"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kentucky Derby Pie

Sally put this recipe in a Shutterfly cookbook that she made for me for my birthday a few years ago.  I love the cookbook because it has pictures in it that she took of all of our friends throughout college, and it contains a lot of great recipes!  I made this one for supper club last week.  After going to La Paz for dinner, everyone headed to our house for dessert.  I was nervous about making something new when we were having people over, but it turned out really well (though a little runny since I didn't let it cool enough).  With these ingredients, you know it has to be good...

At City Grocery with great friends senior year - one of my favorite pictures from the cookbook

Kentucky Derby Pie
1 9" pie frozen pie shell
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp Kentucky bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Allow the pie crust to defrost - this will take about an hour.  Put the shell into a dish making sure to pinch the edges on top of the dish so that the shell does not sink back into the dish during cooking.  Place the pie crust into the oven and allow it to cook partially, for about 10-15 minutes.  The pie crust should begin to harden but not turn golden yet. 

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add beaten eggs, flour, salt, and bourbon.  Then add chocolate chips and pecans.  Stir well and pour into the partially cooked pie shell.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow it to set up about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend in Review

Kent and I got to participate in two great Birmingham food events this weekend!  For the last week, some area restaurants have been participating in "Birmingham Restaurant Week."  These restaurants offer prix fixe menus for either $10, $20, or $30.  It gives you a great chance to try new restaurants or new dishes from your favorite restaurants.  We decided to try a new (to us) place on Friday night - The Silvertron Cafe in the Forest Park neighborhood.  They were offering a three course menu with several options for each course.  We both loved our dinners and were glad to be able to try dishes that were not offered on their regular menu.  In fact, we loved it so much that we went back the next night with Kent's parents, who had also heard great things about the restaurant, to try different menu items!  On the first night, Kent decided to try the "beer dinner" along with his courses.  With each course, they brought out half of a recommended beer that had been paired with each menu item.  Each one was really different and unique!  They have great selections of wine, beer, mixed drinks as well as desserts - we highly recommend the white chocolate bread pudding!

On Saturday we went with Caroline and Franklin to the 38th Annual Greek Food Festival downtown hosted by the Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church.  There was a long line to get in when we got there, but it was definitely worth the wait.  There were about 10 different entree choices being made on site and several great dessert choices.  I was also excited to get to buy a cookbook put together by members of the congregation.  Hopefully, I'll be able to add some new Greek recipes to the blog soon!  It was fun getting to listen to the festive music and tour the inside of the beautiful cathedral.  I can't wait to go back next year!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday's Tips - Coffee

Bialletti Moka Express
Kent and I are both big coffee drinkers.  In fact, I started drinking a coffee/milk/sugar mixture as a small child with my father on Sunday mornings.  When Kent and I first got married, we had a standard drip coffee maker.  It took up a lot of counter space and didn't produce the best tasting coffee.  So we soon got a Bialetti Moka Express stovetop coffee maker.  I love using it to make lattes.  I got an inexpensive milk frother, but it takes a lot of time since you need to heat up the milk in a kettle before frothing it.

French Press Mug
For a regular cup of coffee, we've found that a french press works best.  Kent had been talking about getting one for a while, so his sister gave him a french press coffee mug for Christmas last year.  It's great because you can make a cup of coffee in it and then store extra grinds underneath the mug to make two more cups of coffee in the mug later in the day.  Since then, we've also gotten a 10 cup french press to replace our drip coffee maker.  We use it all the time!  

French Press

We like to buy whole bean coffee from O'Henry's and World Market (or Dunkin' Donuts original blend from the grocery store) and grind it there since we don't have a grinder at home.  I bought an inexpensive blade grinder in college, but it couldn't grind the beans into a uniform size and eventually broke.  For more even grinding, burr grinders are definitely better, though more expensive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Buttery Soft Pretzels

Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com
I had been thinking about trying to make homemade pretzels and found this great recipe on allrecipes.com.  I made it this weekend when Kent and I were watching some football games.  It made a great snack!  I had only worked with yeast one other time, but it wasn't difficult at all.  These are so fun to make and taste even better than ones you can buy at the mall or ballpark!

Buttery Soft Pretzels
Ingredients used to make the dough:
4 teaspoons active dry yeast (you can buy packages on the baking isle)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Ingredients used for cooking the pretzels:
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes.  (I kneaded it on a baking mat but was not able to use every bit of the flour - they still turned out great!) Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. (Make a U shape and then cross the ends of the rope.) Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. (I brushed each pretzel with melted butter before I salted them - yum!)

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Since our trip to Oxford this summer, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the amazing oatmeal pancakes that I had at Big Bad Breakfast on our last day.  So... I finally found a great recipe and decided to make them this week.  We love having breakfast for dinner, so we gave these a try for dinner one night this week.  They would be great for a big weekend breakfast, too!

Heart Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes
From:  Stella's Kitchen (This is a great blog with tons of wonderful recipes!)


1 cup fat free milk (or water)*
3/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked, quick or regular oats)
3/4 cup oatmeal flour (see below how to make oatmeal flour - easy!)
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground

Try these modifications:
Blueberry pancakes: Add ¼ c blueberries (fresh or thawed) to recipe and omit cinnamon
Oat-Nut pancakes: Add 1 ½ tbsp diced pecans, walnuts, or almonds to recipe.
Whole Grain pancakes: Replace quick oats with hot multigrain cereal. Prepare as directed.
High protein pancakes: Add 1-2 scoops vanilla protein to batter, increase water.

Heat milk (or water) until hot, stir in oats and set aside. Beat egg whites into a stiff foam with hand mixer or blender and reserve. Mix remaining dry ingredients together and stir in oatmeal/milk mixture. Fold in egg whites until mixture is well blended. . Spray pan with nonstick spray and cook pancakes until browned on both sides.

*Depending on how long you've let the oats sit, you may need to add a little extra water to the batter to thin it out. It will still be thicker than regular pancake batter.

How to make oatmeal flour:
To make your own oat flour, just put a cup or two of oatmeal in a regular household blender (or food processor if you happen to have one) and blend it on high. Whir until the flakes turn into the consistency of flour.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fish Tacos

Kent and I wanted to try making something new when we were at the beach with his family for Labor Day.  So, when our night to cook came along, we made these delicious fish tacos.  I have never been a huge fan of fish, but these were amazing!  And the slaw is great too - not overly mayonnaisey.  We were able to get fresh Mahi Mahi, which worked well for the recipe.  If you cannot find Mahi Mahi, other types of fish - like Snapper - will work as well.  The jalapeno, lime, and cilantro give the whole dish a wonderful southwestern flavor.  We will definitely be making these again soon!

Fish Tacos
2 lb Mahi Mahi
Tortillas (soft or hard shell)

1 jalapeƱo finely chopped
1 lime (juiced)
¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

4 cups shredded cabbage
3 tbsp minced red onion
3 tbsp green onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced

Cut the fish into one inch cubes and place in a bowl.  Mix all of the marinade ingredients together.  Pour the marinade over the fish.  Allow the fish to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all of the slaw ingredients together in a large bowl. 

After the fish has finished marinating, pan fry it in a skillet with a small amount of vegetable oil on medium-high.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (opaque in the center).

To serve, have guests fill their shells with the fish and top it off with the slaw.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And the cookbook goes to....

the Halls!  Kent helped me to use excel to create a spread sheet and randomly pick a winner.  So congratulations to the Halls on their new cookbook, Mmmm Casseroles!  Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.  I hope to have more in the future.

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner.  Kent and I just returned from a relaxing Labor Day weekend at the beach with his family.  New recipes to come this week...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Kent and I made these on Sunday morning to take to Sunday School since we signed up to bring breakfast.  They were really good and had a different taste than other savory breakfast rolls that I've had in the past.  Judging by the name, I'm sure that you can tell they aren't the healthiest breakfast choice... but they're worth the extra calories!  I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  She has an amazing blog about her life - it includes information about gardening, farming, cooking, and so much more.  She has even published her own cookbook.  Click here to go to her website.  And, don't forget to enter to win a cookbook in my first ever giveaway!  See the previous post for details!

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¾ teaspoons Salt
¼ cups Vegetable Shortening (crisco, Etc)
10 Tablespoons Milk (whole Milk Is Best)
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 whole Egg
10 slices Thick Cut Bacon, Fried And Crumbled
1 cup Finely Diced Onion
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions:
Cook and chop bacon.  Saute onions until light brown.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until all combined.

Combine milk, oil, and egg in a separate bowl. Whisk together. 

Combine flour mixture, milk mixture, bacon, onions, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Stir gently until all combined.  Be careful not to over mix!

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes on 375 degrees until golden Remove from pan and serve warm.
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