Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine for August

 

August 1, 2018 | View PDF



I started writing this article on Friday the 13th. I got stung by a red wasp reaching to shut the dining room door. I reached to grab the door so I could then grab the door knob. I grabbed a red wasp between my index finger and middle finger. It felt like someone was poking a pin in the side of my finger. It looked like it got my three times. My hand swelled up and looked like I was wearing a catcher’s mitt.

Today is Saturday the 14th, which to some people is worse than Friday the 13th. So far though my hand is looking more normal, just itches. I went out and picked a gallon of figs with wasps flying around. It looks like we are going to have a break in the heat. A break in the heat is always welcome. There is the sound of thunder outside and if it rains it will add to the five plus inches of rain we have had since I got stung.

As I have mentioned before, our kitchen is not conducive to canning, because of the lack of adequate cooling and ventilation. But we still have managed to can about 400 jars of plum, fig, pear, chipotle raspberry and strawberry jams, including jars of grape, and apple jelly, and my sister’s favorite, orange marmalade. There will be much more fig and strawberry jam to can and I tasted some cherries with dinner at a friends house and they were delicious and I hope they will can well.

There are five fig trees within a mile from my house. And it seems I am of the few that love figs. I started eating figs when I lived in Turkey. They were dried and strung together with straw in a ring. You could untie the ring and pull a fig off and eat it or like I did just eat it off the ring. Dried figs are super sweet, much more than fresh figs. You have sweetness that overwhelms the flavor of the fig, but to a 12 year old, they were heavenly. Now I keep some fresh figs in the refrigerator when available and I grab a few as I walk past. And when I am working outside in the yard, I will find a few plump figs on the tree and pick myself a tasty treat. But fresh figs are not super sweet.

I found a recipe to take my fresh figs and turn them into fresh sweet appetizers or a wonderful snack. The recipe comes from http://www.melaniecooks.com. She calls it a side dish; I call it my new snack and breakfast topping.

ROASTED FIGS

Ingredients

12 fresh figs

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

1. Place oven rack in the top most position in the oven.

2. Preheat oven to broil.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

4. Cut the figs lengthwise.

5. Put the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and mix to combine.

6. Dip each fig half in the cinnamon sugar mixture on both sides, then

put on the baking sheet, cut side up.

7. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven

8. Broil for 4 minutes or until the cinnamon sugar starts to bubble and caramelize.

Let cool slightly as to prevent from developing second degree burns on the roof of your mouth.

Serves 4

Now, I figure that the figs will be a perfect addition to your breakfast. It has been said, over and over again, fresh fruit for breakfast is good for you. So what will go with the fresh fruit? A topping of Roasted Figs on your French toast will be a perfect breakfast.

But you look in your refrigerator and you are out of milk. Oh what to do? If it is anything like our house there may not be any milk but there is always ice cream. Milk goes bad but ice cream freezes and hides in the freezer for months; at least in my house. My wife buys vanilla ice cream for a dessert we will bring to Supper Club or the grand-kids are coming for the weekend. Since I like every flavor of ice cream except vanilla there will always be a half gallon carton of vanilla ice cream in the freezer. Since the grandkids will be here for a weekend, there will also be leftover bread in the freezer. You now have the makings of an easy breakfast.

I don’t know how I came upon this recipe or how I came upon things to do with leftover ice cream. But I found scores of recipes that call for different flavors of ice cream to be used in pound cakes, cupcakes, icing, milkshakes, skillet cookie sundae, deep fried chocolate bar, floats, waffles, funnel cakes and the surprise ice cream tacos. So here is the other part of your breakfast. This recipe comes from a blog Two Peas & Their Pod.

ICE CREAM FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla ice cream melted

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 pieces Texas Toast of your favorite bread, just not pumpernickel or rye.

Instructions

1. Preheat griddle (350 should do it)

2. In a shallow baking dish or pie plate, combine the melted ice

cream, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until blended. Dip both

sides of each slice of bread into the mixture, allowing the bread to

soak up some of the mixture.

3. Spray the hot griddle with cooking spray. And place the bread on

griddle until golden brown on side and somewhat crispy, 3-4

minutes should do it. Flip and do same on other side.

4. Serve hot and if desired add toppings; Butter, Maple syrup, berries

and DO NOT forget the Figs.

Serves 4-6

I buy lean beef hamburger meat and mix it with ground pork sausage to make patties for hamburgers and breakfast sandwiches to take to work. If I mix the pork sausage with the hamburger, I can use it for either meal. And as usual I spice it up enough that it goes with either breakfast or lunch or dinner. I don’t blend the meats for a healthier patty but for a tastier patty. I saw an article about a hamburger blend that is being used in restaurants and even in fast food chains.

But instead of mixing sausage with the hamburger, they are mixing ground mushrooms into the beef. There are several takeaways form this; by replacing beef with mushrooms, the fat content of the patty is reduced, and fiber is increased, helping fast food chains and restaurants claim they are serving healthier meals. To make a home blended meat add about a third of a cup of ground button mushrooms to ¾ of a pound of ground beef. If you are one that is concerned about the beef industry’s impact on the environment, a study by the World Resources Institute claims that if 30% of the beef in every hamburger in the United States was replaced with mushrooms, it would have the same affect as removing 2.3 million cars for the roads. Although, when you top your “healthier blended patty” with bacon, cheese and mayonnaise, your healthier item just got run over.

If you want to try an entree with a blended ground meat or a spiced ground beef, this next one has a lot going for it. Peppers, sherry, raisins, green chilies, cinnamon, and stuffed olives.This also gives you a chance to work with mild peppers. They may lack the heat but have distinct tastes. This is a recipe that I can adjust the type of peppers I use according to the amount of heat I want in the dish. I can add chopped jalapenos to the Hatch chilies in the stuffing and even using jalapenos stuffed olives, or a ground habanero for fun.

POBLANOS STUFFED WITH SPICED GROUND MEAT

Ingredients

NOTE: If you are using blended ground meat, the mushrooms will

release water when cooked, and the canned tomatoes are packed in juice. The stuffing for the poblanos should not run out of the peppers and the tomato sauce should be a

little thinner than ketchup.

6 large poblano chilies

Cooking oil, for frying

1/2 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 (4-ounce) can (Hatch) green chilies, peeled, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup water (if using a mushroom/ground beef mix; reduce to amount of water. Mushrooms will release water while cooking)

1 onion, chopped fine

5 ounces pimiento-stuffed olives (about 1 cup), sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Light Tomato Sauce

Two 28 ounce cans of peeled plum tomatoes

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 onion, chopped fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch sugar, if needed

1. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the lard until very hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and, if the sauce seems too acidic, add the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool

2. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and purée

Serves 6

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

James Dent

There is no “we” in food.

 

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