Mama’s Cornbread Dressing

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is Mom’s recipe for cornbread dressing.

(1) 9×9 pan of crumbled cornbread [2 cups cornmeal (if not self-rising add 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda) , 2 eggs, 2 tbs oil, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, salt to taste but I don’t add any salt to cornbread used for stuffing, bake at 400 for 20 min in oiled pan or black iron skillet]

(1/4) loaf white bread

(3) eggs

(1) stick butter

(1) can cream of chicken soup

(1) cup milk

(3) cups chicken broth

(3/4) cup chopped green onion

(1/4) cup bell pepper

(1/2) tsp sweet basil

(1/2) tsp rubbed sage

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Sweat green onion and bell pepper with butter until soft, let cool and combine with all other ingredients.  Mix together until soupy

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Pour in greased 9×13 dish and bake at 350 degrees until starts to brown on top.

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Be sure to watch the cumulative amount of salt.  I don’t add any seasoning to these ingredients because there is usually enough salt in the stock and there will be plenty of seasoning in the gravy made from the turkey drippings and deglazed pan.  Mom always made her own chicken stock for this dish.  Homemade stock is always better.

Sweet Potato Souffle

IMG_3554   . IMG_3558 I decided to make a trial run of sweet potato souffle before Thanksgiving.  It’s got all the same stuff that Mama’s casserole does, just put together differently.

Use 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs flour to make a quick white roux and add 1/2 cup cold milk to the roux for a classic Bechamel sauce.  Let cool.

Combine white sauce with 8 oz (by weight) of cooked, peeled and cooled sweet potato, 2 tbs sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 egg yolks and blend/whisk smooth.

Begin whipping 2 egg whites, add 1/2 tbs sugar when they begin to stiffen, continue whipping and add another 1/2 tbs sugar when it starts to hold a peak and continue to whip until it resembles the sheen and stiffness of shaving cream.

Fold half the meringue into the the sweet potato mixture at a time making sure not to be too aggressive mixing them together.  Simply fold until all the white color has turned the same color as the sweet potato mixture.

liberally butter and sugar the bottom and sides of (4) 8 oz baking Ramekins (small, straight-sided bowls), scoop mixture into bowls and bake in 400 degree oven until tops just start to brown ~20-25 minutes.

Present it hot and finished with powdered sugar before it falls, but let cool some before enjoying.  Again, the same flavors as Mom’s but now with the lighter texture and elegant presentation.

Mom’s Sweet Potato Recipes (for Thanksgiving)

Mom's Sweet Potato Pie Back

With Thanksgiving coming up it’s time for some home cookin’.  This is 1/2 the recipe at the bottom of the back of the card.  Mix well and cook in buttered dish at 325 about 45 to 50 minutes until middle rises.  Move to bottom rack if you add the pecan topping.

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I prefer it without the topping.  Also don’t be afraid to brown the edges, the sugars caramelize and get nice and gooey.

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The interesting thing about all of Mother’s recipe cards is that she dated and credited them.  Also, how they changed over time and how her communication was really intended for her and intent is not always clear. There are a lot of secrets NOT on the cards.  For instance, she sweetens her sweet potatoes after they are cooked and peeled and still hot, adding 1 1/2 cups of sugar per quart.  Sweeten to your taste, I only use 1 cup.

June’s No-Crust Coconut Pie

Fresh from the oven:  Mother’s no-crust coconut pie.

(1) 6 or 7 oz can shaved coconut

(4) eggs, well beaten

1 /2 cup self rising flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/2 stick melted butter

(1) tsp vanilla extract

(2) cups whole milk

Combine and mix well.  Pour into (2) well-greased 9″ pie pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned.

Gulf Coast Oyster Stew

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For me, being from Alabama, classic oyster stew is defined by Wintzell’s Oyster House at their historic downtown location on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama.  My father was from Mobile and whenever back in the city, stopped there every chance he could.  I learned to eat oysters as a young child in every way they serve them at Wintzell’s:  Bienville, Rockefeller, Monterey, grilled or as they identify the more traditional forms, “fried, stewed and nude.”  I like them all, but sometimes I crave them in a milk stew.

This is my version of classic gulf coast oyster stew.  It is not chowder, is thinner than chowder and does not contain potatoes.  It is in no way low fat, but it is good.

Oyster Stew

3 tbs sweet crème butter (salted)

2 tbs EVO

1 clove garlic (minced)

2 small green onions (1 tbs tender white part minced, 1 tbs tender green chopped)

8 oz shucked oysters (keep the juice)…these are from Apalachicola, FL, small but tasty

2 cups whole milk

Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning

Lightly sauté garlic and onion in butter and EVO on med high heat until soft.  Lightly drain oysters just before cooking (remember to save the juice) and cook with aromatics until edges wrinkle and separate (photo 2).

Add milk and oyster juice and season to taste.  Light salt and pepper is classic, but I like to season with a couple of shakes of Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning.  Cook until hot.  Don’t scald milk.  Make sure there is enough butter so it can be seen floating on the top of the hot stew.  If you wish, garnish with a little julienned green onion or chopped chives.   Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal with fresh French or Italian bread for dipping.

Enjoy!

Mushroom Risotto: Southern Style

Actually, the only thing southern about this risotto was the cook and the Arkansas grown arborial rice.  If you read the cookbooks and listen to the Italians, you would think they were the only rice growers in the world, but I’m tellin’ y’all that the Arkansas arborial is the real thing.  If you’ve never cooked a risotto, try this:

½ cup onion (minced)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 to 1.5 cup shiitake mushroom sliced about ¼ “

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1.5 cups short grain risotto rice, unwashed (I used Arborial grown in Arkansas)

1 cup dry white wine (warm)

4 cups chicken stock (heated)

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 to 1/2  cup good parmesan reggiano

Warm the chicken stock in a sauce pan.  Gently saute the onion and garlic with EVO in a sauté pan that has a lid (for later).   After a couple of minutes, add the mushrooms and cook until they have soaked up some EVO but are still firm.  Remove the aromatics and mushrooms and set aside, leaving as much oil and good stuff in the pan as possible.  Turning the heat down to medium for the remainder of the dish, add the rice and stir until well coated.   Don’t brown the rice but cook until well coated with oil and starting to clear (6 to 8 minutes)…stirring often.

De-glaze the pan by pouring warm (NOT COLD) white wine into the pan and reducing until almost all the liquid is gone, stirring often.  Repeat this step 4 more times (1 cup at a time) using the warmed chicken stock, each time reducing until almost gone and stirring often.  With the last cup of stock add mushrooms and aromatics back to the pan.  After reducing the last cup of stock, the rice should be done or at least al dente (almost done but still firm to the tooth).  Add butter and parmesan to help the starch along with a creamy finish. Taste and season if needed, but usually the stock, cheese and butter have added all the salt needed. If al dente, remove from heat and cover until ready to serve and it will finish in the pan, otherwise serve it up in a simple, flat bowl.  Remember the final texture should be creamy and a little moist but still firm, not flowing on the plate.  Enjoy!

Only in Louisiana: Home of the Drive-thru Daiquiri

Yes, frozen libations without ever having to leave the comfort and convenience of your automobile and public roadways.  Try the new hand grenade daiquiri, it’s sure to get you home safely!

Don’t forget to inquire about the hand painted velour wall hangings of your favorite sporting creature, but “Please” don’t delay the transaction; for quick and convenient service, have I.D.  And, keep it convenient for the ride home just in case you get stopped for driving with a frozen alcoholic beverage.  “But officer, it had a straw in it when they sold it to me.  You mean I wasn’t supposed to take the paper off the tip of the straw until I got home!?!”