Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I remember as a young girl taking day trips to the Blue Ridge mountains in Northeast Georgia. We usually went in the fall so that my parents could admire the fall foliage. (I was a pre-teen and at that time thought "how stupid" haha). The BEST part of that trip were the boiled peanuts we would always stop to buy and snack on. Along the mountain roads there were roadside stands with the words sometimes painted and stamped on pieces of wood or scrawled out on cardboard signs that stated:
How great they were. Soft, salty, and juicy. You had to be careful if you liked to "suck" on your peanut before cracking it open. A girl could accidentally squirt her little brother in the eye with peanut juice!
Trips to the local trade day here in my little town offer a chance to relive a taste I enjoyed as a child and sometimes crave as an adult. Boiled peanuts are a southern treat. You can read more about this southern delicacy here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiled_peanuts
This weekend I am returning back to the mountains in Northeast Georgia and I wanted to make my own recipe. This recipe is my father's and I have "tweaked" it a bit.
3 pounds fresh green peanuts
2 cups salt
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Water: enough to cover peanuts
I use a slow cooker so that I may prepare and just let them cook for hours on end. Cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high for 6. The length of time is more of a personal taste: less time for a crunchier peanut or longer for a softer, juicer one. Of course the salt content may be adjusted as well. I prefer my boiled peanuts salty and soft.
Wash and sort peanuts. I place mine in a colander to rinse and drain after "picking" through them. Place peanuts in slow cooker, add all spices and cover peanuts with water. The peanuts may appear to be floaters. They will settle down as the water begins to heat.
There is not really a right or wrong amount of time to boil the peanuts. The longer the better for me personally. When cooked to preference turn off and drain excess water. EAT and ENJOY!
Boiled peanuts may also be cooled and put in the freezer for future snacking! Just reheat in the microwave.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Cornbread is a southern staple. It goes great with soup, beans, greens. You name it and cornbread will accentuate any dish, especially any southern dish.
Sometimes I like to give my cornbread a 'lil kick and I add jalapeno peppers. Sometimes I want to add another flavor and in goes the cheese. When I'm feeling really comfort foodish , I will prepare Mexican cornbread with hot sausage, jalapenos,corn,onion and cheese.
I was preparing chili one evening and decided to make Jalapeno Corn muffins with Cheese. The muffins were the perfect companion with the chili. I crumbled some into the chili and I also dared to dip.
Here is my recipe:
Non stick cooking spray
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of additional vegetable oil or butter
1 1/2 cups Self rising corn meal ( I prefer yellow)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (sometimes I use it and sometimes I don't. It is truly an optional ingredient.)
2 large jalapeno peppers: seeded and veins removed (leave the veins in if you are really brave.)
1/2 onion diced
1-2 cloves garlic finely diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheese
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
spray muffin pan with non stick spray
In bowl, beat 2 large eggs, add milk, oil, corn meal, flour and sugar.
Mix until blended well.
In skillet add 2 tablespoons of oil or butter and heat. Throw in jalapenos,onion and garlic. Stir and cook until onions become soft.
Add pepper mixture to meal mixture , then add shredded cheese. Still until all ingredients are nicely incorporated.
Spoon into muffin pan, fill each cup 3/4 full
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
It's very cold here in Georgia. This time of year I love to prepare soups and various comfort dishes.
When I think of warm comfort food, I always think of Chicken and Dumplings. This dish is hot, creamy and very satisfying on these cold, cloudy winter days.
There is not one way to prepare chicken and dumplings. Many recipes are out there and everyone has their own choice. Thick soup (stew), soupy soup (stew), rolled dumplings, drop dumplings, veggies or no veggies. Really there are many ways to prepare this dish and there is not a right way or a wrong way.
This is a fully “from scratch” recipe and it does require time and work. Chicken and Dumplings is not a diet wise recipe. It is winter and we are “hibernating”. However, when you finish the recipe, You have created ‘lil fluffy dumplings of love that are filling and make you close your eyes with the first bite and think “Well worth the work.”
Here is my recipe for chicken and dumplings: This recipe makes a HUGE batch and can easily be halved.
6 bone in chicken breasts (may use any type of chicken) with or without skin
4 stalks celery
4 carrots broken in half
1 large onion peeled and cut in half
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp salt
3 cups of carrots peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
3 cups frozen peas
1 onion diced
2 tablespoons of oil or butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
3 tsp unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Tarragon to top dumplings
Place into an 8 qt stock pot
Stalks of celery
Two onion halves
4 cloves of garlic smashed
4 bay leaves
2 tsp of thyme
2 tsp of celery seed
2 tsp of peppercorns
2 tsp of salt
Add enough water to cover chicken plus a few inches over so that chicken “floats” in water. Stir. Bring to a boil for an hour and occasionally skim froth off the top of water.
When chicken is fully cooked, remove and set aside.
Strain broth and discard remaining vegetables.
Allow pot to cool and wash pot or use another.
Allow chicken to cool and then debone. (I always let the chicken bones cool, freeze and re use for a second broth).
Place cooked chicken into broth and turn broth on medium heat.
Meanwhile heat skillet with 2 tbsp of oil or butter and place diced carrots, celery, and onion, cook until onion becomes translucent.
Place vegetables into broth.
Continue to allow broth to heat up and bring to a simmer. While doing so begin to prepare the dumplings.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Blend and set aside.
In a microwave safe dish place 3 tsp unsalted butter and 1 cup of milk. Melt butter and heat milk. Do not over heat.
Remove from microwave and mix into dry ingredients until a dough forms and is smooth in consistency.
Allow dumpling dough to rest 10-15 minutes.
In same skillet that vegetables were cooked in melt 1 stick of butter. When butter is melted stir in ¼ cup of all purpose flour, add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir constantly until smooth. With a ladle, ladle out two cups of the hot broth into skillet and blend into roux. When hot and smooth pour into broth, chicken and vegetables. Pour in frozen peas and 1 cup of heavy cream.
Return to a steady simmer.
With a teaspoon, gather up a mound of dumpling dough and drop into simmering stew. Continue doing so until entire top of stew is covered with floating dumplings. Place a lid tightly on pot and cook dumplings for 10 mins.
Remove lid. Flip each dumpling over with a spoon and sprinkle tarragon, salt and pepper on top of dumplings. Place lid back on pot and cook 5 more minutes.
Do not stir the stew once dumplings have been placed.
Remove pot from heat, uncover and serve alone or over mashed potatoes or noodles.