Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mesa Grill Barbecue Sauce and a Southern Salad Nicoise

I used to walk in the mornings.
Three and a half miles a day.
Crack of dawn.
It was great. Loved doing it. Quiet, neighborhood sleeping, great start to the day, right.

I’m now walking in the afternoons when I get home from work.
Still three and a half miles.
It’s not quiet.
The neighborhood is not sleeping.
It’s cooking.


It’s sort of inspirational if you think about it.
Take the other evening.
Now that I think about it, I am not sure I walked on one of the streets because someone was grilling chicken and basting it with something sweet. I think I was floating past that house….

It’s hard to walk and drool, but I’ve just about mastered it.

Then…I noticed a family with small children having dinner at their picnic table. Bowls all over the table, family laughing and eating, dog begging. Straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Potato salad, fried chicken…

That did it

Instead of listening to Free Food for Millionaires, which is a great book but has nothing to do with food, I started thinking about our dinner.

Started thinking about barbecuing chicken.
Thinking about potato salad.
Thought about salad Nicoise.
Tuna, Nicoise olives, hard boiled eggs, green beans, tomatoes, , potatoes, right?
Smelled that grilled chicken again.
Thought about the components of a great Southern meal.
Grilled chicken, deviled eggs, tomato basil salad, classic potato salad.
Put the two thoughts together and came up with this.

Barbecued Chicken with Mesa Grill Barbecue Sauce: a sauce everyone should keep in the fridge during the hot months.
Groom’s Devilish Eggs with Green Olives …do the basic deviled eggs…a little Hellmann’s mayo, chopped green olives, paprika
Classic Potato Salad …soak the red onions before using to get the strength out….use a bit of sissy mustard in the dressing to make it even classic -er
Fresh Herb Salad Mix…it’s good for you….
Tomato, Artichoke, Sugar Snap and fresh Basil…blanch the sugar snaps and drop in ice water to preserve the color. Use marinated artichoke hearts…provides the dressing, right? A bit of freshly ground black pepper and fresh basil.


A Southern Nicoise Salad.
For lack of a better name.

I wonder what the neighbors will be cooking this afternoon?

Mesa Grill Barbecue Sauce
Adapted From Bobby Flay

A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
½ red onion, diced
1 large spoonful garlic confit
8 canned San Marzano tomatoes
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire
¼ cup water
3 tbsp dark molasses
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp wild honey
1 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika

Heat the olive oil til almost smoking in large pan over medium heat and sweat the onion and garlic confit until softened, about five minutes. Throw tomatoes into food processor and pulse two times, add to pan. Cook 15 minutes at a simmer. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Put into food processor and pulse several times.
Let cool to room temperature.
Makes about 2-2.5 cups

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sauteed Shrimp with Feta, Orange and Kalamata Salad

There are people in your life that you believe will always be there.

You can’t imagine that they would be gone.

It’s just not possible.

They are comfort, love, fun, giving, knowing and there for you no matter what.

I had…have someone in my life that has been there since I was born. She is the mother of my dearest best friend. She has been there for me for almost 54 years and now she is not where I can call her or touch her.

But she’s still with me.

She put up with everything my mother put up with. She loved me no matter what. No matter that she had five children, lots of dogs, a busy husband and me under her feet as often as I could be.

She put up with me calling every Christmas morning at God knows what hour to say Merry Christmas to Nana. I would spend the night at her house most every weekend at least one night…Nana would be at mine the next. My dad would drop me off at the top of their driveway, saying’ don’t come home til you graduate from college“…and her dad would say, as he opened the door into a bustling busy noisy place,…“we don’t want any“…but he’d let me in anyway.

Her parents would go out and leave us to tend to the flock…three boys and a girl…Lord knows what they were doing…we’d be in the kitchen testing out a recipe…Lemon Icebox Pie , Nashville One Pan Fudge Cake…or upstairs jumping up and down on their bed, smoking Marlboro cigarettes the maid had left in a secret hidey hole that we would find…listening to her dad’s Tom Lehrer albums or memorizing Fannie Flagg’s Rally Round the Flagg, or reading John Updike’s Couples and hiding the book under a chair in the den when they came home early one night.

It was my second home.

When I got in to the catering business, she was there. Always getting something from me to she wouldn’t have to think about food. A child gets married, can you cater it. I’m having some people in for dinner, what kind of casserole do you have? We’re going out to dinner but need an hors d’oeuvre with drinks before hand.

Always, always giving me the freedom to cook and learn..on her. Whenever I needed support., she was there.

It’s been a long week since she left us.

The world is the same but not.
Food is the same but not.

I came home late and had to throw something together to feed Groom and our souls.
Something that would show us comfort, love, fun, giving, knowing, familiarity and taste good at the same time.

She would have loved this.

Sauteed Shrimp Salad with Feta, Orange and Kalamata Salad

10 large shrimp, peeled tail on
A couple of swirls extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes

Heat small sauté pan over medium heat and add oilive oil. When wavy add the shrimp and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.

Cook til pink and remove from heat. Sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper

A handful of Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 small handful of fresh Italian parsley chopped (add a little chopped frsh mint if you like)
A couple of Cara Cara oranges peeled and sectioned and cut in half
2 ounces feta cheese slightly cubed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces

A good splash of seasoned rice wine vinegar,
1 small touch of Dijon mustard (1 tsp of creamy Dijon)
couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the dressing in ingredients in bottom of salad bowl and add remaining ingredients. Toss well, put in butter lettuce lined bowl and serve.

Serves 2 generously.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Orecchiette with Two Peas, Asparagus and Prosciutto

Welcome to spring.

More daylight to play, leading to simpler foods with faster prep.

Like this.

Fresh green peas, asparagus, crispy sugar snap peas.

Salty prosciutto and sweet garlic, sliced sweet red onions and baby shallots.

Baby romaine lettuce.

On pasta? Yea baby. It works.

Orecchiette with Two Peas, Asparagus and Prosciutto
Liberally Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2009

2 tbsp butter
A couple of swirls roasted garlic oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you don’t make garlic confit and have some roasted garlic oil lying around)
½ large sweet red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced baby shallot
¼-½ cup dry white wine
½ cup homemade roasted chicken stock
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into bite sized pieces
1-½ cups fresh shelled peas or frozen, thawed
½-¾ pound sugar snap peas
Enough orecchiette for three people
2 handfuls baby romaine lettuce
Manchego cheese, as much as you like
A handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into thin strips

Melt butter with a couple of swirls roasted garlic oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute until tender, about five minutes. Add wine. Increase heat to medium high and simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze about three minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer, set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a bit of coarse salt. Add asparagus, cook til done. Plunge asparagus into bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking and preserve the green color. Repeat with peas and sugar snaps, plunging them into the same water with the asparagus. Drain and set aside.

Return water in the big pot to a boil. Cook pasta til tender, drain, reserving about a ½ cup pasta water.

Reheat the onion mixture, add the lettuce and stir til just wilted and add the drained asparagus, peas and sugar snap peas.

Add the pasta and parsley to the skillet, toss together add reserved pasta water. Season with salt and water and cover for just a few minutes to allow pasta to absorb sauce.

Remove top, grate as much Manchego as you feel like eating, sprinkle with the prosciutto and toss again.

Drizzle with a bit more roasted garlic oil and serve.

Serves three generously.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

It’s true confession time.

You remember True Confessions, the magazine everyone read but no one talked about because it was so juicy. Kind of like Mad Men in print, if you get my drift. I’d go to Don’s Cee Bee Store, properly disguised in big dark glasses and a trench coat, and lurk around the magazine stand til everyone that could possibly recognize me would be otherwise engaged . Of course the fact that there is an extremely strong gene pool floating around in my family that automatically makes us look exactly like one parent or the other was the last thing on my mind when I was 13. I would grab the magazine, peanut M&Ms and a can of Vienna sausage (my cover being that I was shopping for my mother) and head towards the check out lane.

From behind someone would trill…. “Oh Mary Coleman how are you darlin? Saw your mama and daddy last night …had the best time. Please tell them hello. Isn’t it a bit warm for a trench’s 98 degrees in the shade.”

Curses, foiled again.

So, there, now that the nut job that I was at 13 has been revealed, I must confess another secret.

I am a cake batter fanatic. I really don’t care much for the cake after it’s baked, but give me a bowl of batter and I’m a happy camper.

Maybe a few cakes haven’t turned out as well as they could have due to my sneaky batter snacking habit. I like to say I don’t bake and I truly don’t very often, but when I do, my habit takes over.

That’s not so easy with these divine cupcakes adapted from Pinch My Salt‘s Red Velvet Cake aka Waldorf Astoria Cake. A wondrous chocolate batter whose color can only be described as, well, RED.

Tell tale signs show up every where. Vent hood, refrigerator door, the cat’s tail. I’m still trying to figure that one out, but it might have been when I turned on the Kitchen Aid and didn’t realize it was on high speed, but I haven’t completely accepted that concept.

If you have an all white kitchen, you may want to save this for right before you remodel. I’m just saying.

Most importantly, if you are a card carrying member of the SBS Society*, keep an eye on your face.

You may be having a manicure one day and all of a sudden you hear..” Oh Mary Coleman, how in the world are you? Listen, I want to make your chicken salad and I can’t remember …honey what’s that on your chin, I don’t mean to pry, but it looks like, well I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but it certainly red.”

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from Pinch of Salt

2-½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz red food coloring (2 bottles)
1 stick butter, room temp
2 eggs room temp
1-½ cups vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 . Prep spray muffin tin with Pam and then put muffin cups in. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt in medium bowl. In small bowl mix red food coloring and cocoa to make a paste. Without lumps and set aside.
In large bowl with hand mixer or stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and add the cocoa paste and vanilla. Then add about a third of the flour mix, then a third of the buttermilk and continue til mixed together. It has now become a lovely shade of FIRE ENGINE RED. Mix the vinegar and baking soda, it will fizz up and pour into batter. Stir til blended and pour the batter into the muffin cups, about 2/3rds full.

Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes then put on rack and let completely cool before you frost them.

Makes 16 cup cakes or one two layer cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-½ cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt

Blend together cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Add the confectioner’s sugar with mixer on low speed and beat til fluffy.
Frost immediately.

*Sneaky Batter Snacking Society

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom