Thursday, August 27, 2015

Old South Butter Roll Recipe is hard to find and favored by French Master Chef LeGay of Paris . . . guess you could say that Eagle Brand was putting on the Ritz!

I don’t know about you, but I tend to wonder about anybody who turns their nose up to Eagle Brand! Yes I’ve licked the spoon to get every drop of this magical concoction when cooking. I bet if the truth were know that many of you have too.

One of my favorite uses of this magic ingredient known as Eagle Brand Milk – butter roll. And I’m not talking about a yeasty dinner roll, or no sir, I’m talking about one of the most decadent of all desserts. If you know how to make it right, it will stand up to any fancy European pastry. If you skimp and get stingy with the ingredients, then you take the spectacular out of it.

Butter Roll – a Buttery Bread Pudding in Soaking Sauce – a very hard to find recipe guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in your head with the first spoonful!

This homey dessert rarely appears in cookbooks, on TV cooking shows, or on restaurant menus.  Its method is typically passed from generation to generation, and of course the recipe was never written down. It’s very regional and most say it came out of the kitchens of some wonderful African-American cooks in the Orange Mound area of Memphis over a hundred years ago.

If you’ve never had it, you might compare it to a bread pudding, but that would be like comparing a cubic zirconium to the Hope Diamond. It is a rich, decadent, saucy dessert that could be served in any of the finest restaurants in Paris, and is guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in your head with the first spoonful!

I served it to Master Chef Guy LeGay of the Hôtel Ritz Paris when I entertained him in Jackson and he asked for the recipe.  When I entertained the Governor of Tennessee on election eve, we served dinner to over 500 guests and as you might imagine we had a lot of “movers and shakers” who had grown accustom to some pretty fancy stuff.

Well, all I can say is “You should have seen them rubbing their fingers in the pan and licking them clean, when the Butter Roll was all gone.” They just knew some famous French chef had stepped in to prepare anything this divine. They begged for the recipe and the chef from Memphis told them how he made it, but of course they didn’t have his know-how nor could they replicate the love cooked into this dish. Sometimes it was the only dessert that a Mother could afford to feed her children; hence you can imagine the degree of comfort and love in each serving.

Cooking with sweetened condensed milk is like cooking with magic and love, so go ahead and whip up one of these old-timey favorites for Labor Day. Then take the rest of the day off!

Butter Roll
This is the recipe that my long-time friend Stan Gibson shared with me. He learned to cook it standing by an older lady in her kitchen in Memphis and then translated her ‘spoonfuls and just enough of this and that’ into a recipe that we can all enjoy.

6 cups Pioneer® Biscuit Mix or equivalent baking mix (alternatively, you can use 6 cups flour, 3 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, blended together in a food processor or blenderwith 3/4 cup chilled, unsalted butter cut into very small pieces)
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter
Soaking Sauce
1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 tbsp. unsalted butter

Combine the biscuit mix (or the blended flour mixture) with the half-and-half to make a dough. You may not need all the half-and-half. Roll the dough out in a rectangle 13 inches long by 10 inches wide and sprinkle with sugar and nutmeg.

Place tablespoons of butter down the middle of the rectangle and roll up along the longer side, sealing the ends. Place in a buttered 10 x 13-inch baking pan and bake in a 350ºF oven for about 30 minutes or until browned.

In a saucepan, combine the condensed milk, cream, vanilla, and nutmeg, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Whisk in the 4 tablespoons of butter until melted. Pour this soaking sauce over the baked butter roll and let rest for 1 hour until most of the liquid is absorbed. To serve, cut the butter roll into slices 2 to 3 inches thick. Place each slice on a plate and spoon the soaking liquid over each serving.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo and Panzanella Salad - authenic Italian recipes that are wholesome and delicious but nothing fancy!

Serve an easy and casual ITALIAN SUPPER

 Panzanella Salad
3-4 tbsp. Olive Oil
6 cups French or rustic Italian bread, cubed
2 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
2 large tomatoes, cubed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, ½” thick
1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered, seeded
½ red onion, cut into ½” thick slices
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. capers, drained
Toss both bell peppers and red onion with olive oil and salt. Grill or roast in 425 oven, until browned on edges, 15-20 minutes. Sauté bread in olive oil and salt until browned, about 10 minutes. Combine above ingredients and add vinaigrette. Let sit 30 minutes to blend.
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. champagne vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Whisk together all ingredients. Susan Francisco
Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo
1 stick butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp. chopped garlic
½ to 1 tbsp. tomato paste (for that nice pink color)
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. fettuccine or bow tie pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
In saucepan, melt butter and lightly sautéed garlic and diced sun-dried tomatoes. Add tomato paste, heavy cream and chicken bouillon and heat till small bubbles form but do not boil. Add parmesan cheese cooking just until the cheeses melt.  Add the fettuccine stirring to coat well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with chopped Italian parsley. May be served with grilled chicken breast strips. Serves 8. Brenda Whalley

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chocolate BOMB - easy, from scratch, WOW factor and so GOOD!

