Friday, December 30, 2011

Iron Horse grill to re-open

A downtown Jackson dining staple that has been closed for years could reopen as soon as late next year.
The Simpson Group intends to spend $6 million rehabilitating and expanding the Iron Horse Grill restaurant, which will reopen at its longtime home near Pearl Street.

Read more from Jeff Ayres in The Clarion-Ledger here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Lucky New Year's Day Menu

Black-eyed peas have symbolized good fortune since ancient Egyptian times, so it's not strictly a Southern thing. In the South, you eat the black-eyed peas for luck and the greens for money. (You can always cheat and just serve a baby spinach salad for the greens if you don't like collard greens or turnip greens enough to spend that much time cooking them.) I always serve both with cornbread - whether it brings luck and fortune or not, it can't be a bad thing to start the first day of the year with such a delicious meal! ;)

Hoppin' John is the traditional black-eyed dish, but I prefer this Stewed Black-Eyed Peas recipe. The recipes are similar but the stewed black-eyed peas are a bit more soupy (and have andouille sausage instead of ham).

Stewed Black-Eyed Peas
1 lb andouille
1 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
3 tsp dried parsley
8 c. chicken stock (or 4 cans chicken broth, like I use)
1 lb dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 tbsp minced garlic

Cut sausage in half lengthwise and into 1/4-inch slices. Brown over medium heat. Add onions, salt, cayenne, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and parsley, stirring, until the onions are wilted, about 5 min. Add the stock, peas and garlic. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, till the peas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves and serve warm with rice.

I tried this new recipe last year and liked it too, if you want more of an appetizer (or you like your greens with lots of cream and cheese!).

Hot Turnip Dip (via Sherry Lucas of The Clarion Ledger)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped turnip greens, cooked according to package directions and well-drained
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Tabasco

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until soft. Stir in mushrooms, saute until they are browned. Add the flour, stir until smooth, then add the heavy cream. Cook till slightly thickened. Add the turnip greens to the mixture. Add the cheese, stir until melted. Season with Worcestershire and Tabasco. Serve warm.

And, of course, any day is lucky that includes Mexican Cornbread, which always has to go with the black-eyed peas and greens at my house!

Happy New Year from my house to yours!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Collard Greens

We just spent the weekend in New Orleans, and I enjoyed the turnip greens at Mother's so much, I had to dust off my collards recipe...besides you'll need it for New Year's anyways!

10 to 12 slices bacon, diced
1 cup chopped onion
16 ounces frozen collard (or turnip or mustard) greens
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
dash red pepper
dash black pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Cook bacon just until almost crisp; add onion and sauté until onion is tender and bacon is crisp.

Put chopped mustard greens in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Add bacon and onion, along with ham, if using.

Toss with seasonings and butter to taste.
Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saltine Toffee Bark

This recipe is from the December/January 2012 edition of Taste of Home magazine and is VERY yummy! It would make a great homemade gift for Christmastime! (I don't think my guys will ever let this see the door, but perhaps you'll have better luck!)

Saltine Toffee Bark

40 Saltines
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 8-oz. pkg Heath bits

Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Arrange Saltines in a singler layer on foil; set aside.

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 min. or until sugar is dissolved. Pour evenly over crackers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 min. or until bubbly. Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow chips to soften for a few minutes, then spread over top. Sprinkle with toffee bits. Cool.
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

A Tale of Two Gumbos

We can make this hard or we can make this easy. 
Southern Living (Dec. 2004) has a quick-and-easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo recipe that is delicious. It is much lighter than traditional gumbo and perfect for those of us watching our calories. The second Chicken & Sausage Gumbo recipe is Emeril's. It's not quick and easy (or light), but it is delicious. (I've been making it for about four years now - so I can vouch for the recipe.) It's always made for Christmas dinner at my house.

Quick & Easy Chicken-Sausage Gumbo

1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 to 3 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 to 2 tsp Creole seasoning
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
Hot cooked rice

Cook sausage over high heat in Dutch oven 5 min., stirring often. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

Add enough oil to drippings in Dutch oven to equal 3 tbsp, and whisk in flour; cook over med-hi heat, whisking constantly, 5 min. Add onion and next three ingredients; cook 5 min., stirring often. Stir in broth and next two ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 min. Add sausage and chicken; simmer, covered, 5 min. Serve over rice. (Contributed by Clairiece Gilbert Humphrey of Charlottesville, VA).

Emeril's Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. flour
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped green bell peppers
1 lb smoked sausage, cut up
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 bay leaves
8 c. water
1 lb chicken, cut up
1 tsp creole seasoning
2 tbsp parsley, fresh
1/2 c. green onions
1 tbsp file powder (optional - I never include's thick enough on it's own and I like my gumbo a little soupy)
1 bag frozen sliced okra (my addition...not in Emeril's original recipe)

Combine the oil and flour over med. heat. Stir slowly 20 to 25 minutes. (This is the critical stage in any gumbo. You have to stand right over it and watch the color. When the roux is the color of a Hershey's chocolate bar (pictured above), it's about right. But one minute of not watching can be the difference between a perfect roux and a burnt mess. I also find it helpful to stir the roux with a whisk rather than a spoon - but I have no idea why this is better...can't explain the science, it just works for me.) Add onions, celery and bell pepper and stir 5 min.

Add sausage, salt, cayenne and bay leaves. Stir 4 min. Add water and stir till combined. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to med-lo. Cook, uncovered, stirring occassionally, for one hour.

Season chicken with Creole seasoning and add to pot. Simmer for two hours. Add okra and cook for as long as directions on the bag suggest. Remove from heat and add parsley, green onions and file powder (if desired). Remove bay leaves.