Monday, December 6, 2010

Recipe: Sweet Potato Biscuits with Cranberry Butter

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I've been chasing the Sweet Potato Biscuit for years, and this is by far the best one I've tried. This is probably because it's not a biscuit at all--it's a quickbread, or a Muffin Method bread in Alton Brown's taxonomy. The large amount of baking powder is necessary to lift the heavy dough. You don't want to stir the sweet potatoes into the dough too well--you want little bits sticking out. The cranberry butter is great with them, but my favorite topping is just plain honey.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

(adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose)

1 cup mashed sweet potato

2/3 cup milk

1/2 stick butter, melted

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 450 and line a sheet pan with parchment. Mix the potatoes, milk, butter, and sugar in one bowl. In another, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the wet team to the dry team and stir until combined. Using a #40 disher or a couple of spoons, lay the dough out in pieces a little bigger than a golf ball on the parchment. Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching closely for burning on the bottom. Serve hot, and in the unlikely event there are any left, store them in a Ziploc in the fridge and heat in the toaster oven as needed.

Cranberry Butter

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce

1 tbsp honey

Stir together. Serve alongside biscuits.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Support WMMT-FM and What's Cookin' Now!

It was about a year and a half ago when Tricia and Jenny and I started kicking around the idea of joining forces and reviving What's Cookin' Now!, WMMT's off-and-on live radio cooking show.  We had done it before separately, and we learned how hard it is to fill an hour of radio by ones' self.  But the three of us together? We'd be unstoppable!

Sixteen shows later, I think we were right.

Unlike a lot of the food media out there, we weren't created in a focus group.  We're not trying to appeal to a demographic or sell you anything.  We're just a trio of bigmouthed foodies who think there is no greater joy than creating real food with real people and for real people.

And that's what I love about WMMT--it's Real People Radio.  Its programmers are real people who want to share their record collection, or their observations about the community, or their innuendo-laden kitchen ramblings with you. In a world where so much media feels like marketing, WMMT is everything that radio should be.

WMMT's Fall Fund Drive is going on now. We don't have a show during the fund drive, but you can call (606) 633-1208, (888) 396-1208, or go to anytime to donate whatever you can to keep Real People Radio and shows like What's Cookin' Now! on the air.

Thanks! And keep on cookin'!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thai Food Birthday Extravaganza

Today we had a family gathering to celebrate the kids birthdays. Ashley and Zach will be 21 on Oct. 20 and Crystal will be 23 on Nov. 3. Everyone, of course, requested Thai food. I thought I'd share another Thai recipe and a few pics...
Made homemade Thai Eggrolls, Toy's Chicken PotPic, boneless as requested by Zach

and Fried Beef as requested by Ashley and Crystal.

The rice on the left is sticky or glutinious rice and goes with the fried beef. On the right is jasmine rice for the pot pic.
My Birthday Babies ~ Zach, Crystal and Ashley

Grandma Toy's Pot Pic

2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
8 – 10 cloves garlic, peeled 10 -15 Thai peppers
1 tsp. chicken/onion/garlic spice mix* 2 Tbs. oil
1 can bamboo shoots 1 Tbs. fish sauce
1 Tbs. Sugar

Add ginger, garlic, peppers, ginger and spice mix to a food processor and combine until smooth, adding a little water to make a paste. Add mix to medium size cooker and cook on medium high till water is evaporated. Add 2 Tbs. oil and cook a minute. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cook on medium till chicken is no longer pink. Add bamboo shoots, fish sauce and sugar. Serve with hot jasmine rice.

* The chicken/onion/garlic spice mix is available at Asian markets. All the words on the package are in Thai so I call it chicken/onion garlic spice mix. Could substitute by using equal parts chicken buillion, onion powder and granulated garlic.

PS. I almost forgot to say thanks to Jenny and Jonathan for always talking about the deliciousness that is pan sludge. Today, the best part of my whole meal was the pan goo from the Fried Beef. omg.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recipe: Polenta Arrabiata

Easy for camping. Even easier at home on a lazy hungry night. I can be eating this in about 20 minutes.

