Happy Holidays! A few of my favorite holiday recipes

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Well the holidays have finally arrived – my favorite time of year! I love having some time to rest and relax and enjoy quality time with friends and family, especially around the table sharing delicious food and wine. So to celebrate the season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite holiday recipes that I’ve created over the years – either for myself or a few of my clients (KitchenAid, Colavita and Seven Barrels), that I wanted to share with all of you. From appetizers, to salads, to desserts, entrees and cocktails, they all have that special magic touch perfect for the holidays.

I’d love to hear in the comments below what some your favorite holiday recipes are too – feel free to post them and share a link below, and if you want to share my recipes online please include a link back to my site and credit to Kristen Hess / The Artful Gourmet and @artfulgourmet on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr).


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous and prosperous New Year 2017!

 

BloodOrangeCake_StrawberrySauce

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Chocolate Sauce 

PumpkinPearTart

Pear and Pumpkin Tart

Mini Holiday Tarts

Mini Sweet and Savory Holiday Tarts

Roasted Squash Salad

Roasted Squash Salad with Spiced Pecans

Holiday Brunch Strata

Holiday Brunch Strata

Almond Cookies

Almond Shortbread Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze

Parmesan-Garlic-Artichoke-Dip

Hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip with Homemade Pita Chips

Maple Walnut Pie

Maple Brown Sugar Walnut Pie

Swedish Meatballs

Braised Swedish Meatballs

Butternut Squash Ricotta Tart

Three Cheese Butternut Squash Tart with Bacon

Choc Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Truffled Pancetta 3 Cheese Pasta

Truffled 3-Cheese Pasta with Pancetta and Garlic

Whiskey Sour and Stuffed Mushrooms

Holiday Cocktail Party! Appetizer and Cocktail recipes 

Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken Bites

Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken Bites

Brussels Sprouts

Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Shallots and Balsamic

SpinachSalad-Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

ChocolateChipotleShortRibs

Chocolate Chipotle Braised Short Ribs

My Expert Interview on FoodyDirect.com!

Kristen Hess Interview Foody Direct

foodydirect-logolong1

I was recently interviewed by Foody Direct as part of their Expert Interview program. Read the full interview on the FoodyDirect.com Blog!

FoodyDirect is an online marketplace bringing the most delicious food in the country right to the doorstep of your home or office.


Turkey

The restaurants and artisan producers featured on their site are a highly select group. Each has won awards, garnered high praise from critics and blogger and, most important, gets rave reviews from passionate and loyal customers. Each prepares and serves up a menu of mouthwatering dishes and is equipped to ship their sensational food anywhere in the USA.

Truffles

Kosher Food, Gluten-Free, Turkey and Chicken, Desserts, Cheese, Meat, Vegan Food, Seafood, BBQ, Chocolate, Fruits and Veggies – you name it – they’ve got it!

Apple Walnut pie

FoodyDirect is a curated national restaurant row. Learn about their Partner’s rich and colorful histories, which you can savor and enjoy in the comfort of your home or office.

kristen hess

In the interview, I discussed my views on how i celebrate the art of food and cooking through my blog with colorful recipes, stories and photography as well as some tips on how to follow your passion and what helped me succeed in the food industry.

Chicken French

and my favorite recipe for Chicken French!

Click here to view Foody Direct’s online store and enjoy the interview!

Top 10 {Things I Love} Summer 2015

 

My Top 10 {Things I Love} list is back for Summer with some fun and interesting things/places/foods/drinks that I’m currently crushing on – they aren’t necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a shoutout in my opinion… Happy Summer everyone 🙂

Herriot Grace Cake Pedestal

1. Herriot Grace 

Herriot Grace is a father and daughter-run company from Canada who makes a gorgeous variety of hand carved and handmade wooden objects: spoons, bowls, pedestals, candy dishes, serving boards, rolling pins, plates and mortar and pestle sets. Each one is uniquely made from salvaged chemical-free wood and they’ve also introduced a select line of exclusive porcelain dishware. The ceramic pieces are cast in small runs, and boast the rustic, tactile beauty for which their brand is known.


http://shop.herriottgrace.com

Cooking Class Cookbook

2. Cooking Class Cookbook

Of course being an advocate of fun, healthy cooking for kids myself as the host of Cooking with Color 4 Kids TV Show in NYC, I was impressed by this new cookbook by Deanna F. Cook. I love the visuals and step by step instructions and fun inventive ideas to make cooking for fun for kids!

