Sooner Legends, Norman, Okla.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

OU-OSU annual Bedlam Shootout, OU shot OSU in the rear end 27-0!

After waiting three hours for the post-game traffic to get moving, yes I said three long hours, we were thrilled to head off to a restaurant. We waited in mother's RV after the game at the Lloyd Noble Arena and watched football games and Biscuit play with mom's Yorkies named Bob, the old man, and Jack, the new spit-fire. We literally thought we waited long enough for the horrible traffic to pass but we were wrong. We left the RV park at 5:00 p.m., hoping to see the LSU/Arkansas kick-off at 6 p.m., but we didn't get there till after 6 but of course, we hadn't missed anything. LSU had already scored I think, 10 to zero I'd say.

We were quickly seated in a booth, it was red and polyester like Johnnie's in OKC, but we were all together, nonetheless, which is what I wanted after leaving mother alone on Thanksgiving for the first time. Our wonderful waiter had to be 20 I'd say, but totally knew it all when we ordered. The menu was so interesting, mainly Barbecue or Mexican, how unique. They also offered lots of American cuisine like Cheese Fries, Buffalo Wings, Nachos, Onion Rings and the like. And much to my dismay, Jackie ordered the Beef Tips appetizer, yes, I did cringe, but they were good ribs, juicy and a nice change from the dry rub ribs we are used to in Memphis. Mother and I ordered enchiladas, mine the Fresh Spinach (pic #5 delish), which were served with a choice of refried beans or pinto beans and rice. I got the pinto beans and they were well flavored and was a refreshing side to this Mexican dish. The three delicious enchiladas were also served with a basket of homemade tortilla chips and the best salsa, very fresh with plenty of cilantro. I wish they had it jarred, I'd have brought it across the border. Mother loved her Chicken Enchiladas nearly finishing them too.

Jackie ordered the Smoked Turkey and Chopped Beef Brisket with sides of homemade fried okra, Texas toast and the pinto beans. That brisket was the best, most tender brisket I have ever had. I mean that. He finished the whole plate! The okra was really tasty and cooked just right, I've had okra burned before, yikes! Gary ordered the Remedy (pic #4). This dish featured a chicken breast smothered in queso and sauteed mushrooms. He had sides of potato salad, homemade cornbread and of course, the pinto beans. He liked it but I think he liked the name of his dish more.

Now to the kids menu. It had a lot to offer little tikes including a Brisket Sandwich, Grilled Cheese (of course Chloe ordered that), Chicken Strip and many others. She had her sandwich with a side homemade mac and cheese. It was so creamy and good. She refused to eat it because it was different than her Spongebob instant mac and cheese, shame, shame. Gary and I partook, of course.

Sooner Legend's is a family run restaurant that is perfect for watching a game and good home-cooked food. I hope to eat here again next time OU plays OSU at home over Thanksgiving in 2011. I hadn't mentioned all the paraphernalia, the restaurant was covered in autographed items like jerseys, balls, helmets and photographs. Mother said each room has a theme from an Oklahoma player. Take a look at the website and you'll see how nice the rooms are with pillow-top mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets and the like. You can also buy paraphernalia at the checkout.

Sooner Legend's Inn and Restaurant, 1200 24th St. SW, Norman, Oklahoma 405-701-8100

Advada's Diner, Carlisle, Ark.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've just been told this fabulous diner is closed!!  Shoot, what a great place Mrs. Advada's was.  It will surely be missed.


Friday, November 27, 2009

This diner was recommended to me when Jackie bought me a road bike at Gearhead in Jonesboro back in June. The man who sold us the bike said his wife was from Carlisle, and he went on and on about this diner in Carlisle, Arkansas of all places. Since then, I have tried to hit this spot many times. We stumbled across it on our way from Wynne to see mother the day after Thanksgiving when Chloe announced, "I am starving, I'm about to die," we literally looked up and Carlisle was the next exit. With Jackie's Blackberry in hand, I Google mapped it and we found it, only 2 minutes off the interstate in Carlisle.

