Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste

Each year, I make Turkey Chili the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My Mother says she looks forward to it all year long. This year, I did not cook a turkey--gasp!--so I didn't have any leftover. But I did make chili.

This is a recipe I have adapted, only slightly, from recipe #73166 by the same title. The person who submitted the recipe states that she doesn't know the origin of it. It is very unusual and complex in flavor and we love it. Sometimes I serve it with Fritos and cheddar cheese; other times sour cream and cornbread. I've served it over rice, and turned it into both nachos and tamale pie.

The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste
2 tsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 lb. ground sirloin
3/4 lb. cubed sirloin
One 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
12 oz. dark beer
1 cup strong coffee
12 oz. tomato paste
1 can beef broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. corriander
1 tsp. salt
4 chili peppers, chopped
3 cans beans, such as kidney, black, pinto, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in large heavy pot and brown the meat and onions very well. Add the tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste, and beef broth and stir until well blended. Add the sugar, garlic, spices, and peppers. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add the beans and simmer for 30 minutes more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Southern Relish Tray

The finishing touch on our Southern Thanksgiving table has always been the Relish Tray. Traditionally, it would be served on divided, cut glass trays and include a variety of pickles. In our family we love the fresh crunch of raw vegetables such as carrots, green onions, radishes, and celery (shown here stuffed with pimiento cheese) to cleanse the palate and offset the richness of the other dishes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

Here is a recipe from the November, 2005 Everyday Food magazine. This delicious recipe first appeared on my Thanksgiving that year and every year since. I've also made it several other times over the years. I really like it!

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 pints brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, and halved
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 apple, cored and sliced
2 tsp. red wine vinegar

Arrange bacon in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees until done, about 10 minutes. Add brussels sprouts in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss in apple slices. Return to oven and roast until brussels sprouts are browned and tender and apple slices are tender, about 10 minutes more. Toss with vinegar and serve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stuffing or Dressing? How about Stuffed Dressing

The same questions arise every Thanksgiving. . .yams or sweet potatoes and stuffing or dressing. The answers are easy if you want to get technical, but let's not. When families come together for a bountiful meal, whether they call it stuffing and yams, or dressing and sweet potatoes, may they be blessed and enjoy. For the record, I am in the latter group.

I was surveying my kitchen inventory recently, after we'd had a weekend visit from out-of-town family, planning uses for all the leftovers. I saw leftover cornbread, extra sandwich bread, and a few biscuits left from breakfast. As I thought of the sliced turkey, bought for sandwiches, left in the fridge, I had an aha! moment. I would make simple turkey and dressing.

Not knowing exactly how this was going to come together, I starting crumbling the cornbread, biscuits, and a few slices of sandwich bread into a large bowl. I sliced a few stalks of celery and chopped a large, sweet onion, then sauteed them in about 6 tablespoons of butter. I was visualizing as I was crumbling and chopping and it came to me what I would do.

I added the sauteed vegetables to the crumbled bread mixture, added a couple of beaten eggs, a can of chicken broth, a couple of teaspoons of poultry seasoning, along with some salt and pepper, plus some chopped parsley. I wished it were moister, so I added some milk until it was the very moist consistency I was looking for.

I put half the mixture in the bottom of a baking pan and topped it with sliced turkey. Over the turkey, I added a layer of cranberry sauce. Then I added the remainder of the dressing mixture and baked it in in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes, until it was firm and nicely browned.
I served it with extra cranberry sauce but gravy (or both) would also be good. It was while I was eating it that I came up with the name for it--Stuffed Dressing. Pritchard Parker said, Mmmm!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Brunch: Shrimp and Grits

By now, everyone knows about shrimp and grits, right? The famous low country delicacy? The shrimp cooked in a bacon-y mushroom gravy and served over cheese grits? If not, you really should try it--you don't know what you've missed. Shrimp and Grits makes a very impressive and delicious brunch dish to serve all your guests on special ocassions.
This is the recipe of gifted chef and resturanteur, Chef Bill Neal (1950 - 1991) from Crook's Corner Restaurant, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This is the best recipe for the dish I have ever eaten at any restaurant, or cooked at home. There is a long list of ingredients (it is a complex dish) but it comes together quickly, once you have everything assembled and prepped.
So go ahead, start frying that bacon, squeezing some lemons, grating cheese, slicing mushrooms, and peeling those shrimp, it really is a delicious combination of flavors.
Bill Neal's Shrimp and Grits
2 cups water
One 14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup stone ground grits
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. white pepper
3 slices bacon
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil, in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits; reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, according to time on package. When the grits are done, stir in the cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients, stirring until cheeses are melted. Cover and set aside, but keep warm.
While the grits are cooking, fry in bacon in a large skillet, until crisp. Set aside on paper towel and reserve 1 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and set aside.
In the bacon drippings, saute the mushrooms about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the scallions and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, until the shrimp begin to brown. Stir in the chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and continue to cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen brown bits from skillet.
Divide the grits into 4 large, shallow bowls, ladle the shrimp mixture over the grits, and top each with crumbled bacon. Serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

I almost always have a batch of the hot and sharp Eastern North Carolina barbeque sauce on hand because my husband loves it so much. It is best served with smoked pulled pork, of course, the traditional way, but it also enhances other meats, including the pork loin I recently oven roasted.

Eastern North Carolina Barbeque Sauce
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. (up to 1 Tbsp.) cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco or Texas Pete
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake very well to combine, then refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using, shaking every now and then.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Carrots are a subject I'm afraid I could go on and on about half the day, or maybe longer. I am a fan of the carrot, as anyone who knows me can attest. I like raw, unadorned carrots to munch on. I like raw carrots in garden salads and in salads such as carrot-raisin and copper pennies--remember those? I like to use them in all kinds of soups and to add sweetness and nutrition in pasta sauces. Carrot cake, cream of carrot soup, carrot souffle, carrot chutney, you get the picture.

I am not going to say anything about those little bags of "baby carrots", which are NOT any such thing, nor about that sickly white coating that forms on them. Anyone who cares to know the truth can easily find out. I love to peel carrots! I once went on a quest for the perfect carrot peeler. Peeling carrots is so soothing to me and I can, and have, stood and happily peeled 25 pounds at a time. I know 101 ways to chop, dice, and slice carrots.

I also like to look at carrots. I'm always drawn to the carrot motif on dishes and other objects. I have a few, shall I call them, carefully selected (or gifted) carrot icons? A few books, a mouse pad, a paperweight, a spoon rest, a mug, a pair of wooden salad servers with carved carrots for handles. Not so much as to be kitschy. A casual acquaintance or visitor in my home would never notice.

Glazed Carrots
(adapted from a Alex Guarnaschelli recipe)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. thin, young carrots, with tops if possible
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup to 1 cup water
2 Tbsp. butter
1 sprig rosemary

Cut off the carrot tops and reserve a few sprigs, which have a parsley-like flavor, for garnish if desired. (Buying carrots with tops assures their freshness.) Half or quarter the carrots, lengthwise, if necessary to have them a similar size.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the carrots, salt and pepper. Stir the carrots around to coat them well. Add the brown sugar and molasses and stir to melt and coat the carrots. Add some water and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are just tender, adding more water if necessary. As the water reduces, a syrup will form.

When the carrots are tender, add the rosemary sprig and butter. When the butter is melted, remove and discard the rosemary sprig. Garnish with chopped carrot tops.

A carrot-bunny paper weight my daughter gave me for Mother's Day a few years ago. Talk about "you are what you eat"!

This little cutie is only about 3 inches long and very handy to keep my papers put.

A dear friend sent me this postcard years ago from her vacation but I don't remember where she was. Wherever it was, she was browsing in a shop and spotted a series of Swiss Fantasy postcards, circa 1917, reprinted, of course. This one is called "Romeo Carrot".

