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.

February 27, 2012

My New Best Roasted Chicken

Call me crazy...

Okay, so I've been through this phase where I've roasted chickens laying totally 'flat-out' on a pan and I swore I would never attempt to change. It's true, flatten birds roasted this way are simple to cook, are most evenly cooked and when marinated in a buttermilk yogurt brine beforehand, are totally full of flavor and always come out tender. Then I went through another phase of an engaging idea of sort, a foolproof way to roast a whole chicken with the most marvelous lemon flavor that is still tops on my list. Of course, there was that other way, the time I roasted 2 birds in the slow cooker, ... yes, I did and they too were delicious.

So why on earth would I want to try another method, risk failure or better yet, improve my chances of making a favorite Sunday dinner? I'm a food blogger and a recipe writer, plus the fact that I enjoy eating helps immensely. Now I cannot take all the credit for this recipe as with the many ways roasting a chicken, this method is favored by many and the list of ingredients are on many cookbook pages as well. Still, I think the combination of flavors is somewhat unique and the cooking method is right on, at least for the coming Sundays until I get another idea. Enjoy!

My New Best Roasted Chicken

1 -3.5 to 4 pound whole chicken
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed into 4 pieces each
1 onion, quartered
1 large celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, quartered
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water

Rinse the chicken under cold water inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and bay leaves. Simmer on low for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let set.

In a small bowl, mix the 5 seasonings together. Sprinkle a good tablespoon into the cavity coating as much of the inside as possible. Add remaining seasoning mixture to the butter mixture.

1st roast, breast side down
Place the onion and lemon quarters along with the chopped celery and butter cubes into the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken legs.

Brush the seasoned butter mixture all over the outside of the chicken.

2nd roast, breast side up
Place the chicken in a roasting pan (on a rack preferably) breast side down and pour chicken stock and water in the bottom of the pan. Place pan in the center of the oven roasting for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and turn the chicken over, breast side up. Continue roasting about 40 minutes or until internal temperature reads between 175-180 degrees F. The chicken is done when it turns a lovely golden brown and the legs wiggles loosely when twisted.

Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Use the pan drippings to make a bodacious gravy.

Note: If you find your roasting rack too large for a single chicken, place a crumpled ball of foil under a baking rack to raise the bird from the drippings.

February 25, 2012

No Yeast Cloverleaf Rolls

 New meaning to
Quick Breads

Thumbing through a magazine, Esquire of all places, I came across a recipe for easy rolls simply called 'Meltaway Rolls' and reading through the ingredients I remember I had a very similar recipe in my family's file. I imagine the recipe in file dates way back in time, probably from a newspaper or magazine too. It uses no yeast and makes a biscuity buttery roll that I remembered being outstanding.

The meltaway roll recipe uses a biscuit mix whereas the one saved from Momma's kitchen uses flour and lots more butter. The one ingredient both have in common is the use of sour cream.

This is a very easy recipe, requires no rising time and can be made in less than 45 minutes, with quick hands that is. It takes me about an hour total including cooking time. I guess I would give this recipe an 'average' rating as for it took me several attempts to get the rise correct. I think I overworked the dough and did not factor in that this is suppose to be an easy recipe, but then I tend to do that with bread recipes.


No Yeast Cloverleaf Rolls
makes about 36 small rolls

2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (8 ounce container) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) salted margarine (or half butter/half margarine)

Preheat over to 450 F.

Sift flour and sugar in a medium bowl.

In a saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat and when just melted, remove from heat and whip in the sour cream blending well. Add this to the flour stirring well to make a soft bread mixture. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Remove from fridge and pinch away dough to make small balls (about marble size) for mini size muffin tins or a tad bigger for small tart pans. The three balls should be just a bit oversize to nestle comfortably in the tin. Of course, you could aways place 4 balls in each cup making 4-leaf clover rolls (better luck, so they say). Roll balls on a lightly floured surface on in the palm of hands.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until tops begin to turn golden brown.

February 18, 2012

Big Mama's Creole Meatballs in Red Gravy

Ida Claire, you still amaze us....

Every time I come across a recipe from our beloved Aunt Ida, I know it is a good one. She has yet to let us down, even though many folks have forgotten of her, bless her heart. So when I came across this recipe a while back found in Aunt Ida's notes, I knew that if she loved it, we would adore it too.

Now unfortunately, I do not know anyone in our family referred to as Big Mama although there is something familiar about the name in association with my Grandmother Zeigler's side of the family. As I recall, many times we passed a beautiful, white house out in the country on the way to Sherling's Lake and it seems that was 'Big Mama's house' or where it once stood, or something another. But Aunt Ida did not know my Grandmother and she was not from my hometown so I know this is not a recipe from rural Alabama and because of the Creole, Italian along with the Southern ingredients, it must be from the Gulf Coast area or from a port city in the south. That would make much more sense in knowing Big Mama was either family or a friend of Aunt Ida.

The recipe dapples far enough into Italian influences to be considered Italian but like so many of my favorite offerings, this recipe has just enough charm of Creole and southern flavorings to make it a classic standard in our house. In fact, this is one I am adopting and will repeat many times. Thank your Aunt Ida and Big Mama who ever you are.

Aunt Ida kept splendid notes and when it came to recipes, she many times offered suggestions as if it was a work in progress, comparing one technique with another in seeing which worked out the best. In the meatball recipe below, she mentions 'while mixing the meats with the seasonings (and here I know she includes vegetables too) use a cold metal spoon, dipped in ice water and gently fold mixture together.' She forgos of using her hands as the temperature and pressure will pack down the meat and will make it tough after cooking. Only at the very last of shaping does she roll the meatballs into orbs using her hands and then the hands 'should be ice cold.' She also mentions in making the sauce a variation for a brown Creole sauce using a dark roux.

I dunno about you, but I am glad I found this recipe. I appreciate Aunt Ida for doing most of the legwork in developing the original recipe from Big Mama, whomever family she reigned.


Big Mama's Creole Meatballs in Red Gravy

Creole Meatballs: 

1 medium piece day-old French bread (about a 3-inch slice)
1/3 cup sweet cream (half-and-half)
5 or 6 fresh pork hot sausage (like DiMaggio's Spicy Cajun Sausage)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
3 toes of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound fresh ground beef hind-end roast (I used a 85/15 ratio ground round)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, break the bread into small pieces and add the cream. Let set for an hour.

Remove casing from each of the sausage and cut each into half. Place sausage in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the parsley, onion, bell pepper and seasonings over the sausage.

Break the ground beef and cover the vegetables. Take the bread, squeezing out just a little of the cream, and place evenly on top of the beef. Top with the Parmesan cheese.

With a heavy metal spoon, gently fold the layers together dipping the spoon from time to time in ice water in keeping the mixture cold. Do not pack mixture down or tighten it up, Aunt Ida states that 'Big Mama's balls are loose.' When fully incorporated, dip your hands in the ice water, dry them off and place a large spoonful (about 1 1/2-inch diameter) in one palm. Tenderly roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Repeat keeping hands cold until finished.

Big Mama fried her meatballs, but I chose to bake mine in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Remove, and turn meatballs over. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until center is done. Remove to drain on paper lined plate.

Add meatballs to the sauce if desired before serving.

Creole Red Gravy:

2 tablespoons lard (Ida used vegetable oil but I use olive oil)
3 or 4 toes of garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
3 bay leaves, divided
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
4 large Creole tomatoes, diced (or about 7 ripe Roma tomatoes diced or 1 -14.5 oz can petite diced)
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped 
Dark Roux or 1 -6 ounce can tomato paste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
3 springs spring onions, minced

Heat a stockpot or large oven over medium heat, add olive oil and when hot add the sliced garlic and 2 of the bay leaves. Cook until garlic in brown on both sides stirring all while. Remove garlic and bay leaves from the pot with a slotted spoon. Add the trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) and sauté over medium-low heat until onion edges start to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently to caramelize. Add the tomatoes cooking another 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock or enough to cover tomato mixture by 1/2-inch. Add the remaining bay leaf and the seasonings stirring while bringing mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat to low simmer. Add a dark roux thickener for a brown Creole sauce or the tomato paste for the red sauce pictured here. Cook for about an hour stirring often. Adjust seasonings if needed and add the hot pepper sauce to taste. Bring sauce back to a low simmer. Remove bay leaf and stir in the fresh minced garlic and green onions right before serving.

Serve with pasta, rice and meat dishes.

February 17, 2012

Mobile Mardi Gras, behind the scenes...

Jester prop

of just a few of the wonderful, brilliantly staged events the Zimlich Bros crew created this year. Some folks say you have to be crazy to be in the business we are in but after seeing these snapshots of jobs, the long hours put it takes, the payoff is so rewarding. Well done folks, and good luck for the remaining year.

I do not know how many events our crew has covered since carnival season started back in November; 30, 40, 50? But just a couple of more days before it's all over and then everyone gets to rest . . . yeah right. In this business, no one rests......

So, thanks again guys. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the pics from this year. For the folks outside of Mobile, our gang handles the Special Events side of our company and executes all aspects of parties, dances and Mardi Gras balls.

Here are just a few pics from this season:

underwater stage

Bee stage

another Jester prop
Dance floor for a ball
yet another Jester prop
jungle stage
table centerpiece
MCA King's Coronation with backdrop
Promenade area for King's Coronation

February 12, 2012

Mardi Gras Parade Pic's

Greetings from 
Mobile AL

For those of you requesting more of what's going-on ... here are a few pics from the first few weeks of parades.

Only 10 more days to go and 26 parades!

Krewe de la Dauphine

Island Mystics

February 9, 2012

Mobile Mardi Gras Museum

Mardi Gras  Fun Facts

The Mobile Carnival Museum highlights the history of Mardi Gras in its true birthplace - Mobile Alabama.

Mardi Gras in Mobile has been described as being the largest, family-orientated street party celebration in America. Young and old look forward to claiming their spot on the street, and waiting patiently for the colorful, paper mache’ floats to make their way down the streets of Mobile. It is a celebration staged by the people, for the people. Thousands line the streets for each parade hoping to catch moon pies, beads, themed cups and stuffed animals, among other things.

Now when you have a little time on your hands, in between parades, there is no better place to spend it than our Carnival Museum. The museum offers 14 gallery rooms, a pictorial hallway, theater, den (social gathering area) and gift shop. In addition, the home is registered as a historic building and affords visitors the opportunity to enjoy detailed crown molding, pine floors and exquisite chandeliers.

Here are a few things to do and look for:

Immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions of carnival.
♦ See first hand the intricate designs and artistry of majestic crowns, scepters and robes of
Mardi Gras monarchs.
♦ Discover the art of costume design and float construction.
♦ View videos of parades and balls.
♦ Witness the pomp and pageantry of past coronations.
♦ Browse a pictorial gallery of historical photographs dating back to 1886.
♦ Experience a behind the mask view of the street party by climbing aboard a rocking float.
♦ Become a costumed youth rider in the Little Mystics Den.

355 Government Street
Downtown Mobile, Alabama


9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Open by reservation during all other days and hours

Adults: $5.00
Children: $2.00
Handicap Accessible
Tours and Groups Welcome

February 7, 2012

Favorite Root Vegetables

rutabagas with stewed squash, butterbean and speckled bean medley

Winter in the South...

.. means cool climate vegetables like collards, turnips and a few other cooler weather leafy greens enjoy a growing season of five or six months. We grow turnips for the vegetation, not the root that most folks think of when scanning across the vegetable bins at the market. Sure, we eat them too, but it ain't our favorite part of the plant. Most root crops are imported to our area. Now, we do grow new potatoes, sweet taters, horseradish, garlic, onions, even peanuts and soybeans (yes, it's a storehouse of energy in a shell) and we can in good conditions grow the likes of carrots, radishes, beets, parsnip, salsify and Irish taters too.

The best time to cook any vegetable is during it's peek season and with the root crops, that means early in the season when the roots are still young and sweet.Roasting is a great way to bring about the natural sweetness of root crops. I guess my favorite is rutabagas and the roasted version I do sometimes is about as good as I know, unless you prefer the boiled, mashed method. Most folks tend to cover the vegetables completely with water or stock and that is fine, if that is how you like it. We tend to treat 'em a little different by a quick sear or stir-fry in a flavorful fat coating and then allow the rutabagas to steam in their own natural moisture content with maybe just a little help of chicken stock. Of course, we throw in a little southern seasoning just so you'll want a second helping.


Tender, Southern Seasoned Rutabagas
this is a good way to cook all root crops turnips, parsnips, carrots - just remove from heat when tender

4 to 6 pounds rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons bacon grease (or 4 tablespoons margarine)
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil if using margarine but hey, it ain't gonna be southern)
1 jalapeño or hot pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (lots of pepper)
1/2 cup chicken stock

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, add the bacon grease and butter. When hot, add the rutabagas and toss to coat evenly. Cook, continuously tossing for about 5 minutes to sear the rutabagas. Add remaining ingredients, toss again to distribute the seasonings and cover with lid. When boiling action begins, reduce heat to medium low. Cook tossing rutabagas a couple of times for 1 1/2 hours or until tender.

Rutabagas are considered ready (tender) around these parts when the cubes begin to break down and turn to mush. Of course, you can remove the pot from the heat at any time to your liking...

February 3, 2012

Warm Creole Potato Salad

Happy Mardi Gras Y'all...

I know Mardi Gras is a couple weeks away but folks, I'm a plum heels over head, up to my armpits and neck, right slap in the middle of our busiest part of the year - it's winding down the Carnival Season here in Mobile. Carnival season starts in November with the announcement of the the season's Debutantes and from then on, it's a full gallop to the finish line. Not that I am comparing these young ladies to fillies whatsoever, but I don't know how they maintain their stamina. Week after week, day after day with some going to two or more  social gatherings, parties and soirees within an evening. Grand, regal events where Mobile's finest of royalty gather within the season to down millions of glasses of who knows what along with plates and dishes of lots of good food to eat. Now I am not in the social crowd mind you, but I do deal in business and enjoy observing from the outside looking in... the fact that at the end of my work day as the parting is just starting, I get to walk away is fine with me.

So with that I give you a few photos of a delightful, very flavorful potato salad we enjoy that is really great all season but so darn good with the heavy pre-lenten foods of Mardi Gras.


Warm Creole Potato Salad
this is a small helping, only feeding about 4 folks - adjust for crowds

2 pounds red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters
1/4 cup diced celery
1 small onion, diced

Creole Dressing:
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed tarragon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon small capers
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup light olive oil

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot with heat turned to lowest setting, uncovered. Allow potatoes to dry for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing whisking in the oil as the last addition. Then stir in the celery and onion and pour this over the hot potatoes. Fold just enough to incorporate, cover and let set to meld flavors before serving,

Note: This is really great served with crumbled bacon on top, but then, I didn't have to tell you that, did I?