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.

November 30, 2010

Old Fashion Coconut Washboard Cookies with Orange Glaze

It's a Coconut Day

These "washboard" shaped cookies are crisp, thin, sweet and the recipe makes a simple yet satisfying coconut cookie. Recipes like this one have been around for generations. They are called washboard cookies since each one looks like an old-fashioned washboard. Pressing a fork into the top creates the texture ... one that is just perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. And best of all, they're dunkable, too!

Rich with coconut, cookies jars everywhere are screaming for these chrisp cookies. Mildly sweet, they are a classic tea cookie that everyone will enjoy, especially during the winter months when the taste of summer is so refreshing.

Old Fashion Coconut Washboards with Orange Glaze 

Makes about 9 dozen

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Orange Glaze
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 1/2 to 3 cup powdered sugar

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the milk and eggs together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg mixture along with the extracts until well combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture mixing until just incorporated. Fold in coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Place dough onto the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap (easy clean-up) and shape into 2-inch round logs. Press down to form a rough oblong or rectangle roll. Slice into even slices (about 1/4-inch thick)and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cookies should be shaped into 2 1/2 x 1-inch rectangles. Press lengthwise with a floured fork to create the washboard design. Bake cookies at 400°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack; cool completely.

In medium bowl combine orange juice and zest. Add powdered sugar until thick and smooth. Add into a plastic baggie, snip off one corner making a 1/8 inch opening and decorate each cookie with stripes.

November 28, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Oven Boston Butt Roast

this is good eating folks
Pulled Pork in the oven

This time of year, grilling outside wanes to finding recipes that will work in the kitchen. Now, to me, there is nothing better than a good ol' pork roast slow cooked on an outside grill. It produces a tantalizing smoky flavor with a grilled taste that you can only achieve using a smoker or grill. I have tried many times to replicate that taste inside for I know one day I might need such a recipe due to unfavorable weather.

Now if you have a commercial-like stove vent, smoking meat in the house can happen and then there is always the addition of flavor enhancers like liquid smoke. I use the hickory and mesquite flavors often. Worcestershire can also give a BBQ flavor to meats when combined with BBQ type seasonings and that is what this recipe is all about.  Cooking a pork roast this way ensures a juicy, mild BBQ flavored plate of goodness. Enjoy!

Smoky Sweet, Slightly Spicy Pork Roast
serves 8 to 10 folks
boneless roast ready for the oven

1 pork boneless butt roast, 4 to 6 pounds (or a 5 to 7 pound bone-in)
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 1/2  teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 to 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup apple cider juice
1/2 teaspoon salt or as needed

Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1/2-inch deep in the roast. Mix the 7 spices together and rub over the pork on all sides, forcing some into the cuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours, turning once, leaving the fat side up for cooking.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove the wrap. Place the pork in a oven-proof pan or dish that is just large enough to hold the roast and has a lid. Sprinkle the roast all over with the Worcestershire sauce. Press the brown sugar coating on all sides of the pork and slowly pour the apple juice down one side of the pan being sure not to drizzle it on the sugar crusted meat. Cover with the lid or tightly with foil. Place the roast in the oven. After 30 minutes turn down the temperature to 325 degrees and cook an additional 2 hours. Baste every 30 minutes or so with the pan juices after the first hour.

Test the meat to make sure the internal temperature is at least 175 degrees F. on a meat thermometer. Remove the lid and using a fork, test the meat by pulling it apart. If the meat does not pull apart easily, cover and return to the oven and cook 30 minutes more. Check again, cook 30 minutes more as needed.

Remove meat from pan and spoon off the grease from the drippings. Pull the meat apart. Stir the salt as needed into the juices at the bottom of the pan. Return meat to the pan juices and serve meat with the tantalizing juice warm or also good served at room temperature.

November 26, 2010

Fish House Punch

It's Friday and it's a day to talk about fish.

From the gentlemen anglers of Schuylkill Fishing Company in Pennsylvania comes this delightful yet mouth awakening punch. Believed being served as early as 1732, this tradition continues today as members gather to wash down their catch or sometimes barbecue with this spirited lemon punch.

