A Most Southern Sandwich

Biscuits are not easy, for me at least. My mom can pop in the kitchen on a Saturday morning and whip up biscuits blindfolded.  I watch her pour in the milk and measure out the flour without missing a beat. My biscuits come out either like little bricks or cakes; no in between.  By the time they are on the plate, I’ve resigned to call them anything other than biscuits. It reduces my level of disappointment and lowers the expectation of my diners.

I don’t have to do that anymore thanks to the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking Edna Lewis, and her protégé Scott Peacock, authors of The Gift of Southern Cooking. After studying their recipe for Angel Biscuits, as well as a few others, I set out on mission to make a breakfast that paid homage to Edna Lewis’ life work of southern cooking. Edna was dedicated to the art. She used only quality ingredients and devoted time to the kitchen. She found the southern food being praised in the foodie sphere little more than desperate attempts by well-meaning northerners with limited access to true southern ingredients. It wasn’t their fault, but it gave people a misunderstanding of southern fare.

I took a moment to consider all the southern dishes I’ve eaten over the years. With family roots tied to Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, I had plenty to pull from.

This recipe takes a bit of prep and won’t be your 30-minute breakfast sandwich, but it will leave you feeling that it was worth every slice, chop, bake… and bite.

The Components

  • Spicy Turkey Italian Sausage
  • Egg patty
  • Fried green tomato slices
  • White Country Gravy
  • Biscuit adapted from Edna Lewis’ Angel Biscuit recipe
  • Collard Greens

I used the Angel Biscuit recipe as the pattern for my biscuits, but I made several adjustments, leaving the original recipe nearly unrecognizable. Nonetheless, I credit Ms. Lewis and Mr. Peacock’s recipe for the inspiration.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • ½ c warm water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled and grated

Add your almond milk and vinegar and leave for about 5 minutes

Side Note #1 This is essentially dairy free buttermilk. It’s the norm in our house due to lactose intolerance. Using traditional buttermilk works just as well.

While that sits, place the warm water in a bowl. Add the yeast and honey, stir a little.

Side Note #2 One day, I tried proofing yeast 2 ways. I used sugar in one and honey in the other. I found that the yeast responded better to the honey. Since then when I find that I have limited time to let dough rise I use honey to proof.

Let the yeast mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add in the grated butter, using your fingers to incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some larger pieces of butter. Add in the yeast mixture and butter thoroughly. Lightly flour a surface and pour the dough out and knead lightly.

Warning! A few too many times I overworked my biscuits and produced briquettes rather than biscuits. Knead the dough 5 or 6 times by had and that is all you knead (pun intended).

Roll out your dough to about ½ inch thickness and cut out your biscuits. I used about a 3 ½ inch cutter to make sure I had a biscuit that could contain this glorious sandwich.

Place on a parchment lined pan and bake at 450 Fahrenheit for about 9-11 minutes, until golden brown.

Take them out give them about 10 minutes to cool. This will make them easier to slice.

Assemble your sandwich.

Make sure each component is made deliberately and with sincere appreciation for the cuisine to ensure a breakfast worth waiting for.

Foreign Food and Film

I enjoy foreign films and shows. It isn’t particularly highbrow material, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.  My favorite foreign films are those centered on food, like That Is Not What I Expected. It’s a subpar Chinese romantic comedy, but I came for the food. The film follows a quirky chef, a severe businessman, and their shared one of kind experiences with food.  Here is one of my favorite scenes from the film where the businessman goes through great lengths to make his instant ramen perfection.

You can see the clip here:

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. As I watch these films, I notice the stark contrasts between American cuisine and other countries. Our meals tend to focus more on meat and starches, especially at breakfast. We serve waffles, pancakes, cereal, biscuits, bacon, sausage patties or links, etc. I admit that these all taste great, but often it feels too heavy. I find myself seeking more out of my experience of breaking the fast. Our American breakfasts are mostly varying shades of brown. Of course, an egg adds a pop of yellow, but it’s hardly distinguishable from the subtle golden color of the waffles.

