27 July 2008

Poke salad was something growing wild that we ate when I was a kid in Tennessee. I also have seen it canned in grocery stores.

It must be boiled and rinsed multiple times to remove toxins (posionous, otherwise) or can be fried. One reference I read commented that frying removes the toxicity as well. I've often wondered why anyone would go to all that trouble to eat something that's toxic to some degree.

I recall it being similar to other "greens" like turnip, mustard and collard greens. Each one has it's individual taste though.

1 to 2 pounds Poke Salad
6 to 8 slices bacon
1 large onion
2 eggs

Pick and wash poke salad, bring to a rapid boil for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold tepid water. Bring to a rapid boil, starting with cold water, for a second boil for 20 minutes. Again drain and rinse with cold tepid water. Now for the third time, starting over cold tepid water bring to a rapid boil for 20 more minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let drain completely.

Meantime fry bacon and save drippings; set aside. Clean and cut onion in quarters. Take drained poke salad. Cook in fry pan that you fried your bacon. Add 1/4 cup of drippings and shortening from bacon. Add onion, 1/4 cup of water, salt to taste. Let steam fry until onions are sauteed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve and garnish with hard boiled egg and bacon.

26 July 2008

Okra originated in West Africa. In the 1700s, seeds were brought to the United States and the Caribbean by slaves, who roasted them to make a coffee substitute. The seeds also were planted, and okra soon became popular throughout the South.

Today, okra is grown around the world, and recipes using it have an international flavor. It goes into spicy Indian curries and Asian stir-fries. Greek and Middle-Eastern cooks simmer it with olive oil and tomatoes. Brazilians marinate lightly cooked slices in a spicy vinaigrette.

Southern Fried Okra
1 pound fresh okra
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

1. Wash and slice okra; pat dry with paper towels.
2. Combine eggs and buttermilk; add okra, and let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper.
4. Drain okra, small portions at a time, using a slotted spoon.
5. Dredge okra, small portions at a time, in flour mixture.
6. Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3-inches in a Dutch oven of deep-fat fryer and heat to 375 degrees.
7. Fry okra until golden brown.
8. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
The popularity of Fried Green Tomatoes was not limited to the South as many would lead you to believe. The fact is, farmers everywhere had to find ways to use the last of the tomato crop, especially in the northern states where the tomatoes had to be picked green to protect them from the first frost. The Pennsylvania Dutch would can green tomato relishes with some. Others would be wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in a cool basement or root cellar to slowly ripen for later use. They also used many in preparations such as Green Tomato Pie or for frying. The only difference I can determine is that the Pa Dutch used flour as a coating (see recipe), as opposed to the flour and cornmeal mixture used by most Southerners. Either is very good. Tomatoes were fried in bacon grease or lard then, in later years, shortening, oil or butter. See the notes below for choosing tomatoes for frying.

3 to 4 unripened tomatoes, cut into approximately 3/8-inch slices
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil, butter or bacon grease for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix together the flour and cornmeal. Dredge the tomato slices in the flour mixture to coat both sides; shake off excess. Place in hot pan and brown quickly until slightly softened but not mushy, about 2 minutes per side. Adjust heat as needed. Add more oil as needed between batches. Place briefly on paper towels to remove excess oil, then on a large platter in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serves 4

25 July 2008

Nassau Grits
In Pensacola, Florida, we enjoy a breakfast restaurant called The Coffee Cup where many gather to eat grits and eggs with bacon, ham, sausage and biscuits in the mornings.

An adaptation of The Coffee Cups' grits recipe in itself is a riff on one passed on to The Coffee Cup through many hands. Now, it passes to you.

If you'd like to read more about The Coffee Cup and other Southern delights, grab a copy of Southern Belly for yourself.

- makes 4 to 6 servings -

1/2 pound bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 cup ground or finely chopped ham (about 6 ounces)
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup uncooked white grits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning once, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Once cooled, crumble into bits and set aside.
2. Pour off all the bacon drippings except for 2 to 3 tablespoons. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the ham, stirring to mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the grits as directed on the package instructions. When they reach a creamy state, stir in the ham and tomato mixture. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large serving bowl and crumble the bacon over the top. Serve immediately.

24 July 2008

Collard greens, Southern Style
Southerners love their greens. A time-honored tradition in southern kitchens, greens have held an important place on the table for well over a century, and there is no other vegetable that is quite so unique to the region. Greens are any sort of cabbage in which the green leaves do not form a compact head. They are mostly kale, collards, turnip, spinach, and mustard greens.

