Thursday, December 27, 2012

Creole Cakes with Sweet &Spicy Remoulade: A luscious leftover turkey recipe!

A rare holiday snow
monsoon-like rain!
When my children were younger, we enjoyed roast pterodactyl for our holiday meals.  It wasn't a real pterodactyl; it was a 25-pound turkey that filled up my oven.  It was during that time I discovered the joys of a programmable oven.  I would prepare my turkey, stuffing each cavity with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, then plugging the cavity with a sweet onion before roasting in the oven overnight.  The programmable function allowed me to put it in the oven, set the oven to start a few hours later, and wake to a lovely turkey.  We had lots of turkey leftovers, too, so a great leftover turkey recipe was relished.  Here's our favorite, adapted from Cooking Light (actually, I took all of the light out of it!).

Creole Cakes with a Sweet and Spicy Remoulade


1/3 cup sour cream
2 T. minced green onions (my grandmother called them scallions)
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. Zatarain's Creole mustard (or Grey Poupon Dijon mustard)
1 T. sweet pickle relish (sometimes I substituted dill)
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of ground cayenne
Tiny sprinkle of gumbo file (very optional, file is an acquired taste)

Combine the sauce ingredients into a small covered bowl and chill until ready for use.


The Resident Dragon says
smoked turkey would be
delicious in this recipe, too!
2 slices bread
3 cups chopped turkey (white or dark, or both)
1/3 c. minced green onions
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1 t. cajun seasoning
1 large egg
1 t. Watkins grapeseed oil

Place bread in food processor and pulse into small crumbs; measure out 1.25 cups.  Combine the turkey, scallions, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, cajun seasoning, and egg.  Stir in the breadcrumbs.  Form 8 patties (1/2 inch thick).  Heat oil in a non-stick or seasoned cast iron skillet and fry patties 5 minutes on each side (10 minutes total).  Each serving is 2 patties plus 2 tablespoons of sauce.  C'est bon!

From our kitchen to yours,

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Treat Genealogy: Traditional Dipped Fruit

Ready for apricots!
Chocolate-dipped dried fruit is a tradition in our house which dates back to my daughter's first Christmas.  Her older brother was feeling a little left out because of the new baby, so I decided that, together, we could prepare a treat for his pre-school teachers.  He was just over 2 years old at the time, so the treat had to be simple:  chocolate-dipped stemmed maraschino cherries.

Dipping pretzel rods
We carefully lined a cookie sheet with waxed paper, rinsed and dried the cherries, and melted the chocolate, then pulled up a chair for him to stand in.  Very carefully, he dipped an entire tray of cherries.  Somehow, his foot slipped, causing him to lose his balance, and his elbow to catch the corner of the tray.  With the edge of the counter as a fulcrum, the entire tray shot across the kitchen as if launched from a trebuchet, sticking to walls, cabinets, and appliances.  We were only able to save four cherries from the entire tray, but we packaged them carefully.  The next morning, he toddled proudly into his pre-school, bearing one cherry for each of his four teachers.

Don't forget the sprinkles!
The next year, baby sister joined in the fun, and the tradition has continued.  Both of them have their own homes now--baby sister turned 25 this year--but, tonight, together we again dipped cherries, and dried apricots, and pretzel rods, and dried pineapple, and banana chips, all festooned with various sprinkles.  And we needed that, to do that again, together.

Tempting Treats!

That's what traditions are:  things we do together.  The thing we do is not as important as the people we do it with.  Simple acts become special when we share them.

I know there will be Christmases  when we will not be able to share some of our family traditions, but I hope my children will share them with their own families, as well as make new traditions of their own.  May you find time during the holiday season to enjoy your family traditions, and create new ones.

From our kitchen to yours,

Merry Christmas!
Cheery Holiday Cherries!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Cookie Genealogy: Miss Dot's Hello Dolly Squares

Luscious layers!
This week's recipe comes from a family friend by way of my aunt Sara.  Miss Dot was the county historian and even published (albeit locally) a history of the antebellum homes in the county.  When we first saw this recipe, coconut came in cans and was quite the luxury, so these were an especial treat.  The batch I just put in the oven has begun to scent the kitchen, attracting the attention of the Resident Dragon, who will lurk around until they're cool enough to eat.

By the way, Miss Dot, a former school teacher, turned 93 this year.

Hello Dolly Cookies

Sweetened condensed milk binds it together!
1 stick butter
1.25 c. crushed graham crackers
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. pecans or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 c. shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Place in baking dish in layers in order listed.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  Chill and cut into small squares.

These are very rich, so enjoy every savory bite!

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Graham Cracker Brittle: Genealogy from Christmas Cookie Recipes

Graham Cracker Brittle makes a festive treat!
Food is more than mere sustenance in the South; in families and small towns, recipes can constitute almost a genealogy of the community.  Recipes nearly always are attributed to individuals and are a tangible, edible reminder of that individual:  Grandmother's Teacakes, Mrs. Malone's Apple Cake (Aunt Nonie's mother), and Miss Leora's Graham Cracker Brittle.

I mention the last recipe because I ran across some at a reception on Sunday.  While nobody could tell me if it was Miss Leora's recipe, I think it must have been.  I received the recipe in a collection my daddy's sister put together for me many years ago.  This recipe is wonderful reminder of two wonderful ladies.

Miss Leora's Graham Cracker Brittle

Line jelly roll pan with foil and prepare with cooking spray.  Line with good quality graham crackers, broken apart.  Sprinkle 1 c. chopped nuts (I prefer pecans) over top of crackers.

Mix 2 sticks melted butter and 1/2 c. white sugar.  Boil for 3 minutes, then pour over crackers.  Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees, checking frequently as these burn suddenly.

Remove from pan immediately and cool on cake racks.  Store in airtight container.  Miss Leora says they freeze well, but mine have never lasted long enough for me to find out!

Normally, I would have pictures for you, but you'll just have to trust me on this one; I'll be making at least one batch this weekend.

Happy holidays!

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blooming Fresh Asparagus

Thrifty Freshness
To keep your asparagus fresh, just treat it like the flower it is!  Trim about 1" off the cut end (leave the rubber bands in place), then stand in a jar or large glass of water.  Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

If you're only keeping for a day or two, a glass or a jar is far less expensive than Crate & Barrel's version!

And don't forget to compost the trimmings!

Bonus recipe:

Roasted Asparagus

Fresh asparagus, pencil-thin, dry stem trimmed
Olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat over to 425 degrees.  Line a jelly-roll pan with foil, then spray with cooking spray. Alternate in pan so that bloom ends are at the edges.  Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast until blossoms are crispy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Made with Love

A small pie pumpkin after roasting
Back in October, I roasted a few pumpkins and made puree (see Roasting Life's Pumpkins) in anticipation of making the Resident Dragon's favorite pie for Thanksgiving.  Well, Thanksgiving is here and it's time to put that pumpkin puree to good use.

I froze the pumpkin in 2 cup bags which should be just about the right quantity for a pie.  I've adapted a recipe from Yvonne Young Tarr's The Farm House Cookbook.

Pastry for 2-Crust Pie

Homemade pastry is easy!
2.5 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1.25 t. salt
1 cup (scant) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup (maybe a bit more) ice water

Mix together the flour and salt, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles corn meal with a few pea-sized pieces.  Stir in ice water with a fork, but do not add too much.  It should still look somewhat dry.  Form into 2 dry balls, and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so before rolling out on a lightly floured cloth to a 1/8 to 1/4" thickness.  Prepare two 8" pie plates and line with pastry.  Set aside to make filling

Pumpkin Pie Filling

The pumpkin puree is more yellow
 than I expected
2 cups pumpkin puree
1.5 c. light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
5 eggs
3 cups milk

The brown sugar turns dark in the batter
The batter seems very thin but firmed up.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together puree, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add eggs and mix well.  Change mixer to lowest speed, and add milk very slowly, as though making mayonnaise, until all is incorporated.  Mixture will be thin.  Divide between prepared pastries.  Bake approximately 1.5 hours or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before serving.  Makes 2 8" pies.

The Resident Dragon, who is a pumpkin pie epicure, lurked around the kitchen until the pies were ready.  It was worth all the effort to see him enjoy the home-made treat.

Love does come in all shapes and sizes--and flavors.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What's cooking in your kitchen?
The pie puffs up right at the end.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kissing Dragons

Twilight at Dragon Hollow
Original Painting by AnnMarie Eastburn copyright 1985
from the Resident Dragon's personal collection
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a dragon?  Would the kiss be fiery and ferocious, or would it be something . . . more?

