Southern Alabama Specialties

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

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

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

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

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

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

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

December 30, 2010

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

 One Pan = Good Eating

This is one of our favorite all-in-one pot meals.

As I've said before, there are more recipes for Jambalaya than you can shake a stick at, but I like to prepare the ones using good ‘ol southern elements. This one uses simple ingredients which are the basis for good jambalaya but you'll notice it contains no tomatoes unlike many other Cajun or Creole versions. I talked about the Creole's early influence in this dish with my Creole Ham Jambalaya recipe I shared back in 2009 and then last year I brought back a favorite one with many of you, Cajun Pastalaya which is a mix-mesh of several recipes but one you seem to like. That post sees more traffic than just about any of my Cajun recipes. There is also an earlier Vegetarian Jambalaya recipe from long ago. And I have not even begun to scratch the surface of these one-pot-meals. Enjoy!

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
this makes a big ol' pot - cut in half for 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds smoked or Cajun sausage, sliced 1/4-inch
4 pounds chicken thighs
3 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon crushed thyme
1 teaspoon crushed basil
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
3 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
1 cup chopped green onions

Remove skin from thighs and put aside. In a large stockpot, add sausage and cook on medium heat until lightly brown. Remove sausage and add chicken to the grease, brown on all sides until tender. Remove chicken and most of the grease. Add onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper and cook until onions are clear scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits. Stir in the seasonings and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

Remove meat from the thighs and add to the pot along with the sausage. Add 5 cups of stock and bring to a full boil. Stir in the rice and stir the bottom until mixture returns to rapid boil again, then reduce heat to low. Keep stirring the bottom until mixture reaches the just simmering stage, about 5 minutes. The secret to a good jambalaya is to constantly stir the bottom of the pot while you reduce the heat to very low. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 25 minutes. Do not remove lid during the time.

Remove from heat and let set. Just before serving, stir with a large fork to mix the rice with the meats. Top with the green onions and serve with hot red pepper sauce if desired and lots of hot, crusty French bread.

December 28, 2010

Orange Brine Smoked Turkey Breast

my holiday dinner
Turkey Cooking, My Way

I hope everyone is having a swell holiday, I know I am enjoying a long weekend and here to report that Santa was good to me this year. I say that as I kidded my next door neighbor yesterday that Santa seems to come around for the good and the bad boys and girls.

Although this is a late holiday post, I want to share my Christmas fare with you, one I am preparing today (Sunday) and though we are enjoying our meal a day later, it just made sense with all the Christmas day going-ons. It is also not your typical Christmas day dinner, well maybe one twisted around a bit to my southern Creole-Cajun liking. I started three days ago by marinating a turkey breast in a brine, more like a sweet pickling solution that I combined from recipes in several Cajun and Creole cookbooks. And then I will smoke it over hickory and applewood chips this afternoon outside on the grill. I am also preparing a cornbread dressing, the typical southern version of stuffing in a pan, with a smoked sausage, pecan & sweet potato twist to go along with the smoked orange turkey. A simple side of buttered chive hasselback potatoes, garlic bacon green beans and hot dinner rolls should just about fill the plate for the Sunday after the holiday meal. And maybe, if the day is long enough, a Creole apple crisp with raisins and nuts for dessert.

I hope you try this recipe for a varying way to cook a bird. I will add my comments at the bottom when I upload photos. Enjoy!

Orange Brine Smoked Turkey Breast

1 -8 to 10 pound turkey breast
2 cups orange marmalade (I used my Satsuma Kumquat)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt

Rinse the turkey breast inside and out, remove the giblets if available and reserve for use in the gravy, pat breast dry. Place in a 2 gallon sealable bag or large glass bowl that will snugly hold the breast. Refrigerate while you prepare the marinade.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool completely.

Pour the marinade over the turkey breast and seal bag removing as much air as possible. Place in a bowl, breast side down and refrigerate for 3 days. Rotate every day if the brine does not completely cover the breast.

When you are ready to cook, prepare the grill (gas or charcoal) for indirect heat. Be sure to soak the wood chips for about 4 hours before you start to cook.  I used a wood chip box but have many times used the foil wrap method.

