Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

June 29, 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.