On the postcard she wrote,

Of course my thoughts turned to you upon seeing the carrot romancing the woman. The card was certainly meant for you.
Love, S----

Friday, November 13, 2009

Baked Cabbage and Apples

This is a super simple and delicious side dish. I've made it many, many times, and people always enjoy it. Its Autumnal flavors can be modified endlessly. If you use a tart apple, such as Granny Smith, you may want to use some kind of sweetener -- sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup. This time, I used Honey Crisp apples that were plenty sweet, so I didn't add anything sweeter. You could also add cinnamon and/or nutmeg, but I never do. I have used dashes of cayenne pepper, however.

Baked Cabbage and Apples
1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 or 2 apples, depending on size, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
1 cup dried bread crumbs (store bought work fine)
1/2 cup melted butter

Plunge the chopped cabbage into boiling water for 5 minutes only. Drain very well. Place one third of the cabbage into a 2 quart baking dish. Top with half the apples and sprinkle with sugar if using, then bread crumbs. Repeat layers, ending with cabbage, then a layer of bread crumbs. Pour melted butter all over. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I am no authority on Borscht, don't have Russian or Ukraine ancestry, have never seen it being made, in fact, I've never even eaten the soup except when I've made it. I did once see a co-worker eating it for lunch in the breakroom, but that is as close as I have gotten to it, other than my own. But we love beets and I find making soup very soothing and comforting when the weather is bad like it was when I made this one. We had three straight days of rain from the storm named Ida, and it was very gloomy.

I believe the real deal Borscht should be started with beef bones but I find that a little disconcerting, so I use already butchered stew beef. Roasting the beets and carrots, before adding to the soup makes them incredibly sweet.

If anyone has any advice or tips for making this soup more authentic, I welcome your comments.

1 lb. beef stew meat in bite size pieces
1 - 1 1/2 quarts beef broth
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 - 4 plump cloves garlic, minced
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
4 large beets
4 carrots
1 small head cabbage, sliced
16 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped, fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking
Sour cream for garnish

Heat a little olive oil in a large soup pot, then sear and brown the beef cubes on all sides very well. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more oil if needed and cook the onions until they are beginning to turn golden, stirring often. Add the celery, garlic, and potatoes, cooking and stirring a few more minutes. Add 1 quart beef broth, cover and simmer until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, roast the beets and carrots. Scrub the beets well with a vetable brush. Peel the carrots. Make 2 foil packets, add the vegetables, separately to each, drizzle with a little olive oil, then salt and pepper, to taste. Seal the packets, place them on a sheet pan, then into a 400 degree over for about an hour.

Slice the cabbage and add to the pot along with the tomatoes and vinegar. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Peel and slice the beets, slice the carrots, and add them in. Add more beef broth if needed. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stir in the dill, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cook and Tell Vintage Recipe Redux

When I read, on Serious Eats this week, about the Weekend Cook and Tell calling for vintage recipes from the 1960's I immediately thought of a book in my collection. It's a church cookbook, published in 1967, from my home town of Opelika, Alabama.

I have always been fascinated (and a little grossed out) by the salad section of this book--lots of congealed concoctions and aspics, lots of mayonnaise, odd combining of flavors. One recipe has lime jello, pickle relish, canned peach slices, and celery!

One very popular ingredient, in this salad chapter, is Durkee Sauce. I was vaguely aware of such an item but had never had it before and wasn't really sure it was still available. Was I ever surprised when I did an internet search. This stuff is alive and well! I saw it described in a Chow Hound article as, "An American Cult Classic since 1857".

If you can't find it locally, don't worry, there are plenty of copy-cat recipes available. Or you can order it by the case at Amazon.

My grocery store did have the "famous sauce" and I am reporting that I have now purchased my first and last jar.

The cook and tell retro challenge gave me a perfect excuse to try one of these oddball recipes. I chose a recipe called, Vegetable Salad. I really did have hope for it with its canned asparagus and canned peas, because it also had fresh green bell pepper, celery, onion, and cream cheese. The Durkee sauce has an odd mustardy flavor that ruined the recipe, in my opinion, as well as my husband's. In fact, he tried to warn me away from it before I even bought it. Sometimes I just won't listen!

I am not elaborating on the recipe because I really don't recommend that you try it. But if you really, really, want to and can't read the recipe above, just email me and I'll gladly send you the recipe. Along with the rest of the salad.

1967 Vegetable Salad