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.

June 29, 2011

Hot Pepper Jelly

Sweet Hot...

This time of year, there are all kinds of things to keep us busy but one of the best I know is putting away the bounty from our summer's fruit and vegetable crops. Since I did not do any gardening this year, I can only thank my farmer's markets, produce stands and the generosity of neighbors. Mobile has an unusual climate, I mean, it is hot as Hades down here with a humidity level that is almost unbearable at times. I have often complained of not being able to grow tomatoes because of the hot, humid nights but one thing that does well is hot peppers, that is if you can keep them watered.

Here is one of the many ways I like to store them away. It is good on so many things, served with cream cheese as a spread, on roasted corn, grilled meats, mixed with BBQ sauce for a glaze, goes great with bacon & cheese on sandwiches, pairs really well with smoked salmon not to mention pork, veal and lamb . . . it is just a great all-purpose relish. How do you like to serve yours? Let me know and let me know how you like my version... Enjoy!

Hot Pepper Jelly

2 1/2 cups finely chopped red & green hot peppers
1 small sweet bell pepper finely chopped
1 1/2 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
6 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter (this reduces foam)
6 oz Certo pouch (Sure-Jell fruit pectin)
1 teaspoon red food coloring, optional

Coarsely chop peppers with seeds and place in blender with vinegar, sugar and pulse to mix well. Transfer to pot, add butter and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Cook for 5 minutes at a steady boil. Quickly add Certo and coloring. Allow mixture to return to a boil and cook for 3 more minutes stirring a few times. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Put into half pint jars and seal in water bath for 10 minutes. This should make about 7 jars with a little left over.

Note: This is also good adding a cup or so of chopped fresh cranberries along with a good handful of chopped pecans to the peppers. I would add another ounce of Certo to compensate for the cranberry moisture.

June 26, 2011

Barbecued Pork Shoulder Roast

A butt of many names

A full pork shoulder consists of two halves, the 'Picnic Ham' and the 'Boston Butt' and can weigh 8 to 20 pounds. A picnic ham is not a true ham but a roast that runs from the shoulder socket through to the elbow. True hams come from the rear legs only. The picnic usually weighs from 4 to 12 pounds. The top half of the shoulder, that being the roast from the dorsal of the animal near the spine through the shoulder blade, has way too many names: Boston butt, pork butt, butt, shoulder butt, shoulder roast, country roast, and the shoulder blade roast. Why the heck we call it a butt seems ironic, I mean it comes from the front of the hog for crying out loud.

In case one wonders what all goes on inside the cover of that smoker (even when cooking off-heat on a grill) and what it takes to ensure a bodacious roast, here's what I know. Ideally you want to maintain the inside of the cooker at a temperature between 225-240 degrees F. On average, given the fact that roasts take between 1 to 2 hours per pound to cook, there is a stalling period or plateau at around 155 degrees during which the internal temperature of the meat levels out without much change in the temperature. During this stage the energy from the heat goes about doing its thing, breaking down the connective tissues, collagens and the fats while moisture moves toward the surface. This is what in layman's terms we call 'making it tender.' If you are able to gauge the internal temperature with, say a digital thermometer, you will not notice any changes for a long period, not until most of the internal tissue starts to really cook and the fats are rendered will you notice the temperature starting to rise again.

June 23, 2011

Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie

1 of 2 pies
Sweet Picking

About this time each year in the lower south comes one of my favorite seasons, the harvesting of the sweet Silver King corn from the fields in Baldwin county, Loxley AL to be exact. Now I've already told you the varying types of sweet corn and what to look for in finding the sweetest. And I've mentioned before the importance of picking corn early in the morning before the sun gets too high, keeping it cold on ice as you transport it home, all in the sake of retaining the sweetness and the just picked flavor. But I'll say this one more time - it is very important to get on with however you plan on its storage before the sugars turn to starch. Otherwise, you might as well settle for the taste of what we call field corn being full of starch, which is okay to eat but as my granddaddy put it, is better leaving behind for the deer and turkeys.

June 20, 2011

Grilled Pork Rib Roast

It's agrillin' time...

