Friday, July 29, 2011

Sally Lunn Bread

Sally who?  It's a bread (as you might have gathered from the post title. duh.).  I've never made bread.  That seemed weird to me.  Why hadn't I ever made bread?  And who-the-who is Sally Lunn?
Lately whenever I run across a recipe that I've never- in-my-life heard of before, I'm pretty much guaranteed that if I holler over to my Mother-in-law, "Have you heard of ...?"  There's a pretty good chance that she has.
Sally Lunn is a classic southern bread that allegedly came from across the pond (ENGLAND).  There are a few different ideas about who (or what) Sally Lunn was.  Some stories say that Sally was the daughter of a pastry chef from Bath, England.  While yet other legends say it wasn't named after a person at all, rather it was a bastardization of a french phrase "soliel et lune" (sun and moon), which makes reference to the breads round shape.  Yet another myth says it springs from a type of brioche called "solilemme".  This is one of the greatest things about recipes to me--all the stories that go along with them and the history. Whenever I come across old cookbooks, I go a little ga-ga like some sort of epicurian nerd.  Ahem.
So you see the confusion. In any case, what we are talking about is a dense, yet light and slightly sweet yeasty bread.  Delicious.  Especially while piping hot schmeared with butter and strawberry preserves.  Which explains why I don't have any pretty fresh-out-of-the-oven pictures to share with you.  We descended upon it like vultures on fresh carrion.
I had three different Sally Lunn recipes staring at me, but I chose to go with The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.  Why?  Because they are from Charleston, SC and I have been known to covet all things Charlestonian.
I also chose this recipe because the rising time was something like a total of 45 minutes.  Which seemed weird to me because all the other recipes were like 4 hours.  But hey.
Turns out the correct rising time probably is closer to somewhere in the 2 hour range. Of course my in-laws house is  freezing most of the time, and so after about 40 minutes of no-rise action, I got  smart and put the dough under the heat lamp on the stove.  Voila.  Magic rising dough.
And 35 minutes later amazingly beautiful bread.
Now go bake a loaf.

Sally Lunn Bread from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 cup whole milk
1 package (1/4 ounce, or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast, at room temperature
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sorghum molasses, cane syrup, or honey  (I used sorghum molasses.)
3 large eggs at room temperature
4 cups sifted unbleached all purpose flour, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the temperature read 105 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Turn off the heat.  Pour the yeast into the milk, whisk gently with a fork to dissolve (some of the yeast may not dissolve immediately), and let stand until tiny bubbles form on the surface of the milk, 5 to 10 minutes.

With an electric mixer, cream 7 tablespoon butter with the molasses in a large bowl until smooth, glossy, and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time and beat until cafe-au-lait in color (if you use honey, it will creamy light yellow).

In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the salt.  Add the flour mixture and the milk and yeast mixture to the egg mixture, about a 1/4 at a time, mixing well with wooden spoon after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes together.  Stir for a few minutes to ensure a smooth consistency.

Mark the level of the top of the dough on the outside of the bowl with a dab of butter or flour.  Cover the dough with a  clean dish towel and let it rest in a warm place.  When the dough has doubled in size, about 35 minutes (or in my case 1.5 hours), transfer it to a clean flat surface and punch it down.  Beat it with your fist 30 times.

Okay, my dough was super super super sticky.  Which I think was from the wonky time I had with it rising.

Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.  Transfer the dough to the loaf pan and pat it evenly into place.  Set in a warm place to rest.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the dough has doubled in size again (about 12 minutes--or in my case 30), bake on the middle rack for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes.

Slice.  Butter.  Eat. Repeat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

It's a humble thing, chicken pot pie.  As a kid, I immediately decided I didn't like it because of the way it looked.  It was one of those foods, like biscuits and gravy that my Dad always ordered (I mean, who doesn't like biscuits and gravy????? Of course I'm obsessed now.) that fell into the "ewwwww" category because of the unidentifiable chunks of meat suspended in a white gelatinous goo.  Somehow I was never afraid of caviar... maybe it was the copious amounts of creme fraiche I plopped onto blini.  Anyway.

