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.

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

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





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





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



CHUCK EYE
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.









EYE ROUND
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. 





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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:

Grill:

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.

Oven:

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

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.