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!

Georgia on My Mind

Georgia on My Mind

Recently my parents and I went to Atlanta for some business.  We love Atlanta.  It’s only a 6-hour drive and it’s a major city.  The people are nice and the dining and shopping are great!  I’ll tell you about some more Atlanta adventures next week.  Stay tuned!

One of my favorite things to do on way back is to stop at a little road side stand and get some peaches.  Nothing is better than Georgia peaches!  I prefer them to South Carolina peaches.  Georgia peaches are sweet and delicious.

I was looking for some creative ways to use my peaches.  I found a great recipe!  You’re going to love this one.  Be sure to pick up some ice cream, angel food cake or pound cake.  Top these items off with these peaches and you have a world class dessert that is easy and delicious!

Fireball Peaches:

  • Fresh Peaches (I used three) sliced
  • Fireball (use to your taste)
  • Sugar and Cinnamon mix (I used 1/2 cup sugar and at least a tablespoon of cinnamon)

 

Fireball Peaches

Put the peaches in the bowl and pour the Fireball into the fruit.  Do it to taste, but I think I used about 1/2 cup.  Place mix in a ziplock bag and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Please be aware that because the alcohol isn’t cooked out the Fireball will still contain alcohol.  This dessert isn’t appropriate for kids.

Georgia Peaches

Take the peaches out and pour the sugar/cinnamon mixture in the bag.  Shake to coat.  Spoon mixture out and ENJOY! xoxo

Daily Scoop

Daily Scoop

Summertime is a great time to break out that ice cream maker that you have.  You know the one that is sitting in your garage that you never use?!

Maybe you don’t use it because you don’t really know how or that you think it’s going to be difficult.  I think the hardest thing about the electric ice cream maker that I have is that I have to find room in the freezer to freeze the cannister!

On several occasions I have made champagne sorbet and it’s really easy and so fancy.  It’s so good, and you know exactly what the ingredients are in the sorbet.  I found this recipe in Food and Wine that you might want to try.  It only has two ingredients!  A perfect treat for summer!

4 pounds fresh strawberries (about 16 cups), hulled and quartered 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

How to Make It

Step 1
Using a potato masher, mash strawberries in a large bowl until mostly pureed (there will still be small chunks of pulverized berries) to yield about 6 cups strawberry puree. Stir sugar into berry puree. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

Step 2
Pour half of the chilled strawberry mixture into the freezer bowl of a 1 1/2-quart electric ice cream maker, and proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 3
Transfer sorbet to a freezer-safe container; press a sheet of parchment paper directly on surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Place in freezer. Repeat procedure with remaining chilled strawberry mixture. Freeze sorbet at least 8 hours or overnight.

Photo and recipe from Food and Wine

Talk Derby To Me

Talk Derby To Me

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Photo by Elissa Wiehn

Derby is coming!  It’s my favorite time of the year in Kentucky.  Everything is so festive and fun.  Even the weather is going to cooperate.  So this week all Bubbly Horse posts will be Derby related.

Let’s talk mint juleps.  Not the juleps that you buy at the track, they aren’t very good.  Let’s face it, you can’t have a good craft cocktail when you are preparing for the masses!

The key is the simple syrup.  It’s soooo easy to make and you can keep it in your fridge for several weeks.  All it is sugar and fresh mint leaves boiled down into a syrup.  It makes the drink so much better than when you use the mix.  You’ll see!

If you don’t have julep cups then use a regular glass.  I had a mint julep served in a Moscow mule cup the other day which was really good.  Just be creative and have fun! xoxo

Yield: Makes 1 drink
Ingredients
1  ounce minted simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon (I would use a quality bourbon versus a cooking bourbon)
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish

Preparation

Add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water (or not). Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.

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.

Bubbly Baking

Bubbly Baking

I came across the greatest recipe the other day!  I set my DRV to tape The Chew each day.  It’s not as good as when Mario Batali was a host, but I still really like it.  Clinton Kelly is awesome and always has something fun to contribute.  So when I saw this the other day and was so excited.  This will make the perfect birthday cake for me later this month! xoxo

Champagne Cake
Clinton Kelly

| Servings: 6 – 8 | easy | 45 to 60 min

Ingredients
Champagne Cake:
3 egg whites
1 and 1/3 cup cups champagne
1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Champagne Buttercream Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons champagne

To Assemble:
silver dragees (to garnish)

Directions
For the Champagne Cake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease, two, 9-inch round cake pans with butter, line with parchment paper and dust with flour, tapping excess out.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add egg whites, champagne, cake mix, and oil. Mix on medium speed until fully combined, about 1-2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Transfer to oven and bake for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, trim the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife to make flat and even.

For the Champagne Buttercream Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add butter and whip on medium speed, until smooth. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar to the butter and increase speed to high. Add vanilla and champagne and mix until fully incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

To Assemble: Place one of the cake rounds onto a cake stand or serving platter. Top with a layer of the champagne frosting, spreading evenly across the top and around the sides. Use the remaining frosting to ice the entire cake.

SPANX

Mighty Meatballs

Mighty Meatballs

Who doesn’t like spaghetti and meatballs?  The meatballs listed below are a little less traditional than the standard meatball that you may be used to.  By using chicken instead of  veal and sausage you can make the meatballs a lot healthier and still have delicious food.  Try them out and see for yourself.  Ciao bella!  xoxo

Step 1

In a food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, half of the jalapeño, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped. Add the bread crumbs and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chicken, egg and milk. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 20 meatballs, a scant 1 1/2 tablespoons each. Dust the meatballs lightly with flour, tapping off any excess.

Step 2

Wipe out the food processor and add the remaining garlic clove and jalapeño half; pulse until chopped. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the oregano and process until smooth.

Step 3

In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat, turning, until golden but not quite cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, turning, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

One Serving 290 calories, 10.4 gm total fat, 1.8 gm saturated fat, 16 gm carb.  Photo and recipe by Food and Wine Magazine.

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.

Minty

Minty

Do you grow mint and thyme? Spring is the time where the herbs start poking their little buds out.  I have a mint bed over on the other side of the house that I use quite a bit for recipes.  But, you have to be careful with mint because it will take over your yard!

This recipe from Food and Wine looks like an awesome spring and summer cocktail.  I can see myself on the patio now!  Cheers xoxo

Roof Garden Recipe

Ingredients
15 mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish 2 thyme sprigs 1 ounce Simple Syrup 2 ounces vodka 1 ounce fresh lemon juice Ice 1 to 2 ounces chilled club soda

How to Make It
Step
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the thyme and Simple Syrup. Add the vodka, lemon juice and ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass over ice, top with the club soda and garnish with the mint sprig.

photo by Tina Rupp