Monday, March 1, 2021

VEGETABLE SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

This is one of our favorite salads to have with pan-fried sole. It would also be good with any grilled meat.



Lemon Vinaigrette 
2 t Dijon mustard
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, pressed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place above ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
You can also do this in a jar fitted with a tight lid and shake to combine.
Set aside while assembling the salad.

1 large bunch arugula
1 large bunch spinach, stems trimmed
1 small bunch watercress
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced
1 bunch French green beans, steamed for 3 to 4 minutes
Pea shoots, optional
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 to 6 jarred or canned anchovy fillets, drained
Lemon wedges, for serving

Place a bed of arugula, spinach, and watercress on a large platter.

Add the eggs, tomatoes, cucumber slices, green beans, pea shoots, scallions, and anchovy fillets. 
Drizzle with the Lemon Vinaigrette and garnish with lemon wedges.

Serves 4









PAN FRIED SOLE WITH LEMON-BUTTER SAUCE

If it was Friday, we had fish for dinner. My mom always served fish with corn cakes, aka corn hoecakes or johnnycakes. It was a Southern tradition to serve them with fish in case you swallowed a fish bone. There are two types of sole; Dover (caught in the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean) and Pacific (caught from California to Alaska). Pacific Sole does not fall apart as easily as Dover Sole, but they are equally delicious. You can also make this with flounder, cod, halibut, trout, or snapper. My recipe for a salad with Lemon-Vinaigrette follows.




6 sole fillets
½ cup flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
4 T unsalted butter
2 t grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T minced Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F and have a heatproof platter ready.


In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season generously with salt and pepper.

Pat the fish dry with paper towels and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Fry 2 fillets at a time for about 2 minutes on each side.
Place on a platter and keep warm in the oven while frying the rest of the fillets.

Pour out any oil in the pan and carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
Add the butter and melt over medium-low heat.
Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the pan and heat through.

Pour over the fish, sprinkle with minced parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with lemon wedges.


Serves 2 to 4

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

COUNTRY BUTTERMILK BREAD

Back in the early 1970s, I started making bread. I used to take pottery lessons in Georgetown, Wash. DC. One day after my pottery class, I was supposed to buy a dress for a party that night and I came home with an antique dough bowl instead. That was before I had my stand mixer. 

The reason why I make my own bread is; it contains no preservatives, it's less expensive, it's fun to do, it's very rewarding, and it certainly tastes better. If you don't have buttermilk, squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice in the milk and let sit out on the counter for about 15 minutes before using. 
This bread makes excellent sandwich bread - toasted or plain. It also makes fabulous French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
You may wonder why I have a small amount of ginger in the recipe. Ginger is a dough enhancer and it gives the yeast an extra boost.
Lastly, you may wonder why my recipe calls for yeast and baking soda. Together, they make the bread lighter and fluffier.


½ cup lukewarm water (about 105 degrees F)
½ t active dry yeast
¼ cup honey
¼ t ground ginger
1 cup buttermilk
2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces                                    
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 t sea salt 
½ t baking soda
½ cups unbleached bread flour    

2 t melted butter (optional)                

Pour the lukewarm water into the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add the yeast, honey, and ginger. Let proof in the bowl for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour milk into a heatproof measuring cup and add the pieces of butter.
Warm the milk and butter in the microwave or you can do this in a small saucepan on the stovetop until butter is almost melted.
Set aside to cool to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Pour the buttermilk mixture, and enough of the flour, into the mixing bowl to make a medium batter. Mix with a wooden spoon.  
Add the egg, salt, and baking soda; mix again. 
Attach bowl to mixer and attach a dough hook and while mixing on low speed, add the rest of the flour, ½ cup at a time. 
If you don't have a stand mixer, you can do this in a large bowl using a wooden spoon.
Mix for 3 minutes and then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough by hand for 2 minutes.

Lightly coat a bowl with cooking spray and add the dough.
Cover with a pizza pan, plastic wrap, or a damp tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm location until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Lightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. 
Punch down dough and form into a smooth oblong shape and place into the prepared loaf pan.

Let rise in a warm place about 30 to 40 minutes, until the bread is about one inch (no more) above the rim of the loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, 15 minutes before the bread has finished rising.
Bake bread for 30 to 35 minutes.

Brush the top of the bread with the melted butter, if you want a softer crust.
Remove from loaf pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes one loaf






Thursday, February 18, 2021

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S CHERRY BOUNCE

Cherry Bounce is a brandy based drink that was popular in the eighteenth century. George Washington packed a canteen of it along with Madeira and port when he traveled over the Allegheny Mountains in September 1784. Martha made it often for entertaining and it was one of her husband's favorite drinks. Make it now and it will be ready to have as an after dinner drink for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Here is the recipe that was found among the papers of Martha Washington. 

“Extract the Juice of 20 pounds of well ripened Morrello Cherrys. Add to this 10 quarts of old French brandy and sweeten it with White Sugar to your taste—To 5 Gallons of this mixture add one ounce of Spice Such as Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmegs of each an Equal quantity Slightly bruis’d and a pint and half of Cherry kernels that have been gently broken in a mortar—After the liquor has fermented let it Stand Close-Stoped for a month or Six weeks—then bottle it remembering to put a lump of Loaf Sugar into each bottle.” 