Chocolate Bomb
1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
10 ounces semisweet chopped
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreo, plus 2 tbsp. for garnish
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 large chocolate candy bar, for garnish

Fully bake pie crust according to instructions in recipe or on box; cool completely.

Whisk egg whites and sugar in a saucepan over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves and egg whites are warm but not hot, 2-3 minutes; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until cool, tripled in volume, and stiff peaks form (the tips of the peaks won't fall over when beaters are lifted from bowl and turned upright), about 6 minutes. I put mixing bowl and beaters in freezer to get cold.

Stir chopped chocolate and butter in a large bowl in saucepan over low-medium heat until melted and smooth, 4–5 minutes; set aside.

Beat 2 cups cream in clean cold medium bowl until medium peaks form, 5-6 minutes.

Gently fold white mixture into warm chocolate mixture until fully incorporated (work quickly to prevent chocolate from turning gritty). Gently fold in whipped cream just until no white streaks remain; do not over mix. Spoon ½ cup chocolate mousse into bottom of cooled pie crust; spread evenly over bottom of crust. Sprinkle crushed chocolate wafers over mousse. Top with remaining mousse, mounding in the center to create a dome. (The point is to add height, not to spread out evenly to edges.) Chill pie.

Beat remaining cream and crème fraîche until medium-stiff peaks form. Top chocolate mousse with whipped-cream mixture, following the same rounded dome shape. Chill pie for at least 4 hours or, covered, for up to 3 days. (It will slice best if chilled overnight, allowing mousse to set properly.)

Use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate ribbons and garnish pie, along with crushed cookies. Store in freezer as it will be easier to slice and serve.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bacon is one of the main food groups - wrapped around tater tots or onions, baked in the oven or fried in the skillet, even on top of a cheesy corn dip with Captain Rodney's Boucan Sauce

To hear a Southerner tell it, bacon is one of the main food groups. Some go so far as to say bacon makes everything better – it’s simply the best food on earth. I didn’t want next Thursday to slip by, you know it’s National Bacon Day.

The sizzle, the smell, no alarm clock will wake you from a deep slumber like bacon cooking in the kitchen. Sure it’s still a tradition served with eggs for breakfast, but it seemingly has no bounds these days.

Breakfast now finds strips of bacon cooked inside pancakes, chopped up in muffins, added to omelets, or stuffed into a biscuit for instance. Then there’s the argument as to the best way to cook bacon. Pan fried, baked in the oven, on the griddle, grilled, microwaved or even deep fried are all options.

There are bacon aficionados who are really choosy about the thickness, smokiness and brand of what they will eat. So is it applewood, cherry or hickory smoked, dry, salt or sugar cured, peppered, thin sliced or maple flavored? There’s even beef and turkey bacon but I’m not sure that really qualifies when you think about it.

Bacon is so in vogue that some chefs even note brands used on the menus. Sounds kinda like bacon-snobbery to me, but so be it. Two of the popular producers are Tripp’s in Brownsville and Benton’s in Madisonville, just north of Chattanooga. Charlie Tripp and Allan Benton are master meat curers and country pork ‘gurus’ who know their stuff

If you don’t like smoke, be warned that these two brands which spend time in the smokehouse are not for you.  Isn’t it amazing that bacon from right here in Tennessee is shipped to five-star chefs in Manhattan, across the country and around the world?

When Charlie and Judy Tripp of Brownsville entertain, their menu usually includes a serving of family tradition – slices of the country ham or bacon that made their family famous. Tripp’s was started as a “side-business” over 45 years ago by Charlie’s dad, Charles Tripp, Sr. who was a Methodist circuit minister in Haywood County. From this old agricultural town where cotton is still king and the natives speak with a drawl as distinctive as the curing process; the Tripps ship their award winning products around the world.

“Before I got up from the breakfast table at Judy and Charlie’s I ordered smoked bacon and country ham to be shipped to our home in California,” said film producer James Keach. “It may have been our first time to have smoked bacon, but you can bet it wasn’t our last.”