Fish House Punch
Great for large parties
  • 1 1/2 pounds sugar
  • 2 quarts lemon juice -strained
  • 4 to 6 limes -sliced
  • 4 quarts Jamaican rum
  • 2 quarts cognac
  • 1 cup peach brandy
Make simple syrup over low heat using the least amount of water needed to dissolve the sugar, add lemon juice, let cool and chill.
In a large tub of choice, pour sugar mixture over a large block of ice. Add limes. Pour over the ice, in order, the rum, cognac and brandy. Let set for several hours to mellow, stirring before quests arrive.
Reduce recipe for smaller gatherings

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

From my house to yours,
have a meaningful and blessed day.

November 21, 2010

Green Rice

Just in case...

Okay, I know you do not need another side dish for Thanksgiving, but just in case, this is one we enjoy all year. I know of all the bowls of vegetables and pans of casseroles, the last thing you might need is another starch, but just in case, this one is a little different.

There are many variations of this creamy rice casserole and with many names, we simply have always called it Green Rice. And, that name has always been good enough for us and we always knew to expect the essence of chicken and the flavorful mellow taste of mushrooms along with the slightly sharp contrast of spinach and cheese. I have at some point in the past recreated Momma's recipe by sautéing fresh mushrooms and spinach but, when it comes down to it, the taste was not that much of a difference from hers below. Enjoy!

Green Rice
 ~ rice with spinach and mushrooms

1 -12 oz can evaporated milk
1 -10.75 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 -10.75 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 -14.5 oz chicken broth
2 -4 oz cans mushroom slices, drained and rinsed
1 -10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup minced onions
1/4 cup melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup fine diced sharp cheese
2 cups long grain white rice
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine in a large bowl the milk, soups and broth. Stir in the mushrooms, spinach, onions and butter mixing well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, rice and mix in the eggs.

Pour mixture into a greased 3-quart casserole dish and bake for 1 hour.

November 19, 2010

Roasted Chicken & White Bean Enchiladas

Can't get enough...

Now, you can never have enough roasted chicken, right? Especially this time of year when you need it for soups, chili and great tasting meals like the one today. I normally purchase two or more roasters or hens when they go on sale. A little prep and into the oven they go roasting away and to later wait for further use. Kinda of like squirrels storing away nuts, that is how I am about roasted chicken. I know what you are thinking, dont' go there. I mean, you can never have enough...

Sometimes, when I have the time, I use the crock-pot way of roasting chicken and normally put 2 birds in at a time. Yes, you can roast chicken in a slow cooker with great results like I did in a previous post and this method makes for fine, tasty meat. Today's recipe would benefit with adding a bit of liquid smoke flavor to the chicken. And, when I am really in a hurry and find I have run out of roasted chicken, yikes, I simply purchase a roasted one from the local grocer, again, a BBQ flavored one would do nicely here.

This recipe is enough for two pans of enchiladas. I made a pan one night and the other a few nights later and still had about 2 cups of the corn mixture left, enough to jump start a pot of chili.

However you come about your roasted chicken makes no difference in this recipe as the real flavor is in the mix of Mexican spices and sausage. All together with the added vegetables makes for one tasty, fine eating plate of creamy enchiladas. (Forgive the day after photos!) Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken, Chorizo & White Bean Enchiladas
makes two pans, 12-16 enchiladas

1 -16 ounce fresh chorizo sausage

1 large white onion -chopped
1 medium bell pepper -chopped

2 jalapeños -seeded & minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1/2 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 -11 ounce can Chipotle White Corn
1 -14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 -15.5 ounce can white cargamanto beans (I used similar Navy the last time)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Enchilada sauce, homemade or store bought
2 cups shredded Monterey jack or Mexican blend cheese, divided
2 1/2 cup shredded roasted chicken
1 package of 8-inch round corn tortilla

3/4 cup Enchilada sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided

Remove sausage from casings if you are using links. Place the meat in a heavy skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring often to keep the sausage crumbly until brown, drain off any grease. Add the olive oil and cook the onions, bell peppers until just tender. Add the jalapeños, seasonings, corn, tomatoes and beans. Heat for a few minutes stirring evenly. Fold in the enchilada sauce, 1 cup of the cheese and sour cream. Turn off the heat and put aside. 

Spray two 8.5x11.5-inch casserole dishes with cooking oil if making both pans. Warm the tortillas between paper towels in microwave for about 1 minute. Place about 1/4 cup chicken down the center of a tortilla, add about 1/3 measuring cup of the chorizo filling, roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat making 12 enchiladas placing 6 in each casserole. The pan can hold eight if you need to make a larger batch. Cover tightly with foil for a soft enchilada or bake uncovered for a crispier outer shell. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. 

