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.

March 31, 2014

My No-fuss Picnic Pasta Salad

'Hippie Hole' - Little River Canyon, Alabama swimming spot

Perfect Picnic Pasta Salad

It is that time of year when a lot of folks are getting outside, enjoying the nice weather and sunshine and are wanting to spend as much time as possible away from the 'holed up' effects from what has been a very drab and to many, a brutal winter. With the arrival of spring, many are heeding to the call: Summer is near. And with the beckoning of getting outside, the benefits of improving our health, physically and mentally, leads to happier times.

Staying outside for long periods often means transporting food for the day. This is a very easy recipe, one you can prepare the day before and assemble the morning of your travel plans. It is great for picnics, tailgate functions and home parties as well as just good eating.

Use what ever type of vinaigrette you desire according to other foods served but for my money, you can't beat the Chianti Vinaigrette.

My No-fuss Pasta Salad

12 oz package farfalle (bow-tie) or other medium pasta cooked al dente in salted water, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup of your favorite vinaigrette or Chianti Vinaigrette (see below)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3 sliced firm plum tomatoes, optional
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms, optional
2 oz thinly sliced and chopped prosciutto or salami
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup freshly shredded semi-firm cheese like fresh Asiago, Bel Paese, Caciocavallo, Colby, Idiazabal, Jack or Provolone

Toss cold pasta with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette dressing. Transfer half of pasta to a storage container. Layer peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, and prosciutto on top of pasta. Top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with basil and pour remaining dressing over salad. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle salad with the cheese and toss right before serving.

Note: For traveling, I like to add the dressing only a few hours before serving and the cheese when plating.

Chianti Vinaigrette

makes 1 1/4 cups
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chianti wine
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1/2 cup extra-light olive oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, wine and seasonings together in a bowl. Quickly whisk in the oils. Store in a bottle or jar with tight fitting lid.
Always emulsify the oil with the other ingredients before using by shaking vigorously.
+Drick Perry 

March 28, 2014

Aunt Ida's Hamburger Steak with Onion Pepper Gravy

Mashed potatoes covered with Hamburger 'Steak' and Gravy

Poor Man's Steak Rich in Flavor.

A steak with many names, this mishmash of hamburger beef isn't a steak at all. The closest cousin to Hamburger Steak, which is made with all beef (at least by U.S. standards) is Salisbury Steak which can contain more fillers than you think. What's the difference? Well, you see, I think Salisbury today means differently than it did when introduced to us in the late 1890's. Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823–1905), an early proponent of a low-carbohydrate diet, invented this protein dish to aid in weight loss. He formed minced beef, seasonings and bits of vegetables into patties resembling 'steaks' and after cooking, served with a brown gravy. Today, Salisbury Steaks require a minimum content of 65% meat, of which up to 25% can be pork, and bread crumbs, flour, oat flakes, etc. content adds up to an additional 12% with the remaining ingredients consisting of seasonings, vegetables and binders.
Hamburger Steak means beef with flavorings added such as seasonings, vegetables and in Aunt Ida's case, a little bacon for southernism. I am glad Aunt Ida stuck to pure hamburger meat without all the unnecessary fillers, extenders and without binders like eggs, breadcrumbs and unneeded liquids.
Now her 'steaks' are more like hamburger roasts as each one is extra thick, similar to a mini meatloaf with a hamburger/steak taste. And the deal maker to me is the rich gravy loaded with caramelized onions combining with tasty seasonings to give a wonderful,
flavorful sauce. I served this over Mamma's Mashed Potatoes and we practically licked our plates.  Enjoy!

Hamburger Steaks with Onion Pepper Gravy

makes 6 hefty 'steaks', or 8 nice-size patties

for the hamburger steaks:
1 pound ground chuck 80/20 beef
2 pound grounds extra lean 93/7 beef
1 -1 oz package onion soup mix
1/3 cup finely diced well-cooked bacon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder

for the gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 -15 oz can Campbell's condensed beef broth
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon onion and herb seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt or as needed
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the hamburger steaks together well using a large spoon or spatula in distributing the seasonings evenly. Divide mixture into 6 portions. Form each into a 4-inch patty keeping somewhat of an even, straight edge along the sides.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the patties (3 at a time if needed) until seared on both sides. Place patties on a baking pan and place in oven. Slowly cook 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, discard the grease from the skillet. Melt the butter and add onions. Allow onions to caramelize on the bottom before stirring. When onions are mostly brown, stir in garlic and flour. Cook for a couple of minutes or until flour begins to brown. Add beef broth and the seasonings. Bring to a simmer scrapping the bottom to release the sucs into a fond (brown brun) or the flavored brown bits into a concentrated sauce. Add water if needed.

