Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine for September

 

September 1, 2017 | View PDF



Oh, the month of September!

This month always keeps you guessing about the weather. Is it going to cool off a bit or just be another extension of summer? Since this has been a Bi-Polar summer, your guess is as good as anyone else’s is. Just last month I had high hopes that I was going to put up jars of figs and peaches from my garden. The strange summer could be the cause for my gardens lack of produce.

My fruit trees did not produce as hoped. No peaches, which I heard was because we did not have the correct number of cold days this winter, or something like that. I am also disappointed with my fig crop. There were few and small. The blue jays were even upset! The apples looked like walnuts and very few at that. One of the bright spots in the yard was the beehive. We just took another 2 gallons from it and the honey had a smooth taste and good color.

The other producers in the garden are my peppers. I am still picking Carolina Reapers and Ghost Peppers, up to over a 200 peppers so far and the bushes are looking good. My wife, Anne, and I said we were not going to do a lot of canning this summer. With the water baths for sterilizing the jars and for the canning, our kitchen turns into a sauna. The heat overwhelms the air conditioner in the sunroom. There is a bright side; since there was not any fruit to can, our power bill was a tad lower. We cannot cool or heat our house very well, but to keep the house warm we will do all of our canning this winter. Canning and keeping the house warm, two pluses! It had better be a cold winter!

Since summer does not officially end until the 22nd of this month, you do not have much time left to get all of your summer cooking in. In addition, you still need to hone your skills on the grill.

Remember that football is back! So start this season out by trying something new to grill besides the usual pork, beef, and chicken. Try some grilled fish, and since this fish is raised just an hour drive west of here, try catfish. The catfish raised here, at the Miller Catfish Farm, in Greensboro, Alabama, is an example some of the best catfish around. You need to get on-line and visit USCATFISH.COM for more information about the catfish that is raised in the USA. The catfish raised here is grain-fed (soy, wheat, corn) hence the name AT ITS BEST GRILLED CATFISH. This recipe has the catfish fillets threaded on skewers to simplify the grilling; it cooks faster, less chance of fish sticking to grill and falling through the grill. Serving is the easiest; the fish stays on the skewer from grill to plate.

AT ITS BEST GRILLED CATFISH

INGREDIENTS

Two teaspoons grated lemon rind

½-teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

¼-teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Two (4-ounce) US farm raised catfish fillets

Vegetable cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Combine first four ingredients and rub mixture on both sides of the fillets. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Cut each fillet lengthwise into two strips. Thread evenly onto four (eight-inch) skewers.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray and place on grill over medium-hot coals. Place fish on rack and cook for about 6 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with a vegetable side or make a delicious grilled catfish taco, with a jicama slaw.

Danny, from the Miller Catfish Farm suggested marinating the catfish in a mixture of Dale’s, lemon juice and melted butter. I have not tried this yet, but if you do, let me know what you think or even call Danny at the Miller Catfish Farm in Greensboro, he will love to talk to you.

There are as many vegetable recipes as there vegetables that are available for this time of year. Since we are going to hone our skills on the grill with the catfish, why not keep the grill going and prepare a vegetable side dish on the same grill. Another plus for this recipe is you can use your 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Yield: two servings

This also a test on your multi-tasking skills.

FRESH GEORGIA PEACH COBBLER

INGREDIENTS

1-cup flour

2 Tbs. sugar

1 1/2 tsps. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 tablespoons butter

One egg, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

¾-cup sugar

2-tablespoons flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-tablespoon lemon juice

2-tablespoon butter

¼-teaspoon salt

7 cups sliced peeled fresh

peaches (or if need-be, 2 20

ounce bags of frozen sliced

peaches, thawed and drained)

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in the 4 Tbsp. butter with a pastry blender till mixture is crumbly.

Stir the milk into beaten egg and add to flour mixture until just moistened, 8-10 strokes. Do not overmix batter. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. butter and a cup of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.

Then stir in peaches. Continue cooking approximately 5 minutes.

Pour saucepan mixture into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Spoon the flour mixture on top in 6-7 dollops.

Bake on 400F grill until topping is golden brown and done inside. Maybe 25-30 minutes. Since the peach mixture is cooked before putting in the skillet, the timing may be shorter. Use the dollops on top as your judge. Serve hot with ice cream.

SOUTHERN RATATOUILLE

A Southern version of a healthy, classic French summer dish. The bacon and fried egg provides richness and protein. This can be made indoors on a stove, but the smoke from the grill will add some depth of flavor to this dish.

INGREDIENTS

2 slices thick cut bacon

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive

oil, divided

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 zucchini or similar squash,

cubed

6 whole small tender okra,

sliced ¼ inch thick

2 whole large, ripe, heirloom

tomatoes, quartered

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

4 leaves basil, sliced thin, plus

more for garnish

2 sprigs of thyme, use just the

stripped leaves

4 whole eggs

1⁄2 cups parmesan cheese savings

4 slices French bread, toasted for dipping

DIRECTIONS

In a medium skillet or 10-inch cast iron over medium high heat, cook bacon; drain on paper towels. Once cooled, loosely chop the bacon.

To the same skillet, add 1-tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and sautéed garlic over medium heat, until fragrant and translucent.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the eggplant.

Once eggplant starts to soften, add zucchini or squash, then okra.

Sauté the vegetables for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the vegetables are cooked but still tender, add bacon, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, basil, and thyme.

Turn heat up to let tomatoes melt and form a thin sauce.

Cook for a few minutes until sauce has reduced a bit.

Set ratatouille aside.

Fry eggs, preferably over easy and in some bacon fat or butter.

Divide ratatouille between large plates. Top each with the fried egg and garnish with Parmesan shavings and fresh basil.

Serve with sliced French bread.

The last part of honing your grilling and multi-tasking skills is to make a dessert for this meal. Use a cast iron skillet for this if available.

I am adding another recipe for a grilled salad. I know that this may be too many grilled items for a meal. You can always save this for another time when your entire meal is cooked indoors and add this as a change of pace.

GRILLED ROMAINE with BLUE CHEESE-BACON VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

¾ cup chopped red onion

½ pound bacon, chopped

½-cup balsamic vinegar

Three heads romaine lettuce halved lengthwise.

COSTCO sells a baby romaine that is just the right size.

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Freshly cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat grill to high. Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Add onion and bacon, cook until bacon is crispy.

Add vinegar and one-tablespoon olive oil and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and set aside. Brush cut side of romaine with the two remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Place cut side down on the grill and quickly sear.

Serve lettuce cut side up, drizzle with balsamic dressing, sprinkled with blue cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

With the Catfish, the Ratatouille, the Cobbler, and the Grilled Romaine, you have helped promote the Catfish industry in the USA, and helped local produce providers. You have also prepared ingredients in a different way than they are usually served.

Yield: six.

Think outside the box!

 

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