Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

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3–4 pounds sweet potatoes
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons bourbon
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar, divided
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (Optional, but please use)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Scrub the sweet potatoes well. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until very soft when you press the skins. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice in half and scoop the flesh into a large mixing bowl, discarding the skins.

Beat the sweet potatoes with a wooden spoon to mash them well. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter, the cream, the bourbon, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Beat in the cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Spread in a 1½-quart baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup brown sugar and flour. Cut in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, using a fork to blend well. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using and you should. Sprinkle the topping over the sweet potatoes.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the topping is light brown and a little crisp and the casserole is bubbly.

 

 

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Pecans

 

A classic Southern salad you won’t soon forget.

½ cup pecan halves
½ medium onion, sliced
About 6 cups fresh spinach
2 cups strawberries
¼ cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 medium orange
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Spread the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until fragrant. Cool and chop coarsely.

Wash the spinach well and dry. Remove the thick stems and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large salad bowl.

Remove the hulls, the leafy stem, from the strawberries with a paring knife. Slice the strawberries and add to the spinach with the pecans. Add the onion to the salad with the goat cheese. Toss well. Grate the orange zest and sprinkle over the salad.

Squeeze the juice from the orange into a small bowl (this should yield about ½ cup). Whisk in the salt, dry mustard, and vinegar. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add just enough dressing to the salad to moisten and toss well. Serve immediately.

 

Grilled Pineapple, Peaches and Plums

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Pineapple
Light brown sugar
Peaches
Vegetable oil
Plums
3 pounds good-quality lump charcoal

Cut the pineapple into wedges or spears. Press the cut sides into the brown sugar. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, and lightly oil the peach halves. Lightly brush oil onto the plums.

Set up the cooker for direct cooking: Open the top and bottom vents. Pile 2 pounds of the charcoal in the bottom. Load a charcoal chimney one-quarter full of charcoal and light it. When the coals in the chimney are glowing, dump them on top of the pile already in the cooker and close the lid. Adjust the vents as necessary to establish a steady temperature between 350to 375 degrees for direct grilling.

Open the cooker and spread the fruits evenly over the charcoal, cut side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they soften and are nicely marked. Pull the fruits off the cooker and arrange on a large serving tray.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Trout Amandine

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When I think of trout amandine one thing comes to mind my family’s summer vacations to Glacier National Park as a child and relishing this dish at Many Glacier Hotel

½ cup whole milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 trout fillets (5 to 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
½ cup sliced almonds
Juice of 1 lemon

Add the milk and the flour in separate bowls.  Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste. Dip the fish in the milk, shaking off the excess. Then lightly dredge both sides of the fish in the flour, shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. In two batches if necessary not to overcrowd the pan, cook the fish until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, around 3 minutes per side.

Remove fillets and ass the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom, until the butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the almonds, and cook until warmed through, usually 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a fillet on each plate and spoon the sauce over the top.

 

 

Cathead Biscuits

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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, chilled and cubed
2 cups whole buttermilk

* Use White Lily brand where available

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees with one of the racks in the middle of the oven.

Grease a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour (both all-purpose and cake flour), kosher salt, and the baking powder. Sift in ingredients if desired.  As an experiment make two batches one sifted and the other not to determine your preference.

Take your cold butter And cut into small cubes with a sharp knife.  Take the butter between your forefinger and thumb and make a pushing motion. This makes thin sheets or ribbons of butter that will fold into the dough perfectly and then rise in the oven in beautiful layers.  Some bakers call this snapping butter.

Add the buttermilk and fold in very gently.  Do not overmix! Scoop the dough into your pan or skillet, making sure to keep the dough scoops right next to each other on the pan. A large ice cream scoop is ideal for this.

Bake the biscuits for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown and fluffy.

 

 

 

Southern Pie Spice

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1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground dried ginger
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground dried lemon peel

Add all the spices to an airtight container and shake to combine. Store for up to a year.

 

Simple Planter’s Punch

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This tropical drink hails from Cuba.

1 (750-Ml) Bottle Dark Rum
1 (6-Ounce) Can Frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate
1 (6-Ounce) Can Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
2 Ounces Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1½ Ounces Grenadine
4 Cups Water

Garnishes: Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry, sometimes the addition of fresh mint.

Combine all ingredients except the garnishes in a large container; stir well.

Chill until ready to serve, then ladle or pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses. Add the garnishes.

Southern Biscuits: Soft or Crunchy?

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If a soft or crisp exterior is desired selecting the proper baking pan is paramount.  For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch pan or oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron) where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking.

For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.

 

Grouper en Papillote

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Parchment paper
4 skinless Grouper fillets
Asparagus either whole or chopped depending of thickness
A combination of fresh rosemary, sage and chives
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
juice of ½ lemon and lemon slices
freshly ground black pepper and garlic salt
4 teaspoons butter or olive oil

Heat oven to 400°. Measure four 24 inch long sheets of parchment.Fold each sheet in half, and starting from the folded side, cut a large half-heart shape.

Open one heart on a work surface and place one quarter of each of the ingredients on the parchment and top with a fish fillet. Repeat with the other three pieces of parchment and ingredients.
Season each with garlic salt and pepper and a pat of butter or olive oil on top.

To seal, tightly roll the edges towards the fish to ensure no juices leak out while cooking.

Place packets on baking sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the packages are slightly browned and puffy.

 

Pecan Crusted Grouper

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No matter how you pronounce this delectable nut this recipe is a home run!

¼ cup pecan meal or finely ground pecans
¼ cup panko crumbs
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of skin-on grouper fillets, cut into 4-ounce servings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3tablespoons minced shallot
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the pecan meal, panko crumbs, Old Bay, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

Pat the fish fillets dry, then brush the flesh side with about 1 tablespoon oil. Place each fillet flesh-down in the pecan/crumb mixture and press lightly to coat.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and foaming. Place the fish in the skillet with the pecan coating down. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

Using a fish spatula or whatever you have, turn the fish skin-down, careful not to dislodge the pecan coating. Place the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the fish is white and cooked through.

While the fish is baking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan and add the shallots. Cook for a few minutes, until the shallots are translucent. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard, then add the chopped pecans and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted.

Place each fillet on a dinner plate and divide the sauce over the fillets

* White fleshed Grouper is perfect for this preparation, but you could always substitute a different white fish such as Tilapia, but I really wish you wouldn’t. *