Last year I got on a kick of agrillin' everything using a marmalade as the starting point, remember that? From my satsuma-kumquat marmalade we enjoyed a roasted Turkey Breast at Christmastime and a delectable Crown Roast for New Year's. This recipe is similar as the roast but with a mere mo essence of flavors that I think is just outstanding for pork, especially grilled off the heat over a 3 to 4 hour period. Succulent, moist, tender all because of the marinade that's been a'workin' on the meat fibers overnight. Flavorful, tasty, savory from the spices and fruits that's 'bout the best seasoning I know for pork.

Now, for those not from the south, I thought you might need a lesson on our dialect or taukin' as you can see, sometimes I throw it in for fun. I think it is very important to speak (and write) the dialect of your upbringing whether you are a Midwesterner, a Valley girl or surfer dude, from Jersey, from Texas, heck, even from furr south. Ima starting ya'll off easy from the beginning, with the letter 'a', spoken as 'ah'. We tend to add this as a prefix to many words to beautify the importance of the meaning. Like the present participles above agrillin' and aworkin'. We also tend to emphasize words used as future tense auxiliary as in ahm agonna git yo Paw iffin dey cum alookin'. Just as we like to add an 'a' for importance, we also like to take it away sometimes too. It's all 'bout what makes sense, to us that is.

So you see, when it comes time to gittin' down and agrillin', we don't mess 'round. Dat's sum serious bidnis in des'here parts. Seriously, dissin one fine marinade folks.  Enjoy!

June 17, 2011

Marinated Artichoke Rémoulade Pasta Salad

Need a little sumpin' on the side?

Need a side dish for all the barbecuing, grilling and cookouts going on? This is one I think you just might like as well as we do. Of course, you don't have to save it just for cookouts, but it was purty tasty with some ribs we had this past weekend.

The base is an easy-to-make white rémoulade dressing that gives a charming, rivaling yet finished flavor to the marinated artichokes.

June 14, 2011

Peachy Cream Lime Pie

Thanks Cousin Julia

I had a nice surprise last week, a short but sweet visit from a distant cousin from Greenville, who now calls Huntsville AL home. Along with photos of family that I have not seen in eons, she brought a nice, delicious banana loaf that she made and a bunch of fresh Chilton peaches from Clanton. I think peaches from Chilton county are the best, the sweetest I have ever tasted and I'm here to tell ya, I have tasted many. She emailed a few days later an appetizer recipe along with more memories of earlier times at my grandparents saying, "I loved going over to Aunt Elsie Lee's for dinner or a chicken "brissil" because I got to play with your Momma's twirling baton and strut around in her majorette boots!!!!!  Plus stuff myself.  Doesn't get any better...." Julia, I can say I now carry on the tradition of stuffing, that's for sure. Yup, I saw ya admiring my belly, why, in some countries I'd be worth a fortune! And you are right, it don't get much better than good eats like this one.

June 11, 2011

Making a Better Burger

the best
Burgers for Dad

Yeah, I know, opinions are like behineys, everybody's got one, right? Now I am not gonna say this is the best burger you have ever had like some folks claim when they post a new recipe. I mean, how do I know what kind of hamburger you even like.

But lets think about what makes a great hamburger:
~grilled over an open flame to get the essence of a fire chard taste, that's for sure
~a juicy, savory & seasoned to perfection patty, the kind that runs down your chin and makes you smack your lips
~topped or stuffed with cheese, one that you can say actually taste like cheese
~a dressing that really compliments the taste of the burger, not compete with it
~toppings piled so high, you just know your jaws are gonna hurt but in a good way
~bacon, need I say more

So when I set out looking for a burger to make for the weekend and one that might just make some Dad happy for his coming holiday, I thought of the taste I would like. A blend of beef sirloin and pork sausage with just the right fat ratio to seal in flavor and the hospitable southern seasonings that will make any poppa smile. Enjoy!

Dad's Better Burger
makes 4 good-size hamburgers

Warm Toppings:
4 thick slices hickory bacon
1 large onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 hamburger buns, toasted on grill
Cold Toppings:
romaine lettuce
sliced ripe tomato
slices of sweet onion
Creole Mayo to serve
creole mayo

Creole Mayo:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce, to taste

1 1/2 pound ground sirloin beef
1/2 pound ground pork sausage
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Creole Mayo
1/2 cup small cubed sharp cheese (hoop) plus 4 slices
Creole seasoning for dusting if desired

For the toppings: Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove and set bacon aside on paper towels. In the same pan, add the slices of onion, garlic and brown sugar. Lower heat to medium low and cook until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cover until ready to assemble burger.

For the patties: In a large bowl, combine the beef, sausage, and everything except the cheese and Creole seasoning. Mix ingredients by cutting with a large metal spoon using it's side and in a folding method until blended. Work fast to keep the mixture cold and the fat intact. Divide mixture into eight equal balls and with cold hands, flatten each into 5-inch round patties. Place 2 to 3 pieces of cubed cheese on the top of four patties and top with another patty. Seal the edges of each patty so that the cubes are entirely covered and in the center of each. Sprinkle with additional seasoning.

Grill over a hot fire on each side first searing both sides to help form a crust. Then cook over a medium fire for about 3 minutes each side. Toast the buns as the burgers are cooking and remove when slightly brown. Keep the buns warm.

To serve, place a burger directly from the grill onto the bottom half of each bun. Top with remaining slice of cheese, the caramelized onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato, a slice of sweet onion if desired and a dollop of the mayo on the top half of the bun.

June 9, 2011

Grilled Shrimp with Gulf Coast Flavors

Fresh from local waters

There is nothing better than going down to my favorite fish market, which happens to be downtown on the water just a few blocks from our house, to pick up fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, wild shrimp. Now I'm not going as far in saying these are the most beautiful creatures but these sure do put a pretty grin on my face when I see how fresh they are.

How to tell when shrimp is fresh:
support the waters that support Alabama
I was taught to look at the color of the flesh. Fresh shrimp will be translucent, grayish to white in color (or brownish if brown shrimp). If the flesh is pinkish, it is older than I like it, but that is just something personal. You can tell how old shrimp is by the darkening color of it's head normally caused by being on ice too long. The darker it is, the older it is and if it is almost black, well then it is possible spoilage has occurred or at least been sitting around a while. Also, the shell of older caught shrimp will not retain the brittleness of the fresher and will become soft over time. Fresh shrimp, like fresh fish will not smell so heavily with a seafood, fishy odor. Fresh shrimp will have a sweet, almost crisp taste when cooked, older shrimp will most certainly taste shrimpy, like, well frozen shrimp.

Of course, I never have to worry as the shrimp and fish are always super fresh down at the market, right off the boats in fact. I bought a nice large flounder too and had the guys fillet it for me, sure does save time back at my house and they don't mind deheading and peeling the shrimp either. Tips not including. That's the thing about living in a seafood community. Folks know how to treat each other when it comes to seafood. As the saying goes down here, 'only sell what we eat.'

Here is how I grilled these beauties ... Enjoy!

Grilled Shrimp with Gulf Coast Flavors

2 pounds large fresh Gulf Coast shrimp, unpeeled
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup pineapple juice
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Remove heads from shrimp along with the shells leaving tail on and devein if desired. The easiest way to devein is to run a sharp knife down the top (opposite the little feet) making a 1/4-inch-deep incision from tail to head. Rinse under cold running water opening up the incision and rinsing away any veins (the brownish-black matter).

In a blender, add the remaining ingredients and blend to form a marinade. Pour into a non-reactive bowl and add the shrimp. Stir to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but not more than 2 hours.

Meanwhile, soak skewers in water or fruit juice if using wooden.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade and run a skewer up through the middle to thickest part of each shrimp placing about 4 on each skewer for appetizers or 8 to 12 for entrée. Do not leave a gap between the shrimp.

Grill shrimp over a medium-high fire (350-400 Degree F) basting with the marinade once or twice before the turn, about 3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp turns nice and pink and the flesh is an even, opaque white.

Serve with your favorite fruit salsa or try my Tropical Salsa.

