The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine for January

Occasionally, there are programs on the television that are well worth viewing. The series CHEF TABLE on NETFLIX is one of them. I randomly watch some of the shows on RECIPE TV. They feature restaurants and foods from around the world. I was surfing through the channels and found the series by John Edge called TRUE SOUTH. According to Garden & Gun website, “the show is about the intertwining of food and culture in the South.” It is on the SEC Network. “Food and football”, that is the story of the South. Two Alabama restaurants featured in one episode are BRIGHT STAR in Bessemer and Johnny’s in Homewood. This is a must see series to further learn about the people and food that accurately describes the South.

This past month was a time for partying and eating. Instead of a full meal for a supper club, we decided to have an appetizer potluck. Everyone coming would tell what type of appetizer they would bring, so there would not be five cheese balls and four platters of sliced cheese and crackers. I made an appetizer that proved to be a hit at our party and is a popular topic on PINTEREST. You can find many variations to suit different tastes. The next one I make will be the baked cream, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese with bacon and jalapeno variation.

Stuffed Baguette

Stuffed Baguette


14-inch baguette

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

4 oz. goat cheese

1 large clove of garlic, minced

½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (1 medium sized pepper)

½ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (pat up some of the oil with a paper towel)

1/1/4 cup finely chopped Kalamata olives

2 oz. finely chopped spicy salami

About two tablespoons minced parsley

About 1 tsp minced fresh thyme

Freshly ground pepper

Salt to taste (be careful, there is plenty of salt in some of the ingredients)


Some recipes call for stuffing the entire baguette. I found the cutting the baguette in half makes for easier stuffing. If you decide to feed a large crowd, buy longer baguettes and cut them down to a more manageable size. I would buy a 24-inch baguette, cut the ends off, and then cut it into four pieces. This also made it easier to hollow out the baguette. Using a long thin bladed knife, working from both ends, hollow out the soft bread and leave about a ½ inch crust all the way around.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Beat in the goat cheese and garlic.

Using a large spoon, mix in the rest of the ingredients, saving the sun dried tomatoes and red bell pepper for last, so not to crush the pepper and spread the oil from the tomatoes too much, and turn the mixture red.

Working from one end, fill the baguette with the mixture. Pack it tight. I used a wooden cocktail muddler that was about ¾ of an inch across. If you pack from both ends, you may leave a void in the middle. Wrap the baguettes tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. Right before serving, remove wrap and using a sharp knife slice the baguette into ½-inch thick slices. I used a sharp bread knife and sawed through the crust instead of pushing hard on the crust. HINT: If you want to make more than 24 slices, make to recipe twice, it is hard to mix well if you just double everything.

Makes one 12-inch long baguette; about 24 slices

We get in a rut way to easily when we are cooking. We fall back to the same familiar recipes that we know and we know that our friends and family will eat the dish. I have said before, try a new recipe, shake up things a little, and keep everyone guessing. Do not make the “every vegetable in the refrigerator on lettuce” salad. Make a salad that you have to go to the store and actually, buy needed ingredients. Make a salad that has as many steps and as many ingredients that you would find for a main dish. This recipe came from a collection of recipes my sister cut out from various sources. It is variation of a popular Spinach Salad and I like to serve it for special occasions. There are steps in the recipe that you can skip by buying the ingredient already prepped but the first time you make this salad, do it completely like the recipe. You will taste a difference and you will feel better about yourself for doing the extra prep. There are only nine ingredients for the dressing and five for the salad.

Spinach Salad


For the dressing:

Three garlic cloves

Four slices bacon

½-cup mayonnaise

½-cup sour cream

½-cup buttermilk

½-tablespoon dry ranch salad dressing

½-tablespoon lemon juice

½-tablespoon cider vinegar

½-teaspoon ground pepper

For the salad:

4 cups baby spinach leaves

¼ cup shredded red cabbage

2 oranges peeled and sliced

½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Red onion rings for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Pierce each garlic clove with the tip of s sharp knife. Place the garlic cloves in a small baking dish. Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.

2. Cool. Using a fork, remove the garlic pulp from the skin and mash pulp. Discard skins and set garlic aside.

3. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon, reserving a tablespoon of drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, and

buttermilk until smooth.

5. Whisk in the garlic, salad dressing mix, reserved bacon drippings, lemon juice, vinegar, and black pepper. Whisk well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

To assemble salad:

Line serving platter with spinach and red cabbage. Arrange orange slices and mushroom slices on spinach mixture. Garnish with red onion rings and crumbled bacon. Serve with dressing in a decanter on the side.

Note: Roasted garlic is available in a jar, but it does not have the depth of flavor as roasting the garlic yourself. If you use garlic frequently, purchase a whole head of garlic and roast it. You can squeeze the garlic right out of the skins and use it for other dishes.

I found an article on the internet that caught my eye with the title; 13 Foods Never To Put In A Slow Cooker. I would not be surprised if people did try to cook these in a slow cooker, but common knowledge of time and temperature rules should stop them. Green veggies, fresh herbs, pasta, beans, and rice will become mush if cooked for an extended amount of time. So would seafood, couscous, and bacon. As for alcohol, it will not cook out and your food will taste like cheap booze, your dairy will curdle and you cannot cook eggs overnight and expect hardboiled eggs. That leaves, frozen food, and skinless boneless chicken breasts. Frozen food will lower the temperature of the cooker and throw off the cooking time. The meat could be in the temperature danger zone for too long and cause problems. The meat and the chicken cooked slow, for a long period will become stringy, and dried out. Remember the name of the appliance is Slow Cooker. Some foods do not hold up to long low temperature cooking.


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