Summertime Southern Cuisine

Summertime Southern Cuisine

I always look forward to the last days of summer and what it brings…..the best tomatoes of the season!  Travel to the local farmers’ markets and you will find baskets full of different types of tomatoes; from Heirloom to Beefstake to Roma and Cocktail tomatoes. They are sweet and delicious and key ingredients to many dishes in summertime southern cuisine.  Fine dining at it’s best!

Tomatoes at the Farmers Market

There are a variety of ways to use an abundance of tomatoes.  Canning them or making pasta sauce or fresh salsa are all terrific options and are certainly useful, but you can also make a traditional southern favorite – tomato pie!

I researched a little history of tomato pies and how they came into existence.  The tomato pie that I’m talking about isn’t what my Italian friends might think.  Pizza, the Italian favorite, is often referred to as the original tomato Pie.  Trust me, I love pizza!  They both have similar ingredients, but the end result is totally different.

The history of the southern tomato pie is a little indefinite, but most historians agree that the southern tradition, as we know it today, came about in the 19th century.  Shaker recipes for pies with ripe tomatoes most closely resemble what we see today in a tomato pie.  The Shakers knew how to make great southern food.  I’m going to travel to Shakertown in Harrodsburg for lunch soon.  I hoping tomato pie will appear on the  menu!

Did you know that tomatoes are considered an antioxidant?  They are rich in lycopene, which has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.  They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.  Ladies, you can even use tomatoes for a skin cleanser?  There are all sorts of benefits and uses to this little vegetable!

Tomatoes at the farmers market

There are just a few ingredients that make up the pie, but the summer-kissed tomatoes are the real stars.  Most of the recipes that I’ve seen call for using several different varieties of tomatoes.  Red and yellow varieties are found in most versions, as well as cherry tomatoes. But the tomato pies that I have made in the past contain one very important ingredient that make them uniquely southern.  You won’t find this on a traditional Italian pie! I recommend using Duke’s mayonnaise.  Duke’s is a little more tangy than regular Hellman’s and a lot creamier.  You’ll be able to tell the difference.  No Southern Belle would go without having Duke’s mayo in the house!

Duke’s mayonnaise was started in 1917 by Eugenia Duke.  She started the company by selling sandwiches to soldiers in-training at Camp Sevier in Greeneville, South Carolina.  Locals and visitors soon took notice of not only her sandwiches, but the tangy spread that she used in them.  Duke’s mayo was born and has been a southern staple for over 100 years.

Fresh herbs are another key ingredient to the pie.  Not only does basil and dill provide a great taste but they also provide a dash of color to the dish.   Here’s a photo of  the pie that I recently made.  It was almost too pretty to eat!

Tomatoe

 

I grow several varieties of herbs in my garden.  There’s no dish that is prepared in my house without the addition of fresh basil, thyme, rosemary or chives.  From scrambled eggs to salmon, herbs make a great addition to any meal.  Basil is my favorite.

 

So after I left the farmers market today I was thinking about what would make the tomato pie more contemporary.  How could it be updated to reflect today’s culinary tastes?

Why not make the tomato pie into a tart!  It instantly makes the dish more hip and cool!  Who doesn’t love a phyllo crust?

Tomatoe Tart

Photo by Greg Dupree

I got home and did a little research and found a recipe from Real Simple. I think you’ll like it!

Cheesy Heirloom Tomato Tart from Real Simple:

  • 12 oz. of mixed heirloom tomatoes (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup of Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or basil
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 frozen phyllo pastry sheets (from a 16-oz. package), thawed

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the lowest position.  Arrange tomatoes on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Season the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 10 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.  This is a very important part of the recipe, you don’t want a watery tart!

Mix together the cheese, mayonnaise, scallions, chopped dill, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.  Place the oil in a small bowl.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, brush with the oil, and place 1 phyllo sheet on top; brush with oil.  Repeat the process with the remaining 9 phyllo sheets and oil.  Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the top, leaving a 1/2- inch border.  Top the tart with the tomatoes and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden brown, which should be 18-20 minutes depending on your oven.  Let the tart cool for 5 minutes and then dinner is served!

Bubbly Salad

Bubbly Salad

You know that champagne is my favorite drink.  I love the bubbles, the color and just the overall vibe of the drink.  So when I find recipes that use champagne I get really excited and want to share!  This champagne vinaigrette is wonderful for a dinner party or just as an everyday dressing.  I always try to make my own dressing.  It’s so much better tasting and better for you.  Enjoy! xoxo

Champagne Vinaigrette

Ingredients
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Makes enough for a salad for 6-8 people.

Sweets for the Sweetie

Sweets for the Sweetie

The Chew made a cool recipe the other day that I wanted to share,  chocolate peppermint marshmallows.  Perfect in hot chocolate!  Super easy and super fun.  xoxo

Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows
Clinton Kelly

| Servings: 12 | easy | 15 to 30 min.

Ingredients
Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows
1 cup candy canes (unwrapped, finely crushed, about 22)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons canola oil
12 jumbo marshmallows

Directions
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Place the candy canes in a small baking dish.
Fill a saucepan with 1-inch of water and bring to a simmer.

Place a large glass bowl on top filled with chocolate chips. Be sure that the glass bowl does not touch the water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring until smooth. Add the canola oil and stir until smooth and combined. Remove from the heat.

Dip the marshmallows into the chocolate until covered on all sides. Remove from the chocolate and place in the crushed candy canes. Scoop the crushed candy canes over the marshmallow until completely covered. Shake to remove any excess candy cane pieces.

Remove the marshmallow to the prepared baking sheet and allow to set. Repeat with remaining marshmallows

Tip: This marshmallow perfectly pairs with a whiskey hot chocolate.

Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella

I love spaghetti!  Any type, any sauce, I love it all.  Spaghetti Pomadoro is so delicious and so easy.  It’s a fast and easy family dinner for busy people.  Ciao Bella! xoxo

Spaghetti Pomodoro

1/4 cup olive oil (plus additional, to garnish)
1 small onion (peeled, finely diced
2 cloves garlic (peeled, minced)
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (hand crushed)
bundle fresh oregano
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 cup whole basil leaves (to garnish)
parmesan (to serve)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
butcher’s twine

Directions
Place a medium saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, season with salt, and stir occasionally until the vegetables soften, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the chili flakes and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Tie the oregano with butcher’s twine and add it to the sauce. Reduce to a simmer and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook 2 minutes less than package instructions. Remove the herb bundle from the sauce. Drain pasta and place in sauce. Toss pasta in sauce to coat using 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water. Add butter, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss pasta until fully coated and glossy. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Chew.

Sweets for the Sweetie

Sweets for the Sweetie

Valentines Day will be here soon.  I found this recipe from People magazine from one of the Chopped judges.  It looks really good and super easy.  You could add chocolate chips to make them even better. Homemade cookies are great gifts for your sweetie! xoxo

 

Maneet Chauhan’s Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp. liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
¾ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and allspice in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in food coloring, vinegar and vanilla until well blended. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients and beat just until combined (the dough will be soft and sticky).
3. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Using a 1½-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough into powdered sugar, rolling dough into 24 balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake until cookies are puffed and tops are cracked, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes; transfer to cooling rack to cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Makes: 24 cookies
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Bourbon Pancakes

Bourbon Pancakes

 

Are you looking for a great recipe to make for your Valentine?  I have it right here!  Buttermilk pancakes are so good and the hardest part is going to the grocery to pick up the ingredients.  Add Bourbon syrup to the dish and you’ve got a meal that is scrumpdillyicious!

Ingredients
Bacon Pancakes with Maple Bourbon Butter Sauce
Pancakes:
8 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter (slightly cool)
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
Syrup:
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter

Directions
For the Pancakes: Heat a griddle to medium-high heat. Fry the bacon until crispy and then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Lower the heat to medium, and remove any excess bacon fat. You want there to be a thin layer for the pancakes.

Chop the bacon into crumbs and separate the crumbs into two piles.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, whisking together to thoroughly combine.

Add the buttermilk, butter, half of the bacon, and eggs and whisk together until combined but still slightly lumpy.

Drop spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook on each side until it bubbles, then flip over. Transfer to a warm oven while finishing the rest.

For the Syrup: In a small saucepot, combine the bourbon and maple syrup, whisking together over medium heat until thoroughly combined and hot.

Cook until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes, then whisk the butter in, a tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated.

Serve a stack of pancakes covered in syrup and sprinkled with the reserved bacon crumbs to serve.

 

Photo and recipe by The Chew

 

Elvis Burgers

Elvis Burgers

I was watching a show on the Food Network and they were visiting restaurants all around the country.  One of the restaurants was a little dive in Houston called Hubcap Grill.  Their #1 selling burger had cheese, peanut butter and bacon.  At first I thought, oh how yucky.  But after hearing the comments from the diners, I cannot wait to try one!

What do you think?  xoxo

Ingredients
5 pounds ground Angus beef (preferred lean/fat content 80/20)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1/2 tablespoon cracked peppercorn
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
8 ounces applewood smoked bacon
White burger buns
Creamy peanut butter
20 slices American cheese
Directions
Combine the beef with the sea salt, seasoning salt, pepper and garlic. Create 10 beef balls. Place the balls individually between waxed paper and slightly press the center to create your patties. Place the patties on a lined cookie sheet, ready to be placed on the grill.
On the stove, fry the bacon to desired texture over medium-heat.
Turn your chargrill to medium-high and place the burgers on it once it is hot. Cook the first side until the edges are caramelized and browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to pierce the meat or overcook. Set aside and let them rest for another 3 to 5 minutes. Before you turn off the grill, lightly toast the white burger buns.
Dress each side of the white burger buns with creamy peanut butter and 2 slices American cheese. Place the burgers on top of the cheese and add the cooked bacon.

Recipe The Food Network

Indoor S’mores

Indoor S’mores

Who doesn’t like s’mores?  They are so delicious and yummy.  The only downside to traditional s’mores is that you have to toast them over an open fire.  Living in the suburbs, I’m out of luck!  I was so excited to find this delicious recipe.  This would be a wonderful Super Bowl or Valentines Day addition to your menu.  Enjoy! xoxox

 

Dessert for Two Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup chocolate chips
8 large marshmallows
graham crackers for dipping
Instruction

Preheat the oven to 450.

In a cast iron skillet, add the chocolate chips. Snip the large marshmallows in half and top the chocolate chips with them. (You could also use a scoop of mini marshmallows alternatively.)
Once the oven is up to temperature, add the skillet to the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the marshmallows turn golden brown.
Serve with graham crackers for scooping.

 

Pimento Cheese Please!

Pimento Cheese Please!

I love pimento cheese.  When I was in Charleston this summer they eat pimento cheese on everything!  Filet with pimento cheese, pimento cheese fritters, pimento cheese biscuits, you name it.  You can buy pimento cheese at the grocery, but you know it’s not very good.  And you know it’s not good for you just by looking at the color!

Pimento cheese dip would be a great addition to your Super Bowl menu.  Serve it with some carrots and celery and that way you can trick everybody into thinking it’s healthy.  xoxo


 

Ingredients
Sixty Second Pimento Cheese:
2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos (drained)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt to taste
To Serve:
assorted crackers
radishes (halved)
celery (cut into 3-inch pieces)
cucumbers (sliced)

Directions
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, cream cheese, pimentos, cayenne and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a decorative bowl.
Serve the pimento cheese alongside assorted crackers, radishes, celery, and cucumbers.
Tip: Spread this pimento cheese between 2 slices of bread and grill for a zesty grilled cheese sandwich!

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Simple Yummy Spaghetti

Simple Yummy Spaghetti

Nothing is better than a lovely plate of yummy pasta on a super cold day.  This is such a simple, elegant recipe to wow everybody you know.  Even though Mario Batali isn’t on The Chew anymore, his recipe lives on. Grab your red hot chili flakes and let’s get cooking! xoxox

| Servings: 6 | easy | 1 to 30 min

Mario Batali’s Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 pounds Spaghetti
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic cloves (sliced thinly)
1 tablespoon Red Chili Flakes
3/4 cup Pickled Cherry Peppers
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
Bread Crumbs

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season generously with salt. Cook the pasta for one minute less than the package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, add about 1/3 cup of olive oil. Add the garlic, chili flakes and pickled peppers. Add a tablespoon of pasta water to ensure the garlic doesn’t brown. Cook gently until the garlic softens, about 8 minutes.
Remove the pasta from the water and transfer to the pan. Toss to coat and add a ladle full of reserved pasta water.

Drizzle with a healthy amount of olive oil and toss in the chopped parsley. Toss to coat and emulsify the sauce. Serve in bowls and top with bread crumbs.