Make the sauce by stirring the enchilada sauce, half of the remaining cheese, green onions and sour cream in a bowl. 

Remove foil if using from enchiladas, spread sauce down the center, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Notes: If you cannot find this type of corn, use a can of white corn with about 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder. 
If fresh chorizo sausage is not available as it was not for a previous recipe one time, my butcher suggested using a fresh, hot flavored Italian sausage, and I did which turned out pretty darn good.
I like my creamy Western style enchilada sauce for this recipe.

November 16, 2010

Praline Bread

breakfast, brunch or snack

A specialty to the south, pralines are nothing more than toasted pecans suspended in a rich golden brown sugar base making for a delightful candy that will satisfy any sweet-tooth. Nothing more is really a southerners way of saying, it is something we take for granted. There are several variations; the crunchy crystallized sugar patties, some with consistencies of a creamy soft fudge and others more nougat like taffy. My favorite are the creamy versions.

Pralines are ultra sweet, one will do me for a while and that is why I like this slightly sweeten bread. I thought about it as I made the sweet potatoes last week, the one with the praline-like topping. This recipe uses the elements of pralines in making one fine tasting, loaf of bread similar to raisin or banana bread. It is a perfect balance of buttery nutty flavor and brown sugar sweetness. A sweet bread that is delicious sliced as is, by running slices under the broiler to toast with a nice pat of butter, served with honey butter or spread with fruit cream cheese for sandwiches. Enjoy!

Praline Bread
makes 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons Southern Comfort or bourbon
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom only of a loaf pan, either an 8 1/2 or 9-inch.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl, put aside. Beat butter with the sugars using an electric mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, bourbon and 1 egg into the mixture well. Add the other egg and beat until creamy. Alternately, beat in the flour mixture and the buttermilk on low speed beating well after each addition. Reserve 2 tablespoon of pecans and fold remaining pecans into the batter. Pour into the pan.

Finely chop reserved pecans and sprinkle over the batter. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and remove loaf from pan. Allow to rest and cool completely before slicing.

Notes: You can use substitute 1/2 teaspoon extract for the bourbon if desired, almond or maple would be good.
If you prefer to use regular milk, replace the baking soda with baking powder to correct the alkali to acid ratio. You can also use whole yogurt instead of the buttermilk.

November 14, 2010

Crunchy Topped Sweet Potatoes with Orange

a perfect side dish, 
not too sweet...

This is a version of an old-style recipe using southern sweet potato with local satsumas. A flavorful combination with a sweeten pecan crust on top, this side dish is great anytime of the year, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas time alike.

Many folks use the names sweet potato and yam interchangeably and that is fine with me. However, I like to know which one I am using in a recipe for the outcome might be sweeter than desired. You see, yams have a higher starch content and after cooking, are actually sweeter since the starch converts to sugar while cooking. Yam ends are usually not as pointed as sweet potatoes. So, how do you know? This is how I was taught:

Tan or yellowish orange skins with vivid orange flesh - that's a sweet potato. 
Reddish dark brown, blackish skin with cream or reddish purple flesh - that's a yam. 

Crunchy Topped Sweet Potatoes with Orange
about 6 servings

3 very large sweet potatoes
crunchy praline topping
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup Southern Comfort, bourbon or dark rum
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sectioned satsuma or tangerine, mandarin or regular orange, remove seeds and membrane
Salt to taste

1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Bake sweet potatoes at 350 degrees until tender, between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Smash each potato, cut off stringy ends and remove outer skins. Combine potatoes with the next five ingredients using a mixer or food processor whipping well. Fold in the orange sections, add salt to taste and spread into a buttered 2-quart baking dish.

Mix the topping mixture together and spread over potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot.

Note: If using yams, cut the sugar in the potato mixture to 1/4 cup.

November 12, 2010

Yellow Squash Creole Casserole

don't quash my squash

I was tricked the other day at our new, fancy grocery store. Lucky for me everything turned out okay. You see, rarely do I even bother to notice those bags of reduced produce, you know, the ones that are a little overripe or cannot be sold at regular market price. But there it was, a table filled with cute, market oriented bags of various produce. New potatoes, green snap beans, bell peppers and even apples. But the one that caught my eye was filled with bright yellow crookneck squash. Hardly a blemish on any of them. 