Remove breast discarding the marinade. Pat dry and rub all over with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

For Gas grills: Place the chip box or foil packets over the lower grate or shield of the fire side of your grill. Place the turkey breast on the cool side (opposite, not lit) with the cavity facing the smoke box. I place a sheet of heavy foil over the entire grill surface and breast forcing the smoke toward the bird, but only do this when cooking on very low heat. Light the grill side under the chip box and lower heat to low. Cover with the lid and let it do its thing. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours  or until testing with a meat thermometer into the thickest part reads 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, wrap in foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

For Charcoal grills: Place a drip pan in the center and on the fire grate and add about an inch of hot water or apple/orange juice mixture. Place about 30 charcoal briquettes around the pan, light and let it burn until coated with a white ash, about 30 minutes. Place breast in the center on the grate over the pan, add a small handful of chips to the charcoal and cover with the lid. Partially open the vents. Check heat after 45 minutes adding more briquettes if needed and more chips. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, wrap in foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Afterthought: Yep, this is one heck of a recipe if I may say so myself. The meat was super moist, delightfully flavored with faint hints of sweetness and very little orange, a very unique taste, pure savory turkey. This one I will surely cook again.... and maybe next time I'll double the recipe for a whole turkey or a couple of chickens.

December 26, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings ~ 2 versions

Makes you feel better....

So I was feeling a bit under the weather last week, sniffling around with a sinus cold and slight fever. When I get sick, there are few things that make me feel better and food wise, they are all rich in chicken stock. I dug around in the freezer knowing I had a left-over container of my favorite get-well good-for-all chicken soup, one that I made a while back but forgot to post. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and even has a jalapeno pepper in it to get the head opened up. But there was no container left. Now, the last thing a sick person feels like doing is making a big ol' pot of soup, so I reached in the cabinet and found my favorite friend, chicken noodle and was contempt as could be. But the thought of homemade chicken something-or-another just got to me and the next day, I found myself making another favorite, chicken and dumplings.

Since I felt a tad better, I decided to roast the chicken, otherwise I would have bought one at the deli already roasted. I did use frozen dumplings though, didn't quite have the urge to roll out and dry my own. The recipe is really similar to one I posted long ago, Pork Roast, Chicken & Dumplings and that one is rather tasty with the addition of pork roast. Try it and you will see why.

Oh, I also make this even when I am not sick...

This quick version is so easy, even a sick person can and will feel like making it. The latter recipe has vegetables that add a powerful dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is the version I made. Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings

the Quick Method, when you're really sick

1 whole deli-roasted chicken
2 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 bag veg-all
1 package frozen dumplings
Salt & pepper to taste

Remove skin and de-bone the chicken. Tear chicken into bite size pieces. Any juice that is in the package of roasted chicken, add to a large stock pot along with the bones, chicken stock, herbs and veg-all. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.

Pour stock through a colander and discard the vegetables and bones. Place stock back into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the frozen dumplings one at a time, bring back to a boil and simmer on  low for about an hour or until tender and swollen stirring every so often. Stir in the chicken, add salt and pepper to taste, heat and serve.

the Healthier, Better-for-You Method

1 whole broiler/roaster or chicken pieces of choice (I used a large package each of breast and thighs)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
2 quarts chicken stock
1 quart water
1 large potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bunch bok choy, washed and halved
3 ribs of celery, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
1 onion, sliced in quarters
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried
Dash of dried sage
1 bay leaf
Homemade dumplings or frozen
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder and roast in a 375 degree F. oven until done. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, add the chicken stock and water to a large dutch oven or stockpot along with everything else but the last three listings. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about an hour.

Remove skin and bones from the chicken and place bones into the stockpot, cover and simmer another hour or so. Tear the chicken meat into bite size pieces and put aside.

Strain the solids from the broth using a fine mesh colander or strainer and return broth to the stockpot. Taste the broth and add salt if needed. Return to a steady boil.

Add the dumplings to the simmering broth, one at a time and simmer on low until dumplings are done, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir the bottom every so often to prevent sticking.

Mix the milk and flour together and slowly stir into the pot. Add the chicken and bring back to a gentle simmer. Stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with hot biscuits or cornbread.

December 23, 2010

My Christmas Cheer

Here's a Christmas toast to all of ya'll...

Lift your glass to the future,
Heave it from the past,
Toast to me, to friends far and near.
That from this day forward,
May we remain faithful and dear.

Now here’s a little recipe to start the morning with a jingle in your step.

Christmas Cheer

1 bottle of chilled champagne
1 can frozen cranberry juice
Lime slices

Stir the undiluted juice with the chilled champagne. Garnish flute with the lime slice and drink up. You just might need another bottle.

Crab Louie Bites

Great tasty little appetizers with a Creole taste
Crab Louie Bites
makes 32
32 wonton wrappers
vegetable oil
1 pound crabmeat or imitation crab, flaked
1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons seafood cocktail sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
salt and ground black pepper to taste
    Cut wonton wrappers using a 2 1/2 or 3 inch round cookie cutter.
    Press into miniature muffin tins. Brush with oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.
    Cool 5 minutes. Remove from tins and cool.
    In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spoon into cooled wonton cups. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese or white American cheese if desired.

    December 21, 2010

    Shrimp Puffs

    Shrimp of the Week

    This recipe is so easy, so delicious and so appetizing. Momma made this for cocktail parties back in the early '70's and I am making it for this weekend. It has been around for a long time, that's a testament for good eats. For the folks stopping by my house, this is just one featured appetizer in store. Enjoy!  

    Shrimp Puffs 

    6 tablespoons butter
    3/4 cup water
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
    1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
    3 eggs
    1 -6 oz frozen cooked salad shrimp -thawed and drained
    1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
    5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    Cut butter into six pieces and place water and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full boil over medium heat just until butter has melted. Add flour and salt all at once, stir vigorously until dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan, about one minute. Remove from heat. Let stand five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, then mix vigorously 30 seconds longer. Stir in the shrimp, green onions and four tablespoons of Parmesan.
    Drop shrimp dough by slightly rounded teaspoon about two inches apart on non-greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake in a 400 oven 20 to 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or cooled. Makes about 18 puffs.
    Note: Instead of frozen shrimp, I use 1 cup coarsely chopped cooked shrimp.

    Find over 1200 recipes like this one in my cookbook, Grits to Guacamole, available for sale now. Click here for details.

    December 20, 2010

    90 Minute Dinner Rolls

    Can you say yum?

    This recipe is one I favor, not only because it delivers quick yeast rolls but because nothing beats fresh, homemade, hot out-of-the-oven taste that is a whole lot better than store-bought.

    90 Minute Dinner Rolls

    Makes 12

    2 cups unsifted flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 package dry yeast
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 cup water
    2 Tablespoons margarine
    1 beaten egg

    Mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast.

    Meanwhile, heat milk, water, vanilla and margarine until warm (120-130F).

    Gradually add to the dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed; add 1/2 cup flour. Beat in egg. With dough hook, beat at high speed for 2 minutes and stir in enough additional flour (in 1/4 cup increments) to make a soft smooth dough. Knead until smooth.

    Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into balls and arrange in a greased 9x13" pan. Cover rolls and place in a draft free warm area.

    Let rise to double in bulk and bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes.

    December 19, 2010

    Cold Shrimp and Artichoke Dip

    Easy Party Recipe

    A delicious dip that is versatile for all occasions. This is a very easy recipe to make, just make it the day before for best flavors.

    Cold Shrimp & Artichoke Dip

    1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1 -4 oz artichokes hearts, drained and chopped
    4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
    2 or 3 tablespoons minced red onion or green onions
    Salt, black pepper and garlic powder to taste
    Dash of Worcestershire sauce
    1 small bottle Catalina salad dressing ( or a creamy French)

    Chop the shrimp into bite size pieces. Combine with the remaining ingredients, seal and refrigerate overnight. Serve with butter type crackers, saltines or your favorite snack cracker.

    December 17, 2010

    Syrup Glazed Ham with Cherries

    Recipe for baked ham from Sugar Cane Country

    Christmas from Sugar Cane Country

    A grass with many names, sugarcane grows all over the world in warm to tropical regions. The fibrous stalk contains sugar and from its juice comes many products including rum from Puerto Rico, Brazilian cacha├ža, Louisiana molasses, table sugar and even ethanol to fuel cars. The plant was and still is a vibrant resource in the south.  We use cane syrup in every recipe we can ~ it’s who we are and how we cook.