I've since grown up (shhh, don't tell anyone), and my tastes have also grown up too.  But chicken pot pie was still never one of those food I loved.  Perhaps it was because I'd really only ever been acquainted with the Marie Callender version via the frozen food section of my grocery store.  And while yummy, I usually would just eat the crust and vegetables and pick around the chicken.  My husband, however, has always been a fan of chicken pot pie, and so I decided to make him a special treat.  I turned to Miss Martha, no not Stewart, the one of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea fame, because by now I trust her.  She knows what she's talking--and cooking--about.

I had a weird work schedule yesterday, I worked from 8-10 and then again from 3-8:30, so I thought I had plenty of time to put together the dish.  And I did, just by the skin of my teeth.  I had just enough time to pop it in the oven and head over to work.  The family got to taste it fresh out of the oven, and it got RAVE reviews.  When I got home that evening it was delicious cold out of the fridge.  The kid opted for buttered noodles...maybe I should offer him some caviar?

I went ahead and made the pie crust dough for this recipe (which turned out divine), but if you're pressed for time I don't see why you couldn't use pre-made dough.

This recipe is certainly a labor of love, especially if you make the pie dough, but it is well worth your time!

Chicken Pot Pie & Versatile Pie Crust Dough from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose
(only slightly adapted)

Make the Pie Crust Dough

2 cups all purpose flour  --  I used White Lily Flour, which I think is an entire blog post on it's own
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 vegetable shortening, chilled and pinched into small pieces
cup of ice water handy

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter and shortening and toss to coat with flour.  Using your fingers, work the butter and shortening into the flour until it's combined and your butter and shortening is no bigger than the size of a pea.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the ice water over the dough and mix with a fork to combine.  If its a little dry, keep sprinkling water with your fingers until it's a scraggy dough.

Form the dough into a ball.  Break off pieces of dough about the size of an egg and using the heel of your hand-- pushing away from you--schmear them onto your (clean) work surface.  When you've schmeared all the dough, gather it back together into a ball.  Put it between some saran wrap and pat it into a disk.  Place it into the fridge to chill while you put together the pot pie.

Chicken Pot Pie
(Adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea)

2 cups chicken broth
2 celery stalked chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
3 small yukon gold potatoes, diced
Half a medium yellow onion diced
1 large bone-in chicken breast with ribs, skin removed (mine was about 16 oz)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (you could totally use frozen)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon poultry or all purpose seasoning
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the crust

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, celery, carrot, potato and onions to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and add the chicken.  Simmer for 20 minutes (just enough time to put the kid down for his nap), until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a dish to cool.  Strain the broth, reserving the vegetables.  Return the broth to heat and simmer over medium-high heat to reduce to 1 cup.  I was very excited, as I reduced it exactly 1 cup!

While the broth is reducing, separate the chicken from the bones, shredding into bite-sized pieces.  Combine the chicken, reserved vegetables, peas and corn.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle in the flour and seasoning, and whisk to combine.  Keep whisking, whisking for about two minutes, until golden.  Add the reduced broth slowly.  Keep whisking!  Whisk in the cream.  Pause to try and take artistic shot.  Add the chicken and vegetables.  Stir to combine.  Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Take out the pie crust and roll out about 1/4 inch thick.  Now, the recipe calls for two 10-ounce oven proof dishes, but we only had one 7 1/2 x 9 inch pyrex dish, so that's what I used.  Okay, so roll out your dough so it's slightly larger than your baking dish.  I put my dish right on the dough, and then cut about an inch larger.  Press the dough into your baking dish, making sure it come up the sides, too.  Gather up the scraps and roll those out to form the top crust.

Spoon the filling into the dish.  Top with the other crust, and press the edges to seal.  Brush the top with a little cream.  Cut slits into top crust help steam escape.  Decorate tops with extra dough if you have any...perhaps your initial?

Place pot pie on baking sheet (just to catch any bubble-over), and slide into oven.  Zoom off to work.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  Get picture from hubby of amazing looking pot pie.

