Monday, April 25, 2011

Crab Pimento Cheese

Last month while I was visiting Greenville, South Carolina, I had the luxury of dinner at Rick Erwins Nantucket. Truly some of the best oysters I've ever had. But even the best oysters I've ever had didn't come close to one of the greatest things I've ever eaten.

You see, in the south we pride ourselves on our Pimento Cheese. My friend Beeve calls it "Minna Chee" and he likes the simple cheddar variety. My mom likes hers with extra black pepper.

My dad and I like the kind my grandfather, Ubon, used to make...velveta pimento cheese with pickle relish. If I'm fancy I'll mix several kinds of sharp cheeses for my Uncle Steve to take to his in laws in Tupelo. (They like the velveta kind too.)

I once worked with a woman who told me that she made "the world's best pimento cheese." Meh, it wasn't bad but world's best? She did point out that if she proclaimed it the world's best, I wouldn't forget her, even if it was just normal. (Obviously she's right.)

I've made Pimento Cheese with chilies, with strawberry preserves and with pecans. Today I think I've found the magic recipe I've been looking for.

In case you're wondering why I started this post with .">The Nantucket, well it was there that I had the greatest pimento cheese ever. If you're there...get the Spicy Crab and Pimento Cheese Dip. Then call me and tell me thank you. If you're not headed to Greenville, SC...try this. It's pretty dang good.

2 bags of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese go into a bowl, 1 wedge of brie with the rind removed and smooshed into the cheddar. Add a large jar of pimentos, a teaspoon of whole grain mustard, a half cup of mayo (don't go with the whip...and DO NOT go with the low fat, promise me!), salt, lots of black pepper, a table spoon of your favorite all purpose seasoning (like seazn'tup) and a few tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce. (I used texas pete wing sauce tonight). Add 8oz of lump crab. Mix everything together with your hands. Taste and adjust your seasoning. Serve with crackers, bagel chips.

And again, you can call to thank me when you give this a try.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gourmet Chicken Tacos

To say my mom and I had a large time in NYC this past weekend would be an insult to the word "large." We made new friends, we visited old friends, we saw shows, we drank drinks. Fact of the matter is that we really didn't eat anything spectacular. Part of that was my fault: I had a 4 day hangover that prevented anything but water.

On our way home we stopped at some little taco stand in the Charlotte airport and grabbed a couple of tacos. Honestly I've never eaten anything as good. I'm even a little embarrassed to admit that. I decided that it would be necessary for me to recreate these at home so here's what I did.

We'll start with the chicken. I placed a whole chicken in a big pot. around the chicken I stuffed a few lime and lemon wedges, a handful of cilantro, some salt and pepper and filled with water. This cooked for about 2 hours on med. When the chicken was done I put it aside and reserved liquid. Once the chicken could be pulled I heated a tablespoon of chili oil in a pan and added chicken, some of the reserved liquid, about a table spoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of paprika, a dash of cumin, some all purpose seasoning and salt. Close to the end, I added a pat of butter and let this simmer.

On to the cheese sauce:

I melted 2 t. of butter and added 2 t of flour and cooked until my child hit her head and everything got put on hold. When I resumed, I added strained cooking liquid and then cheese. I used mexican quesadilla cheese and some other unidentified white cheese. This was allowed to simply simmer for about 20 minutes until everything melted.

Chili sauce:
1 can of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, jalapenos to taste. cook until tomatoes are shiny and delicious.


turns out that these are best if steamed over the last of the reserve liquid.

to assemble:

steamed tortillas, cheese mix, stewed chicken, shredded lettuce, sprigs of cilantro, squeeze of lime, spoon of sour cream, tease of chili sauce.

Seriously. The best ever. I'm going to substitute pulled pork next. I think it's going to be AWESOME!

Monday, April 18, 2011

This ain't yo hamburger helper!

Heath has monthly medical staff meetings. Sometimes he comes home with tales of tenderloins of beef or delicious pasta full of juicy gulf shrimp. I stopped cooking big supper on those nights. My kids don't have really discerning palates. Occasionally Jacob has been known to ask for "The Chef," and I'll be damned if he doesn't mean that canned junk by that rascal Chef Boy-ar-dee. He's also been known for compliment gems like "mama, you make the best microwaved bacon," and that old standby "it was so good that I want a peanut butter and jelly instead."

When not asking for "The Chef" Jacob has been known for requesting a "Hand Meal." Of course he means that adorable glove that asks you to trust what he's got in that packet of yellow powder. Tonight I decided to beat him to the punch and make homemade "hamburger helper" and you know what? It's just as easy and utilizes all those random bags of shredded cheese you've got stuck in that drawer.

Brown 1 lb of ground turkey. (It doesn't really brown, I know.) Add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the turkey so that the texture will be pretty fine. To this mix add 1 tablespoon of flour and stir. once it's a gloppy mess, add 1.5 cups of chicken stock. I also added about 2 cups of velveeta water at this point. Add salt, pepper, seasoning of your choice. Once the liquid is starting to boil, add wagon wheel pasta. after about 6 minutes add your cheese board. We used cheddar, white cheddar, american melt mix (whatever that is!) and an errant chunk of. That's right. I have that in my house. What's it to you?

I poured this into a dish and cooked uncovered at 250 for about 30 minutes. It would have been great topped with cracker crust, or more cheese, but the starving kids wanted it just that way.

it was actually pretty swell.

Mama 1, Chef, 100....but my luck's changing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Breakfast for supper

I just needed breakfast for supper. I'm not out of ideas, but I am so tired of almost everything I cook. So I threw something together and it turned out pretty good.

I'm going to call this a griddle frittata. One of our local markets has some really great fresh ground sausage. I started out with browning about 1/2 lb of the sausage. Since I'm lazy I went the easy route and added a bag of frozen shredded hash-browns. I topped with butter and this was stirred up (think Japanese Steak House..Hot for you Baby!) and left to brown. I covered the top with fresh baby spinach and then put a pan over so everything could steam. After about 5 minutes I poured over 6 or 8 beaten eggs and topped with cheese. and covered for another 2-3 minutes. This sliced beautifully an will keep nicely in the fridge.

We loved it. Jacob ate waffles.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cheers to my Champ!

Want to see proud? Look at the lady behind that winner. Want to see super proud? Look at Jacob's Poppy, Garry Roark.

We've recently been talking about the standard Memphis BBQ Network team lineage. So many teams are a product of another team. Thank goodness for those teams. We wouldn't have a network without teams teaching other people and instilling in them the confidence to branch out. My dad has done his fair share of teaching. He's always been very open about what his process is, and how he achieves a winning product. As one of the longest running competition teams still cooking, we're still trying to evolve. What I've noted is that your best bet is to focus on your own flavors instead of chasing someone else's.

Early last week I helped Jacob make his sauce. My rule was...this is my kitchen, so what I say no to, means no. (Example: bbq sauce doesn't contain cheese.) But that's where it stopped. I didn't make suggestions, although I did buy ingredients that would complement each other. Jacob chose his flavors. He loves his mamaw's kumquat marmalade, and he will always include that.

I suppose my point is that BBQ...real sharing and learning and evolving. I want my son to love BBQ. I want him to have his own idea of what tastes great and I don't want it to just be what I cook. As a parent I'm proud of the win. As a competitive BBQ cooker, I'm proud of his spirit and his individuality and his working toward perfection. As a loser...I'm jealous!

Good job Buddy!