You'll find it a little off the road, located on a gravel parking lot at what looked like a barn that was transformed into a diner. When you enter the establishment, you'll order at the buffet counter that was empty the day we were there (pic #4). Chloe automatically wanted a grilled cheese and tator tots (pic #1), Jackie ordered a hamburger with onion rings (wow in pic #2) and I got the low fat Grilled Chicken sandwich with mustard (NO mayo) and french fries in case the tots and rings were bad. When we found a booth and got settled in, I noticed a local having a catfish platter with his of course I went back up to the counter and added 2 pieces of catfish for just a dollar each and boy was that a great decision on top of my original order.

The food is served on paper plates in a no frills way, which we loved, and served with ketchup and hot sauce if needed. The add-on catfish arrived just a minute later on the table and hot, hot, fresh. It was really, really good catfish (pic #3). One thing I haven't mentioned before is I do like to look around at the locals to see what else is being consumed when I order, they know best. And in the case of the catfish, they were right. That doesn't mean my chicken sandwich wasn't fabulous because it was really good and huge, by the way. Notice the amount of tator tots on Chloe's child-size order of a grilled cheese, amazing. We did haul the leftover tots to give Biscuit who rode along to Norman with us, and he reported they were great. Jackie's burger was over-the-top wonderful, fresh and cooked perfectly, super juicy. Our entire lunch cost less than $18 with two large teas and water for Chloe.

This is a fabulous stop right off I-40 between Little Rock and Forrest City. It is a must do when you can. Be sure to call for directions on the way so you don't get lost in downtown Carlisle. Their population is 2,362 by the way, but hard to find nonetheless.

They are also known for their made-to-order breakfast and lunch buffets. And the bathrooms were super clean.

Advada's Diner, 206 W.Park, Carlisle, Ark. 870-552-3424 Pic #5

Thanksgiving at Birdeye

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kara's First Thanksgiving Feast

What a wonderful lunch! The beauty of today was Kara had PLENTY of help in the kitchen, that's her mother Polly, our mother-in-law Jeanie, Emmy, her fabulous sister and of course Martin, who I caught on the couch with a glass of cab when I got there. Pic #1 is her fabulous table.

I loved going to her house at 1:30 p.m. with Polly's casserole that Harmon brought to my house, around the corner, to bake at noon...yes, Kara's lunch was scheduled for noon...humm...they ran out of oven space.

At 12:45 I called to see if they were ready to eat at Kara's second predicted meal time, they said no, just come at 1:15 with the casserole I did, and later I found out that Kara's Inaugural Turkey didn't go into the oven until after 9 am....well let's do the math....we sat down for lunch at 2:45. Yes, I'm glad Jackie, Chloe and my diabetic self had a snack when we realized that lunch would be late! Fun times at Birdeye!

The hit of Kara's fabulous table was her mother's Asparagus Casserole that was from her mother's cookbook from many years ago. It boasted almonds, marinated artichokes, cream of mushroom soup and the like...OMG, unbelievable, and a HUGE distraction from the turkey and dressing that we all came to eat. I will add the recipe when I get my hands on it. Kara's turkey was super moist, which was awesome as she was a first-time turkey cooker. Her mother also made the rolls, pic #2. We cringed when Polly announced her cookie sheet of rolls couldn't fit in Kara's narrow oven and she said, "Let's bake them at Keeli's", Jeanie quickly stepped in and removed a rack in the oven and placed that cookie sheet in the oven slanted. Very inventive until the rolls slid off the end and baked unevenly. They were good yeast rolls, nonetheless.

By the way, on the buffet was turkey, dressing (I did miss Winnie Bob's dressing with rice and tons of rubbed sage), green bean casserole, asparagus casserole, spinach casserole, gravy, rolls, cranberries (they were fabulous by Jeanie), mashed potatoes and of course a relish tray. It was a beautiful table with lots of great conversation, one of which was all about Martin's stay in the hospital in Jonesboro with his appendix and complications. Yes, Jackie huffed and cringed and blew out his nose in horror of reliving Martin's February stay in the hospital and near death experience. Fun times, talking about near death experiences....that's what family is all about, right? Pic #3 is the plate of samples of all of it.

Pic #4 is Stella, 2-1/2, Chloe, 8-1/2 and Whit, 5 years old, yes all toasting Thanksgiving with Cranberry except Whit, he had some joke...Chloe said he wasn't old enough to drink, "you have to be 21", she said.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A huge thanks to Polly, Kara's fabulous mother, for sharing this timeless recipe from her family. I can't wait to make it, it is delish!

Artichoke Asparagus Casserole

1 large can asparagus tips
1 can artichoke hearts, slice
2 C. cracker crumbs
1/2 butter
1/2 lb. grated cheese
1/2 c. almonds or pecans, I think she used almonds
1 can cr. of mushroom soup
salt and pepper to taste

Grate cheese and mix with cracker crumbs. Add liquid from asparagus to soup. Put layer of crumbs and cheese on bottom of casserole dish, a layer of asparagus and artichokes and sprinkling of nuts. Dot with butter, cover with soup. Repeat until all ingredients are used with a layer of cheese and crumbs on top. Decorate with whole blanched almonds and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is excellent and can be prepared the day before it is to be baked and served. Recipe by Miss Charles Jones

Baked Spinach

A side to Thanksgiving...

Per Kara's sister Emmy's request, Emmy is the, Kara had to ask me to bring the Spinach Casserole that overflowed last Christmas Day in her oven and caused quite a mess including her smoke alarms going off, no kidding. But I made it, and in my own oven, and boy is it easy and tasty.

Spinach Casserole (from First Baptist Church 90th Recipe Cookbook, Weatherford, Oklahoma, my grandparents' church)

2 pkg. frozen spinach, chopped (10 oz each)
1/2 C. margarine (I ALWAYS use butter, why would you EVER but all that polyunsaturated mess into your body?)
8 oz. cream cheese (I don't use lite here)
Celery Salt (I always use 1 t.)
Onion Salt (I never have this but use 1/2 t. onion powder and 1/2 salt)
Minced Onion (I never have this dried, I use 2 T. fresh grated white onion)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 C. chopped fresh Jalopenos, I did leave this out today, just in case of any IBS..

Defrost spinach and blot out excess moisture. Melt butter and cheese together (I do in microwave 1-2 minutes), add remaining ingredients but Parmesan Cheese, add in spinach in a huge bowl and but in buttered or Pam'd casserole dish and top with Parmesan Cheese. Bake 325 degrees for 30 minutes. (uncovered)

Wow, you only need a tablespoonful of this goodness on your plate with everything else at Thanksgiving. Easy, inexpensive and really good.

Pie Crust, Grandmother-style

Pumpkin Pie, from Gourmet Magazine

Well, this Thursday on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up in an unusual own. We always go to see my fabulous mother in Oklahoma City, but since I had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving this year, I rose to two items that were on Kara's list for our first Thanksgiving at Birdeye. Pumpkin Pie and Spinach Casserole. First things first, of course. I knew I had a package of those refrigerated pie crusts but being at home in my own kitchen, I'd have to venture off and try to make a pie crust. It was time consuming, frustrating but rewarding.

I wanted to make the Pumpkin Pie recipe from the November Gourmet Magazine, so I started there (pic #4). After the pie crust was dry and funky, I pulled out my legendary Grandmother Melva Dickey's recipe for pie crust. Her pies have always been a centerpiece of conversation at Thanksgivings in Weatherford. I got the recipe from a cookbook she made for me years ago with all her recipes in it. And here is how it goes...(now I did HALF this recipe since I was only making a single pumpkin pie, but this recipe is what it is)

Perfect Piecrust (Melva Dickey)

5 single crusts or 2 double crusts and a single

4 C. flour, lightly spooned into cup
2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1-3/4 C. Crisco
1 T. vinegar
1 large egg

Put first 3 ingredients in a large bowl and mix with table fork. Add shortening and mix with fork until ingredients are crumbly. In a small bowl, beat the egg, 1/2 c. COLD water and vinegar. Combine the two mixtures, stirring until all ingredients are moistened. Divide dough into 5 portions and, with hands, shape each portion in a flat round patty ready for rolling. Wrap each in plastic or waxed paper and chill at least 1/2 hour. When ready to roll piecrust, lightly flour both sides of patty, put on lightly floured board. Cover rolling pin with a little flour. Keeping pastry round, roll from center to 1/8" thickness and 2" larger than inverted piepan. Fold in halves or quarters, transfer into piepan, unfold and it loosely in piepan. Press with fingers to remove air pockets.

For baked single shell, bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. (I had to bake this 25 minutes, then add the following pie filling....)

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie (Gourmet Magazine, November 2009) Pic #1

1 15 oz. can Pumpkin
1 C. heave cream
1/3 C. sour cream, use whole here, dang it
2 large eggs, just look at Chloe's farm-fresh eggs, much darker and just as big (Pic #3) the ligher one is an Eggland's best
3/4 C. sugar
3-1/2 T Bourbon, I used Maker's Mark, found in the back of my butler's pantry, I had to dust it off, it had to be 5 years old
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt

Whisk all ingredients and pour in a half-baked cooled pie shell and bake 45 minutes. Cool completely. Serve with Whipped Cream with 1 t. bourbon per 1/2 c. cream

Wonderful and what a PAIN, I may never do a homemade pie crust again...but there's always next year...

McEwan's, Memphis

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dinner with family and new friends

The beauty of McEwan's is its location in Downtown Memphis. You can park at Parking Can Be Fun on Union and walk the 2 blocks to Madison, which is what Jackie and I did. It was a mild evening for the short jaunt. We were pleasantly greeted by the host and were shown to the cellar which is where they place large parties. Our party of 8 had us, Stephen and Counts Louise Shanks, Zach and Darci Kent and Ashley and Rick Woods, all of Northwest Arkansas. We had a prompt and fabulous waitress named Bennett that immediately got our drink orders. I saw a blend under the reds, Left Bank, South Africa 2008, a blend of Cab-Shiraz-Merlot. It was smooth and full-bodied. Jackie ordered a New Belgium Fat Tire, Shanks had a Maker's Mark and the rest of the men and ladies all had reds. Maybe some mixed drinks were in there, but I didn't look too close at that end of the table. We also found a very flavorful Zinfandel, MD Phillips, Seven Deadly Sins, Lodi 2007. This California wine was fruity and medium bodied with cinnamon and licorice tones to it and was great with our dinner.

Bennett was back with our drinks and took our appetizer order. Yes, cringing here. Counts Louise loves their Buttermilk Fried Oysters with Spicy Mustard Plum Sauce and claims they are the best in Memphis, all agreed, I think. Also ordered was the BBQ Duck Confit Enchiladas and were delish, according to Jackie. I didn't partake of these but I did indulge in the homemade buttermilk biscuits which were passed and reloaded several times around our table and they were fantastic. Just what a diabetic needed, more carbs? I had only one and it was just what I needed with my Left Bank blend.

On to dinner, with a fabulous get-to-know you conversation, we all finally ordered. I started first, only because I was at the head of the table. Generally I like to be last because I like to hear what everyone else is doing on the ordering and I don't order the same exact thing as Jackie. I did order the Small Plate Warm Hazelnut Goat Cheese Salad, featuring Memphis' Bonnie Blue Farm Goat Cheese, grilled pears, mixed greens and featured an apple champagne vinaigrette. Let me tell you, this salad reminded me of my favorite salad I do at home with a warm goat cheese-style crouton with homemade dressing on greens...divine, I had to hold back from wiping the plate clean with my fingers in front of our new friends! I'd hate to get a bad reputation, so I refrained. The beauty of the small plate is that it was, a small plate. Just look at Counts Louise's mushroom salad compared to mine (pic 3 was hers, pic 4 mine). Alighty then...