It also teaches basic cooking techniques in kid-friendly language and offers recipes for making dozens of favorite foods from scratch, including French toast, granola, pancakes, sandwiches, smoothies, muffins, biscuits, applesauce, fruit leather, goldfish crackers, tortilla chips, Buffalo chicken fingers, pizza, sushi California rolls, pudding, and more. The recipes use fresh, healthy ingredients and feature imaginative presentations that kids will love to prepare (and devour), such as egg mice, fruit flowers, mini-meatballs, mashed potato clouds, and carrot coins. Includes fun stickers and other activities, and is super cute and fun for anyone with kids who love to cook or want to learn how to cook.

Get a copy on Amazon

Fig & Olive Oysters

3. Fig and Olive Restaurant NYC

My friend recently came for a visit from LA and wanted to try out some great food in the city while she was here. So of course, being the foodie tour guide extraordinaire that I am, had to find some cool new place to take her to. I found a place called Fig and Olive which I am absolutely in love with…the food and service were both amazing and I am definitely going back for more! They have an olive oil tasting served at the table you when you first arrive in all different flavors from different regions.

They specialize in Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and have tons of great choices on the menu including a Crostini Bar where you can choose from all different varieties to accompany your figs, cheese, olives and other small bites. We ordered the Lobster Bisque and fresh raw oysters for  starters, then had the Lobster Risotto and Seafood Paella for our main. Everything was beautifully displayed and tasted amazing. A must visit if you love Mediterranean food and are visiting in NYC..and they also have locations in LA, Newport Beach and Chicago.

http://www.figandolive.com

Coney Island Cheesecake

4. Coney Island Confetti Cheesecake

All I can say is – how fun is this? It’s a super cute confetti cheesecake I found on How Sweet It Is blog that was originally created by Rosie of Sweetapolita.

This gorgeous creation is colorful and sweet and made out of cheesecake, sprinkles, ice cream cones and nuts…just like a fun Summer day at the beach hanging at the amusement park.

Get the recipe: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/05/coney-island-cheesecake/

viniq

5. Viniq Shimmering Liqueur

When Summer arrives, I love to experiment with fun, fresh and new cocktail recipes. I received a sample of Viniq, which is a gorgeous  shimmering liqueur (yes, it shimmers when you shake the bottle)! A fusion of Premium Vodka, Moscato, and Natural Fruit Flavors, it’s refreshing and perfect for a cocktail out on the patio. I mixed the Ruby flavor with some Pomegranate Sangria Seltzer, a dash of fresh lemon juice and topped off the concotion with some fresh raspberries. Totally delicious and a great addition of sparkle for my 4th of July celebration. Comes in 2 flavors and lots of great recipe ideas on their website. Delicious!

http://www.viniq.com/

Lemoncello Restaurant

6. Lemoncello, Rochester NY

Everyone loves Italian food right? Well at least I do – it’s definitely one of my favorite foods to cook and eat on the planet. There’s an awesome spot in Upstate NY (East Rochester) called Lemoncello which is easy on the eyes as well as on the palate. Try the Veal French, a lightly egg battered fillet of veal (4 to be exact), with a gorgeous silky lemon butter wine sauce over linguine. Another specialty is their Lemoncello Veal (or Chicken) which is another light pasta dish served with sauteed veal, olives, artichokes, spinach and pasta in a lemon cream sauce. TO DIE FOR.

Chef Silvana Formoso is from Sicily which is reflected in their awesome menu. You can find a variety of salads, gourmet pizza, and delicious appetizers like Artichoke French, Calamari Fritti, Beef Carpaccio and Sauteed Greens and Beans. There’s plenty of amazing main dishes on the menu to choose from too – Cioppino, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Pork Osso Buco, Stuffed Eggplant, Chicken Marsala and Milanese, Grilled Rib-Eye, Homemade Lasagna, Ravioli and Manicotti, Risotto and more. They even have BYOB on Tuesdays with no corkage fee, and you can enjoy the Summer weather on their outdoor patio and live music in the Summer. The decor is quaint and cozy, and the service is impeccable. They have a great wine list and all their bread is shipped in from Toronto and fresh baked in house every day so it’s still warm and crispy when it gets to your table! Owner Massimo Albano even gave us a shot of Limoncello for dessert on the house. Love this place and will definitely be back for more next time I’m in town! #delicioso

www.lemoncello.com

nature charm bracelet

7. Keith Lewis Studio

I recently went down to State College PA for a huge Summer Arts Festival at Penn State with some friends. It’s an annual show with amazing art, food, music and all the gorgeous jewelry, pottery, handcrafted gadgets and accessories a girl could want. One artist that stood out to me was Keith Lewis – he makes gorgeous handcrafted jewelry out of pearls and metal and precious stones that will make your eyes water out of pure lust.

www.keithlewisstudio.com

Flying Tiger camera bag

8. Flying Tiger Copenhagen

I recently discovered this groovy store a few weeks ago when I was strolling around the Flatiron District in NYC. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it but it reminds me of a cross between Target, IKEA, a boutique home / gadget store and flea market all in one space. They have all kinds of stuff for your office, home, kitchen, games, kids toys, party supplies, travel supplies and a million and one cool as can be highly designed, inexpensive gadgets. There’s only one store in NYC but you can always catch a flight to Copenhagen or Iceland or Japan if you feel the urge. If not, check out their cool stuff online. Unique, savvy and super fun.

http://flyingtiger.com/

 

crisco coconut oil

9. Crisco Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is all the rage these days, because it’s great for cooking in high temperatures, it’s a good fat and has a gorgeous flavor. There’s a new kid in town from Crisco and I had the opportunity to sample some of their new organic coconut oil. It’s perfect for frying and roasting veggies, meats, and can even be used in baked goods.

Check out some of their recipes and videos online to get some creative ideas on how to use it and cook with it!

www.crisco.com

authentic-italian-gravy

10. Redpack Tomatoes

Redpack is one of the top tomato producers on the market and I had the opportunity to sample some of their Petite Diced Tomatoes with Garlic & Olive Oil and their regular Diced Tomatoes. Because they are fresh picked and canned immediately, the flavor is always fresh and juicy and the tomatoes are pre-cut right in the can, making them convenient to use in all of my recipes.

Redpack Tomatoes

They also offer canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Redpack Tomato Sauce which are great for making all kinds of dishes like salads, sauces, pasta dishes, tacos, casseroles and more.

Redpack is one of many premium quality brands under the Red Gold Umbrella, which opened its doors in 1942. Today they produce over 100 different styles and flavors of tomato products in 20 different sizes and containers.

Check out all their product varieties online and get some great recipe ideas there too while you’re at it!

http://www.redgold.com/redpack

 

Sunset Wine & Dine KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Event in Support of Susan G. Coman

Sunset Wine & Dine Rooftop Event

Hey folks! We’re throwing a big rooftop party for a good cause!

*UNFORTUNATELY WE NEED TO CANCEL TONIGHT’S EVENT DUE TO WEATHER, AND ARE IN THE PROCESS OF PLANNING A NEW EVENT DATE FOR THIS – WILL BE ANOTHER EVENING IN EARLY AUGUST! STAY TUNED FOR THE NEW DATE ANNOUNCEMENT OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS! 


miditto + the artful gourmet present:

Sunset Wine & Dine KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Event in Support of Susan G. Coman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research

http://www.kitchenaid.com/rest/a_thousand_cooks.cmd

 

Event Details: 

Thursday, July 26th 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Limited to 40 people only – tickets $30 per person

Private rooftop with panoramic city views (The Monterey Rooftop on E. 96th St)

Wine provided by miditto wine clique, business member Pierre Loti Wine Bar and Restaurants

Food created by The Artful Gourmet (stuffed mushrooms, caprese cocktails, mini skewers and more!) – that’s ME!

 

We’re championing the health benefits of good life, good people, good food and wine.

Join us in our efforts to raise a toast AND exceed our fundraising goal of $500

 

This is how you can help the cause, while you are enjoying the fiesta!

1. Tip the Tip.  Ayza Wine Director, Lea Williams, will be present to answer questions about wine and food pairings.  All we ask is that you “Tip the Tip” jar, which will ALL be donated to the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Charity.

2. Tip and Be Merry.  For every glass you drink, we ask you to consider tipping the Tip Jar.  ALL funds will be donated to the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Charity.

 

Everyone who tips and attends will be eligible to win a special gift from miditto business member sponsors:

Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar – Worth $100+

Pierre Loti Wine Bar and Restaurants and Bar Chevere – a case of wine!

 

Space is limited to 40 people. Support the cause and purchase your tickets.

RSVP by 7/25 at http://sunsetwinedine.eventbrite.com/

Join the Conversation on our Event Facebook Page!

Crazy Good Lobster Rolls & a July 4 Feast

Lobster Rolls & July 4 Feast
Lobster Rolls & July 4 Feast

Summer is the time of year where all I want to do is flee to the ocean, bask in some sunshine and eat some really good seafood. With July 4th approaching us, my photographer friend and partner Maike Paul decided we wanted to do a test shoot together and make some crazy good Lobster Rolls and a July 4th Feast.

