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 28, 2014

New Year's Char-Grilled Oysters

It's a Perfect Time of Year...

to celebrate harvesting oysters. Nothing beats ringing in the New Year like a sack full of fresh oysters from Mobile waters.

Now if you do not know the difference, you will not be able to appreciate our love for these mouth-watering, superb tasting delicacies we enjoy year 'round.

I cannot think of any better source than Alabama Gulf Seafood to bring us a most refreshing, good-eating recipe for oysters.

And I would like to share this favorite one with you.

Happy New Year folks....


Char-Grilled Oysters

  • Fresh Alabama oysters
  • Compound butter
  • Romano cheese

Find the recipe plus a step-by-step guide on an easy way of shucking oysters ...  here.

Char-Grilled Alabama Oysters

October 12, 2014

Alabama Slammer Recipe

Southern Cocktails

. . . not just for football season!

Here's a recipe I know everyone needs in their repertoire.

The Slammer has become known a favorite of frat boys, spring breakers and nautical aficionados of "boat drinks," although "Boat Drinks" singer Jimmy Buffett, himself an Alabamian from Mobile, of course immortalized a different drink, the tequila-based Margarita.

The Alabama Slammer comes in two versions: the cocktail, which is made in a highball glass, and the shot. While there are several variations on this Rama-Jama drink, I think this one is perfect.
Check out these other College Gameday Drinks.

Alabama Slammer

makes 1 cocktail
1 fluid ounce Southern Comfort liqueur
1 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
1 ounce sloe gin or 1 good dash grenadine syrup
orange juice

In a highball glass full of ice, combine Southern Comfort, amaretto and grenadine. Fill with orange juice and stir. Add a cherry or twist if desired.

July 2, 2014

Patriotic Bourbon Buttermilk Pie with Tipsy Fruit

Make It a Red, White and Blue Pie.

Last Memorial Day, I made this pie and it was gone in no time flat. It was that good. I shaved a little vanilla ice cream on top and finished topping if off with the spiked blueberries and strawberries to achieve the red, white and blue topping. It was a blast.

Try it for a patriotic holiday or any day you want a wonderful, cool custard pie with berries.


Bourbon Buttermilk Pie in Pecan Crust with Tipsy Fruit
serves 6 to 8, depending on the slice size

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups frozen pecan pieces
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
Make sure the pecans are frozen as this helps with the binding of the melted butter and works effortlessly in lining a pie plate. Add pecans and sugar to food processor. Quickly add butter and pulse until pecans are no larger than lentils. Do not process them too fine.
Press into a deep 9 or 10-inch pie plate covering the bottom and sides as would a pie crust. Set aside.

for the pie filling:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (whole preferred) buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, slightly melted
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer bowl, add flour and sugar whisking well. Beat in eggs on medium low speed until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in buttermilk at same speed followed with the remaining ingredients. When smooth, pour into pie crust.
Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until puffy and golden on top. You should be able to tell after 45 minutes if the pie is ready or getting close by the jiggle. Or you can test by inserting a knife halfway to the center; if it comes out clean, the pie is done. Do not over cook.
Remove to a wire rack and let cook for at least 1 hour. Refrigerate 2 or more hours before slicing.

for the Tipsy Fruit:
(I used blueberries and strawberries for this one)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries
3 cups peeled and sliced peaches or plums, and/or quartered strawberries
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons sugar
Stir all ingredients together about 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate if desired. Serve on top of the pie with a slotted spoon.

June 29, 2014

Hamburgers for July 4th Grilling

Get the Grill Going this Holiday with Any of These Favorite Hamburgers

July 4th means outdoor cooking. 

As synonymous as fireworks is to this patriotic day, so is cooking hamburgers for most Americans enjoying summer fun. Now I know there are all types of good foods to cook like dogs, ribs, chicken and seafood to name just a few of our favorites, but we tend to do the expected on this day: Grill a juicy burger.

Here are some of our favorite recipes.  



June 27, 2014

Zipper Peas . . . done right

Floridian Peas, Cooked Dixie Style

I wrote about this variety of pea some years ago, back when I told you about the four types of 'southern peas' and I gave you my recipe with the article back then, which is much the same way as I cook peas still today. Maybe a change here or there; both are southern as Dixie.

