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.
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!"