Sour Cream Cornbread 

I make this cornbread every time I make chili – no, really, every time – I am not kidding. They go together like, I don’t know, but I am sure there is a phrase for it. These two things are just perfect together. At least to me. I am sharing this recipe with a good friend who is a chef at a place we like to go and his chili is just the best every – next to mine of course. Let’s put it this way, I always say when I eat his chili each winter that it is best because it tastes so much like mine, but I did not have to make it. This cornbread, from a great Southern friend, is just my go-to cornbread for chili. It is her family’s recipe and since she was raised in a small North Florida town, it really fits with my style of cooking – Southern, simple, but dead good cooking. I have other cornbread for cornbread dressing, but this is the kind you want to split and put in a toaster oven and smear with good European butter for breakfast – and yes, I do that – if there is any left over (not likely, but occasionally).

dd_17891 cup self- rising corn meal*
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 small can of creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients well.  Pour into greased 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

* 3/4 cup cornmeal + 3 Tbs
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt 

I do not buy self rising anything. There is no need. So I make my own rather than buying and just letting it go bad because I use it so infrequently. I guess it is just because I hate to waste things and I’d rather have control over my ingredients. 

 

Salted White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

The Boy loves white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and I get that to a certain degree. This recipe intrigued me because of the flaky salt on top and, for me, that is always Maldon. This year is Maldon’s 135-year anniversary. To me that is just slightly, no, mostly,  amazing. But even better –  they have been harvesting salt in that area of England* since the Romans occupied the country. You just cannot beat that kind of history.dd_1781

When The Boy and I lived in England it was so strange to me to live somewhere where everything was pretty much older than everything in the United States. We lived in Coventry – in the Midlands, a lovely, if slightly industrial town, but there were some buildings in the City Centre that were medieval timber-framed houses and were beautiful and so close to the original St. Michael’s. The original St. Michael’s was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II, so they just left it that way. That was impressive and chilling at the same time. I would go shopping in the city centre and then just go hang out at the bombed out St. Michaels. I went into the new cathedral, but the part I liked best about the “new” version was the sculpture of Michael on the outside. It is pretty much just bad ass. But we all know Michael was the angel version of a total badass.dd_st-michael-devil-sculpture

How did this go from salt to Coventry and then to St. Michael? It got away from me. Just like the Doctor.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roughly-chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt – Maldon, my go to for flaky

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand until combined.

Use a large cookie scoop or dishers as they are called, I used a #30 size. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a bit of the flaky sea salt. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 10-20 minutes, or until the dough is chilled completely through. This is pretty important. Also just add a few white chocolate chips on the top just to make it look nice.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are just set.  Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Gimmesomeoven  – Amazingly creative name, yeah, really amazing.

* Maldon is a town on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, England. It is the seat of the Maldon District and starting point of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. It is most renowned for Maldon Sea Salt which is produced in the area.

 

Get it Right – my favorite kitchen company.

Several years ago I saw a New York Times posting on great kitchen things to give for Christmas. The one that caught my eye was Get it Right spatulas. I had pretty much your every day crappy spatulas at the time – you know – too big, stained easily, couldn’t put in the dishwasher because of wood handles, etc. and so these were really intriguing. They were pharma grade silicon, all one piece (no wood handles), in pretty colors and I had finally found an ultimate spatula that fit my small hands.* So I ordered a couple. And then a couple more. And then a few more. Shipping was free if you spent a minimal amount – no brainer. I really do need to get the bacon spatula if no other reason than just to say I have a bacon-colored spatula. Someone has a sense of humor and I appreciate it.

When I am in a baking mood, I can really go through spatulas and the GIR spatulas were dish washer safe – hell – they were safe up to 464 degrees F. I bought colors to go with my kitchen and then with my mood – first it was lemon yellow, and lime green, and orange – all my favorite colors and my favorite citrus. Then when winter turned bleak I ordered grey and black. Finally when spring started to come around again, a robin’s egg blue.

