Southern Alabama Specialties

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

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

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

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

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

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

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

April 29, 2011

Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken

Weekend Grill Time

Weekend time is perfect time for serious relaxing and I can't think of any better way than grilling.

My grandmother brined a few chickens in her day, using buttermilk to soften the meat fibers with a few herbs for seasoning and what I remember, that is, what stuck in my mind, is that she added brown sugar too, a little something to sweeten the pot so to speak . It was some-kind-of-good-eating I mean to tell ya. This recipe is similar to what I remember her making and is based on one I found in Cooking Light a couple of years ago.

Brine the chicken up to 1 day before grilling in the refrigerator. And if you are planning a picnic, grill up to 1 day before serving (chill airtight and keep on ice until time to serve). Or transport the chicken in the brine when grilling on-site. Keep the meat well chilled in an ice chest until ready to grill.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

1 quart buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chicken seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
4 to 6 chicken halves
    In a large bowl, mix buttermilk, shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin, and pepper. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess fat. Submerge chicken pieces in buttermilk brine. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day. Lift chicken from brine; discard brine. Wipe excess from chicken with paper towels. Lay chicken pieces on a barbecue grill over medium coals or medium heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds); close lid on gas grill.
    Cook, turning frequently, until browned on both sides and no longer pink at the bone (cut to test), 20 to 30 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold.

    April 24, 2011

    Asparagus Onion Casserole

    A delicious companion to so many foods...

    like smothered steaks, roasted chicken, pot roasts and southern baked ham and any time holiday entertaining is on your calender.

    Asparagus Onion Casserole
    4 to 6 servings

    1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
    2 medium onions, sliced
    5 tablespoons butter, divided
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup milk
    1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1 cup soft bread crumbs

    In a skillet, saute the asparagus and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to an un-greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish.

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

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

    April 20, 2011

    Buttery New Potatoes with Parsley

    Delightful, easy 
    & darn-right pleasing

    There are times when we need a fancy side dish for a meal, something that's not a fuss and one that is compatible whatever other sides are gracing the table. There are times I like to prepare two potatoes dishes, for holidays and big crowds, when company's coming, for versatility just in case. 

    No matter how fancy the occasion, there is always room for good, basic side vegetable dishes like this one. And the thing I like about this type of cooking, as my Aunt Ida once said, "Hon, it don't matter it you put it in porcelain or plastic, long as it's fine, that's all that matters."

    I say, sometimes sticking to the simple, pleasing recipes are why these side dishes get eaten first. Enjoy!

    Buttery New Potatoes with Parsley
    about 4 servings
    - double or triple recipe as needed

    8 small new potatoes
    4 tablespoons butter, softened
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium saucepan, add potatoes and cover well  with water. Remove potatoes and bring water to a boil. Add salt as desired and carefully add potatoes to boiling water. By bringing the water to a boil first, small new potatoes will cook even, otherwise, starting with cold water, the outside will become overdone before the middle is tender.

    Cook potatoes until fork tender testing after 15 minutes or so depending on how small the potatoes. Drain water and return potatoes back to the burner on low heat to dry potatoes for a couple of minutes. Remove potatoes and add the butter.

    Slice potatoes while hot. When butter has settled, toss in the potatoes, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat, cover and keep warm.

    April 18, 2011

    Supper in the Sand

    Kate Mercer/Press-Register
    Guy's big bite on the Gulf

    A day of celebratory events marked many around the area, but nothing as big as this one in Gulf Shores AL where 500 invite-only guest dined on a 175 foot long white-cloth dining table that stretched parallel to the waters of the gulf of Mexico.

    Supper in the Sand was "a day to celebrate the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico, the resiliency of the people of the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy some great, great seafood" so said Herb Malone, tourism president for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

    Celebrity chef Guy Fieri was on hand along with state and local dignitaries, chefs, common folks too and folks from the local seafood industry. Straight from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, they dined on gumbo, oysters, royal red shrimp and crab claws.

    Kate Mercer/Press-Register
    The event was just one that says to the world we have recovered from the disaster of last year's April oil spill and are ready for a beautiful summer season, a season of fun on the beach and good eating from the Gulf.

    source: portions from Press-Register &

    April 15, 2011

    Strawberry Buckle

    In season - Strawberries

    Buckle, crumble, cobbler, pie... 
    please don't ask me why.

    Now you know we aren't too fancy around these parts. Cobblers and pies make up most of our naming when it comes down to these types of desserts but like every family, there is an aunt from up north, beyond the Tennessee line I believe that once called such a dessert by a fancier name, a buckle to be precise.

    Now what makes a buckle and exactly what is the difference in the desserts above? To me it's irrelevant. I mean, it really doesn't matter what you call it as long as you call it good, right? But since I brought it up, a buckle to me is baked like a coffee cake with a cake batter on the bottom, a layer of fruit followed with a crumble topping on top. Now a true crumble is where the fruit is in the bottom of the pan and the crumble topping is bake on top, sort of like a crisp, sort of like a betty, sort of. A cobbler to me has a lot more gooeyness going on in the fruit filling, again in the bottom of the pan and a biscuit or pastry topping is used to cover all or partially the filling during the baking process. The topping is unlike that for a clafouti, where the fruit is topped with a cake batter or sometimes a pudding. Of course, a pie is one where the filling is on top of the crust, sometimes in between for confusion, kind of opposite from a pandowdy where the crust is on top. And then there are grunts and slumps that are cooked similar to the pandowdy, similar I say.

    Now that I cleared that up, let's get to the good stuff. Fresh strawberries given to us by our neighbor Ginny from the strawberry festival last week. This is just one of the many great things to do with these juicy red jewels this time of year.


    Strawberry Buckle
    serves about 6

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1 egg
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries or any fresh fruit

    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    zest of 1 lemon
    1/4 cup butter

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour the sides and bottom of an 8-inch square pan.

    In a cold bowl, combine sugar, flour and zest. Cut in butter until mixture is of pastry consistency, like coarse crumbs.

    In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Turn mixer on lowest speed mixing for a few minutes to incorporate ingredients. Add buttermilk, egg and turn mixer on low speed. Add melted butter and lemon juice. Beat for 2 minutes. Spoon mixture into pan.

    Place sliced strawberries on top of batter.  Sprinkle with topping and then with the pecans.

    Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set and topping is brown.

    April 13, 2011

    Marinated Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Apple Pear Gravy

    Spring madness

    With each day, I am reminded of our fading spring weather and the thought that many of you are still coping with winter like conditions. And for some of you the season is actually reversing. Our spring has a short life down here, in fact, many would say it is already over. Although we cannot wear white linen pants yet, not until after Easter are we allowed, khaki and tan chinos are our cool 'go to' fabrics we enjoy with temperature most days now reaching into the high 80's. (Some say the bad manners comes from wearing white shoes before Easter and after Labor Day, but a true southerner knows the difference.) The trees have changed to all shades of green and splotches of bright colored perennials are in full bloom everywhere. This reminds us, along with an occasional mosquito bite, that summer is just around the corner. Yes, it is a maddening time in the south waiting on summer. We tend to think up the darnedest of things.

    bearded iris from neighbor's yard
    There are other indications too of our waning spring; the hum of lawn mowers, BBQ grills producing mouth-watering aromas, the yearning for citrus cold drinks, anticipation of farmer's market openings and pork chops going on sale. Now wait a minute you say, what the heck do chops on sale have anything in the world to do with spring or the yearning of lazy summer days. Well, I will tell you. Like the crazy uncle every family has hiding in the woodshed, every family has a secret that someone is just bursting at the bit to let out. This recipe reminds me of just that, one that we like from time to time and one that wakes the taste sensations no matter what the season. And when chops go on sale, we go crazy thinking of new ways to eat 'em up.

    This is a recipe that begins with an inexpensive humble pork chop, marinated to infused barbecue flavors and then southern fried before being topped with a caramelized sweet onion and apple pear gravy. Now that's good eating folks, a real prize and I am glad to let this secret out of the woodshed, so to speak.


    Marinated Fried Pork Chops
    with Sweet Onion Apple Pear Gravy

    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    great gravy beginnings
    2 tablespoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
    4 to 6 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
    4 strips thick-sliced black peppered bacon
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
    all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
    1 crisp pear, thinly sliced
    3 bay leaves
    sweet onion apple pear gravy
    1/4 cup dry sherry
    1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth. divided

    In a large sealable bag or glass dish, combine the first 4 ingredients mixing to dissolve and add the pork chops. Add just enough water to cover meat. Seal bag forcing out as much air as possible. Massage to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 hours rotating after half the time.

    Remove chops and discard the marinade. Blot the chops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle flour lightly on the top of the chops and rub to coat.

    In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown on both sides. Remove bacon to paper towels leaving grease in the skillet (or wipe clean if desired).

    Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium high, add chops flour side down cooking about 4 minutes or until brown. Dust the top with flour and turn chops over to brown the other side. You probably will have to cook chops in two batches. Remove chops to a pan and place in oven on warm setting.