“Jane (Seymour) cooked it for some friends and they raved over it,” Keach continued. “Smoked bacon like Tripp’s isn’t something you can run out and pick up in Malibu.”

Similarly Benton’s has an allegiance of fans who have become bacon enthusiasts after tasting their version of this old-fashioned smoked delicacy.

Benton’s uses a slow curing process. The slabs of bacon are rubbed with salt and brown sugar; set aside to dry cure for a month; smoked over applewood and hickory; sliced to a 1/4-inch thickness; packaged and shipped to customers around the world. With every bite, you are tasting nothing short of mouth-watering essence of smoke, salt, and sweetness. Benton’s bacon loses about 12 percent of its weight in water as it is cured, thus it doesn’t shrink when you cook it like many of the supermarket versions which have water added.  
The ever humble and charming Benton quips that any hillbilly can cure pork; that it’s no big deal. Somehow I just know that’s not true and this master of smoke, salt, and sugar curing must have magic in that smokehouse. His cult-like following among chefs and culinary journalists alike goes to prove that this master meat curer and country pork ‘guru’ knows his stuff. Allan Benton’s bacon is as good as it gets – it’s smoking hot!

Though honored by the many ways chefs have prepared and served Benton’s Bacon, Allan says his favorite remains the traditional way, pan fried. For him, a BLT with a garden fresh tomato is as good as it gets. He also likes to place a couple of pieces of bacon atop steaks when grilling, rather than wrapping them. When asked the secret to frying good bacon, he defers to his wife, Sharon, who he boasts is the resident expert.  Her advice -“When frying bacon, you have to play with it – press it, flip it, poke it, don’t leave it, and by no means over cook it.”

Judy Tripp knows a thing or two about frying bacon as well. If you’ve ever had one of her homemade yeast rolls stuffed with bacon, you know what deliciousness really taste like!
You can find bacon recipes including BLT or grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese balls, mac and cheese, cocktails, burgers, soups, chowders, quiches, frittatas, pastas, risottos, polenta, grits, salads, appetizers, apple pie, coffee cake and pralines.

Water chestnuts, Mozzarella cheese sticks, pineapple, peppers of all descriptions, hot dogs, Vidalia onions, asparagus, meatloaf, shrimp, chicken, onion rings, green bean bundles, dates, corn on the cobb, filets, scallops, little Smokies, apple-cheddar rolls, tater tots and sesame seed bread sticks are among the hundreds of things you can wrap with bacon.

I’m not so sure about the bacon ice cream, chocolate bars, donuts, cheesecake, beer, truffles and cotton candy! Who knows, might be tasty.
Oven Baked Bacon
Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean-up. Place metal rack on sheet pan and place bacon on the rack. Bake in a pre-heated 380 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It depends on the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you like your bacon. Remove from oven and loosen bacon from rack to keep from sticking to rack as it cools and breaking when you pick it up. Allow to cool. The grease will be in the sheet pan and the bacon is crisp on both sides, no need to turn.
Bacon-Tot-Bombs (BTBs)
Sharp cheddar or Havarti cheese
Frozen tater tots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let the tater tots thaw slightly so that you can cut them halfway down with a knife, but they shouldn’t be soft. Then cut the cheese into small pieces and sandwich inside the tater tots. Wrap the bacon around the cheese-filled tot so that the bacon overlaps. Cut the remaining strip off. Instead of pre-cutting the bacon, this will ensure that the strips will wrap perfectly around the whole tater tot. Slide a toothpick through the bacon-tot to hold it in place. If you have any leftover ends that don’t completely fit around a tater tot, cook them! You don’t want to waste any bacon. Use a baking pan lined with foil; lightly grease the pan so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil. Place the bacon-wrapped tots on the pan, leaving room between each one. Bake for 25 minutes. Broil on low for 3-5 minutes or until bacon is crispy. Allow to cool before serving. Some prefer to serve with a dipping sauce such as horseradish cream or spicy ketchup.
Bacon-wrapped Vidalia
4 large Vidalia onions
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. Montreal seasoning
8 thick slices bacon
6-8 oz. cheese, grated (Gruyere, Cheddar, Havarti, Gouda etc.)
½ cup bread crumbs
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. Montreal seasoning
Prep smoker to 250 degrees (or cook in the oven).
Peel onions and trim off a small amount of the bottom of onions so they stand upright. Cut into halves. With spoon, scoop out a few of the inner the layers of the onion leaving the majority of the outer layers. Save onion you scoop out.
Brush onions with olive oil and liberally sprinkle seasoning over each onion. Wrap bacon slices around each onion; secure with toothpick.
Combine sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl. Finely chop the onion pieces you scooped out and add to bread crumbs; mix and divide among onions – putting in center cavity. Put 2 tablespoons of sauce on top of bread crump mixture. Smoke for 2 hours. Baste every 30 minutes. The last 5-10 minutes, place cheese on onions allowing melting.
NOTE: Cooking time depends on size of onion used but you want to make sure the onions are fully cooked.
Marilyn’s Cheesy Corn Bake
I love the fact that Captain Rodney’s is made it Tennessee and it’s to die for!
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 green onions (chopped)
6 Ritz crackers (crushed)
10 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
Mix mayonnaise, cream cheese, corn, cheddar and onions in greased quiche pan. Top with crackers and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Top with bacon and Captain Rodney’s. Serve with corn chips or crackers. Marilyn Jackson of Jackson

