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Posts Tagged ‘Comfort Food’

Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

September 1, 2012 2 comments

Leftovers?
Make Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

If you made the eye of goat beans and rice from the last post, there is a good chance you had leftover beans (unless you cooked for a crowd). So what do you do with them? You can freeze them, make bean salad, chili, or refried beans. Or you could make a simple, quick soup. That’s what I did!  I’ve recently started back to work at a real job, as a technical writer and editor. After two years of not working, I’m relearning my time management skills. Juggling work, gardening, cooking, food writing, yard work, housework, etc. is challenging. Anything that makes a quick and healthy meal is a good thing in my book.

I served the soup topped with a bit of grated cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, and some chopped fresh herbs. We had just bought some Cumin Gouda from the Franklin Farmers Market in Nashville and I thought it would be good with the soup. It was! The cheese is from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Austin, Kentucky. If you happen to see them at a market near you, I would highly recommend them (or you can order online). They have some unique flavors: Cranberry Havarti, Coffee Cheddar, Garlic Paprika Monterey Jack, etc. I also served the soup with Beanitos’ Black Bean Chips, a new chip we recently discovered. I have several food allergies/food sensitivities and avoid corn, but sometimes I want a corn chip. Well, these are a good substitute – no corn or gluten; but high in protein thanks to the black beans!

Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

Leftover eye of the goat beans (we had half the batch leftover)

Veggie stock or water

Salt

Pepper

Garnishes: grated cheese, sour cream, yogurt, hot pepper sauce, fresh herbs, chopped peppers, sliced green onions, crackers, chips, etc.

Special equipment: immersion blender, food processor, blender, or potato masher

Depending on how soupy you made the beans, you might need to remove some of the liquid and reserve it for later (just in case you need it). Heat the beans over low heat. Mash the beans, either by hand or use an immersion blender, food processor, or a regular blender. If needed, add the extra bean liquid, stock, or water to make a nice soup consistency. Make sure it is heated through and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with garnishes and serve.

 

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Peach Cubes

August 6, 2012 7 comments

Fresh AL Peaches!

Peaches are plentiful at farmers markets throughout North Alabama. We bought a small basket at the Greene Street Market last week. I enjoy eating them fresh, but there were a bunch in that little basket. So, I thought of ways to put them up and enjoy them this winter. Usually, I slice them and freeze them. Sometimes with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. I might also add a bit of sugar. Frozen peaches are great for making cobblers, smoothies, peach pies, etc. However, depending on how you freeze them you can end up with a huge block of frozen peaches! Not the easiest to handle; unless you measure the quantity you need for a specific recipe and only freeze that amount in each container (I freeze 5 cups of peaches for cobbler).

I freeze pesto, tomato paste, yogurt, herbs, etc. in ice cube trays so why not pureed peaches!?! This weekend, I made pureed peach cubes! While making them, I vaguely recalled my mom doing this when I was a kid. The peach cubes are kinda boring looking, so I did not take a photo of them. A special thank you to Marilyn Evans for the beautiful photo of peaches available at the Greene Street Market at Nativity. I will take photos when the cubes are transformed in a recipe…maybe a smoothie, daiquiri, popsicle, fruit slush, something.

Peach Cubes

1 pound peaches, pitted and sliced  (you can peel them if you want or just spot-peel as needed)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the peaches and lemon juice into a blender container (or food processor container). Puree until smooth. If you want to leave a few large pieces, that is fine, whatever you prefer! Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. Remove cubes and store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Coming soon…what you can do with the peach cubes!

Blogiversary!

July 30, 2012 14 comments

Bread and Butter Pickles

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of  The Flaming Pot Holder (and it is my 46th birthday)! Thank you all for reading my posts, trying the recipes, commenting on the recipes, sampling my food/drinks, offering excellent feedback, sharing my blog with friends, etc. I truly appreciate it! I have thoroughly enjoyed the past year. I am looking forward to the upcoming year and some changes to the blog – weekly postings, categorizing the recipes, revamping the look of the blog, improving my photographs, and creating a Facebook page for the blog. All in due time :)

This blog started with a tribute to my mom – recreating her cornbread recipe. Today’s post is also about my mom, this time her incredible Bread and Butter Pickles. The pickles in the photo were actually made by my mom. Mom made me a batch for my birthday in 2009. She shared a few jars with friends, but the rest of the batch was mine. Best. Gift. Ever! Mom’s friend Ursula had an extra jar from my mom and she gave it to me. We are down to the last jar and a half and we are savoring every bite.

