Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Red Beans & Rice

I have a friend who is in New Orleans today...Ash Wednesday...his (I think and at least) 40th Mardi Gras. For real. And one of the things we research and save is...the best recipe. For whatever dish or food or selection it is but, we want the best recipe.

(This is going to be really hard to post because Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the real one with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, is on. And these might be the two most beautiful people God ever put on this planet and it's hard not to watch them together.)

Red beans and rice is the dish of poor people in Louisiana, on Monday wash day. They took the leftover Sunday ham and put it in a pot with some red beans and let it cook all day, while they washed clothes in a cast iron pot over an open fire. True story.

So in keeping with the spirit of things...keep it simple. Good and simple.

Red Beans & Rice

1 bag red beans
1 large onion
Cooked ham...literally cut off the scraps from the bone, before you cook white beans w/it!
Garlic...I use chopped from a jar, a big scoop
2 bay leaves
Smoked sausage

One of the things I've realized with people who have...issues...with their food is that beans? Put 'em in the pan, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Let sit for an hour and then DRAIN OFF THE WATER. That's where the digestion-dissenting things are. Recover with fresh water. Bring to a boil again and cook for an hour. Then...add the chopped onion and garlic, the ham and sausage (cut into your preferance of dice) and the bay leaves. Cook on really low heat, what you're doing here is melding flavors, and every now and then while the beans are simmering use a spoon to mash beans against the side of the pan.

When you have this lovely, thick, soupy mix...salt and pepper to taste and add Worcestershire.

Cook sticky rice. The Big Boy likes jasmine rice; rinse it, cook it and it comes out in sticky clumps. Put some in a bowl, spoon the red beans and rice over. Serve with french bread...RE THE ARTISAN BREAD I love!!!! and life doesn't get any better.

The "Other" Hot Reuben Dip

With all due respect to and admiration for those who came before me - this is THE best Hot Reuben Dip out there.

You could, if you wanted to but I'm not recommending you do if you have a weak heart, use it to top a baked potato and call it dinner.

This is my Hot Reuben Dip recipe - Dip Reuben a la City Girl, if you please.

I doubled it for our Superbowl party, served it with toasted cocktail rye bread and it vanished.

I'll never make another hot dip again. Sayonara, Spinach and Artichoke dip. Adios, Velveeta-Rotel Dip-o. (Yes, we actually eat that - it's football food - stop wincing).

Hot Reuben Dip
8 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Drained Sauerkraut
2 tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Milk
1 cup+ Chopped Dried Corned Beef (I use a package of Buddig instead of the jar)

Loosely combine all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes or until cream cheese softens. Stir to combine. Microwave another 2 minutes - 4 minutes until hot. Stir.

Mixture will appear thin, but it thickens as it cools.

Serve with toasted cocktail rye slices.

Serves 1 - 12 as an appetizer, entree or breakfast hangover remedy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding...Fat Tuesday!

Several years ago...The Not Nice Kid was less than a year old...a couple of my best buds and I went to a wedding in Jackson, TN. The rehearsal dinner...which one of my friends was catering as a wedding gift...was held in an old building that used to be a library...and was round!! Lots of shiny old wood and tall windows and...a refrigerator with a wired-up shelf that when you sat 40 pounds of pasta salad on it? Collapsed. Different blog.

But one of the best ideas I've never had (again) is this bread pudding, which was a specialty of the mother of the groom. The secret? The one people do NOT believe when they try it? Hamburger buns. Nasty white soft spongy cheap hamburger buns. Cut into cubes with kitchen scissors. They make for a light and airy bread pudding which not only tastes great out of the oven but freezes well...that's why we had 19 of them in the back of the van on the way to the wedding. (This was the wedding where we went out for breakfast the next day and I lay in the back floorboard of the van until they found me a Taco Bell. I can't do that anymore.)

Sharon Raines Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

2 cups milk, scalded
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package hamburger buns
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons bourbon

Lightly grease an 11x9 glass baking dish. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Let cool. Mix sugar, salt and cinnamon together. Pour milk and butter into beaten eggs; add sugar mixture. With kitchen scissors, cut buns into cubes. Put bread cubes into a large bowl and pour liquid mixture over. Toss to moisten, but don't overdo! You'll get mush.

(You can always throw in extra things that make your family happy. I like a few toasted pecans. Dried cranberries are good, too...but that's because I don't like cooked raisins.)

Pour into baking dish, place that dish into another baking pan filled half full of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 mintues. Remove from hot water. Best served warm with Whiskey Sauce.

Whiskey Sauce: Melt one stick of butter, add two cups powdered sugar and bourbon. Mix until smooth and serve warm. (Sharon insisted on Jack Daniels and she would NOT forgive us, but I'm a bourbon person so that's what I use.)

