Turkey Tea Sandwiches

I tried this on a total fluke and I’ll be damned it they were not delicious. They are one of the Boy’s favorite things. They make no sense, but still work in a simple way – a mixture of flavors that just, oddly, work.

D&D_2578I have no expectation that any of you will try it, but sometimes you just have to let that kitchen curiosity loose and do something for the hell of it. I do that a lot – hell, experimenting in the kitchen is the best part, in my opinion.

12 ounces (1 bar and a half)^ cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf dense cranberry-walnut bread, thinly sliced at the bakery
1/3 pound thin slices smoked turkey breast – from the deli

Combine the cream cheese, scallions and the salt and pepper in an stand mixer and mix together.*

Lay out 8 slices of bread and spread them all with a decent layer of scallion cream cheese. Place a generous layer of turkey on those slices. Basically just make a sandwich with bread, cream cheese spread, in whatever form it takes, and turkey. This is not rocket science people.

put the sandwiches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with the ever difficult cling film. Refrigerate until the cream cheese is firm.

Cut off the crusts of each sandwich with a serrated knife and cut each sandwich in half diagonally and then cut each half diagonally again, to make small triangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature (my preference)

Source: Ina Garten with my some few changes.

^Or go all in with two bars of softened cream cheese – why not?

*I added a few extra chopped dried cranberries and some minced chives to the mix.

If you cannot find a dried fruit/nut bread, just find a bread you like – something hearty – and add the dried fruits and nuts to the cream cheese. It works and I have done it several times.

Make sure a decent amount of salt is involved. Some lemon zest probably would not go amiss. A thought for next time perhaps.

Sweet Potato Casserole – required for Thanksgiving

This is such a family tradition that I am sure I have posted about this to the point that everyone might just be sick of it. That said, I just cannot help myself. It is not Thanksgiving without it. Or Christmas either, for that matter.

D&D_2344The recipe is from my brother’s wife. It was a tradition in her family and when she brought it to our family – well, let’s just say that was it. One of us, usually me, always made it for Thanksgiving and now I have been making it for our family, including the MotH’s family that I just cannot get out of it – not that I would want to. It is just dumbly good. It is just expected on Thanksgiving and Christmas too. Never hurts that this is when sweet potatoes are really cheap either.
How cool is it that one family’s recipe becomes another’s and then another’s. I guess that is the value of tradition – that, and excellent food.

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes – lately, I prefer roasting them ahead of time
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut flakes or more
1 cup chopped pecans – or more if you prefer, which I do*
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix potatoes, sugar, milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Put sweet potato mixture into glass casserole dish**.

In another bowl, blend coconut, pecans, brown sugar, flour and 1/2 cup melted butter. Top potato mixture with coconut/nut mixture – use your fingers, it is easier that way. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until brown on top and slightly bubbly around the edges.

D&D_2306*I also usually use a mix of pecans and walnuts and always use more than 1 cup because that is what you should do.

**You can use a 9 x 13″ glass casserole or a 11 x 13″ glass casserole (which I think is a better ratio – thinner sweet potato layer and more crunchy bits on top).

22 November 2017 – Thanksgiving

Pecan Pie – necessary for Thanksgiving

In my family, you always got what you wanted for your birthday meal. That included dessert. In my case it was tacos with corn tortillas and all the fixing and then … guess it, and it makes to no sense at all – pecan pie. I think I might have been a very strange person when you get right down to it. Yeah, I was, and still am, strange. But at this point in life I really do not care anymore.

D&D_2326I have made the recipe for at least five years and possibly more, but I like the idea of making the custard on the stovetop before filling the crust. It is a little bit of extra security in making a pie. The custard is half way there and then you bake – lovely when it is all said and done. And there is the other requirement – the Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and to be honest, I cannot blame him, because I do too.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes*

Adjust oven rack to second-lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

D&D_2342This is lovely gooey in a non cloying way – I think it is the lack of corn syrup. Maple and molasses bring so much depth to the pie. Really do not think I will ever do anything else but this.

*Used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and it worked really well (need to figure out what to do with the other one, hm?). Just make sure you put it in a glass pie pan (Anchor) and put it in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Makes a difference. Oh, and do chill it for 30 minutes. Again, makes a difference.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country or whatever – why do they need two names after all. It is just confusing. At least to my little blonde self.