I have never made these pickles by myself. Over the years, I helped my mom countless times. When our second set of cucumber plants start producing, I’ll make my very own batch. Hope you enjoy mom’s recipe for bread and butter pickles. They are a wonderful accompaniment to a garden-fresh veggie dinner with cornbread!

Bread and Butter Pickles (Print recipe)

Vegetables:

9 cucumbers, washed, NOT peeled

6 medium white onions

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

6 garlic cloves

⅓ cup salt

Ice

Wash the cucumbers, do not peel them. Peel the onions. Wash and core the bell peppers. Peel the garlic. Slice the vegetables thin (either a mandolin or a food processor would work well and save some time). Layer the vegetables with ice and salt. End with a layer of salt on top. Cover with a lid or a clean towel. Let everything sit for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Drain thoroughly. Make the pickling mixture:

Pickling Mixture:

3 cups distilled white vinegar

5 cups sugar

1½ teaspoons turmeric

1½ teaspoons celery seed

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

Combine the ingredients and pour the mixture over the drained vegetables. Heat to boiling only (stirring every now and then). Ladle into 8 sterile pint jars. Process according to your canner’s instructions. Wait one month after canning before serving. Makes: 8 pints.

Three Handwritings – Grandmom, Dad, and Mom?

 

Cheese Straws

June 29, 2012 7 comments

Cheese Straws

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. Hard to believe it’s been almost three years since she died. Mom was my inspiration for starting this blog. She was a wonderful writer and gifted storyteller, though not the best cook. Mom was the first to admit it! She always said Dad was the better cook and she marveled at how Dad and I would cook without recipes. She urged me to write my recipes and share them with others. Hence this blog.

Mom had three favorite food groups – butter, salt, and mayo (it’s amazing she was as skinny as she was). Probably her favorite snack was cheese straws. Cheese straws have two of her basic food groups covered! It’s only fitting that I share the recipe today.

Cheese straws are a Southern party staple. We serve them at teas, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, open houses, gallery openings, and even at funerals. We give them as gifts and they are well-received.  I always look forward to a package from our friend Ursula during the holidays. I know it will include her delicious cheese straws.

There are many different types of cheese straws. The traditional kind that I grew up with is made with flour, butter, cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, and salt. The dough is typically pushed through a cookie press into long thin crispy straws.  However, there are many other varieties:  cheese straw wafers, cheese straw “biscuits” with Rice Krispies, sausage (or soy) cheese balls, and even cheese straw dough wrapped olive puffs (the star of many 1970’s cocktail parties at our house!). The South loves cheese straws so much that there are bakeries that specialize in them and there are cooks who have a cherished cheese straw recipe handed down between generations. 

I have experimented with some healthier substitutes. Gluten-free flour blends are better now and can be used in the recipe. Spelt flour also works. Personally, I have not experimented with a vegan version, but I have heard it is possible to use almond or soy cheese and margarine (or a coconut oil blend).

This particular recipe is a tweaked version of several friends’ recipes with a few of my own twists. Special thanks to Dan Tatum, Ursula Vann, and Connie Ulrich for sharing their recipes over the years. I must give full credit to Dan for the technique. I have always used a cookie press but then I tried Dan’s cheese straws over the holidays. He rolled them out with a rolling-pin and then cut them with a pizza cutter. They were awesome! Like little crispy, French fry-shaped cheese biscuits of goodness. The cheese straws in the photos are a little short. We ate the long, pretty ones and then I decided to take photos for the blog. Oops, I’m still learning! Hope you enjoy one of my ma’s favorite snacks…

Cheese Straws (Print recipe)

2 cups grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese, softened at room temperature*

1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Paprika

Preheat oven to 375º F. Mix all the ingredients – you can use a food processor, a mixer with a dough hook, or mix it by hand, the old-fashioned way (my preferred method!). You will end up with a thick dough. You can use either method to form your straws:

Traditional method: Use a cookie press with a star attachment to form the straws directly on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

-OR-

Dan’s method: Use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough on a floured surface. You want the dough about 3/16”. You can use chopsticks on either side as guides. Then, use a pizza cutter to cut long, thin strips. Transfer them carefully to a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Store in an air tight container.

