Tag Archives: Southern

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

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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
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  • 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.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Nothing says southern hospitality more than hot biscuit straight out the oven, especially when you have a house full of people.  Buttery and fragrant, these biscuit can be the foundation of a great southern breakfast.  They’re not the easiest…then again, I wouldn’t say they’re hard to make either.  I guess the best description would be messy.  Yes.  They’re a big, fat mess but well, well worth it.  While testing this recipe I found out several things. 1.  If you eat too many biscuit you’ll get sick of them and never, ever want to eat them again.  At least for a day or two.  2.  If all your ingredients and tools are in place this recipe is infinitely easier.  And 3.  If you are the least bit fussy or persnickety, making these biscuit will most assuredly help you lose that type A mantle we all sometimes wear.  The messy part is when you gently mix together the flour and butter with the buttermilk.  You DON’T want to over mix the dough yet it seems impossible to mix as it all clumps up on your hands.  I’m here to tell you, it’s okay!  When I couldn’t mix the dough anymore because it was stuck like a big, heavy ball on both hands, I squeezed it off each finger, back into the bowl it went and onward I mixed…gently…almost coddling the dough.  After that it was pretty smooth sailing.  Here are some tips I wish I had had prior to baking these nuggets of love.  Believe me when I say, freeze your butter.  You’ll use a box grater to grate it into the flour and you don’t want it  to melt while you grate.  Clear off your counter.  You’re going to need more room that you think.  Do not use parchment paper.  For some reason the bottoms of the biscuits kept browning waaaay too fast when I used it.  I used a large, non-stick, light-colored baking sheet.  Have it out and placed next to the area you plan to roll out the dough.  Generously flour the area where you will be rolling out the dough with all-purpose flour, not self-rising flour, along with your rolling-pin and bench knife if you have one.   If you don’t have a bench knife then grab a sharp chef’s knife.  Keep your flour bag for dusting close at hand.  Have a ruler close by to measure the rolled out dough if you can’t eye-ball it.  I can’t.  I have to measure everything so I keep an old, thin ruler in a kitchen drawer.  It also has all the presidents on it ending with President Clinton so I like to impress myself with all the presidents I’ve forgotten.  Could you identify President A. Johnson?  Didn’t think so.  It’s my favorite as it’s plastic so it can quickly be washed then stored.  I think the last tip would be to move as quickly as you’re able to maintain a cold dough.  Wait, one more tip.  Never twist the bench knife, knife or biscuit cutter while cutting the biscuit dough.  Cut straight up and down and you’ll have lots of pretty layers.   I prepared 3 sweet butters  to serve with the biscuits.  Cinnamon butter which consisted of butter, confectioners sugar and cinnamon.  Blueberry butter made with blueberries, butter and confectioners sugar.  And the last was strawberry butter prepared by finely chopping a few strawberries and mixing them into butter and confectioners sugar.  Add to this breakfast some thickly sliced bacon prepared in the oven for easy clean up,  some spicy Southern sausage, a beautiful, freshly made fruit salad and you are a belle of a hostess!

As I mentioned above I baked these biscuit on a light-colored, non-stick baking sheet.  If a dark-colored baking sheet is used make it a point to keep a close eye on the biscuit bottoms as they will brown much faster.  You might want to consider baking them at 400° so as to avoid rapid browning.  I haven’t tried it with these so I’m not certain what the outcome would be but it is a suggestion.  These biscuit don’t color up much; the tops remain blonde so don’t go by overall color in terms of how done they may be.  I cut this dough into squares in order to have fewer scraps to re-roll.  Feel free to use a round or square biscuit cutter, just make certain it’s sharp.  A soft wheat flour will make all the difference in your biscuit.  White Lily is my all-time favorite but King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill are perfectly fine.  Try to find buttermilk from a local or small dairy.  Whole Foods has a great one by the name of Lazy Meadows.  It’s whole, not homogenized, non-GMO and from north Georgia.  Good stuff!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuit

  • Servings: 30-35 biscuit
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

  • 5 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups ice-cold buttermilk
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour and salt.
  3. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter directly over the flour.
  4. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is coated with the flour and the butter is in lumps the size of peas and smaller.  If you have naturally cold hands you may use your hands to cut the butter into the flour.  If they’re naturally hot, as are mine, use either the pastry cutter or fork because the heat from your hands will melt the butter.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the cold buttermilk.
  6. Using your hands gently mix the ingredients together, scraping the dough off your fingers when you need to.
  7. When the buttermilk is almost incorporated into the flour transfer the dough, with your hands, to a floured board or counter.
  8. Gently fold the dough over and over, maybe 7-8 times, then gently roll out or pat into a 11″X9″ rectangle.
  9. Cut off any rounded edges and set the scraps aside to re-roll if using a square biscuit cutter or cutting the dough with a sharp knife.  If using a round biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuit and set the scraps aside to re-roll.
  10. Place the cut biscuit on a baking sheet, close to each other if you like an all-soft biscuit or 1″-2″ apart if you prefer crispy corners.
  11. Bake 13-15 minutes or until golden on the bottom.
  12. Serve immediately.
  13. To re-heat, warm in a 225° oven for 10-15 minutes.  These biscuit are warm and tender again after re-heating.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Way Southern Grits and Greens Casserole

All y’all Southerners out there know and love this casserole.  It’s rich with cream,  two kinds of cheese and lots of bacon.  However, the addition of collards and tomatoes shine brightly through to make this one damn fine dish.  I’m crazy about grits.  I could eat them every.single.day.  But I wasn’t raised on them.  Oh, no.  Remember, Mama couldn’t cook, she grew up in a world where nice girls didn’t cook…”we have help for that”, besides grits ain’t Puerto Rican.  No.  I was introduced to grits when I was in college in Macon, Georgia.  I was close with some girls in another sorority, I had pledged the wrong sorority but that’s neither here nor there, and consequently ran around with a few Phi Mu’s who are still incredibly close to my heart.  These are girls who grew up in Macon… Southern… utterly, thoroughly, to the core, Allman brothers, Fincher’s Bar-B-Q, ATO, SAE, fix your hair, put on lipstick, Southern.  I don’t remember what BettyGeorge’s daddy did, but Parks’ daddy was a physician and bred roses.  All the girls in Macon called Parks’ daddy the minute they were engaged, “Doctuh Popejoy? Hey! It’s Elizabeth Louise and I’m gettin’ married in May.  Do you think you might could do the roses for the weddin’?”  Every girl wanted Dr. Popejoy’s roses.  Anyway, the morning I first tasted grits, Parks was to pick me up in her car and then we were to go on to BettyGeorge’s house and from there probably to some day drinking party or something event I’ll never recall.  I always thought “George” was Betty’s first or middle name but years later I found out it was her last name, though, to me, she’ll ALWAYS be BettyGeorge, one name, first name.  Regardless, Parks pulled up to my dorm, tooted the horn and off we went.  We laughed and chatted as she flew through the twisted streets of Macon when suddenly we slowed, entered huge wrought gates and stopped in front of the most gorgeous, majestic estate encircled by enormous, ancient trees dripping with Spanish moss.  The windows were floor to ceiling; the front door double and very, very thick.  The house was positively exquisite in every possible way. Now, Gentle Reader, I had traveled a good bit.  I had seen many a stately home.  I had not just fallen off the turnip truck.  But this was something else.  My jaw actually dropped.  As Parks popped out of the driver’s side of the car I turned to her and asked in complete disbelief, “THIS is Betty George’s house??”  Parks whooped and laughed while announcing, “No! I just always wanted to do this!  C’mon…we gotta get outa here before we get caught for trespassing!”  Gosh, but that was one good-looking piece of property.  Two seconds later we pulled into BettyGeorge’s house, Park’s let herself in and we met BettyGeorge in the kitchen.  Her parents weren’t home so we flopped down as teenagers are wont to do while BettyGeorge poured us glasses of sweet tea in faceted glasses, none of that plastic stuff.  As I sat I spied a cast iron skillet on the stove with a few golden rectangles each about the size of a pack of cards still glistening with oil and I innocently asked, “What’s that?”  They both whirled around and replying, “That?  Are you kidding?  You can’t be serious.”  “No, really.  I mean, I don’t know.  What is it?”, I questioned, embarrassed that I, clearly, didn’t know what “that” was.  “Those are fried grits,  shug!  Haven’t you ever had ’em?”  “No!”, I emphatically answered, “My mother doesn’t cook.”  They shot each other that pathetic, “Oh, God. Poor li’l thang” look.  I didn’t care.  I’d gone my entire life hungry and I did not care.  Just explain it to me, okay?  You don’t have to feel sorry for me, only will you please fill me in?  And they did.  Both girls ever so patiently explained to me that all manner of dishes can be made from grits, whether they be left over from breakfast or not.   All manner of ingredients could be added to them from cheese to sausage to greens.  There were only two rules.  The first, and most important, never, ever prepare quick or instant grits.  Ever.  Just don’t do it.  It’s nasty.  Only old-fashioned, regular grits will do.   You WILL know the difference.  And number two.  Always, always, always stir the liquid to make a “tornado” while slowly pouring in the grits.  And there ya go.  I’m pretty certain those girls have absolutely no recollection of that morning in BettyGeorge’s kitchen,  but I do.  It was magic.  Southern magic.  Make this.  You’ll swoon.

