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Open Discussion of Southern Cooking - Page 2

post #31 of 86
Thread Starter 
That's how reasonable people handle differences. Yes, respect all around and to you as well.
post #32 of 86
Maybe THAT'S why a trip to the Cracker Barrel always results in a foxtrot directly to the men's room...
post #33 of 86

Ode to pimento cheese

Phatch, have you ever made pimento cheese? Do you want to make pimento cheese? I’ll share my recipe if you want to try it.

It’s great for lunch when you’re all alone to make a solitary sandwich for one.
It’s oh so fine for late night snacks with crackers or fat pretzels.
For entertaining it is served in tiny triangle (no crust of course) form, on both whole wheat and white.
Or piped down celery.
I do mine in one bite choux puffs.
If it is stiff enough you can make a “cheese ball” and roll it in chopped pecans.
post #34 of 86

If you quit teasing and just post the pimento cheese, I'll PM you a killer pain de campagne.

post #35 of 86
Alright, let’s see if I can do this with something approaching precise measurements. Forgive me if my directions are unclear, it’s like trying to describe second nature at this point. And to give credit, this is my much adapted version of my girlfriend’s pimento cheese recipe.


16 ounces of good quality extra sharp or New York extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounce jar of pimentos, drained
Sour cream, the amount will vary based on desired consistency but I always have a fresh 16 ounce container on hand for the recipe and use the leftovers in other stuff.
Olive oil
Dry sherry
A handful, maybe ¼-1/3 cup, of whole or pecan pieces.
Butter and salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
Throw the butter and salt in a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted throw in the pecans and toss until the butter coats the pecans and toss and cook until they begin to smell like toasted pecans. Drain on paper towels. When they are cooled, finely chop them.

With the finest grater you have (food processor gives too coarse a grate, use the tiny holes on the box grater) shred the cheese into a large bowl. Add the jar of drained pimentos, the chopped butter toasted pecans, about a 1/3 of sour cream and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon or heavy rubber spatula. It should still be fairly stiff. Add two good glugs of the sherry and fresh cracked pepper to taste stir. Consistency will depend on application; adjust with sour cream and olive oil.
Everything should come together to form a semi-smooth spread. If you can still make out pieces of grated cheese, it isn’t smooth enough. (Easily identifiable pieces of large grated cheese swimming in orangey mayo is grocery store gack)
I tend to make mine just thick enough to pipe into a bite sized choux and it will hold it’s shape, which is about where you want it for celery. Stiffer for a cheese ball. You might want a looser consistency for a dip.
post #36 of 86
As Isbnso says, this is a great spread. But if you thin it down just a tad (that's why God gave us the sour cream), it's an incredible topping for broccoli, asparagus, and the like.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #37 of 86
As in:
“I got this recipe from Billy’s wife. No, not Cindy-Lou, she couldn’t cook her way out of a wet paper sack. I got it from Becky-Lee, his first wife, who was the preacher’s daughter that ran off and left Billy for that lion tamer from the circus. Which caused Billy to have to switch churches and that’s where he met Cindy-Lou, who was so homely she was lucky to even get a divorcee. Well, Becky-Lee served this at the last garden club meeting she hosted before she blew out of town. She knew how much I liked it so she sent it to me on the back of a post card from Tanzania. But don’t tell anybody I told you.”

post #38 of 86

Brillant? Brillant?

What? You think she's making that up?

Y'all need to move down here and find out what real backstories are all about.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #39 of 86
Thread Starter 
Biscuits have been done to death in this forum, so let's skip that. Do a search if you want more about that topic.

So how about sweet potatoes.

I wouldn't call sweet potatoes themselves southern as they're an important food throughout the world.

And I'm not fond of the stereotypical southern versions of sweet potato pie/souffle. I've never found adding more sweetness to sweet potatoes pleasing. I like them savory, one of my favorites being to peel and slice the sweet potato a little bit thick, season with a cajun style seasoning and pan fry in butter in my cast iron pan. There's a southern influence there I think but it's not southern to my knowledge as I came up with that myself.