Try not to burn your mouth diving in!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cupcakes for the kid

It was a dark and stormy night...
Not really.  It was just a kind of a gray and rainy day.  Boredom was setting in.  Rain plus boredom equals a dangerous combination for a kiddo on the cusp of turning three.
So I asked him what he wanted to do:
Why, make cupcakes of course!
What flavor?
What kind of frosting?
Banilla. Which translated into grown-up means vanilla.
And so we made simple chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.  The cupcakes were super chocolately (if a bit dry--sorry Martha!), and the vanilla buttercream was so simple and scrumptious.  I do believe I could've just eaten the bowl of frosting and been perfectly happy.
I have the cutest little sous chef in town.

Chocolate Cupcakes from Martha Stewart Living

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter) softened at room temperature
3 large eggs (room temperature is good for the eggs, too)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract--I always just splash it in until I think it's enough
1/2 cup of sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until beautifully light and fluffy. Let the kid have a taste.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each to make sure they are incorporated.  Beat in vanilla.  Explain to the kid at least 10 times that he cannot taste it anymore because of the raw eggs.  With the mixer on low speed, let the kid pour in flour in batches, alternating with the sour cream.

Pour the batter into cups filling about 3/4 full.  I let the kiddo help by using spoons to fill the muffin cups.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Enjoy the chocolately aroma filling the house.

After the cupcakes have cooled, make the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting by Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Using the wire whisk attachment of a standing mixer whip the butter on medium-high speed for five minutes.  Stop to scrape the bowl once or twice.  The butter will be fluffy and pale yellow.

Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar.  Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mix until blended.  Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two more minutes.

Now you are ready to frost.  Or eat directly from bowl.

Brown Eyed Baker says you can store the frosting in the fridge, just before using let it come to room temperature and give it a quick whip.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Flour Power

Sometimes you experiment in the kitchen and you get results like this.  So of course I thought, maybe I can tweak it a little bit and make it even better.  And then sometimes you get this:

Apparently I didn't adjust the dry ingredients enough to make up for the extra liquid I added.
Oh well, you live and learn! Flat and crispy and still pretty tasty, just not quite shortbread.  Turns out the results are pretty yummy crumbled up on vanilla ice cream. So not all was lost.
Guess it's back to the books!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rum Tum Tiddy

Say it with me: Rum Tum Tiddy!
Say what?
I know.  I had NO IDEA what it was either.
Is it a drink?  Kind of sounds like Hot Toddy.
But no.
Is it a musical?  The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat!
Any guesses?
Okay, a quick google search will land you in a sea of condensed tomato soup, cheese and bread.  And basically that's what it is.
I hollered to my Mother-in-Law, "Have you ever heard of something called, Rum Tum Tiddy?"  To which she answered, "Of course!  It's an old Southern dish!"
Of course.
I stumbled across the recipe in Martha Hall Foose's new cookbook, A Southerly Course.  Haven't heard of her?  She is the amazingly talented chef behind, well, a lot of different things (click on her name!), but two really amazing cookbooks focused on southern food and traditions.  I first became acquainted with Miss Martha a few years ago on a visit to Nashville when my MIL introduced me to Miss Martha's first cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea.  It was love at first sight.  Basically I want to make everything in that book!  There is a list being whittled down...
I digress.
In A Southerly Course the very first recipe is for Rum Tum Tiddy.  Which is basically tomato soup and cheese over toast.  Which sounds perfectly delightful to me, but Miss Martha takes it to the next level.  She combines the classic ingredients in a totally new way, bakes it all up in the oven, cuts it up into cocktail sized nibbles and tops each piece with Parmesan cheese and some pickled okra.
Sounds good, right?
Lemme tell ya, it was the perfect light supper for a steamy summer night.
The recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs, and I found out that there is something quite satisfying about making your own breadcrumbs!  The recipe calls for a 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese, and then it also calls for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion.  Since I already had the grater out, I just went ahead and grated the onion too (how Rachel Ray of me!).
Okay, lets get started.

Rum Tum Tiddy (just very slightly adapted from A Southerly Course)

1 large egg beaten
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup (or a little more) of sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped pecan pieces
1 cup soft bread crumbs (just throw 3 pieces of white bread into a food processor, et voilĂ )
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pickled okra sliced into rounds 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.  I used a 7x9 inch Pyrex dish my MIL had because it was blue and white and super cute, and that worked just fine.

In a small glass softly beat one egg.  In a large bowl combine the Worcestershire sauce, cheddar cheese, pecans and bread crumbs. Add the egg and stir gently to combine.

In a medium skillet melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the onion and saute until just browned.  Add the tomato sauce and cook until incorporated.  Pour the onion and tomato sauce over the bread crumb mixture and stir to combine.  

Spoon the whole thing into the buttered dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm.  I baked mine for about 30 minutes and I probably could of let it stay in for another 5 minutes.  Every oven is different, so just keep checking it after 20 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then cut in 12 or 16 squares.  I then went ahead and cut a few in half to make triangles, just for looks.

Put the Parmesan on a plate and roll the squares (or triangles!) to coat.  Place a pickled okra round on each and secure with a toothpick.

Retire to the porch with libation of your choice and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How do I love thee, tomato?

It is July in Tennessee, and that means tomatoes.
Lots of them!
Cherokee purple, Bradley, yellow, green, orange and every shade in between.  I love tomatoes.  Love them simply sliced with a sprinkle of salt.  Love them between two slices of fluffy oatmeal bread.  Love them in salad, love them in pie, love 'em fried.
Seriously, it's hard to mess up a tomato for me.
We had a nice round-up of Brandywine tomatoes from the Amish Farm stand down the road, and I had a tomato tart recipe that had been dog-eared for awhile.
And so with a few bowls of tomatoes ripening on the counter, I decided time was a-wastin'.
The recipe calls for both red and yellow tomatoes--we only had red, with small yellow grape tomatoes, and that turned out just lovely.  While we used Fontina cheese in this (and we had some kinda funky with a capital F fontina cheese), I think Gruyere would be a wonderful choice as well.  One more thought: to make the dough you process the corn, lemon juice and sour cream and then add it to the dry ingredients.  Next time I make this I'm going to make sure I have about a 1/2 or so cup of whole corn kernels to add to the batter as well, I think it would add a nice texture contrast...and it's yummy.

Rustic Tomato Tart (adapted from cooking light)

2 large red tomatoes
Handful of baby or grape yellow tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
Kernels from two ears of corn - Fresh!
Juice from half a lemon
3 heaping tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup white cornmeal
1/4 cup cold cold cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Handful of fresh basil leaves, julienned
1/2 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons AP flour
Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Set tomato slices onto double layer of paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp or so of salt.  Leave them while you make the dough.

Pour corn, lemon juice, and sour cream into food processor, process until smooth.
In a separate bowl whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, the 1/4 cup of cornmeal and 1/4 tsp of salt.  Add the butter pieces and combine with your fingers until you have something resembling a coarse meal.  Add in the corn mixture and stir just to combine.  Turn out onto a clean surface and knead a few times.

Place two slightly overlapping sheets of saran wrap onto counter.  Place dough on saran wrap.  Press dough out into roughly 6 inch circle.  Place two more sheets of  plastic onto dough and roll out into 14 inch circle.  Place dough into fridge for 10-15 minutes.  Use this time to clean up the kitchen!  Also, go ahead and blot the excess moisture from the tomatoes with paper towel.  Also, go ahead and grate up the cheese and slice the basil if you haven't done that already.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon  cornmeal on the baking sheet.  Now take the dough out of the fridge and place it on the baking sheet (I know you're not dummies, but take the plastic wrap off the dough before you put it on the baking sheet).

Sprinkle the cheese and basil on the dough, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border.  Combine the 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a little cup.  Sprinkle about half of the flour/salt mixture on top of the cheese.  Now arrange - artfully- half of the tomato slices on the cheese.  Sprinkle the rest of the flour on top of the tomatoes.  Now place the rest of the tomatoes on top of that.  Fold the edges of the dough toward the center--it's rustic, so don't worry about it being perfect, and it's not going to nearly cover all the tomatoes.

Place in over for about 35 minutes, until nicely browned.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Slice, and serve with a nice glass of Pinot Gris.