I carefully looked it over and could not find a price on the bag, only a sign on the table that read 'fresh squash - $1.97'. What a deal I thought, the bag must weigh about 3 or 4 pounds. So I looked at the sign again to be sure. Well, you know what happened. The produce was not tainted in anyway, it was indeed fresh and as I learned at the checkout, the price was $1.97 per pound. But that is not what the sign indicated. I know, it did not say per bag nor did it say per pound. I just shrugged it off and brought home more than enough squash to make the Andouille Squash Dressing I posted the other day.

So today I'm using up the leftover squash to make a casserole with gratin and one that we enjoy. I'll tell you the same thing that I mumbled at the clerk and that is I can never can have enough fresh vegetables, not when I have good southern recipes like this one. This is probably my favorite squash casserole. Enjoy!

Yellow Squash Creole
makes 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds yellow summer squash, sliced
3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
6 green onions, chopped, separate half of the green part
2 or 3 thick slices day old French bread, torn in small pieces
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
crushed butter crackers or bread crumbs

Boil squash in lightly salted water until tender. Put aside to drain in a colander while preparing the mixture.

Sauté bacon in a skillet until brown. Remove grease if desired and melt butter; add the celery, bell pepper and the onions reserving half of the green tops. Sauté over medium heat until tender.

Soak bread in the evaporated milk and gently squeeze out excess milk.

Add the bread, sugar and seasoning  to the skillet stirring to mix. Blend in the squash.

Spoon into a 7 x 11-inch baking dish and add remaining green onion sprinkled on top. Sprinkle generously with crackers and dot the top with butter.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crumbs are brown.

November 10, 2010

Pocket Roast

when a roast is a farce

The skill level it takes to cook a roast is nothing exciting. Let's face it, nothing new is going to come about with varying cooking techniques except maybe a better understanding of how fibers of meat react to heat. A better recipe, a tastier slice of roast beef, maybe even a new way of thinking of using ingredients, but not a new way of cooking meat. Nope, it has all been done before even if you and I did not think of it.

Here is what we know about roasts and it depends on where the cut of meat comes from. Rib roast, tenderloin, sirloin tip, eye round and rib-eye roasts do well by first searing in a high temperature oven and as the name oven-roasted implies, roasts in the oven during the final cooking period many times at a lower dry-heat setting. Rump or bottom round, boneless chuck, 7-bone chuck and shoulder roasts do well by first searing stove-top and cooks pot-roasting either stove-top or in the oven with just a little addition of liquid. Less tender parts of roast or even steaks do better braising at a low temperature after a sear and with moist heat, covered or not, for slow cooking times. Then there are the techniques like grilling, broiling, stir-frying, pan-seared and stewing with each having a specific purpose in cooking smaller pieces, thinner steaks or tough cuts in a desirable manner.

download a detailed PDF chart & listing of beef cuts from NCBA

Other things to think about: How you go about seasoning your roast mostly depends on the cooking method but most likely a coating of seasonings with a dusting of flour is added prior to the addition of the sear and in doing so adheres to the surface. Marinating is good in certain circumstances for added penetration of flavor. Then the most important rule in cooking a roast is to never turn or handle the meat using a fork or any piercing tool creating holes other than say a meat thermometer.

This recipe is one that beats all I know about cooking a roast. First, you poke holes all in the meat, a no-no for sure, and in doing so subject the roast to release its natural juices. A mixture of spices and vegetables are forced into deep pockets, which literally baste from the inside out. And then you cook it unconventional without searing the meat at what I think is a rather low temperature for a roast. Think of it as a slow braise in the oven. Dang, it's beginning to sound pretty good ... and it is my friends. It is a tried and true way that I enjoy from time to time. In fact, one of the best and flavorful roast I know how to cook. Enjoy!

Pocket Roast
There are many variations in Cajun & Creole cookery with the true pocket roast being one like a deboned shoulder roast and the stuffing filling the pocket. This recipe is truer to a Creole version and similar to a garlic or olive studded roast.

4 to 5 pound top round, sirloin or good boneless beef roast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, margarine or oil
1/2 cup sliced scallions (green onions)
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 garlic pods, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed basil
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Add the butter or oil to a skillet, heat and sauté the vegetable just a little to soften. Stir in the seasonings and remove from heat.

