May is such a beautiful month, perfect for celebrating mothers everywhere. Last week, a few of my FaceBook followers asked me to create a picnic for Mother's Day so, here is my idea.
My mother is from San Antonio, Texas so I was inspired to make some of her favorite southern foods. She adores fried chicken and it is the perfect picnic food... you can make it ahead, it travels well and it's delicious! Mom also loves pimento cheese so I turned to my friend Mary Jo, a true southern belle, for her authentic recipe. For a side, I decided to create a salad based on a popular dish in the South called succotash, made with lima beans and fresh corn. I added some fresh tomatoes, jalapeño and cilantro and, wow, it's really good! I used lima beans because that’s traditional to succotash, but it would also be delicious and very spring-like to use favas.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers everywhere!
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated in a food processor, set aside
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 T mayonaise
1 two ounce jar of pimentos, drained
Turn on the food processor and drop the bell pepper through the feed tube. Process until minced. Add the cheese back in two batches, adding the mayonnaise and blending until creamy bit still a bit dry. Add in the pimentos and pulse to combine. Add a bit more mayonnaise as needed ( I added a bit more) for the proper texture. You want this to be a spread as opposed to a dip.
According to Mary Jo, this is the recipe used in the area of Tidewater, Virginia. You could add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a pinch of smoked paprika to add a bit more spice if you like.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 - 4# chicken, cut into pieces or 3# of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 large eggs
2 c buttermilk
1 T hot sauce
3 c flour
6-8 c vegetable oil for frying
Season the chicken generously with salt and allow it to sit out for about an hour (if you have the time) to absorb the flavor. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce together in a large bowl. Whisk the flour with a couple of large pinches of salt in a bowl and set aside. Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. Add the oil to a depth of 1-1/2" and heat to about 360 degrees. Dredge the chicken pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip into the buttermilk, let the excess drip back into the bowl, then return to the flour mixture one last time. Shake off the excess and place on a baking sheet. Fry the chicken in two or three rounds, turning down the heat a bit to around 325 degrees, while the chicken cooks (I use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the oil). Turn the chicken occasionally until golden brown, about 12 - 16 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
1 c frozen lima beans, cooked per package directions, cool
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off
1 c baby tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 c cilantro leaves, torn
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño pepper diced (depending on the heat that you want)
salt and pepper
arugula leaves (optional)
1 T white balsamic vinegar (any slightly sweet vinegar works)
3 T mild olive oil
Put the cooked lima beans in a bowl along with the corn, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Add a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Add the oil and vinegar. Toss to combine. Serve over arugula leaves or toss into the salad for added color and a bit of peppery spice.
I lived for a time in Munich when I was in my early twenties and I have a very fond memory of a walk in the Austrian Alps, stopping in a small farmhouse and eating a dish called Kaisersmarrn. Named for the Emperor Franz Joseph, "Kaiserschmarnn" translates to "King's mess". It may look like a mess but the taste is divine. I have thought of this tasty treat so often that I finally decided to see if I could possibly duplicate that food memory...I think i did it! This turned out better than expected when I decided to whip the egg whites separately rather than incorporating them right out of the shell. Wolfgang Puck did a version of this dish on an episode of The Barefoot Contessa but it was a much fancier version than I remembered so I kept looking for a good recipe until I found one that felt authentic. This recipe is about as close as I can remember, crunchy with caramelized sugar, sweet with raisins and fluffy like an egg-y pancake. I just can't wait for you to try it.
Kaiserschmarren - "Emperor's Mess"
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 cup half and half or milk
2 T sugar, divided
1 t Myers rum or Grand Marnier
3 T flour
3 T butter, divided
1/4 cups raisins, if you have time, let them soak in the rum for a bit to plump
powdered sugar for serving
applesauce or plum jam (or compote) for serving
Separate the eggs by placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the yolks with the vanilla, the half and half, about 1/2 T of the sugar, the rum, flour and salt, set aside. Beat the egg whites with 1/2 T sugar until soft peaks form (alternately, whisk by hand with a balloon whisk or use a hand mixer). Add the egg whites into the yolk mixture a little bit at a time, folding in lightly so you don't lose the volume of air, you want this to be fluffy like a soufflé with a bit of a pancake element. Melt 2T butter in a 12" non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook over low heat, covered, until lightly browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the raisins, add a bit of butter to the sides of the pan and sprinkle with a bit of sugar, then flip over by cutting the pancake down the middle and flipping each half over separately. Brown on this side, abut 2 minutes more and then while still in the pan, tear into pieces with two forks (making a 'mess') sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot with a side of applesauce or plum jam. Serves 1 for breakfast or 2 for dessert.
