Although school isn’t even out in other parts of the country, we are in full summer swing here in Lower Alabama. School got out last week, and more importantly, peaches have arrived at our farmer’s markets. Not just any peaches, either. The best peaches in Alabama–and I’d go so far as to say the South (sorry, Georgia). Chilton County is home to the sweetest, most sublime, juice-dripping-down-your-arm peaches I’ve ever tasted– and they have the giant peach roadside attraction to prove it, as well as a Miss Peach pageant (so you know they’re legit). I got our basket of pinkish-gold deliciousness at our Old Shell Market. I knew they’d make an ideal dessert for our Memorial Day BBQ. I do love a peach pie, but for easy, throw-togetherness, you can’t beat a fresh peach cobbler. Continue Reading
On the evening of May 19, Jubilee Supper Club celebrated with a Royal Wedding Feast in serious style at the home of our friends Cortlandt and Amy—a host and hostess with unparalleled style and charm. At your next supper club, try this pull-out-all-the-stops, classically British, elegant menu for a dinner your friends will be talking about for years to come. Continue Reading
It’s no secret I love tea. Afternoon tea, cream tea, or just a cuppa on a rainy day, I can’t get enough. So when the folks at St. Fiacre’s Farm in Lyons, Oregon generously offered a taste of their wares, how could I refuse? I knew I wanted to incorporate one of their teas into a baked good, and naturally, macarons came to mind. After all, I’ve done this thing a time or two. Their Cascade Earl Grey tea blend combines organic, traditional Earl grey with lavender buds for a deep, earthy and floral sip. In my recipe for Earl Grey Lavender French Macarons, I decided to flavor the macaron shell with this tea and sandwich them with a light, zesty lemon buttercream. I’ll let you see for yourself how they turned out. Continue Reading
While outside enjoying the mild, fleeting Alabama spring weather, I discovered a honeysuckle vine covering our azaleas. Is there anything more truly, sublimely Southern than a honeysuckle vine? To my delight, my two children took as much pleasure in tasting the dulcet nectar as I did at their age. For days, we had “Honeysuckle Time.” My two-year-old always squealed when she got a particularly juicy bead of nectar, prompting gales of laughter from her older brother.
On the Gulf Coast, we tend to avoid the post-Mardi Gras blues because right on its heels is crawfish season. (That is, if you didn’t give up crawfish for Lent. But that would be crazy, n’est-ce pas?) From January to May, bars all around the region entice imbibers with those two little magic words: “free crawfish.” Looking for crawfish in Mobile, Alabama? Read on to see how the Haberdasher, a little gem of a cocktail bar on Dauphin Street, does it in the Port City.
When the buds on our cherry blossom tree unfurl, and the azaleas bushes pop into a riot of pink, I always think about rhubarb. Its appearance, like artichokes, asparagus, and Cadbury Creme Eggs, signify the of arrival of spring to me. Despite the chokehold winter has taken on much of the country, it is definitively spring in Lower Alabama. In our spacious backyard in Montana, we had a six square foot patch of rhubarb. The gorgeous, fig-shaped leaves were as big as elephant ears. At first, I had no idea what to do with all of those funny-looking things I thought looked like red celery stalks, but with a little help from our friends in town, I quickly made use of the delightfully tart ingredient, namely in this delectable Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie.
French Macaron vs. Macaroon: what’s the difference? Ever since those French cookies became the new cupcake, there’s been a lot of confusion around what one actually calls them. They’re often labelled macaroons, a seemingly harmless misnomer. In fact, a macaroon is not an interchangeable word for those French confections; a macaroon is an entirely different cookie altogether, in almost every way.
Instead of the usual artificially-colored-green treats for St. Patrick’s Day, try whipping up these fantastic, easy stout brownies from scratch. Inspired by a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine, this brownie recipe’s secret ingredient is a St. Patrick’s Day must-have, a rich dark stout beer (I prefer Guinness but you could use anything you like.) The secret: reducing the Guinness on the stovetop until its flavors are concentrated. As a result, these brownies are rich, decadent, and gooey. The glaze is definitely gilding the lily, but why not?
French macarons, those elegant, shatteringly-crisp meringue cookies sandwiching delectable fillings, are a little finicky. My first attempt at making French macarons was so abysmal that I didn’t even bother making a buttercream or ganache to fill the misshapen, overbrowned things. In fact, the shells went straight into the trash. See my failure here, if you’re so inclined. Pretty awful, right? I’m surprised I didn’t give up right then and there and decide macaron (pronounced mac-a-RON, and don’t you forget it) making was just not in the cards for me. I’m sure my persistence had something to do with my infatuation with them, a serious affliction since January of 2010, when I ate my first pistachio macaron in Paris and fell desperately in love with the ethereal pastry.
We are nearing winter’s finish line, so it’s time to use up all of the bountiful citrus you’ve collected this season. Although lemons are undoubtedly my favorite, grapefruit is not far behind, and this Grapefruit Icebox Pie is supreme. It’s no surprise grapefruit’s botanical name means “fruit of paradise.” With sweet-tart, tangy flesh and color ranging from pale pink to coral, grapefruit is a welcome star in salads, pies, curds, or simply sprinkled with sugar and broiled. Continue Reading
Scent is inextricably linked to the acts of cooking and eating. My nose tells me when the onions are getting ready to caramelize, and it warns me that if I don’t take the skillet off the heat right this second, the pecans will be beyond toasted. As a child I would rub vanilla extract behind my ears as “perfume.” In my later teenage years, I discovered Demeter fragrances. These perfumes embodied the scents of foods (Lemon Meringue Pie, etc). Recently, I decided to experiment with DIY solid perfume and capture some of my favorite food scents into wearable, easy DIY solid perfumes.
I’ve learned one thing about king cake while living in the Gulf Coast: people have strong feelings about this confection. Last year, when I devised the idea of a king cake tasting, everyone chimed in with their own area favorites–and they varied considerably. This year was an even bigger fête than the last, with a spread of fifteen king cakes. For our tasting, Fairhope Roasting Company generously donated a pound of their Holiday Blend coffee, a bold dark roast that blended perfectly with the sweetness of the king cakes. Need to know where to get your Gulf Coast king cake this Mardi Gras? There’s something for everyone here.
Have you tried sheet pan dinners yet? They are so incredibly easy, and the cleanup is a breeze. If you haven’t guessed, they’re called “sheet pan dinners” because you toss a bunch of ingredients together (normally vegetables and some sort of meat) and bake them on the same pan. You know those evenings you’re frantically scouring the fridge for something that can pass as dinner? Sheet Pan Italian Chicken with White Beans, Peppers and Kale to the rescue!
This dish is so easy to throw together. You just toss some veggies of your choice (I used peppers and kale, but you could use zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, asparagus, whatever) along with a drained can of whatever beans you like (I like cannellini or large butter beans) in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour out the veggies onto a large sheet pan with a lip. Add your chicken breasts to the same bowl, add some balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, Greek or Italian seasoning, and a little olive oil, toss and nestle the chicken breasts into the veggies on the sheet pan. I garnished with basil, but you could do what you like.
When I visit a new place, I tend to research food first and foremost. I want to know the “must-eats” of the region. Downtown Mobile is enjoying a boom. There are new restaurants and establishments popping up every month, it seems. Two Mobile residents, Chris and Laney Andrews, of Bienville Bites Food Tours, have a unique and tasty way of showing some of the best of what downtown Mobile has to offer to tourists and locals alike in their food tour. The three hours of this Bienville Bites Food Tour passed like minutes in the stroll down Dauphin, as we listened to Chris tell fascinating stories of the history of our fair city and its most famous dishes.
King cakes come in myriad fillings, from fruit to chocolate to cream cheese. Last year, I made a semi-traditional Pecan Praline Cream Cheese king cake. The year, on the advice of my 5-year-old son, I went a little out of the box with a Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese king cake. We had a plethora of Meyer lemons from the plea I put out on Facebook a few weeks earlier. (Our former home had a citrus orchard that I desperately miss, and some kind-hearted neighbors filled the void with their own bounty.) Meyer lemons are a sweeter, less tart cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and they make a fantastic curd, which is what I used in the filling of this king cake.
Chili and I go waaaaay back. When my husband and I lived in Montana, I entered a chili cookoff. I came in third out of four entries, which did not leave me best pleased. I wrote a food column for the local newspaper, for Pete’s sakes. I could not be coming in second to last in any cookoff. So I perfected my recipe, and the result is this Blue Ribbon Chili.
A Southern tradition, the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to guarantee good luck for the entire year. Ham and collard greens are said to bring fortune, as well; to hit all the bases, I came up with this Black-Eyed Pea, Collard Greens, and Ham Soup for the New Year. Black Eyed Pea, Collard Greens, and Ham Soup is tasty, filling, and perfect for New Year’s Day or any other winter day. Continue Reading
On the 12th day of Christmas, there was an awesome giveaway! This lovely set of Williams Sonoma* Ginger- Jar Measuring Cups will be my present to one of you. Stoneware with hand painted decorations, they’re a classic blue and white must-have for any kitchen. It’s a set of four, 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup, each in a different pattern. Continue Reading
Hot Buttered Rum is a classic winter cocktail. It’s sweet, slightly spicy (thanks to nutmeg and allspice) and delightfully boozy. I had no idea how many iterations there were until I researched recipes. The preparation is much the same; you cream butter and sugar together, add cream or melted vanilla ice cream, and winter spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. When making a cocktail, you add two tablespoons mix to a heatsafe mug and add a shot of rum and top with hot water.
DIY BBQ rub would make a perfect gift for the BBQ-obsessed on your list. Pulled pork in the South is more than a picnic staple; it is an institution. Southerners guard their barbeque recipes so close, you’d think they were printed on hundred dollar bills. I get it. It’s a serious thing to bequeath a treasure to the world. My mother spent most of her youth in North Carolina and Virginia. I grew up eating only North Carolina style pulled pork; consequently, it’s my BBQ of choice. Continue Reading