Place the roast in a large roasting pan fat side up. Using a sharp butcher's knife, make a dozen  or so slits downwards into the meat and to about 1/2-inch from the bottom. Do not cut all the way through. Use a small spoon to fill each pocket with the sautéed vegetable mixture. Rub the remaining mixture over the top of the roast.

Bake uncovered in a 300 degree F. oven for about 3 hours for medium doneness or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F or cook to 140 for a rarer roast.

Remove from oven, rest for about 10 minutes and serve with the pan drippings or use the liquid to make a thin gravy.

Note: Cooking the roast as above to desired temperature produces nice, tender slices of meat. As you can see in the photos, I added traditional potatoes and carrots this time, coated in olive oil, salt and pepper along with about 2 cups of beef stock and cooked it for a longer time. The results yields a well done roast but with lots of savory pan drippings.

November 8, 2010

Roasted Squash & Andouille Dressing

2 great dressings in 1

Where ever you live you just may call this by another name - like, stuffing or farce, from the Latin farcire (and French farcir) means to stuff. Forcemeat, another common term still used in sausage making, is another name hung over from the middle ages. And there is dressing, a favored term from the Victorian days when the upper crust did not care to use the name, stuffing. Some folks are strict in choosing their words; stuffing goes inside and dressing is a pan dish. In the south, we pretty much cook this as a side dish normally with a cornbread base and call it dressing, nothing to do with any strict formality as in the late 1800's or as being politically correct today, but more to do with just plain ol' good eating.

When Thanksgiving comes around, there is nothing that takes the place of Grandmother’s cornbread dressing, you know the one that starts out by simmering a hen for its meat and rich stock making the dressing so flavorful. Then second to none on many tables down here is oyster dressing, a tradition in the south, in fact, many times we serve both. 

Then there are times when I get a hankering for some other dressing (but not on Thanksgiving) and my other favorites are squash dressing and andouille dressing. Both are made similar to the cornbread version but yielding a taste altogether different. So when I decided the other day to make a pan of dressing to go with baked chicken and gravy, I just couldn’t decide and that is how this recipe came about, a combination of both. For a dressing with an astounding taste, try this one the next time you get a yearning for a different side dish - you will be glad you did. Enjoy!

Roasted Squash & Andouille Dressing

2 pounds yellow squash, washed & sliced into 1/2-inch slices
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced andouille or smoked sausage
1/4 cup butter
1 chopped cup onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
5 cups crumbled cooked cornbread
3 or 4 slices of day old bread, torn into small pieces
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
2 large eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
Chicken broth as needed

Sprinkle both sides of the sliced squash lightly with salt. Place the colander in the sink, or in a larger bowl, to catch the water. After an hour, wipe the squash dry with paper towels, and place on a well-oiled baking tray, not touching. Brush a little oil on the top sides of the squash and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Roast in a 400-degree F. oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and slightly brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Place the sausage in a large skillet and brown with the butter on medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook until tender. Remove to a large bowl.
Add the green onions, cornbread and bread to the bowl, Mix the milk and cream with the chicken soup, eggs and fold into the cornbread mixture. Lightly season with salt, black pepper, the desired amount of cayenne and thyme mixing well into a slightly mushy consistency. Add chicken broth if needed. Fold in the squash saving a few larger slices for the top.

Pour dressing into a large 13x9 inch casserole dish. Place the remaining squash on top and press each piece into the dressing.

Cover with foil and bake in the 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 15 minutes or until brown.

November 4, 2010

Pigskin Playbook with Hormel & Friends

the Hormel Party Play

When Foodbuzz announced partnering with Hormel and pitched the idea for some of us to come up with recipes, I was all for it and said heck yeah. I immediately thought of pigskin tailgating and of friends sharing food. As we near the fourth quarter of this season, the feudal fury of college football makes everyone hungry on game-day. Hormel and football go, well, to fumble a cliché, hand in mouth.

Many thanks to Hormel and the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program. I enjoyed coming up with these recipes and I think everyone who shared the fine Hormel foods enjoyed them as well. Hope you will play on this team.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, 
I received products from Hormel, coupons for Hormel items 
as well as for friends and a stipend for other food and party supplies.

Here are a few snapshots of the game...
Olive & Pepperoni Tapenade
Ham & Black Eyed Pea Salad Pita
Ham & Cheese Ball Appetizers
BBQ Tenderloin for Sandwiches
Cajun Biscuits with Green Onion Mayonnaise
Toasted Bacon Crusted Figs
Now for the playbook:

Olive & Pepperoni Tapenade
Based on Mediterranean style tapenade with a flavoring from pepperoni and the sweetness of ripe olives with mild bell pepper. Served on bite-size cheese toast for an exceptional taste.

2 ounces Hormel® Turkey Pepperoni
1 cup sliced ripe black olives
1/4 cup sliced Spanish green olives
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Couple of good shakes red pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
serve with:
thin bread cut into bite-size rounds
Thin slices of Edam or Gouda cheese

Drain olives. Place pepperoni in the bowl of a food processor with metal blade and pulse coarse. Add olives, garlic, capers, basil, parsley, red pepper and lemon juice. Pulse to mix and add the oil processing to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture becomes a chunky paste. Transfer to a bowl.

Place a thin slice of cheese over thin toast rounds and run under a broiler to toast the cheese. Top with a spread of the tapenade when serving.

Also: Serve the tapenade in a bowl with crackers, toast points, pita chips or even crudités.

Ham & Black-Eyed Pea Salads in Pitas
Serving fine ham and black-eyed peas together is a southern institution. This is my twist on marinated Black-eyed pea salad combined with a creamy ham salad - perfect for pita filling. Makes about 3 cups of each salad.

1 -14.5 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed & drained well
1 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
1 jalapeño, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups Hormel® Cure 81® Boneless Ham, 1 inch cubed
1 tablespoon Creole grain mustard
1/4 cup pickle salad cubes, drained
Cayenne to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
serve with:
lettuce, tomato and pita bread

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Combine the the next 4 listings in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high. Mix the vinegar mixture with the peas, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

In a food processor with metal blade, add ham and pulse to chop in a spreadable consistency. Spoon ham into a bowl and fold in the mustard, pickles, cayenne, eggs and mayonnaise.  Set aside.

Drain liquid from peas, remove bay leaf and set aside.

Cut each pita in quarters and stuff a good tablespoon of the ham salad along with a spoonful of the black-eyed pea salad into each serving; add a layer of lettuce and tomato if desired. Plate and serve immediately.

Ham & Cheese Ball Baked Appetizers
An all-time classic for any party but with the added great flavor of cured ham and the sweetness of roasted onions. Makes about 6 dozen or enough for a dozen football fans

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/3 cup finely minced sweet onions
1 1/2 cup AP flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hormel® Cure 81® Boneless Ham, finely diced
1 (12-ounce) package Little Sizzlers® Tabasco Pork Sausage Hot or bulk hot sausage
12 oz extra sharp cheese, grated

In a small sauté pan, melt butter and cook the onions slowly to brown. Let cool completely.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the onions, ham and cheese to coat. Add the sausage and work with your hands incorporating mixture together to a somewhat dry mixture.

Spray 2 baking pans with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll about a tablespoon of mixture in your hands, place 1-inch apart on baking pan and continue shaping balls. Place one pan in center of oven and bake for 8 minutes. Use a spatula to turn balls over and continue baking another 7 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove to paper towels to absorb excess oil. Continue baking the next pan.

Serve with grain mustard, red pepper jelly or a barbecue sauce.

Note: These freeze well, just roll them out and freeze uncooked on a pan. Defrost about 15 minutes before baking as above.

Roasted BBQ Pork Finger Sandwiches
Serve about 15 guests with these easy petite sandwiches featuring succulent slices of spicy-sweet pork that makes southern style BBQ so wonderful. What ever you do, don't leave out the tangy sweet heat from these pickles. A true BBQ classic.

1 -18 oz Hormel® Always Tender® Peppercorn Flavored Pork Tenderloin
My BBQ Rub for Pork or a good BBQ Seasoning
My Bourbon BBQ Sauce or your favorite bourbon barbecue sauce
My Sweet & Spicy 1-Day Pickles or Spicy Bread & Butter Pickles
Finger rolls, party bread or dinner rolls cut in half

Remove pork from wrapper. Roll loin in rub and completely cover with seasonings. 

Conventional Oven:  Place tenderloin in shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the meat registers 155°-160°F.
Grill: Heat grill. Place tenderloin directly on grate of grill. Grill over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the meat reaches 155°-160°F.

Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into very thin slices not more than 1/4-inch thick. Heat 1/2 cup barbecue sauce in a large bowl. Toss the pork in the sauce to coat. Cover and set aside keeping warm.