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

June 7, 2011

Mushroom Brown Rice

Grandmother's recipe

This recipe is based on one we grew up eating and one my grandmother made as a side dish for cookouts and especially when granddaddy served brissiled chicken (a grilling technique and recipe that's for another day).

Actually, this recipe has been modified once before as I know it. When the microwave came around, it just made sense to utilize the new technique although as for the recipe, I don't think it quickened the cooking time.

Like the original recipe, there is no brown rice at all. Instead, long grain white rice is browned in butter developing a deep, nutty flavor. A combination of

June 3, 2011

Red Chiles Beefy Enchiladas

Amigo, this is good,
and easy.

Oh goody, weekend time and another Saturday which means Mexican food. Actually, this one is more Texan with Mexican flavors. Homemade, hearty and hot... well, you can make this enchilada casserole as spicy or mild as you want... for us, we like it with a little kick.

I started with the idea of a basic enchilada sauce, an easy one from my North of the Border Enchiladas that uses chili powder as the base. I added a little more spice with smoked chile pepper and enhanced the flavor deeper with beef stock and herbs. Easy.

The hardest part of this recipe is browning the ground beef. I also added a little chorizo

June 1, 2011

Fresh Peach Homemade Ice Cream

home creamery
...this is some kind of good.

I grew up in an ice-cream eating family. We ate so much of it, we pretty near had to make our own just to keep the cost down. Nowadays, I do believe it is so much cheaper to buy it from a commercial creamery, but to me, there is nothing better than small batch, homemade.

There are so many ways to make ice cream. We have always liked a custard base, those made with eggs, some with a egg & flour sauce (really an old way) and some using Junket Ice Cream mixes. The latter is really an easy way to go and if you can find it in stores, try it, you will like the creamy texture from this all natural product dating back to 1874.

Basically this recipe is built around versions from two of the best on the subject, who else... Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz and on how they go about making ice cream. What I like about both is they use all yolks and cook them using real cream into a custard base. Dorie prefers to use honey and sugar as sweeteners (he prefers just sugar). I like to bring about my own nuance or nuisance to some, in adding the southern element of corn syrup and brown sugar. I just think it rounds out the flavor on my southern palate a little better making this all about the peaches and the cream; the sweeteners are actually mild. I also add a stronger punch of peach flavor by adding more peaches, along with the fresh but subtle flavorings of citrus. Enjoy!

Fresh Peach Homemade Ice Cream
makes about 3 quarts

about 4 pounds ripe peaches
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Bring a large saucepan half filled with water to a boil. Add about 4 peaches at a time and let set simmering on low for about a minute. Remove and plunge in a bath of ice water. Slide the peel right off from the peaches and dice the flesh (if clingstone) from the seed into a large measuring cup. Some varieties of peaches (like freestone) will pop right off the pit but be careful not to retain any small pieces of the seed. Repeat until you have 5 cups of cut-up fruit. Place fruit and its juice into a large saucepan. Add the corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook until the peaches become a bit soft, not mushy and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove about a cup if you want bits of fruit in your ice cream and puree the remaining peach mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the reserved cup and pulse once or twice to desired size. Remember to chop this small enough so it will not clog up the beaters while freezing.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar to a light buttery color.

In another large saucepan, heat the milk and heavy cream to a boil and remove from heat. Slowly drizzle about half of this hot milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking vigorously to temper the yolks. Now whisk this back into the remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium low heat stirring all while until temperature reaches 170 degrees F. or as it coats the back of a spoon nicely. Do not heat over 180 degrees.

Pour custard into a large glass bowl. Stir in the peach mixture, the Cointreau and vanilla. Let cool and refrigerate until completely cold.

Follow your manufacturer directions on making ice cream. I still use the old-school wooden barrel model (it does have an electric motor though) to make mine and after packing it with ice and salt, it took less than 30 minutes before it stopped at freezing. I repacked it with more ice and lots more salt and let it harden for about 2 hours.

Note: To really top off this ice cream with southern essence, sprinkle with chopped sugar praline coated pecans or a brown sugar sauce.