This casserole is beyond perfect for brunch or a special occasion.  It’s one of the dishes I’ll be serving this Easter Sunday.  It’s rich and gorgeous and everyone goes crazy over it.  All ingredients can be prepared in advance except the grits.  That said, cook up the grits before church, mix it all together, slap it in the oven and take off.  When you come home the casserole will be all warm and bubbly.  Btw, sliced spring onions scattered over the top right before serving are really great.

Way Southern Grits and Greens Casserole

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 15 or 16 regular bacon slices or 10 thick sliced bacon slices
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  •  1 1 pound bag frozen, chopped collard greens
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, well-drained
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups grits, not instant or quick cooking
  • 1 1/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated and divided
  • 2-3 pinches red pepper flakes, optional
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and grease a 9X13 casserole dish and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet cook the bacon, set aside to drain on paper towels and discard bacon fat leaving 3 tablespoons in the pan.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until soft and clear.
  4. Add the collards, stirring continuously until completely coated with the onions and garlic.
  5. Add tomatoes and pepper flakes, stir well and turn off heat.
  6. To a large pot add the heavy cream, half and half, chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  7. Drop the heat to simmer, and stirring the liquid with a large whisk, slowly pour the grits into the boiling liquid.
  8. Continue whisking until the grits are done according to the package directions, 15-20 minutes.
  9. Add to the grits 1 cup of parmesan and 1 1/4 cups of Monterey Jack to the grits, stirring until melted.
  10. Add the collard mixture to the grits and gently fold until well combined.
  11. Pour the collard and grits mixture into the baking dish.
  12. Top the dish with the remaining parmesan and Monterey Jack.
  13. Crumble the bacon and scatter over the casserole evenly.
  14. Bake until golden on top or serve at room temperature.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Creole Cornmeal Fried Shrimp…sweet Jesus!

Oh, y’all.  Taking these photos is killing me.  I crank the music loud and that’s okay except if I hear loud music often I pour a drink…regardless of the time of day.  This recipe liked to kill me.  I had several ideas for props and one of them was to stack a few biscuit hot from the oven in the background.  I baked them off and although I  didn’t even use them in the photos I ate two.  I’m filled with shame.  I thought maybe I’d toss a few potato chips behind the photo of the shrimp po’ boy.  As I walked down the chip aisle at my neighborhood Publix, my eyes fell on “Hot ‘N Spicy Pork Rinds”.  Well!  I’m half Puerto Rican.  Pork rinds hold deep meaning for us.  Into the cart they went alongside the frozen biscuit I knew I wouldn’t eat because…c’mon, they’re frozen.  I don’t eat that garbage.  I ‘magine that’s why I only ate two.  I stopped by the bakery to pick up a few freshly baked hoagie rolls for the po’ boy photo and I can honestly say all I ate of THAT product was the tip I cut off of one roll for aesthetic purposes.  People, I was like the mayor in the movie “Chocolat”, who also went crazy during Lent.  He couldn’t control himself from eating chocolate and that’s how I was with all these tempting carbs while taking these photos.  I didn’t touch the shrimp…I needed them and this was the fourth and last time  was frying them to take some photos.  No.  I focused on the biscuit and pork rinds…and my cocktails…at 2:17 in the afternoon.  Ugh.  I keep thinking, “Can I get any fatter?”, and the answer always, always is yes.  But I had a good time setting up the shoots.  I danced alone in the house with the dog and Earth, Wind and Fire.  Chaka Khan and Bobby Womack may have shown up.  I boogied to “Love Rollercoaster” and Shalamar’s “Make The Move”.  And when the shoots were over there’s a chance I indulged in a shrimp or two.  (Insert shameful face emoji.)  So I will share with you this recipe that, again, I have made four (4) times because my family and I kept eating all of it before I took pics.  It is heavenly!