Villas gave a recipe for a sweet potato and ham hash that sounded pretty good. I'd be adding some hot sauce to that I think. I took some general notes and set them aside for when I have leftover unseasoned cooked sweet potato. It also sounds good with some andouille.

I also like sweet potato rolls, a recipe I got from Cook's Illustrated. Very good. Makes a good loaf as well and excellent for toast and ham and turkey sandwiches. No idea if that's southern or not.

I've heard of soups and a few other things it seems, but none of them are coming to mind with clarity.
post #40 of 86
Sweet potatoes:
Well there is the way I mentioned above, with butter a hint of brown sugar and walnuts. Then there is one I posted in the catering forum here
I know ladies that make sweet potato salad akin to traditional potato salad.
My mother loved to cook them for a snack, much like what you are talking about, but with just butter salt and pepper.
My mother also makes vegetable soups with sweet potatoes instead of white.
I’ve seen sweet potato “French fries”
post #41 of 86
Thread Starter 
I've seen those too in other places so I'm not sure they're particularly southern.
post #42 of 86
One thing that we always had growing up, and (once I got out of the eating out of the delivery bag phase of my life) I still do, is what we call the relish tray. Every meal (except spaghetti and tacos) always had a relish tray. It always had fresh sliced tomato, onion and cucumber but could also include pickled okra and deviled eggs.
post #43 of 86
Thread Starter 
I think many cultures have such a thing, but what's on it is what reflects the culture and makes it a cultural dish.

I don't know that I've ever seen pickled okra. How does pickling okra affect the slime factor of okra?

post #44 of 86
I eat okra two ways, cut up and rolled in corn meal and then fried. It was our version of tater tots when we were little, yes we dipped them in ketchup. No slime there.
Neither fried or pickled okra has slime.
I can buy pickled okra (from set your head on fire to mild) at every grocery store in the area. I’ve never made my own.
post #45 of 86
Making your own pickled okra is easy, Kiddo.

Let me know if you want a recipe.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #46 of 86
I’d love a recipe. I’ve been putting it off until I could plant some myself. I haven’t been able to tame the yard past container stage, and then there is the fact that okra is 100 times worse than zucchini when it come to yield. It just keeps going and going and going.

Maybe, I’ll just hit the farmer’s market after all.
post #47 of 86
It's true, it's true. Once okra starts coming it it has to be picked every other day at most.

I'd recommend if you do grow your own that you start with one of the cowhorn types. If they get away from you they stay tender longer.

To test any okra variety, rub the pointy tip with your finger. If it's flexible then the pod is still tender. If not, not.

My personal favorite is Fife Creek Cowhorn. As with any southern heirloom, the backstory is what makes it.

Here's the recipe:

Hot Pickled Okra

3 1/2 lb small okra pods
4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly bruised
2 small hot chilis, halved
3 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup canning salt
2 tsp dill seed

Pack okra firmly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Put a garlic clove and a half chili in each jar.

Combine water, vinegar, salt and dill and bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over okra, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, adjust lids. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Yields about 4 pints.

Obviously you can affect the heat by upping the amount of chili. If you want it hotter I would still halve them so the vinegar can draw out the capsaicin more quickly.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #48 of 86
Bourbon is the best company of sweet potatoes.....Nothing like a leaf lard pie crust filled with bourbon sweet potato pie.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #49 of 86

Are you paying close attention to these lyrical descriptions of food, family, and cooking? Some could be lifted and used in your forthcoming book!

After all, as Tom Lehrer said (sang, actually), if you gather from a lot of sources, it's research, not plagarism. :bounce:

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #50 of 86
Ahhh, Mike. I am never forgetting the time Lubinchefski, the greatest mathamatician to ever get calk dust on his coat, is telling me the secret of his success....Plagerize. Do not vaguerize. But please to always be calling it, research.