Well, this past year Get it Right had a kickstarter for there newest venture – a ladle and a spoonula – a cross between spoon and spatula – so I signed up. I have never been disappointed in anything from them and once again, I went the citrus route – orange and green. This was my Christmas present to me. And I know I made a good deal of it and I do love supporting a company that I feel like I’ve been with from the beginning. To be a bit of a dorky food geek – this is my football team. dd_1743

The coolest thing is that I have recently seen America’s Test Kitchen endorse them and use their spatulas in there show – how about that.  Get It Right has lots of other things too, but these are just my favorites. Please check them out – you will be really happy you did.

*This was important for me. I really have small hands and some spatulas are just too difficult to work with.

Keeping Recipes …

How do you keep recipes?

I tend to print recipes and keep them in several binders. Then I also have a drive with folders and some are on Evernote and some on my old blog. Some I just know by heart and need nothing to make them – there are many of those. I just spent two evenings this week sorting through recipes (new and old) and along the way, I edited – looked at each recipe and then think, “Will I really make this?” Lots ended up in the recycle bin which makes me feel bad (dead trees) and I need to edit earlier in the process – like before printing.

dd_1721

Yes, I have a binder for Crackers. No judgement.  See: Cracker Challenge.

I wish I could develop a system that truly works for me, but using cookbooks, family recipes that I know by heart, a few magazines, recipe “ideas” (with no step by step instructions), and things found on the recipe sites I trust, and of course, other blogs – How are you supposed to keep it all straight?

Looking at my photo, I am, obviously, not consistent in the way I make my binder labels.

My first blog, and this one too, were/are a way to keep up with things, but sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. I wander around the house with a stack of recipes I want to try – just printed, pulled from binders, etc. Trying to make them fit into the right time of year makes it even more difficult. Ugh. I am supposing this is a complete first world problem, but I would like to have a set of things to pass down to the Boy and his future wife and their kids. Otherwise, why are we here? You get my genetics by default, but I would love for you to know the recipes that come from different people in our family.

Such as my spinster (yep, they used the word) Aunt Rhodie’s chow chow recipe. She was really my great aunt, my grandmother’s sister and was partially deaf (seems mostly like when she wanted to be – that is what my grandma always said anyway) and never married but lived with my grandmother and grandfather, but she could totally rock the chow chow.  Now the recipe makes gallons so I’ll have to down size it to make it manageable, but is it worth the effort?

I believe it is. Especially when you put that chow chow on black-eyed peas – my favorite way to eat it. Otherwise black-eyed peas – kind of meh. Interesting the only reason I have the recipe is because my mom asked for it. This was my father’s aunt, but my mom appreciated it – probably because it could get me to eat black-eyed peas if for no other reason. I don’t remember my mom ever making it. Can’t blame her. Why do that when Aunt Rhodie+ would do it for us? Just get a few jars from the dug-in-clay basement of my grandmother’s house – which also held the washing machine – clothes were dried on the line out back. There is something really nice about that and I miss it. Clean sheets dried in the wind, so fresh and comforting and a cool clay basement.  Something you do not, nor will ever have, in Florida.

+Rhodie was short for Rosebud. I think Rosebud is so much better, and to be honest, that is what my grandmother called her sister most of the time.

I am going to have to work on the recipe to take it down from gallons into something that I can handle.  This is not the time of year for green tomatoes, but I think this might be my “winter” (winter being a questionable word for us right now) project to make it into something smaller that might work for our family. I also wonder … will it taste like I remember? Lord, I hope so.

 

Lemon Bars – again

Yep! One more time, but this time I will take some to the office too. Share the love as it were –   or as my office says I’m just trying to make them fat – not really. But I made these for a friend for her birthday which is tomorrow. She will be 21.

But it is nice to make things that make people happy. And that is what I try to do.

When I used this recipe for the first time I was expecting the same kind of big failure that I have had before with this idea  – many times. But these were an amazingly pleasant surprise. dd_1599

Sometimes you just have to keep trying to see what will happen. In this case, this recipe is just golden. I do not think I will ever try another one for this favorite lemon bar cookie of mine. The crust and curd ratio is damn near perfect.

Right now I am trying (not very hard) to talk myself out of ordering lots of Meyer Lemons on-line since my little (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree version) of a Meyer Lemon did nothing for me this year. I think I have to pot it up*, but I am so not sure what time of year to do that because now it is blooming – and it smells like orange blossoms – because the Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange – it is just heavenly. There never seems to be a good time to pot it up and I will NOT plant this in the ground. It has spent 10 years with me and while not very promising, usually I get a couple Meyer lemons or maybe three. I always want it to be with me. Sounds strange, but when you invest yourself in something – well, there it is.  I may be reduced to ordering from California since our Palafox Market seems bereft of Meyer Lemons. Sad since it has been not such a terrible “winter” (and I use that word very loosely) for us so far.
We already have pollen on the vehicles and azaleas are blooming. This is not going to make an easy spring for us, um, at. all.

* That means putting it in a different (larger) pot. You weirdos.

So here, again, are lemon bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

 

 

Almost Cowboy Cookies

Yet again another cookie that I never had a child (see: Snickerdoodles). I knew these were sold at the Publix when I was a kid, but we never bought any of them. I think, to me, they were a bit of a mash-up cookie – too many things involved. They are a little bit chocolate chip cookie, a little bit oatmeal pecan cookie and then you add coconut into the mix. Strikes me as strange – but I understand a lot of people really like them. I am so not digging the coconut, so we will try without it this time. I guess that means I need to call them something other than Cowboy Cookies, but I’m not sure what – well, Almost Cowboy Cookies seems to work.dd_1770

I guess the thing that sets me off is I really (no, REALLY!) do not like chocolate with oatmeal. There is nothing worse that thinking you have got a straight up old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookie and find out – the hard way – Ugh – that it is oatmeal and chocolate chips. Every feeling revolts.

But I guess if going into this you know what you are dealing with it will decrease the amount of shock when you taste the cookie. And apparently, lots of people like this kind of cookie – if they did not the Publix would not sell them. That is a fact.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (Renfroes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and then add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat to just incorporate. Stir in oats, chocolate, and pecans. Form dough into 24 balls and bake 12 at a time for 16 – 18 minutes rotating the baking pan half way through. Cool on baking sheet for a minute and the cool on a wire rack. Let baking pan cool and do the whole thing over again.

Makes 24 cookies (that should really be obvious).

Source: modified from Saveur

16 Sept 12 – v.g.

7 January 17 –  indeed, v.g.

2015 Mushroom Pate

Vanilla Taffy

I have never posted this recipe. It is a family recipe that is so special to me. It may mean nothing to anyone else – probably will not. But this is one of those handed-down recipes for something not many people make at all … and there is a story to it.

My mom made this every winter, not every Christmas because this recipe depends on the weather. There has to be low humidity and in the South that usually will only happen sometime between late December and late February. So this did grace the Christmas Eve party on occasion -yes, but there was no guarantee. It is North Florida after all. We oftentimes wore shorts on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This was a recipe from my mom’s mom, Daisy, and my mom would describe how Daisy made it in the winter* and then to get the taffy hard they would toss it in the snow. We never were able to do anything like that, but it is kind of cool to understand where a recipe really comes from.

To be honest, I have never seen a recipe like this. Most people, when they think of taffy, think of salt water taffy which is soft,  but this is not. We (me and the Boy) have taken to calling it crack because when you pull it right and put enough air in it, it gets opaque and, well, looks like crack – at least the kind I have seen on Cops  (read: have no practical experience in the real stuff, but from TV, I can totally see it).DD_9068

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Necessary – candy thermometer – not kidding. Necessary.

Place sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Then cook without stirring until candy thermometer reaches 266 degrees.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until dissolved. Pour onto sil-pat lined baking sheet. When still hot, but cool-ish enough to pull, pull small bits in cords until opaque – you will burn at least your thumbs, but probably a couple of other fingers in the process. Twist into ribbons and lay on wax paper-lined baking sheet. When hard, break into pieces (just drop on baking sheet and see what happens) and wrap in cut waxed paper, or if you want to be fancy, wrap in pieces of parchment. We used waxed paper growing up, but I have taken a liking to parchment in the last few years.  

*They also butchered a pig each winter. Something I completely understand, but an not likely to be involved in.

2016 – Tomato Soup with Spinach and Mozzarella