Monday, June 29, 2009

Roasted Corn Salad

For a person like me, who loves to cook, I am lucky to have such an open minded, enthusiastic, and appreciative guy to cook for. After every meal, he says, "Thank you, honey, that was delicious". Picky eaters have always bewildered me. Especially when it comes to vegetables. I have never met a vegetable I didn't love and I don't understand what there is to not like.
There is only one thing my husband, Pritchard Parker won't eat and that is corn. He says corn is for cows and that it is not even a vegetable. He is correct, of course, corn is not a vegetable, it is a grain. He enjoys it as such, in cornbread, tortillas, grits, etc.
Yesterday, he brought me 4 ears of corn, which he had on good authority, was very sweet and delicious. How sweet of him. Sometimes it is the tiniest gestures that cement a relationship, don't you think?
Roasted Corn Salad
4 ears corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium Vidalia onion, minced
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Roast corn, then cut the kernels from the cob. In a large bowl, toss together the corn kernels, peppers, onions, parsley, and cumin. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar, the whisk in the olive oil. Pour over corn mixture and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper, to taste, as well as more cumin, if desired.
Peel back the husks, remove silk with a vegetable brush, and rinse thoroughly.
Pull the husks back over the corn and place on a grill over medium heat.

As the corn begins to brown, rotate it.

When it is completely brown all over, remove from the grill.

Mmm. Roasted this way the corn is tender, juicy, and sweet.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Red Wax Circle of Love

There is a local woman who has turned her big porch, and part of her home into what she calls a Farmer's Market. She has commercial refrigeration units installed and everything. Outside, she has her own garden and also sells starter plants.

She has rules for shopping at her place, which she has posted all around on boards and scraps of wood, painted in her scrawl. As you turn in to her place, the first sign states, "READ THIS FIRST. Yes you. Drive around the house then park". She has fashioned a rustic circular drive so everyone will be facing the same direction as they exit. No backing out.

This little store is only open from late spring until fall. She sells locally grown vegetables and fruits, her own tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. She offers fresh pasta, butter, cheese, and meats, including bison and country ham. Homemade pickles, jams and jellies. A shelf around the perimeter of the porch, near the ceiling, showcases an amazing collection of antique canning jars.

She has excellent products and very good prices. The store is very convenient to me, although the service is anything but friendly. In fact, she is a bitch. She is the sole proprietor and I've never seen anyone helping her--she does it all. She has taken the time to post the rules, so she doesn't expect or want any questions or inquiries. She does say "thank you very much", sincerely, at the conclusion of the transaction.

She won't be winning any J. D. Power awards, but for anyone who has ever worked in customer service, and has answered the same question, over, and over, and over, and over again, it becomes a fantasy to be like her. Oh how many times, I have wanted to point to the sign right in front of a customer's face, rather than smile and answer the question, again.

Yesterday, among other things, I bought a couple of wedges of hoop cheese, which always reminds me of those old country stores, that had the big, red, wax covered, wheel of hoop cheese on the counter. Also lined up on the counter would be those huge jars of giant dill pickles, pink pickled eggs, those frightening looking sausages, and grotesque pigs feet. Was that sanitary?

The hoop cheese I bought was made right here in the mountains of North Carolina. I know this because I read the sign, not because I asked. Hoop cheese is a fresh, mildly sharp cheddar with a very clean taste, and an almost squeaky texture. It melts beautifully for recipes, but the best way to eat it is the old timey way--at room temperature with saltine crackers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cherry Barbeque Sauce

This is a delicious barbeque sauce I made several times last summer, for grilling. I made a batch a couple days ago with barbeque chicken in mind. I had planned to be lazy and buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. At the store, I saw that a package of 3 (three!) breasts was over $9.00. Egads. I then spotted a large package containing, six plump, bone in, skin on breasts, on sale for $4.35. I made the obvious economic decision to buy twice as much food for half the price. I easily removed the skin, and we managed the bones perfectly fine as we ate.

Cherry Barbeque Sauce
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Vidalia onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
One 12 oz. bottle chili sauce
One 12 oz. jar cherry preserves
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. (or more to taste) Tabasco sauce

Saute onions until golden, add garlic. Stir for about one minute, then add the next 5 ingredients. Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring ocassionally. Remove from heat and stir in the Tabasco sauce. Let cool completely.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Camellia Beans

My bayou friend, Ladybug, introduced me to Camellia brand beans. She insisted they were the ONLY beans to consider. Each time she went home to Louisiana for a visit, she would bring me a few bags. After all these years, I have to agree with her, the quality of the Camellia beans is superior.

I love beans and we eat a lot of them. There are many reasons for my love of beans: they taste delicious and satisfying, they are extremely nutritious and health giving, low in calories, high in protein, fiber, calcium, and they are an excellent source of potassium, which is proven to regulate blood pressure. And they are CHEAP!

There are infinite ways to prepare beans and many varieties to choose. Many cultures base their diets on beans and rice. Camellia brand beans has 19 varieties of dried beans, peas, and lentils. My personal favorite is the blackeye pea, followed closely by the pinto. They have rarer beans such as the beloved Southern favorite, lady cream peas. They have pink beans, which are popular in Latin American cuisine. And they have all the types you would expect, black beans, garbanzo beans, several types of lima beans, navy and great northern beans, and of course, the famous red kidney beans for New Orleans Red Beans and Rice. I love them all.

The most hassle free way to prepare beans is the crock pot. After supper, rather than soak beans overnight to cook the next day, just go ahead and put them in the crock pot, after inspecting for stones or other debris and rinsing, add water to a good two inches over the beans, turn on low and cook all night. The next morning your beans should be ready to proceed with your recipe.

Alas, Ladybug succumbed to breat cancer in September, 2001, so she can't bring me the Camellia Beans any more. Now I order several bags at a time from Cajun Supermarket.

I always think of her when I reach for a bag.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Salad Plate

I enjoy making all kinds of salads, in warm weather, as much as I love to make soups and stews in the winter. After I made a few, to go along with other meals, I realized it was time to eat them up. So I served salad plates for supper, which we enjoyed with whole grain crackers and ice tea, at the backyard picnic table.

Sweet Potato Salad
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
3 crisp apples, cored and cubed
2 cups green grapes
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Indian curry paste
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Toss sweet potatoes with the next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, until well combined. Spread out on a large, rimmed baking sheet, which has been lightly oiled. Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, mix together the first 4 ingredients and gradually whisk in the oil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Place apples, grapes, and cranberries in a very large bowl. Add yams, scraping in any juices from baking pan. Add dressing and toss lightly to mix all together. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.

Sweet and Tangy Slaw
1 head cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion
salt and pepper, to taste

Roughly chop the onion and place into a blender; add oil, vinegar, and sugar. Blend until emulsified. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrots, and celery seed. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with a slotted spoon.

I haved made this slaw many, many times, and it is always popular. It is a good picnic salad (not a potentially hazardous food).

The Greek style tuna salad is not an actual recipe. I cooked about 8 oz. small pasta, added a pouch of tuna, some sliced calamata olives, about 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion, 6 oz. feta cheese, cubed, and about 1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs from the yard--parsley, basil, and oregano. I tossed with a very light vinaigrette.

Pimiento Cheese

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cherry Blue Chicken Salad

I knew, when I planned the beer can chicken, I would use leftovers for chicken salad. And I really contemplated what I would use in chicken salad this time. I remembered those beautiful, fresh cherries arriving in our produce department and got excited about using them. Hmmm, what else would work? How about Blue Cheese. Yes, I think that will work.

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 cups celery, sliced
1 cup Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced
1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted
6 oz. blue cheese, cut into cubes

Dressing for Chicken Salad

Serve over baby arugula.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tandoori Beer Can Chicken

Although it looks rather obscene, propping up a chicken vertically is a good roasting method. I worked in a kitchen store for several years, which had all kinds of gizmos and devices for doing just that. The most popular way is using a beer can, which is the way I always do it. The cooked chicken turns out very moist and juicy, with crispy skin. The slower cooking dark meat is closer to the heat, so the faster cooking breast meat is spared from drying out, and the whole bird is infused with flavor. Today, I chose tandoori spices to season the bird, however, the method is open to any favorite herbs/spices, not to mention soda cans if you don't have beer. I served my tandoori spiced chicken with basmati rice and a refreshing cucumber salad.
Tandoori Spice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground tumeric
1 (approx.) 4 lb. whole chicken
1 lemon
1 beer
Place chicken in a glass baking dish and rub all over with the juice from the lemon. Put the lemon into the cavity. Blend all the spices together and rub all over the chicken. Reserve any extra spice. Cover the chicken and refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours.
Preheat the oven or grill to 375 degrees.
Drink or pour out about half the beer. Dump any reserved spices into the can and punch a couple extra holes in it. Remove the lemon from the chicken cavity and place chicken over the beer can; balance it upright using the chicken's legs to form a little tripod.
Roast for about 1 hour following general chicken roasting guidelines.

Slice about 2 cups cucumbers and 1 cup onion.
Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch
or two of cayenne,
and a good sprinkling of ground cumin.

Add about 1 cup yogurt.

Stir it all together, and serve.

This made the perfect amount of salad for the two of us, plus leftovers for Pritchard Parker's lunch.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Texas Hots

Although not a part of my usual repertoire, I do enjoy a good hot dog a couple times a year or so. This recipe has nothing to do with Texas, other than the name. It is my understanding it is originally from Upstate New York and was the recipe of a Greek immigrant. Serve the dogs with spicy brown mustard, minced onions, then a couple spoonfuls of this spicy chili.
Texas Hot Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1 Tbsp. no salt added chili powder
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
Brown ground beef and onions, then drain off fat. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, then all the spices. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.