Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seafood Left Overs

We've started going to Dauphin Island, AL when we need some beach time. Dauphin Island is not crowded, it's remote and quiet. From one beach house you can see the gulf and the bay.

Skinner's Seafood sells shrimp that was caught the night before. Heath and I stopped on our way out on Sunday and bought shrimp, crab claws and lump crab meat. We shared with our friends and had some left over shrimp. We did dinner for our friends and had this:

Seafood Au Gratin: (because I never think I have enough food I also added some Simmon's Catfish)

Layer catfish fillets, shrimp and lump crab meat. Top with this sauce and bake: 1 stick of butter melted and lightly browned with 1/2 cup of butter. add 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 cups of milk. When the sauce returns to a simmer add cheese, at least 2 cups. You can choose the cheese. We used cheddar, colby, jack. Pour sauce over the seafood. Heath melted butter, crushed crackers, cheese and added to the top before baking. *My secret to this kind of a sauce is that I will always add a splash of cooking sherry, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Grits and Greens: (Alright so I just finished reading Hissy Fit and Keeley made this. I did adjust!)
In a sauce pan heat 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of half and half. Add a cup and a half of grits when the liquid comes to a boil. Honestly, I just poured in grits, and when it was too many grits I kept adding water until the consistency was was right. After your grits are creamy add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 2 teaspoons of hot sauce, salt, pepper and 1 bag of frozen turnip greens. Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or so.

Corn Potato and Tomato Salad:
Cut corn off left over crab boiled corn (or use canned white corn), chunk up left over boiled potatoes, and dice tomatoes. Mix together 1 cup of mayo, 1/2 cup of ranch dressing (homemade is best), chiffonade basil, 1/2 cup of sour cream, and seasonings. Pour over vegetables and allow to sit for a couple of hours.

I love feeding my friends.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Figs


I apologize for my absence. I've had a little surgery and have been out of commission for a couple of weeks. It's almost killed me! I guess you don't realize how much you love something until you have an extended absence from it.

It's full on fig season! Most homes in Mississippi have at least a small fig tree either on the property or their neighbor has one close by. We have questionable luck with most fruit trees, but for some reason figs nearly always are plentiful. My neighbor, Jim, has a huge tree in his back yard. He fought off the birds to pick me a gallon of figs. I offered a barter, he bring me the figs, I'd cook him my chicken and fig pasta.

On my first trip to NYC back in 2001, I had a day alone. You can imagine how scary that was for a Mississippi girl new to any big city, especially one where I didn't have a car and needed others to help me find my way. I know how to get around the city now without being afraid. That first day alone I was starving and stopped at the first Italian place outside the Spring Street Station. I sat on the side walk cafe and ordered the special for the day: chicken with figs. I was homesick by that Saturday and figs sounded like home. I had something that wasn't comfort food, but it was an inspiration.

figues chez les porcs

This easy starter translates to: figs in pigs. Wrap each fig in 1/2 a slice of bacon. Arrange in a dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 350. Leave stems on and watch for bacon to begin to firm. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to serve. This is so elegant and unexpected. The sweet and savory are the perfect mix.

For an unexpected Chicken and Fig Pasta

Fry 1lb of bacon. Remove bacon and brown 2 diced chicken breasts and 1 chopped onion. Remove from pan. Add 1/4 stick of butter to bacon drippings. Add 1/4 cup of flour and stir to a blonde roux. To roux, add 3 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of wine. I used red because it was open, white would be fine. Also add 1/4 cup of golden sherry, salt, pepper, and basil. Allow to reduce until thick.

While sauce is reducing. I roasted 20 figs on a char-grill until caramelized and allowed to macerate in balsamic vinegar for 20 minutes. Boil Bowtie pasta until al dente.

To assemble: Add chicken, onions and crumbled bacon to the reduced sauce. Add figs, including vinegar to the sauce. Toss with Pasta and serve warm, with a salad and crusty bread.