Monday, March 27, 2017

BRINED SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

My mother would make fried chicken every other Sunday. She served the fried chicken with mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese and collard greens. I believe this is the juiciest chicken with the crispiest coating. . .I think you will agree!



Brine
1 (3 lb) free-range fryer or broiler chicken
2 cups cold water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 T black peppercorns

Cut backbone out of chicken, remove skin, and place in a baggie in your freezer for making stock.
Cut your chicken into 10 pieces (breasts cut in half).

The morning before you fry your chicken, pour the 2 cups cold water, salt, and sugar into a saucepan.
Bring mixture to a boil, turn off heat and stir in the bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns.
Let cool then pour into a large bowl that will fit into your refrigerator or a clean cooler. 
Pour in 4 more cups cold water and stir to combine.
Add 2 cups ice cubes and then add the cut up chicken.
Place in your refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours. 

Dredge Ingredients

2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
2 t finely ground black pepper
2 t paprika
2 t dried thyme
1 t sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornflour
¼ cup cornstarch

1 ½ cups buttermilk
Peanut oil, for frying
                                 
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, pour off brine mixture and fill bowl with cold water to rinse chicken.
Remove chicken from water and place on a baking sheet fitted with a rack. Pat dry with paper towels and let sit on rack for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, mix dredge ingredients together in a bowl.

Pour buttermilk into another bowl.

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, lightly dredge chicken in flour mixture, then  place in buttermilk. 
Dredge again in flour mixture, pressing chicken down to cover with a thick coating.

Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer or in a cast-iron Dutch oven to 375 degrees F.
If you don't have a thermometer, put the end of a wooden spoon in the hot oil.
If the oil bubbles around the spoon, it should be hot enough.

Fry thighs and drumsticks for a total of 15 minutes. 
Fry breasts for 12 minutes.
Fry wings for 10 minutes.

Place cooked chicken on the clean cookie sheet fitted with a wire rack and keep warm in a 225 degree F oven while frying the rest of the chicken.





Saturday, March 25, 2017

FARMERS' HASH

This is my favorite Sunday morning breakfast. 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
1 large green bell pepper, 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 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 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

VANILLA CAKE WITH DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING

What could be more nostalgic than a vanilla cake with dark chocolate frosting? This classic cake has been served at birthday parties and after a wonderful Sunday dinner.



1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature

2 ¾ cups cake or pastry flour
2 t baking powder, aluminum free
½ t fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 t pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of each cake pan and butter the paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the sugar and butter until creamy and smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to mix.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Turn mixer to medium speed and add the flour mixture alternating with the milk and vanilla. Mix to a smooth batter.

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.

Bake in center of oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool cakes 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
12 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 T Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup heavy cream or whole milk
1 T pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Place the chocolate, cocoa and butter in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water.
Stir with a spatula until completely melted.
Remove from simmering water and using a hand held mixer, mix in the cream or milk, vanilla, and sugar until completely smooth and spreadable.
Place bowl back on hot water and stir to soften for a couple of minutes.
Spread on cake while slightly warm.


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

BACON, LETTUCE, & FRIED GREEN TOMATO SANDWICHES

BLTs are a favorite lunch time meal. This is a Southern version of the classic sandwich, made with fried green tomatoes. Make your Roasted Garlic Aioli in the morning or the day before. You can use regular mayonnaise, if you prefer.




4 slices applewood smoked bacon
4 medium green tomatoes
½ cup corn flour 
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Dash of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 T buttermilk or milk
1 t granulated sugar

Peanut oil or avocado oil, for frying
Toasted multi-grain bread
Lettuce
Roasted Garlic Aioli (recipe follows)

Fry bacon in a cast-iron skillet, until crisp on both sides.
Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Pour out all but about 1 teaspoon of the bacon grease.

Cut each tomato into about ½-inch slices, discarding ends
In a shallow bowl, combine the corn meal, panko, and cayenne pepper.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In another shallow bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, and sugar.

Dip the tomatoes in the egg mixture and then dredge them in the corn flour mixture, coating both sides well.

Add the peanut or avocado oil to the skillet and heat to medium-high temperature.
Fry the tomatoes until brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Spread some Roasted Garlic Aioli on each slice of toasted bread.
Add some lettuce, two slices of fried green tomatoes.
Add two slices bacon, some more lettuce, and top with another slice of toasted bread.
Cut in half and serve.

Roasted Garlic-Lemon Aioli
1 large whole head garlic
1 t avocado or extra-light olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ t Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fine ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut off the top (not root end) of the garlic head and place in a small ramekin (oven-proof custard cup). 
Drizzle with oil and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until garlic is soft.
Remove from oven and remove foil. 
Let cool until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze out the garlic from each clove into the bowl of a food processor.
Add the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon, cayenne, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Process until smooth.
Spoon into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
The rest will keep in a small clean mason jar for about one week.
Makes 2 Sandwiches
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

CLASSIC SLOPPY JOES

My family always loved this recipe for Sloppy Joes. My kids would get so excited knowing we were having Sloppy Joes for dinner. They thought it was so much fun to eat a sloppy hamburger type sandwich. My husband and I like hot sauce on top of ours. You can also make these into sliders, which is a little less messy to eat.




2 T avocado oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup chili sauce
1 T chili powder
1 T brown sugar
1 T red wine vinegar
2 t dry mustard
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t smoked paprika
1 t sea salt
½ t black pepper

Kaiser buns, lightly buttered and toasted under the broiler
Hot sauce

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, add oil and swirl around in the pan.
Add the ground beef and brown, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  

Add onion and bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes.  
Add the jalapeño pepper and garlic and continue cooking for another couple minutes. 

Reduced the heat to medium and add the rest of the ingredients.  
Stir to combine, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Using an ice cream scoop, pile onto buns.

Serve with your favorite hot sauce and a green salad.


Serves 6






Friday, March 3, 2017

EASY ENGLISH MUFFINS

You won't believe how simple it is to make these English muffins. No kneading is involved and the flavor is amazing. . .much better than store bought English muffins. If you have your own sourdough in your refrigerator, you can add 3 tablespoons to the batter. I included a quick sourdough recipe for you to make the day before you want to make your muffins. You can leave it out of the recipe for plain muffins. It is absolutely your decision. 
I have seen recipes for English muffins using wide mouth mason jar rings, but they are still too small and a little difficult to remove from the rings from the cooked muffins. I bought 8 English muffin rings in a kitchen supply store and they were only ($4.99 for 4 rings).


1 cup whole milk
1 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 T honey
2 t active dry yeast
3 T sour dough starter (optional)
1 t sea salt
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Cooking oil spray
Cornmeal

Warm milk with butter and honey in a small saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
Do not let milk get too hot. Pour into a large bowl and let cool to warm.

Whisk or stir until the honey has dissolved.

Add the yeast. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add the starter (if using) and mix in.
Add the salt and then the sifted flour and stir or whisk until well combined.
Cover the bowl with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 30 to 40 minutes to rise.

Place 6 metal English muffin rings in a large 12-inch flat bottom skillet. 
You can also use the wide-mouth rings from canning jars.
Spray the inside and sides of each ring with cooking oil and sprinkle inside rings with cornmeal.

Evenly divide the dough between all 6 of the rings.

Place a lid on skillet and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes, until golden.
Flip the muffins over, using tongs or a spatula, cover and cook another 6 to 7 minutes, until golden.

Using tongs or a spatula, place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
After they cool, carefully remove the metal rings, using a table knife around the edges.
Let muffins cool completely before splitting with a fork.

To serve, split with a fork or cut with a knife, and toast to your liking.
Store in an airtight container and they will keep three or four days.
Store in a covered container in your refrigerator, they will keep for a week or more.

Sour Dough Starter
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup water
½ t active dry yeast

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, and yeast until well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 24 hours.
The mixture will bubble and expand.
You can skip this process if you already have sour dough starter in your refrigerator or just eliminate it altogether.