Remove hamburger steaks from oven. Fold the bell pepper into the gravy.

If wanting to hold this for a short time before serving, slide the meat into the pan spooning the gravy over the steaks. Otherwise, plate meat with gravy on top or arrange steaks on platter placing a spoonful of gravy on top of each and serve remaining gravy on the side.

March 23, 2014

Recipes for Making Compound Butters ~ for meats, fish, vegetables, breads

broccoli with Garlic Paprika Butter
A little dab will do ya.

Back in the day, when women folks sat on the back porch churning cream into butter, the yield of milk fat into the resulting butter was higher than it is today, at least in our typical stick of butter. Today, butter contains about 80% of fat, which is the minimum requirement in U.S. standards. European butters run no lower than 82% and Irish butter seems to take the lead with most bakers with its higher butterfat. Some folks prefer cultured butters, that is, a natural culture is added to cream where it is allowed to ferment at least 18 hours before churning, normally in small batches. To many, this is the crème de la crème of butters.

Now I mention all of this for the mere sake of making the recipes below, or ones similar to them. To achieve a really good compound butter, it is best to start with a butter of higher fat content or even better, go the extra step and clarify the butter. The results are well worth the little extra effort.

Compound butters are used to enhance the flavor in various dishes, much like you would use a sauce to do the same. A slather of compound butter wakes up and adds interest to foods. Maître d'Hôtel Butter is the most common compound butter and it was introduced to us by the "king of chefs and chef of kings", Auguste Escoffier in the early 1900's. Many know him for simplifying many methods in French cooking, his codification of the five Mother Sauces and his creativeness while at the Savory Hotel in London in the 1890's.

To us southerners, compound butters differs from house to home. I doubt our grandparents knew while mixing butter with herbs and before serving it with vegetables, fish or breads, that doing so meant making a compound butter. To them, it was just an efficient was to infuse special flavors onto foods while serving. And that is, simply put, what compound butters do. Below are a few ways to enjoy the flavors of seasoned butter. Experiment with your own variation and use a dab on the next steak, side dish or morning muffin. You'll be glad you did. Enjoy!
With all the below recipes, mix or whip ingredients blending completely, place in butter molds or place on a piece of parchment paper and roll into a log about 4-inches long; wrap twisting the ends together to close around the butter. Place in freezer to firm up, about 2 hours, before serving.

the famous Maître d'Hôtel Butter

~the compound butter that started it all; use on steaks, vegetables and broiled fish
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Garlic Paprika Butter

~serve with fresh vegetables, seafood and fish dishes; roasted chicken
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon minced minced garlic and parsley (dried)
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
*if using in a mold, allow to solidify, then re-stir before freezing
makings of Garlic Paprika Butter

Cilantro Lime

~great on Tex-Mex flavored meats, grilled shrimp skewers, fish tacos, salads, even rice dishes
1/2 cup salted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest

Parmesan Butter

~serve with hot toasted Italian or French bread and baguettes; use on vegetables and pasta dishes
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Bourbon Butter

~now this one you can use on just about anything...
1/2 cup softened butter
2 tablespoons bourbon

Creole Horseradish Butter

~great with seafood, vegetables, esp corn on the cob
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole mustard
2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
dash ground black pepper

Steak Butter

~use to finish off grilled meats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke

Seafood Butter

~great on all seafood and fish; topping for bisque and chowders too, even chicken
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 teaspoon Badia Sazon Tropical (or a Crab & Shrimp Seasoning)

Southern Cane Butter

~for soppin' with warm buttermilk biscuits, French toast and hot cornbread; use on hot cereals too
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cane syrup (or honey)
1 drop of vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon -optional

Orange Butter

~serve this with toasted pound cake, morning muffins and flaky biscuits
1/2 cup softened butter
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Cinnamon Butter

~for a real treat, try this on caramel ice cream, winter squash, sweet potatoes or hot waffles
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Peach Pecan Butter

~good on coffee cakes, pork chops, even ham biscuits
1/2 cup clarified butter
2 tablespoons peach preserves (chop large sections of peaches)
3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted

To make Clarified Butter

Heat a saucepan over low heat and melt butter. Cook until all bubbling action stops and skim the foam from the top. Pour away the clear clarified butter at the top from the milky solid part left at the bottom of the pan which will be just a little bit. Discard the solid parts. You can also strain the top part through layers of cheesecloth to remove any unwanted solids, but I find this is a waste of good butter.

March 12, 2014

Rib Eye Steaks with Mushroom Diane Sauce

Indoor steaks cooked stove-top.

