cafela: (Default)
It's nearly Thanksgiving, and it's later than normal this year. I've managed to get a lot of Christmas shopping done already, and I already have Christmas cards ready to go out, so it seems wrong to not make Thanksgiving food until next week. So I've gone ahead and made my family's cornbread dressing. There are a lot of great variations on dressing/stuffing, but this is my favorite.

Dressing is actually really easy to put together--it's just the prep that takes work, especially if you don't like crunching on pieces of onion or celery. To avoid that, I always chop the onions and celery into very tiny little pieces--basically, I mince it, so that once it's cooked down, it essentially melts into all the other ingredients. Also, I hate celery in everything--except this dish. Including celery does make a big difference in the flavor, so if you don't like it, don't leave it out if you can help it, because I promise, it won't taste like celery. When celery cooks down the way it does in this recipe, it tastes nothing like celery normally does.

Also, while a lot of cornbread dressing recipes include just cornbread, I've always found that it has a better overall texture if you use a combination of bread and cornbread, so that's what I use. If you're hell bent on just having cornbread, make 2 recipes' worth of cornbread and omit the sandwich bread.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



Southern Cornbread Dressing
Ingredients:
1 recipe's worth of Buttermilk Cornbread (or any cornbread that has no sugar in the recipe)
4 tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 large chicken breast (you can increase the amount of chicken if you want, or use leftover turkey)
salt & pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chicken broth
9 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
3/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
3 eggs, lightly beaten

First, make your cornbread.

While your cornbread cooks, chop your onion and celery. Melt 4 tbsp butter over medium high heat in a pot/skillet large enough to hold all the celery and onion. Add the celery and onion, cover and let cook (stir occasionally).



Take a small pan and melt 1 tbsp butter in it. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, then add it to the small pan. Add 2 tbsp chicken broth, cover and let cook over medium high heat until cooked through.

By this point, the cornbread should be done, so when it is, remove from oven and from the skillet so it can cool.

Get a large bowl (large enough to hold all the ingredients combined) and tear up the sandwich bread. Add the torn up pieces to it. Once the cornbread is cooled enough to handle, crumble it into pieces (2 inches or so) and add it to the bowl as well. When the chicken has cooked through, remove it from the pan and chop or shred it into small pieces. Add the chicken to the bowl.



Sprinkle the sage and the pepper into the bowl. Mix everything that's in the bowl at this point. Add the 4 cups chicken broth, then add the beaten eggs. Mix everything in the bowl again. Add the celery/onion mixture, and mix once more. The mixture should be somewhat soggy--if it is still dry, add another 1/2 cup of chicken broth. If it goes into the oven dry, it will be too dry once it's cooked (though if it does turn out dry, a quick fix is to pour 1/4 cup warm chicken broth over the top).


Uncooked Dressing

Spoon into two pans or casserole dishes, or one large casserole dish. Cook in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes if you have two pans, 30-35 minutes if you have one large dish. It is done when the top turns golden brown. Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce or even just by itself.

cafela: (nutmeg)
It's the height of peach season here in Georgia, and I've had several peaches sitting on my counter, waiting to be used ever since I bought them at the local farmer's market. A few days ago, I went ahead and peeled, pitted, and sliced them, then mixed them in a bowl with sugar and lemon juice. It took me awhile to decide whether I should do a cobbler, or a cake, or any of the other myriad things you can do with peaches. Finally, I decided to keep it simple and just make a pie. Now, you can always make your own pie crust, but I had some puff pastry dough taking up space in my freezer, so I decided to cheat and use that for my crust. Normal pie dough works and will taste just fine, but it doesn't rise to quite the heights that puff pastry will, so just keep that in mind if you use a different dough.

Also, while I love Georgia peaches, the peaches that are truly the best come from Chilton County, Alabama, so if you can get your hands on those, they are amazing. And any peaches will work for this pie--really, any fruit ought to be fine. I have some fresh blueberries from my mom's backyard that might get turned into a similar pie once this one has been eaten.




Georgia Peach Pie
3-5 peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 2 cups, maybe less)
2 tb brown sugar
2 tb white sugar
1 tb lemon juice
2 tb butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pie crust/dough for one pie (I used 1 puff pastry sheet)

Prep your peaches a day before if you can--peel, pit, and slice them, then toss them in a bowl with 2 tb brown sugar, 1 tb white sugar, and the lemon juice. You don't have to prep them a day ahead, but I prefer to.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your pie dough onto your pie pan; don't cut the excess off unless you just want to.

Drain excess juice/liquid from the bowl the peaches are in. Spoon peaches into the pie pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tb of white sugar, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg over the peaches. Cut up the butter into tiny cubes, and place them around the top of the pie.

Fold the excess pie dough/edges over the fruit. Place pie into the oven, cook for about 20 minutes (check on it at 15) until the pie crust is golden brown.

Serve with vanilla ice cream if you have it.
cafela: (Default)
The first time I made Shrimp & Grits, I came pretty close to winging the recipe. I knew how to cook everything individually, but I wasn't sure how much of what to use. The first recipe turned out tasty, and is still a solid recipe, but it had a lot of steps, and I wanted to simplify it. So last night, when I decide to make it again, I tried a couple of different things, and it made a huge difference--and the flavor was possibly even better.

The biggest breakthrough was probably in the grits. My husband suggested I look up recipes for "Charleston grits" which is the name they go by at a couple of restaurants. I was really surprised to see cream or half and half as a component, b/c all my life, grits have only ever been made with water. But as it turns out, it made a huge difference.

So here you are--updated Shrimp & Grits!



Ingredients:
For the cheese grits
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned grits (NOT instant)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1 tb salt
ground black pepper, to taste (about 1 tsp)
1 tb butter
2 oz Boursin cheese (I use the herbs flavor)
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated

For the shrimp
4-6 slices bacon, diced into squares
1/2 shallot, minced
1 small tomato, diced (or a large handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half)
2 cloves garlic, minced
splash of white wine
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tb lemon juice
1 lb shrimp, peeled

For the sauce/gravy
drippings from the shrimp mixture
2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tb COLD water

In a pot, combine the grits, cream, water, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium. Once the grits start to thicken, add the boursin cheese and the butter. Once the grits are thick, add the rest of the cheese; stir to combine. Continue to cook on medium low until they reach desired thickness.



While the grits cook, cook the diced bacon in a medium to large size skillet. Once the bacon is mostly cooked, add the shallot. Let cook for a minute or so, then add the diced tomato and the garlic. Let this cook until the tomatoes look mostly cooked, then add your splash of white wine, as well as 1 tsp of the garlic salt. Stir. Add the shrimp, and sprinkle them with the remaining ingredients (the rest of the garlic salt, the Old Bay, and the lemon juice). Cook until done.




Use a slotted spoon or sieve to remove the shrimp/tomato/bacon mixture and put in a bowl, leaving the juice behind in the skillet. Add the cornstarch/water mixture, bring to a simmer until the sauce thickens.

Plate with grits first, then shrimp mixture, and finish with the gravy. If you want, you can top with a little more parmesan cheese.

cafela: (Default)
I love cheese grits. I also love shrimp. My husband also likes both, and he especially likes the combination. Yesterday, as I pondered what to make for dinner, knowing that I didn't want to make the stuff I usually make, I decided to find a good shrimp and grits recipe. I also wanted to make a tomato gravy to go with it, as I had the best tomato gravy ever at my friend Jenn's wedding reception this past June, and it was served with parmesan cheese grits. So after looking at a lot of recipes on Pinterest, I cobbled this recipe together. It's kind of involved, but it only took me about 40 minutes to make it. The tomato gravy isn't as good as it was at Jenn's wedding, but it's still quite tasty.

So this dish was an experiment--and luckily, it turned out to be a delicious one. Unfortunately, experiments don't always get pictures taken while I make them, so all I have is one measely camera phone pic of the end result. If I'd had fresh chives, I would've added them in with the thyme, so those of you who have them, that wouldn't be a bad addition. You could just make the grits, or just the shrimp w/ tomato gravy...but they're pretty awesome put together. We both went back for seconds.



Ingredients:

For the Grits

1 c grits

4 c water

1 tsp salt

2 tb butter

1/2 container of Boursin cheese (I used the garlic and herbs flavor)

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

3/4 c grated cheddar cheese

For the Shrimp & Tomato Gravy

3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lemon

tabasco sauce

1/4 tsp old bay seasoning

4 slices of thick bacon, diced into small squares

1 diced ugli tomato (or regular tomato when it's summer and they're in season; ugli tomatoes are my go-to during winter)

2 scallions or green onions, sliced

1 shallot, diced into tiny pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 c chicken broth/stock

1/4 c cream

1 tb fresh thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

So, first, make your grits, the same way you would always make grits, 1 c grits to 4 c water, with salt to season. They will cook on medium low while you make everything else. If you have stone-ground grits, you will need to cook them however it says on the packaging.

Put the shrimp in a bowl with the juice of the lemon, several splashes of tabasco, and the old bay seasoning. Let marinate.

Slice/dice the bacon first, and put it in a large skillet on medium. Slice/dice the garlic, scallions, and shallot; add when the bacon is mostly cooked. Dice the tomato, add it. Let it cook down a bit, then add the chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, add the cream. Let sauce thicken.

In a smaller skillet, partially cook the shrimp (don't flip them) with 2 tb of the juice they were marinating in. When one side is cooked (about 1 minute), add them to the tomato sauce. Let sauce thicken. Add the thyme at this point.

(If sauce doesn't thicken after 5 minutes, mix 1 tsp cornstarch into 1 tb cold water, and stir that mix in. I do this anytime I have a sauce that doesn't thicken properly.)

By this point, the grits should be done. You want them to be pretty thick (not soupy/watery at all) before adding the butter and cheese, because that will loosen them up. Anyways, add the butter, then the cheeses, and stir in well. IF it gets too thin/watery, you can put the grits in your bowls to eat and microwave for a couple minutes until it's the right consistency.

Top with the shrimp and tomato gravy sauce. Voila!

Serves 2-4.

**Also, to get extra shrimp flavor, if you have shrimp that need to be peeled, toss the leftover peels/tails into the chicken broth and microwave for 45 seconds (until the shells are pink), and let sit until ready to add the chicken broth. Obviously, strain before adding the broth.**
cafela: (Default)
I have to admit, excluding bacon, I'm not a huge fan of pork, or at least, I haven't always been. Too often, pork chops end up overcooked and dry, which is never very tasty. But, with the FDA lowering cooking temperatures for pork (and my conveniently getting an instant-read meat thermometer from my mom for Christmas) and after seeing the chefs on Cook's Country cook a pork loin, I decided to try a new flavor profile with my pork chops: apples. It didn't hurt that I had a honey crisp apple that needed to be used up, too.

These pork chops turned out fabulously, and the leftover savoury apple bits were great on the cornbread I made to go with this dish. They would go well with biscuits or even rice, I'm sure. It started as an experiment, but I'll definitely be making this again.



Comforting Apple-Sage Pork Chops

Ingredients:

2-5 pork chops (I used boneless)

1 apple (most any kind will do)

2 tb minced garlic

2 tb sage

1 tb bacon fat (if you have it; if not, you can either dice one slice of bacon and toss it in with the apple bits, or just add more butter/oil in its place)

2 tb olive oil or butter

garlic salt

pepper

1/4 c Apfelkorn liqueur/Apple schnapps (if you have it)


First, you need to peel, core, and dice your apple. I used a really small dice because I wanted the apple to cook down as easily as possible, but a larger dice would be fine. In a large skillet, heat your olive oil/butter and garlic on medium. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the apple bits. Stir and let cook for at least a couple of minutes before adding the bacon fat.



Season your pork chops with the sage, garlic salt and pepper--I just sprinkled it on lightly, on both sides. Make room for them in the skillet; you don't want to put them right on top of the apples, because then the meat won't brown as nicely. I just moved most of the apples to the edge, and left a small mound of apple in the middle.



Turn the heat up to medium high, and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the bottom side of the pork chops have browned somewhat. Flip the pork chops, let cook for a minute, then add the Apfelkorn if you have it. If you don't, you could add some chicken broth, white wine, or hard cider instead. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, then start checking the temperature. You want the pork chops to read close to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer, just be sure that both sides are nicely browned, and you can always cut into one pork chop to make sure it's done. It should be white to veeeeery pale pink. No red or dark pink juices.



Plate with a spoonful of the apple bits on top and eat!

cafela: (ninja biscuits)
I love cornbread, and so does my husband. It's an essential part of the dressing I make for the holidays, too. It goes great with chili, or pork chops, or a bowl of beef stew. This recipe is very close to the one you'll find on White Lily cornmeal; my family uses that recipe, and I've tweaked it over time. Our original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter, and it is good that way, but it's just as good with half the butter. It has a good crust and soft, light crumb. It is NOT sweet, because proper cornbread shouldn't have sugar in it. If you add sugar, technically you're making "johnny cake," not cornbread (however, if you really prefer sweet cornbread, all you have to do is add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the batter, and that should do).

Back in 2009, the library I worked in had a cornbread contest for our dept. chair, who was trying to find a recipe that approximated the cornbread his grandmother used to make. This recipe came in 2nd by his judgement, and first by popular vote. So it's not just my family that likes it, I promise!

If you want to make a Mexican-style cornbread, follow this recipe, but add some chopped jalapenos and peppers. I suppose you could add other things in, too, but I've not tried them myself. I tend to prefer my cornbread plain with some butter, though it's buttery enough that you can forgo that. It will keep for 4-5 days if wrapped/in an air-tight container.

To make this cornbread, you NEED a cast iron skillet/pan. It does not turn out properly in a regular pan. You can buy a preseasoned one very cheaply these days.



Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients:

1/2 stick of unsalted butter

2 eggs

2 cups White Lily Self-rising cornmeal

About 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup oil

Turn the oven to 425 F. Place the half stick of butter into your cast iron skillet, and put the skillet in the oven while it preheats. It is very, very important that the skillet and oven be hot before you put the batter in later. This is how you get the nice crust on your cornbread that gives it extra flavor and great texture.

Lightly beat the eggs together in your mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, buttermilk, and oil to the egg mixture and whisk together until blended. The batter should be like a thick pancake batter.



Take your skillet out of the oven--remember to use an oven mitt! It should be hot and the butter should be melted.



Pour the batter in and use a spoon or spatula to level it if needed. I like to make sure the butter is sort of evenly spilling over the top, but it's not crucial that you do that. Bake until the top is golden brown (about 20-25 minutes).



You should be able to flip it out of the skillet immediately without it sticking to the bottom. Enjoy!

cafela: (Default)
My grandma's chicken and dumplings are my most favorite food of all time. I love dumplings in all their many forms (steamed, fried, other variations of chicken and dumplings, etc.), but none are better than Grandma's. For me, it's not really Easter, a family reunion, my birthday, or Thanksgiving without chicken and dumplings. I'm lucky that chicken and dumplings were also a favorite of my GranGran, whose birthday was the day before mine, so often I would get to share in the pot of chicken and dumplings Grandma made for his birthday.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I hadn't had chicken and dumplings in a really long time, because I've missed the few "chicken and dumplings required" get-togethers over the past year. Around the same time, I came across a nice, fresh hen at the local farmer's market.

Now, prior to this, I had helped Grandma make chicken and dumplings before. One of my favorite things to do is to add the dumplings in at the end, so I knew the process, roughly. But I didn't know the details; cue a call to Grandma, who patiently explained each step of the process. I followed her directions to the letter, and I got awesome chicken and dumplings in return. SUCCESS!

It's been a couple of weeks since I actually made these, but having done it now, I'm fairly certain I'm remembering this pretty well. I wish I'd taken more pictures as I went, but c'est la vie. It's actually a very simple dish, with very few ingredients.



Grandma's Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients:

1 fresh hen, 2-4 pounds (you can use a fryer or pieces of cut up chicken, but it won't be as flavorful)

a large stockpot full of water (needs to be tall enough that the water covers the hen, plus a couple inches of water above)

salt

pepper

all-purpose flour (start with 2 c)

about 2 cups of hot water

wax paper or parchment paper



Put the chicken, skin-on, into the pot. Fill with water until, as said above, the water covers the hen, and continue filling until there are a couple inches of water above the hen. I know, it seems like a lot of water--this dish will give you more broth than you actually need to make the dish, but the leftover is the perfect amount to use in cornbread dressing or a chicken pot pie (stay tuned for those recipes in the near future). Turn the heat on high until the water is boiling, then turn it down to medium or so--you want it to be simmering. Add a good amount of salt and pepper--I used probably 4 tbs of salt and 2 tb of pepper. There's enough water that it's not going to be too much, but even if you're skeptical, be sure to add at least a 2 tbs of salt and 1/2 tb of pepper. The hen will be better if it's seasoned while it's cooking. Cover and cook at a simmer for at least a couple of hours, preferably 3-4 hours.

While you wait for the chicken to finish cooking on the stove, now is the time to make your dumplings! On an episode of Cook's Country, they described these not as dumplings but as "slicks" and the resulting dish was called "chicken and slicks", so if you're familiar with that, this will be a similar dish. But I grew up with it being called chicken and dumplings, and that is what I'll continue to call it.

To make the dumplings, you need flour, water, salt and pepper. This is very much a "do until it feels right" approach, so I can't give you exact measurements. Make sure you have plenty of extra flour on hand. In a large bowl, mix about 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper into about 2 cups of flour. Make a slight indent in the middle of the flour mixture (kind of like making a well, but be sure to leave plenty of flour between the bottom of the well/indent and the bottom of the bowl). Pour about half of the water in and mix until you need to add more water. Add the water until the mixture comes together.

The texture you're looking for is akin to that of fresh pasta, and you should use enough flour that it's not sticky. When you've got it about right, turn the bowl out onto a floured surface and knead a few more times. Now, roll it out into a rectangle. You don't want it to be too thin or too thick. I'd say make it about 1/4 of an inch or about the thickness of sheet of frozen puff pastry.



Go ahead and get a roll of of wax paper or parchment paper to lay the dumplings on (you'll need several sheets, and you'll want it to be a manageable size because the dumplings need to go in the freezer). When you have roughly the shape of a rectangle and the right thickness, cut off the weird edges, but don't toss them. You can still use them as dumplings, they'll just be kind of a weird shape. Put them on the first layer of wax paper. Now, cut your dumplings! Grandma and I like them about 2 inches by 2 inches (any larger becomes difficult to get out with a ladle), but you could always make them smaller. Either way, line the dumplings on the wax paper, not touching.

When you're done cutting them up, wrap up your layers 'o dumplings and put them in the freezer for at least a couple of hours. If you seal them up, they can last in the freezer for a couple months, and they are much better if they're frozen a week or two ahead of time.The amount you'll make here will probably be two pots' worth, so you'll have them premade the next time you want to make chicken & dumplings. If you notice, I leave them in full strips rather than cutting them into squares right away.



When the hen is done cooking in the pot, you'll want to pull it out of the pot so you can take the skin off and separate the meat from the bones. It will be well-cooked through at this point, and very likely to come off the bones, so you might want to use a set of tongs and scoop it out with a mesh strainer/metal colander if you've got one large enough to hold the hen. Let the hen cool before trying to get the skin/meat off. Pour about 2/3 of the remaining broth into a smaller pot (I used a 5qt pot) to make your chicken and dumplings in. Let the remainder cool so you can put it in ziplock bags/other containers to use for other dishes.

Once the hen has cooled, remove the skin, and add as much of the meat as you want to the chicken and dumplings pot. At this point, taste the broth in the pot and add more salt & pepper to taste. If in doubt, don't add much, because you can always finish seasoning it when you've got your own individual bowl. Bring the chicken and broth to a strong simmer/low boil.

Hopefully by now, your dumplings have chilled for at least a couple of hours. Now you get to add them! If you left them in strips, now you can just tear/break them off into the right size, and drop them right into the pot. Stir every minute or two to be sure they don't clump onto each other. Remember that the dumplings will get bigger as they take on water, and adding them will thicken the broth. When you've added all that you want, put the remainder in the freezer, and be sure that you cook the dumplings at least 20 minutes.



Remember that the dumplings will get bigger as they take on water, and adding them will thicken the broth. When you've added all that you want, put the remainder in the freezer, and be sure that you cook the dumplings at least 20 minutes.

After that time, they should be ready to serve! Best of all, any leftovers heat up wonderfully, and you can always freeze the leftovers to heat up on a chilly day.

April 2014

M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21 222324252627
282930    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated June 28th, 2017 07:18
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios