Saturday, July 5, 2014

Do you need Southern cooking lessons?

Say yes, and you’re in for some temptations by studying Johnnie Gabriel’s latest book, “ How to Cook Like a Southerner: Classic Recipes from the South’s Best Down-Home Cooks.
Gabriel’s bakery and restaurant in Marietta, Ga. Is where you can just show up and enjoy the food, but this book is where she shares her family’s ways.
Along the way pick up four tips for cleaning mushrooms, some ways to enjoy a bounty of zucchini, how a tad of sugar brings out the best in roasted broccoli and a method for cutting corn from the cob. You are saving your bacon grease, right? You know how to make fried green tomatoes?
Southern cooks need to know these things. And by the way, Texas gets some good publicity in this book.
Gabriel is also author of “Second Helpings.”
Many of the recipes are very quick and/or easy to assemble. Here’s one that combines cheese and bacon in a very Southern way:

Hot Pimento Cheese Dip
This goes on sandwiches and is sold by the pound at Gabriel’s:
Three fourths cup mayonnaise
1 pound sugar
 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mild cheddar cheese (grate your own as pre-shredded will change consistency)
1 2-ounce jar diced pimentos, well drained
6 to 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1 to 2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Pita chips for serving
In a medium bowl whisk the mayonnaise and the sugar. Add the cheese and the pimento, combining well.
Preheat the oven broiler on low setting.
Spread the desired amount of pimento cheese one half to 3 fourths of an inch deep onto an ovenproof serving plate. Sprinkle chopped bacon and tomato to taste over the top of the pimento cheese and plae under the broiler until the mixture is hot and beginning to bubble. Serve hot with pita chips.
* Try substituting carmelized nuts for the bacon and tomato

Breaking the rules cooking
Did you get to enjoy the Rotary fish fry? The slaw was good by itself, but I ended up with more little containers than I could eat at once. I minced fresh jalapenos, shredded lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes, then mixed in a container of slaw. It made an new salad that was creamy, with lots of textures, colors and crunch.

July is National Ice Cream Month
Ironicaly,  I’m observing this with DF MAVENS, dairy-free ice cream.
You’d never know that soy, coconut and almond makes this rich, gluten-free and kosher goodness. They may be in New York City, but I’m here to say they got New Orleans Salted Praline just right. Alphonso Mango and Key Lime Crème are other really amazing flavors I’ve tried.
I remember an aunt who topped her ice cream with a little banana. These days I go for a big bowl of healthy fruit with a dab of the frozen stuff on top. This is the best way to make sure your cartons of DF MAVENS last as long as possible. Also, you may want to tuck it in the freezer way behind the spinach so no one else knows it is there.

Coconut and what?
When Carrington Farms sent me two samples of flavored liquid coconut oil, in rosemary and garlic, all I could think about was breakfast for the next two days. I wanted to cook an egg in each flavor and had a tough time deciding which to try first. I won’t even try to decide which was more delicious. I wouldn’t have thought of these combos, but I’m glad Carrington Farms did.
Here’s why makers say coconut oil is trending:
Great for Sautéing - Coconut Oil has a higher smoke point than traditional olive oil
Chock Full of Nutrients - Rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT's) which promote an increased calorie burn
Heart Health Benefits: Can improve cholesterol levels
   Brain Power: Fatty acids found in coconut oil can boost brain function
There’s a spray, too:

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