                                          Wake up Mouth

                                          Actually, the heat scale on this dish in just medium warm, not really hot at all, but the taste will knock your taste buds around for a loop. This one is a keeper folks.

                                          The sauce is out-of this-world.

                                          I like these shrimp with a simple rice pilaf and maybe a steamed vegetable. Garlic grilled corn on the cob is also a good side. You can also use a fine white wine instead of the tequila if you prefer. Enjoy!

                                          Sautéed Shrimp with Green Chile Tequila Sauce
                                          about 4 servings

                                          3 or 4 New Mexico chiles
                                          1 pound (about 33) large shrimp, peeled & deveined
                                          1/2 teaspoon  sea salt
                                          Freshly ground black peppercorns
                                          2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                          2 tablespoons Tequila
                                          Juice of 3 Key limes (or native Mexican)
                                          1/2 cup whipping cream
                                          1 tablespoon lime zest
                                            Roast the chiles in the oven until blistered. Remove and discard skin, seeds and stems. Cut into half-inch sections.

                                            Butterfly the shrimp and rinse under cold water, drain completely and pat dry. Toss with the sea salt and black pepper to taste.

                                            Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and shrimp cooking until they just turn pink and lose translucency. Remove shrimp and keep warm.

                                            Remove skillet from the heat source. Add tequila and lime juice and return to heat. Bring to a simmer and while stirring, add the cream and lime zest.

                                            Continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Return shrimp to the pan and heat for a minute or two and shrimp are nice and done. Serve hot.

                                            Note: This make a great appetizer too.

                                            May 14, 2010

                                            Baked Fish in Cream Sauce

                                            Fishin' Fever

                                            Folks are still trying to catch as much as they can of fresh Gulf Coast fish and I don't blame them. Who knows how the oil dispersing chemicals will affect the seafood in the coming months or years.

                                            For me, I think I'll play it safe and ask that mine come from Florida waters for now. I don't think it has spread that far, yet!

                                            This recipe is an old one, from a family that goes back a long time in the Mobile area and it is absolutely delicious. Don't try to count calories when eating this one, it's one you're just going have to indulge yourself on and give a little extra time at the gym but let me tell you, it is so worth it. Actually, it's not as bad as many I have posted. No fancy name here but the sauce is just unbelievable. Enjoy!

                                             Baked Fish in Cream Sauce

                                            About 3 pounds white fish fillets, whatever kind you prefer
                                            Olive oil
                                            Sea salt
                                            1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
                                            9 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                                            1 teaspoon salt
                                            1 teaspoon sweet paprika
                                            2 teaspoons curry powder
                                            2 teaspoons dry mustard
                                            3 cups whole milk
                                            1/2 cup sweet vermouth
                                            Fresh minced thyme, if desired
                                              Cut the fillets into serving size portions and place in a large shallow baking pan. Rub the fish heavy with oil and lightly with the sea salt. Do this several times while making the sauce. This I was told is the secret to a well baked fish, massaging the oil and sea salt into the flesh – now who wouldn’t like that.
                                              In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat and slowly stir in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until incorporated. Stir in the dry seasonings. Slowly stir in the milk and stir constantly until sauce is very thick. I was told by doing this at a slow pace gives the fish time to rest with the oil and the sauce time to meld with the seasonings. Don’t you just love the ways of ancestral cooking? Add the vermouth and pour over the fish fillets.
                                              Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for an hour. Sauce should be bubbly and fish opaque but not overly cooked.
                                              Garnish with fresh thyme if desired.

                                              May 13, 2010

                                              Lemon Bisque

                                              Loving that summer feeling

                                              Now I'm pretty much featuring seafood recipes this week but hey, today is Thursday and that means something sweet.

                                              So what goes well after eating a good seafood platter? Well, around here pretty much anything and I would normally go with something citrus, like Key Lime Pie, Mandarin Orange Sherbet, or something with fruit and coconut flavors mingling together to finish off the palate.

                                              I remembered this one, a favorite here in Mobile that is just perfect for summertime and is so refreshing. The recipe makes two pies which is great since it is so darn good. Enjoy!

                                              Lemon Bisque

                                              1 -3 ounce package lemon Jello
                                              1 1/4 cups boiling water
                                              1/2 cup sugar
                                              Juice and grated zest of 1 large lemon
                                              1 -13 ounce can evaporated milk, refrigerated overnight
                                              Vanilla wafers, crushed
                                              Melted butter
                                                Dissolve Jello in the boiling water. Add sugar, lemon juice and zest mixing well. Set aside to cool. When it starts to congeal, beat Jello with an electric mixture or egg beater until fluffy. Whip the chilled evaporated milk and fold in the Jello.

                                                Place crushed vanilla wafers in the bottom of two pie pans to form a crust. Brush with melted butter. Divide bisque between the two pans. Place in the refrigerator and keep cold.

                                                Note: Also good using ginger cookies for the crusts. Sprinkle additional crumbs over the top if desired or garnish with candied fruit.

                                                May 12, 2010

                                                Creamy Shrimp Salad

                                                Nuttin' better than fresh shrimp

                                                Folks tell me some of the shrimp now sold in the Mobile markets are coming off the coast of Florida. Well, since shrimping our coastal waters are limited due to the oil spill, I suppose that's okay, Florida has one side facing the gulf coast and the shrimp is just fine with me. Hey, I have many Floridian friends who eat just fine.

                                                This salad is a cool one. I mean fresh tasting, with a little tang, almost with a drawl of southern Alabamian flavor that we all adore around here, and will make you think of the cool breezes blowing from our bay. Enjoy!

                                                Creamy Shrimp Salad

                                                4 pounds medium shrimp
                                                2 sweet (Vidalia) onions, quartered
                                                6 garlic cloves, crushed
                                                2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire
                                                1 1/2 cups diced celery
                                                1 or 2 cucumbers (English variety) diced
                                                1 cup mayonnaise
                                                1 tablespoon fresh horseradish
                                                2 tablespoons lemon juice
                                                Salt and pepper to taste
                                                2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
                                                  In a large stockpot, add 3 to 4 quarts of water, the onion, garlic, Worcestershire, and enough salt and pepper to season the water. Bring to a fast boil. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until they just turn pink. Drain at once and let cool in a bowl. Adding ice to the bowl will speed the process. Peel and devein the shrimp.

                                                  In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, horseradish and lemon juice together. Fold in the celery and cucumbers and then toss in the shrimp mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with dill before serving.

                                                  May 11, 2010

                                                  Crabmeat Quiche

                                                  Breakfast anyone?

                                                  I mentioned yesterday, folks around here, including myself, are in a frenzy trying to get our fill of fresh seafood. Not that it will ever happen, I mean come on now, we live and breathe fresh seafood.

                                                  So when I hear folks talk about seeing a sheen of oil just a few miles from our coastline, I just get that funny feeling that foods like this one, made with fresh local crabmeat might not be in the picture in the near future. At least not made with fresh local. That makes me sad.

                                                  In the mean time, the only thing I know to do is to help however I can. Thousands have already signed up for cleanup efforts and hundreds are already working the beaches and coastline picking up tar balls and such. Boats that are normally out fishing and shrimping are working the shorelines with the floating oil-containment booms, the barriers that will hopefully help keep most of it from reaching the estuaries and nurseries along the coast and the oyster beds near Bayou La Batre.

                                                  Such work requires a lot of energy and what better way than a good start like this quiche made with crabmeat. Now don't tell me real men don't eat quiche. Our mothers have made this one for years. Enjoy!

                                                  Crabmeat Quiche

                                                  1/2 cup mayonnaise (light will do just fine)
                                                  2 tablespoons flour
                                                  1/2 cup milk
                                                  2 eggs beaten
                                                  1 tablespoons sherry
                                                  salt and pepper to taste
                                                  1 2/3 cups crabmeat, picked of shells and cartilage
                                                  8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
                                                  1/3 cup sliced green onions
                                                  2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper
                                                  Pastry for 9-inch pie or quiche pan
                                                    Mix the first 6 listings together well. Fold in the next 4. Pour into a pastry line pie plate or quiche pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set.