Got Eggs? Eggs-ellent Egg Salad

 

A long time favorite at lunch counters, egg salad is a good way to use up dyed boiled eggs at Easter. Please use caution and safety and do not use eggs that have been off refrigeration for longer than six hours for any food purposes.

After Easter, hot summer weather seems to be on us before we have eaten the last Peep in the Easter Basket. I like to keep salads on hand for cool easy meals during hot weather. Southerners love cold plates. I call cold plates “Scoopa” Plates – scoopa egg salad, scoopa tuna or chicken salad, scoopa potato salad, pickled beets, cole slaw arranged on crisp green lettuce leaves. a slice of baguette on the side.  Egg salad is a staple item for quick lunches, impromptu company, open faced for special occasions.

Egg salad can be as plain or fancy as you wish. Below is my basic egg salad. You can leave out the mustard and use curry powder to season or add chopped pimiento stuffed olives, or chopped green onion. dill instead of chives, finely chopped dill or sweet pickle – customize this to suit yourself. Hollowed out cherry tomatoes stuffed with egg salad also make an excellent appetizer or party nosh. Use reduced fat mayonnaise instead of regular mayonnaise. If I am going to be serving immediately, I also like to peel and scoop out the good stuff of an avocado and mash along with the eggs. Avocado egg salad has a lovely pale green tint and is a fresh looking dip or spread for crackers and adds a whole different flavor layer to this basic dish.

Thank you Public Domain Images for photographs!

Ingredients
6 large hard boiled eggs. peeled and cooled
1/4 cup mayonnaise + 1 tbs
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 medium-length celery stalk, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put eggs into a bowl and mash with a fork until as smooth or chunky as you choose. Add other ingredients and mix well. Use for egg salad sandwiches, dip or spread for crackers or for stuffing cherry tomatoes.

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Super Simple Sunday Supper

So, it is just plain ol’ dreary and cold outside. Spring seems to have sprung everywhere but here. I don’t want an elaborate meal but I do want simple and satisfying. Hence, Chicken and Noodle Casserole served with a tossed salad and Double Strawberry Shortcake. I copied the recipe from back of a Campbell’s Soup can years ago and it has been a mainstay ever since. I made a few slight changes and to healthy it up a bit, I use the mushroom soup that is fat and sodium reduced. I don’t think it makes much difference really, but I feel like I’m doing something! When you read the recipes, you’ll see just how super simple this is. We aren’t going for gourmet, we’re going for yummy, tummy warming, smile making food.  S friend of mine makes this in the skillet after a hard day at work, so you don’t even have to put in the oven!  Sprinkle the bread crumbs over before serving.

You can use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken as well as canned.  I usually do this.

どうぞめしあがれ Douzo meshiagare y’all!

Chicken and Noodle Casserole
1 can cream of mushroom soup (regular or reduced sodium)
½ c. milk (or broth or water)
1 c. frozen peas (or broccoli florets or peas and carrots)
¼ c. chopped onion and celery, sautéed until tender
2 4.5 ounce cans canned chicken or equivalent of cooked chicken
2 c. medium egg noodles cooked and drained
2 tbs. dry bread crumbs
1 tbs. butter melted
Directions
Stir the soup, milk, peas, celery, onion, chicken and noodles in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Triple Strawberry Shortcake
1 qt. fresh strawberries, sliced
Strawberry Ice Cream or frozen yogurt
Slices of pound cake or angel food cake
Whipped cream or whipped topping

Slice and macerate strawberries in about 1/4 cup sugar depending on sweetness of berries. When ready to serve, on slice of cake put scoop of ice cream, top with berries and juice and add dollop of whipped cream.

What? Meatloaf – again?

images[3]

I always think of that scene in the Rocky Horror Picture Show when the table top slides back to reveal the body of Eddie, ex-delivery boy played by Meatloaf. The participants in the theater audience all say in unison, “What? Meatloaf? Again?”. And in those days, many food commercials on TV showed families sitting around the dinner table looking at mom’s lackluster attempt to feed the family, groaning…”what? ? Again?”  Heaven forbid that a meal should be predictable and boring…

I like meatloaf. I adore meatloaf sandwiches from the leftovers. I DO NOT LIKE DRY FLAVORLESS MEATLOAF!!!

This meatloaf is moist, flavorful, easy….The Trifecta of comfort food. Best of all, it is cooked in a slow cooker so it saves energy, time (you can be doing other things while it cooks), can be made in the summer without heating up the oven and close environs. The recipe can be played with to suit your tastes.

The only things I changed were the milk and eggs: I used ketchup and steak sauce in less the amount of milk called for the recipe. I used one beaten egg. I also used Italian, rather than plain, bread crumbs. And it was still moist and sliced well.

People think usually, you just dump stuff in a bowl to make meatloaf. No. No you don’t. I beat together my liquids first in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, I add my dry ingredients on top of the ground beef and then pour the liquids over and mix with my hands – if you over mix, your meatloaf will turn out dry. I mix to barely incorporate all ingredients which is why I beat the liquids and then add on top. I also do not use cheap fatty ground beef. I like to use a mixture of ground round and ground chuck. However, in the interest of frugality, these two items are usually purchased when on sale and divvied up into recipe size portions and frozen, then thawed when it is time to use. You can also use ground turkey. My aunt has been using ground turkey for a couple of years. She adds a small amount of Kitchen Bouquet to color the meat. Her husband has yet to figure out he is no longer eating beef and if you tell him, she will sic her Pekingese on you. And he is a little beast, I can assure you.

So…on to the recipe. I hope y’all enjoy. I made this yesterday for dinner and today for lunch, I am having a meatloaf sammich and a big ol’ glass of sweet iced tea. Oh yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. While eating, I’ll be grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater. (and for y’all not sure, that means very happy in my neck of the woods here in the south).

どうぞめしあがれ (douzo meshiagare) y’all!

Ingredients
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. milk (or liquid seasonings such as ketchup, steak sauce, etc.)
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 lbs. lean ground beef

Instructions
To remove loaf when done, line crock with wide strip of aluminum foil, coming up sides of crock. Spray foil with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine liquids. Over meat, add soup mix and breadcrumbs. Pour liquids over and mix. Shape into a rectangle or oval that won’t touch sides of crock. Place in crock. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.  NOTE:  About the last 30 minutes of cooking, I spread some ketchup on top.  You can add grated cheese if you like as well.  Also, at this time, any drippings that have cooked out of the meat (and it can be a lot depending upon fat content and the amount of water added to the meat when processed), I ladle out and dispose of.  You can do this step sooner, if you like.

Thank you Public Domain for the photo.  And the meatloaf does look like this… 🙂

Nice Area, Nice People, Viscious Luncheon

This post came about due to becoming acquainted with J. K. Bevill at Lost Creek Publishing (http://lostcreekpublishing.wordpress.com).  He is from Jasper, Alabama.  Please go visit him!  Excellent photographer and blog poster of Charlie and Yvonne’s Gospel Show featuring Cookie Lee of world reknown.

Years ago, I visited the Jasper/Townley/Cullman area because of my roommate the first year I was in university. Her father was a minister and ended up going from Nashville, Tennessee to Cullman, Alabama. I went home with her several times and developed a fondness for the area including two restaurants: Victoria’s and Hickoryland BBQ.

I thought this post would be  a fitting addendum to a story that began years ago. Now I must warn you, as a Southerner, there is no such thing as a short story. Eventually, you will come to the reason for the title of this blog, along with a little color, and a retro recipe that is part of the story.  Just hang in there.

Along with other happy coincidences, my two aunts lived in Nashville at the time and attended the church my roomie’s father pastored. They just loved him and his wife and a few weeks after they left, my aunts gave them a call. Happy to hear familiar voices, the pastor and wife invited them to come visit some Saturday because it really was a nice area with nice people. It came about my aunts did their visit the next Saturday.

When they arrived in Cullman, they were told a member of the new church had invited the minister and wife to luncheon that same day but became excited to invite additional visitors from Nashville.  So, my aunts, my aunt’s husband, pastor and wife went to luncheon.

