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.

September 28, 2013

Pork Pockets Stuffed with Southern Greens

Stuffed pork loin with gravy
Down Home Cooking at its Best.

Using fillings to stuff or fill a cavity in meats is nothing new. One of the first recorded recipes of such is one for rabbit, fowl, rodent and pig back in the late 4th or early 5th century AD and in the cookbook Apicius (De re coquinaria or"On the Subject of Cooking"). Containing mostly vegetables, herbs and spices, a stuffing back then would entertain the flavors of nuts, cereal, liver or any other organ meat.

Today, our modern versions take on little differences with maybe exception in flavor of spice and this is determined from desired regional or country customs. The recipe used to stuff the pork loin chops is certainly a take on our taste here in the south. The flavors of the bay leaf, Tabasco pepper, vinegar and the trinity transform our beloved bitter collard greens to a unique sweet stuffing medley of delta Cajun, southern soul food and urban metro. Enjoy!

Southern Stuffed Pork Pockets
with a little hint of soulful Cajun
4 servings

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 1/2 pounds
Salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning
1 bunch collard greens
1 slice thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small celery rib, diced
1/4 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic toes, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves
2 fresh Tabasco peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup toasted pecans

Pat the pork dry with paper towels and slice into 4 equally thick chops. Using a short-bladed sharp knife (paring does well) slice into the long side of each chop creating a pocket. Cut almost to the edges of the two sides and to the back which when standing will become the bottom. Actually, cutting into the fat side of the chop would cook better, as the fat layer should always be on top. I will do this next time. Season the outside of the meat on all sides with a little salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Put aside.

Wash the collards several times in a deep pan of water or your sink and drain well. Remove tough stems and chop the greens finely.

In a small skillet or saucepan, cook the bacon until grease renders and bacon is light brown. Remove much of the grease if desired. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic, ground bay leaves (or use a large bay), Tabasco peppers (or another hot pepper), vinegar and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add the collards. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. (Do not use too much Cajun.) Use tongs if needed to constantly move the greens around in the liquid until softened. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook until the liquid is evaporated and greens are tender.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Fold in the pecans and generously fill each pork chop cavity with the collard mixture. Pour a small dribble of olive oil in the bottom of a 2-quart baker or casserole. Place stuffed pockets into the baker (forming an 'X' should work better) and moisten the meat with olive oil.

Place a small piece of foil over the stuffing to prevent drying out. Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Cook about 45 minutes basting with pan drippings or olive oil a couple of times. If desired, test the meat; internal temperature of the pork should be about 145 when using a stuffing. Placing the thermometer probe on the inside wall of the pork and gently inserting it there will give a fairer reading. Remove foil and allow top to cook another 5 or so minutes.

Serve with a thin pork gravy, a mushroom and wine reduction or any sauce based from the demi-glace method.

Note: Any use of greens would be great - a blend of collard, turnip and mustard greens or spinach can be used.

September 8, 2013

Recipe for Ground Beef Meatloaf, individual servings

Easy as 1-2-3, This Flavorful Meatloaf is Hard to Beat.

Sometimes, whipping up a quick and easy meal isn't all that quick, or easy. But when meatloaf goes to the table, not only is Momma happy, Daddy and the whole gang are waiting with fork in hand for the start of a memorial and satisfying meal. Nothing is quicker, nor tastier than a good ol' homemade meatloaf. And when I say homemade,  I mean using good ingredients and delectable flavors that will make every bite outstanding.

Now the key to easy dinners is planning and keeping it simple. But that does not mean processed foods or out-of-the-box meals or sides. This meatloaf meal comes together with 3 recipes that together, makes for one outstanding, non-ordinary meatloaf. Plan your side dishes around the meatloaf, choose ones that will complement the flavor and be sure to maintain correct portions of the vegetables ( and the grains, fruit and dairy too) to the protein serving. Think steamed or quick pan sauteed, or even oven roasted vegetables.

We love meatloaf around our house. This is one way we enjoy making it, in individual servings and with a gravy made with good ingredients that really taste superb. The recipe uses basic ingredients for flavor but what we really love about this one is the added flavor and moistness the vegetables give to the texture and, with the addition of tomato paste as a binder, no egg is used. Enjoy!

Individual Meatloaves with Vegetable Gravy
Great for family dinners or company too - freeze unneeded loaves

makes 6 loaves

1) for the meatloaves:

2 1/2 to 3 pounds ground round beef (85/15)
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onions
1 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
2 teaspoons of your favorite seasoning blend (you should know by know, mine is Badia Complete)
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2) for the basting sop:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

3) for the vegetable gravy:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
1 small carrot, diced
seasoning blend of choice
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In an extra large bowl, blend the dried onion and garlic, seasoning blend, tomato paste, Worcestershire, soy sauce and liquid smoke together well. Mix in the chopped vegetables. Using a large metal or wooden spatula or mixing fork, cut in the ground beef adding about one-third of meat at a time. Mix to incorporate being careful not to compact the meat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using cold hands, form meat mixture into 6 balls and then each one into individual meatloaves. Place on a meat or wire rack and over a large shallow roasting pan.

Cook for about 30 minutes basting with the sop about 3 or 4 times during the cooking time. Remove when each is nicely brown and glazed.

While loaves are cooking, saute the mushrooms, onion, bell peppers and carrot with the olive oil until onion is soft. Add wine and chicken stock and allow to reduce about half in volume. Stir the cornstarch in a little stock or water and blend into the mixture to thicken. Simmer on low until gravy is desired consistency.

Place loaves in baking dish and spoon gravy on top. Return to oven if desired and allow gravy to simmer. Or, you can serve right away.

Notes: You could do away with much of the dried seasonings and use the standard onion soup mix I suppose, but then, it wouldn't exactly be my recipe.
Next time I make these, I am gonna cook these on the grill, I can only imagine the added flavor especially using the basting sop.

September 5, 2013

Cooking Pole Beans, New Southern Style

Ain't nuttin' finer than a pot of pole beans.

Well, 'cept maybe a pan of stewed yellow summer squash sitting pretty next to our favorite skillet of fried summertime fresh corn. Dag nabitt, I done got myself all hungry again.

Now, if you have not prepped a mess of pole beans before, well, you are in for a treat. Getting 'em ready is as rewarding as eating 'em, I mean, the process helps our sanity, don't you see. I know there are many of you who remember time spent a few years ago shelling peas and snapping beans, a time spent that has passed our hurriedly society just as quickly as time marches forward.

"Snapping beans" is term used by mothers, grandmothers and generations before our now youth who at first thought, might think the term represents a new logo, web site or even a up-and-coming music act . . . I am just guessing here.  But I do know that back in my youth, sitting around, shelling peas and snapping beans was our way of 'networking', from the front porches catching up on gossip, sitting 'round the TV watching Lucille Ball, Jack Benny or  even Red Skelton, or in the kitchen waiting for the pot to boil. It was our early form of social media, with the likes of Skelton's antics taking center stage if only for the amount of time until the 'mess of beans' were finished.

The beans actually do make a snapping sound, almost like a homemade pop-gun. And, to do justice, there is an art in snapping pole beans, as taught by our older generation and passed down, now to us. Start with the stem end and break away or 'pop' off the top and strip the string down on one side. Turn it over and pot the end followed with removing the string on that side. Then, break or snap the beans into one-and-one half to two-inch sections. As told, if there is not a string on the first run or side, then go ahead and snap into sections. The younger the beans, the less strings.

Fresh Pole Beans
Fresh pole beans should make a healthy snapping sound. When you pop off the ends, if it has a string attached, just pull down both sides of the pod to remove it.
the 'ends and strings' from Pole Beans
This is how I now cook pole beans, I mean, no one in my family used olive oil when I was growing up. It was all bacon grease and lard to 'grease the pot'

Pole Beans
like Momma used to cook, only a little better for us 
6 to 8 servings

2 pounds fresh pole beans
1 or 2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

Wash and prep the beans for cooking by 'snapping' off the ends, removing the strings and 'snapping' in about 1 1/2-inch sections. Drain well.

fresh 'snapped' Pole Beans

Cut the bacon in 1/2-inch slices and place in a stockpot over medium high heat. Cook the bacon until brown and crisp. Turn heat down and remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a small plate or bowl. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Add olive oil (about 1 good tablespoon), the beans and increase heat back to medium high heat. Stir to coat all of the beans in the oil cooking about 2 minutes. Add onion, salt, pepper, sugar and stir to combine. Add enough chicken stock to just about cover the beans; cover with lid. At boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook between 25 minutes to an hour, depending on how firm you like them. Most southerners cook them about an hour until the beans are really soft.

Add the vinegar and red bell pepper and turn off heat. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Serve with a sprinkle of the crispy bacon.

September 1, 2013

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops with recipe for Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce

Lean with a healthy slant, this is a recipe to sink your teeth into.

Did you know pork loin is America's most popular lean meat? Well, other than chicken, neither did I. And, marinating thick chops is one of our favorite ways to flavor this cut of pork as well as putting it on the grill.

The loin roast comes from the upper part area of the hog between the shoulder and the start of the leg. The loin roast is delicious when marinated and grilled quickly over direct heat. For a crisp surface on your chop, be sure the grill is fully preheated before placing the chops on the rack. Of note, if cooking pork loin chops on the stove, again, be sure to use medium high heat. Because of the connecting fibers, these chops should not be braised or stewed as they have a tendency to lose tenderness when cooked by means of moist heat.

Now, according to wiki-how, "the USDA recommends cooking pork to 160 degrees," that is, if you prefer tough meat, "but it is perfectly safe to cook American pork to 145 degrees. Trichina dies out at 137, and most other ones die at around 140. For those outside American soil, you should probably cook your pork well."

Enough of all that. I don't know how many times I have used this marinade on pork chops nor guess how many more times I will in the future. I know it will be many more good eatings.

Tender, juicy and full of flavor, these chops with or without the tangy sauce is spectacular. Hope you get your grill out and get to cooking soon. Enjoy!

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops
glazed with Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce
4 servings

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 -1 1/2 to 2 inch thick boneless pork loin chops
Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce -see below

Combine all marinade ingredients in a container or sealable bag and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator and let rest about 30 minutes before grilling.

Heat grill to high heat. Place chops directly over flame and after first sear marks appear on both sides (about 2 minutes each side) reduce heat to medium heat or move away from direct heat. Begin glazing with the Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce. Move chops further away from heat if the sauce darkens too much. You want to coat with several layers of the glaze for a really outstanding taste.

Grill until internal temperature reaches desired range (140 to 155 depending on taste and location). Remove from grill, tent with foil and allow chops to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting or serving. Remember, meat will rise in temperature about 5 degrees after removing from heat source as long as it is tinted.

Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce
A well bodied, full flavored table sauce for pork, poultry, game, fish and seafood - also great for glazing on BBQ or Grilled foods
makes about 1 cup

1 cup yellow prepared mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4-5 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Mix ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sauce just begins to simmer. Reduce heat and cook stirring often until sauce is reduced in half or thickens to desired consistency. Serve cool or warm.

*Adjust Splenda Blend or brown sugar to taste. To me, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend is sweeter in strength compared with regular brown sugar using the equivalent amount.

You can store sauce in a sealed jar refrigerated for a several weeks.