For breakfast, I want to eat something more vivid and nutritional, and there are only so many variations on sweet potato and kale. As I considered various international cuisines, I recalled my 8th grade earth science teacher, who often shared memories with us of her life in Turkey.  I grabbed my laptop, pulled up Pinterest, and searched “Turkish breakfast”. Menemen showed up repeatedly, and then I saw it. It was a vision to behold: Gimme Some Oven’s Menemen, accompanied with crusty bread.

I tossed some in some kale and mushrooms to up the vegetable content for the family and it was a success.

I also got to use my pizza stone for the first time, thanks to Ciao Florentina’s excellent recipe for Rustic Italian Crusty Bread. It was perfectly crusty and chewy.

The combination of texture and flavors between the menemen and the bread provided just the breakfast experience I’d been craving. It was as magnificent as I’d imagined.

Have you tried any new recipes? What do you have for breakfast? I’d love to hear what you are cooking up.

Chicken Shawarma Salad and Tahini Honey Yogurt Dressing

Salads are not among my favorite things to eat. I tolerate salads. I know salads are good for me, so I consume them as an obligation to my body’s health and well-being. That obligation takes away from the enjoyment; just a little. Even though I am not much of a salad person my sister, one of The Twins, has cultivated a new and recent love of salad so when I asked for a recipe request, she spoke up first.

This challenge, to come up with a salad for dinner, was not the most exciting for me. I started doing some research, however, and recalled the beautiful salads I have seen on the food blog Half-Baked Harvest. It occurred to me that I don’t have to limit my salads to an uninspiring combination of romaine lettuce, assorted veggies and a protein.

I was inspired by flavors of the Middle East. After studying several dishes, I collected some spices and sought ways to incorporate several of those flavors into this salad. This includes lots of lemon, some honey and various herbs.

To my surprise, it was fairly enjoyable. Actually, it was better than that. It was delicious! Who knows what my future dabblings in salads will produce?

Chicken Shawarma

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ c olive oil

Herb Rice

  • 1 c brown long grain basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp alt 
  • 2 c water 
  • 2 tsp mint 
  • paprika
  • lemon zest

Dressing

  • ½ c vegan sour cream
  • 1 tbsp tahini  
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon Juice

Salad

  • pomegranate kernels
  • pine nuts
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • black sesame
  • mini garlic naan (recipe from Sprinkle and Sprouts)
  • 6 c baby kale mix

Chicken Shawarma

Whisk together the honey, paprika, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and olive oil in a bowl. Add the chicken into the “marinade”.

Allow it to sit for about 15 to 30 minutes, then skewer the chicken. Cook on a grill pan for about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Herb Rice

Cook rice as instructed. Add salt and butter to the rice and water. Once cooked add in mint, paprika and lemon zest, and fluff.

Dressing

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and put in an airtight container.

Salad Assembly

Plate your baby kale mix, add the rice, then any of the toppings of your choice. I used pomegranate kernels, pine nuts, cucumber, tomatoes and black sesame seeds. Add mini garlic naan on the side. And drizzle the dressing on top.

Carrot Coconut Pecan Muffin

On Saturday mornings, I get a chance to flex my culinary creativity when breaking the fast. During the week, I eat breakfast to survive but, on weekends, it’s more of an epicurean experience. Recently, I woke up with a hankering for muffins, but not of the same old, tired blueberry or banana varieties.

I looked through the refrigerators to see what was on hand and stumbled across carrots and pineapple tidbits. I rummaged through the pantry and found pecans and shredded coconut. While assessing the ingredients, a light bulb went off. This combination of ingredients was reminiscent of a Hummingbird cake, one of my favorite cakes.

In our house we love flour, sugar and butter but we try to keep usage of the bleached, over-processed varieties to a minimum. So I opted for almond flour.  

This muffin is so moist, sweet, and amazing!

  • 4 c almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ c coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • ½ c unsweetened coconut
  • ½ c pecans halves, chopped
  • 1 c  carrot, grated
  • Couple of tablespoons of pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coconut sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until well incorporated.

Fold in coconut, pecans and carrots.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with some fresh fruit to start your day off right!

Mediterranean Smothered Chicken

I have a great affinity for Mediterranean food and thought I should expand my repertoire of Mediterranean dishes. I didn’t stretch myself much with this one, but it was an eye opener.

One thing I realized is that I’d limited the entire culinary Mediterranean to a single country. How did I cook all these years and never consider more than Greece?! I had thought of Italy, but summed them up as primarily a pasta place.