Polenta Arrabiata

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large can roasted diced tomatoes
cayenne pepper flakes
salt and pepper
fresh basil, chopped (any fresh herb really)

1 tube polenta
1 Tbs. olive oil (I used a garlic chili oil)

In a medium saucepan or cooker, add olive oil and heat to medium. Add onion and sautee for a couple minutes. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add tomatoes and stir. Cook until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped fresh herbs and remove from heat.

While sauce is cooking, slice polenta into 1/2" thick rounds. Add oil to a cast iron or other nonstick skillet and pan fry polenta rounds over medium heat until crispy and brown.

Pour the spicy sauce over crispy polenta and enjoy!

Recipe: Greek Melt

Mmmmmmmm Cheesy! Fast and easy. Who could ask for more?!

Greek Melt

2 Tbs. butter
1/2 lb. Muenster cheese, chopped or sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lemon
Warm crusty bread

In a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add cheese and garlic evenly around pan and heat until the cheese begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve in the skillet with warm crusty bread.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WCN! This Wednesday ~ Campfire Cuisine

Tune in to 88.7 WMMT at 6pm on Wednesday September 1st
for the world's only live radio cooking show (that we know of) What's Cookin Now!

This months show finds Jenny, Jonathan and Tricia exploring the wide world of Campfire Cuisine. You will be amazed at the delicious delicacies and tasty tidbits that can be created over burning wood. Camping doesn't have to mean your stuck eating beanie weenies. potted meat and cheetos. Join 3 geeky campicureans for camp cooking tips, witty commentary, sexual innuendo and as always, yummy food.

Tricia will show us how to make an easy cheesy garlicy appetizer on the fire. Follow that up with some pan fried polenta and spicy arriabata sauce. What are Jenny and Jonathan cooking!??! Well, you'll just have to tune in to find out! Don't miss this hour full of fun and deliciousness.

Be sure to friend us on facebook. And if you like what you hear on WMMT, make a donation to support public community radio.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

that's right Saturday night.

Today was a day for nesting. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry and more cooking. I've been thinking alot lately about Grandma Toy's Thai Eggrolls.
If you are one of the 5 people who regularly listen to What's Cookin' Now! then you already know but just in case... Grandma Toy is my husband's ex-wife/baby momma's mom and is from Bangkok, Thailand. She is a wonderful cook and gracious hostess. She invited me into her kitchen and taught me a few of her classic recipes.
I must admit that I change the eggroll recipe a little. I add carrot because I think it makes them prettier.They are more a fried springroll than an eggroll but she calls them eggrolls so I call them eggrolls too. Who am I to argue with her about Thai food names!??! Anyway, I haven't made them in forever because it takes a while when your kitchen helpers are away at college. But I was craving them... Soooo, I cooked a pound of ground beef and boiled 1/2 pound of shrimp. Chopped onion, celery, green onion and cilantro, shredded carrots, soaked and chopped bean thread, added some seasonings and got Sam to mix it all up. I ended up rolling 27 eggrolls.
Fried a few because you have to test to make sure they are good! We ate 6. Yes, 3 each for dinner and put the rest in the freezer for future easy deliciousness.
The dipping sauce is made of pancake syrup, white vinegar, sweet chili sauce and salt. Weird huh? But soooo tasty.

Then, I needed to use up a bunch of tomatoes that my nice co-worker Kasey gave me so I decided to make a from scratch spaghetti sauce. Blanched, peeled and tossed those ^ tomatoes (2nd batch was a ton of tiny tomatoes) into a pot with a little water and a little salt and put it on medium heat. A couple hours went by, stirring sometimes and adding water if needed. The more it cooked, the more seeds came out. seeds, seeds, seeds. They were everywhere. It was waay too seedy to make spaghetti sauce so I decided to try a blended tomato basil soup. Sauteed some garlic and onion in a little olive oil till it was soft, picked some basil off the back porch, chopped it up, added everything to the tomatoes and pureed the whole mess with my immersion blender.
If you don't have an immersion blender, buy one. They are affordable, handy, easy to clean and kinda fun to use. The soup turned out great. It needed a little salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne to be perfect. And then I succumbed to the power of cheese. I added a little fresh grated Parmesan and let that melt in. It was so much more perfect-er. I'm going to take it and some good bread to share share with my sisters in the ville for lunch tomorrow. Jenny has her fancy tasting spoon and this is mine. Handmade by Appalachian Artisan Center Studio Artist Michael Holliday.
See you on the radio! Next show Campfire Cuisine. It's gonna be hot! Don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bacon! (Part the First)

I've done some pretty good things in my life. I've cared for thousands of sick people.  I've entertained all kinds of people with words and music.  I like to think I've been a good husband, a good son, a good friend, and a good citizen.

But if I died tomorrow, I imagine people would say one thing: "He sure made some tasty bacon."

It was only about a year ago that I dove headlong into charcuterie, using Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's excellent book as my guide.  I haven't ventured in as far as I'd like, limited somewhat by materials (and even more by laziness), but I've been floored by how good even first attempts have come out.

As it turns out, the hardest part of making bacon is tracking down fresh pork belly.  But sometimes all you have to do is ask:

This came from Food City right here in Haz Vegas.  I happened to ask the meat guys one morning while I was shopping, and they had just gotten a box of pork bellies in.  They usually sell it sliced, but you want it whole, or at most cut in half.

The pork belly is beautiful meat on one side and pig skin on the other, with that nice big seam of fat in between.  You can take that skin off at this point, and you have to if you're going to do a rolled-up preparation like pancetta.  But for this purpose, you should leave it on--it's much easier to take off after it's done, and a big hunk of cured and smoked pig skin is the best friend a pot of beans ever had.

You should trim the belly into a nice rectangle.  You can toss the trimmings with some basic dry cure (see below) to make salt pork, or save them to add to some sausage later on.  But this belly came nice and trimmed already, so all I had to do was split it in half and throw each chunk in a Big Ass Ziploc.

(Can I say how much I love the Big Ass Ziploc?  They come in two and 2 1/2-gallon sizes, and they're awesome for all kinds of things.  They're especially useful when you're traveling; for instance, you can put your laptop in one inside your laptop bag to keep it dry in a downpour.)

So next we need our cure.  You can add just about any flavor you want, but unsurprisingly, my favorite is garlic and lots of it.

Left to right, we have about nine bay leaves, a tablespoon or so of really coarse cracked pepper (use your grinder wide open, or a heavy skillet and all your aggression), about 18 cloves of garlic smashed up, and about a cup of Basic Dry Cure, which is 8 parts (by weight) kosher salt, 4 parts sugar, and 2 parts "pink salt".

Pink salt is sodium nitrite, often sold as Insta-Cure #1.  It helps preserve the bacon in several ways--it keeps it from going rancid, it preserves its red color with cooking, and it inhibits bacterial growth, especially our friend C. botulinum.  It isn't naturally pink; it's colored that way so you won't mistake it for regular salt.  It's available all over the internet, and a few bucks will buy you more than you'll ever use.

From here the process gets complicated: you mix all this stuff up and rub it all over the pork belly.

Don't worry about covering every square inch; as juice drains from the belly it will dissolve the salt and spread the flavors all over the meat. Just spread it kind of evenly on both sides.

Finally, seal up the bags and stash them in the fridge as flat as possible.

These will live in their bags in the fridge for 7-10 days, or until they're pretty firm in the middle. Every other day you'll want to flip the bags over and redistribute the cure all over the meat.  (I like to put a schedule up on the fridge for doing this, so I don't forget.)  And that's when we'll move on to Part II--when the meat hits the smoke.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Green Tomato Pickles

Every summer I fall in love. As I work to take advantage of the bounty of summer produce, I stumble on a recipe that I can't stop thinking about and talking about, a recipe that I want to run home and make again night after night.  Last summer it was dried tomatoes, and more specifically dried tomato butter, especially with a little bit of garlic and some aleppo pepper. I think this summer's winner might be green tomato pickles.

I was looking around for a quick pickle to do for this past weekend's Supper Club, and I stumbled on this recipe in Food and Wine from the Lee Brothers. (SAT time: Lee Bros. : Paula Deen :: Chuck D. : Flavor Flav.)  Green tomatoes suck up the brine so well that people couldn't believe these had only been made earlier in the afternoon.  My only quibble with Matt and Ted was that I felt they needed more sugar, but this is probably because my tomatoes were especially tart.

If you have a mandoline, it's just insane how quick and easy this recipe is.  As long as I have a source of green tomatoes, I'll definitely have a batch of these in my fridge.

Green Tomato Pickles
from Matt and Ted Lee

3 small, green (unripe) tomatoes (12 ounces), cored
1 medium white onion
1 cup water
1 cup white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar (I upped this a lot--probably two tablespoons)

Using a mandoline, very thinly slice the green tomatoes and white onion. Layer the slices in a heatproof 4-cup measuring cup. In a small saucepan, combine the water with the vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes and onion and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, then drain and serve.

NOTE: These will keep in the fridge, drained, for about two weeks. Don't try to can these, since the vinegar solution isn't acidic enough for that; if you want to can some (and you should), find a recipe specifically for canning.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recipe: Tomato Tart with Cornmeal Crust

I love tomatoes, and when the first ones come ripe, I want to just eat as many as I can in their pure, unadulterated form--just gulped down, sprinkled with salt, or maybe sliced on white bread with just a little mayo. A BLT, maybe. I eat them for almost every meal, in some form. And when I've satisfied my yen for just plain tomatoes, I start cooking them. I love fresh tomato sauces for pizza and pasta. Favorite quick fix: halve tomatoes and put them skin side down on a blazing hot grill. When the skins blister, slip them off of the tomatoes. Chop or puree, mix with roasted garlic and fresh basil, salt and pepper, and eat--on pasta, on pizza, or just scooped up with fresh crusty bread. But this isn't that recipe.

This is a recipe for a tomato tart. Really, it's barely a recipe--more of a preparation. I think I originally got this dish from Linda Blair (my dear friend and colleague, not the actress famous for spitting pea soup and spinning her head around), but lots of people make some version of it. It's a juicy, flavor-filled tart, good hot, cold, or room temperature, a meal on its own, but even better with a grilled steak, charred on the outside and red on the inside, sliced thinly and releasing its juices along with the tomato tart's. Maybe a simple salad dressed with a balsalmic vinaigrette on the side. I used a cornmeal crust, because it's more substantial and has a better texture to soak up the juices of the tomatoes. But you could easily use any crust, or even a store-bought pre-made one, and this would still be great.Cornmeal Crust (you might want to get the real recipe for this from Joy of Cooking if you don't make pie crusts often--after you've made a few, you get a sense of how they should feel and you can wing it. These measurements are approximate at best--I just threw stuff in my food processor until it looked right.) This makes enough for two regular sized pies or one big (11 x7?) tart.
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal (yellow makes it prettier)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 TBS cream cheese, cut into small pieces (freeze it first)
  • 5-6 TBS ice cold beer
First, be sure all these things are chilled--put the bowl and blade of your food processor in the freezer for a while, and make sure everything else is cold too--you can even freeze the butter and cream cheese. The idea is that you want the fats to stay cold and not melt while you mix the crust. That way, the little pieces of fat will melt during baking, creating little pockets and making your crust tender and flaky.

Toss the cornmeal, flour, and salt in the bowl of your food processor and whir it a few times to combine (we do love the verb "to whir" at WCN!). Add the small pieces of cold butter and cream cheese and pulse until the mixture looks like small crumbs. If you squeeze a handful together, it should hold. Again, when you've made a few crusts, you'll know how it should look and feel at this point. Humidity, moisture content of the meal and flour--all these things can make a difference, so I think it's better to learn how it should feel and then you can adjust the ratio of fat to flour/meal. Drizzle in the cold beer (I used beer for the first time last night on the show because Jonathan told me that using alcohol retards the formation of gluten, resulting in a tender crust, and I had a cold beer in my hand, and I believe everything Jonathan tells me. About food, anyway...). Add it a tablespoon at a time, while you pulse the processor, until the dough just starts to hold together and form a ball. Gather the dough and press into two disks. Wrap them in plastic and put them in the refrigerator for about a half hour (or up to one day).

When you're ready to make your pie, take the dough out and put it in the center of your pie pan (or a tart pan with a removable bottom). Use the palm of your hand to press the dough into the pan. Try to press it evenly, using the heel of your hand, but don't worry if it's not perfectly even all over. It should be fairly thin but not transparent (you may have too much dough, in which case you should pinch some out, repress the crust, and use the leftover dough to make little black bean and salsa hand pies--just press it into rounds, put a tablespoon of filling in, fold over, and crimp with a fork. Bake on parchment paper so it won't stick). Prick the bottom with a fork and bake in a 375 degree oven until it's just starting to brown around the edges and feels dry to the touch. Fill with whatever you want (besides tomaotes, this is a great crust for just about any savory tart or quiche) and bake until the bottom and sides are brown.

For the Tomato Tart (2 regular pies or one big one)
  • sliced tomatoes, enough to make about two layers in your tart
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly chopped herbs, as much as you want, from a TBS to a quarter cup or so (basil, oregano and parsley are nice. I also like thyme or tarragon--anything that's good with tomatoes)
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar mayonnaise
Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the bottom of the crust in a thin layer--the idea is that the cheese will melt and form a barrier to keep the tomato juice from making the crust too soggy. Slice tomatoes, not too thinly. A mix of colors is prettiest. Layer them over the cheese, salting and peppering as you go (I used porcini mushroom salt for a little added flavor boost, but just regular kosher salt will do) to taste. You want about two layers--more than that, and it tends to get too soggy. Sprinkle the chopped herbs over the tomatoes. Mix the mayo with the remaining cheese and spread it over the top like a delicious white-trash meringue. Bake at 375 degrees until the crust looks done and the topping is nicely browned--about 20 minutes or so. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve. Don't expect this to sit in pretty wedges--this is a loose and juicy tart that wants to spread itself out on your plate to mingle with the other flavors there--the juice from a steak, maybe. If you have any, the leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day--or yummy eaten with a fork standing in front of the open refrigerator door for breakfast. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recipe: Baba Ghannouj

OK, call it Eggplant Dip if you must.  This is another recipe that I eyeballed completely, but the basic recipe comes from Mark Bittman's indispensible How to Cook Everything.  This is usually done in a food processor, but I like the texture to be a little chunky.  You could remove the seeds and/or skins from the eggplants before you mix it up, but you don't have to.

I think it pairs up great with a little touch of feta and some good olives.

Baba Ghannouj

6 small eggplants
Juice of two lemons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped
salt and pepper

Prick eggplants all over with a fork and lay out on a sheet pan.  Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until wrinkly and soft.  Let cool and chop coarsely.  Put in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mash up with a potato masher.  Stir until it's as smooth as you want it.

It's better if you let it sit for a few hours before you eat it.  Serve with plenty of warm pitas.

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli

This recipe came to me from The Amateur Gourmet, who got it from Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa).  I'm not a huge fan of Ina's show--just how many gay florists are there in the Hamptons, anyway?--but her recipes tend to be fantastic.

I generally eyeball this, but it's pretty close to the recipe.  The most important steps are to make sure the broccoli is really good and dry and to not chop the garlic up too finely (and definitely don't press it).  Ina's recipe suggests adding some basil at the end, which I didn't; I usually add a good pinch of red pepper flake, though I didn't tonight.

Roasted Broccoli
3 heads broccoli, cut into spears and thoroughly dried
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 big cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan (the good stuff)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss broccoli spears with garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil, along with garlic, salt, and pepper.  Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until some brown bits are forming on the tips of the florets.  Return to the bowl, add the rest of the oil, the pine nuts, and the Parmesan.  Toss, correct seasonings, and eat.

Recipe: Zucchini Pancakes

This is a recipe that Laura Biggs turned me on to last weekend. It still needed a bit of fine tuning but I think this is it. We had them for breakfast with cheesy scrambled eggs. So good...

From "How Not to Hide Your Vegetables"

Zucchini Pancakes

½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper (cayenne or aleppo, depending on desired spice level)
1/8 tsp. black pepper
½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 ½ cups shredded zucchini (about 1 pound)
½ cup shredded Vidalia onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbs. grated parmesan
2 tsp rosemary (or basil)
Cooking spray

Combine 1st 6 ingredients and stir. Add milk and oil to moisten. (This is where you add a splash of good beer if you happen to have one in your hand. Not too much though!) Add zucchini and next 4 ingredients. Heat a nonstick griddle until hot and add heaping tablespoons, spreading each into a 2 inch round. Fry 3-5 minutes each side until browned.

Recipe: Spicy Carrot Soup

From "How Not to Hide Your Vegetables"

I first had carrot soup at the Atomic Cafe in Lexington many many years ago. And I loved it. Creamy, aromatic, flavorful and a little spicy. They served it with a sweet cornbread. And I would always get some momma's mac-n-cheese on the side. MmmmMmmMmm! Anyway, this was one of the first restaurant dishes that I tried to make at home with no clue where to start. and no internet to cheat with back then either. After several so-so attempts, I finally had a soup that I would eat with a straw. Hope you enjoy!

Carrot Soup

2 ½ cups sliced carrots
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. flour
1 cup cream, ½ & ½ or milk
1 ½ cups broth, chicken or veggie
1 tbs. parsley
1 tbs. basil
1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam carrots until very tender. Combine carrots and ¾ cup of broth in a food processor until smooth and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and seasonings, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add cream and cook until thickened and bubbly. Stir in blended carrot mixture. Add up to ¾ cup of broth as needed to thin. Cook until warmed through.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WCN! August 2010: How Not to Hide Your Vegetables

You've seen those commercials: "This juice has two whole servings of vegetables in every glass! And your kids will never know!" Whole books have been written about hiding vegetables from your kids, and recent versions have been about sneaking them to your husband. Are vegetables really so horrible that we have to trick grown-ass men into eating them?

This week on What's Cookin' Now!, the world's only live radio cooking show (that we know of), we're going to put veggies front and center, and we'll trick our families into eating their vegetables by making them taste good. Broccoli, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers--we'll show you some vegetable dishes that you won't need to hide.

That's Wednesday, August 4, from 6-7PM, on 88.7 WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, KY! Stream it online at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cheerwine Kreme Filled Krispy Kremes

Now, just to be clear, I didn't plan a weekend in Asheville just so I could get my hands on some Cheerwine-filled Krispy Kremes. But I can't say that they had nothing to do with it.  When I heard about this North Carolina-only confluence of NC delicacies, I semi-seriously considered that I could drive the 3 1/2 hours to Asheville and pick some up, and then it occurred to me that I haven't been to Asheville in a while and CrazyCatLady and I were long overdue for a romantic weekend away.  So plans were made and off we went.

Of course, since we were there anyway, we had to look for some.  They were only being sold in grocery stores, and the first trip to the Ingles near our B&B proved unsuccessful.  But as we stopped there on our way out of town to stock up on Cheerwine itself and various New Belgium beers (come on, guys, why can I still not buy Fat Tire in KY?), I stumbled upon a small unassuming table of boxed-up Krispy Kremes in the back corner.  And there they were.

I should back up and explain a little bit.  I'm sure you know what Krispy Kremes are--namely, they are mankind's finest donut and a reason for living, especially if you hit the shop when they're busy and they pull one straight off the conveyor belt for you.  But you may not know that the company originated in Winston-Salem, NC.  Cheerwine is an intensely sweet, intensely carbonated cherry soda based in Salisbury, NC and much beloved throughout ACC country.  So the Cheerwine Kreme Filled Krispy Kreme is a carb-heavy celebration of central NC, a place I called home from 2002-2005.  (Oddly enough, you can now often find Cheerwine in retro-style bottles at Food City here in Hazard.)