    In a medium saute pan, stir butter over medium high heat. When melted add onion and garlic stirring to coat, reduce heat to medium low. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place apple, pear slices and bacon on top. Place bay leaves in the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes to caramelize the onions. The sugars from the fruit will help sweeten the onions even more. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to the pan and simmer another 20 minutes, do not let mixture dry out. Discard apple and pear slices. Do as you please with the bacon!

    In a small bowl, mix the dry sherry with a good teaspoon of flour. Whisk in the vinegar and 1 cup chicken broth. Add the onion mixture to the skillet along with the sherry liquid and simmer over medium heat until bubbly. Stir into a saucy gravy thickened to your liking.

    Place chops on top of gravy if desired and cover to hold before serving or plate chops and spoon gravy on top. Great served with rice.

    April 10, 2011

    Tangy Green Bean Mushroom Casserole

    Worth keeping...

    It won't be long before many of us will be baking Easter hams or preparing a lamb feast of spring celebration of sorts for whatever reason we choose, depending on our religion and customs. I know many will bring out the favorite bean and broccoli casseroles, the potato gratins and salads, and the many long established side dishes that indeed is customary on our tables. As for holidays, I say thank goodness for traditions. It is a certainty that makes us all feel good, brings about a feeling of belonging and a steadfast thought in time that even as seasons change, some things can remain steadfast, that is good family recipes.

    That certainty is a good thing, one mouthful at a time we enjoy our heritage recipes. And that is really the main drive behind my desire to share my recipes with you, to preserve not mine of course, but the legacy of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, of all that have passed along a recipe that is so remarkably good, folks come back for second helpings and even ask for the recipe.

    This is one such side dish, one from an aunt whose few recipes were recorded, this one on a torn piece of brown paper bag and tucked into a worn, faceless cookbook from the fifties.


    Tangy Green Bean Mushroom Casserole

    creamy sauce
    1 1/4 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed, cut & blanched (or 16 oz frozen)
    4 strips bacon, chopped
    8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/2 medium red onion, chopped
    1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/4 cup dry sherry
    1 -10.75 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
    2 to 3 tablespoons cream
    1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    salt & pepper to taste
    1/2 cup shredded American cheese
    toasted seasoned bread cubes

    Preheat oven to350 degrees F.
    Heat a skillet over medium high heat and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and put aside. Add mushrooms to the grease and saute until brown. Remove and set aside.
    Add the butter and cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the skillet until tender. Stir in the sherry and cook until mixture reduces in half.  Stir in the mushroom soup and mix in enough cream (or milk) for a creamy sauce. Stir in the vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    In a large bowl, mix the green beans and the creamy sauce together. Fold in the cheese, bacon and sauteed mushrooms.
    Scrape into a buttered oblong (9x13-inch) baking dish and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
    Sprinkle with the bread cubes and bake another 10 minutes or until bubbly.

    Note: I also like to use a Swiss Gruyère or Italian Fontina for the cheese and sometimes top with the traditional fried onions. For the bread cubes, I toss day-old bread cubes in seasoned butter.

    April 6, 2011

    Grilled Beef & Vegetable Ka-Bobs

    Blue skies, full tummies

    I just can't imagine a finer day. The clearest bluest sky canvases above as a bright happy sun moves about; the temperature's just perfect, started out cool enough for a long sleeve shirt and by mid afternoon, it was short pants and bare-footing weather. Thank goodness for us here in the states where we have an extra hour of day light to enjoy the evening.

    Perfect weather for grilling, even during the week and doing so is a snap especially when you're cooking Ka-bobs. Now I've talked about skewer recipes before for chicken, pork, beef, shrimp even a fish one and a fajita pinwheel steak one too, but not my favorite Ka-Bobin' la Parilling I like to grill from time to time. So, while I was mixing and chopping this time I took a few pictures to share.


    Beef & Vegetable Ka-Bobs
    or 'Ka-Bobin' la Parilling' for folks in the know

    serves 4

    use your favorite veggies
    1 1/2 to 2 pounds top sirloin steak
    1 medium onion, cut into squares
    1 medium bell pepper, cut into squares
    4 servings of cubed vegetables such as squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, parboiled potatoes, peppers, okra, whatever you like

    for the marinade:
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    juice of 1 large lime
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon crushed oregano
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
    marinate to tenderize
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup olive oil plus extra

    Cut steak across the grain into thin strips.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together the wine vinegar with the next 9 ingredients. Toss the beef strips in the mixture coating well, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
    Remove beef and thread on skewers weaving alternating with onions and bell peppers.
    Whisk the olive oil into the marinade to use during grilling, put aside.
    Place vegetables on skewers and brush with olive oil.

    for the seasoning:
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    Mix in a small bowl or shaker to use while grilling.

    Get your grill going for direct cooking over medium high heat. Brush the grates with oil.
    Place the vegetable skewers on first, brush with the marinade and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side. Place to a cooler side of the grill if possible or remove when done.
    Add steak skewers, sprinkle with half the seasoning and cook for 4 minutes or until brown on the bottom. Turn and add seasoning while cooking to medium to medium-well, about another 4 minutes.
    Remove to platter and serve with bread of choice, a salad and rice, corn or bean dish if desired.

    April 4, 2011

    Leek, Asparagus, Tomato & Sweet Sausage, Pepperoni Pizzas

    Call now
    2 for 1

    Some folks say pizza dough is nothing more than what most New Orleans bakers use to make french bread, that is, flour, water, yeast and a little salt. Some pizzerias mix in sugar or honey to bring about pleasing taste and to further feed the yeast. Sort of like the same trick we southerners use all the time to take out the bitterness left behind from the enzymes of certain foods and more importantly, to get you to come back for second helpings. Most bakers add olive oil to the pizza dough making the dough pliantly tender and speaking of which, sort of brings about a darn good fact I remember once reading. If most minimum wage employees can make a fair pizza dough at a chain pizzeria, then gosh darn it, so should we at home and, I might add, with a heck of a lot more tender care. Another fact is the 2 for 1 offers. I mean come on, you think they are going stay open giving away a free pizza? That just tells me how little it takes to make theirs...

    I already gave you a recipe for a fairly good pizza dough, Artisan Dough, it's actually gosh darn good, but use your favorite one. I sometimes will use a store-bought, refrigerated dough that is actually okay (no food snob comments please) and especially like the newer rustic thin crust one now out. Making homemade pizza at home as we all know requires no recipe, just throw on whatever you like. So with that in mind, I'm really not going to give a recipe, just share with you two that I recently made. I started with a homemade marinara sauce, heavy on the wine and thickened with extra veggies, and a nice white sauce for the asparagus one would be great too. Hope you enjoy....

     Pepperoni, Hot Italian Sausage, Red Onions, Cheese & my Marinara Sauce

    Sautéed Leeks & Garlic, Shallots, Sweet Italian Sausage, Campari Tomatoes, Asparagus, Cheese with my Marinara Sauce

    Note: Be sure to precook certain ingredients; soften the leeks by sautéing and the garlic too to enhance the flavor, blanch the asparagus and precook your sausage or meats before assembly.

    April 1, 2011

    Grilled T-Bone Steaks with Chili Rub

    This rubs me right...

    It seems each year as the seasons change, so does my desire to create another tasty steak rub. I'm not sure why, they tell me I cook a pretty mean steak (meaning flavorful) and I have posted a few recipes previously of my western style grilling, Cowboy Sugar Rubbed Steaks, my Seasoning Rub for steaks, and even my favorite bourbon marinade.

    Now I came about a swell sale on steaks and I knew this was no time to mess anything up, not with the price of meat. So I went about formulating the rub the other day, in the kitchen mixing away a bowl of spices, and I got this questionable look. 'Working on a new steak rub.' I said. The look turned to somewhat a frown and without a word; quickly it left the kitchen along with the person. I knew that look though, it was the same one I get when I reinvent recipes that some in the household think should not be meddle with, even going as far as telling me last month, "I just don't get it, you make the best meatloaf in the world and yet here you are changing it up." I guess there are only a few out there who understands about blogging and the desire to create. It ain't easy being me...

    This year my desire ventures further south, across the border I guess for a taste of a charred steak a la parrila, seasoned with the spices and flavors of Mexico with a rewarding balance of sweet heat and slight essence of limon. I chose a T-Bone as that is what was on sale, and it did just fine in holding the flavor of the rub and baste over a moderate high heat fire to achieve that desired charred outside crust yet still allowing the inside to remain tender, juicy and pink. Go ahead, fire up the grill; you'll be glad you did with this one. Enjoy!

    Chili Rub for Grilling Steaks

    1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
    1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/8 teaspoon Mexican oregano
    1/4 teaspoon course black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    juice of 1 large Mexican or Key lime
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon cooking oil

    Mix the dry ingredients together and sprinkle rub into the meat. Place in a pan and let rest for at least 2 hours.

    Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle onto the meat and immediately get to cooking. Use the liquid as a baste during cooking.