We envision dragons to be ferocious, but in many folk tales they are also sensuous and beguiling (and ferocious)!  It's appropriate, then, that the new Savory recipe is called Dragon's Kiss.  It beguiles the palate with a sweet start, but thrills with a fiery finish.

The secret to this dragon's fire is organic tabasco peppers (30,000-50,000 Scovill units), grown here on the farm.  For more about how we grew the peppers, jump on over to our garden blog, Savory LeJardin.

SAFETY HINT:  Don't neglect to wear safety equipment any time you are working with hot peppers:  rubber gloves, eye protection, and sleeves.  I wore a sleeveless blouse and my arms itched for days.

Warnings aside, this savory condiment is well worth the effort!  It's perfect for gifts--perhaps adding a dragon--soft or hard--for that special someone?-- and for spicing up your favorite meals.  Just one taste, and you'll know what it's like to kiss a dragon!

Dragon's Kiss

Even the steam rising from the pot
is muy picante!
1 cup organic tabasco peppers, ground with seeds
2.5 cups white vinegar (divided)
0.5 cups cider vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
2 t. salt
1.5 T. Monterey Bay pickling spice (tie in a spice bag)
1.33 quarts crushed tomatoes (I used canned)

Combine tomatoes, peppers, and half of the vinegar in a large non-reactive sauce pot.  Cook until tomatoes are soft, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Add sugar, salt, and pickling spice and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.  Add remaining vinegar and cook until desired thickness, about 30 minutes.  Ladle into sterilized, hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps and process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Yield:  about 5 half-pints.

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bowled Over by Bowl Cake

There's no trifling with the flavor of bowl cake!
I had never heard of a bowl cake until I first ate some on vacation in Kentucky.  I would swear it was at the sublime Patti's in Grand Rivers, but I do not see it on the menu.  Anyway, it's always been a big hit in my family, and it travels well for a pot lucks since it's in a bowl rather than perched on a plate.

A bowl cake is a layer cake is one that has been filled with pudding, frosted with buttercream, then dropped by slices into a larger bowl or 10x13 pan so that the flavors mingle and it becomes a little mushy.

We have a pot luck at church tomorrow, so I'm sharing a family favorite with my church family.  Tomorrow's contribution is Boston Cream Pie Bowl Cake.

Boston Cream Pie Bowl Cake

1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (there is no other!)
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil

Prepare according to package directions and bake in a 9x13 pan as directed.

1 small package French Vanilla pudding (Jello really does taste the best)
2 cups cold milk

A single layer was split, filled with pudding, then frosted.
You could also layer in a 9x13 baking dish.
When the cake has completed cooking and is nearly cool, prepare pudding according to package directions.  Allow to sit until it has thickened so that it does not run off the cake.  Spread either over the top, or fill between layers.

1 stick butter, softened
4 heaping teaspoons of cocoa
1/2 teaspoon Watkins double-strength vanilla (there is no substitute!)
1/4 to 1/3 c. milk
1-2 cups confectioners sugar

After you have filled the cake, cream the butter with the cocoa.  Add vanilla.  Add sugar gradually with mixer on low speed so that the sugar does not create a dust storm.  If it becomes "gritty," add a bit of milk or cream to soften.  Spread over top of pudding, and cake.

Slice or spoon into a clear bowl.  Be sure to maintain layers.
Spoon into trifle bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  The pudding moistens the cake, and the frosting chills into delightful  morsels.

Bowl cake can also turn a dry or "cracked" cake into a moist treat.

One of our favorite combinations is yellow cake, French vanilla pudding, sliced sweetened strawberries, and whipped topping.  We've also tried chocolate cake, French Vanilla pudding, and caramel icing.  Your creativity is only limited by your imagination!


What's cooking in your kitchen?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Roasting Life's Pumpkins

The pumpkins "dimple" when done (top left).
Autumn is my favorite season of the year because the white heat of summer turns golden, and the temperatures cool down.  Autumn means pumpkins, of course.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Easy Tortilla Soup

Mix ingredients together in a soup pot.
The days are growing shorter and the evenings cooler, which means that soup season is near. Making soup from scratch can mean a long evening of slicing and chopping.  If you don't have time for that, reach into your pantry for ingredients to make this easy weeknight soup that will make your family cheer!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pass the Chicken, Dumpling!

Despite the heat, the RD and I found ourselves craving chicken and dumplings this week.  While it takes a bit of time to make (we spread it over a couple of days), it really hit the spot this evening.  Here's how I made it:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Don't let the heat put you in a pickle!

First batch!
For the past few years, my summers have developed a theme.  One year was the Yard Summer where I tried to get my new yard in order by planting roses and bulbs.  Then there was Bread Summer and I spent the whole summer learning to work with yeast.  Last summer was Garden Summer, with lots of peppers but scant few tomatoes.  This summer is shaping up to be Canning Summer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beat the Heat with Lemony Goodness!

Monarch butterfly on
butterfly bush.
The thermometer hit 102 today!!!!!!  The humidity makes the heat more intense, so I just go outside early--just after dawn--and come in by 9 or 10.  By that time I'm craving something cold and wet to drink.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shrimp and Grits with a Healthy Twist

Yummy shrimp and grits!
I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to make yummy dishes more healthy.  Here's a great recipe from guest blogger Julia!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eureka! Fluffy Biscuits!

It only took 45 years of trying!
For some unknown reason, I took on the biscuit challenge this week.  All of my cooking life, my biscuits have been flat and tough.  But this week, after several tries (and realizing my baking powder had gone flat), ta-da!  Success!  Serve warm with just about anything.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chicot County Lemonade Pie

Time was when a family suffered a death, the neighbors would bring in one, if not several, meals to the grieving family.  Sadly, most people are so busy these days that it's difficult to find contributors.  Thirty years ago, however, my grandmother was the meal organizer for her church.  Her most-requested recipe was this refreshing frozen pie.  She viewed the organization of funeral meals as her own ministry:  she might not be able to preach, and she might not be able to sing, but she could call people to help provide a simple comforting meal for a grieving family.  I think she was right.

Chicot County Lemonade Pie
This pie was her most-requested contribution to funeral meals sent to grieving families in Chicot County, Arkansas.

6 ounce can pink lemonade
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
4.5 ounces Cool Whip
9 inch graham cracker crust

Mix all ingredients--fold in Cool Whip last--and pour into crust.  Freeze.  Will keep up to two weeks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creative Cookery: Empanadas

Well, the RD (resident dragon) has been playing in the kitchen again.  The inspirations for this dish were leftover smoked pork and leftover pie crust.

The same technique could work with a variety of leftover meats, vegetables, and sauces.

Great for snacking, or for a light summertime dinner!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Classic Cookery: Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice with Venison
I'm constantly amazed how similar my resident dragon's upbringing was with mine, especially since we grew up 800 miles apart.  I was reminded of the similarities this week as the RD went looking for a recipe for what he called "Spanish Rice."  Having had his mother's Spanish Rice before, I remembered that my mother had also prepared it.  So, off I went in search of mother's recipe.  Three recipe boxes later, I stumbled across it labeled as "Texas Hash."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Classic Cookery: Plantation Casserole

Locally produced cookbooks have long been the mainstay of small-town fundraising efforts.  They are wonderful souvenirs and mementos because they often provide a "snapshot" of the community at a point in time.  I was integrating my late aunt's cookbooks into my own collection when I ran across one produced in my county sometime in the 1960s or 1970s.  I'm not sure which organization produced it, but I recognize a number of contributors from my youth.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lasagna, dear?

As I wrote last time, my resident dragon and I have been experimenting with venison.  We used venison to create a tomato gravy which we served on cooked spaghetti.  Because we made such a large quantity (the sauce can be frozen, by the way), we had enough of the basic Pomodoro Sugo di Cervo sauce to make a scrumptious lasagna!

Lasagna is such a great dish; you can add different vegetables, meats, and cheeses for variety.  Here's our latest effort!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buck High Beef Prices With Venison!

