Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - July

 

Currently, Chef Spooner is tending to family matters, so we are happy to include some previous favorites he submitted to the Gazette. With summer heating up and the recent July Fourth celebrations, consider a light, cool salad for a satisfying meal or, if a salad isn't enough, try Chef Spooner's suggestions below to add some substance to that crisp lettuce ... create one of his other tasty recipes found here!

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From May 2018 Southern Cuisine and Chef Spooner: Salads do not fill me up unless I load them up with everything besides greens. Eggs fill me up but they all taste the same unless you add many other yummy bits. My favorite item to add to salads and eggs is cheese. It fills you up and there are hundreds if not more types of cheese. Food fact: there are over 1800 specialty cheeses from over 70 countries. Just in the United States, the list starts at acappella, a goat milk cheese that has a buttery taste and comes from California, to zwister, a cow's milk cheese that is tangy and semi hard from Utah. These are two of the over 200 |varieties of cheeses in the United States. I counted nine types just in the cheese drawer of my refrigerator.

Cheese adds a variety of tastes and textures to a menu. Moreover, it can be eaten for every meal during the day. Moreover, you will not be surprised to know that cheddar cheese and mozzarella are by far the most popular cheeses in America. Cheddar is typed by its taste, mild, medium, or sharp. In addition, it is classified as a semisoft to hard cheese. A low moisture content variant of mozzarella has been specifically formulated and prepared for use on pizza. Breaded mozzarella sticks and string cheese are popular snack foods.

There are cheeses that you can grill. The best to grill or fry is Haloumi due to its high melting point. It is delicious, and as such, one of the biggest issues it poses is the risk of overeating. Tip: An 8 ounce chunk equates to 680 calories, 54 grams of fat and almost 3000mg of sodium, hence when it comes to haloumi, portion control is crucial.

Like any perishable food, there are procedures to follow so you do not end up as a statistic from the CDC. Keep your cheese refrigerated and in a sealed airtight container. Store between 32 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember high-moisture and soft cheeses have a shorter shelf life.

Hard and semi hard cheeses may be frozen for up to 8 weeks, but should then only be used for grating, shredding and cooking.

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We have covered eggs, salad, and cheese. Let's make a pizza! The recipe I found did not want me to make the pizza crust from scratch, but I wanted something that would work eating it with my hands.

Breakfast Pizza

This easy, homemade breakfast pizza has bacon, eggs, tomatoes, spinach, and cheese. Note: I tried this recipe with garlic-flavored naan, but the pre-cooked bread over-cooked before the eggs were cooked. I need to tweak the recipe some, because the naan worked well with this recipe. Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

Packaged store bought pizza crust, any brand you like, just do not use a pre-cooked crust.

Enough to make (2) 8-in pizzas.

2 oz cream cheese softened (opt)

Handful baby spinach

4 oz (1/2 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese or more to suit your taste

8-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Two large eggs

4 strips cooked bacon, chopped

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread the cream cheese thinly on each crust.

3. Top the crust with spinach, mozzarella, and tomatoes, leaving the center open for the egg. Make a slight indentation in the center of the crust to keep the egg from running out. Gently break an egg the center of each crust and finish with bacon.

4. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until the crust has browned and the egg white is set. Season with salt and pepper.

You have seen the warnings on menus about eating undercook eggs, so cook them accordingly.

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I have been finding recipes for typical Southern meals that are not your run of the mill recipes. I am a fan of fried catfish, but it tastes so much better when someone else that has the right equipment and the practice to turn out corn meal battered catfish, steamy hot and tender. I have been cleaning up my BBQ pits, in anticipation for a long productive grilling season. And I plan to grill more fish this summer. Therefore, what better way to start than with grilled catfish?

If you were eating fried catfish at a fast food restaurant, French fries would be a common side. So why not have potatoes with your grilled catfish. Since the catfish is not fried, we will not fry the potatoes either. These potatoes will have a much better plate presentation than ordinary fries.

Grilled Catfish with Tomato Olive Relish

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1½ cups chopped cherry tomatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Zest from one lemon

¼ cup feta cheese

(2) 6-oz U.S. farmed-raised catfish fillets

METHOD:

1. Pre-heat grill to medium high and wipe with olive oil to prevent sticking.

2. Combine the olives, tomatoes, olive oil, feta, lemon zest, and parsley in a bowl.

3. Gently warm the relish so it is not cold when you top the fish.

4. Grill the fish fillets until they start to flake. About 3-4 minute per side.

5. Place fillets on warm plates and top with relish.

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Tattooed Potatoes with Parsley and Rosemary

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter

1/3 cup olive oil

4 small-medium baking (russet) potatoes

8 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and/or fresh rosemary sprigs

Coarse salt

Fresh ground pepper

Roasting pan or glass baking dish

Serves 4 to 8

METHOD:

1. Heat oven to 450° F. Place roasting pan or dish in oven with olive oil and butter; once butter has melted, just a minute or two later, remove from oven.

2. Halve each potato lengthwise. Place one parsley leaf in the center of four halves and a rosemary sprig on the other four, then sprinkle cut sides generously with salt and pepper.

3. Arrange face down in pan with melted butter; try not to nudge them around or the leaves will move.

4. Roast potatoes for 35 to 45 minutes (depending on size) until tender. There is no need to turn the potatoes over unless they get so dark underneath that they risk overcooking before becoming fully tender. This can happen with a metal roasting pan or an oven that runs hot. If the potato is tender, lift up one and check underneath for some browning of the potato. Serve immediately; cut sides up.

 

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