Steak Diane is credited due to the table-side service that was so popular in dining rooms long ago. It is just as impressive to watch it being prepared as it is to eat. Simply put: It is a steak pounded thin (so that it cooks rapidly), quickly sautéed in butter and prepared with a sauce from the pan juices. Normally the sauce is flambéed with brandy or Madeira and poured over the steak right at table-side.

Today, diane-style has come to mean sautéing thinly sliced or pounded steaks, normally filet mignon, in butter, then flambéing and basting it in a rich Cognac sauce. Many versions use heavy cream as a base. I prefer the natural pan juices from the steaks along with a rich beef stock. And instead of a Cognac mustard undertone, I tend to prefer the sweetness of Teriyaki with Sherry; as well as the tingling of capers and red tomatoes that add another exciting element.

There are now countless versions of Steak Diane out there. Steak Diane was invented, or so it is said, at the Drake Hotel in New York City by a chef nicknamed "Nino." Chicago Tribune's Mary Meade, the pen name for food editor Ruth Ellen Church, made mention of Nino in a 1957 column which offered a very plain Steak Diane that called for steak, butter, dry mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and chives. Since then, countless attempts and variations of Steak Diane go and come much as recipes do. Ever so in demand during the middle of the 20th century, it was considered too dated by 1980 and removed from many menus. Today, because of a resurgence in popularity, it is making a comeback, with changes of course, as most recipes do.

This is my take, enjoy!

Rib-Eyes with Mushroom Diane Sauce

2 servings

2 -1 inch thick rib eye steaks, trimed
freshly grind black peppercorns
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-light olive oil

for the Mushroom Diane Sauce:
1 - 10.5 oz Campbell's condensed beef broth
1/2 cup medium-dry Sherry
3 tablespoons low-sodium Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
8 ounce mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon super nonpareille capers, drained
3 Campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, if desired

Season the steaks on both sides with ground black peppercorns. Allow to rest at room temperature for about an hour.

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add beef broth and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Meanwhile, in a heavy wide skillet, add the olive oil and half of the butter over medium high heat. When oil simmers, add steaks cooking 3 minutes per side. Remove to a warm platter, tent with foil and place in a warm area near stove-top. Add remaining butter to skillet and when melted, add garlic and red pepper flakes cooking until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, the reduced beef broth and the teriyaki sauce. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Increase heat for the skillet and boil mixture until liquid is reduced to a thick glaze. Return steaks to pan along with any juices and cook for about 5 minutes or until internal temperature is 135 degrees F. Add mushrooms, the capers and tomatoes to skillet and stir to combine into the sauce. Stir in parsley if desired.

Plate steaks and divide sauce among the two rib-eyes heaping it on top of each steak. Divine!

Note: If cooking for 4, skip the reduction of the beef broth but whisk in a teaspoon of cornstarch before adding it into the final cooking stage. Double the mushrooms.

March 8, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole, Southern Style

A Chicken Casserole worthy of its name.

Like many good recipes each of us have in our repertoire, there are some we could say are of 'blue ribbon' caliber. And that is what Cordon Bleu means actually so I guess we should call it Blue Ribbon Chicken but then, no one would know what the heck it was.

This is a recipe in waiting for some time now; we have meant to get it to you way before now. If you love Chicken Cordon Bleu, if you even think you like it or maybe if you want to try a varying version, this is it folks. It is full of that chicken-ham-Swiss savor from the classic version, tender fried chicken pieces smothered with an extraordinary sauce to bind everything together. Yup. This is it.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

with creamy Dijon sauce
serves 4

2 large skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally in half into 1/2-inch sections
3/4 cup mixture of plain bread crumbs and Panko (about half of each)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
extra light olive oil or cooking oil
8 oz sliced Swiss cheese
8 oz sliced ham

1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)
1/2 paprika
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Crumb Topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup toasted plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a shallow bowl, whisk egg and the 1/2 cup of milk together. Cut each chicken slices into 1-inch cubes. Dip the pieces of chicken in egg mixture, then into the bread crumbs lightly coating. Place on rack or plate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Preheat oil (enough to cover bottom) in a wide skillet over medium high heat. Brown the chicken until golden brown all on sides. Do this in two batches. Remove to drain. Place chicken in a greased oblong 2-quart casserole covering bottom of dish. Cover chicken with ham slices followed with the Swiss cheese slices.

In medium saucepan, simmer vermouth until reduced in half. Mix butter and flour together to make a slurry and whisk into the vermouth. Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until incorporated, smooth and thicken. Reduce heat to low and stir in bouillon granules, paprika, Dijon, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Remove from heat and pour into the casserole.

