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Southern Cuisine - May

 

Though this article is titled Southern Cuisine, I’m adding a subsection this week titled, Southern Weather. If you have not heard, we had a tornado go through Lowndesboro. Though I have not heard if it was straight line winds or a tornado, the outcome was the same. It hit late Wednesday night March 30 thru Thursday morning. And just like the stories you hear about the strange way that tornadoes act, this one came into town at Highway 80 and did most of the damage on the west side of Broad Street. It toppled trees right through town. There was some damage to the houses on the west side of the street, but it toppled some large trees in almost every yard all the way to the city limit at the end of Broad Street. If your house was on the east side of the street you had none or very little damage. Also you would notice that the older the house the less damage was done. A couple of houses were hidden behind some large older trees. Now they are out in the open. And true to Southern hospitality, as soon as the sun came up, there were chainsaws running and tractors and trucks manned by neighbors helping to clear the debris. Blue tarps were stretched over roofs to prevent rain from leaking into the houses.

There were people making hot dogs and soup and sandwiches for two days to feed the workers. The Highway 80 Cafe whipped up on short notice 50

hamburgers with fries. The food was served at one of the churches and even delivered throughout town to the workers. Even the QV station in Hayneville made food for the workers in Lowndesboro. There were local folks helping direct the trucks through town hauling away the trees. My thanks go out to Alabama Power for getting the power back up as soon as they did. It made us proud to live in a small town in the South, where the town’s people act like the town is a family looking out for each other.

My wife and I have been venturing out a little more lately. There are many new restaurants in Montgomery that have our eye to try out. Though I do not have the recipes for all of the dishes we have tasted, I do have some pictures. I have three recipes to share.

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The first dish to try is for a retro dish that my mother prepared frequently. Since we spent years overseas, we were use to eating can goods. From the mid 1950’s to the late 1960’s it was not recommended that you eat food prepared locally and purchased at a local market. Food sanitation was not as good as it is today. The only bacon we had came from the base commissary and came in a can. So did whole chickens and fish. It was years later after we moved back to the States, that I had fresh Salmon. Salmon Croquettes were a treat. There are recipes for Salmon Croquettes using fresh salmon but my favorite way to prepare them for years came from a can. I remember going to the commissary and seeing cans on the shelve that had no logos but were labeled and painted army green.

Salmon Croquettes

INGREDIENTS:

1–14.75 oz can salmon, drained & flaked

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup grated onion

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp lemon juice

½ cup milk

Optional 1 tsp hot sauce and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Olive oil for frying

Yield: 8 croquettes

METHOD:

1. Drain liquid from salmon. Flake and remove any bones and dark skin.

2. In a large bowl, gently mix the remaining ingredients.

3. Use a 1/3 cup measure, to form mixture into round patties. Makes about 8 to 10

4. Coat the patties with additional panko. Let rest on cookie sheet.

5. Fry croquettes over medium heat in ½ inch oil in large skillet, until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve as a patty on a bun or with a mustard sauce as an entrée.

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Fig Cake

The next two recipes come from one of my favorite recipe books. From the cookbook Cook Like a Pro, by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I had a surplus of leftover figs in my freezer from last year and this recipe was a good way for me to use them up. Both of these recipes are fairly costly to prepare, but I have never been disappointed with the outcome from Ina’s recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

10 Tbsp (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 cup granulated sugar

3 extra-large eggs, room temp

1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta, at room temperature

2 Tbsp sour cream

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp grated lemon zest

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

8 large (or 12 medium) fresh figs, stems removed, quartered through the stem

NOTE: I used figs that were in my freezer. I defrosted them, let them drain and spread them over the top of the batter in the pan and then sprinkled the sugar over them.

1 Tbsp turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw

Crème fraîche, for serving

METHOD:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Butter and flour a 9-inch round springform pan, tapping out the excess flour.

3. Place the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4. With the mixer on medium low, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing until smooth.

5. Add the ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix until combined. Don’t worry; the ricotta will make it look lumpy.

6. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

7. Arrange the figs on the cake, cut sides up, in snug but not -overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a baking rack for 15 to 20 minutes, transfer to a cake plate, and serve warm with crème fraîche on the side.

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This next recipe gave me sticker shock when I looked at the price for the crab. But I know that Ina would not use just any old crab, she would only use the best.

This recipe comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa recipe book

Modern Comfort Food.

Crab Nachos

INGREDIENTS:

6 oz cream cheese, room temp

½ cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s (I use Dukes)

¼ cup sour cream

12 oz fresh jumbo lump crab-meat (see note)

¾ cup minced scallions, white & green parts (4 to 5 scallions)

1 (4-oz) can diced green chilies

Grated zest of 1 lime

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz sturdy yellow corn chips, such as Garden of Eatin’

6 oz freshly grated extra-sharp white Cheddar

6 oz freshly grated Monterey Jack

4 oz canned pickled jalapeño pepper slices, drained

5 large plum tomatoes, seeded, cored, and small-diced

1 cup minced yellow onion

3 Tbsp minced fresh jalapeño pepper, seeds removed

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tbsp good olive oil

1 large ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and ¹⁄₃-inch diced

3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley or cilantro

Juice of ½ of a lime, for serving

METHOD:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream until smooth. Gently stir in the crabmeat, scallions, chilies, lime zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper and set aside.

3. Distribute half of the corn chips on a large (12 × 18 × 2-inch) ovenproof serving platter (or a sheet pan). Spoon half of the crab mixture over the chips in dollops and then sprinkle with half of the Cheddar, half of the Monterey Jack, and all of the pickled jalapeños. Sprinkle with the remaining chips, then distribute the remaining crab mixture and cheeses on top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño pepper, lime juice, olive oil, avocado, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. Spoon onto the nachos, sprinkle with lime juice, and serve hot.

NOTES: I prefer jumbo lump crabmeat instead of shredded because you can really taste the crabmeat.

Pick through the crabmeat to remove any shells.

Be sure to wash your hands after handling the chilies and pickled jalapeños so you don’t get the spicy oils in your eyes.

 

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