Tom who?:D
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #51 of 86
No need to plagiarize. I already got the story from Julie Anne -- You remember, she was Martha Claire's sister and went off to Tulane before she went to work for that newspaper up North and wrote all those books.

post #52 of 86
And Martha Claire is still just beside herself over the things her baby sister put in those books. Well, we always knew Julie Anne was a wild one, what with wearing white shoes whenever she felt like it and with ankle straps no less, bless her heart. Last I heard she was making chicken salad with dark meat in it. Her grandmamma would be so disappointed, God rest her soul.
post #53 of 86
Well, this sort of fits in with the earlier comments about Florida being in the south. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings used to work for newspapers up north, in 1930 or so moved to a place called Cross Creek to run an orange grove. She wrote lots of books. Cross Creek is near Gainseville, I recall. Read her book about it, called "Cross Creek" last summer. Interesting stuff about rural Florida back then, long before the blue hairs and those who worship a cartoon mouse changed the state. 1930s central Florida sure seemed like the South from reading that book.

In keeping with the food theme, there actually were a couple of almost recipes and cooking tips in the book, though I don't recall them at the moment.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #54 of 86
Thread Starter 
izbnso's more recent posts have touched on another food item that has some peculiarly southern twists in its use there.

Nuts, and for simplicity, lets include peanuts as well.

The nuts and sweet potatos for example. Pecan pie, boiled peanuts though I've never had the opportunity to try that particular southern item. Supposed to be a love or hate kind of thing with the boiled peanuts. Villas gave sources for buying raw peanuts so you could boil your own wherever you happen to be.

Pecan pie can be good. I need small doses or it gets to be too much for me.
post #55 of 86
To kind of square a few circles ..

I make a nice pumpkin pie with bourbon and pecans. I originally got the idea from a recipe in the old two volume Gourmet Cookbook; from back in the day when Gourmet still had good recipes. However, it's long past the time since my (mental) recipe's looked anything like their printed version. There's, I believe, didn't include bourbon.

There's no reason this can't be tweaked from pumpkin to sweet potato. It's basically the same custard, after all.

Out in the west, we're partial to walnuts. If good ones are available at a decent price (bless you TJ), I'll choose walnuts over pecans for any baking project. The nuts can be outstanding mixed, as in walnut - pecan tart. One of the nice things about doing a pecan and/or walnut tart is it's a little easier to keep a handle on the sweetness. The trick is making a thin pie and chasing it with strong coffee. That's French cooking for you. Deep thinking.

Both nuts are important in Mexican cooking too, although you don't see much of anything en nogado or con nogados up here in el Norte -- like you do down Old Mexico way. (Gene Autry could sing the heck out of that song.) Actually, Mexican Indpendence day (September 15) is coming up in a few days. We'll either have to go out or I'll have to make chiles en nogado at home. I've got a bottle of Mezcal and an 18 pack of Tecate primed and ready.

post #56 of 86
cane syrups, sorghum, molasses and corn syrups (dark and light) are part of a stocked Southern pantry.

There are several chefs in STL that ship in Steens cane syrup, you can find it here if you know where to look, but paying a hefty import cost.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #57 of 86
Thread Starter 
And what do you do with the different syrups?
post #58 of 86
Except for special dinners, when my grandmother made candied yams, we ate sweet potatoes roasted in the oven. They were roasted in their skins. A good sweet potato needs no embellishments, just eat it straight from the oven. I like the skin as well but a lot of people don't. The only time we ever had the souffles and stuff with marshmallows on top was at school for their Thanksgiving dinner. Funny, now that I live with a Hoosier, he's the one who wants marshmallows on his sweet potatoes, but don't mash them up for him.

Boiled peanuts.......oh, I how miss these treats! My kids love them, too! I haven't had a good boiled peanut in years. When we visit my family, it's usually in the spring and the wrong time for fresh green peanuts. Yeah, you can use dried peanuts but they don't compare to boiled green peanuts.

Pecans.....both sets of grandparents had pecan trees. The pecans were used in a lots of desserts or eaten straight out of their shell.

Cane syrup is a staple in my homemade bbq sauce. I love the flavor it imparts. I also like it mixed with a little sour cream and sopped up with a homemade biscuit. My grandmother taught me to do that and sometimes I just get that craving for home and have to make it myself. That's another product that I buy several bottles of whenever I go back to Georgia.