We picked up a fresh lobster at a local seafood market in Brooklyn (who we named Lobster Louie) and he accompanied us as we walked around Williamsburg searching for a big steam pot and some fresh ingredients and props to make our succulent Lobster Rolls. We picked up some fresh corn on the cob, scallions, chives, celery, and lemons, some crunchy Kettle chips, Corona and limes, heirloom tomatoes and lettuce to make a salad to accompany our feast.


Lobster Rolls are fairly easy to make – and if you’re squeamish like I am, you might want to get a helper to cook the lobster in the steam pot (we recruited Maike’s boyfriend). One tip I recommend is to put the whole lobster in the freezer for about 15 minutes before boiling it as it makes the lobster “sleepy” – it’s a more humane way to cook a live lobster and you’ll feel less guilty, I promise. You can also use frozen lobster if you just don’t want to deal with the complication and doom all together!

Lobster Rolls & July 4 Feast
Lobster Rolls & July 4 Feast

We brushed some light butter on the hot dog buns and put them in a grill pan for a few minutes to make them toasty and browned. New England-style buns are the best, but if you can’t find them, regular top-split buns are fine.

To make the corn on the cob, boil it first for about 10 minutes to soften it and then brush the corn with some butter and throw them in a grill pan or a charcoal grill to get some nice grill marks and then top it off with some sea salt and Old Bay Seasoning or paprika for some extra savory flavor. Make a fresh green salad with heirloom tomatoes and a light lemon vinaigrette to accompany along with some crunchy BBQ Kettle Chips and a cold, refreshing Corona with lime. Now that’s a July 4 feast to remember! Enjoy.

Crazy Good Lobster Rolls & a July 4 Feast

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup fresh chives, thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup fresh green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb. (4 cups) cooked lobster meat
  • 6 hot dog rolls, New England-style or split-top rolls
  • 4-6 fresh corn on the cob, husked
  • butter, for basting corn and hot dog rolls
  • 4-6 small heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 head green leaf lettuce
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon vinaigrette dressing, for salad
  • 2-3 limes, for Corona

Instructions

  1. Bring a large steam pot full of water to a rolling boil and prep all fresh ingredients. Boil lobster for about 10-12 minutes and let cool for another 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the lobster claws and the tail and split open the shell to remove fresh cooked lobster, and cut up the lobster meat into large chunks and remove residue by rinsing under cold water.
  3. In a large bowl, add the lobster meat and stir in celery, mayonnaise, water, chives, green onions, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper, Old Bay seasoning or paprika. Season to taste with more lemon, paprika, salt, and pepper if desired. Garnish with additional chopped chives.
  4. Boil the corn on the cob for about 10 minutes until soft. Brush with butter and grill in a grill pan for about 5 more minutes until grill marks appear. Sprinkle with sea salt and Old Bay seasoning or paprika.
  5. Brush the hot dog rolls lightly with butter, and grill in a grill pan over medium-high until they get browned and toasty. Serve the lobster salad in toasted buns with the corn on the cob and a fresh green salad with heirloom tomatoes and a light lemon vinaigrette dressing and fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Serve with a bowl of crunchy BBQ Kettle chips and a Corona with lime or crisp Sauvignon Blanc white wine.

Notes

If using a whole live lobster, put in the freezer for 15 minutes before boiling - this is a more humane way of cooking the lobster. You can also use frozen lobster tails if you desire equalling 4 cups to make this recipe. An alternative to the mayo-based lobster salad is to toss the fresh cooked lobster in some butter with fresh tarragon and salt and pepper (Connecticut-style)!

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/06/25/crazy-good-lobster-rolls-a-july-4-feast/

Watch the video from Fine Cooking on how to humanely cook a live lobster

Food Network Lobster Rolls by Sarah’s Secrets

Amateur Gourmet’s Lobster Rolls

Ellie Krieger’s Lobster Rolls

Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls by Serious Eats

Lobsters with Laura Lobster Rolls

A Dose of Southern Comfort & Down-Home Recipes :: Part 1

Southern Porch
Southern Porch

I recently took a cooking class at ICE that was all about Southern Cooking. In the spirit of the Kentucky Derby, I wanted share some of the awesome down-home Southern food we made. These are classic Southern recipes you’d find on the Sunday “Supper” table with a large group of friends and family, that scream the words “Southern Comfort” all around. Think Deviled Eggs, Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Cornbread, Coca-Cola Cake, Fried-Green Tomatoes, Fried Fruit Pies, BBQ Ribs, Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, Sweet Tea, Mint Juleps – savory, homey, sweet, hearty, comforting and yes, FILLING. I guess that’s why they call it ‘comfort food’ because once your done eating and your belly is full, all you really wanna do is take a big NAP (on a nice big hammock on the front porch – Yes Ma’am).

Mississippi
Mississippi

I had my first real taste of true Southern food when I visited Meridian, Missippippi with one of my best friends and her family back in high school. We rode in the back of a station wagon from Upstate NY to Mississippi in the sweltering heat for about 20 hours, and when we arrived I thought I had reached the equator – or HELL for that matter. I wasn’t there for even 2 hours before I got attacked by a swarm of tiny red ants when we visited her Grandfather’s farm house that first day, and almost passed out on the beach after laying out for 5 minutes it was so hot down there. But after a big glass of ice cold homemade sweet tea, some Biscuits and Gravy, a crunchy delicious piece of her Grandmother’s Fried Chicken and a plate of Fried Okra – all the hellfire deceased instantly. (Well at least for the moment!)

University of South Carolina
University of South Carolina

My second experience tasting Southern food was in Columbia, South Carolina when I went to USC for a few semesters and ended up transferring there because I was so charmed by this unique Southern town. I’ll never forget the game day tailgating parties full of glorious southern banquets (and Bourbon!) that took up the entire parking lot across from the football stadium and lasted all day until we passed out from the heat, or the food (or most likely the Jack and Coke’s we had in our water bottles that we snuck into the game with!)

South Carolina Memories
South Carolina Memories

There was also the local street vendor in Five Points (where all the bars and restaurants are on campus) who walked around selling spicy boiled peanuts to all the crazy drunk kids going in and out of all the bars staggering home to their dorm rooms. If you take a drive down to South Carolina, you can’t miss the huge giant peach water tower in Gaffney on the way down (or the massive retail outlet there!). Peaches are lovely. Peaches are everywhere down South. Peach pie, peach fritters, peach cobbler, peach tarts, peach salads, peach jam….ok, now I’m getting hungry.

Charleston SC
Charleston SC

We took roadtrips to Charleston, SC and experienced the low-country cuisine like Shrimp and Gravy, Red Beans and Rice or Frogmore Stew (a South Carolina specialty made with shrimp, corn, new potatoes and sausage). The downtown Sunday market is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade baskets, art, crafts and great southern and low-country food. If you’ve never been to this town before, you MUST make a trip – the architecture, the Sunday markets, the seafood, cobbled streets, southern hospitality and warm breezes off the ocean will charm the pants right off of you.

Destin, FL
Destin, FL

Our Spring Breaks had to be semi-close by because none of us could afford to fly anywhere, so we hopped in our e-roller scooters and took roadtrips to nearby towns like Savannah, GA or to the beach in the Florida panhandle (otherwise known as the Redneck Riveria – Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola) and ate spicy boiled Crawfish – “sucking heads and pinching tails”, while slugging down a good ice cold Budweiser or two.

Atlanta
Atlanta

Then, I moved to Atlanta after I graduated from college (swayed by a great friend of mine that I met at the University of SC) and unexpectedly stayed there for 12 years – and that’s where I really learned how to cook and love Southern food. There was something about the flowery, green smell in the air down in Georgia, and the charming friendliness of the people – a realness and down-to-earth manner that made me feel like I belonged in this strange Southern universe (even if I was just a damn Yankee that moved down South to get away from Mom and Dad after college).

Georgia Southern Food
Georgia Southern Food

Fried Chicken and Waffles, BBQ, more peaches (every street in Atlanta is named “Peachtree”), trips to the Dillard House in the Georgia mountains, day trips and weekends at the lake – I couldn’t get enough of this place. We grilled out almost every weekend on the deck or at the lake with our friends (and made awesome steaks and burgers with Dale’s Seasoning which are Ah-mazing).

Southern BBQ
Southern BBQ

My ex was from Alabama and Texas, so you can only imagine the Southern food and hospitality that I was exposed to. We ate the best BBQ south of the Mason-Dixon line in Selma, Alabama at a little truck stop called Lannie’s Barbeque, that served hot fresh bbq pork sandwiches on toasted buns with homemade cole slaw, southern green beans and a side of cornbread with extra sauce for mopping. There was never a trip to Selma without a stop here. Or a mandatory trip to Dreamland BBQ for a whopping plate of messy delicious ribs in Tuscaloosa for Alabama ‘Game Day‘. Roll Tide! (I was always still a diehard Gamecock fan though, even if Alabama kicked our ass).

