Tag Archives: comfort food

Jennifer Paterson’s British Shooter’s Sandwich

This sandwich is for the meat lovers, those who appreciate dinner already prepared when they arrive home from work and  the moms who have college kids home for the holidays.  Or me, who loves when I plan and prepare dinner in the morning and it makes its magic all through the day without me having to lift a finger.  This hearty, savory sandwich is perfect for a casual dinner by the fire or a picnic in the park.  It feeds the whole family and has the flavor impact of a labor intensive dinner.   Do you remember the food network’s show “The Two Fat Ladies”?  Oh my gosh.  I was crazy about that cooking show, the only one ever to catch my attention and keep it.  It was quintessentially British.  The Two Fat Ladies were incredibly well-educated, well spoken, well-traveled and both had a dry as a bone sense of humor that elicited screams of laughter from me.  They had such a lust for life and often burst into rowdy, off-colored song as the spirit moved them.  But their fabulous recipes were what I was truly interested in and valued.  Jennifer Paterson was the dark-haired of the pair, the cigarette smoker, the driver of the sidecar featured on the show and this is her recipe.  I believe this sandwich gets its name from both hunters and travelers and I find it positively charming.  Apparently it was often served on British trains.  For this beef and mushroom sandwich I typically use a small London broil but the recipe calls for a very thick, boneless sirloin steak and, let me tell you, the steak IS better!

I’ve changed the recipe over the years in order to have to have a bit more flavor with the addition of finely chopped garlic but, other than that, the recipe remains true to its original specifications.  Jennifer’s recipe calls for the sandwich to sit quietly under a weight for a minimum of 6 hours and she’s right.  In order for the juices of the steak and mushrooms to be released and soaked up by the bread the sandwich needs 6 hours or more.  In the above photo I sat my hefty dutch oven in an equally heavy steel and ceramic saute pan.  Make certain to carefully cram as many sautéed portobello mushroom into the bread both on top and under the meat as well as seasoning both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.  When serving the meal slice the sandwich with a serrated bread knife and it won’t fall apart.  I make available a clean linen towel to hold the bread in place while slicing.  The Shooter’s Sandwich is not picked up but enjoyed with knife and fork.  It’s fantastic the following day also, cold out of the fridge.  I guarantee your people will love it.  As Jennifer used to say, “Quelle treat!”

Shooter's Sandwich

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 hearty grained, unsliced loaf or round of bread
  • a 1 1/2-2-pound very thick boneless sirloin steak or london broil a bit smaller than the loaf of bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 or 7 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and reserved for another use
  • 7-8 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Cut one end off of the loaf of bread, maybe 1-2″, and reserve the end.
  2. Remove by hand the inside crumb of the loaf leaving it hollowed out.  Take care not to rip the crust.  Do the same to the cut end piece.
  3.  In a screaming hot pan sear all sides of the steak but keep it rare.  set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with the olive oil and add the garlic and mushroom caps, cooking and stirring until soft.  Turn the mushrooms occasionally to cook both sides.
  5. Line the bottom inside of the bread with half the mushrooms and garlic.
  6. Season all sides of the meat and push into the bread loaf.
  7. Carefully cover the top of the steak with the remaining mushrooms and garlic.
  8. Close the sandwich up with the cut end and tightly wrap the sandwich in parchment paper, tying with kitchen twine.
  9. Wrap the sandwich in a sheet of tin foil and let sit quietly under a heavy weight for at least 6 hours.
  10. When ready to eat slice with a serrated bread knife.
  11. Serve with salad greens dressed in a vinaigrette.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Deep South Tomato Pie

