Saturday, October 3, 2015

Colonel Sassy's Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Your family or guests will think you've slaved over some fancy recipe when they taste this. Serve it with a side salad and a vegetable of you liking and voila - you will be acclaimed a STAR CHEF, just like Colonel SASSY
2-1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, very thinly minced fine
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have)
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (6 ounce, 1-inch thick) boneless pork chops
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons chicken base seasoning or bullion
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On a sheet pan, spread mushrooms in even layer. Sprinkle garlic on top. Roast on upper rack 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and garlic is golden brown.

In a shallow dish, mix sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add pork and turn to evenly coat. There should be no excess liquid remaining.

Heat 12-inch iron skillet on medium-high. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat evenly. When oil is almost smoking, add pork. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until browned, then turn pork over and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer to lower oven rack. Let pork cook full time before you turn or it will stick to pan.

Roast until desired doneness. Transfer to plate; let rest.

To same skillet, add onion; cook on medium until browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and add brandy, brown sugar, chicken base and remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar then cook additional minute. Add mushroom mixture with any juices and reduce heat to low.

While stirring, add cream in slow, steady stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When mixture bubbles, add pork chops, remove from heat, and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ode to a Biscuit - RECIPES for Can't Fail, Hot-Rize, Mt. Dew, Cathead, Buttermilk and Soppin Biscuits

 Some of y’all might not know the difference in angel, cathead, buttermilk or hot-rize biscuits and those things you pop out of a can. Well bless your little hearts.

For those of us who have tasted hot from the oven homemade biscuits, the others can’t compete. Sakes a live, they are heavenly with a pad of butter melting into the flakey crevices and of course ever good cook has their own recipe.

September is designated as National Biscuit Month, so it’s time to try your hand at one of the many recipes for this soul anchor of Southern cooking.

Ingredients do matter. I think Southern flour makes better tasting biscuits than the national brands due to the wheat they use. They are lighter, don’t brown as dark and have more of a biscuit taste, as opposed to a chewy bread taste. But if you’ve never tasted the difference, you’d never know the difference. Of course I’m partial to Martha White flour as it is milled in Jackson. White Lily is another Southern favorite.

Yes I realize that those bags of frozen biscuits at the grocery are pretty good, but make no mistake, they aren’t the real deal. Making biscuits is becoming a lost art I suppose with the low carb and gluten free regimens, and the convenience of warming something up or popping prepared foods in the oven.

Time was when biscuits were cooked by the pan full every morning and served until they were gone. Using leftovers in such recipes as the Loveless Motel’s Peach Biscuit Brown Betty makes for mighty fine eating.

Biscuits continue to be on some Southern tables and menus. When it comes to breakfast sandwiches, even at fast food restaurants – it’s biscuits not wraps, crepes or Texas toast that most people go for. Order them with egg and cheese, sausage, bacon, tenderloin, chicken, country fried steak or just plain with a dab of butter and your favorite jam or jelly.

They’re good slathered with apple butter, to sop up sorghum or honey or split open and smothered with gravy. Then there’s all the possibilities of gravies – sawmill, chocolate, brown, milk, tomato, or redeye but we will save that story for later.

You can add cheese, or herbs such as chives, to your biscuits. Ever cook them on top of pot pies, use them the next day in bread pudding, or stuff them with cream cheese and cinnamon sugar or savory pepperoni and mozzarella. You just can’t go wrong with a biscuit.

If you’re lucky enough to be served hot biscuits by a cook who doesn’t need a recipe, like Page Jackson or Carol Ann Watson, of the Browns Church community in Madison County, then no one will ever have to explain the difference to you again.

Their biscuits are so full of comfort that you’d swear they kissed them everyone before putting them in the oven. These cooks are going to tell you there’s nothing to it and there isn’t if you follow the directions until you’ve baked them long enough that you can tell by the feel of the dough if it’s ready or not.

That’s one of those things that they don’t teach in culinary school and you can’t quite master by watching your favorite TV cook. It takes a little practice if you’re going to wing it, so until then pick a recipe and stick to it.

Is your mouth watering yet? And by the way, biscuits are good any time of day. Surely you’re had breakfast food for supper . . . if not, it’s time you do. I’m going back to the kitchen to peel more pears and get them on the stove.

Oh there is nothing better on a buttered biscuit than homemade pear preserves. It’s the smoothest of all fruits and there’s a little bite of heaven in every bite.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
These will remind you of your southern grandmother’s biscuits or make you wish you had a southern grandmother!
2 cups sifted Martha White flour all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening
    or lard(makes the best biscuits)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 440 degrees with rack in the middle. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. . Add shortening, coating it with flour, then rub between your fingertips until coarsely blended with some 1/2-inch lumps. Make a well in the flour mixture and then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork just until dough forms and holds together (it will be soft and sticky.)

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times. Too much kneading leads to tough biscuits. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round (1/2-3/4 inch thick) and, using a fork dipped in flour, prick all the way through about every 1/2 inch.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with a 2-1/2 to 3 inch round cookie/biscuit cutter dipped in flour (do not twist cutter or use an overturned glass which will seal the edges so they cannot rise.) Bake, almost touching, on an ungreased heavy baking sheet, rotating sheet after about 6 minutes if browning unevenly, until crusty and golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about a dozen.
Soppin’ Biscuits
Whip some butter (room temperature) into sorghum or honey and dip your biscuit in – honey that’s what you call soppin’. Take a bite, spoon a little more up on the biscuit and you’ll be saying y’all in no time. Now you can sometimes find sorghum at the groceries or you can have some shipped. (Don’t confuse it with black strap molasses.)

 Can’t Fail Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup whipping cream

Mix together; dough will be stiff.  Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead 10 – 12 times. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness; cut with 2-inch cutter.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet; bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about a dozen. Carol Ann Watson of Browns Community, Madison County
2 cups flour
¼ cup Crisco shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup milk
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with no-stick cooking spray. Place flour in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk; stir with fork until soft dough forms and mixture begins to pull away from sides of bowl.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface just until smooth. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-inch round cutter. Place biscuits with sides touching on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light gold brown. Page Jackson of Browns Community, Madison County
Cathead Biscuits
This variety gets is so called for their size – about the size of a cat’s head. The dough is generally rolled in your hands into a ball and placed in a skillet rather than cutting them into uniform sizes. The tops of the biscuits are rounded rather than flat. Rest assured the ingredients have nothing to do with anybody’s kitty cat.
1-1/8 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk
1/8 cup oil or bacon drippings

Blend above ingredients in a mixing bowl. Dump a hand full of flour on a pastry cloth or whatever you have – wax paper or a brown paper sack works. Dump the blended dough onto the flour. Pour a dash of oil into your skillet and smear it around with your fingers. Coat the inside of the skillet and the palms of your hands with oil. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds, rolling it in the flour and thickening it. Half the dough. Half it again, making 4 pieces of dough.  Roll each piece of dough between your hands, making it into a ball, then put it in the skillet. Use a spoon or a pastry brush and put a little oil or bacon drippings on the top of each un-baked biscuit. You're ready to start cooking. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. Then broil for one minute until golden brown.
Mt. Dew Biscuits
If you’ve never made these, you need to at least one time!
4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Mt. Dew (7-Up or Sprite will work)
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix Bisquick and sour cream; add Mt. Dew or 7-Up. Dough will be very soft - don't worry. Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit / cookie cutter. Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or 9x13 casserole dish. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pot Roast - old fashioned comfort in every bite! Cook it low and slow and enjoy on a chilly night.

OH MY GOODNESS -  Pot Roast cooked low and slow  - can you imagine how it smells? What about how it tastes? I prefer a chuck roast that will fall apart and you don't have to slice.
1 beef chuck roast
1 tbsp. oil
4 small baking potatoes, quartered
4 small yellow onions, quartered
4 large carrots, quartered
3 stalks of celery, ribbed and cut into pieces
1 package Ranch Dressing seasonings
1 bay leaf
1 package Au Jus seasonings
1 stick butter 
1 tablespoon corn starch
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Spray a  Dutch oven with cooking spray. Salt and pepper the roast. Put oil in Dutch oven and add sear on both sides.  Spread half of seasonings mixings on roast, rub in; flip and repeat. Place butter on top of roast. You can put the whole stick, but I usually slice and cover top of roast with butter. Place carrots, potatoes, celery and onions around the roast and add bay leaf; place top on pan and put in a 200 degree oven. After 4 hours, remove and turn over the roast. Return to oven, raise temperature to 235 and cook for 3-4 more hours depending on cut and size of roast. When done, remove from oven and pour as much of the pan juices as possible in small sauce pan; add cornstarch; bring to a boil stirring constantly to thicken - adjust cornstarch to your desired thickening. Pour thickened sauce back over the roast and allow to set in pan until ready to serve.

NOTE: If you don't have Au Jus, substitute 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 4 tsp. beef bullion and 1 tsp. onion powder.  If you don't have a Dutch oven, place in deep oven proof pan and you can use foil as the lid.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Al Fresco Dining Tablescape ideas and recipes for Peach Spritzer, Grilled Red Potatoes and Veggies and Lemon Pepper Chicken with Soul

This cooler weather is the perfect time for al fresco dining. The most important thing to remember is to relax and don’t stress out. Pick a color or theme, your menu and guests list and then do the prep work. That’s the secret to a successful event I think – doing as much ahead of time as possible. Enjoy your party and your guests! Fresh air, friends, food, family, fire pit - what's not to like?

Grilled Baby Potatoes
1-1/2 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
3 tbsp. red onions, diced
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 yellow squash, cut into pieces
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. parsley
Place potatoes in foil pan; add onions, peppers and squash. In another bowl, mist butter, salt, olive oil, basil and parsley. Pour into foil pan and cook on grill for about 45 minutes. Depends on size of potatoes and grill temperature. Torrey Greer of Jackson

Peach Spritzer
1 cup peach nectar, chilled
4 cups lemonade, chilled
4-1/2 cups sparkling white grape juice, or to taste
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 fresh peaches, sliced into wedges
Mix the nectar and lemonade together in a large glass pitcher; top with sparkling juice and raspberries.  Pour the spritzer into tall ice filled glasses and garnish each with a slice of peach. Enjoy! Torrey Greer of Jackson
 Lemon Pepper Chicken with Soul
Chicken breast, skinless and boneless
1/2 cup sweet vinegar and olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp. Greek seasoning
1 tsp. soul food seasoning
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Rinse chicken breast and pat dry with paper towel.  Stir together sweet vinegar and olive oil, lemon pepper, soul food and Greek seasonings; pour into large resealable plastic bag with chicken. Seal and allow to marinate in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. Remove chicken and discard marinade; cook over medium heat on outdoor preheated grill.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Depending on size but for small chicken breast, allow about 6 – 8 minutes per side. Torrey Greer of Jackson

Monday, September 7, 2015

Southern-style Sweet Tea Glazed Cold Succotash Salad

A great addition to a holiday table and even finicky eaters who don't like vegetables will have a hard time resisting. 
2 cups cooked baby lima beans, drained
3 cups cooked corn (frozen or canned but drained)
1 cup cooked green beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 red onion finely sliced
1 shallot, minced
Combine all vegetables in a large bowl.
2/3 cup oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Captain Rodney’s Southern-style Sweet Tea Glaze
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Whisk oil, vinegar, Captain Rodney’s Sweet Tea together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, add the parsley and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Good cold or at room temperature.  You can also add crispy chopped bacon just before serving if you like.
I have found many treasures in my travels, great recipes of the Caribbean and the Southern Coasts. One of the finest of these treasures is a fond appreciation for home. My Southern-style Sweet Tea Glaze will remind you of days in port, sitting on the front porch, enjoying the spoils of an adventurous life. Try it on a hot buttered biscuit or serve as a dipping sauce for a true taste of home. Our very best for your table, you have the Captain’s word on it.

At only 40 calories per serving, our glazes are a great way to add a little flavor to any meal.