I can remember going over to neighbor's farms during syrup time. They used horses, mules, or oxen to stir the syrup which was cooked down over a fire. I'd love to take my kids back one day to see that!

I have a bbq sauce that uses a jar of molasses. My dad used it to make some kind of cookies and they'd sometimes use it in baked beans or bbq sauce. I don't recall ever using it, myself, except to make this one particular sauce. I use corn syrup to make some Christmas treats. Off hand, I can't even remember which recipe calls for it but will know when I dig out the special book. My grandmother used to cook down clear Karo to make some kind of syrup for biscuits but I'm not exactly sure what she did.
post #59 of 86
do you have trouble finding pommegranite for your chiles en nogado this time
of year?....One of my favorite dishes.......Sorghum...mmmmmmmmm......
Georgia Peaches with Biscuits and Sorghum.....grew up on Sorghum syrup....
Seasons almost over for Peaches in Georgia.......had Georgia Bells, and Alberta's this year....in addition to the rest......pretty good year for peaches.
post #60 of 86
I’m really not a fan of sweet potato (the roasted with nuts and brown sugar is the only way I like them) and have always considered them virtually interchangeable with pumpkin, which I don’t care for either.

We are nuts about nuts. The predilection for pecans is due in large part to their availability. A lot of people have a couple or three pecans trees in their yard, even the city dwellers. I can’t remember if it’s Georgia or Texas that leads in pecan production, but there are many small pecan companies all over the South.
My mother lives in a tiny town (maybe 13,000 folks in the entire county) and the first home she had there had been built around the turn of the century. It was the city house for D.C. Turnipseed, who was at one time the largest peach distributor in the nation, and quite a character himself. His country house was out Peachburg road. Business was great until one year something went wrong with the rail cars used for shipping and the bulk of his peaches were lost. According to the family he personally dynamited up all the peach trees and replaced them with pecans. Hence, Peachburg road is lined with pecan trees.
There are now several pecan companies in the area and pecan trees run all through town and country. One of those pecan companies is owned by my 5th cousin and his wife. She won a Food Network cake competition (not the decorated kind of cakes) with a pecan bunt cake a few years back.

The ooey-gooey Dark Kar-o pecan pie has never been a favorite of mine. When I was little I would scrape the pecans off the top and eat only the goo and crust. The best pecan pie recipe I have ever made is from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri: Southern Pecan Pie with Spice Crust. It isn’t gooey in a bad way and is made with bourbon. I highly recommend it.

Then we have those little pecan pies made in mini muffin cups that absolutely everybody has a recipe for and can even be found in the grocery store bakery section. Although the grocery store variety aren’t as good.

Pecans are a must for pralines, absolutely no substitutes. You shouldn’t even use pieces, just halves.

Pecans vs. walnuts in divinity can spark a hot debate. I use walnuts.

Great party food: two butter toasted pecan halves with a bleu cheese/cream cheese mixture seasoned with Worcestershire sauce in the middle.
Spiced or candied pecans packed in pretty tins are common Christmas presents.


My brother has the allergy so I grew up with out them. My mother used to sneak away from the house to have a RC cola (from a bottle) with salted peanuts in it. She loved green peanuts and boiled peanuts, they just couldn’t come in the house.
I could eat them, just never did because they were so lethal to my brother. My first encounter with fresh boiled peanuts (you can get them in a can at the grocery store and can find hot ones in gas stations) was at an Auburn football game. My husband was an assistant athletic director so we had access to the boxes and I was VERY pregnant. So I stayed in the box for easy access to the bathroom and constant air-conditioning. He spent most of the game on peanut runs for me.:rolleyes: I must have eaten 10 of 15 pounds of them. I’ve made them at home, but it has been awhile.

Allie is right, all those syrups are used for sauces, glazes and confections. You don’t find corn syrup on the baking aisle here; it’s on the syrup aisle.

From time to time at the grocery store and frequently at farmer’s markets you can buy sugar cane, which is just fun to chew on.
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