Heat rolls according to package directions. Spit open and add several slices of pork, a couple of slices of pickles with the onions if using my recipe and plate on a warm serving tray. Cover with a warm towel or place in a low warming oven until serving time.

Roasted Pork Cajun Biscuits
Couldn't cook for my friends without a little Creole or Cajun influence. This simple party appetizer takes the classic elements of varying southern tastes far beyond good hospitality. Serves about 18 guests

1 -24 oz Hormel® Always Tender® Onion Garlic Flavored Pork Roast
recipe for Cajun Mayonnaise
Creole or Roma tomatoes
Tea Biscuits (Bite size frozen biscuits)

Conventional Oven: Remove pork roast from wrapper. Place roast on a shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 45-50 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the meat reads 160°F.
Grill: Remove pork roast from wrapper. Place roast directly on grate of grill. Grill, over medium heat, turning occasionally for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the meat reads 160°F.

Let meat rest 5 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thin pieces. Cut just a little larger than the biscuits. Wrap meat in foil until ready to assemble.

Bake biscuits according to package directions. Slice each in half, spread a thin layer of Cajun mayonnaise on each half, add 2 or 3 slices of pork to bottom half and a 1/4-inch slice of tomato to the top. Run tops under the broiler to melt the tomato just a bit. Add a thin layer of the mayonnaise on top of the tomato before assembling. Serve immediately.

Toasted Bacon Crusted Figs
Makes about 18 appetizers featuring crisp bacon in harmony with the taste of mild nutty cheese and the sweetness of sun-dried figs.

1 - packages dried whole brown figs
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup Hormel® packaged Real Crumbled Bacon

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the pecans and pepper.  Slice the figs in half and using your finger, press onto a baking sheet making an indention in each piece. Stuff about 1/2-teaspoon cheese mixture into each one. Dip cheese topping into honey and press fig in crumbled bacon. Place on baking sheet bacon side up.

Cook in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 4 to 6 minutes or until bacon begins to crisp. Let cool 5 minutes and plate for serving.

November 2, 2010

Hamburger Steak Sandwiches with au Jus

au Jus, Brute?

There are many times, after serving roast beef, that I am left with a nice, rich stock of pan drippings even after making enough gravy for the beef. In fact, my freezer contains many such bags of 1 or so cups of this delectable flavored broth. So many times these little bags come in handy for meals like the one today.

This is a take on roast beef sandwiches which I like to add a nice layer of grilled or caramelized onions and peppers. But in this case, I have no roast beef so it's going to be hamburger steak sandwiches. To the pan drippings of the thin 'steaks', I find a quick and tasty homemade au jus to be just the thing to simmer with the meat, dribble on the buns, and as usual, a good topping of onions and peppers.

Now it would be ever so easy to reach for the little green pack, my favorite au jus pack is from Knorr's, but sometimes my pantry runs low and I must take to making my own sopping juices. Sorry, Knorr's, but this recipe is pretty darn good and even tastes fresher than the little green pack. Et tu Brute, er, in this case me for giving out such a delectable recipe. Enjoy!

Hamburger Steak Sandwiches

1 pound lean ground beef
Steak seasonings
Olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
recipe for au jus or packaged
Po boy or hoagie buns

Mix desired amount of steak seasoning into the ground beef and divide meat into 4 or 6 parts. Between plastic wrap (I cut 2 sides from a large baggie) press each of the beef mixture as thin as possible forming an oval 'steak'.
Add a tablespoon of oil to a hot skillet and fry each steak on both sides until brown. Remove and add more oil if needed and caramelize the onions and peppers over medium low heat. Remove onions & peppers and continueing making the au jus. Add the steaks into the sauce and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
Toast the buns and layer desired amount of steaks breaking to fit the bun if needed. Add the onions and peppers and dribble a good spoonful or two of sauce over the mixture. Add the top bun and eat up.

Homemade au Jus

1 cup beef drippings from prime rib or baked roast
1 -15 ounce can beef broth
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
1/2 teaspoon onion and herb seasoning (Mrs. Dash is good)
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt or as needed

Mix the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until the blended. Set aside.
In a large saucepan pour in the drippings over medium heat, add the broth, Kitchen Bouquet, and seasonings. Bring to a low boil and then whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Note: Use this sauce over cooked beef, sandwiches or delicious over beef tips and noodles. ONLY add the seasoned salt after tasting as your drippings may be salty enough.