Once you fry shrimp in cornmeal you will never batter up again.  It’s just a light dusting of cornmeal but its presence makes all the difference in the world.  I start with good size, large shrimp, shelled and deveined.  Sometimes with and sometimes without the tail, but always wild caught, never farmed.  Farmed shrimp has a muddy, dull, one-dimensional taste.  I’ll do without shrimp rather than eat farmed.  I prefer a medium ground, white cornmeal as I find a fine ground is too processed and without flavor.  If I’m ingesting these cornmeal calories, by God, I want to taste and enjoy them!  I keep Tony Chachere’s in my pantry as my all time favorite but Zatarain’s is probably just as good for an all-around Creole or Cajun spice blend.  I’ll admit the amount of cayenne is somewhat alarming for some readers but I find cooking  with hot spices seems to tame their heat greatly.  These shrimp are not as spicy as you think they’d be.  That said, if they’re not spicy enough for you, lightly dust each batch with a little cayenne pepper immediately  after taking them out of the hot oil and placing on some paper towels to drain.  And that’s all there is to it.  This shrimp recipe is perfection in a po’ boy…especially if you slip a couple of spicy pork rinds in the sammie for a little crunch.  On top of slow cooked grits, alongside corn bread or standing alone, these shrimp are a phenomenal flavor bomb.

Creole Cornmeal Fried Shrimp

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

  • 2 cups medium ground white cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup paprika, NOT smoked
  • 2-3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, Tony Chachere’s or Zatarains are my favorites
  • 2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 egg white
  • canola oil to fry
  1.  Pour 3/4″ canola oil into a large skillet and heat to medium high.
  2. In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, paprika, cayenne pepper and Creole seasoning.  Mix well with a whisk or fork until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl combine shrimp and egg white.  Using your hands, toss the shrimp lightly until all the shrimp is coated with the egg white.
  4. Drop 1/3 of the shrimp into the cornmeal mix with your left hand.
  5. With your right hand lightly toss the shrimp so it is completely coated with the cornmeal mixture.
  6. Rinse your hands and gently drop each cornmeal coated shrimp into the hot oil.
  7. The shrimp will fry for 1 minute.  While the shrimp fries, mix the second 1/3 of the shrimp in the cornmeal mixture.  Set aside.
  8. Using tongs turn each shrimp over and fry for 1 minute.
  9. With a slotted spoon or spider, remove shrimp from frying pan and place on paper towels to drain.
  10. Place waiting shrimp in cornmeal in hot oil and fry for 1 minute.
  11. While shrimp is frying, coat the last third of shrimp in the cornmeal and set aside.
  12. Turn the shrimp in the pan over and fry for 1 minute.
  13. Remove from pan and move to paper towels to drain.
  14. Place last third of shrimp in hot oil and fry for 1 minute on each side, removing to drain on paper towels when done.
  15. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com.

Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread Southern style

When I first tried giving James cornbread he was three years old and decidedly not a fan.  I included cheese in the recipe but he was not to be fooled.  All manner of changes were made to the recipe but to no avail.  Then one day I asked, “Jamesy, would you like some Johnny cake?”  Johnny cake is usually baked on a griddle, flat and thin.  I didn’t even have to do that.  I baked up the usual cornbread in my cast iron skillet and he scarfed it down.  He was sold.  My boy had heard the word “cake”.  That’s all it took.  Don’t you wish all eating problems could be solved so easily? James has since grown into a young man who is confident in the kitchen and more than happy to eat Mama’s spicier version of cornbread.  This recipe is roll-your-eyes delicious.  By baking it in a pre-heated iron skillet the bottom of the cornbread becomes crispy and the flavor of the cornmeal is heightened.  I’m fully aware the addition of sugar in cornbread is individual and also more common up North.  However, in the south it’s just not done by us old timers, at least not this one.  Corn is naturally sweet…there’s no need to add sugar.  But scallions and jalapenos are always welcome in cornbread.  It bakes up so beautifully and pairs well with so much.  Can’t have collards without cornbread.  Or chili.  Served with fish chowder or southern BBQ, cornbread is tradition .  Both black eyed peas and tortilla soup demand a healthy wedge.  Quite simply, there’s nothing like cornbread crumbled over a small bowl of cold buttermilk.  Now THAT’S southern!

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Simple, fast and cheap, this recipe will become a family favorite.  Although 1/2 cup of chopped jalapenos seems like a lot, the peppers lose quite a bit of their heat during the baking process.  However, feel free to cut back on them if you’re not crazy about heat or you’re feeding little ones.  If you don’t have a cast iron skillet I suggest you save this recipe until you do have one.  It just won’t crisp up and will be a huge disappointment.  Most importantly, don’t forget to be super careful about grasping the handle of the skillet while moving it in and out of the oven.  It’ll be screaming hot so make sure you have several dry kitchens towels available to make maneuvering easy.

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Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread Southern style

  • Servings: 10-12 wedges
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup jarred jalapeno slices, roughly chopped
  • 1 large bunch (approximately 7-8) scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk, not reduced fat
  • 2 cups medium ground cornmeal, I like white best but that’s just me
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
  2. Place the oil in a 10″ cast iron skillet.  Spread the oil all over the pan so that it coats all of the bottom and up the sides.  You can use your fingers, a basting brush or simply swirl the oil all over.
  3. Immediately place the skillet in the pre-heating oven.
  4. In a small bowl combine the chopped jalapeno, scallions, egg and buttermilk.  Mix thoroughly.  Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
  7. USING A HOT MITT OR DRY DISH TOWEL remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour the batter into it.
  8. CAREFULLY return the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes prior to  slicing.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Southern Peanut Butter Cake Squares

Growing up here in Fort Lauderdale I was lucky enough to attend a grade school close to home, with all my friends from kindergarten, boasting a killer baking staff.  The East Side School cafeteria ladies didn’t open boxes when it came to cakes, pies and cookies for us kiddies.  No ma’am.  The predominantly black women who staffed the cafeteria were accomplished cooks and bakers who cranked out old school baked goods on a daily basis.  They were kind to all of us students and we in turn bowed down to them with reverence and respect because they were grown ups…you watch your p’s and q’s around grown ups.  These ladies were experts in the kitchen and coming from a home where Mama didn’t cook or bake I was highly appreciative and anticipated lunch every day knowing it would be far better than anything I would ever be served at home.  Do you recall the peanut butter cake you had in grade school?  The squares were heavy and thick in texture yet the cakes melted in your mouth leaving a certain salty sweet taste.  Oh, heaven.  Lately I’ve been craving that same salty sweet sensation and set about to have it.  I came up with this.  Alone in the house with two pans was virtual diet suicide.  I took four squares over to my friend Rob’s house.  He had fiddled with my father’s ancient bedside table lamp which wasn’t working.  At 94 years old Daddy really depends on that lamp for the inordinate amount of reading he does.  And after 5 minutes of fooling with it Rob had tightened it up, fine tuned the sockets and turned the on/off chains to a place where Dad could control the lamp with ease.  Make my Daddy happy, make me happy.  I made Rob take a bite of the cake and watched his reaction like a hawk.  His first words after clearing his palate of the dense stuff were, “I’m sorry Miz Whitcomb, but I don’t have my math homework cuz I didn’t do it!”  He was back in grade school and that’s what I wanted.  Old school peanut butter cake will take you back…and in a good way.

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This is a crazy simple cake recipe.  It’s best served with coffee or milk.  Iced water will do but coffee or milk are best.   When the cake smells done it probably is done.  I have light-colored baking sheets however if yours are dark keep an eye on them as they’ll bake your cake much faster.  It’s a thin cake, not big and puffy and you don’t want it to burn.  When preparing the icing you must stir continuously.  I can’t stress that enough.  Peanut butter scorches easily.   But if you use a whisk and keep stirring until smooth you will be rewarded with a trip back in time.  When you serve this to your children or grandchildren you can regale them with stories of how you had to walk 10 miles uphill BOTH WAYS to school.  Enjoy!

Southern Peanut Butter Squares

  • Servings: 24 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter (12 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups confectioners sugars
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Set aside a standard 12’X17″ light-colored baking sheet with a lip or 2 12″X9″ light colored baking sheets each with a lip.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine peanut butter, butter, water and whisk over medium heat until completely combined.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in milk, eggs and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the flour mixture in the large bowl and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  6. Pour into baking sheet/ sheets and bake 18-20 minutes or until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan.  If using dark-colored baking sheets test for doneness at 15 minutes.
  7.   Remove cake from oven and cool on cooling rack, make the icing as the cake cools.

Icing:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine peanut butter, milk and butter and whisk until all ingredients have dissolved and are combined.
  2. Add confectioners sugar and continue whisking until completely smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and pour over cake.
  4. Allow icing to set, about 30 minutes.
  5. Cut into 3″X3″ squares and serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com