Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Berry Berry Good Pizza

Sunday night we had dinner at Jim's house. We decided to go after I'd already been to the grocery store, so I had limited decisions for putting together a dessert. Here's my Berry Pizza:

In a pan add 2 cups of frozen peaches and a cup (or two) of frozen berries. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of sherry and allow to come to a boil. Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water and add to the boiling fruit. Roll out one tube of refrigerated pizza dough. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Spoon the fruit and some of the syrup over the pizza crust and bake for about 15 minutes. While the pizza is baking mix together a block of cream cheese, a cup (or so) of powdered sugar and enough of the left over syrup for the frosting to thin.

When the pizza crust is beginning to turn golden, drizzle the cream cheese mix over the top and allow to cool to room temp. Jim had some 'delta blues' bluebell ice cream. and it was a good mix.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Pie for my friend Melanie

My neighborhood is an amazing one. We try to get together every week, especially the few families who've got children the same age and who just 'clicked' from the first day. Tonight we went to the Yates' home for crawfish and shrimp. Melanie's house is always so perfect, so welcoming and truly beautiful.

I always feel like one should bring a gift if visiting another's home. It almost seems tacky to me not to. There's the added bonus that I love, truly love, cooking for my friends. We only had a few minutes so I put together this pie. It needed at least an hour to reach proper consistency, but we couldn't wait that long and ate it with a spoon.

In an Oreo Cookie Crust, layer caramel (from the ice cream section) sauce. Heat 1/2 cup of whipping cream in the microwave until steaming and bubbling. add 1 cup of dark chocolate chips. add a cup of whipping cream to keep the sauce thin. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and mix with 1 tablespoon of flour. add in the chocolate sauce and cook until thick. If this breaks (mine did) put into a mixing bowl and whisk whisk whisk. Add to your pie crust and chill. Would be good with whipped cream or a meringue.

Melanie said it had a 'fancy' 'chocolate truffle' taste.

It was yum.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day at the Lake

My sister and I decided to have a family party at her house on Lake Lorman. We had a small crowd, just us and our families and our parents. We spent a few hours taking turns being humiliated and delightedly pulled behind their boat on a two seated inter-tube. We spent a couple more house lazing in the sun next to the pool, then a couple of hours taking turns playing guitar hero. We somehow managed during that time to progressively eat everything that Jen and I cooked or assembled. Jen and I were going for a very salad-y cold menu that could be easily transported from the kitchen to the boat to the pool and back to the TV room.

My sister can make something as simple as a relish tray look elegant and complicated. It's one of those standard southern dishes that people don't always remind you to throw together. I think Jen has made it her mission to always include it because of our family gatherings at my mom and dad's house. For some reason our genetics require that we constantly buy pickled items. My parents could have 30 jars of assorted pickled stuff at any given time. With backups in the pantry. Jen began the tradition of the relish tray at some family gathering. It was essentially a means of consolidating the fridge, but she made it seem that it was a sharing of the pickled bounty: pickled okra, mushrooms, olives, onions. Sweet, dill, sour, bread and butter, spicy cucumber pickles. Pickled pepperoncini, cherry or red bell peppers. My sister has the relish tray down to an art. She and her kids also made a really good chicken cheeseball and 7 layer dip.

We threw together some turkey tortilla wraps. These were simple but fairly creative: a thin layer of cream cheese, then homemade mayhaw jelly (peach or apple would be a good substitute) then the turkey. Rolled up and sliced as a pick up food. Another is guacamole dip spread over the cream cheese and layered with turkey and cheese. The kid's favorite was a simple peanut butter and jelly wrap.

I threw together a few cold salads:

Broccoli and Fruit Slaw
2 packages of shredded broccoli stalks with carrots and cabbage, 1 jar of bottled coleslaw dressing, 1/2 cup of dried cherries, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, 1/2 cup of golden raisins. Combine with salt and pepper.

This was great in a pita with some grilled flank steak and some roasted red peppers and onions.

Southern Cucumbers

During my childhood days with my next door garden we had thousands of cucumbers every summer. My grandmother kept a bowl of white vinegar, onions and cucumbers in her fridge at all times. Usually with ice floating in it if it was coming to the table. This is my version:

Heat 12oz of red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and combine. Set aside to cool. Slice 3 cucumbers. Layer cucumbers, dill and basil, cucumbers, dill and basil, cucumbers. Add 6 pieces of candied ginger and a handful of whole black peppercorns. Pour vinegar mixture over and allow to marinate for as long as you can. Last night I added 2 more cucumbers to the brine for later.

Artichoke salad

In keeping with my genetic code I throw this salad together any time I have people coming anywhere near my table:

1 can of artichoke hearts, 1 jar of pickled baby corn, 1 jar of cherry peppers, 1 can of black olives. Drain and cover with 1 container of red pepper italian dressing and 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. Allow to sit over night if possible.

Tomato Moz

I stopped at the Fresh Market and got vine tomatoes, hand rolled mozzarella, and basil leaves. I sliced layered and drizzled with basil olive oil and good balsamic vinegar. This was good with sliced turkey in a pita.

I'd like to pretend that we were so very elegant and that this is what we feasted on all day but there were also cheetos and snickers in attendance. It wouldn't be a super snack day without those.

Happy Father's Day to the wonderful men in my life.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More NYC

I can't say enough how much fun we had in NYC. We worked out butts off in the heat. Maybe the best part was the time we spent with our friends. Here are more pictures:

Barbeque Princess' Pictures

If you'll notice part way through there's a few pictures of Brian serving Iron Chef America's Ed Levine. Pretty cool for us foodies!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Food

We moved into the house I grew up in when I was about 2. Mr. and Mrs. Westbrook lived in the house next door. I can remember how the house smelled. It was a combination of the two things that seemed to sum up the two of them: fresh baked something and cedar. Mr. Westbrook was retired and he swore up and down that he'd once owned a monkey. He worked daily in his wood shop and shot squirrels with his bb gun. Each spring he put in a huge garden. They didn't have any family in town, but we were right next door. In fact, their chairs faced a big sliding glass door that looked out into our front door. They literally watched my sister and I grow up. Jennifer and I always looked forward to helping him in the garden. He had the patience of Job. We knew he loved us because he planted 10 plants with "tommy-toes" (cherry tomatoes) and he didn't eat them. We would eat them right off the vine until we were almost sick. The garden was full of all of the best things: squash, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pink eye purple hull peas, butter beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers.

During peak garden season we'd walk outside each morning and he'd have a 5 gallon bucket full of whatever he'd picked before the sun was too hot. I came up with my spaghetti sauce one summer out of sheer desperation. I couldn't bring myself to throw away all those tomatoes. And I mean, really, how many tomato sandwiches can one person eat? Well, a lot, but by August they aren't quite the delicacy they were in late May.

I made a trip to Sunflower last night and had a moment of pure nostalgia. Something in the zucchini made me miss growing up, Mr. Westbrook's garden, Mrs. Westbrook's cakes, shelling peas and tomato sandwiches. I bought zucchini and eggplant and wished for a 5 gallon bucket full of fresh vegetables. I like to think they would have liked what I made while thinking of them:

Slice 2 zucchini and 1 eggplant and lay out on a rack. Salt heavily and allow to sit at room temp. After about 30 minutes, turn and repeat. Rinse the vegetables thoroughly. This process helps remove the bitterness and keeps the vegetables from turning to mush.

Layer zucchini and eggplant in a casserole dish. Spread a layer of softened cream cheese. Top with 1 lb of browned sausage. add another layer of the vegetables. Pour one can of tomatoes over the top. (I wish I had that bucket of tomatoes!) (I think it would be better if you sliced fresh tomatoes.) Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella. Now, I will admit that I cheated here, but it made it so easy: Top with 2 pouches of tomato/basil pasta sauce. top with mozzarella and parmesan. This is weird but helped...microwave for about 10 minutes and place in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.

Serve with pasta.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


NYC Pictures

thanks Alex!

My friend Alex

My friend Alex over at http://carefree-beachbum.blogspot.com/ spent the weekend with us up in NYC. I've spent most of the last couple of days obsessing over what people had to say about us at the Block Party. By and large the comments have been kind. Alex was our official documentarian and did a great job. Have a look:


If only I knew how to turn something into a link! Help!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Maybe we should start again...

We just got back from the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party. In fact, the Ubon's trailer and crew are still in transit from the big city. Over the weekend my daddy and I were able to spend some time with Elizabeth Karmel (http://www.GirlsattheGrill.com/). She something of a celebrity in my world. I will admit to you that I was more than a little star struck. Elizabeth is a major champion for us Cue Chicks. At Elizabeth's suggestion I'm going to backtrack and tell you the story that I should have started this blog with: Why I am the Barbeque Princess.

When I was about 11 my dad decided to start the process of bottling and selling my grandfather, Ubon's, sauce. In 1989 Daddy, Mama and a few of their friends decided to cook in the backyard competition at the Cleveland, MS Octoberfest Contest. Daddy had a grill and a card table and cooked some wicked chicken. Who knew that plain ole barbeque chicken, delicious though it may be, was nothing close to what the judges were looking for. They didn't win a trophy but Daddy made friends and found a new love. Daddy and his friends invested in t-shirts (I mean it's official if there's a tshirt for it, right?) and they hit the road. The first few contests were a bust. In 1990 I was a senior in high-school and my daddy forced my sister and I to drive up to Octoberfest. We showed up on Saturday (show day is never ever the fun day) and we cut out as soon as we didn't make the finals. It was official, my parents were enjoying old people fun.

At some point that barbeque season we got a pass down for Memphis in May and the Friday before my graduation from high school mama and daddy made my sister, Jennifer, and I catch a ride to Memphis. Mama called us and told Jen and I to bring out mud boots. We balked because we’d agreed to wear the t-shirts with skirts. When we got to Tom Lee Park, we found a good 6 inches of mud. And lots of old people. Having fun.

Alright, alright, about 4 hours in and we were hooked. We were so hooked that my sister stopped being a vegetarian and started eating ribs. We were so hooked that the next fall if there was a contest, Jen and I were there.

In the fall of 1992 we headed to Possum Town Pig Fest in Columbus, MS. I had grown weary of doing gate duty. Jen and I were obviously BBQ Eye Candy. I was at a pretty decisive time in my life. My daddy has always been easily persuaded by his girls. I’ve been a master of manipulation for a long time. The best way to get my way with daddy was to convince him that putting me at the presentation table was his own idea. I may have even protested a little so he’d really think it was his idea. Daddy cooked some show ribs that you wouldn’t believe. I smiled, I flipped my hair, I flirted, I sold some damn good ribs. I used every skill I had as a southern woman. I got lucky that my daddy knew what he was doing when he cooked those ribs. When we got the notice that we’d made it to the finals my dad and I looked at each other and knew...we make one hell of a team. My research tells me that history was made that day. I was the first female to do a table presentations in the finals round and the first to win a State Championship/Grand Champion.

By 1993 I was tired of getting the look to my daddy to check facts. So I got my butt up and I learned. I started cooking the ribs myself. I watched my dad step gracefully back so that I could find my own place at the table. I’ve prepped and presented in 50 or more contests in the 16 years since my first start. I’ve changed recipes and methods. I think after all this time, I may have finally found the right combination that will help me continue getting into the finals. I’ve stepped far out on a limb and created my own sauce. I was always afraid of making too many changes. Daddy likes to “dance with the girl that brung you.” I think you should always dance with the better looking one.

We cooked in Pearl, MS back in April. An old family friend watched our finals presentations for hog, shoulder and ribs. When I began the presentation, I knew I had some beautiful ribs. I was full of energy, full of pride. My daddy stood right behind me in his traditional spot. My sister accidentally laughed too loudly when I described my rib rub as having ‘paprika, the sweet and smokey friend of the rib.” I was unfazed! On I went because I knew I had a winner.

My friend said later that she teared up because of how my daddy looked at me, at how proud he was of me, at how she could tell how pleased he was to have me smack up in his old people fun.

So I’m not so sure that I consider myself barbeque royalty so much as I consider myself my daddy’s Barbeque Princess.

For my new friend Elizabeth...a couple of sauces

Ubon's Comeback Sauce:

1 cup prepared mayo
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of hot sauce
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, minced (I would consider sauteing in butter until wilted, depending on personal prefrence)
salt, pepper, red pepper, lemon pepper to taste.

mix together, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.

serve with fried pickles, sweet potato fries, as a salad dressing, or as a dipping sauce for chicken or sausage.

Ubon's Come Hither sauce

(My friends the Rosen boys, don't like mayo so this is for them:)

1/2 cup of yellow mustard
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of ketchup
2 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
minced onion optional

serve with chicken, on beef sandwiches, over cream cheese with crackers

Monday, June 2, 2008

Well, as reported we had a fabulous time at Memphis in May. I thought you might want to see for yourself. Please note the pictures at the shopping cart parade/walk about.


We are getting ready to head to New York for the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party. I will keep you posted!