If you freeze this, remove from the freezer and let thaw and then pour the Whiskey Sauce over it. Reheat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I have a new best friend. Country Girl meets raclette.

I have NO idea why I know what raclette is. No clue. But the weekend I was in Bham I went to Whole Foods (yeah! cheer!) and there it was...a display of raclette. So my best bud Mary and I each bought a chunk. And came home.

This household runs on perpetual chaos so for whatever reason, we didn't eat it last week. I checked out the potential and while the computer stressed boiled potatos and pickles, I kept looking at that cheese. Got home Friday night and The Big Boy had eaten half of it, cold and salty and lovely to the tongue. Damn.

Tonight we made the artisan bread and IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN LISTENING, this needs to be one of the top five things you do every week. Then I took a small oval black cast iron skillet that I got in Texas to cook fajitas, took the bread out of the oven and put the raclette in and gave the bread five minutes to crust up and the cheese five minutes to melt down and...oh. Y'all. This is one of the five best things I ever had in life, including sex. This just ROCKED.

The Big Boy is on the road this week and you better believe he has been given instructions to be on the lookout for Whole Foods/gourmet shops/cheese places. Of any kind, but if you can find me a couple of blocks of raclette?

You gonna get real, real lucky.

I'm just saying.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SW's Hot Reuben Dip

This should NOT have been so good...but having said that, IT'S FAT AND SALT! How wrong can you go with this?

Had this at a birthday party Saturday night, at a house famous for its spreads, and this simple dip was the hit of the bar. It is SO good...and how easy is this?

Hot Reuben Dip

1 (18-ounce) can sauerkraut, rinsed/drained/patted dry
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 (8-ounce) package corned beef, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Spread misture in a 13x9 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with cocktail rye or baquette slices.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The closest to summer I can get right now...

And having said that, The Little Kids requested a repeat. Tonight.

The Big Boy picked up some fresh mozzarella somewhere. Sometime last week. And I've been sitting here rolling my eyes because, Hellloooo! We only do that in the SUMMERTIME. Dumbassss.

But since it was here and it needed to be used and I walked into the new Publix in Athens last week and they had potted herbs...we're on. I SHOULD have my own potted herbs but I don't, so I bought a pot of basil. And Cherry Berries which, in the winter-time in Alabama, are the only tomatoes worth eating.

So last night, we halved the Cherry Berries, large-diced the mozzarella, chiffonaded(?) the basil, and grated us some black pepper. A pinch, or two, of kosher salt which reminds me I need to buy more, a spritz or five of Ricatoni's olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

The Big Boy didn't even eat the lasagna because he gorged on the salad. The Little Kids ate their designated helpings and then ate what was left in the bowl. I need to go take a shower so I can buy more mozzarella before I pick up from school. We're doing this again tonight.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

German food for now

Get thee over to Slashfood and check out the spectacular article on German food for the times. My grandmother used to make kraut, but I'm pretty sure insane amounts of vinegar were used...this article talks about simple kraut you can do at home for fun. There's also a recipe on pickled mushrooms and that sounds like a REALLY good thing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Obama-Rama

It has been mentioned that I'm missing the shopping gene. I'm also missing a sweet tooth. Neither of these, I have discovered, is required for a happy life.

Another thing I don't do is mixed drinks. Probably because 99% of the time, it comes back to that "sweet" thing. This weekend, I had a lovely brunch with the ladies in Birmingham, and one of them ordered this drink.

Turns out, the NYT had run the recipe in an article. The Pink Door (must) be a restaurant in D.C., and this drink has become a national fad. The problem was, at brunch, that the drink calls for a specific vodka...Crater Lake, a handcrafted vodka from Oregon...of which I have never heard. Neither had the bartender. And then there was the fresh-squeezed grape juice thing (I got tickled and swallowed the wrong way picturing a grape juicer...wonder if it gets lost in the drawer like my lemon juicer?) and...something else.

At this point, the waiter goes to the bar and gets a bartender who shows up with pencil and paper. And we go through the entire spiel. Again.

HOWEVER. The four ladies who ordered this liked it so much...they ordered it again. To much acclaim.

I had a bourbon and water. Gratefully.

The Obama-Rama

2 ounces vodka

2 ounces freshly pressed grape juice or bottled white grape juice

1/2 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dash of blue Curacao

Sugar, for frosting the glass

To frost the glass, spread sugar in a saucer and wet rim of glass with a lemon slice. Dip rim into sugar, rotating so that sugar adheres evenly. This is best done in advance, to allow the sugar time to crystallize.

Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice, shake and strain into the prepared glass.
That's a grape in the bottom of the empty glass.