White-tailed deer
White-tailed deer
Photo by: Scott F. Bodle, USDA Forest Service

With the price of beef so high, we've been searching for palatable alternatives, including game meat. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wake Up to this Savory Breakfast Casserole

Both of my children visited this weekend which meant that I had the opportunity to prepare some of my old-faithful recipes.  One recipe that my son requested was Breakfast Casserole.  While we usually have it on Christmas morning with fruit, it's a great way to use leftover meat and bread in a time-saving breakfast meal.  Here's the basic recipe:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hot Potato for a Cold Morning

I am so lucky that my Resident Dragon loves to cook (and cooks well).  For a family dinner yesterday he prepared my daughter's favorite:  scratch-made mashed potatoes.  YUM!  At the table we reminisced about his grandmother's potato pancakes so, this morning, he set about creating his own version. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stir Up a Savory Dinner in a Snap!

Let ginger's bright flavor give your dishes
a "helping hand!"
It's been a busy, busy day--so busy that dinner time sneaked up on me!  I had little time to prepare a filling meal on this frigid night, but, fortunately, I had a few things stuck away in the freezer.  Here are my go-to ingredients!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Garner Laurels For Your Cooking!

For years, the pace of my life was so fast that I did a lot of cooking from memory.  After a while, my life slowed enough that I began to enjoy cooking again.  No longer satisfied with my bland rendition of beef stew, I pulled out my mother's Betty Crocker Cook Book to check the recipe.  I went through the ingredient list, checking off each in my head until, eureka, the missing element appeared:  the noble bay leaf.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ham It Up, Honey!

My family really, really likes ham!  I confess, however, that I just cannot bring myself to pay upwards of $8 per pound for the nationally advertised brand.  Hams are super-easy to cook.  Try this recipe!

10-ish pound fresh ham ( I really like Smithfield and MASH )
2 T. pickling spice
1 c. warm local honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Trim skin from ham.  Place fresh ham cut side down in a prepared (spray with Watkins Cooking Spray) roasting pan.  Warm the honey (microwave for a few seconds) then mix in the pickling spice.  Spread over the ham evenly.  Add warm water to the roasting pan to a depth of one inch.  Cover entire pan and ham with foil.  Bake for 17-20 minutes per pound (just under 3 hours for a 10-pound ham).  If you wish a crisper crust, baste with pan drippings about 30 minutes before end of cooking time and remove foil.  When cooking time is over, allow to rest for a while before slicing. 

If you want a glaze, strain the pan drippings (to remove the spice pieces) and cook until slightly thickened.

Serve on a bed of washed fresh kale leaves and garnish with fruit slices.

Beautiful, easy, luscious, and, best of all, $1.50 per pound!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Favorite Foccacia

Favorite Foccacia

Don't let anyone tell you that home-made bread is difficult.  It's pretty easy if you follow the rules:

1.     Use fresh yeast (from a bottle, NOT the little yellow packets).  I keep my yeast in the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature before using.  I prefer SAF Instant Yeast.
2.     Dissolve the yeast in 100-110 degree water (use a thermometer; this is essential).
3.     Do not add too much flour.
4.     Use unbleached flour.  I cannot tell a difference between unbleached and bread flour.  My cousin swears by King Arthur Flour, but I have had great results with Kroger Unbleached Flour.
4.     Proof your sponge or bread dough in a draft-free, warm location and cover it with a dish cloth (but don't let the cloth touch the dough).  I set mine beside my gas cook stove on warm days and in the cool oven on cold days.
5.     If you have a KitchenAid, use it!  It will make this so much easier.

Favorite Foccacia

4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups tepid (100-110 degree) water
2 T. sugar
3/4 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
5 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
3 cloves garlic, crushed, for topping
1/4 c. olive oil for topping
1 T. whole rosemary for topping
1 T. kosher salt for topping

Dissolve yeast in water in mixer bowl.  Add the sugar, olive oil, and regular salt.  Mix in 3 cups of flour and mix until the dough becomes elastic and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl (about 10 minutes with my KitchenAid). 

Change to dough hook and mix in the remaining flour (slowly lest you create a cloud!), kneading until it is smooth and elastic.  The dough should still be soft. 

Move bowl to proofing location, cover with a tea towel (a non-terrycloth dish towel), allowing to rise until doubled.  Punch down and press into 11x13 baking dish to about 1 inch of thickness. 

Warm olive oil and mix in crushed garlic and rosemary.  Drizzle bread dough and allow to rise until double.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm, perhaps with a savory tomato soup!

For variety, try other herbs with the garlic and oil.