In the Southern states, a large quantity of greens to serve a family is commonly referred to as a "mess o' greens." The exact quantity that constitutes a "mess" varies with the size of the family.

Collard greens (whole collard heads or leaves)
2 ham hocks
4 medium size white potatoes, peeled (last 30 minutes)
Salt to taste
Toppings (suggestions follow)
Wash greens thoroughly, approximately 3 or 4 times to ensure they are clean and free of insects. Remove large stems.

Place ham hocks in an extra-large pot with enough water to completely cover them. Add salt and cook ham hocks at least 30 minutes before adding collards greens. Add collards, big leaves first (let them start boiling), then add remainder of greens. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once about midway to ensure thorough cooking. Test for tenderness of stems at 45 minutes by piercing with a sharp knife. Cook additional time if necessary.

Remove from heat and drain in a colander, reserving the juice (pot likker). Chop collards with a collard chopper or a knife, leaving no large leaves or pieces. Add some of the pot likker if the greens are too dry.Salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature with your choice of toppings.

Hot pepper
Onions and vinegar (chopped onions and vinegar mixed together)

20 July 2008

A Southern-style turnip green recipe with salt pork
4 to 4 1/2 pounds turnip greens
1 pound salt pork, rinsed and diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
a dash of crushed red pepper, optional

Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. Wash greens thoroughly and drain well. Cook salt pork in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and brown. Add the turnip greens, water, onion, sugar, pepper, and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until greens are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.Serve with vinegar or pepper sauce and cornbread.
Serves 6

17 July 2008

Southwest Louisiana Creole Jambalaya
(NOTE: My good friend, Mrs. Susan Strong of St. Petersburg, Fla. sent me this delicious recipe. Susan lived in Louisiana for many years.)
1 TBS shortening
2 TBS flour
1 pound pure pork sausage, smoked,
or loose uncased sausage
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
3 cups raw shrimp, peeled,
de-veined and chopped bite size
5 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 TBS parsley, chopped
2 cups raw white rice (I wash mine)
2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper

Melt shortening in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Add flour and
stir until blended (not a roux). Then add sausage, cut into
bite sized pieces and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes or a little
more and add shrimp, tomatoes, water, onion , garlic and
parsley. Bring to a boil and stir in rice, Worcestershire Sauce,
salt, thyme and red pepper. Cover and simmer for about
30 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir occasionally. Sprinkle
with additional chopped parsley. Does not freeze well.
Serves 8

Noah, this is the way we always made it. This one comes from "Pirate's Pantry".
Just thought you might enjoy reading an authentic one.

16 July 2008

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
2-1/2 to 3 pounds shrimp or chopped ham
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can beef broth
1 can or one package onion soup
1 stick real butter
2 cups uncooked Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 large onions, diced
1/2 bunch parsley, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 large bell pepper, any color, diced
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
Put all ingredients directly into a roasting pan. Mix together.
Sprinkle with Creole seasoning to taste. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes until done. Serve immediately.
Serve with hot French bread, green salad and a light dessert.
Source: Deborah Barrios Plessy, Pensacola

12 July 2008

Black Beans with Rice
Black beans are cooked with chopped vegetables and seasonings then served with hot cooked rice.

1 pound dried black beans, washed and drained
6 cups water
1 cup chopped onion
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large smoked ham hock or ham bone
2 slices bacon, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
hard cooked egg
hot cooked rice

Cover beans with water and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover pan, and let stand for 1 hour. Sauté chopped onion, green bell pepper and garlic in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add to beans with the bay leaves, salt, pepper, ham hock or bone, and bacon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Add more water if necessary. Add vinegar and garnish with hard cooked eggs, if desired. Serve with cooked rice.

04 July 2008

Fourth of July
Prize Winning Baby Back Ribs
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 cup barbeque sauce

Preheat grill for high heat.

In a small jar, combine cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Close the lid, and shake to mix.

Trim the membrane sheath from the back of each rack. Run a small, sharp knife between the membrane and each rib, and snip off the membrane as much as possible. Sprinkle as much of the rub onto both sides of the ribs as desired. To prevent the ribs from becoming too dark and spicy, do not thoroughly rub the spices into the ribs. Store the unused portion of the spice mix for future use.

Place aluminum foil on lower rack to capture drippings and prevent flare-ups. Lightly oil grate, and lay ribs on top rack of grill. Reduce heat to low, close lid, and leave undisturbed for 1 hour. Do not lift lid at all.

Brush ribs with barbecue sauce, and grill an additional 5 minutes. Serve ribs as whole rack, or cut between each rib bone and pile individually on a platter.