Those of you who know me well, know that I like to be somewhat of a trendsetter, not a follower...but, with that being said, I could not help but get on the 'carb free, cauliflower pizza crust' craze recently, when I decided to try and cut out carbs from my diet. I can't imagine life without pizza so I decided to make my own cauliflower crusted pizza, with a twist! Easy, tasty and pretty too, this crust goes together in minutes. Top with your favorite toppings - I used zucchini and mushrooms that I sautéed first in olive oil, threw on some sliced red onions and added a little bit of tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Just heat and eat.
Broccoli-Cauliflower Crusted Pizza
1 head cauliflower, stalk removed
1 small head of broccoli, stalk removed (optional, some people prefer the color and flavor of all cauliflower)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp dried oregano or basil or a pinch of both
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Break the cauliflower and broccoli into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine. Place the broccoli-cauliflower mixture in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Let cool for a minute and then put in a kitchen towel or cheese cloth and wring all of the excess water out, you don't want a soggy crust! Combine the cauliflower and broccoli in a bowl with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder and eggs. Mix well. Transfer to a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread out to the edges or put in the center of a large baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes.
Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.
As we get ready for another Irish Days celebration here in Murphys, I wanted to share a post that I did a couple of years ago, the best corned beef recipe and the sliders to make out of it! You can of course serve your corned beef traditionally with boiled cabbage, potatoes and carrots but these sliders can be made out of leftovers too, so you're covered either way. I'll be making these this weekend for Indian Rock Vineyards, they make a great party appetizer too. Erin Go Bragh!
Glazed Citrus-Spiced Corned Beef
4# corned beef brisket, rinsed
2 oranges, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 yellow onions, peeled & sliced
1 T pickling spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cloves
Place the corned beef in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and skim the foam. Add the onions, oranges, lemons & pickling spice. Simmer for 4 hours until tender.
Take the corned beef out of the water and place on a sheet pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the brown sugar with the cloves and rub all over the top of the beef. Heat for 15 minutes or until the sugar melts to a glaze. Slice & serve warm or cool at room temperature and slice for sandwiches.
Corned Beef Sandwiches w/Poppy Seed Cole Slaw & Horseradish Mayo
1# Sliced corned beef, enough for 4 sandwiches (see previous blog post for home cooked corned beef or use store bought)
4 sandwich rolls, whatever kind you like
2 cups cole slaw, recipe below
1/2 cup horseradish mayo, recipe below
Poppy Seed Cole Slaw
1/2 cup mayonnaise, I only use Best Foods
1 T sugar
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t poppy seeds
1/2 of a green cabbage very thinly shredded (or buy store bought)
1 carrot, grated on large side of a box grater
1 T finely chopped red onion
Horseradish-Black Pepper Mayo
1/2 cup Mayo
1/2 t coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup horseradish
To assemble sandwiches:
Spread rolls with mayo, pile the corned beef on bottom half, then add coleslaw on top of corned beef and put on the top bun—ready, set, eat!
My daughter Lily recently told me about a new cookbook and Netflix mini series called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. In each episode, Chef Samin Nosrat, a Chez Panisse alum, travels to different, worldly locations and discusses the significance of these four elements in everyday cooking. Her approach is both charming and exciting as she fills you with her enthusiasm and passion for food while she is learning along the way. The show will heighten your awareness about the quality and balance of ingredients and the importance of them in cooking everyday meals. This soup recipe was inspired from the one in her book and is easy, comforting and delicious, it tastes like a visit to Tuscany right in your own kitchen! I hope you will take a look at the series too, I promise you will love it.
Tuscan White Bean & Kale Soup
extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz pancetta or bacon, diced (optional)
1 medium yellow onion , diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 fennel bulb, quartered and sliced thinly (optional)
2 bay leaves
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups crushed canned or fresh tomatoes in their juice
3 cups cooked beans, cannellini or any white beans (2, 14.5 oz cans for ease), drained
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated, about 1/3 cup (save the rind)
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
1/2 small head of green cabbage, core removed, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot until the oil shimmers. Add the bacon or pancetta if using and cook for a minute until it starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel (if using) and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often until the veggies are tender and starting to brown. Make a well in the center of the pot and add a bit of olive oil and the garlic. Let it sizzle for just about 30 seconds without browning. Add the tomatoes and cook down for about 8 minutes. Add the beans and some stock (or cooking liquid if you made the beans from scratch) half of the parmesan and the rind, along with the stock, just enough to cover. Add another splash of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) stir and bring soup to a simmer. Add the kale and cabbage and more stock to cover as needed. Cook for another 20 minutes or more until the flavors have come together and the greens are softened. Adjust salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves and the parmesan rind (i love to eat this!). Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and more freshly grated parmesan. Add cooked pasta or torn, rustic bread for a heartier bowl. This soup freezes well and keeps in the fridge for about 5 days...if it lasts that long.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"