For dinner I ordered the Pan Seared Chilean Seabass (pic #5) with an orange soy glaze, shitake mushroom risotto and sauteed spinach. Well, OMG, yes that's oh my gosh, wonderful. It was absolutely the right size after my perfect sized salad. The seabass was cooked perfectly and I really liked the risotto and spinach until I tried Jackie's greens....he ordered the Sweet Potato Crusted Catfish (pic #2) with creole honey mustard, mac and cheese, yes I said mac and cheese and braised collard greens. Now this was something I was sad I didn't order. The mac and cheese was served with long, curly noodles and the greens were hot and blessed with vinegar. Luckily Jackie tolerated passing his plate around and sharing a taste of the mac and greens to all of us. I've never had greens this good. They were succulent and amazing and hot. I loved it! Stephen, sitting super close, allowed me to try his steak, he ordered the Tenderloin and substituted his mashed potatoes for the purple potato and squash au gratin...OMG again, was fabulous. It was nice that everyone at the table enjoyed sharing a fork or spoonful of their food with me. They were all blessed with southern hospitality.

Of course for dessert, I had hot black coffee, most in our party ordered coffee with shots on the side but my hot coffee was hitting the spot. And of course, upstairs in the ladies room I could hear everyone in the cellar, located exactly below the bathroom. I mean EVERY word...hum, I did wonder what I was talking about when everyone else in the ladies room throughout our 3 hour meal. Yes, 3 hours. And the ladies room was clean and well supplied, by the way. We were out of there, full and we were glad to have met Stephen and Counts' friends, we had some great laughs. There were many quotes from the night that I'll leave to your imagination...

Ohh McEwan's. It was our sixth visit to this culinary diamond in downtown Memphis. It was wonderful and we'll be back Chefs David Johnson and Sous Chef Keith Bambrick. It is always lovely at McEwan's.

McEwan's, 122 Monroe, Memphis, Tennessee, 901-527-7085

Benton's 35th Birthday Party, Jonesboro

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Benton!

I've always known Benton and Alexis can throw a party but last night was amazing. Alexis cooked ALL the food that included smoked Pheasant (that Benton killed), Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Jezebel Sauce, Spinach Dip, Onion Dip, Veggie Tray with cucumber dipping sauce, and desserts that were amazing. Alexis sent 35 invites and 56 people showed up...I don't think I know 35 couples I'd invite to my party, it was great though meeting so many Jonesboronians. The beauty of Benton and Alexis is that they like to celebrate birthdays and remember in May we ate in Memphis for mine, so it's a tradition that I enjoy. Thank you Benton and Alexis for turning me on to this tradition!

Marinated Pork Tenderloin (recipe of Counts Felton Smith Morton)

Brown Sugar
Olive Oil
Teriyaki Sauce
Soy Sauce
Wishbone Italian Dressing

Marinate pork in a Ziploc bag for 2 days in refrigerator. Grill and serve at room temperature on rolls (Alexis used Sister Schubert's).

Pecan Cheese Ring (Southern Living Cookbook p. 35) Pic #1 molded into a pumpkin!

4 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 C. shredded medium cheddar cheese
1 small onion, grated
1 c. mayo
1 t. red pepper
1 C. chopped pecans
Strawberry Preserves
Ritz Crackers

Combine first 5 ingredients. Sprinkle about 1/4 c. pecans in an oiled 7-cup ring mold, and press cheese into mold and chill until firm. Unmold on platter and pat remaining pecans onto cheese ring. Place preserves in the center of ring and serve with Ritz crackers.

I really loved the tenderloin on the rolls! Wow! And this cheese ring will be on my party table soon!

Crawfish Bisque, Birdeye

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 14, 2009

Crawfish Bisque is a soup I made one year ago when I had a Saturday afternoon to myself, which is very rare, and I was in the middle of finishing the Twilight Series. I actually spent that Saturday and then that Sunday (after church) reading Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. They were amazing books. I didn't do laundry or a thing that weekend but I did make this soup, it was hard to make it but I had the cream, crawfish and vegetables ready to go...I literally put the book down, made the base of the soup, read another chapter, then strained it, then read another chapter, it took me forever. And with the release of New Moon this Friday, I felt for some reason, a drive to make this soup again. And it was good.