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In a Pickle - Homemade Sweet Pickles - Easy, 14 Day and Fire and Ice - of course they're good!

If you like store bought sweet pickles honey child, you’re gonna swear by these!
Old-fashioned Sweet (14—Day) Pickle
Day 1 – Wash cucumbers and pack in a gallon jar. Fill jar with water and then pour in pan with 1 cup pickling salt. Bring to a boil and pour over the cucumbers in the jar. Let stand for 7 days, covered with plastic wrap or a lid in a cool place, not in hot garage. NOTE: Discard the white foam that has formed after a week. If pickles are out of the water, they will be soft, so cut that part off the cucumber.

Day 8 – Rinse cucumbers, put back in the jar and fill jar with boiling water; let set for 24 hours.

Day 9 – Rinse cucumbers and cut into slices. Return to jar; fill jar with water and 1 tbsp. alum. Pour liquid in pan and boil mixture; pour over cucumbers; let set for 24 hours.

Days 10 – 13 – Rinse cucumbers. Put 1 tbsp. pickling spice tied in a cheesecloth bag (or add spices to cucumbers with the cinnamon) and place in the jar; add 1 stick of cinnamon.  Mix 8 cups sugar and 4 cups white vinegar and bring to a boil.  Pour over cucumbers, saving remaining syrup.  Heat syrup 4 times (once a day.)

Day 14 – Pack canning jars with pickles on the fifth day, heat and add syrup. Discard spice bag and cinnamon stick.  Place lids on jars. They will seal as they cool down. You will need the extra syrup you saved when you put in individual jars. Two gallons of cucumbers will make about 7 quarts. Randy Hayes of Madison County

Betty Pope’s Sweet Lime Pickles
2 gallons cucumbers, sliced
2 gallons cold water
2 cups lime (Not fruit, available at supermarket)
Soak cucumbers 24 hours in water and lime. Stir, drain and rinse. Soak in cold water 3 hours and drain.
2 quarts red vinegar
10 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 jar McCormick® pickling spices
Mix and pour over cucumbers and allow to stand overnight. Bring to a boil and cook until cucumbers become almost translucent. Heat jars and lids and pack cucumbers in jars. Fill with juice up to the neck of jar and seal. Of course you should put some cute labels on them. Betty Pope of Mercer, TN

Churn No Seal Pickles
Jessie Lee Vise Wyatt of Bath Springs, Tennessee was my mother-in-law and this was her recipe and one that our entire family has enjoyed for almost 100 years.
3 gallons sliced cucumbers
2 cups canning salt
1 gallon hot water
1 box alum
10 pounds sugar
1 box McCormick picking spices
1 gallon vinegar (5%)
Put salt it hot water and dissolve in a churn or a non-metallic container; add the sliced cucumbers. Soak 8 days; pour off salt water and rinse. Put alum in enough warm water to cover cucumbers; let set over night. Pour off, and then pour vinegar over cucumbers and let set over night. Pour off, and then put layer of pickles and layer of sugar until all are covered. Tie spices in a cloth and place them in the middle of the churn. Cover and use as needed. You may use plastic containers with sealing lids. Anna Laura Wyatt of Bath Springs TN

Fire and Ice Pickles
 I took the easy way out and made these pickles. We like them. I’ve heard them called Fire and Ice, Good and Evil, or Sweet and Hot. This recipe I got from Alyce Mantia whose customers at her Memphis restaurant raved about her secret pickle recipe. They are really good with homemade pimento cheese.
Drain a gallon jar of whole dill pickles in a colander, discarding the liquid. Cut them as you prefer – chunks, slices or spears. You also need two pounds of white sugar, 1/4 cup of garlic, peeled and very finely minced and a small bottle of Tabasco sauce. You can add pickling spice if you like.

Now, in the original jar, layer some of the pickles, some of the sugar, some of the garlic and a few sprinkles of Tabasco. Repeat until everything is used up (we only use the equivalent of about half the small bottle of Tabasco for this quantity).

Put the top on tightly and keep in a cool dark spot (no need to refrigerate) for at least two weeks, turning upside down every couple of days. They keep just fine at room temperature, but chill before eating for the best texture. Carla Yarbro Murphy of Jackson

Y’all listen up . . . cucumbers are ready and that means it’s pickling time. If you’ve ever had homemade sweet pickles, you know there’s nothing like them for sale at any grocery store on earth.

If there’s one thing as traditionally Southern in the Tennessee summer as sweet tea and BLT sandwiches, for me it’s making sweet pickles. Newspapers on the countertops, big canners on the stove and the smell of vinegar in the kitchen.

This summer’s crop of many vegetables has been short due to the larger than normal rainfall and a colder spring. However, Troy Huffman of Weir Family Produce called to tell me the cucumbers were in and the size we needed for pickling was ready and waiting to be picked up.

Off we went and now the first 25 pounds are cut into spears and will soon be soaking. Not just any cucumber makes a good pickle as far as I’m concerned. The old fashioned pickling cucumbers about 5-6 inches long are perfect. There’s no waste with a lot of seeds and those burpless and new-fangled hybrid varieties just don’t taste right!

I’ve also found out that the brand of pickling spices greatly alters the taste of your pickles and for me, McCormick is the only brand to use. It only took one wasted batch to know the difference.

If you’ve never tasted homemade sweet pickles, you have no way of knowing that they are the bomb. I can remember as a young child going to my great aunt Jessie Lee Wyatt’s home in Bath Springs, TN and she would always pull out a jar of her homemade churn pickles from the icebox. They tasted nothing like the pickles we were used to eating!

They were sweet, crisp chunks and much larger than the little Gherkins from the grocery. My brother loved them, as did my cousins, and everybody else who sat down to eat at her table. That included a slew of Methodist circuit preachers traversing Decatur County.

You know that potato chip commercial that says you can’t eat just one? Well these sweet pickles were like that.

Some of our customers at Murphy Tractor actually made a couple of kinds of sweet pickles, one being the so-called 14 day pickle. They’re good, but took more time. My mother worked with my daddy at the shop and with three active children, she didn’t have two weeks to worry with pickles. Then one day, Betty Rose came in with her husband, David, who needed a part for his tractor. The conversation turned to gardening as she sat in the office talking to mother.

When she found out mother hadn’t made pickles, Betty just smiled and said, “I’ll fix that. I’ll be back this afternoon.”

Sure enough, just before closing time, she shows up with a big brown paper sack full of cucumbers and a recipe written on a piece of paper. It was simple, it didn’t take 14 days or a churn and she promised they were good. She was right.

These pickles are so good chilled and served with picnic fried chicken or bologna and crackers. They’re a defining ingredient in chicken or tuna salad and the juice is an elixir you can use to spike pimento cheese or deviled eggs.

That was about over 30 years ago. My mother has made pickles every summer since and everyone begs for a jar of pickles once they taste them.

Then we were given a jar of homemade sweet pickles from Randy Hayes, and they are also the bomb! As luck would have it, are you ready for this – it’s that 14 day pickle. Funny how things come back around.

After we make this first batch, we are making Randy’s 14 day pickles.  His wife, Gina, shared her recipe for hot dill pickles which she says you can heat up as much as you like. Between the two of them, they have shelves of pickled cucumbers and other garden vegetables.

My cousin, Barbara Jarvis, just reminded me of the sweet red ring cucumber pickles that the ladies at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church always sold at their bazaar. They look like those old-fashioned canned apple rings and were all the rage years ago. Her mother, Lois Murphy, also made bread and butter pickles. Her brother, Scott, to this day can eat a half a jar of sour pickles at a time.

“I’ll get a fork full of sweet pickles if they’re on the table, but Scott’s the one who loves pickles. The sweet ones are about the only ones I’ll eat,” laughed Calvin, another of Barbara’s brothers. “Carla and the girls are making a hot sweet pickle this year that’s good.”

There’s really easy versions of refrigerator pickles if you’re working and just don’t have much spare time. Go ahead and give one of these recipes a try, it’s so worth it. I promise!