Alabama Fried Catfish & Grilled Corn
Alabama Fried Catfish & Grilled Corn

His Mom was an amazing cook too, and every holiday we would go to their “camphouse” in the woods. The men would go deer and bird hunting for the day, and the women would stay home and prep for the big mid-day feast: slow-cooked collard greens with smoked ham, deep-fried turkey, slow-roasted pork butt, fried okra, skillet baked cornbread with jalapenos and cheddar, pecan pie, homemade flaky buttery biscuits, sweet tea, and the list goes on. On Friday nights we always went to “Mac’s Fish Camp” on the Alabama River (which tragically burned down in 2007 and is no longer around). We ate the best cornmeal-crusted fried catfish that would blow your mind – whole, right off the bones, served with fresh corn on the cob, cole slaw and hushpuppies. Even on the sweltering dog-days of Summer like they have down South, there’s something about the savory, buttery, comfort food down there that makes you feel right at home.

A Southern Feast
A Southern Feast

True Southern food and hospitality is all about eating and sharing big homemade meals with large groups of friends and family. My cooking class was almost 5 hours long and we made so much food you could feed a small Confederate Army. Thus, this post only has half of the food we made for our Southern feast that day so I’m making this Part 1. The recipes below include: Classic Deviled Eggs, Country Smoked Ham with Red-Eye Gravy, Southern Collard Greens, Cornbread, Coca-Cola Cake and of course, some homemade Southern Sweet Tea to wash it all down with. Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week for some more down-home, get-in-my-belly, authentic Southern Comfort food. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to take a nice, long nap on the hammock between now and then…

—–

Deviled Eggs

deviled eggs
Deviled Eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs (1 week old eggs are easier to peel than super fresh eggs)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, or to moisten
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish, or to taste
Paprika, for garnish
1-2 tbsp chopped Parsley leaves

Equipment: ice water bath

Put eggs in a saucepan that will hold them in one layer. Cover with cold water by 1 inch. Heat just to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the pan. Allow the eggs to “cook” in the hot water for 15 to 17 minutes and then immediately transfer to the ice water bath to cool and stop the cooking.

When well-chilled (you may have to replace the ice water bath with cold water or more ice to keep them cold and fully chill), roll them gently on the countertop and crack the shell all over.

Peel under cold running water and reserve.

Cut the hard-cooked eggs in half length-wise and shave a bit from the bottom of each half so it will lay flat on a serving dish.

Remove and mash the yolks; combine with mayonnaise, mustard, salt and relish.

Refill the centers of the egg whites with the mixture (use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, ideally). Garnish with paprika and chopped parsley, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 12 deviled eggs.

—–

Country Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy

Country Ham with Redeye Gravy
Country Ham with Redeye Gravy

1 bone-in fully cooked ham steak, about 2 pounds (salt-cured country ham or a center-cut slice of ham)
Butter, vegetable oil, lard or shortening, as needed
3/4 cup strong black coffee
Worcestershire sauce

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Melt sufficient butter or other fat to film the bottom of the skillet. Add the cooked ham, and cook to warm through and brown the meat. Reserve the ham.

Over high heat, add the coffee to deglaze the pan; scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits.

Bring to a boil and cook about 1 minute. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

To serve pour the gravy over the ham to serve with the ham or serve gravy in a separate pitcher.

Serves 6.

Country Ham in Roasting Pan
Roasted Country Ham
Ham Steak ready to serve
red eye gravy
Red-eye Gravy
Cut ham ready for red-eye gravy
Time to pass the Red-eye Gravy

—–

Southern-Style Braised Collard Greens

Southern collard greens
Southern-style Braised Collard Greens

2 pounds of collard greens (can substitute kale, turnip greens, or mustard greens)
1 ham hock (or 6 slices of cooked bacon)
1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt
Sherry or cider vinegar, optional (for serving)
Tabasco/Louisiana Hot pepper sauce or pickled pepper juice, optional (for serving)

Clean and wash greens well; remove tough stems and ribs. Cut the greens up into large ribbons or chunks and place in a deep pot; add onion. Wash off the ham hock and add to the pot. Add red pepper and salt. Add enough water to cover greens, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the greens until tender, about 1 hour (up to 2 or 3 hours is fine as long as they don’t get mushy). Add more water as needed, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve with corn bread, and pass the vinegar and hot sauce.

Serves 4 to 6.

Slow cooking Collard Greens
Slow cooking Collard Greens

—–

Classic Southern Cornbread

Classic Southern Cornbread
Classic Southern Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease pan

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved (don’t over mix!). Allow the mixture to site at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Corn Bread Batter
Corn Bread Batter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Melt butter in the hot cast iron pan
Melt butter in the hot cast iron pan

When ready to bake, coat the bottom and sides of the hot skillet with butter (and be careful – pan is very hot!)