    Take the traditional baked ham for instance, it would not be traditional in the south if it wasn’t laden with syrup and brown sugar, both made with sugar cane.  By the way, you can make your own brown sugar by mixing one cup granulated white sugar with two tablespoons molasses, just in case you ever run out. Many folks have their own way of cooking a ham, many of you tell me yours is the best and I believe you. I like the way I cook mine just fine, I like the crusted sugary coating, the steamed-in flavor of sweetness with a hint of bourbon and I like my ham to ooze with delectable juices with every slice.

    Here is my recipe for my Christmas Ham, one I worked on many years ago and after I tweaked it to my liking, I have not meddled with it since; don’t need to, it’s just the best ham I know how to cook. Enjoy!

    Christmas Ham
     ...or any time a juicy ham is needed

    1 -8 to 10 pound fully cooked ham (no water added if you can find it)
    1 cup cane syrup (I use Alaga), divided
    1/2 cup bourbon, divided
    1 cup brown sugar, divided
    1/4 cup dark molasses
    1 tablespoon Creole mustard
    dash of ground allspice, nutmeg & cinnamon
    Cherries or pineapple if desired

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    In a saucepan, stir 1/2 cup cane syrup, 1/4 cup bourbon and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat until sugar in dissolved. Remove from heat.

    Place heavy aluminum foil horizontally and vertically in a roasting pan with enough foil to completely wrap the ham. Place ham in the center of the pan fat side up. Score the top cutting through the skin and fat but not the meat.Tightly wrap the sides of the ham making sure to bring the foil up as high as possible and mold the foil around the ham tightly leaving the top uncovered. Pour the heated mixture over the top and seal foil over the top. Place a meat thermometer into the meatest part of the ham and place in the oven. Cook ham until thermometer reads 140 degrees F. or about 18 minutes per pound.

    Meanwhile, over medium high heat, add the remaining cane syrup, bourbon, brown sugar and the molasses stirring in the mustard and spices. Heat to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes, do not let mixture boil over. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until ham is ready to glaze stirring every so often.

    When ham is at 140 degrees, peel back the foil, fold to the sides and drain off the liquid. Cut away the fat along the top. Score the meat cutting about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch deep and spoon on half of the glaze. Return to oven and cook until glaze starts to crystallize. Spoon or brush on remaining glaze, add cherries or pineapples if desired and cook ham to the desired 148 degrees F. Remove from oven and wrap back up with the foil to let ham steam until cooled and ready to serve.

    December 14, 2010

    Chicken Fricassee with Chive Dumplings

    One pot cooking

    Stewed, slow-seared, simmered, braised... however or whatever you cook or call the fricassee method of cooking doesn't really matter. What does matter is the result of one fine all-in-one pot of tender, gravy laden chicken meal that is worthy of a better name than say, stewed, simmered, etc. and fricassee is just fine with me.

    There are, like most recipes, so many ways to prepare this dish. The Greeks tend to use pork or lamb, the French are partial to poultry, maybe a rabbit ever now and then, Germans like veal as well as chicken and down in the bayou country, Cajuns enjoy just about any wild animal as long as the pot contains the holy trinity. We southerners tend to use older hens and top it off with dumplings or biscuit dough, something extra to sop up that delicious creamy gravy.The stewing hen works well in this type of dish because of the slow simmering. A broiler/fryer is just as good and may not require such a long time in cooking.

    My recipe varies from the traditional southern way where toward the end, baking powder type biscuit dough in placed on the chicken pieces. I like the ease of a drop dumpling, one with fresh minced chives. Enjoy!

    Chicken Fricassee with Chive Dumplings
    about 6 servings

    1/2 stick (1/4 cup) margarine or butter
    1 -4 pound hen (or 3 to 4 lb broiler), cut into 8 pieces
    2 cup chicken broth
    2 medium carrots, sliced
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
    1 rib celery, chopped
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
    2 whole cloves
    1 bay leaf
    3 tablespoons AP flour
    1/2 cup milk
    Dash of black pepper
    Chive Dumplings -below

    Heat margarine in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until melted. Add the chicken and cook until brown on all sides, not crowding the pan. Drain away any oil and add the broth, carrots, onion, bell pepper, celery, salt, thyme, cloves and bay leaf. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 45 minutes or until chicken is tender.

    Remove chicken to a warm platter and keep warm. Remove bay leaf and cloves. In a small bowl, mix flour, milk and pepper until smooth and stir into the Dutch oven. Heat to a boil stirring constantly and cook about a minute. Reduce heat and return chicken to the pot. Cover and prepare dumplings below.

    Drop by rounded tablespoon dumpling mixture onto the pieces of hot chicken, not directly on the liquid or gravy. Cover tightly and let dumplings steam about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked and dry on top.

    Serve chicken with the dumplings and the creamy gravy along with a side vegetable.

    Chive Dumplings

    1 1/2 cups AP flour
    1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons margarine or butter
    2/3 cup milk

    Mix the flour, parsley, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the milk.

    December 12, 2010

    Alma's Lane Cake

    When a sugar rush is not enough...

    One of Alabama's more famous culinary specialties, the Lane Cake was created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton AL. It was first called Prize Cake, after her entry in the state fair brought home first place. Later, the name changed to reflect her ownership. Her recipe is a type of white sponge cake made with egg whites and consists of four layers that are filled with a mixture of the egg yolks, butter, sugar, raisins, and whiskey. The cake is frosted with a boiled, fluffy white confection of water, sugar, and whipped egg whites. The cake is typically served in the South at birthdays, wedding anniversaries and holidays. The recipe was first printed in Lane's cookbook Some Good Things to Eat, which she self-published in 1898.

    from the Encyclopedia of Alabama: In Alabama, and throughout the South, the presentation of an elegant, scratch-made, laborious Lane cake is a sign that a noteworthy life event is about to be celebrated. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Alabama native Harper Lee, character Maudie Atkinson bakes a Lane cake to welcome Aunt Alexandra when she comes to live with the Finch family. Noting the cake's alcoholic kick, the character Scout remarks, "Miss Maudie baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight." Shinny is a slang term for liquor.

    The recipe I use and the one in my self-published cookbook, Grits to Guacamole, is one from my hometown and one my family fancied. I have not had it in over 30 some-odd years since I left Greenville and I thought it was high time I brought this memory back around. The recipe is from one of my Grandmothers baking friends, Alma Lowery who made the darnedest best cakes ever. This is one of those cakes that is better after a few days and up to a week, if you can wait that long. Enjoy!

    Alma's Lane Cake
    I modified her recipe just a bit, to make it loaded with shinny.

    2 cups sugar
    1 cup butter, room temperature
    1 cup milk
    8 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
    3 cups cake flour
    3 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup bourbon or smooth whiskey (not in Alma's recipe)

    1/2 cup butter
    2 cups sugar
    10 egg yolks (Alma's recipe calls for 8, but you'll see)
    1 cup white raisins, chopped
    1 cup chopped nuts (pecans)
    1 cup lightly toasted coconut (not in Alma's recipe)
    3/4 cup bourbon or smooth whiskey

    Alma's recipe called for a cooked egg white frosting, this is one also in my cookbook
    2 egg whites
    1 cup Karo white syrup
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Cake: Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Fold in the milk and half of the egg whites along with 1 1/2 cups of flour and the baking powder. Beat on medium until creamy and add remaining egg whites, flour and vanilla. Reserve bourbon to use after baking the layers.
    Prepare 3 cake tins (shiny silver metal works best she says) by buttering the bottom, line with parchment paper (Alma's notes used brown paper bags)  and butter the paper and dust with flour. Pour batter into the pans evenly, tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles and bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 30 minutes. (20 minutes if using 4 pans) If you have to use two racks, use the middle and lower rotating the pans about half way through baking. The cake is done when the top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let cake cool in pans for about 5 minutes and invert on wire racks to cool completely.
    Spoon the bourbon over the tops of each layer allowing it to soak in.

    Filling: Cream the butter with the sugar and then add the egg yolks beating until thoroughly mixed. Cook in a double boiler over simmering water stirring often until mixture is thick to coat a spoon and drops away in clumps (this tested to be around 160 degrees F). Remove the pan from the simmering water and stir in the remaining ingredients. Stir until cool enough to frost the cake tops. Use the filling between layers and on top of the sacked cake. Let set while you make the icing.

    Icing: Beat egg whites until they stand a peak yet still glossy. Mix the remaining ingredients in a deep saucepan and bring to a rolling boil; cook for 1 minute. With the mixer going, gradually add the boiled mixture in a steady stream into the egg whites beating constantly. Beat until it is of frosting consistency. Spread icing around the sides and on top of the Lane Cake if desired concealing the top filling.

    Note: Some folks add candied cherries to the filling making somewhat a Christmas cake, but it is not in Alma's nor Mrs. Lane's recipe. I also made mine four layers in keeping with the original appearance of Mrs. Lane's version.

    December 10, 2010

    Southern Apple Whiskey Punch

     My kind of noggin'...

    Forget the eggnog, even if it is nicely spiked. With the weather as it is, I think I'll take a nice cup, or three of something a lot warmer, something that will toast my toes as well.

    Great for parties, wassail has been around forever and I know there are so many good recipes. This version is the one for me though, based on an old southern one of an apple whiskey punch served along the waterways and rivers in the 'big' houses to guest from far away. Ladies were not allowed this, it was only for the gentlemen. Some gentlemen, huh?

    A wonderful blend of apple cider, (you know, the cloudy kind from squeezed apples and not apple juice) fresh juices from just-picked local oranges and pineapples from afar brought into the area by local seamen along with spices from the far east. The whiskey of course was regional too. Make up a batch and watch your guests 'warm-up' to you quickly. Enjoy!

    Southern Apple Whiskey Punch
    about 18 servings

    2 quarts apple cider (fresh if available)
    2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
    1 1/2 quarts pineapple juice (or a 46 oz can)
    1 -1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
    3 -6 inch cinnamon sticks cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/2 cup local honey
    1 apple, thinly sliced crosswise
    1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
    1 whole orange
    1 tablespoon whole cloves
    2 to 3 cups quality southern whiskey

    Place the cider, orange and pineapple juice in a large kettle or pot. Add the ginger, cinnamon and stir in the honey. Add the apple and orange slices. Stud the whole orange with the cloves and place in the kettle.

    Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. You can keep this warm on the stove-top for about 2 hours or transfer to a slow cooker set on warm if desired until ready to serve.
    Right before transferring to a punch bowl, stir in the whiskey. Serve with a wide ladle, the slices of fruit are delicious.

    December 8, 2010


    Vintage Holiday Treats

    ~a re-post from last year~

    What better way to start the holiday month than with an old favorite recipe. When making Christmas treats, be sure to remember this one as it is a welcome addition to plates of sweets and gift-giving boxes as well.

    What is your favorite way to make sugarplums?


    2 cups shelled almonds
    up to 3 dozen large pitted prunes, dates, dried apricots or figs, depending on size
    2 tablespoons brandy
    1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon mace
    2 tablespoons butter, softened
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/4 cup orange liqueur, rum or brandy

    Roast the nuts in a single layer in a 350-degree F. oven for about 12 minutes or until the insides are a dark gold. Cool completely.

    Depending on the fruits you are using, slit down one side of each fruit or prepare them for a filling.

    Using a food processor, combine the almonds, the 2 tablespoons brandy, spices in the bowl and process stopping from time to time to mix in the bits at the bottom. The mixture should be crumbly that will barely hold together when squeezed. Add the butter, honey and process briefly until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be of a cohesive paste.

    Make balls of mixture as big as needed to fill the fruits you are using. Pour the liquor in a shallow dish and dip each ball of filling in the liquor. Insert the dripping ball into the fruit slit side up so that the fruit will absorb as much liquor as possible. Pinch the slit together and mold as necessary to form the sugarplums. Roll in confectioners' sugar if desired.

    Pack between wax paper if storing in a tin or arrange on a serving plate and cover with plastic wrap.

    Note: Make the filling as a candy by shaping it into teaspoon size balls and rolling each in confectioners’ sugar or cocoa. It is also a good filling for pecan or walnut halves making tiny sandwiches for real nut lovers.

    December 6, 2010

    Satsuma Kumquat Marmalade

    Winter Sunshine

    There is little difference in marmalade and jam. Marmalade is normally made with sliced or chopped fruit or small berries. Jam is generally made from crushing the fruit. A true marmalade contains bits of fruit suspended in its sparkling transparent jelly. Rightfully speaking, a marmalade is truer to jelly as the principles of jelly making apply in cooking up marmalade correctly.

    This time of year, satsumas are peaking along the coast from the long, warm summer months and are just in time for holiday foods. Great for snacking, fruit salads, any pie deserving a citrus topping and perfect for making chunky glazes for cakes. Don't forget to use them in any recipe as you would an orange, like we do this time of year. I last used a few in my Sweet Potatoes with Praline Topping and then had so many folks try it with gracious comments. Satsumas are mostly seedless, easy to peel and deliciously juicy, at least the ones growing around here are, why, there is even a town named after it just a few miles away.

    The following is taking from a worn out 

    Alabama Cooperative Extension publication:
    When peeling citrus fruits for marmalades, be sure to include some of the white membrane found just under the skin. This is where the most pectin is located. Pectin is the substance that causes the fruit to gel. Some kinds of fruit have enough natural pectin to make high quality products. Others require added pectin, especially when they are used for making jellies, which should be firm enough to hold their shape. The highest quality pectin is found in just ripe fruit. Pectin from under-ripe or over-ripe fruit will not form a gel.
    Lemons have enough natural pectin and acid for gel formation with only added sugar. Oranges and satsumas are low in natural acid or pectin, and may need the addition of either acid or pectin.
    To test for doneness in jelly, marmalades, etc. made without added pectin use the temperature test. Take the temperature of the jelly with a candy thermometer. When done, the temperature should be 220 degrees F. This is the most reliable method to use.

    Here is a recipe we have enjoyed many years using locally grown satsumas and kumquats. Enjoy!

    Satsuma Kumquat Marmalade
    makes about 8 half-pints

    6 medium satsumas (or tangerines, mandarin oranges, clementines, etc)
    2 lemons
    12 kumquats

    Wash the fruit well and dry with a clean cloth. Peel the satsumas leaving intact any white pith or membrane and slice or sliver the peel into small pieces. Slice away the peel from the lemons and do the same cutting into small pieces. Cut the ends from the kumquats and discard. Thinly slice the kumquats removing any seeds. Cut the satsuma and lemon pulp into small pieces. Remove any seeds. Measure the pulp, its juice, the peels and sliced kumquats. Add 4 cups of water to every cup of measured mixture and place in a deep wide stockpot. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for about an hour or until the volume is about half from the start. Remove from heat and place in a cool place putting a cloth over the top. Let set over night or at least 12 hours. This will extract the natural pectin from the lemons and the membranes of the satsumas.

    Bring mixture to a rapid boil again and simmer quickly until the peel is tender. This should not take long. Measure the mixture (fruit, peel and water) and add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of mixture. Bring to a boil and cook to jelly stage, using a candy or jelly thermometer to 222 degrees F. Turn off heat and let cool to 190 degrees F.  Pour into clean jelly jars of choice and seal using the water-bath method processing for 15 minutes. Alternately, you can after cooling the marmalade, seal with a double layer of paraffin too.

    Note: If your satsumas are not juicy, add a little orange juice. Some folks separate the white pith and membrane tying it up in a muslin bag while cooking out the pectin and in keeping the marmalade 'sweeter' in the final cooking stage.

    December 4, 2010

    Buttermilk Pralines

     This recipe has been passed around our family for generations. It is our favorite creole candy and the technique below ensues a well made praline.

    Buttermilk Pralines 
    makes about 25

    2 cups packed dark brown sugar
    1 cup buttermilk
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 cups broken or chopped pecans
      Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In the saucepan, combine brown sugar and buttermilk. Cook over medium high heat to boiling point stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar. This should take 6 to 8 minutes. Avoid splashing mixture on sides of pan. Carefully clip candy thermometer into mixture. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally until thermometer registers 234 degree, softball stage. Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over entire surface. Reaching softball stage should take 20 to 25 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. 