Imagine: A dining room of lovely mahogany furniture set with delicate old china, savory odors from the kitchen, everyone all gussied up and on their best behavior. The men quickly began to talk about golf while the ladies went into the well manicured yard to look at several prize rose bushes. Soon, it was time to go into luncheon.

As a sidebar here: In the South, lunch is often call Dinner – y’all come for Sunday Dinner. It’s just a pickup kinda Dinner but our first tomatoes are in….you get the picture. In this case, it was called luncheon.

Everyone then sat down in that calm dining room, fragrant with food, gardenias, and Youth Dew perfume. When I asked my aunt about this a few weeks ago, she recalled the menu: delicate homemade yeast rolls filled with thin sliced country ham, potato salad, small crustless pimiento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, sliced tomatoes (first of the summer!), fruit salad, tall crystal glasses filled with sweet tea and garnished with lemon and mint from the garden.

When everyone had eaten all they felt was courteous to eat, the hostess announced, “We are having a special cake. One of the ladies in my circle brought this to our last meeting and it is delicious.  It’s called Watergate Cake with Cover-up frosting.” she then brought in this light white cake frosted with delicate green cool whippy frosting and garnished with chopped pecans. It was at that point, all hell broke loose.

After making a clever (he thought)remark about politicians, the husband began to rant about the crooks running for office, how they were bleeding folks dry, blah blah blah, especially the latest Carpetbagger that was running for office.

The wife, embarrassed, tried to put it aside but the husband persisted. Within a few moments, husband and wife began shouting at each other, calling each other names, accusing each other of being easily duped idiots; on and on. Folks around the table sat in silence, eyeing each other and sipping tea. Finally, the minister was able to interject a word about the cake. Cake and coffee was mercifully served. Oooos and ahhhhs ensued. My aunt asked for the recipe. After neatly writing on a recipe card, the hostess asked if anyone else needed anything else (only to leave) and the visitors made their escape.

The verdict by my aunt after all those years: Nice area, nice people, vicious luncheon….good cake. I agree. it is a good cake for the summer: cool, light, a pretty green (or not as you choose). The original recipe called for 7-Up. I use club soda or regular water and fix in a 9×13 baking pan. I let the frosted cake chill in the fridge before serving. Eat quickly or within a couple of days.

I have seen various versions of this cake. This is THE recipe given to my aunt. Y’all enjoy and please behave yourselves when you serve it.  I don’t know the origins of this recipe.

Watergate Cake with Cover-up Frosting
1 regular size package white cake mix
1 package (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Optional and fun: drop or two of green cake coloring
Frosting:
1 (3 3/4 oz.) package pistachio-flavored instant pudding mix
1/2 cup milk
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed 1/2 cup chopped nuts
Instructions Cake: Combine all ingredients in large mixer bowl. Blend, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and frost.

Frosting: COMBINE pudding mix and milk in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed 1 minute. Fold in whipped topping. Remove 1 cup frosting; combine with chopped nuts. Spread on bottom layer. Top with other layer. Spread remaining frosting top of cake. Chill before serving. Garnish with chopped nuts and coconut if you choose. I personally like to top with a few maraschino cherries. This can be done as a two layer cake or cupcakes – just watch the baking times.

imagesR3N3DZ4E

Pecan Praline Bread Pudd’n – Holiday cooking with love

English: Freshly hand-scooped pralines from So...

English: Freshly hand-scooped pralines from Southern Candymakers and cooling on the marble slab. These are the original creamy pralines, scooped daily in Southern Candymakers French Quarter kitchen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is in response to Hunt Mode’s post about food we fix for love, on special occasions. This is one of the regulars.  Here’s her link – go visit!!!!  http://wp.me/2YmRm

First of all, we say: Pray-leen.  Okey dokey, that’s out of the way.  Pralines, or rather, deep South N’awlins pralines are decadent morsels of butter, brown sugar, pecans, and cream or evaporated milk.  They are not caramel, they are not brittle.  Rather, they are in the middle being a little creamy, a little crumbly, dissolving on the tongue and setting your mouth aglow with flavor.  And feel free to add rum, bourbon or vanilla for flavoring.  Use nice fresh plump pecans – cut in large chunks or use whole.  “Hit don’t matter none” as a friend of mine says.  Don’t use a soft bread – use one with texture.  A sourdough works fine or a Tuscan broule is good.  You need a bread that stands up to the custard – absorbing it but not turning to mush under the custard.  Fix the bread pudding, let it cook about 20 minutes then add the coarsely chopped pecan pralines on top.  Toast the pecans to add a depth of browniness to the flavor mix.  I use a rich very bad for you recipe for the bread pudding and add a few of the pecan pralines to take it to a different level of WOW.  Enjoy this with a nice strong cup of coffee, cold glass of milk or, a couple of shots of bourbon.  The darkness/lightness of the brown sugar will determine the color of the pralines.  Ho! Ho! Ho!

どうぞめしあがれ douzo meshiagare y’all!

Pecan Pralines
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups firmly-packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk/heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups pecan halves – whole or chunked
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or bourbon (optional)

Directions:
Butter a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper; set aside.   In a large heavy pan over medium heat, combine sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk/cream; cook, stirring constantly until the thermometer reaches 235 degrees F. or when a small amount of sugar mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard but not brittle threads. If you don’t know how to tell softball stage this way, use a candy thermometer.

As soon as the temperature reaches 235 degrees F, add the butter and vanilla; stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute). Immediately remove the mixture from heat; set saucepan in a large pan of cold water to cool.

When sugar mixture has almost cooled, beat with a wooden spoon 1 minute or until it begins to lose it gloss. Immediately stir in pecans and drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared buttered wax paper, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for the pralines to spread. NOTE: Work quickly before mixture sets. If it thickens up, just place pan back on low heat to re-soften.

When pralines have cooled and have become firm, wrap individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in a covered container. Makes 36 small or 20 large pralines

Rich Bread Pudding
6 cups day-old bread ( take dense bread, cube, and leave out about 8 hours)
2 cups half and half
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1- 2 tsp. vanilla, bourbon, or rum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease well a 9×13-inch pan.

In a large bowl combine half and half, butter, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Add bread and press bread down to make sure it is thoroughly soaked with liquid mixture. Let soak about 15 minutes. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

 

Holiday Cooking: Papa’s Deadly Pecan Pie

pecan pie - public domain image

My Papa was an incredible cook.  At church suppers, the folks most often asked, “What did Miss Josie (my grandma Ninny) or Robert make?  Often, they could just give a scan of the food table and know: fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, fried okra, corn pudding, peach cobbler, crab cakes, coconut cake, and…pecan pie.

Unlike most of the recipes, Papa cooked his corn syrups and sugar together before stirring in the eggs. It made for a richer flavor and texture. He also used pecans from our own trees and lots of vanilla extract. He made his own flaky crust but you can use a pre-made one in your own fancy pie plate – deep dish.  Try to use the freshest pecans you can find and a good vanilla extract.  Put lots of love and quality in your cooking and you will never go wrong.

This is one of the dishes that always show up at one of my holiday meals. I hope it will become part of your holiday traditions. With love, from me to you.

Ho! Ho! Ho! どうぞめしあがれ Douzo meshiagare, y’all!

Papa’s Deadly Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely broken
1 unbaked deep dish pie shell

Directions:
In saucepan boil sugar and corn syrup together for 2 to 3 minutes; set aside to cool slightly. In large bowl beat eggs lightly and very slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.  At this point Papa would strain the mixture to make sure it’s smooth and lump free.   Stir in butter, vanilla, and pecans and pour into crust. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 to 60 minutes or until set.  Let cool before slicing.  I will place the pie on a cookie sheet in case of boiling over.

Apple Pie – for AB

What do we love about apple pie? We love the apples, spices, sweetness, the flaky crust – eating it warm with a glass of cold milk or cold with a cup of hot coffee; a slice of cheese melted on top or not. We love more than one slice and being indulgent pie eaters, we eat another slice with no pangs of conscience.  I mean, it’s fruit, right?

This is a lovely pie.  My papa may be the king of peach cobblers but my mama is the empress of apple pie.  The apple filling is slightly cooked to avoid that gap between fruit and crust. The only change I have made to this pie is to cook the filling a bit and during the last few minutes of baking, to pour in some heavy cream. Oh yeah, we are talking decadence at its best.

Douzo meshiagare,y’all!

 

apple pie

APPLE PIE

Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks – keep chilled
1/3 cup shortening  – chilled
4 to 5 tablespoons iced water

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 medium (6 cups) tart cooking apples, peeled, sliced
1/4-inch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions
Heat oven to 400°F. Combine 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in large bowl; cut in 1/3 cup butter and shortening with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water just until flour is moistened.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into ball. Flatten slightly. Wrap 1 ball of dough in plastic food wrap; refrigerate. Roll out remaining ball of dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough into 9-inch pie pan; unfold dough, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of pan; set aside.

Combine all filling ingredients except apples, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon sugar in large bowl. Add apples; toss lightly to coat. Cook apples in heavy pot for about 10 minutes, just until barely tender. Remove to freezer to cool down.

Spoon apple mixture into prepared crust. Roll remaining ball of dough into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough over filling; unfold. Trim, seal and crimp or flute edge. Cut 5 or 6 large slits in crust. Brush with melted 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Cover edge of crust with 2-inch strip aluminum foil.

Bake 35 minutes; remove aluminum foil. Continue baking 10-20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Remove pie from oven when lightly browned and bubbly. Run knife through slits in crust. Pour 1/2 cup whipping cream evenly through all slits. Return to oven 5 minutes to warm whipping cream. Cool pie 30 minutes; serve warm. Store refrigerated.

Saved by Pantry – again. Football: Bah humbug.

Okay, so sometimes my husband has the brain of a gnat. I still love him but at noon today, he tells me he has invited several of his friends to come watch VA Tech and Alabama play football at……5:30. First game of the season and Hokie that my husband is, he has been marking off this day on the calendar with alternating burgundy and orange X’s.

After I landed back on the floor after shooting up to the ceiling, I made an immediate survey of my pantry and freezer. Times like this make me glad I am obsessive-compulsive about always being prepared to feed a horde of hungry gamers, not to mention several guys stoked for the first football game of the season.

So the menu is:  Calico Beans, salsa and chips, sausage and cheese balls, Dump Cake, Jalapeno Cornbread. Easy and I have everything on hand. Several pitchers of lemonade, sweet tea, and cans of cold sodas will keep them hydrated. The pantry saved my husband – this time.  Payback will occur when it is basketball season and Duke is running wild.   どうぞめしあがれ (douzo meshiagare) Y’all!

 

calico beans

 

Calico Beans
•4 ounces bacon, about 10 to 12 slices (jar of bacon pieces)
•1 pound lean ground beef
•1 cup chopped onion
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
•1 tbsp. dry mustard
• 2 cans pork and beans
• 1 can lima beans or black beans, drained
•1 can kidney beans, drained
•1/2 cup ketchup
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tbsp. vinegar
Dashes of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Preparation:
Brown bacon, ground beef, and chopped onions. Combine drained ground beef mixture in slow cooker with remaining ingredients; cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 5 hours.

Sausage and Cheese Balls
2 pounds pork sausage (hot or mild) or turkey sausage
1 1/2 c. buttermilk baking mix
16 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions
Let ingredients come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Combine the sausage, baking mix, cheddar cheese, onion, and garlic powder. Mix well and form into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. I use baking parchment to line baking pan.

 

 

dump cake

Dump Cake
•1 (20 ounces) can crushed pineapple, undrained
•1 (21 ounces) can prepared more fruit cherry pie filling
•1 (18.25 ounces) box yellow cake mix
•2 sticks (1 cup or 16 Tablespoons) of butter or margarine, each cut into 12 slices
•1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, etc., your choice)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 for glass baking dish). Have a 9 by 13-inch baking pan ready.
Dump undrained pineapple baking dish or pan and spread it out evenly.
Using a spoon, dump globs of cherry pie filling evenly on top of the pineapple.

Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the cherry and pineapple layers. Cut butter into slices with a butter knife and place slices evenly over cake mix. Sprinkle nuts on top if you’re using them.

Bake for one hour. Use heavy oven mitts to remove the dump cake. To serve, scoop cake out with a large spoon like a cobbler, and dump it on a nice plate. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is delicious with dump cake. Serve warm or cold.
I used vanilla cake mix and added some fresh blueberries I had on hand. This is my favorite go-to and to eat dessert.

 

 

SONY DSC

 

Jalapeno Cornbread

1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
1/4 cup oil or butter
2 eggs
1 cup cornmeal (I use a local yellow stoneground)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced

Directions
Mix the buttermilk, oil and eggs. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients in to the wet and then mix in the jalapeno peppers. Pour the Mixture into a grease 9×5 inch loaf pan and bake in a preheated 375F oven until a toothpick pushed in the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.  if you have them on hand, some chopped green scallions add an extra pop to this.

Tonkatsu (豚カツ : A Fried Food Romance

The story in six words post yesterday, brought to mind a dish my dear samurai made on a regular basis.  It seems in spite of our disparate cultures, he the cultured Japanese scholar and me, the eccentric Tarheel belle, had something in common – a love of fried foods.  One of the first things I fixed for him was southern fried chicken.  He returned the favor by fixing for me, Tonkatsu – a crispy fried pork cutlet. Thus began several happy years of back and forth fried foods – a loving duel of food, hot oil, breadings, and seasonings.

Tonkatsu is a “ubiquitous cafeteria” food in Japan.  There are restaurants in Japan that specialize in Tonkatsu and quality can vary.  It can go from the simple to the sublime and sometimes,  sublimely simple. To be sublime and simple, it is important that the best quality ingredients be used. Tonkatsu can be served in different ways, usually with a sweet brown sauce.  One of my favorites is a sandwich made from the leftovers – a cutlet on a good bun with sliced tomato and lightly seasoned, finely shredded crisp cabbage.  My Samurai would add his inevitable Kewpie.

The name Tonkatsu clues us to its ancestry. Ton, means pork in Japanese, and katsu is an abbreviation of the English word “cutlet” (pronounced ka-tsu-reh-toh in Japanese).  Around the 18th century, the Portuguese introduced to Japan a food that is now known as “tempura”.  We can also look to the 19th century influence for the “cutlet” part.  Anyway, the recipe is below.  Enjoy! Fried Food Foodies – rejoice!  Gamers – get your chow on.

Tonkatsu Recipe

4 center cut pork chops, boneless. 1 inch thick, room temperature
All-purpose flour for dredging
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten
1 C. panko crumbs
oil for frying

Prepare the pork by removing any extra fat or tough silverskin from the sides of the cutlet. Using a chef’s knife (I use my 8 inch) to tenderize the cutlets in a crosshatch pattern by using a drumming motion across the surface, then turning the meat 90 degrees and repeating. Do this to both sides of each cutlet until they are 3/4″ thick. Salt and pepper both sides of each cutlet, then dredge them in flour, making sure to get an even coat on the sides. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, add the panko. Add 3/4″ of oil into a heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium heat. Coat a cutlet in egg then transfer to the bowl with the panko. Shake the bowl to evenly coat the cutlet, then press on the cutlet to get a nice thick coating of panko. Flip and press on the other side then repeat with the rest of the cutlets. Once the oil is at 340 degrees F, use tongs or chopsticks to gently lower the tonkatsu into the oil. Be careful not to scrape off too much panko. When golden brown on one side, carefully flip them over and brown the other side. Continue cooking until the pork reaches 137 degrees F at its thickest part. Transfer to a paper towel lined wire rack and let it rest  about 5 minutes. Letting the meat rest allows the internal temperature to continue to rise to around 145 F while allowing the proteins to relax, reabsorbing some of the juices so they don’t run all over your plate.

You can serve the cutlets whole or slice. You can also use chicken cutlets for this recipe. Bottled tonkatsu sauce is available at Asian food stores and some grocery stores in the Asian food section. Homemade Sauce: I make my samurai’s sauce with Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, some A1, reduced sodium soy sauce, bit of freshly grated ginger and garlic.  NOTE:  leftover cutlets are a great gaming munch!

Tonkatsu 2            20120919-223139-tonkatsu-sauce-step-1[1]

Simple Sunday Supper: Mini Meatloaves with Sauce

 

meatloaf

Today after church, I asked my husband what he would like for supper. He hung his head and began a plaintive mooing. “What?” I asked. He said, “I am a ruminant, moooooooo.” This was his guy way of saying he was tired of salady stuff and felt like he had been grazing all week. I rolled my eyes, gestured to the temperature gauge in my car registering 99 outside degrees. Again with the plaintive mooing.

My go to meal for quick, easy, minimal oven heating is what I call Mini Meatloaves with Sauce. Some folks would call them Salisbury Steaks. My husband calls them yummy. You can serve these with rice, mashed potatoes, biscuits, rolls, veggies on the side….whatever. Tonight we are having steamed yellow squash with Vidalia onions, little buttered new potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and for dessert, some of the chess pie I bought Friday.

Here is the recipe. It is quick and easy and makes six smaller or four larger “loaves”. I use ground round. A market nearby frequently puts it on sale and I prefer it to lean hamburger or ground chuck – less fat and more flavor.

Mini-Meatloaves
1 +/- pound ground round (ground beef or ground chuck)
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 egg white
A couple of squirts of ketchup
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS. dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 can Campbell’s golden mushroom soup or jar of brown gravy

Mix together ingredients. Form into loaves. Place into skillet on medium heat. After about three minutes, turn over and brown other side. Reduce heat to low and cover with pan lid. After about 15 minutes, add soup diluted with 1/2 can water and stir around in pan. Add skillet top and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. if you have to, add more liquid if necessary. Serve.

Simple Sunday Dinner – Carnal Pudding and Fried Chicken

I’ve been feeling poorly the past few weeks (whine).  What was terrible to me was having no sense of smell or taste.  The few times I was able to cook, I felt like I was having “safe cooking”, if you know what I mean.  FINALLY yesterday, I realized I could smell and taste again. 

When my father-in-law offered to bring over some freshly pulled corn and tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden, I gave him an enthusiastic yes!  Within a few minutes, I was the lucky possessor of said items.  Now, some folks say only white corn is sweet and others go for bi-color.  He raises a yellow variety called Super Fantastic and it is an understatement.  Whether the kernels are small and like tiny pearls or larger, they are always tender, full of milk and oftentimes so sweet, when I make my Carnal Pudd’n, I only need to add a minimal amount of sugar.  

Sunday dinners (lunch for folks who aren’t Southern) were always special at our house, but especially in summer.  We’d go out the back door to pull corn, green beans, squash, tomatoes, okra….whatever, from our garden.  It was truly garden to table – the best way to enjoy summer produce.  Our soil was acidic so I grew up eating tomatoes with so much zing to them, they’d jump up from the serving dish and slap you before you had a chance to spear a thick slice and put in the middle of the puddle of creamed corn on your plate. 

I celebrated feeling better by fixing fried chicken (in this case, the little drumettes from the chicken wing) and creamed corn with slices of homegrown tomato.  I did, for a change, take a picture of the double cut corn, the hot and buttery creamed corn, and the chicken frying (middle and end stages).  I will make my Carnal Pudding next week when more corn is available and I can make a triple batch.  

Ya’ll enjoy and just eat (as my great-grandaddy Luther used to say) ’til your little bellies become big bellies!

Creamed corn, simple recipe:4 servings

2 cups fresh double cut corn kernels

3 TBS unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Some milk or water 

Melt butter in skillet.  Add corn and lightly toss on medium heat for about three minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Add milk or water and bring to boiling.  Cut off heat and let stand about five minutes.  Dependent upon how “soupy” you want this will determine how much liquid you add.   The picture shows where I made a little pond of butter in the corn just before a final stir and serving.

  double cut corn     creamed corn

Carnal (Corn) Pudding  4 servings

2 cups fresh corn kernels, coarsely chopped (4 to 5 ears)

6 TBS. unsalted butter

½ c. granulated sugar

½ c. heavy cream, half and half, or milk

1 tsp. good vanilla extract

¼ c. flour

1 tsp salt

5 large eggs 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a baking dish (an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish or iron skillet works well) and slide into the oven so the butter melts while the oven is preheating.   Combine the corn kernels, sugar, cream or milk, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Lightly beat the five eggs and add to the mixture.  When the oven has preheated and the butter in the baking dish has melted, carefully tilt the melted butter from the baking dish into the corn mixture and combine with a few swift strokes. Then tilt the buttered corn mixture back into the baking dish.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a golden crust has formed and the interior has set.  For a savory version, omit the sugar, add a nice grind or two of pepper, and a dash or Tabasco. 

NOTE:  I use my Wusthof filet knife rather than the smaller paring knife or chef’s knife.  I find the filet knife works perfectly.  It is flexible and does not bruise the kernels as does the chef’s knife nor tear the kernels as does the paring knife.  Double cut the kernels and then use the back of the blade to scrape down the cob releasing the remaining milk in the kernels.) 

fried chicken      fried chicken 2

Fried Chicken Some people marinate their chicken in buttermilk.  Others make a liquid batter and dip the chicken into.  My Papa and my Grandma Ninny always held that simplest was the best.  I agree.  I like a nice coating on my chicken but not so much batter or breading that it soaks up a lot of grease and all you taste is coating.  I make my own dredging mix from flour, a bit of double sifted white corn meal, salt, pepper and secret stuff.  Since I am not telling you the secret stuff, you can purchase two products that come close:  House-Autry Chicken Breader or Moss’ Chicken Breader.  I use my breader to dredge my chicken, okra, squash, eggplant in to fry. 

Rinse off your chicken and leave damp. Dredge your chicken to coat well.  Into a deep skillet with enough oil to reach halfway up a piece of chicken, carefully lay your pieces of chicken.  Make sure the oil is hot enough.  If not, your food will soak up too much oil.  You want the breader to quickly crisp and seal out the oil and seal in the moisture. When the oil looks like it is “crawling” on the bottom of the pan or, the handle of dry wooden spoon stuck in the oil sizzles, the oil is hot enough. I do not cover my chicken while it is cooking.  After it goes into the pan, I keep on medium high to keep the heat up and seal the breading.  Then I reduce the heat.  I’ve been doing this long enough I can tell by the smell when to turn the chicken.  I only turn it once.  Papa and Ninny said too much turning didn’t make for good chicken,  I agree with that too.  Use tongs to turn so you don’t pierce the meat and cause spatters than can burn you.  Good common sense is the key to cooking anything.. 

Remove chicken from pan and drain on absorbent paper bag or paper towel. 

PS Note to Gamers:  cold or room temp chicken is most excellent to eat while gaming!

Papa’s Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

Among his many talents, my papa was also an excellent Southern cook.  Much of my cooking I learned at an early age, standing on a chair by his side while he cooked.  Or I would sit on the table while he mixed up cakes, tater salad, grated sweet potato pudding, cornbread….helped him slice, dice, shred.  Nowadays people are rather shy about teaching their kids “sharp” skills.  Let me tell you, the first time I scraped my knuckles on a grater, I learned quickly not to do that again.  Of course, papa cleaned the scrapes, kissed my little paw, and plastered me with bandaids.

One of the things he taught me was his Peach Cobbler.  Oh my goodness what a yummy eat.  Hot, cold, “wiz or wizout” vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream, that cobbler was amazing.  He’d take three to church suppers and the pans would come back virtually licked clean. 

He also would make it with frozen peaches from the summer harvest or drained canned peaches.  Cherries, blueberries and sometimes pineapple chunks would be in the cobbler.  But the Queen of the Cobblers was his peach.  I hope you like it!  It is happy food.

Papa’s Peach Cobbler

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½  cups sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

6  cups fresh peach slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ tsp ground mace

¼ tsp. ground ginger

Ground cinnamon 

Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.  Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar, peach slices, spices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; spoon over batter (do not stir).

Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool

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