Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Candied Fruit Cake

This is my mother's recipe for fruitcake. It is a rich, delicious fruity concoction that has almost no cake. I have changed the recipe somewhat and use it basically as a blueprint.  Generally, use about 3 pounds of candied and or dried fruits. Just keep the proportion of fruit to cake batter the same. This year I made it with fewer cherries and less pineapple, and added golden raisins, candied orange peel, and apricots. Don't swap out the dates. Ama B always said that they were the glue that holds the cake together. Use one 9 inch spring form cake pan or a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. I sometimes use the small bread pans. This recipe doubles easily.

1-2 days ahead:
Place in a big bowl and sprinkle generously with brandy, bourbon, or rum:

2 10 ounce packages pitted dates,chopped
1/2 pound candied pineapple
1/2 pound candied cherries
1/4 pound candied lemon
1/4 pound candied citron
You may also add raisins, dried apricots,chopped, dried cherries
4 cups pecan halves (Chopped pecans will allow the cake to slice better, halves are prettier)

Let stand 1-2 days.

Mix together in a small bowl:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp double acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Add flour and egg mixture to fruit mixture and mix together with a large metal spoon or your hand.

Preheat oven to 275.

Prepare your pans:
Spray with Baker's Secret (oil and flour mixed). Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the pan and spray paper with Baker's Secret. The paper doesn't have to cover all sides, just 2 sides and the bottom.

Pack batter into pans, pressing down and bake until top of cake looks dry and toothpick comes out clean-about 1 1/4 hours for spring form pan, 1 1/2 hour for loaf pan, 45 minutes for small loaf pans.

Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes. Turn out on racks and let cool completely. Remove paper. Wrap in cheesecloth, place on aluminum foil and sprinkle generously with brandy, bourbon, or rum. Wrap up in aluminum foil. These will ripen and get better in a month or so.
Unwrap and sprinkle with more liquor every couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Poppyseed Dressing

This recipe is from Miss Debbie. I think that she got it from Mr. Hank's mother.

1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 C white wine vinegar
1/2 C sugar
2/3 C oil
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbl poppyseeds

Mix together in a screw top jar. Shake well.

Serve over a mixture of bibb lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, and mandarin oranges or sliced strawberries.

Shrimp Creole

This recipe was from a friend of Ama B. Kathleen Rees was from New Orleans and this is an outstanding recipe. You can do the whole thing, up to adding the shrimp, in advance. A great recipe for a dinner party. I like to serve this with a lettuce, mandarin orange, and red onion salad with poppy seed dressing.

1/4 C flour
1/4 C bacon grease
2 C chopped onions (about 2 medium)
1/2 C chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C chopped green pepper
1 C chopped celery with leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 oz. tomato paste
16 oz canned chopped tomatoes w/ liquid
1 C shrimp stock (boil shrimp shells and heads) or 1 C water
4 lbs raw, shelled shrimp (21-25 count)
1 tsp tabasco
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 Tbl lemon juice

Cooked rice (I like Uncle Ben's)

In a heavy 4 qt pan, make a dark brown roux of flour and bacon grease. Cook on medium heat, stirring periodically. Chop the vegetables while the roux is cooking, but keep a close eye on this. It will take 15-20 minutes, but if it burns you'll have to start over.

Add all the chopped vegetables, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Saute for 30 minutes.

Add the tomato paste. Saute 3 minutes

Add the chopped tomatoes & stock or water. Bring to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, for 1 hour. (Can be made ahead up to this point)

Bring to a boil and add shrimp, stirring several times. Let cook til just done (about 5 minutes).
Stir in parsley, lemon juice and tabasco. Serve immediately over rice.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deviled Cornish Game Hens

Really fast and easy. This works well w/ chicken quarters or pieces also. Adjust your cooking time.

2 1 1/4 lb Cornish hens, halved & flattened (Ask the butcher to half them)
1/4 C dijon mustard
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne

Arrange hens skin side down in a broiler pan. Salt and pepper the birds. Broil about 4" from heat for 10 minutes. Mix all remaining ingredients together. Brush 1/2 the mixture on the hens and broil another 5 minutes. Turn skin side up, season with salt and pepper and broil 5 minutes. Brush on remaining mustard and broil 5 more minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Times for chicken parts:

bone in breasts - about 15 minutes total broiling time (unless they're huge)
boneless breasts - about 10 minutes total
Leg and thigh quarters - about 25 minutes total

Friday, February 17, 2006

Red Beans and Rice

Really good. Miss Debbie gave me this recipe.

2 C onion, chopped
1/2 C green pepper, chopped
1 1/3 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp parsley, minced
1 lb. ham, cubed
1 lb pickled pork in large pieces or fresh pork
1 large ham bone
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried basil
2 quarts cold water
2 lbs dried red beans

Boiled white rice
chopped green onions

Put red beans in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes.
Turn the heat off and let soak 2 hours.

Drain beans and add all other ingredients and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer 21/2 to 3 hours or until beans are tender. Check occasionally and add more water if it gets too thick.

Serve with rice and chopped green onion and Louisiana hot sauce.

BBQ Shrimp

This is incredibly good. Serve outside with lots of french bread to sop up the sauce and plenty of cold beer or wine.

Serves 2 or 3 for dinner, 4 as a first course

1 lb large shrimp in the shell

1tsp cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp oregano
1/4 lb + 5 tbl butter
1 1/2 tsp garlic
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2 C clam juice or shrimp stock
1/4 cup beer at room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice

Rinse shrimp.

Combine everything but shrimp, clam juice, beer and lemon juice in a large skillet. When the butter melts add the shrimp and cook 2 minutes. Add clam juice and cook 2 minutes. Add beer and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve in bowls.

Penne with tomatoes, olives, and two cheeses

I got this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. I've made a few changes. This is delicious! I don't make it much because it is really fattening, but it's great for a crowd

6 Tbl olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained
2 tsps dried basil
3/4 tsps dried crushed red pepper
2 C canned low-salt chicken broth

1 pound penne or rigatoni
2 1/2 C packed, grated Havarti cheese
1/3 C sliced, pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 C grated parmesean
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, dried basil and crushed red pepper. Bring to boil, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer and mixture thickens to chunky sauce and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well.

Return pasta to same pot. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Pour sauce over and toss to blend. Mix in Havarti cheese. Transfer pasta to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with olives, then Parmesan.

Bake until pasta is heated through, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.

Serves 4.

Jean's Hot Chicken Salad

I got this recipe from a friend in Memphis. I haven't seen her for twenty years, but this chicken salad is undoubtedly the best. Along with a pound cake, it's my stand by funeral food.

2 C cooked chicken breast, cubed
1 C celery or water chestnuts, chopped
1/2 C sharp cheddar
2 tsp onion, chopped finely
1 C mayonaise (Use good mayo like Hellman's)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 C aspargus, cut into 2 inch pieces and blanched

1 tbl butter
1/2 C browned almonds

Slice the asparagus and blanch for 60 seconds in boiling water. Remove to ice water and drain well.

Saute almonds in butter till brown. Remove almonds from butter and reserve.

Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tagliatelle with Chicken

3 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken from the supermarket
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Leaves from 3 rosemary sprigs, minced
1/3 cup of raisins, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes (optional)
1/2 cup of pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 pound of tagliatelle
2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Put a lot of water on for the pasta, salting it when it boils.

While the chicken is still hot take the meat off the bone, leaving all the skin on if your diet allows. Cut it into small pieces.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, watching them carefully.

For the sauce, pour all the juices from the chicken container into a saucepan. Add the rosemary, the drained sultanas and the pine nuts. Begin to simmer the sauce when you're ready to cook the pasta.

Cook and drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, chicken pieces and parsley in a large warmed bowl.

Friday, February 10, 2006


2-3 tbl olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1/4 lb pancetta or ham, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can red or white beans
1-2 zucchini, chopped
2 peeled and diced potatoes (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cabbage or kale, chopped, or 1 pkg of frozen spinach or turnip greens
Add whatever vegetables you like or that you have. You could add green beans and green peas for example
3 cans chicken stock
Rind from a chunk of parmesean reggiano
1-2 tsp each dried basil & oregano
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 pound small cooked pasta
fresh chopped basil (optional)

Saute the aromatics and the ham in olive oil w/ 1/2 tsp dried oregano and basil. Add the remaining ingredients except the potato and another 1/2 tsp basil & oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 20 minutes and add the potatoes. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer 15 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and simmer for 5 minutes more. Fish out the rind and the bay leaf. Taste and season. Serve sprinkled with grated parmesean and fresh chopped basil.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Old Fashioned Pot Roast & variations

Although this takes several hours to cook, it takes very little time to prepare. You could also cook this in a crock pot. Variations of this recipe follow.

1 2-3 lb chuck roast
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1-2 tbl tomato paste
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp rosemary
3-4 tbl olive oil
2-3 tbl flour (optional)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine (optional)
2 cans beef stock, preferably salt-free or 1 can beef stock & 1 can french onion soup
salt & pepper

Optional vegetables if you want a one pot meal:
3 Idaho potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, sliced lengthwise & halved

Heat oil in dutch oven. Salt and pepper meat and brown it on medium high heat about 5 minutes per side. Remove to plate, reduce heat, and add onions & carrots, sauteing for about 5 minutes. If you want a thick gravy add the flour and cook 3 more minutes. Add tomato paste & garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add the wine and 1 can of stock stirring and scraping up the brown bits. Season roast with thyme and rosemary and return to pot. Add enough stock or soup to come about halfway up the roast. Add the bay leaf. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed (The stock will reduce so don't add too much now.) Bake,covered in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. Check halfway through to make sure there still is plenty of liquid in the pot. If you are cooking the optional veg, add them about 40 minutes before the roast is done. Otherwise, serve this with mashed potatoes.

Italian Pot Roast

Omit thyme & bay
Increase rosemary to 1 tsp
Add 2 tsp basil
Add 1 tsp oregano
Add 1 can chopped or crushed tomatoes
Omit dry vermouth & substitute red wine
Omit optional vegetables

Serve with fusilli tossed with butter and parmesean or polenta or smashed potatoes with garlic.

Mexican Pot Roast or Ropa Vieja

Omit thyme, bay, and rosemary
Add 1/2 tsp oregano
Add 1 tsp cumin
Add 1 can Rotel
Omit optional vegetables

To make Ropa vieja (old clothes), shred the meat before serving.

Serve w/ tortillas, corn, hominy or rice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


This is delicious, and easy, but not quick. Make this when you have some extra time, otherwise make something else.

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1-4 tbl butter, depending on your diet (you can substitute olive oil)
3-4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated parmeseano reggiano

In a small saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave heat stock until simmering.

Saute onion in butter in heavy sauce pan (one that has a lid) until onion is translucent. Add rice and saute until the rice is opaque, but not browned. If you're using canned chicken stock, just add a pinch of salt, homemade stock can take 1/2 tsp.

Begin adding stock to rice about 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently. When one portion of stock is absorbed, add another. (Keep stock simmering or reheat in the microwave) Continue adding stock until rice is creamy and cooked through, but not mushy. Add the parmesean cheese and taste. Add more salt if needed and some fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.
(If you hold this you will need to add more stock or water as it will continue to absorb liquid)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chicken Breast w/ Lemon and Basil

This is a great, easy recipe and low cal! It is from Biba's seasonal cookbook, although I have changed it somewhat.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice & peel of 1 lemon
Big handful of fresh basil, chopped, app. 1/4 cup, save some for garnish
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper

more fresh lemon juice to taste, added at the end

Marinate chicken w/ all ingredients for 1-2 hours. Pour it all into a large skillet over medium high heat and cook for 8-12 minutes, browning nicely. (If the breasts are small cook 8, big 12) Remove skillet from heat and add fresh lemon juice to taste. Place breasts and sauce on platter and garnish with more fresh basil.

This is delicious served with risotto and fresh brocolli or peas.

Spicy Marinara Sauce

Serves 4

1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
tsp anchovy paste (optional)
2-3 tbl olive oil
2 cans chopped tomatoes in their juice
2 tbl tomato paste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp dry basil
salt & pepper
2 tbl capers, drained (optional)
12 kalamata olives, pitted & sliced (optional)

Saute onion and garlic w/ a pinch of salt in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add anchovy paste and tomato paste and saute another couple of minutes. Add red pepper flakes, oregano and basil, and tomatoes w/ their juice (I usually process them first w/ my stick blender because your dad doesn't like junky sauce). Cook for 15-20 minutes. Add capers and olives if your using them and black pepper. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve over linguine.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Smashed potatoes

1 lb small, new potatoes like Yukon gold
water to cover

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
3-4 tbl olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup milk
salt, pepper to taste

Place washed potatoes in a sauce pan w/water to cover. Add 1-2 tbl salt, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to sauce pan. Smash potatoes with a potato masher and add garlic and olive oil. Add milk until you get the consistency you like. Salt and pepper to taste.

These can be reheated in the microwave.

Pork chops in mustard sauce

Serves 4

6-8 pork chops depending on size and who's eating
salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary
1-2 tbl olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1/4 cup chicken stock
1-2 tbl dijon mustard
2-3 tbl sour cream

Salt & pepper pork chops and brown in olive oil in oven-proof skillet in batches(about 3 at a time). Season w/ thyme and rosemary. Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Season w/ salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Deglaze pan with wine and chicken stock.
Cover pan and bake for 1 hour at 350, checking after 30 minutes to make sure there is still some liquid in the pan. If not, add some stock.

Remove pork chops to platter and place skillet on stove top on low heat. Add 1-2 tbls dijon mustard and 2-3 tbl sour cream, stir to incorporate. Taste and correct seasonings, pour over pork chops.

Serve with smash potatoes or rice pilaf.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4

1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 egg, beaten
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
dash Worstershire
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
Grated parmesean

Place macaroni in a bowl and add enough milk to almost cover. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Place in greased oven-proof casserole and bake, covered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes.


Serves 8

1 recipe spaghetti sauce with Italian Sausage
1 lb Rotini or non-cook lasagne noodles
1 recipe bechamel
3 cups grated Parmesean Reggiano or Asiago if you're on a budget


4 Tbl butter
6Tbl flour
4 Cups or more- milk, cream, or half & half, depending on your diet
salt, pepper, fresh nutmeg

Melt butter and add flour. Cook stirring for 3 minutes, but don't let it brown. Slowly add the 1st cup of milk, stirring constantly. Add remaining milk, continuing to stir, until it comes to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add more milk, if neccessary to achieve a medium thick white sauce. Season w/ salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Faux Bechamel (for those on a diet)
3 cups of skim milk
3 Tbl cornstarch, stirred into 1/4 cup dry white wine, or dry vermouth
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Bring milk to a simmer and, off heat, add cornstarch dissolved in wine. Add bay leaf and seasonings. Return to heat and bring back to boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf

If you're using the Rotini cook it for about 5 minutes til al dente. If you're using the non-cook lasagne noodles, thin out the spaghetti sauce because they'll suck up the liquid. Spray a casserole with Pam or grease w/ olive oil. Start w/ a little sauce and make 3 or more layers of pasta, bechamel, spaghetti sauce & cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until hot and bubbly. (You could add a layer of sauteed spinach, mushrooms, or zucchini to this also.)