Mix the crumb topping together and sprinkle over the sauce. Cover and bake about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and topping is brown. Turn broiler on if needed to hasten browning.

Remove and serve with rice or noodles, a steamed vegetable and choice of hot bread.
For the Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  •
    For the Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  •

    March 5, 2014

    Gulf Coast Hot Shrimp and Crab Dip

    A Seafood Dip Worth Making, 

    again and again.

    This is not a recipe for all parties, like your kids second birthday celebration, Aunt Ernestine's after-surgery coming home gathering 0r even an Ash Wednesday brunch in the Saint John's Catholic Church rectory. No, this is not the one to make. But for just about all the other holidays, celebrations, parties and entertaining socials you plan on making or taking something 'extra special', this is it.

    This is what Gulf Coast living is all about, I mean, sharing the love of seafood in every bite. And with every taste of this rich, well flavored seafood dip you'll find a little Cajun influence and a whole lot of Coastal love. Put this one on you list for your next party. I know you, all of your guests and all of their friends with beg for more.


    Gulf Coast Hot Shrimp and Crab Dip

    for a perfect seafood Mardi Gras dip
    makes about 6 cups

    1 tablespoon butter
    1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
    2 tablespoons each diced onions, bell peppers, and celery
    1 teaspoon crushed garlic
    1 teaspoon or more, Cajun seasoning
    1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, cleaned and picked free of shells
    1 -8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed
    2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon hot sauce
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, and chopped
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    3 tablespoons minced green onions (white and green parts)
    1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and vermouth. Allow to reduce back to a buttery slurry; do not scorch. Stir in the diced trinity and sauté until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook for 1 minute. Add crabmeat and saute for 2 minutes or until crabmeat is dry.

    Add the cream cheese and the next 6 listings. Reduce heat to low and stirring constantly, cook until cream cheese melts. Remove from heat.

    Fold the in next 3 ingredients with the seasoned mixture. Spoon into a greased 2-quart casserole. Place in oven and bake 25 to 40 minutes until lightly golden on top. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top the last 10 minutes.

    Serve hot with hot sauce on the side and with an assortment of crackers, toasts and sliced

    Note: You may cook dip in the 2-quart dish and serve in smaller hot ramekins to aid in keeping the dip warm as I sometimes do.

    March 1, 2014

    Pasta with Creole Daube Meat Sauce

    Steeped in History and Flavor.

    Much like the peasant, southern Provençal French stew using a beef roast seasoned with herbes de Provence, our southern Creole Daube sauce differs slightly with a influence dappling of Caribbean spices. Both the French Daube roast and our Daube Meat Sauce are cooked in a daubière (deep dish braising pan) or in my case, a medium dutch oven. All along the southern Gulf Coast states are many varying recipes for Creole Daube and I have already given you mine back in 2009.
    Creole Daube: (pronounced like 'robe') A southern classic preparation of roast normally using a less expensive cut of beef and smothering it in a flavorful tomato sauce or as some say, gravy.
    In the late 1800's, the Sicilian immigrants settled along our southern states, first in Louisianan before moving east toward what is now the Delta area of Alabama, and along the way they figured out the melding of their basic red pasta sauce with Creole Daube. There are several old recipes where the meat is shredded, blended into the sauce and served over pasta. This is another version, one where I substituted ground beef for the roast and added Italian sausage. Enjoy!

    Pasta with Creole Daube Meat Sauce

    serves 6 to 8

    for the Creole Daube Sauce:

    1 tablespoon bacon grease or butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 pound lean ground beef 85/15
    1 pound Italian sausage links, sliced
    2 large onions, chopped
    1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
    6 garlic toes (cloves), minced
    1/2 cup diced celery
    16 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
    1 -6 oz tomato paste
    1 -15 oz tomato sauce
    1 -16 oz diced tomatoes, with liguid
    1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules or 3 cubes dissolved in the wine (warmed)
    1/4 cup deep, dry red wine (burgundy)
    1 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
    2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
    1 tablespoon dried crushed basil
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 large bay leaves
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste

    to plate:

    Hot cooked pasta (7 to 9 oz uncooked)
    1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced - optional

    In a large braising pan or medium stockpot, add bacon grease and olive oil.  Add ground beef and stir over medium high heat until brown. Add sausage and cook until the sausage changes color. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, celery and mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring until vegetables are tender.  Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce and drained tomatoes. Mix well. Add wine and remaining ingredients stirring well. Cover and at simmer, reduce heat to low. Allow sauce to cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally.

    Prepare fettuccine, spaghetti, linguine or your favorite pasta according to package directions. Serve sauce over pasta and top with a sprinkle of green onions if desired.