In the pictures I have the crawfish I am forced to buy from China instead of here in East Arkansas, the FABULOUS Asian Chile Sauce that is a must in chili, soups, dips et all, and then the soup. This is an easy, flavorful soup that is great heated up later in the week. I serve it with cornbread, delish!

This recipe is from Fresh, the cookbook from Lake Austin (TX) Spa.

Crawfish Bisque

2 C. Chicken Stock, I used broth
4 C. Clam Juice, in the tuna isle
1/2 C. each carrot and onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 bay leaf, only one
3 parsley stems, I didn't have
2 fresh thyme leaves, I used a teaspoon of dried
1/2 C. each onion and celery, minced, I grated because of my broken hand
1/2 C. sherry, I used Cabernet
3/4 C. flour
3 T. tomato puree, it's near the sauce and paste
2 C. 2% milk
1-1/2 C. evaporated milk, I used cream
1 T. butter
1 lb. frozen crawfish, thawed, and chopped with juices retained
Tabasco and salt to taste
1 T. Asian Chile Paste, I add this on my own

Combine the chicken stock, clam juice, celery, onion, carrot, bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs in a large soup pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 20-30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid, discarding the solids. Sweat over low heat, the minced onion and celery in a soup pot sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Add all but 1 cup of the reserved liquid and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining stock, sherry and flour in a bowl, whisk until it forms a slurry. Pour into the simmering soup, cook until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add the tomato puree, whisk to mix. Simmer, stirring frequently for 15 minutes. Strain the soup into a clean soup pot over medium heat. Add the 2% mile and evaporated milk, butter, crawfish, salt and Tabasco, mix well. Cook until heated through, but do not boil. Serve hot with cornbread, garnish with parsley.

Ooohh la, la...I'm ready to make it again and re-read New Moon....

Appetizer for Kara's Attorney General Party

Last night when we returned from Martin and Kara's home, we were delighted to find a tower Whit and Chloe erected. Her creativity amazes me. Although it's not culinary, I had to share it. I am reviewing our party for Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
The sign means, "the tree of weird". Gotta love it!

Arkansas Attorney General Party

November 17, 2009

When cousin Benton Smith asked Jackie and I to host another fundraiser for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, we gladly said yes. We hosted one in 2006 in our home but this one was to be held around the corner at Martin and Kara's fabulous home. We had a few more hosts for this party at Martin and Kara's which we needed. Their home was built in 1901, complete in 1903 and was restored in 2005-2007 featuring new porches, new roof, geothermal heating/cooling system, new kitchen, 4 new baths, new landscaping and the list goes on as they add new projects each year to the property.

It was a great party that was blessed with lots of wonderful dishes from the hosts. Kara made her infamous Onion Dip, it smelled so good baking in the oven, and was a hit. She also made a Pumpkin Roll featuring cream cheese, it was a perfect sweet for the season. Alexis, also known as a fab cook, brought her cheese ring with strawberry preserves and Ritz crackers. I brought a Chickpea Tapenade that was filled with citrus, cilantro, cumin and roasted peppers. The bomb of the evening was Jerre Fisher's "heavenly shrimp" and chicken salad. I am currently trying to get my paws on those recipes, four phone calls so far, but plan to share them. Jerre was awesome, bringing strawberries and cilantro to decorate and "pull together" the food table. Notice the cilantro on the tapenade...and her centerpiece with matching vases and flowers was a really sleek touch.

It was really great meeting Dustin's new wife, Bobbi. They are a splendid couple with three children, two of them are eight year old children like Chloe. Chloe played for hours with Dustin's daughter Emma Grace at Tom B's (Benton and Alexis' son) birthday party a few years ago. Chloe is a child that will warm up to new friends and pick up where she leaves off the next time they get together.

Now to the food at last night's party....