As mentioned, the zipper cream, invented by a Florida agronomist in 1972, is actually a cross between a crowder pea and a cream pea and the variety gets its name from the fact that the peas can be whisked from their hull in a zipping motion with the force from a finger. Now isn't that something? Most all peas are easier in shelling if you wait a day after picking allowing them to dry out a little and letting them detach from the shell. Do not over cook this type of cream pea as it will break down and become a creamy bisque before no time flat. These are called a creamer pea for a reason; meant to burst on your palate with a lovely, creamy texture and with the help of a good recipe, a southerly, flavorful explosion of good taste .... if I may say so myself.

Now, here is how I love to cook these little gems .... Enjoy!

My Recipe for Zipper Peas

6 to 8 servings

1 strip of bacon, chopped
1 nice size slice smoked ham, chopped
1 large sweet (vidalia) onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 cups of fresh shelled peas (or frozen), washed
4 cups of rich chicken stock
1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme -optional

Cook the bacon in a medium saucepan until crisp. Add onion, garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions begins to brown. Combine all other ingredients in the pan and bring to a rapid boil. Turn heat to low, taste seasonings adjusting if needed and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Note: I pretty much always have a few pieces of ham left over after the many holidays we enjoy doing a ham - so I pretty much always have a freezer bag of ham. If you do not, be sure to buy a good brand of smoked ham, slice it or chop it up, divide it into portions and freeze it for recipes just like this one.

June 11, 2014

Roasted Corn, Fresh Tomato and Black Bean Salad

One Cool Summer Salad.

Summertime to us means lots of good eats using fresh produce to go along with our grilled foods. I know it’s the way many all over the world eat but especially here in the south, it’s our lifestyle. There is nothing better than a salad made with garden fresh tomatoes and when you add roasted corn, you boost flavor, and with a can of black beans from the pantry you add more texture, taste and protein. The trio brightens together with the help from the seasoned vinegar bath mixed with the delight of red onions and peppers.

This recipe is based from Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Big Bite (Big Texas Barbecue episode), one I had on file from making before but this time I tweaked it to our liking, omitting a few things and adding tomatoes at the end to make it more southerly us. It went well when we dined on the Grilled Herb Roast Beef with Whipped Horseradish Cream a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Roasted Corn, Tomato and Black Bean Salad

8 servings

3 ears corn, husks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 -15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

Preheat the grill to medium.

Grill the corn until lightly charred, about 2 minutes, turning frequently. Transfer the corn to a cutting board and using a sharp knife, slice the kernels from the cob. Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, then the red bell pepper and the red onion. Sauté for 3 minutes, then add the vinegar, beans and corn and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat to a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Right before serving, fold in the tomatoes. Serve warm or cold.

June 5, 2014

Easy Baked Chicken in Creamy Gravy

"Makes it's own Gravy!"

I remember Momma making this dish, or one similar as this is as close as I could come in recreating it. The aroma permeated throughout the house a baked chicken pleasantry and made us anticipated dinner even more. And when we finally sat down to eat, we could not wait to dig into the tender and moist chicken smothered in that creamy gravy which rode high on a bed of white rice. I remember everyone complimenting her on how good it was. "Oh, it's nothing" she said, "it's really easy to make. Why, the chicken makes it's own gravy." Without missing a beat, daddy quipped, "Now that's one smart bird."

The recipe really is easy, the hardest part is double dredging the chicken in the flour mixture. That is the secret in obtaining a thick gravy with the amount of liquid used in the recipe. And it comes out fine, nice and creamy, perfect for spooning over the chicken along with enough for a side dish, one like we like, white rice. Based on several recipes from our past, this is one fine way of making 'Chicken n' Gravy.' Enjoy!

Baked Chicken in Creamy Gravy

6 to 8 servings

1 whole chicken cut-up or 6 to 8 of your favorite pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped

Wash the chicken and pat completely dry with paper towels. If using breast, I suggest cutting each in half so that everything cooks evenly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together well. Coat each piece in the flour mixture tossing and sprinkling the mixture into all cavities. Place on a wire rack or pan. Repeat the coating. The double dip is key to a good gravy!

Place skin side up in a large 3-quart baker or casserole.

Mix the sherry, broth and cream together and gently pour over the chicken. Distribute the onion on top of the chicken pieces.

Bake for 1 hour. Spoon gravy over the chicken and bake 30 minutes more or until the skin is nice and brown. You do not have to test the internal temperature for this recipe, especially if you halved the breasts.

Remove from oven and get to eating!