Monday, July 11, 2011


We have a bumper crop of mint over here.  I keep meaning to make mojito's, but by the time I get the kid off to bed these days, I'm ready for bed myself!  
So the hub was doing some yard work the other day, spreading pine straw all over the property: shirtless, sweaty... and boy did he look hot.  
Boy did he look parched.
So Jake and I decided to fix Daddy a little thirst quencher.  
We marched up to my Mother-in-Law's mint jungle and just started grabbing handfuls.  Now, she told me she has about four varieties of mint, but we just picked what was in front of us and sniffed.  
Seemed to work out okay for us.
We found a bag of lemons in the fridge and set to squeezing some mint lemonade for my other main squeeze.
This recipe couldn't be easier.  I seem to be on simple-syrup trend right now...

Minted Lemonade

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
A few handfuls of fresh mint, lightly crushed in your hands, Plus some extra for garnish
Cup or so of fresh lemon juice

Combine water and sugar in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.  Add a few handfuls of mint and take off the heat.

While the simple syrup is cooling, get to work squeezing those lemons.  My Mother-In-Law had a beautiful antique glass juicer.  I got a great hand workout--but feel free to use an electric juicer!

Grab a pitcher and pour in the lemon juice.  Add water and simple syrup to taste.  Throw in a few more mint sprigs and some ice.

Pour, enjoy, repeat.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rumble and Ramble in Blackberry Bramble

My Mother-in-Law came home from a trip to Dyersburg the other day with a wonderful surprise.  A huge plastic bag FULL of blackberries.  They were still warm from sitting in the back of the truck where the farmer had been selling them.  And they were gorgeous!  Ranging from deep purple to almost black and all the way to a rosy pink. Summer was in that bag.

 We immediately thought of blackberry cobbler or blackberry jam.  Being more of an instant gratification person (and not wanting to drive in the car to get canning jars) I made the executive decision of blackberry cobbler.
We had friends coming over for a BBQ the next day, so I thought it would be the perfect dessert.
And it was.

The only complaint I had about this recipe, was that mine browned a bit too much...but that's an easy fix!  No one else seemed to mind.

Blackberry Cobbler #2 (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

6 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1-2 tablespoons sugar
juice from half of a lemon
zest from aforementioned lemon half
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup Crisco
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix blackberries, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in bowl.  Stir until combined, and spread out in buttered baking dish.

Rinse out the bowl (this is my keeping-the-kitchen-clean trick so my MIL will continue to let me experiment in her kitchen).  Now pour in flour, salt, baking powder and 1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending on your taste. Stir with a whisk to combine. Plop in shortening and butter and combine with fingers until the whole lot resembles coarse cornmeal.  Measure 1/2 cup of milk and add egg to milk.  Whisk to combine.  Pour milk and egg into flour mixture and stir until just combined.  If it's a little dry just a bit more milk.  Batter should be smooth, and not too too sticky.

Take small clumps of dough and place them on top of the blackberries.  Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for as long as you can wait.  Serve in bowls with big scoops of vanilla ice-cream.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rad Radish

Radishes are rad.
At least I think so.  Slightly peppery, delicious with a schmear of butter and salt, and a super satisfying crunch.  So when I stumbled upon this pickled radish recipe (say that three times fast), I knew I had to try it.  It was so easy to make, and enabled almost (they have to sit for at least 2 hours) instant gratification.  They really were lovely--the color was amazing.  The only thing I was missing was bit more brightness in the flavor, so maybe I need to add a splash more vinegar next time.
No matter, my father-in-law exclaimed, "These are the best radishes I ever put in my mouth!"

Proof is in the pickle.

Quick Radish Pickles
(adapted from Gourmet Magazine via The Wednesday Chef)

1 bunch Radishes, about 8 or 9, quartered
6 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1-inch peeled piece of ginger, sliced into slivers

Place radishes in sieve and toss with a few tablespoon's of salt.  Allow to drain for 30 minutes.
In small saucepan combine rice wine vinegar and sugar.  Heat vinegar and sugar over medium  heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in ginger.
Put radishes in shallow bowl and pour vinegar mixture over.  Cover with saran wrap and and place in refrigerator until chilled.  Radishes can be chilled up to one day.

Monday, July 4, 2011