Friday, May 27, 2011

More Southern Delights

A couple of weeks ago, while watching Good Morning America, I saw Martha Hall Foose prepare a few dishes. Martha Hall Foose is the head chef for Viking stoves and specializes in Southern cooking. Two of the on air personalities are from the South and were terribly excited to see a particular dish on the table. It made George a bit curious..."What's the deal with the carrots?"

Robin told him it was a "Southern thing" and MHF explained it was old fashioned Copper Pennies.

This reminded me of how much I adored this dish and how long it had been since I tasted it. So here is my version:

Copper Pennies

2 lbs carrots peeled and sliced a uniform width
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp Worcester Sauce

Mix soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, and Worcester Sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to blend. Remove from heat for 10-15 minutes.


Place carrots in a 4 qt pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, approximately 10 minutes. Drain.


Place in bowl with onion and bell pepper. Cover with marinade and refrigerate overnite.


Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day for me, and I needed something to take to movie nite with my friends. Of course, it's not like there will be any shortage of food...but I like to cook for my friends. I plan on taking the Copper Pennies and a pound cake, but I wanted to make some pimento cheese.

First, I made my mayonnaise. Then I grated cheese and onions, and mixed everything together and let the flavors meld overnite.

Savory Pimento Cheese

1 lb mild cheddar
4 oz chopped pimentos, drained
1 tsp grated onion
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Celery salt to taste
Mayo to bind


Mix together.


Taste. Season as needed. Refrigerate


For the record, the mayo has cayenne pepper to add a little interest to the pimento cheese.

Great on sandwiches, crackers, or celery.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Scones

I have many failings as a cook. Many of the recipes I try never make it to this blog. I'm too cheap to toss the failures, so I usually wind up eating them. Most taste okay, but a few have not. And I'm lazy. I love recipes that only mess up a single bowl or dish or that don't dirty every dish, pan and surface in my kitchen. I tend to rush through processes because I don't pay as much attention as I should to the recipe. I am impatient.

I am an inexperienced baker. I have little skill but boldly go forward with ill-advised confidence. Oh, I'm good at cookies because I've made plenty. I'm okay at some cakes. I am terrified of bread. All bread. I am Southern born and bred but do not know how to make biscuits. I hope to one day correct this.

But a few things happened today that led me to baking scones...a visit to the farmers market for some lovely, locally grown strawberries and the fact that I spent hours cleaning my oven.

What, you say? You don't want to sully a freshly cleaned oven? Not me...I could hardly wait to toss something inside. So I found a recipe online for scones using fresh strawberries.


Believe me, this recipe was very close to not making this digital record. The dough was very wet and far more a mess than I wanted. The instructions failed me. I will post the recipe as written by Annie Y on and then add my notes below.

Fresh Strawberry Scones

1 cup ripe strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and diced
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup light cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place diced strawberries on paper towels to absorb liquid. Combine the cream and vanilla extract in a small pitcher and set aside.


Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and zest together in a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into chunks and cut into flour until mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Gently toss strawberries in flour mixture. Create a well in the flour mixture and fill with the cream mixture. Quickly stir dough together until just blended. Allow dough to rest 2 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and satiny, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet and pat into an 8-inch round. Use a serrated knife to cut the round into 8 wedge shaped pieces. Separate wedges on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1/2" space between.

Bake in preheated oven until the tops are light brown and crusty, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 20 minutes before serving.


So, here is what I found. This is a very, very wet dough. Do not skimp on the flour for kneading. I kept adding flour, using at least 1/2 cup, maybe more. The dough was so wet, that I never achieved "smooth and satiny" but did place it on the prepared baking sheet and formed an approximately 9" round. I used my bench scraper to cut the round into wedges and did not separate them. (You can call me a rebel, but my hands were goopy and I was tired of messing with it.)

Also, a small disclaimer...I used heavy cream because that was what I had in the fridge.

Anywho, "all's well that ends well" and this ended very well. The scones are tender and not as dry as scones I've purchased. I really like them, but wish I had used more strawberries. I love the brightness that the lemon zest adds and the subtle hint of the nutmeg. With a little schmere of butter and a cup of tea, they are lovely.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bishop Bread

I love dates. My first encounter with dates was canned date bread spread with cream mom's "fancy" snack for bridal teas and showers. A former missionary to China once served a group of 13 year old girls dates stuffed with cheese. And one of my favorite cookies is a date nut cookie my family refers to as Justine's.

It was only natural, then, while perusing a beloved old cookbook* I discovered a recipe for a date and nut bread, I should jump right on it. A quick scan of the ingredients and I knew I had everything I needed. It was meant to be.

Bishop Bread

bishop bread

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs peach brandy**
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 335 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Toss dates and pecans with 1/4 cup of the flour. Set aside.
Add brandy and vanilla to eggs and whisk. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to egg mixture and mix until wet. Add dates and pecans and stir. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan to rack and continue to cool. Slice and serve with cream cheese.


*The original recipe came from Calling All Cooks, published by the Alabama service organization of Bell South.
**The original recipe states the brandy is optional, but, to me, it adds an interesting depth of flavor.

Don't expect a big, fluffy loaf. It is, however, packed with the sweetness of dates and the nuttiness of the pecans and is, to me, perfect.

Fried Chicken

My Aunt Rachel makes the best fried chicken! It is always crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. But health problems have kept her from cooking for several years now.

I recently asked her how to cook fried chicken and took my own form of shorthand while she outlined the process. I then set about recreating this dish and clarifying for my own sake her instructions.

This is the best I could come up with.

Rachel Fisher’s Fried Chicken

6 to 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c White Lily Self-rising Flour (more if needed)
Lemon pepper
Vegetable oil

Cut chicken breasts in halves or thirds, depending on size. Trim any loose pieces. Rinse in ice water and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour. Dip into clean ice water, season liberally with salt and lemon pepper, and dredge in flour again.

Place oil approximately 3” deep in dutch oven and heat oil to 350 degrees. Place a few pieces of chicken into hot oil, but do not crowd. (I can cook 4 halves comfortably). Cook until you can see browning on the sides of each piece, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat, turn chicken and cover pot. Cook until chicken has internal temperature of 175 to 180 degrees. (about 5 minutes). Place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.

And the finished product...

Fried Chicken

Now all I need is potato salad and sliced tomato!