Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - April

 

I was surfing the web, looking for ideas for my next article. I came across several articles that caught my eye. They were articles written about the fast food restaurants that on the surface sounded like they are serving the standard fare for a typical fast food restaurant: hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, gumbo, biscuits and gravy, and grilled-cheese sandwiches. What caught my eye was that most of the descriptions of the food were missspelled. You could tell what they were trying to describe but it was just slightly misspelled. There was a restaurant that served a VLT: Vegan Bakun, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Or try their Bakun cheeseburger. How about an order of chickun tenders? It seems that we cannot let go of meat in our diet, or at least the taste of meat. One problem I see, is that you think that the plant-based meat substitutes are healthier that the real meat. But what about the chemicals that are added to the plant-based item to make it taste like meat? However, plant-based meats are far from perfect. They typically have higher amounts of sodium, usually to make them more palatable and shelf-stable. Too much sodium can cause adverse health effects, including high blood pressure and stroke.

Plant-based meats are also highly processed and filled with less healthy ingredients, such as refined coconut oil and modified food starch. Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests that processed foods cause people to consume an extra 500 calories a day and ultimately gain more weight.

Plant-based meats can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation no more than a couple of times a week, but do not make it your only source of protein. Stick to whole foods instead.

The recipes for this article cover an updated recipe for a cake for dessert, an Irish holiday entrée, and a healthy fish dish.

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KEY LIME POUND CAKE

I will start with the cake. It has been our family’s favorite cake and our friends’ favorite cake for years. This recipe will add a new flavor, lime. The first recipe was a vanilla bean Bundt cake and has been a Scotch-flavored cake.

The zing a lime in the cake and for the icing has made this flavor a real hit. We also tweaked the method of cooking the cake, which made for a much better presentation.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup shortening

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

3 cups sugar

6 room-temperature large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

5-oz. size carton of Chobani Key Lime Yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lime extract

¼ cup key lime juice

1 tsp. lime zest

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Generously grease a bunt pan with Crisco. Set aside.

3. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.

4. Cream together butter and shortening, add sugar and cream well.

5. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until light and fluffy.

6. In another bowl mix yogurt and buttermilk.

7. Add dry mixture alternating with yogurt mixture to the butter, shortening mixture. Add vanilla extract, lime extract and lime zest, mix until combined.

8. Sprinkle sugar into greased bunt pan. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

9. Bake for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes or more depending on your oven.

10. Check for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer into the center of the cake until it comes out clean.

11. Cool cake for 10 minutes in the pan. Turn cake over on to the serving plate and leave the cake pan on the inverted cake for 5 minutes, then remove. Let the cake cool completely.

Icing:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

3 to 4 Tbsp. butter, room temp

4 cups confectioner sugar

¼ cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

2 to 3 tsp. key lime zest

1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the icing, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add confectioner sugar and lime juice a tablespoon at a time. Add key lime zest and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spread on completely cooled cake. Garnish top of cake with thinly sliced lime wedges and additional lime zest if desired.

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SEA BASS

The next item for the article is for sea bass. Salmon and sea bass are two popular fish. Where salmon is somewhat healthier, sea bass has a rich buttery taste and if you do not the overly fishy smell and taste of fish, sea bass is for you. It is mildly sweet and has a meaty consistency. But because of the amount of mercury in both fish, sea bass should be limited to 2 to 3 times per week, whereas salmon should be limited to once a week.

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz. sea bass

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Salt to taste

2 tsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove

5 fresh basil leaves chopped or 4 Tbsp. dry basil

METHOD:

1. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. Gently sauté the minced garlic in butter for about 2 minutes, until fragrant and golden.

3. Stir in the lemon juice and ¾ of the basil.

4. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Pat the fillet dry and coat both sides with olive or canola oil.

6. Heat a medium frying pan (nonstick if you have it) on medium-high heat.

7. Pan fry one side for about 3 to 4 minutes. The edges should turn golden brown.

8. Flip and cook the other side 1-2 more minutes or until fish is cooked through.

9. Transfer the fish to a serving dish.

10. Spoon sauce over the fillets and sprinkle the remaining basil on top.

Enjoy immediately!

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CORNED BEEF

Next, is a new twist for us when cooking the corned beef for Saint Patrick’s Day. The addition of Irish whiskey to the poaching liquid has made the corned beef very tender and vary delicious. Try this any time of year or family meal, such as Easter dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

3- to 4-lb flat cut or point cut corned beef brisket, rinsed well

One large yellow onion peeled halved and sliced

4 cloves garlic peeled and lightly crushed

2 stalks of celery cut into chunks

2 pints lager or your favorite beer

Additional water if needed

Spice packet provided with the corn beef

METHOD:

1. Put onion and garlic in the bottom of a Dutch oven, place corned beef on top with the fat side up.

2. Pour the spice packet on top of the corned beef.

3. Pour beer into the Dutch oven and then add enough water to almost cover the beef.

4. Simmer on the stovetop for an hour and half, flipping the corned beef after 45 minutes. Add additional water if necessary.

5. After an hour and a half, remove the corned beef from the Dutch oven.

6. Add the small potatoes and carrots the beer liquid. Simmer until the

potatoes are tender.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

8. Pat dry the corned beef with a paper towel and place on a lined baking sheet.

MUSTARD SAUCE:

¼ cup brown sugar

4 Tbsp. whole grain mustard

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. Irish whiskey or bourbon

METHOD:

1. Spoon the mustard sauce over the corned beef.

2. Cover with foil and cook for an hour and a half.

3. After heated, remove corned beef from pan and sliced against the grain.

4. Serve with potatoes, carrots, cabbage and mustard sauce.

 

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