22 November 2017

Chili Jj

About a zillion years, or at least it feels that way, I found a recipe for Chili El Cid. It was very different than the chili I had grown up with, but it was intriguing beyond words. It was so weird – in a good way. It had a cinnamon stick and a jalapeño that was slit and they both simmered in the chili.dd_1796

Question: Who puts cinnamon in chili?
Answer: A very enlightened person.

Seemed so strange. Still does, but it works so well. The source, originally, was not the Parade Magazine though that seems to be where everyone else knows it from. I found it via my love of Sheila Lukens.

I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of beans in my chili. Not sure what camp that puts me in – maybe Texas, but I do put a few (read: 1 can of light kidney beans, rinsed very very well) for the MotH. It is a concession I am willing to make. Though am still not really a fan, which is interesting since all the chili of my childhood had beans in it.

We have had a bit of a mild winter, even for us, so I have not been in chili mode, but we just are having a crappy weekend this weekend. Windy, rainy, and whatnot, so I think I that fits the bill. Maybe my last chance till next winter.

Steve (MotH) says that it is fine to make chili when it is not cold – he’ll just turn the A/C down and we will make due. He is probably right, but I always hold out hope that we get just a smidge of winter in February. One can only hope.

Olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
2 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tbs McCormick – Montreal Blend
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 – 14.5 ozs cans beef broth
1 – 28 ozs can whole tomatoes
1 – 28 ozs can crushed tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 jalapeño, slit lengthwise 3 times
1 – 14.5 ozs can light red kidney beans, rinsed well, no, really rinsed well, otherwise ugh

Heat olive oil, about 2 Tbs in a large pot.  Add sirloin, sausages, and onion. Once it is all cooked though, with the meat being no longer pink and the onion translucent. Use a potato masher to break the meats up. Add the chili powder, Montreal blend, basil, oregano, and cumin. Cook until the spices are fragrant, a couple of minutes.

Add beef broth and both kinds of tomatoes. Add the cinnamon stick and jalapeño. Bring to a boil briefly and reduce to a simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally while breaking up the whole tomatoes -with said potato masher. When there is about 30 minutes more of simmering to do, add the very rinsed beans. Stir well.

Before serving, remove cinnamon stick and jalapeño – duh. Garnish with grated cheddar, lime crema* and if you are a great person, serve over cornbread.  Yes, I am that person (see below).

*sour cream with some fresh lime juice – sounds cooler to say crema, maybe? Not sure. Yep. It does.

Sour Cream Cornbread – necessary
1 cup of self rising cornmeal (though you can make it from regular cornmeal if you make the correct modifications*)
2  large eggs
1 small can of creamed corn
1 cup sour cream  – full fat people, I mean really?
1/2 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch glass baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes. In my opinion – closer to 30 minutes.

From my great friend Dawn, who taught me a great many things about Southern cooking and baking. 

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

I just do not like to buy self rising anything so …

My Little Meyer Lemon Tree

D&D_1112

My Little Meyer

My little Meyer lemon tree. I’ve had it for 8 years now in a pot and it is the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of Meyer lemon trees, but this is my best crop ever  –  3 Meyer lemons. I am way too excited. Yes, this is kind of sad.

The first time I had Meyer lemons I really did not have any idea what they were – same thing happened with blood oranges, but that is a different story entirely. There was a little farm stand in Tallahassee not far from my place on Thomasville Road. These lemons were amazing. I had already been making lemon curd – Thank you Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts (had this book for donkey years), but I knew this would take it to something much more elevated (even if I did not know that word at the time – which I did not).  Although I never had fresh eggs like Martha did – just check out the book – it does make a difference. Meyer Lemon is a heritage Citrus × meyeri, and is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin. That’s what I like to think since I grew up very near where the real mandarin oranges are from – Mandarin, Florida (Jacksonville) – yep. A very beautiful little area.

So I ordered this “tree” online for $20 and it was barely a seedling, but I baby it year after year.  And I do love the smell of orange blossoms – which is what Meyer lemon blossoms smell like. It is such a nice thing in the late winter. It gets dark so early you just grasp at straws at this point. Even for us in Florida.

Meyer lemons are probably the best part of the winter. My wonderful mother-in-law has a friend that has a real grown up tree, just a neighborhood away and I always score a few Meyer lemons from her. So super. I kind if cherish them in a way, which make me hesitate to use them and that’s a bad thing.

So I shall makes some plans and Meyer lemon curd will be in the works before you know it.