Chick-pea Tapenade (from Fresh, Lake Austin Spa cookbook)

3 T. olive oil
1/2 C. sliced onion
1 small red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced or use 1-2oz. jar diced pimento, drained. I used a jarred red pepper
2 C. cooked chick-peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained, 2 cans here
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 green olives, pitted
6 kalamata olives, pitted, my favorite olive in all the world
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced, I was glad that I still have these fresh from the garden
Grated zest and juice of an orange, lime and lemon, I didn't have the orange
2 T. chopped fresh parsley, I didn't have this
2 T. chopped cilantro, I used 4 T.
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, plaice the remaining oil and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor, I use a blender. Pulse to coarsely chop the mixture. Transfer tapenade to a serving dish and serve with baked pita chips and vegetable sticks. I did the pitas and Melba toast rounds.

This was great, fresh and hearty...fabulous!!!

Cozette's Banana Bread

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's a rare Saturday that I'm not working, out-of-town or volunteering but today found Chloe and I in perfect unison. We woke up late, that's 7 am for us (my usual 5 am wake up was interrupted by the snooze), both ailing from allergies, we moved our slow selves into the living room. First thing I noticed in the kitchen were two bananas that needed rescue. With my broken hand still in a splint, I thought it would be smart to get some of my ritual Christmas cooking out of the way. My pace in the kitchen is down to a good 15 minute mile compared to my 10 minute mile when in good shape. Getting all the holiday stuff done make take forever this year.

I've tried at least a dozen Banana Bread recipes and nothing competes with Cozette Vaught's. She is, by far, the best cook in all of Cross County. She shared this recipe with me after a church potluck in 2003. You will have most all the ingredients on hand I'm sure.

1 stick butter, melted in a medium 2-1/2 qt saucepan, over low heat
1-1/2 C. flour
1-1/2 C. sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed well with a fork. By ripe, I use mine when they are getting black, not rotten but definitely the skin is going dark.
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla, I use my homemade vanilla from Cozette's recipe, I'll share this soon
1 t. baking soda
4 T. buttermilk, you can use milk but the buttermilk is truly key in this recipe but milk does work, I've done that many of times
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, I've tried with pecans but walnuts are best, and are optional

Oven 325.

Melt butter in saucepan. Dissolve the soda in the buttermilk or milk and mix well. Add all ingredients very well making sure the flour is totally incorporated. Grease a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or do three mini loaf pans. Large loaf pan, bake 1 hour, 15 minutes, bake the mini loaf pans, 50 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on baking rack.

This can be frozen up to 2 months and is fabulous as a gift.

Blackened Salmon

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My fabulous sister-in-law was getting her fabulous 4 month pregnant self a massage today in Memphis and offered to pick up some Salmon....duh, of course I said yes. And here is how it goes, yesterday I was in my orthopedic surgeon's office waiting for hours, yes, hours for a recheck xray and brought Fresh, my favorite cookbook in all the land, even better than my Southern Living, and saw this recipe.

In the Fresh Cookbook, here's the chef's take on this recipe, "Paul Prudhomme, who hails from Louisiana, is a good a regional American chef as this country has ever produced.  His work has been influential in a number of ways, but the dish for which he will always be remember is blackened redfish.  Paul discovered that you could take a redfish fillet, coat it with some fairly common spices, toss it into a super hot skillet with some clarified butter, burn the heck out of the whole thing, and it would come out tasting great!"
The timing was perfect as was this recipe:

1/4 C. paprika
2 t. onion powder
2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. cayenne, I used 1 t.
1 t. white pepper, I was out of this one
1 t. black pepper
1 t. dried thyme leaves
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt, I didn't but would've had some
4-4oz. salmon fillets, skin removed, I used one large and it's a must to remove the skin using your sharpest knife.

Combine the spices in a small bowl. Pat the fish dry with paper towels then dredge in seasonings, coating each piece thoroughly. The recipe says spray each sides of the fillet with non stick cooking spray. Grill over hot coals, turning occasionally, until blackened and cooked through, approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Serve with a lemon wedge or brush with melted butter if desired. Here's how I did it: After getting the fish ready (you can use really any fish), melt 2 T. butter in an oven safe skillet and add fish. Blacken a good 3 minutes per side over med high heat then go to a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. This was really an unbelievable, delicious dinner and low fat. Serve with a potato in the microwave and spinach salad featuring goat cheese, olives and balsamic vinaigrette. Wow!