      Add the 2 tablespoons butter but do not stir. Let cool without stirring to 150 degree. This should take about 30 minutes. 

      Remove candy thermometer from saucepan. Immediately stir in pecans and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until candy is just beginning to thicken but is still glossy. This should take 3 to 4 minutes. 

      Quickly drop the candy from a teaspoon onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. If the candy becomes too stiff to drop easily from the soon, stir in a few drops of hot water. Store tightly covered after pralines are firm. 

      Brown Sugar Pralines - Prepare Pralines as directed above, except substitute 1-cup light cream for the buttermilk.

      December 2, 2010

      Ham-bone Soup

       My favorite time of year...

      My favorite foods after a holiday are left-overs and I'm not talking turkey. Sure, any pieces of meat makes for a fine pot of turkey dumplings, a breakfast helping of turkey hash over grits or a casserole of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans with a cheesy sauce. Yep, those are some fine eating. But my favorite left-overs are the poultry carcass and the ham bone. Combined with a few scraps of meat and I'm on my way to cooking heaven.

      This recipe relies on the versatile dried beans with a whole lot of help from that ham bone. Maybe you did not cook a ham for the holiday, maybe you've got one stored in the freezer or maybe you just might have to wait until after you do cook one. Heck, this soup is so good, I would cook a ham just for the sake of having the bone. Now they sell in the stores bags of mixed beans and I have bought it at times. If you are like me, you probably have numerous partial or half bags of dried beans tucked away in the pantry. Now is the time to do a little clearing out. Use whatever beans you have, whatever kind you like and whatever makes for a pretty bowl of color. I like a lot of variety in this one and I try to use as many types and colors of beans as possible.

      Long ago, in southern kitchens (out back of the main house) heavy cast iron pots simmered gently throughout the day making all kinds of soups, stews, gumbos and the favorite red beans. The cooking help would put on the vessel early in the morning and go about the business of cleaning, washing clothes and shopping the markets. Coming back to it every so often to meddle a bit, add a tad of this and that, secrets that only a good Creole cook knew, and tend to the fire all while the making of a fine meal was slowing melding together. In other words, don't start this on a day when you need a quick fix. It takes time to develop character or in this case, a good part of the day. Enjoy!

      Ham-bone Soup
      Serves 8 to 10

      1 1/2 pounds (24 oz) mixed dried beans such as navy, northern, white kidney, large lima, baby lima, pinto, black eyed, cranberry, pink, small red, green spit pea, yellow split pea, lentil or black - any combination will be good, the more the better
      3 quarts water
      bean medley
      1 tablespoon white vinegar
      2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning (with salt)

      1 left-over ham bone
      1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped ham
      2 quarts (8 cups) chicken broth
      2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
      1 large onion, diced
      1 large potato, peeled and diced
      2 large carrots, diced
      3 celery stalks, diced
      1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or freeze-dried
      2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
      Pinch of thyme
      cooked ham bone
      1 cup corn kernels(I like shoepeg)
      2 -14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
      Salt and pepper to taste

      Rinse beans in a deep bowl removing any unwanted and rinse several times. Place in a slow cooker with the water, vinegar and Creole mix. Set cooker on warm heat overnight or on low heat for several hours until hydrated. You can also cook stove-top for a few hours if you are home stirring every so often. Drain the beans in a colander.

      Add the ham bone and the next 11 ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer (not boiling) on lowest heat for a couple of hours. In a slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours, or 8 hours on low if you are working that day.

      Remove bone if desired and cut any meat from the bone adding the ham back to the pot. Skim off any grease from the top of the broth. Add the beans, bring to just under a boil and then simmer on low until beans are done and mixture has thickened just a bit, about an hour. Stir in the corn and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook on lowest heat another hour or so. If continuing using the slow cooker, add ingredients and cook on high heat for 2 hours or until beans are nice and soft.

      Serve with hot cornbread, corn muffins or crusty French bread.

      Note: If the beans are still a bit firm when adding to the pot, hold off on adding the tomatoes until the beans have softened up a bit. Tomatoes will work against the bean's ability in absorption.