I could not find Morello cherries so I used the popular Bing cherries of the Pacific Northwest. Frozen dark sweet cherries, without added sugar, works really well when cherries are not in season.



1 lb pitted cherries or 1 lb bag pitted frozen cherries, cut in half
¾ to 1 cup pure cane sugar or granulated sugar 
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
¼ t freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 large lemon, organic or carefully washed
4 cups brandy

Place cut up cherries in a large stainless steel saucepan.
Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg.
Cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice (without the seeds).
Throw in the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Reduce heat to low and slowly simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, cover, and let cool completely.

Pour the cherry mixture into a large (at least ½ gallon) clean glass container, fitted with a lid.
Add the brandy and set aside in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. 
Stir occasionally.
After 4 to 6 weeks, strain through a cheesecloth lined strainer and pour into clean decorative glass jars. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon halves.

Serve at room temperature in cordial or small sherry glasses.
Store the containers of Cherry Bounce in a cool dark place.

You can store the cherries in the refrigerator. The "tipsy" cherries can be served over ice cream or pound cake.

Here is a photo of a set of false teeth that belonged to President George Washington. They were not made of wood, as so many people think, but of gold, lead, ivory, human, and animal teeth.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE SHRIMP CREOLE

Shrimp Creole is a traditional recipe from New Orleans. The origin of Creole is a combination of French, Spanish, and Italian heritage. Creole cooking does not use a dark roux as Cajun cooking does, but they both start with the Holy Trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery). Serve this with crusty French bread, hot sauce, and a green salad.


1 ½ lbs medium shrimp
1 T avocado oil 
2 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Creole Seasoning (recipe below)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 8-oz bottle clam nectar or broth or 1 cup water
2 (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 T finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Diced scallions, for garnish

Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
Cooked white rice

Peel and clean your shrimp and place in a bowl and refrigerate.
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil and butter.
Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. 
Sauté for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the Creole Seasoning, cayenne pepper, clam nectar or water, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire, bay leaf, and chopped parsley. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir the shrimp into the sauce and cook uncovered for another 3 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove the bay leaf, stir in parsley, cover and let sit a few minutes.

To serve, use a coffee cup and place a mound of cooked rice in center of each bowl.

Spoon sauce with shrimp around the rice and sprinkle with diced scallions and bacon bits. 

Creole Seasoning

3 T paprika
2 T sea salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T dried thyme
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
2 T ground black pepper
1 T ground white pepper

Pour above ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. 

Shake well and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

Stir the shrimp into the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove the bay leaf, stir in parsley, cover and let sit a few minutes.

Spoon sauce with shrimp over rice and sprinkle with diced scallions. 

Serves 4

FARMERS' HASH

This is my favorite Sunday morning breakfast, especially this Valentine's Day for my valentine. You can make this hash with your choice of ham, corned beef, bacon, country sausage, or tofu. This recipe is made with a combination of Virginia ham and bacon. I buy organic free-range eggs from local farms. These hens have a diet of vegetables, grasses, and chicken feed. The yolks are a beautiful bright orange.



4 slices bacon, preferably applewood smoked, cut into pieces
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 T avocado oil
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup cooked Virginia ham, diced
½ medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place bacon in a large cast-iron skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp.
Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Pour off most of the grease and discard.
Add the oil and potatoes, cover with a lid and cook over low heat for about 8 minutes.  
Remove lid and raise heat to medium and cook until golden brown and fork tender.
Add the diced bell pepper and onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often.
Add the garlic and cook a couple more minutes.
Stir in the ham and bacon and heat through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover with a lid and keep warm while making scrambled eggs.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs
6 organic free-range eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T butter
2 T minced fresh chives

Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (you can use white pepper if you prefer).  
Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat just until the butter foams.
Pour in eggs and let sit for a couple of seconds and turn the heat down to low.
Using a wooden spatula or heat-resistant rubber spatula keep pulling the eggs towards the center of the pan for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and keep moving the eggs to the center of the pan until the desired doneness.
The eggs will keep cooking with the residual heat.

Divide hash between four warm plates or individual cast-iron pans and top with scrambled eggs and a sprinkling of minced chives.


Serves 4 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

SKILLET CORNBREAD WITH JALAPEÑO PEPPERS

Cornbread in the South is normally made without sugar. I added a small amount of honey but you can leave it out if you wish. The jalapeño peppers are also optional. I also add one tablespoon of bacon grease to the skillet to give the cornbread a nice brown crust. This is also optional but if you choose not to use bacon grease, use the same amount of butter to season the pan.



cups yellow cornmeal (I use Palmetto Farms)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
4 to 6 T granulated sugar (optional)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
8 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Stir in the beaten eggs, buttermilk, and jalapeño peppers. 

Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully remove skillet from oven and add the stick of butter.
Set aside to let melt.
When melted pour butter into the batter and mix well to combine.

Pour the batter into the seasoned skillet and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.


To Make Cornbread Muffins:
Pour batter into a buttered muffin pan and bake 20 minutes.