June 2, 2014

Squash Gratin, Southern Style

By Gosh, this is Squash Nosh.

Many of you know by now that often my ramblings are more than about the following recipe. Many times it is of the history of southern cuisine, particularly relating to my upbringing and our way of cookery. On occasion it is about the origin of a recipe, how it got into our kitchens, our way of life and why we adore it as we do. Most often my thoughts are about the food we eat, why we enjoy it and what makes it so good as well as the technique in properly preparing it, southern style. And on occasion, like today, my rambling is way off into another area; like the origin of a word we use in cooking.

Squash is a racquet sport played by two or four players, was first played 1830 and was formerly called squash racquets, a reference to the "squashable" soft ball used in play. Also in sports, the term squash is used in an professional wrestling as a extremely one-sided match. Of course, the word also means to manually suppress or quash something to a pulp; to emotional or psychological disconcert with pressure as with a crushing retort; and it too means squeezing something into a small space. It's originated in language around 1555.

Now for most of us, relating to food, squash means only one thing: Good eating. From the American Narragansett language (1635) and Massachusetts Algonquian family (1643), the word squash is the eatable fruit from any of various vine-like, tendril-bearing plants belonging to the genus Curcurbita of the gourd family. Known in existence from the pre-Columbian Era, we many times classify the vegetable squash as winter or summer when in fact, those terms are given for its usage, not when it is actually in the markets. Summer squash is available in the winter and likewise, winter butternut is a featured special at our local grocer this week, in June. You see, the terminology was given back when seasonal crops produced a more crucial time-frame for growing. Tender squash like our patty-pan, yellow crookneck and zucchini were planted, weather permitted, and the fruit was harvested for consumption before spoilage. What was not readily eaten was "put up" or canned for the winter months. Squash that became known as "the good keepers" were called winter squash due to the longevity in storage. Gathered in the fall and put away until the winter months, these squash were stored in basements or cold rooms.

Squash has another meaning in the food and drink category. It is a concentrated syrup in many flavors that is usually fruit based and may be combined with an alcoholic beverage for cocktails. But for the recipe today, the definition of the English word squash goes back to the Native Narragansett Indian "askutasquash" which means "a green thing eaten raw" or uncooked. Happily, we enjoy the yellow ones too.


Squash Gratin

about 6 serving

4 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 sweet onion (vidalia), chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 finely chopped jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup grated farmers cheese or your favorite

In a large bowl, toss the squash with the salt; let sit 25 minutes, then rinse well and pat completely dry.

In a food processor, add remaining ingredients except the cheese and pulse to chop ingredients.

Fold the mixture with the squash and 3/4 cup grated cheese. Arrange evenly in a 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees F, 35 to 40 minutes.

May 30, 2014

Fresh String Beans with Mushrooms

Snap Beans or String Beans?

Back in the day, folks could tell you the difference between snap beans, green beans and string beans. While they all were shaped similar and had much the same flavor, strings beans had a tough string running along the edges of the pod and folks had to pull this apart or "string the beans". Some beans actually made a "snapped" sound when broken into thus they were called snap beans. The green beans were the truer "French" bean, the crème de la crème of beans but they neither had strings nor made a loud sound. Think bean gentility.

Snap beans, green beans or string beans . . . no matter which name you prefer, they are one and the same and they are in season right now. You see, back in the day, folks didn't have a choice. They believed what they were told, and experienced. Yes, many years ago green beans had strings but today, the string has pretty much genetically been bred out and thanks to science coming up with newer varieties, we do not have to chew on that. And thank goodness too beans still snap, at least fresh ones do. If they do not, if a green bean is not turgid and it makes no sound at the market, it is not fresh enough for you to take home to eat, at least, in my opinion.

But for old times sake, some days I still call green beans snap beans and sometimes like today, string beans. It's what keeps the memories alive, don't you know. Enjoy!

Fresh String Beans with Mushrooms

about 6 servings

1 slice thick-cut hickory smoked bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces button or sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh string (green) beans
1/2 sweet onion (vidalia), large chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup rich chicken stock

Wash the green beans and snap in about 2-inch lenghts pulling any strings away if needed. (Couldn't resist.)

In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and save for another use. Or, you can sprinkle it on top at serving if you wish but here, all we need today is the renderings. Increase heat to medium high and add mushrooms. Saute until brown on both sides. Remove to plate; set aside.

Add butter and when melted add the green beans and toss until all are coated well. Add onion, thyme, salt, pepper and toss occasionally cooking for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until beans are crisp tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove beans with slotted spoon to a casserole with lid to hold or right to a serving bowl.

May 24, 2014

All about Cooking Roast Beef on the Grill

Grill a Roast like a Pro.

Thanks to a little research and years of spending weekends laboring over a hot grill, I am sharing what I know about grilling large roasts of beef. Unlike steak or small cuts of meat, cooking a big ol' slab of beef over an open fire continuously does not work very well in producing the perfect roast, unless you like: 1) very tough, over cooked and burnt meat, or 2) very raw meat with charred edges. Either way, neither sounds appetizing.

By searing the meat over high heat and then moving it to a cool area on the grill, these larger cuts cook gently and evenly. That’s because the covered grill acts almost like an oven, with the hot air circulating around the meat. Plus, the meat picks up an extra layer of smoky flavor it wouldn't get in the oven. This method also lets you cook a meal for a crowd out on the patio instead of inside a hot kitchen.

On a gas grill, this means turning off a burner; on a charcoal grill, move the meat to a cool, off-fire area. Cover the grill so the heat inside runs about 350°F and then check the meat every so often and make sure the fire holds steady. Using a meat thermometer like this one comes in real handy as you program it to signal you via the remote while you're doing something else, like finishing up all those sides in the kitchen.

Grill-Roasting in 4 Easy Steps

1. Season
     Apply a well-developed spice rub, like the one directed in the recipe below.

2. Prepare the Grill
     Heat all burners of a gas grill to medium low or prepare a charcoal fire with a hot zone and a cooler zone by pushing all the coals to one side of the grill. An oven thermometer resting on the grill grate (over the hot zone of the charcoal fire) should register about 450°F with the lid down, or you should be able to hold your hand a couple of inches above the grill for 3 or 4 seconds. If it’s hotter than this, lower the burners slightly or let the coals cook down. Brush the grill grates with a stiff wire brush and then wipe with a lightly oiled wad of paper towels.

3. Sear
     Set the meat on the grill (over the hot zone of the charcoal fire), cover, and cook until it’s nicely browned and easily releases from the grates, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully during this stage and if a flare-up occurs, move the meat away from the flames until they die down. If necessary, squirt the flames with a little water to quench them.

4. Grill-Roast
     For a three-burner gas grill, turn the middle burner off and set the front and back (or side) burners to medium low. For a two-burner grill, turn the back burner off and set the front burner (or sides) on high.

     Move the meat to the cooler zone of the grill—an oven thermometer set on the cooler part of the grill (with the lid down) should register about 350°F—cover, and cook until done to your liking between 120-150 degrees (see chart below). If using a charcoal grill, check on the fire occasionally; it may be necessary to add fresh charcoal as the fire dies down. Allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving and serving with the horseradish sauce below, chimichurri or your favorite glaze. - parts from FINE COOKING

As a quick reference, here is a standard temperature (internal) levels for roasts:

120°F to 125°F, (49°C to 52°C) = Rare
130°F to 140°F (55°C to 60°C) = Medium Rare
145°F to 150°F (63°C to 66°C) = Medium

Grilled Herb Roast Beef with Whipped Horseradish Cream 

recipes adapted from Josh Bousel
serves 6 to 10

1 -4 to 6 pound beef roast (I used eye round)

For the Rub:
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. 

For the Whipped Horseradish Cream Sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons chives
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk heavy cream until thickened, but not yet at soft peaks. Fold in sour cream, horseradish, chives, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before using, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

To Prep the Roast:

Pat the beef dry with paper towels. 

 Using your hands, apply the Herb Rub by literally rubbing it into the surface of the meat as though you are scrubbing the surface.

Wrap beef tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

BEST ROASTS FOR GRILLING (other than tenderloin)

The grill-roasting method will work with any of these inexpensive cuts; however, some produced better results than others. The options are listed in order of preference from top to bottom. - Notes from COOKS ILLUSTRATED  / rating 1-3 stars

FLAVOR: 3 stars
TEXTURE: 3 stars
COMMENTS: This cut was judged "buttery," with bold, beefy flavor and ample juiciness.

FLAVOR: 2 stars
TEXTURE: 2 stars
COMMENTS: Though slightly chewy, this cut boasted rich, meaty flavor.

FLAVOR: 2 stars
TEXTURE: 2 stars
COMMENTS: A little tough because of its large muscle fibers, bottom round has a rich, somewhat gamy flavor.

FLAVOR: 2 stars
TEXTURE: 1 1/2 stars
COMMENTS: This roast packs great beefy flavor; but only if it's cooked to medium so the intramuscular fat can melt.

FLAVOR: 1 1/2 stars
TEXTURE: 2 stars
COMMENTS: Though its flavor is subtle, this lean, uniform cut won fans for even cooking, tenderness, and easy slicing. 


May 21, 2014

Western Chicken with Chimichurri

This is one Memorial Grilled Chicken.

In the oven or out on the grill, there is no better time than this weekend to try out a great recipe like the one below. Full western flavors, the chicken comes out moist and juicy, aromatic and mighty tasty thanks to a quick soak in a brine which helps the chicken from drying out. And the western rub is awesome with its South American flavors and aids in keeping the flavors adhered to the chicken.

If you can, make the chimichurri the day before to give the flavors time to meld. Chimichurri is a beautiful combination of fresh herbs that give a cool but powerful flavor to everything you grill. It is also a great dipping sauce with crusty bread, when serving with bruschette and brilliantly adaptable with grilled steaks. Enjoy!

This is my take on a recipe somewhat based from Bobby Flay's Grill It!

Western Chicken with Chimichurri

4 bone-in split chicken breasts or leg quarters or 2 chicken halves

For the brine:
2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar

Rinse the chicken under running water and place in a large bowl. Mix the salt, sugar and vinegar with the water and pour over the chicken. Let marinate for 1 hour (I did 2 hours and added ice cubes). Remove, pat the chicken pieces dry before applying the rub.

For the rub:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried garlic bits (flakes)
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle generously on both side of the chicken pieces.

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/2 cup packed chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
2 large basil leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
1/2 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice (or part lemon)
1/2 to 1 cup olive or vegetable oil

Place all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Transfer to serving bowl.

To cook the chicken:


Place chicken on medium low heat skin side down and grill for about 5 minutes until skin is crisp. Move chicken to slower side of heat (no fire) skin side up and continue cooking until inside temperature read 160 degrees F. Remove to platter and tent with foil.


Place chicken on a grilling rack over a pan which will catch the juices. Place chicken skin side up in a preheated 375 degree F. oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 and cook until internal temp is 160 degrees. Remove to platter and tent with foil.

Note: In both cooking methods, I like to use a couple of squirts of a Basting Sauce to keep the outside of the chicken moist. You can find my latest one here.

May 17, 2014

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Seasoned Wet Rub

Perfect Pork.

This is a simple pork loin recipe that never fails in roasting to perfection a most wonderful flavored roast. Now I know that is saying a lot and promising even more but I do believe it. Using a bone-in roast allows the meat to cook on its own rack and by starting with a high heat, a natural sear develops across the surface of the roast adhering the rub to the meat. Reducing the oven to a slower heat allows the internal temperature to slowly rise to meet that of the surface without overcooking the outside. What happens, as we all know during this process, is that a nice crust forms on the outside while the meat remains juicy inside and the flavors of the rub are drawn inward as the process works its magic.

Slice it thick or thin will not matter as the meat is tender and moist, and flavorful. This is a great recipe to serve for Sunday dinner, a nice supper with friends and one that will be cherished as an extra-special family dinner as well. Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Seasoned Wet Rub

serves 4 to 6

1 -3 to 4 pound center cut pork loin, bone in preferred

Wet Pork Rub:

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon orange marmalade

Place roast in a small roaster or as I did, in an unconventional 10-inch pie plate. Mix together the Wet Pork Rub and rub all of it over all sides to the pork loin.

Allow roast to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Cook in a preheated 425 degrees F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 and cook for 35 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F. Tent with foil if needed about half way to avoid burning the top crust - I did not.

Remove, tent with foil and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. If bone-in loin, turn meat on side and carve the loin away from the bone. Remove to serving platter and slice roast at table if desired.

This is good with mint or pepper jelly, a mustard based sauce or just as is.

Notes: While many times I will start this method at 450 degrees; because of the sugar content of the marmalade, I reduced to 425 and found little difference in the outcome.
Allowing to rest will allow the final temperature to rise about 5 degrees to 140 which is perfect for pork.

May 14, 2014

Southern Style Baked Chicken

Moist, Baked Chicken - Every Time.

There's something about waking into a home, a kitchen and greeted with the aroma of chicken savoury, aromatic pleasantness, baking away tenderly in the oven. It is that olfactory perception which will make our salivary glands work overtime and it is known to drive mankind, well, sort of crazy - and obsessed. That is the way I am with cooking chicken - in the oven. It has to turn out tender and moist every single time or the recipe is not worth a lick.

Tired of dried-out chicken?  Then this recipe is for you.

Southern folks know how to care for and cook just about all meats. That is, all that are in our neck of the woods. We may not know about elk or moose, but it can't be much different than our white-tail deer now can it? Poultry is our specialty, well maybe pork is too. There is a saying around here, "We had hen-houses before there were eggs."

This is an old recipe, cooked in so many homes across the south. When gardens are as new as the spring chickens, that's when this recipe is the best. Young onions with fresh small southern tomatoes make this chicken dish extra special. But it is the way in which it is prepared too, and with the just right seasoning, that when it all comes together baking tenderly in the oven, that aromatic pleasantness takes place. The one that drives us to a state of anticipation on the crazy side. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken with Spring Onions and Tomatoes

6 to 8 servings

1 young chicken cut-up, or your favorite chicken pieces (I used thighs)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 or 2 bunches spring onions (or pearl onions)
1/3 cup chicken broth
5 or 6 small ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/2 inch diameter

Southern Chicken Seasoning

1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf

Wash and dry the chicken, remove excess fat. Mix the seasoning mixture together in a small bowl and sprinkle both sides of the pieces generously.

In a wide heavy skillet, melt butter with oil over medium high heat and when melted, add chicken pieces skin side down. Do not crowd the pan. Allow the chicken to precook, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove to a large casserole skin side up or deep baker and continue cooking chicken.

Add the onions to the skillet and allow each to brown in the butter mixture. Remove onions and place along with the chicken.

Add the chicken broth and cover dish with foil. Cook in oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove foil and scatter tomatoes which have been quartered among the chicken. Return to oven and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes blister.

Remove and serve. If desired, use the liquid to make a most wonderful gravy (roux method).

Note: You do not have to precook the chicken in the butter mixture as the chicken will still come out tender and moist. But doing so will not yield the golden, crispy browned skin that we southerners adore. The butter fried taste will be missing too.

May 10, 2014

Momma's Perfect Pot Roast

Happy Mother's Day, Momma!

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11

Yeah, the recipes this last week are devoted to my Momma. I mean, its the least I can do in honoring her, and in helping to pass along the recipes for generations to come and the least I can do for her making me who I am today. Many recipes I have already shared and there are many more to come.

My mother was a very special person, so full of life, a beaming light shining on all she met, one which burned an impressionable and lasting memory on each person she met. Now I know your mother was ever so special in your heart, but she was not like mine, as mine was the most wonderful mother anyone could ever ask for. She taught me so many things; started my interest in food and recipes, nurtured my appreciation for art and music and informed me of the little things of life that daddy forgot to tell me. I was blessed in having her around doing motherly things through my teens as we lost our Momma as I was settling into college. That was the hardest lesson I had to learn.

This recipe is a perfect example in exemplifying my Momma's cooking style as she used everyday ingredients, even a red can of the condensed soup, to make gourmet tasting meals and I think it makes a perfect pot roast. It's depth of flavor shines through and the character of the meal is enjoyable with every bite taken, just like our Momma did in life.


Momma's Perfect Pot Roast

serves about 6

1 -3 to 4 lb. boneless chuck roast
salt and black pepper
all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground marjoram
2 bay leaves or 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1 -10.5 oz condensed French onion soup
1/4 cup port wine
4 large carrots, cut into bite-size

Dry roast and generously add salt and pepper on all surfaces. Dust with flour.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil and butter; brown roast on all sides. Add onion, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, onion soup and wine. Stir to incorporate spooning liquid on top of roast. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours.

Add carrots, mostly along the sides, and simmer covered 1 hour.

Remove roast and carrots to serving platter. Discard bay leaves if used. Strain liquid into a saucepan of medium darken roux if desired for gravy or incorporate in a little corn starch to thicken.

May 7, 2014

Momma's Creamed Broccoli Casserole

Ode to the Soup Can.

 Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11

My mother was on the board of directors for Campbell's soups. I mean, she must have been 'cause one of our kitchen cabinets contained every red can available, if not two. Momma was a believer in using condensed soup in every recipe imaginable other than making soup. It rubbed off on me too as I practice her advise in using it for my recipes when needed. That tells you of my generation.

This recipe is one she made from time to time, for weeknight suppers, even on Sundays after church. It goes well with a cookout too; that's how versatile this type of casserole can be. Hope you try it, I know Momma would like that. Enjoy!

Creamed Broccoli Casserole

about 6 servings

1 head of fresh broccoli (6-7 cups of florets)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 -10.75 oz Campbell's condensed broccoli cheese soup, cream of broccoli or chicken
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 oz grated cheese, white cheddar or pepper jack
fresh breadcrumbs grated from toasted dry bread

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in salt and broccoli. Cover and at second boil, reduce heat cooking a total of 10 minutes or until tender. Drain in colander until cool and dry, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a 2-quart casserole and spread along the bottom.

Mix condensed soup with sherry and cheese. Fold in broccoli and spoon into casserole. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Heat in oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Turn oven to broil to toast the breadcrumbs watching carefully. Remove and serve.

Note: Momma cooked her broccoli longer making it really soft. After baking, the casserole's texture became 'creamed'.

May 3, 2014

Butter Beans in Warm Sherry Mayonnaise

A Fancy Side Dish

 Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11

Need a quick side dish for dinner, something 'extra special' for a fancy meal, and all that's in the freezer is a bag of frozen butter beans? Then this recipe is for you.

This recipe is by Elsie Landauer Meyer, a remarkable southern food author who believed cooking is an art rather than drudgery. From her recipes came about 'The Art of Cooking with Spirits' as her use of ingredients almost always included spirits in some form. Reading through the recipes, her style of cooking reminded me much of my mommas way of cooking, that is, using very unorthodox ingredients in common foods. The outcome was always outstanding. Like this recipe. Who would have ever thought to serve butter beans with mayonnaise? And with sherry? Elsie and Momma, that's who.


Butter Beans in Sherry Mayonnaise

6 to 8 servings

1 -20 oz bag frozen lima beans (fresh is refreshingly nicer)
1 tablespoon minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup stiff mayonnaise
2 tablespoons medium or cream sherry
good pinch of cayenne

Cover the butter beans with ample water and cook over medium heat along with the onion, salt and pepper until tender. Drain well and place in a serving bowl.

Meanwhile, stir mayonnaise, sherry and cayenne in a double boiler or bowl over boiling water. Stir constantly until sauce is warm. Pour sauce over butter beans, stir and serve.

Note: Stiff mayonnaise is homemade mayo that contains a good amount of oil incorporated into it, the more oil added, the stiffer mayo becomes. You can use any commercial mayo, just make sure it is the real thing, with no sugars.

May 2, 2014

Momma's Gourmet Pork Chops

Not your average pork chops.

 Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11

Entrees normally take center spot on the dining table. I know my eyes seems to always hone in on the main feature of the meal. Sometimes the entree isn't about a big ol' hunky platter presentation but rather a sensory excitement of things to come. These chops are perhaps a little of both.

This recipe comes about in no time, that's the way my Momma liked to cook, spending the remaining kitchen time doing 'craft' projects; sometimes with felt, old bottles and acrylic paint. One of her favorite was recycling the Aunt Jemima Syrup bottles and painting them into funky women with bright, calico aprons with floppy hats. That is how she went about things, taking something like simple pork chops and turning the dish into an entree better than any one I remembered served at our local fancy dinner spot.

This recipe reminds me of momma's, very tasty and gourmet-ish. I hope you try it when cooking your next chops. Enjoy!

Pork Chops with Momma's Gourmet Sauce

4 servings

4 -1 inch thick pork chops (I used pork loin)
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (vermouth)
1 cup rich chicken stock (Kitchen Basics)
1 small can sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf (or 1 large bay leaf)

Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper, then dust with flour rubbing all over. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and when hot, add oil, butter and chops. Brown on both sides and remove to a casserole dish just large enough to hold them. I used an 8-inch square dish.

Add onion and garlic to the skillet and saute until onion is translucent. Add wine, stock, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf stirring until boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chops.

Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil (and bay leaves if used) and allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Note: If you prefer a gravy, spoon the liquid from the dish into a bowl after the 30 minutes and whisk in a thickener (1 tsp butter + 1 tsp flour or 1 tsp corn starch). Spoon the gravy over the chops and continue cooking the 15 minutes to thicken up.