Pour batter in the pan
Pour batter in the pan

Pour the batter into the prepared pan,

Cornbread ready for baking
Cornbread ready for baking

and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares or wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra butter if desired.

We used to make it with green chilies or jalapenos and cheddar cheese – if you want to try this version, chop the chilies (about 1/2 cup) and some shredded cheddar (about 1 cup) and add it to the batter before pouring into the cast-iron skillet. Delicious!

Makes 1 (10-inch) skillet of cornbread, approx. 8 to 10 slices or squares.

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Coca-Cola Cake

Coca Cola Cake
Coca Cola Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease and flour a 13×9 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Combine 1 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 cup of Coca-Cola in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add marshmallows and vanilla, stirring until marshmallows are melted.

Pour mixture over dry ingredients and blend in well. Add the buttermilk, beaten eggs, baking soda and pecans, if using. Beat well.

Spread batter in the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake bounces back when lightly touched near the center. Cool completely.

Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
6 to 7 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 cup chopped pecans, optional

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand blender), blend the softened butter with cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, and Coca-Cola. Beat ingredients until smooth and creamy; spread on cooled cake with a spatula. If desired, sprinkle finely chopped pecans over the top. Serve warm.

Makes 1 (13×9) cake.

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Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea

1 ounce loose black tea
1 quart hot water
1 quart room temperature water
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Infuse hot tea into hot water for 4 to 5 minutes, strain the tea into room temperature water. (we used to bring water to a boil in a large saucepan and then turn it off and infuse large tea bags in the hot water and add additional room temp water). Sweeten with simple syrup if desired and garnish with lemon wedges. Mint leaves are a nice twist too.

Simple Syrup:

3 cups sugar
3 cups cold water

For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a small non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, and cook until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely (before putting ice in it or the tea will turn cloudy and taste bitter).

Can be kept in the refrigerator for a month or more in a tightly sealed container.

Makes 2 quarts.

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More Southern Recipes You May Enjoy:

Virginia Willis’ Grits with Corn and Sweet Onion

Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole

Neely’s Chicken and Dumplings

Deep Fried Kudzu’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Tabasco’s Game Day Recipes

Amazing Macaroni + Cheese > There’s No Place Like Home

macandcheese-2

So here is my award winning Mac and Cheese recipe that I am proud to share with all of you! Grand Prize Winner in the Challenge Dairy Real Heritage Recipe Contest for my Amazing Macaroni and Cheese! Not only did they send me a generous cash prize, but also a huge shipment of all the kitchen tools and cooking equipment a happy cook could ever ask for! I am grateful for this opportunity to submit my winning recipe and to be a part of this amazing recipe contest.

Check out my story and winning recipe below, and check out my recipe and more contest winners on Challenge Dairy’s website.


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There’s No Place Like Home

Growing up I always associated food with a sense of comfort, warmth, fulfillment and stability. This is something I attribute to my Mom’s home-cooked meals and nights around the dinner table with my family as we discussed the events of our day, bonded through sharing the heartwarming, delicious meals together and after the meal was done, cleaned the kitchen with our Mom and bonded by watching a television show together before going to bed and getting ready for school the next day. Mom would make Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans, homemade Lasagna with a salad and garlic bread, Grandma’s Beet Soup with homemade Polish potato noodles, or a yummy, savory Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy – these were all of our favorites and also heirloom recipes that were handed down from my grandparents and generations past.

That was a long time ago, or so it seems, and since those days I have lived in numerous cities and another country, and still cherish enjoying good food with good people. But nothing compares to those home cooked meals and the sense of comfort they gave me when I was young – those days gave me a solid ground to stand on for life.

One gloomy, dark day last January, I was cooped up in my tiny New York studio apartment feeling completely miserable from the freezing cold weather and had a serious case of the Winter blues. I felt an undying urge to make a home-cooked meal like Mom used to make to cheer me up and get me out of the dismal mood I couldn’t seem to shake. New York can do that to you sometimes – it is one of the greatest cities in the world, but can also take you to the depths of darkness on those dark, freezing, nasty days in the middle of Winter. That day I decided to go on a quest for comfort. Something warm. Something cozy. Something heartwarming. Something that would fill my soul and renew my spirit.

My head started spinning, and I immediately felt energized and motivated with this new task at hand. What would cheer me up and transport me back in time? After furiously searching through all of my recipes, I found the perfect remedy to ail my blues – a big whopping batch of luscious Macaroni and Cheese. Not just an ordinary one (like the kind you get in a blue box with packets of dried chemical-laden cheese dust), but one that called for some delicious gourmet ingredients to take this kid-friendly recipe and turn it into a serious pot of adult-sized comfort.

