The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - January

I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday and were able to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones. This time of year is all about tradition. With the flu still lingering, busy schedules, and just life in general, some families extend their get-togethers into the New Year. If you are like me, you have fond memories of baking pies, giving of presents, or having a meal with your friends and family. All of this demands planning to make Christmas a memorable event. Did you prepare the traditional meal that you have every Christmas? What was the centerpiece this year?

This is a very important decision, and it set the tone for the entire evening. Once you decided on the main course, there are hundreds of side dishes, appetizers, and casseroles to include and do not forget the refreshments. Instead of the common baked turkey, try wrapping it with bacon. Try a cauliflower gratin instead of potatoes. Is it going to be a bacon-wrapped turkey or bacon wrapped scallops? Most likely, your family has already gathered so perhaps this column can help you prepare for the next big family meal, such as Easter!I did not follow tradition this year. It's fair game for you to prepare what ever you want and you do not have to check and make sure that the side dishes go with your main course. Instead of game go with seafood as a main dish or an appetizer. These suggestions are for side dishes. And can be served as a main dish or side dish at the pre-celebration meal. This is the meal that you eat while you are preparing the main meal, and it keeps people out of the kitchen while you prepare the main courses. After all, as a good host, you have to feed the stay over guests.

We will start with a simple side dish that will go will any main dish you to prepare – a baked vegetable that goes with any meat.

Asparagus Rollup


24 thin asparagus spears (about 1/2 lb)

4 slices applewood smoked deli ham (about 6 oz)

1can (8 oz) refrigerated Crescent Rolls (8 cnt)

1pkg (5.2 oz) Swiss cheese

1tsp olive oil

Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper,

or spray with cooking spray.


Remove woody ends from asparagus spears; discard. In 10-inch skillet, heat 1/2 inch water to boiling. Add asparagus; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Plunge asparagus into bowl of ice water to cool; drain on paper towels.

Cut ham slices in half; wrap one half slice around middle of 3 asparagus spears. Repeat for remaining ham and asparagus spears.

On large cutting board, unroll dough; separate dough into 8 triangles. Crumble and press a generous tablespoon cheese onto bottom wide end of dough. Place one asparagus and ham bundle on wide end of dough, and roll dough into crescent shape; place on cookie sheet. (Ends of asparagus will stick out of both ends of dough.) Repeat for remaining bundles. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil; mix well. Sprinkle on top of crescent dough, pressing lightly to stick. Bake 14 to 19 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to serve.

Smoked Oyster Roll

2 - 8oz. packages cream cheese

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

¼ tsp. garlic powder

½ small onion, grated

3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise

1/8 tsp. salt

2 - 3.75 oz. cans smoked oysters, drained

Chopped pecans and/or parsley


Cream together cream cheese, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion, mayonnaise and salt. Spread onto a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap about ½ inch thick. Chill for an hour. Place drained smoked oysters on top of cheese mixture and roll up; then roll into a ball. Roll the entire ball into either the pecans or parsley or a mixture of parsley and pecans. Chill 24 hours before serving. Serve with crackers. Freezes well. Serves 10-20.

Not Your Grandma's Collard Greens


3 bunches of collards (about 3 pounds)

1 onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 carrot, diced

2 Tbsp of olive oil

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 - 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes

2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped

¼ cup of smooth peanut butter no sugar added

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar


Thoroughly clean each collard leaf, remove ribs and stems. Tear each leaf in half. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté on medium the onions and carrots in the olive oil, until lightly brown, about ten minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes and chipotles. Add torn leaves to the pot and add four cups of water. Bring water to a boil, and then turn heat down to a simmer. Add the vinegar and stir in the peanut butter. Cook greens for an hour and a half, or until they are the texture you prefer. Serve with pepper vinegar or hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco.

Fish Tacos

There are as many ways to make fish tacos as there are recipes for tuna salad. This recipe uses breaded fish fillets and is baked. You can also use breaded catfish deep fried. And another variation is to use flour tortillas.


Fish fillets, any kind you like (easiest is breaded so you only have to bake them.)

1 dzn corn tortillas (3 per person)

Vegetable oil

Jicama Salad

Mango Salsa

Iceberg lettuce shredded

Baja Sauce

Avocados, chopped in small squares

and lightly covered with lemon juice Method

Prepare the Mango Salsa Prepare the lettuce and avocado. Thinly slice lettuce.

Put in a small serving bowl. Sprinkle with cider vinegar (about a Tbsp) and salt (about a tsp). Mix in the vinegar and salt. Peel avocado and remove seed.

Chop and reserve for later.

Heat the tortillas.One way to easily soften and heat a tortilla to simply heat it in the microwave for 20-25 seconds on high heat, on top of a napkin or paper towel to absorb the moisture that is released. Set aside. Cook the fish. Depends on the type of fish either fresh fillets or breaded, just follow your favorite method or manufacturers recommended method. Assembly: Spread a little Baja sauce on warm tortilla, then a little lettuce Add fish and top with Mango Salsa.

Serves four.

These tacos are better with the Baja sauce.

Baja Sauce


12 oz mayonnaise

12 oz sour cream

1½ cups cilantro leaves

6 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

3 avocados, use pulp only

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice


In a food processor, blend cilantro and


Add remaining ingredients and blend

Keep refrigerated until serving


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