There’s an entire eastern Mediterranean region that I’d never considered. When I did, I stumbled upon something resembling a spicy Yemeni chimichurri sauce known as Schug. As I researched the sauce, I learned a bit about the Eastern Mediterranean. In retrospect, it only makes sense that there is an Eastern and Western Mediterranean cuisine. My mind had never considered the idea. *shame*

Armed with my newfound recognition of cuisine from another region of the Mediterranean, I set out to combine the familiar flavors with these new flavors to create this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Chicken Breast, halved
  • 10 oz. serrano chiles, seeds removed and halved
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Black Olives
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes in oil
  • Lemon
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

Schug Inspired by Tasting Table

  • 1 cup parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 10 oz. Serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Feta cheese, crumbled

Salt your chicken breast and set in the refrigerator about an hour ahead. This helps to make the chicken more tender.

In the meantime, prepare the Schug. Add the serrano chiles, parsley, lemon juice, cardamom, coriander and salt into your food processor and puree. Adjust salt and serrano chiles to your preferred taste.

*If you aren’t a tremendous fan of heat, I suggest you cut back about 2 oz of the serrano chiles.

Remove chicken from oven and slather your chicken in the green sauce. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 F. Place chicken in a pan and cook in oven for about 30 minutes or until fully cooked.

While the chicken is cooking grab a large cast-iron skillet and place on medium to high heat. 

Toss in the red onions and garlic and cook until fragrant.  Then add in the sun-dried tomatoes with about 1tbsp of the oil, artichoke hearts and olives.

Remove chicken from oven and pour the sundried tomato mixture over the chicken breasts.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top along with some crumbled feta and serve.

I served it on top of this Mediterranean Orzo Salad from Foodie Crush.

F&P Takes on Mexicanish Street Corn

Me: “What should I make?”

The Not So Little Littlest Sisters: “Mexican street corn!”

Me: “OK” *insert shoulder shrug*                 

We could never have imagined the battle that would ensue. Sure and certain of its simplicity, we walked into the stadium as if the battle were already won. We were holding steady, until it came time to skewer the corn. “Nothing to it!” or so we thought.

With our skewers at the ready, we went in for the strike. Alas, the corn cob proved tougher than we thought. One of the Not So Little Littlest Sisters went for it again, nearly losing the corn as it deflected her jab. There wasn’t much at stake so with persistence, we overtook the cobs in the end.

They proved no match for our “skewers”. Our skewers were in fact discarded chopsticks, and not an ideal choice. With great ingenuity and skill, we managed to skewer our cobs beautifully. It was a battle for the ages and for the books, but I encourage you to come prepared with the appropriate weapons. Otherwise, you may not be as fortunate.

Recipe for Mexican Street Corn
Ingredients
– Corn cobs, halved
– Lime Juice
– Lime Zest
– Sour Cream
– Mayonnaise
– Cotija cheese
– Cilantro, fresh
– Paprika
– Skewers (real ones)

Instructions
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and place the cobs in the skillet to heat and brown it a little, turning as appropriate.

In a bowl, combine the lime juice, zest, sour cream, and mayo. Smear it all over the corn. Crumble the cotija over the corn, cover with paprika to your desired preference and top with some roughly chopped fresh cilantro.

Frogmore Stew aka Low Country Boil

Frogmore Stew, more popularly known as Low Country boil is simple to make and fun to eat with a large group. I don’t need a special occasion to have a large group because my immediate family is big enough to consume this entire meal.

We’d been wanting to try it for a while. When we saw that Publix had crab legs on sale, we  figured this was the time.

Unfortunately, it was raining so we had to make it all happen on our stovetop and pour everything out onto the dining room table.  We thought about using newspaper but with this whole virus ordeal, that seemed like a bad idea. So, we got a hold of some butcher paper and spread it lengthwise on our long dining table.

I was raised to always serve a vegetable with a meal. Corn and potatoes do not count.  I thought the green beans would be the perfect addition.

  • 2 bags of Zatarain’s Crab Boil
  • 12 c water
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • Beer (Dark Ale) 12 oz
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 lbs. small red potatoes, halved
  • 4 ears of corn, halved
  • 26 oz andouille sausage, 1-inch slices
  • ½ lb.  green beans
  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 2 lbs. crab clusters
  • 8 oz Butter, melted for dipping
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic

Fill a large pot with water and a bottle of beer. Pour the content of the Zatarain’s Crab boil bag in the pot. Allow the water and beer to come to a boil, then add in the potatoes and cook for 7 minutes. Next, add in corn and string beans, let it boil for about 5 additional minutes, then add in the sausage and boil for about 3 minutes. Lastly, add the crab legs and shrimp and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp.

Strain the entire pot and dump all your contents onto your paper. 

Vegetarian Version:

Vegan Cajun Sausage Link (1 in. pieces)

Boil the potatoes for 8 minutes, add the corn and let it cook for 7 minutes. Then add string beans and cook for about 4 minutes.

In a skillet cook up the vegan Cajun sausage, add it to the strained meat free vegetables, and serve.

Strain the vegetables in the pot and pour the contents on the paper and add in the sausage.

Flourless Cardamom Chocolate Cake with Chai Ganache

Have you ever had a list of things you intended to try or do? No, I’m not talking about a bucket list. I mean reasonable and attainable tasks that don’t require exorbitant amounts of time or money. You know. That herb garden you said you wanted to grow, or trying that jam you were gifted for the holidays. Perhaps it’s a recipe that requires everything you already keep on hand anyway?

For me, it’s the famous, flourless, chocolate cake. I’ve marveled at its wonder on Pinterest and cooking shows, all while thinking, “I’ll try that one day” Well, that day has come, and it is done.  I took it up a notch by adding cardamom and a chai ganache. They give it more depth of flavor. Be warned: this cake is rich! You could go for a “weaker” chocolate (i.e. 70 %+) to achieve a more moderate chocolate flavor, but I think you can handle this just fine.

Cake

  • 8 oz. 60% cacao chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ c of butter
  • ¾ C. coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla

Ganache

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Black tea
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cardamom
  • ¼ tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Line an 8” round baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the roughly chopped chocolate and butter. Heat on medium-low until chocolate is completely melted. Remove pan from heat then add coconut sugar, cardamom and salt to the chocolate-butter mixture. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Add egg yolks to the cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan along with the vanilla. Fold in the egg whites and pour the mixture into prepared baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is set.

While the cake is baking, prepare the ganache. Combine the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and heat until just melted. Open a tea bag and pour the contents into chocolate mixture along with the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. The measurements for the spices in the ganache recipe are my preference and recommendation, but feel free to adjust them to your preference.

Once cake is out of the oven, allow to sit for about 30 minutes, then pour over the ganache over.  Allow the cake and ganache to cool completely.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Curry Vegetables over Cauliflower Mash

This light, healthful dish is full of flavor, and also leaves lots of room for creativity. If you prepare it, you’re not limited to the vegetables I used in my recipe. Tailor to with your favorite vegetables. You could try eggplant, broccoli, or spinach.

Because it’s a light meal, you might seek a bit more heft, like some of my family.  Ground turkey meatballs is a perfect complement to this dish. I included the meatball recipe below.

Curry Vegetable

  • roasted chickpeas
  • 1 can 15 oz coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp green curry paste or to taste
  • 1 large white sweet potato, thinly sliced
  • carrots, thinly sliced
  • bok choy
  • kale, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream or dairy-free sour cream
  • salt
  • pepper

Optional Turkey Meatballs

  • ground turkey
  • cayenne
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • curry

In a skillet, pour and combine coconut milk and green curry paste. Allow milk mixture to come to a simmer, then toss in the sweet potato and carrots.

Cook for about 7 minutes or so. You don’t want the carrots and sweet potato to get to tender yet. Add in kale and bok choy and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.

Steam cauliflower just until soft. Puree the cauliflower in a food processor, then add sour cream and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

To plate, scoop a hefty serving of cauliflower mash into a dish and top with the curried vegetables and roasted chickpeas (or meatballs).

*This dish is great as a vegan dish. However, if you would like to add some extra protein grab about a ½ lb. of ground turkey and add in the cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and curry powder.  Grab about 2 oz. of meat and shape into a ball. Brown the meatballs in a light oiled skillet and cook thoroughly in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes.