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.
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.
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. 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
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
Give the gift of booze this holiday season, and whip up a batch of this easy homemade coffee liqueur. It makes a killer White Russian, and it’s dynamite poured over vanilla bean ice cream. Friends of my father used to gift us a bottle of their homemade recipe, and it was absolutely delicious. I researched several recipes to make this, but I bypassed the ones calling for instant coffee. I wanted a more authentic coffee flavor. In the end I really had to improvise and combine elements of a few recipes. Continue Reading
If the Christmas Wreath Pavlova wasn’t enough of a showstopper for you, I’m thinking this Flourless Chocolate Bûche de Noël might be what you’re looking for. It’s also gluten free, as an added bonus. Bûche de Noël, or French for “Yule Log”, and I go way back. My senior year of high school, we were assigned a final project for our International Baking class. I, ever the Martha Stewart fan, decided to make her Bûche de Noël recipe –a three-day endeavor. Her beast requires a chocolate mousse filling, chocolate genoise cake, ganache frosting, and fussy little meringue mushrooms. Kudos to my mother for indulging my ambitions and forging on with this project that I never would have completed without her help. It was success. I got an A+++ on the project (formerly thought mathematically impossible) and a recommendation from my teacher that I go on to the CIA (which confused me until I realized she meant the Culinary Institute of America).
Last week, some good (nay–amaaaazing) friends gifted us a loaf of Stollen–a German Christmas Yeast Bread; we ate it record time. There may have even been a few squabbles between me and my husband regarding who just exactly ate how much of this stuff. When the inevitable heel of the loaf appeared, I thought, “hey–this can’t be that hard to make.” And I was right. It takes the a day to bake and the better part of a week to let the loaf “ripen” into its decadent glory, but most of it is inactive, soaking or rising time.
Is there anything more indulgent than a baked brie? Puffy, crispy layers of puff pastry encasing warm, gooey triple-cream cheese is #holidayappetizergoals. Usually, I use cranberry sauce, but for this Brie en Croute (Baked Brie) with Pepper Jelly, I decided to give this one a little Southern twist. For those of you not familiar, pepper jelly is a jelly made out of peppers–both mild and hot. It’s delicious–sweet and spicy and usually served with cream cheese and crackers (or if you’re feeling fancy, some goat cheese).
Pavlova, Australia’s national dessert, is one of my favorite desserts, both to eat and to make. It looks seriously complicated but couldn’t be easier. Its foundation (literally) is a cloud of meringue–crusty on the outside with a pillowy marshmallow interior. Next is a layer of sweetened whipped cream, and then usually a fruit of choice. I thought cranberry would be perfect for this Christmas Wreath Pavlova, and I happened to have these fantastic Sparkling Sugared Cranberries for a garnish.
For my #12DaysOfChristmas cocktail, I wanted to do something really different. I got the idea for this ChristmasThyme Cocktail from Inspired by Charm’s “A Very Merry Ornamentini.” I went with his idea for the vessel and garnishes (a clear glass ornament and rosemary and the aforementioned Sparkling Cranberries) but made a completely different cocktail, as I wanted something less sweet and a little herbal. And what a cocktail it is!
On the third day of Christmas, there were sparkling cranberries, for your cake or cocktail garnishing or snacking pleasure. This one may seem a little out of left field, but if you’re a fan of sweet and tart things, they’re delicious.
On the second day of Christmas, there was an unbelievably fudgy, deep-dark chocolatey, ooey-gooey cookie. Deep Dark Chocolate Crinkles are pretty much the exact opposite of yesterday’s Pecan Snowballs. Where those are hard and crumbly, these are soft and chewy. But hey—it’s #12DaysofChristmas and who says we have to choose? Make both and enjoy the compliments. Continue Reading
I began last year’s #12DaysofChristmas with a Meyer lemon snowball cookie, and this year it’s going back to the original Pecan Snowball. These things go by so many names it’s hard to keep up. I’ve called them tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, pecan meltaways, etc. What more do you need to know other than they’re delicious? Melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly shortbread, studded with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. It’s impossible to eat just one.
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.”
This is truly my favorite time of year. I love the warmth of this season–which may sound strange given the outside temperature–but it’s a warmth of giving, of goodness, and light, that ignites in me as soon as we pack up the Thanksgiving leftovers (who am I kidding–I start getting giddy after Halloween). As I looked back at #12DaysofChristmas last year, I noticed I didn’t have a roundup of all of the 2016 recipes in one spot. Here they are below for your gifting/eating/drinking pleasure. Stay tuned next week for 2017’s 12 Days of Christmas Recipes (culminating in another awesome giveaway), but in the meantime, enjoy these 11 fantastic holiday recipes!
A version of this article was originally published in Best Version Media’s Spring Hill Living and Historic Midtown Living October 2017 magazines.
One of my favorite things to do with my kids (5 and 2) is bake. I’m a sucker for any sort of dessert, and my children, unfortunately, have inherited my sweet tooth. On the plus side, they’re always willing to help out in the kitchen, as long as they get to “sample” the finished product. Because Halloween is almost upon us, I thought it would be a great time to share a favorite spooky treat of ours: Double Chocolate Monster Cookies. Yes, including children in a project involving sprinkles and frosting is most likely to end up in a mess (and the end result might not be stunning) but the smiles on their sticky faces are totally worth it.
As you may have heard, king cake is king around these parts this time of year. I hope none of you are king caked out yet, because this weekend, Mardi Gras kicks into high gear as we approach a five-day celebration from today until Tuesday.
A few weeks ago, I posted a guide to king cakes around the Mobile and Eastern Shore area. It’s in no way exhaustive, as I’m pretty sure my guests and I would’ve succumbed to a sugar coma before tasting every single king cake available in the area. But we tried, and I’ve gotten some great feedback on some we’ve missed. Read on to discover those and for a recipe for a Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake you can make right in your own kitchen. Continue Reading
Growing up, my family treated Valentine’s Day a little differently than the romantic, red rose holiday it is to most. For us, it wasn’t so much a couples-only holiday as it was a day to let those you love know how much they mean to you. My maternal grandmother was the queen of homemade Valentines, and my mother has taken up that torch with pride. Every year, she crafts adorable homemade Valentines for her grandchildren to distribute to their friends.
Looking for king cakes in Mobile, Alabama? Read on for some history of Mardi gras in our fair port city and a roundup of some local offerings around the Gulf Coast.
On the 12th day of Christmas, there was an awesome giveaway! This lovely set of Williams Sonoma* citrus-themed plates will be my present to one of you. Glazed earthenware with a hand-painted green rim, these salad plates will brighten up your winter table, for sure. It’s a set of four, one of each design of grapefruit, lemon, orange, and lime.
All you need to do to have a chance to win is write a comment on this post answering the following question:
“What’s on your wish list this year?”
*Williams-Sonoma is in no way affiliated with Lemon Baby or this giveaway. No purchase necessary to enter. Sweepstakes will run from 12/21/2016 6:00 PM EST and close at 6:00PM on 12/25/2016. Winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Prize is valid only to US residents and will be shipped only to an address in the 48 contiguous states.