The end of tomato season is almost tragic.  Not only is this favorite food lying low for four or five months but it’s an obvious sign that summer is over.  Pools are way too cold to dip a toe in.   Cotton nightgowns have been put away and it’s dark out at 6:00 p.m.  I told a friend it makes me feel like Persephone on her way to the underworld.  I hate you, Hades, and your stupid pomegranate, too!  On the upside we have college ball which I’m crazy about.  Plus this is the time of year when Trader Joe’s carries brussel sprouts on the stalk, figs are in season and one can work out outside and not faint from heat stroke.  Tomatoes, though, are not the sweet, juicy apples of love they were just last month.  It’s okay if the last of the tomatoes just don’t have enough flavor because this is the recipe which will make them sing.  Baked with a generous amount of fresh basil and grated cheeses, this pie is heaven served next to a homemade mixed green salad.  Tomato Pie has been around forever in the South and not only makes wise use of the last-of-the-season fruit but is a perennial favorite at baptisms, first communions, funerals, brunches and pot lucks.  I always make two; one for my house and one to give away or take to one of the aforementioned functions.  The pie needs to be enjoyed relatively soon after baking as the bottom will get soggy if it sits around too long, as with any pie.  It can be re-heated but only in the oven.  Heated in a microwave turns this little jewel into a squishy, wet mess.  It’s super easy to prepare and the crust is merely Bisquick and milk mixed together and patted into your pan.  There’s no ice-cold, cubed butter or rolling out involved.  And everybody loves it.  So when you’re craving some ‘maters but Mother Earth has other ideas, try this recipe out.  It won’t let you down and Fall’s injustices will turn into Autumn’s glories!

 

Deep South Tomato Pie

  • Servings: one 9 inch deep dish pie
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise, Duke’s or Hellman’s
  • about 2 pounds not-so-ripe tomatoes, peeled, sliced and drained on a thick layer of paper towels.  It’s okay if you don’t quite have the 2 pounds but you don’t want more as the ingredients will over flow when the pie is baked.  We’ve all been there!
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and cover lightly a 9″ pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  2. Place cheddar, basil, parmesan and mayonnaise in a medium-sized bowl and mix until completely combined.  Set aside.
  3. While the tomatoes drain on the paper towels, mix the Bisquick with the milk in a medium size bowl until a dough ball has formed.
  4. Dump the dough into the pie pan and lightly grease your hands.  Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom of the dish and all the way up the sides.
  5. Using your fingers or a pastry brush spread the mustard over the pressed pie shell.
  6. Sprinkle tomatoes with the black pepper and layer the tomatoes evenly over the pie shell.
  7. Cover the tomatoes with the cheese mixture and spread evenly.  I find breaking it apart with my hands is easiest.
  8. Bake in the oven for 60-90 minutes until the cheese turns a warm, golden color.
  9. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes prior to serving to make for easier slicing.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen .com

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Ever wondered why restaurant whole wheat pizza always tastes better?  And why the at-home whole wheat pizza comes out of the oven hard and brittle, stony enough to break off a front tooth?  Well, last night I finally figured it out.  And let me say, the answer is not more olive oil in the dough.  No.  It’s the combination of two things…a little bit of white all-purpose flour mixed into the whole wheat flour and more water than you would think makes sense.  You would have thought I’d have figured this out by now.  I’ve only been making pizza at home for years now but I confess.  Every time I made whole wheat pizza using only whole wheat flour it came out hard as a flat brick.  I strove for a crisp crust with a chewy center while maintaining a relatively healthful dinner.  These pizzas were made palatable with generous toppings of turkey pepperoni, arugula or spinach and the great compromise of 2% reduced fat mozzarella.  Finally I just stopped preparing pizza altogether.  Months and months went by without it being served at our house.  But last night I had a hankering for it and, by gosh, I was going to get it right.  It had been such a long time since I had mixed up the dough that I couldn’t remember the recipe I had cobbled together and, boy, was THAT liberating.  I felt such freedom not having any rules or even any do’s or don’ts to follow.  I had escaped the confines of the culinary box I’d been living in!

I began in the afternoon with a free-flow of ideas and hunches rattling  around my brain.  Two thoughts remained front and center. 1.  White flour is produces a soft and tender product.  2.  Enough water will produce a sticky, floppy dough that won’t dry out.  After a few tries I believe I nailed it.  And the beauty of this dough is it’s so wet and unmanageable it can be mixed in a bowl with a spoon thus eliminating any kneading and messing up of your counter tops.  Life’s small blessings.  In any case, I sure hope you try this recipe out.  Look at it this way, whole wheat flour, turkey pepperoni and greens make for a more healthful pizza which means you can eat it more often!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

  • Servings: two 12 inch pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water, tap is fine, no more than 115°
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, plus additional to flour baking sheet etc.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cornmeal
  1. 1 hour prior to baking, pre-heat oven to 500°.
  2. In a large bowl mix all-purpose flour, yeast and warm water.  A wooden spoon works best.  You’ll a few have some lumps of flour but they’ll work their way out when you mix in the whole wheat flour.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and honey/agave to the mixture and combine well.
  4. Add 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour and salt and mix well until all the lumps are gone.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm corner and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes or until double in size.  Now is a good time to pre-heat your oven.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather the dough into a ball while still in the bowl.  If you don’t have a bench scraper you can cut in half the plastic top of an oatmeal can then cut off the rim or use a butter knife that’s been covered with a bit of olive oil.
  7. Cut the dough in half and using the bench scraper or butter knife, push the sides of each ball of dough into rounds.  To keep the dough from sticking, dust the rounds and bowl with some whole wheat flour using as little as possible.  The wetter the dough, the more chewy the pizza.
  8. Dust your hands and a baking sheet or pizza paddle with a good handful of cornmeal and quickly transfer one dough round to the center of the baking sheet.
  9. Gently pat out the round, moving the round on the cornmeal to avoid it sticking to the baking sheet, until you have an 11″ to 12″ pizza.  If you prefer a thicker crust make the pizza smaller.
  10. Top the pizza with the sauce of your choice then add your toppings.
  11. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  12. Allow to cool 4-5 minutes before slicing.
  13. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

A Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich…the Southern BLT

Although the Tar Heels lost their football game on Saturday, Merritt’s is always a win for a BLT.  Our son, James, went back to UNC this past weekend to visit friends, hang out at the house, catch the game and drop by some of his favorite dives he enjoyed during his college days.  Anyone who went  to UNC knows Merritt’s.  Their BLT’s, pimento cheese and sour dough bread are probably known world wide.  Okay, well, if it’s not known world wide then at the very least it’s wildly popular in mid-state North Carolina.  James took us for lunch during one of our first trips to visit him and we flipped over the place.  Merritt’s stacks generous mounds of bacon strips entangled in a crispy, salty jumble.  Added to the sandwiches are juicy slices of ruby red tomatoes and cold, crunchy leaves of lettuce .  All this is bound together with a liberal slather of good mayonnaise on the bread of your choice.  Our mouths drooled while our eyes were wide open with wonderment.  It was the first of many adventures, culinary and otherwise, we shared with James.  In fact, ALL our weekends with him at UNC were sensational.  Our favorite boy was genuinely excited to see us, a marvelous host and a most fun master of ceremonies.  He introduced us to UNC football and basketball games, Parent’s Weekends for both school and fraternity and all the best restaurants on Franklin Street and in Chapel Hill.  We became acquainted with James’ friends and fraternity brothers, shop keepers, bell hops and waiters .  I look back at those days with such happiness and fondness.   Our son is always loving, thoroughly enjoyable and nonjudgemental even the time when Mama may have skirted the boundaries of proper parental behavior.  Yes, there is one Parent’s Weekend that comes to mind.  His fraternity had a cocktail party at the house Friday night.  They had a band set up in the formal room or big hall, I don’t recall the name of the room and I don’t dare call James at his work and ask because he won’t want me to write this and may become slightly irritated with me soooooo… anyway the boys had several kegs tapped and ready to pour and a myriad of handles out; the pledges had spent the day cleaning so the house sparkled.  Everything seemed to be perfect.  The only hitch was the cocktail party started at 11:00…at night.  Gentle Reader, I am IN THE BED at 9p.m. and, more often than not, lights are out at 10:00.  It was tough staying awake that night but no one was going to call me a party pooper.  Oh, hell no.  I had to keep up and keep up I did.  Drink after drink, before dinner, during dinner, after dinner… honey, time we hit that party this girl was LIT.UP.  James gave us a tour of his room, introduced us to more brothers all the while the band played on, cranking out hit after hit and, of course, we kept on sippin’.  Don’t want to let anybody down.  And what a time we had!  James and I danced to song after song reassuring me he’d have plenty of dances later with his gorgeous date after Daddy and I went back to the hotel.

Shaggin’ the night with away with boysie!

 

What a time we had!  While dancing it occurred to me the band sounded incredibly familiar and it turns out I HAD heard the band, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, at some party somewhere when I was in college!  It was positively magical.  Until James walked up and shouted in my ear so only I could hear, and these were his exact words, “It’s time to go home, Mama.  C’mon.  Time to go.”  He told me the following morning at the 9:00a.m. Bloody Mary tailgate he realized it was time for me to go when he looked over and saw I was dancing in the corner by myself.  Ouch, that hurts.  But James, prince that he is, has never made fun of me or thrown it back in my face.  No.  He’s quite aware I may get a bit out of hand every now and again…we all do and there’s just no nice reason to be holier than thou.  But, boy, did we have fun.  And I’ll end this story by adding my husband, Jimmy, has never poked fun at me over this.  Nope.  Not a word.

Probably the first time my Yankee husband ever set foot in a frat house. You have to admit though, we had a pretty good time!

Happy Parent’s Weekend everybody.  Hope all of yours are as splendiferous as ours were.  And I expect all of you to explore the towns where your kids are studying, their friends, suitemates, the town folk and all the foods and customs that go with them!

Bacon Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

  • Servings: 2 large sandwiches
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 slices bread of your choice, toasting optional
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha or hot chili sauce of your choice
  • 4 thick, fried green tomato slices.  If you need a recipe type “fried green tomatoes” in the upper right search box.
  • bib lettuce leaves, washed, dried and stem taken out
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon already cooked
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Lay out bread slices.
  2. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise and chili sauce until completely mixed.  Add additional chili sauce to taste.
  3. Divide evenly and spread mayo-chili sauce mixture on one side of each slice of bread.
  4. Place one tomato slice on two of the four slices of bread.
  5. Break bacon slices in half, vertically, and arrange 5 pieces on top of the tomato slices.
  6. Carefully place lettuce over the bacon.
  7. Top the lettuce with another slice of tomato and dust with black pepper.
  8. Place the remaining bacon on top of the tomato slice and top that with the second slice of bread.
  9. Gently press down when slicing in half.
  10. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Chicken and Cracked Black Pepper Dumplings

There is nothing like a warm, comforting bowl of chicken and dumplings at the end of a long week.  There’s a saying in the South, “Your mama doesn’t really love you if you come home and she doesn’t make you chicken and dumplings!” It’s a special meal, a Sunday dinner dish served in your best china for friends and family alike.  In this world of the hurry-up-and-eat syndrome, chicken and dumplings makes you want to linger at the table and catch up with your nieces and nephews, finding out whom they’re dating, how that weekend in Charleston was or how the internship is working out.  Summer or winter, it matters not as this dish is held in high regard by all.  The dumplings are drop dumplings, light and fluffy, speckles of freshly cracked black pepper riddled throughout and surrounded by a fragrant and savory chicken broth.  Oh, but this is a most satisfying meal!  And guess what?  There’s also a quick method of preparing it.  Yes.  It’s called rotisserie chicken.  This recipe reheats the following day quite well, however, chicken and dumplings don’t freeze well, at least not any I’ve ever made.  I’ve found the wider the pot the dish cooks in the better the dumplings, as a large surface area gives them room to spread and remain tender.  Stewed green beans, collards, baked or fried okra, broccoli and creamed spinach are all delicious sides to serve.  I hope you prepare this classic.  Your family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day and love you all the more for it!

If you choose to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken make certain you purchase either a plain one or a flavor that marries well with the dish, certainly not BBQ or fried.  Pour half of the chicken broth into the pot, add the vegetables and bring to a gentle boil.  While the vegetables cook, shred the chicken by hand.  Add the shredded chicken to the pot once the vegetables are tender and prior to adding the dumpling batter.

Chicken and Cracked Black Pepper Dumplings

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 pounds chicken, whole or cut up. If cut up then both white and dark meat, all bone in.
  • 2 quarts chicken broth, divided. I find Publix brand organic, “Greenwise” is fabulous.
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 5 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. To a large pot add the raw chicken, half the broth and onion.  Cover and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Leaving the broth in the pot, remove the chicken and set aside to shred when cool enough to handle.
  3. Add the celery and carrots to the pot, cover and cook until tender.
  4. While the vegetables cook shred the cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken. Discard bones, skin and any fat.
  5. In a medium size bowl add the flour, pepper, baking powder and salt and mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, egg and butter mixing well.
  7. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
  8. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  The batter will be thick and very stiff.  Any unmixed flour will be included in the pot.
  9. Using a soup spoon, drop spoonfuls of batter into the pot each roughly 3″ in diameter.  Add any flour bits to the pot as they will thicken the broth.
  10. Gently pour remaining broth over the dumplings, cover and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Deep South Co-Cola Cake

This past weekend was the annual oratorical competition for the regional at Saint Demetrios church here in Fort Lauderdale.  Middle schoolers and high schoolers from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi came for the weekend each hoping to take home the gold, a chance at the national competition to be held this June in Boston.  Although it is voluntary, “the oratorical” was a mandatory exercise for our son James; mean, demanding parents that we are.  But James did well.  Extremely well and, I have to say, the competition certainly honed James’ public speaking skills.  To this day he has no self-doubts, fears or hesitation taking a microphone and making a presentation in front of any one, no matter the number of people gathered.  Representing the southeast region, James competed the last three years of high school traveling to New Orleans, Knoxville and Clearwater.  It was in Clearwater, his senior year, that I met a girl who made such an impression on me.  We were drawn to each other like magnets and the more we talked the more we found in common with each other.  Her name was Harriet, born and raised in Rome, Georgia, a sassy, stunning Southern belle through and through.  At the Saturday night celebratory dinner in Clearwater, I invited the moms at our table for a late night drinking and gab fest in the lobby of the hotel where all of us were staying.  Any mom could join us the only caveat being was you had to wear your pajamas and bring your own hooch, every Southern girl’s dream.  The kids all knew each other, the Greek network is positively astounding, and had planned a midnight pool party.  Sippin’ and sassin’ in the lobby also allowed us to keep one eye on the kids.  It goes without saying, we had a blast!  All of us tried to outdo the others with tales of our husbands and children.  We screamed and cackled with laughter until tears came out of our eyes.  At some ungodly hour the bottles of booze were empty and we all stumbled back to our rooms but not before Harriet and I exchanged emails and cell numbers.  By then we were solid, blood sisters.  Back in our home towns we texted and emailed frequently, learning about each other and liking each other more and more.  She lived in Warren, Georgia, a rural town, with her husband and two hunky sons on a working farm.  They had a lake or stream where the boys brought home tons of freshly caught fish all neatly strung waiting for Harriet to fry ’em up.  Harriet’s role on the farm besides wife and mom was raising baby lambs.  All this was straight up my alley but this was the clincher…she, also, had a blog.  We gave each other shout outs on our posts, commiserated one with the other frustrations we encountered,  encouraged and  supported the habit of daily writing .  We shared intimacies only lifelong friends divulge.  Serious stuff.  And we laughed.  Boy, did we laugh.  Harriet had been published several times in different local publications, her forte being daily life in rural Georgia.  I recall one Thanksgiving article she wrote dealt with the most shameful fact that she, the only living Southern woman, could not, to save her life, make gravy.  She crept into the local Piggly Wiggly, surreptitiously grabbed a couple of jars of ready made gravy and casually ambled up to the check out line.  Her heart was pounding like a rabbit on crack as she looked around to see if anyone she knew had seen her.  Didn’t matter.  She knew she was dead meat…small town like Warren an’ all.  Sure enough, the jars wouldn’t scan.  The sweet check out girl took one look at them and asked, “Miz Jacobs, you shore you wont that gravy stuff in the jar?  Whah don’ chew jes make it?”  In spite of Harriet’s protests the check out girl reassured her saying, “Now don’t chew worry, Miz Jacobs, ah kin git that price fir ya.”  Harriet hissed, “No!  No!  Ah don’t wont it!  Stop!  It’s okay.  Ah don’t wont it.”  Too late.  BobbySue, the check out girl was on the microphone an’ you know what she was sayin’.  “Price check own aisle 4.  Ah don’ know wah, but Miz Jacobs wonts some a that store bought gravy an’ ah don tole ‘er is B-A-D, bad but she wonts it so could somebody puhleeze check the price?”  The manager replied on HIS microphone, “Miz Jacobs wonts that? Joo tell ‘er it ain’t as good as homemade?  Wale, okay…ah guess.  Tell ‘er tuh hang own an’ ahl check.”  Harriet and I howled with laughter.  “Oh, my stars! Whad joo do?”, I asked.  “Ah jes threw some money down, grabbed the gravy and ran.  I had to have gravy fer Thanksgiving!  My boys get hungry an’ wont all the fixin’s!”  Oh, my goodness, but that girl could tell a story.  Tragically, she died in the Fall of 2014 and I miss her terribly, as I would blood.  I still cry for her in the privacy of my bathroom, where I do my best crying.  I wasn’t able to attend the kid’s presentations at the oratorical competition yesterday.  Brings back too many memories.  But I made this cake.  An old-fashioned, Southern, country cake, sinfully sweet made in her honor.  Meanwhile, Harriet, I know you’re in heaven showin’ everybody just how Southern sassy’s done!