I hopped in a cab to Zabars on the Upper West Side with thrill and anticipation. The freezing rain was coming down sideways and beat against the windows. Once I arrived, I headed straight for the Cheese department and was in my glory with their selection of international cheeses that pierce your nose as soon as you walk in the door. I picked up a creamy Italian Mascarpone, some fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano, a chunk of Gruyere and a block of Fontina. Then I found some fresh garlic, heavy cream, premium real butter, smoked thick cut bacon and of course, imported Italian pasta – this was a recipe for a mean Mac and Cheese.

I prepped my ingredients and carefully crafted my dish of gourmet deliciousness. The pot was brimming with a melted creamy cheese concoction and I poured the luscious ingredients into my baking dish, watching with anticipation as the warm, savory smells filled my kitchen. After an hour of waiting anxiously to savor my creation, I scooped up the bubbly goodness into a bowl and upon tasting the first bite with its brown crispy crust and tangy creamy cheese, was transported back to a time of comfort and bliss, when I didn’t have a care in the world, a simpler time and place that seemed long gone from today in my stressful, fast-paced city life.

Who cares about the weather, I thought – I had arrived. I was home.

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Ingredients

¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
5 ½ tablespoons Challenge European Style Butter (salted), divided
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg (⅛ teaspoon)
dash of ground cayenne pepper (⅛ teaspoon)
1 ½ cups Gruyere or Comte, grated (3 oz.)
1 cup Fontina, chopped into small pieces (5¼ oz.)
1/2 cup mascarpone
1 ½ cups dry elbow macaroni (6 oz.)
4 slices bacon or prosciutto, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the bacon or prosciutto, drain and crumble and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt 2½ tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, toss well, and set aside.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, do not let the flour burn. Pour in the milk and cream; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper, Gruyère, Fontina , mascarpone, nutmeg and cayenne. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat.

Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente (7 – 8 minutes). Drain the macaroni and combine with the cheese sauce. Add crumbled bacon/prosciutto and parsley; mix well.

Pour the macaroni mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley. Yields 4-6 servings.

Crunchy and Luscious: Chicken Mushroom Croquettes

chicken-and-mushroom-croquettes
Chicken and Mushroom Croquettes
Chicken Mushroom Croquettes

Croquettes are delicious small fried food rolls – crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. They are usually filled with mashed potatoes or minced meat such as beef or veal, poultry, fish, vegetables or shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp and salmon are common). The ingredients are mixed together with fresh herbs and spices and oftentimes a creamy white sauce, then shaped into cylindrical patties, coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried (or you can bake these in the oven if you prefer).

Originating in France, the word croquette means “to crunch”. Perfect for a cocktail party appetizer or just a luscious small dish, served with a salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Serve with a remoulade dipping sauce and a splash of lemon.

Croquettes


1 1/3 c chicken, finely shredded (white meat)
2/3 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (cremini and/or white button)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
dash of cayenne
dash of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c canola oil, for frying

Herb Cream Sauce

1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
1 c. chicken stock
1/3 c cream
1/2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

Remoulade Sauce

2 c mayonnaise
2 tbsp chopped capers
1 ½ tbsp chopped chives
1 ½ tbsp. chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

To prepare remoulade: In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, capers, chives, tarragon, parsley, chipotle pepper, and Dijon mustard. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

To make the croquettes, first shred and chop the warm, cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken is a fast and easy way to do this or you can use shredded parboiled chicken). Finely chop the mushrooms and mix in salt, celery salt, cayenne and nutmeg, mixing all ingredients together.

Make the herb cream sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly adding flour, chicken stock, herbs and cream together, whisking thoroughly and often until the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture, then add one beaten egg until it has a moist but firm texture; set aside to cool. Shape into cylindrical patties and coat with breadcrumbs. Place croquettes in a frying pan in heated oil over medium high and fry until the croquettes have a crispy, golden brown crust, about 5-6 minutes, and drain on paper towels.

Serve with a side salad of mixed greens with lemon juice and olive oil dressing, a crisp white wine and remoulade sauce for dipping.

Makes 4  servings.

 

Other Croquette recipes you may enjoy:

Paula Deen’s Potato Croquettes

Alton Brown’s Tuna Croquettes

Anthony Bourdain’s Dutch Croquettes

Japanese Beef and Potato Croquettes (Korokke)

Saveur’s Salmon Croquettes

Indochine Kitchen’s Croquettes

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