*Notes about the cheese: After grating the cheese, leave it out until it comes to room temperature. Whatever cheese you use, you want to grate it yourself! Store bought pre-grated cheese just isn’t the same in this recipe. Something must be added to keep it from clumping and it interferes with the texture of the cheese straws. Cheddar varieties: for the cheese straws in the photo, I used an extra-sharp aged white Cheddar cheese. They were delicious but not the same as when I use sharp or extra-sharp yellow Cheddar cheese.  They just didn’t look the same. Cheese Straw Purists probably won’t like my white Cheddar substitution, but it’s what I had. I thought they were good, even if they weren’t traditional looking! And finally don’t skimp on the cheese, you want 2 full cups.

 

Magic Triple Berry Cobbler

June 16, 2012 7 comments

This is a new and improved recipe for Magic Blueberry Cobbler from last August. We had fresh strawberries but not enough to make a strawberry-only cobbler. It takes a lot of strawberries for a strawberry cobbler (5-6 cups)! Probably why you don’t find it on the menu at many restaurants. Since we didn’t have enough strawberries, I added fresh blackberries and frozen blueberries (need to finish last year’s bounty before we pick more). When I re-read the original recipe, it was confusing. So I simplified it.

I’ve used this basic recipe with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and peaches (various combinations). Probably my favorite is the triple berry. Not sure if the recipe would work with apples. I don’t think there is enough moisture in the apples to make a filling. Maybe if I added some water or apple juice??? It might be worth trying one of these days (maybe I’ll make a half batch just in case it doesn’t work).

Magic Triple Berry Cobbler

Fruit Filling:

3½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen berries also work)

1 cup fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix and spread the berries in a 9×13” buttered baking dish.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the berries and set aside.

 

Batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1¼ cups sugar

1 cup milk (I use half-and-half with a little water or whole milk)

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix well. Stir in the milk, butter, and vanilla. You will end up with a thick batter. Spoon the batter over the berries and spread in an even layer. Use a light touch; otherwise you might end up with berries in the batter (similar to a muffin).

 

Magic Topping:

1¼ cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1½ cups boiling water

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Use a whisk or fork to mix it thoroughly. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter.  Pour the boiling water over the top of the cobbler.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke about 6 to 8 holes in the batter so the water and magic topping can reach the berries.  Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve it warm, at room temperature, or even cold!

Banoffee Pie

May 29, 2012 2 comments

What does a born-and-raised Southern woman make for a going away dinner for a friend from the UK? A banoffee pie, of course! According to Wikipedia, a banoffee pie is “an English pastry-based dessert made from bananas, cream, toffee from boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche), either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. Some versions of the recipe also include chocolate and/or coffee.” I had no idea what I was getting into. I’d never tried a banoffee pie; I just knew that Conor mentioned that he liked them. I liked the idea behind it – crust, layer of soft toffee (a.k.a. caramel), sliced bananas, whipped cream, and grated chocolate. What’s not to love?!? Also, it sounded like it might be fairly easy to make.

So I turned to Google and searched for a banoffee pie recipe. I found several versions. Some used pastry crusts, others used crumb crusts. Some had homemade toffee made from scratch; others used a toffee filling made from sweetened condensed milk. Some included chocolate; others did not. The common thread was sliced bananas and whipped cream. Next time, I will try flavoring the whipped cream with some espresso powder. I only used vanilla this first time, but I think coffee would give it a nice flavor boost.

Dinner was rather spur of the moment. We originally planned to meet at Sam and Greg’s, a local pizza and gelato shop. But that just didn’t seem right. A home cooked meal seemed like a better send off for Conor before he moved to Richmond, VA. Conor was our co-worker from our days in Building 17 at Intergraph. I was the Betty Crocker of the group and cooked for the folks in the bay. That’s actually kind of how Matt and I started dating. When I’m stressed, I bake. When I started the job at Intergraph, I was stressed a lot! So, there was lots of baking. I would bring in food and Matt would stop by my cubical and we started hanging out together.

Back to dinner and the banoffee pie. I had my food preservation class earlier that day at Harrison Brothers Hardware. I completely forgot it was the same day as the going away dinner. So, I decided on something easy to prepare – homemade chicken and dumpling stew, a fresh picked salad from our garden, and a quick version of the banoffee pie.

Figured there was not enough time to make homemade caramel or toffee, so I used a can of  Nestle’s La Lechera (The Dairy) dulce de leche. This particular brand is made in Chile and it is awesome! You can find it at a Latin American market or in the international section of a large grocery store. Usually, Publix and Kroger carry it (in Huntsville and Madison). When I find it on sale, I buy a few cans and keep it on hand. It is almost as good as a homemade caramel and it is so much easier! It reminds me of the caramel we made as a kid by boiling unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk. This method produces great results but it can be dangerous. Cleaning caramel from the ceiling is not fun :(. I would not recommend this method! However, if you are inclined to make your own dulce de leche, I would recommend looking at Cooking for Engineers. A great website and they provide a safer method.

I liked the idea of a crumb crust since it is quicker to make than a pastry crust. I decided to go with the digestive biscuits recommended in a few recipes. This is my new go-to crumb crust; it isn’t as sweet as a graham cracker crumb crust. Digestive biscuits are easy to find in Huntsville. You can get them at Publix, Kroger, The Fresh Market, Earth Fare, and the European Market on the Parkway. TJ Maxx and Target also stock them on occasion. I like the McVitie’s brand. If you can’t find them, shortbread wafers or graham crackers would be fine. Or if you want to make a pastry crust, go for it!

The finished pie in the photo is a little thin. I should have used a 9” or 11” springform or tart pan. However, I made three pies (9”, 4½”, and cupcake sized). The cupcake was for testing (you need a sample when experimenting!), the small pie was for Conor to take home. That left me with either a 9” or 11” pan. I went with the 9” and the caramel layer was a little thin.

Bottom line, this is an easy recipe, though I’m not sure it is a true banoffee pie. But it was tasty and Conor liked it (high praise!).  So here is my version of a quick banoffee-like pie…

Crumb Crust:

2 cups cracker or cookie crumbs* (I used 16 McVitie’s Original Digestive Biscuits)

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350º F. In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs with the sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9” or an 11” spring form or tart pan lined with parchment paper (just to make slicing and removing the pie easier). Use the back of a spoon or a measuring cup to press the mixture up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack. Then refrigerate until firm.

Filling:

13.4 ounce can La Lechera dulce de leche

3-4 bananas (firm, not too ripe)

½ pint heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

pinch of espresso powder or instant coffee, optional

1 ounce chocolate, grated

Heat the caramel. You can heat it on the stove or in the microwave. Heat just until it is warm and soft. It can burn, so don’t overheat it. Actually, I just placed the entire can in the warm oven after the crust baked. Pour the warm caramel into the cooled crust. Spread it with a spoon. Try not to dig into the crust or you might get crumbs in the caramel. It tastes fine, but the texture gets a little funny. Chill for an hour or until the caramel is firm.

Slice the bananas into ¼-½” uniform slices (just depends on how much banana you want). Arrange in a single layer on the caramel. Whip the cream and add the sugar and the vanilla (and coffee if you want). Top the bananas with the whipped cream. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Chill until you are ready to serve.

This pie is better served fresh. Even covered in whipped cream, the bananas can get a little mushy for my taste once refrigerated. I made it and served it on Thursday, it was great on Friday. The last slice on Saturday was not as good as the one on Thursday. Serves 8.

Veggie Medley

May 24, 2012 4 comments

I am not a fan of the summer heat in Alabama; however, I LOVE the food that such a climate makes possible! This week, we still have salad fixings in our garden. We also have the first of our hot peppers and we have lots of green tomatoes!  I’ve never seen so many tomatoes so early in the growing season.

The farmers markets are packed with people buying fresh produce. We went to the Madison City Farmer’s Market on Saturday and bought rainbow Swiss chard, new red potatoes, purple onions, green beans, peaches, and golden zucchini. We had fresh vegetables for dinner last night – sautéed chard with purple onions, a vegetable medley, and roasted asparagus (we bought that at Publix). And for dessert, we had sliced peaches and strawberries with a bit of whipped cream, sprinkled with gluten-free gingersnap cookie crumbs.

This vegetable medley recipe is my take on a classic Southern dish – green beans and potatoes. Typically, when you order green beans and potatoes at a Meat and Three (that’s what you call a restaurant that serves plate lunches), they are cooked with bacon and they can be a little mushy because they are cooked a long time.

More about Meat and Three restaurants…
At these restaurants, you often get a choice of a meat entrée and three side dishes (the choices can vary daily). Or, you can just get a veggie plate (my meal of choice). I thought these restaurants were all over the U.S., but then my husband Matt (“The Yankee”) told me it was regional. Who knew?!? Guess it is closest to a cafeteria, diner, or a dive in other parts of the country. Some of my favorite veggie sides include turnip greens, collards, black eyed peas, crowder peas, purple hull peas, squash casserole, green beans and potatoes, boiled okra, candied yams (a.k.a. glazed sweet potatoes), mashed potatoes, creamed corn, boiled cabbage, tomatoes and okra, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and macaroni and cheese. I also love that at many Meat & Three restaurants, fruit cobbler (or banana pudding, a.k.a. nanner puddin’) counts as a vegetable. Also, congealed salad (a.k.a. Jell-O), tomato aspic (essentially, tomato Jell-O), and deviled eggs are also considered “sides.” Only in the South! Meals are served with an obligatory sweet tea. In this regard I am a Yankee and prefer unsweetened iced tea. There goes my southern cred (if there is such a thing!).

Unfortunately the food choices at many Meat and Three restaurants are not very healthy. Often, the dishes are cooked with lard or bacon, and lots of salt. In moderation and on rare occasions, these restaurants are fine. However, many people eat at these places every day. I think the sugar, salt, fat, and large portions are contributing factors to the obesity epidemic in the South. But you don’t need all the sugar, salt, and fat to have delicious Southern food. I am thankful there are nationally acclaimed chefs that are changing the perception of Southern cuisine. I am a big fan of two Southern chefs in the Birmingham area:  Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings. Both are James Beard award winners and their restaurants prove that Southern food can be delicious and not over-the-top unhealthy.

Don’t get me wrong, I can cook unhealthy Southern fare; Paula Deen has nothing on me. However, I am making an effort to prepare healthier versions of the dishes I loved as a child. So, I decided to make a lighter version of the green beans and potatoes side, using fresh produce from the farmer’s market. It’s not the same as the side you might get at Mama Annie’s, G’s Country Kitchen, or Blue Plate Cafe, but it is good. I hope you will agree.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Medley:

¼ to ½ cup chopped onion or shallot (I used 1 small purple onion)

1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt (feel free to use less or omit if you are watching your sodium intake)

3 cups green beans, in 1-inch pieces (I think it was a pint container)

1½ cups chopped new potatoes (I used red and left most of the skin)

1½ cups chopped golden zucchini (or green zucchini, patty pan, or summer squash)

Salt and pepper (black or red), to taste

Chopped parsley or dill, optional garnish

In a frying pan, sauté the chopped onion in butter or oil. In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt. Stir in the green beans. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and stir. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to strain out the veggies and add to the onions in the frying pan. Stir. Add a little of the cooking water (a.k.a pot likker or pot liquor) if you prefer more “sauce.” Add some more salt and pepper to taste (if you want). Serves: 4-6.