This is probably the sweetest cake I’ve EVER tasted!  Consequently, a little goes a long way.  All the recipes I have call for 2 cups of sugar.  I cut it back to 1 1/2 cups.  Also, most of the recipes list 1 1/2 cups of miniature marshmallows to be mixed into the batter.  I’m not a fan of marshmallows so, like Cracker Barrel, I chose to spread Marshmallow Fluff over the still hot out of the oven cake followed by a chocolate coca cola frosting.  Some recipes call for a scattering of toasted, chopped pecans either in the cake batter or on the icing and I happen to embrace this idea.  The savory pecans offset the wallop of sweetness each bite delivers.  It’s best to let the cake cool for a few hours prior to serving so that the icing can set.  Wrapped tightly with tin foil and left in the pan, this cake will keep for a good 3-4 days out of the refrigerator.

Deep South Co-Cola Cake

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Coke
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 7-ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff

Second icing:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons Coke
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Cover a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  3. Toast chopped pecans in oven for 7-10 minutes and set aside.
  4. Pour flour and sugar in a medium size bowl and sift together.  Set aside.
  5. In a heavy bottom pot melt the butter then add the cocoa powder and Coke and bring to a boil stirring well.  Take off the heat.
  6. To the pot add the flour sugar mixture and stir well.
  7. Add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla extract mixing thoroughly until all ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes until the middle of the cake springs back when touched.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and, using all the Marshmallow Fluff, immediately drop four or five dollops (the entire jar) on the top of the hot cake.
  10. With a spatula or the back of a spoon gently spread the Fluff taking cake not to tear the cake.
  11. While the cake and topping cool a bit, prepare the second icing.
  12. In a medium saucepan melt the butter and add the cocoa and Coke.  Stir until completely combined.
  13. Remove from the heat and add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract to the pot.
  14. Mix until smooth and there are no lumps.
  15. Spoon the icing over the Marshmallow Fluff stirring the icing all the while.
  16. Allow the cake to cool at least 2-3 hours before serving to allow the cake and icings to set.

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Kickin’ Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

For someone who tasted flavor only when in friends’ homes, I vividly recall many first tastes.  Butter…Ann Avery’s house.  That was  beyond stellar.  Tuna salad would be at Andrea’s house.  Her mama mixed in a teaspoon of mustard that certainly made it the chicken of MY sea!  Pork chop gravy  at Dana’s house was seared into my flavor bank.  I had never had ANY gravy before and her mama made it from scratch.  Where has this stuff been hiding?!?  I experienced a double first at my neighbor and classmate, Susy Tankard’s, house.  We had come in from playing “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” outside, all hot and sweaty.  Her mama and mine were very close but worlds apart when it came to cooking.  Susy’s mom baked, cooked and liked it.  My mama couldn’t give a fig what went on in the kitchen nor would she have recognized a fig if there had ever been one sitting on the counter.  Anyway, that noteworthy day stands out because it is the day Susy offered me an English muffin with strawberry jam.  I had no idea what either one of those things were.  At first bite I was head over heels in love with both.  But probably my favorite first was a double of potato chips and onion dip, both processed, filled with preservatives and loaded with salt.  Holy smoke.  Talk about a lifelong passion for that kind of bad.  And I’m still a fool for chips and dip but now I prefer the real thing.  Homemade onion dip is from another realm.  Once you make homemade you will never go back to that powdered stuff in an envelope.  After caramelizing naturally sweet onions, you’ll end up with a skillet brimming with the flavors of a savory jam, all thick and gooey.  I add fresh thyme leaves and that brings out the earthiness and allows the dip to “pop”.  The addition of cayenne pepper lightens each bite and keeps the onion dip from becoming too heavy.  It’s always one of the first dishes to fly at a party; in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to stay out of it before you leave your house.  Perfect for a beach or pool party, whether it’s game day or not, this kickin’ onion dip will become a life long favorite!

This recipe makes quite a bit which is great for a party but if you don’t need that much, it’s easily halved.  It’s an incredibly flavorful appetizer so if you’re not a fan of heat, rest assured the cayenne pepper may be omitted and you’ll still have a fantastic dip.  Take your time caramelizing the onions.  You don’t want them to burn but to release their liquids and sugar.  Give them a good stir every now and again, cook them uncovered letting all excess moisture evaporate and you’ll achieve the flavors and consistency you want.  I tried a mess of chips to see which really brought out the flavor of the dip and this is my conclusion.  The best potato chip turned out to be Kettle Chips.  They were sturdy enough to stand up to the stiff dip both in structure and potato taste.  But my number one chip pick wasn’t a potato chip but a plantain chip.  Holy smoke!  They really complemented each other, not to mention, the plantains were much better looking.  In closing, I hope you’ll take the time to search out Vidalia onions as their sweetness truly stands out and makes a huge difference in this dish.  Enjoy!

Kickin' Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 pounds Vidalia onions, about 3 large Vidalia onions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus additional to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  1. In a large, heavy bottom skillet melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the olive oil, chopped onions, one tablespoon of salt and stir well until the onions are thoroughly coated with the olive oil and butter.
  3. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the onions uncovered until they are golden brown in color and all liquid from them has evaporated, anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.  Stir often to keep onions from browning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove onions from heat and allow to cool.
  5. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese to loosen.  Add the mayonnaise and whisk until completely smooth.
  6. Add the sour cream, thyme, cayenne pepper and remaining teaspoon of salt.  Mix until smooth.
  7. Add cooled onions to cream cheese mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  9. Serve chilled with chips and crudite.

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