The donut is chocolate covered, with sprinkles reflecting Cheerwine's dark burgundy hue.  I was a little concerned about the chocolate--isn't that gilding the lily? Is it going to cover up the Cheerwiny goodness?

On bisection we find a low filling ratio.  I generally don't have a problem with this, since I find most filled donuts to be overly filled and thus overly sweet.  But such a small amount means that the filling really has to deliver.

One problem is that store-bought KKs have to be revived in the microwave before they're worth eating, and barely ten seconds in the 'wave (not quite enough to revive the donut) had the filling running out of the fill hole.  This is a bigger problem if you don't like eating a whole donut at once.

But did it work?  Hells yes, it did.  The filling has a nice punch of Cheerwine flavor, and the chocolate complements it very well.  I don't think I'd buy more of these in the grocery store, but I'd definitely have one in the KK shop--if I happened to be in Salisbury, since it's the only place these will be available after today.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


So it's no secret that I love salt. And I have been blessed with friends who understand how much I love salt. Tonight, as I cooked supper, I realized I have 13 different kinds of salt--8 of them a gift from my dear friend Beth, who lives in a converted whorehouse in Deep Elem in Dallas, TX. And I haven't even called to thank her. For the salt, or for living in an apartment with such a colorful history. Anyway, yesterday, when I made chicken salad, I used the Thai Ginger salt, and it gave it a certain tang.
Tonight I'm cooking turnip greens, and I tossed in some Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt--although I'm not sure I shouldn't have used the Porcini Mushroom Salt. But maybe I can sprinkle some of that on the big, heirloom tomato I snagged at the Farmers Market this morning--and may I take this opportunity to rant about the "farmers" who are selling shit they clearly bought at some wholesale place?
But my guy's tomatoes were clearly his, warty and bumpy and imperfect,and he was as irritated as me at the fotched on produce. Anyway, if I salt the tomatoes now, they'll exude a nice juice that we can sop up, along with the pot liquor from the greens, with the little cornmeal pancakes I made. And I've got some shrimp ready to toss in a boil with some Zatarain's and WCN! favorite esoteric spice, allepo pepper.

Who cares if I bloat up like a beached whale? That's what I'm having for supper tonight.

Postscript: Oh, hell yes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe: the Southern Orleans

The recipe for this cocktail came from a man named Charles Portera, but you'd better not call him that--he's The Diva, baby.  He tends bar at the Court of Two Sisters, right between Bourbon and Royal Street; we met him during an excellent Cocktail Tour, and went back to visit several times during our stay.  You'll definitely know when you've met The Diva; he's prone to exclamations like, "Woo, you see that waiter over there? Honey, if I wasn't married, I'd be all over him like gravy on rice."

This cocktail took the top prize at Tales of the Cocktail, the annual gathering of cocktail nerds in NOLA. (It's going on right now, in fact, and reading the blog posts from down there hurts me.) This feat is even more impressive when you consider that The Diva has never actually tasted the drink--in fact, he hasn't had a drink in fifteen years.

I'm not big on pre-made sour mix, so I replaced it with a mix of about 1/3 fresh lemon juice and 2/3 bar syrup (that is, equal parts sugar and water heated up until it dissolves).  Seemed about right.  Ordinarily you don't put fizzy ingredients in the cocktail shaker, but since the fizz isn't really a factor here, it works.

Southern Orleans

1 oz Southern Comfort
2/3 oz lemon sour mix
2/3 oz Champagne (The Diva specifies Korbel)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1 sugar cube
1 lime wheel

Place the sugar cube in a cocktail (martini) glass.  Put the SoCo, bubbly, and lemon sour mix in your shaker with clean ice, and shake.  (Remember: horizontal, over the shoulder, fifty hard shakes.)

Strain into the glass with the sugar cube.  Pour the grenadine straight down through the middle of the drink.  Do not stir.  Garnish with the lime wedge.  Raise to The Diva.