My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve been cooking and craving Southern food from the Carolinas. Among my favorite things are those delicious cornmeal fritters known as hushpuppies. You can find hushpuppies in every diner worth its salt – the appy is served right from the fryer, into the paper-lined basket. You see them at every church fish fry, and on every barbecue buffet. No longer just a southern thing, you can find some version of hushpuppies on fast food menus across the country and around the world.

The lore behind the name has variations of the same tale. Confederate soldiers, Southern mamas and even nuns were said to use a deep-fried concoction of cornmeal, egg and seasonings to throw to the barking dogs to quiet them down. But, if we look back through America’s early written history, we can find references to fried cornbread that predates these stories.

Southerners have been eating fried cornmeal for a long time. Early writings refer to Red Horse Bread which was famously made by a well-known South Carolina fisherman. He served fried fish with all the fixins from his shack along the river; not only to locals but to prominent gentlemen and politicians from far and wide. An early newspaper columnist wrote, that Red Horse Bread was made by “simply mixing cornmeal with water, salt, and egg, and dropped by spoonful’s in the hot lard in which fish have been fried”. As it turns out Red Horse also refers to the type of fish caught and then fried.

How Red Horse Bread evolved to hushpuppies, is still a question for historians, but one theory is that these tasty cornbread fritters are used to hush the dogs howling in your your grumbling tummy.

This is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it, is – you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. Be as creative as you want with add-ins and sauces. I only ask one thing…. Please don’t feed them to the dogs!

Hush Puppies

With Spicy Remoulade sauce

serves a crowd

30 minute cuisine

These fritters are rich and doubly corn-full! They are really easy to prepare and a great appy for your Southern barbecue!

For Hushpuppies:

2 cups Hushpuppy Mix (like House-Autry brand)

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup frozen corn, thawed and chopped

¾ cup prepared chunky salsa

4 green onions finely diced

1 teaspoon creole seasoning

For Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons chili sauce

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (like Frank’s)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 green onions, finely diced, about 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat vegetable oil in a fryer or deep pot to 350°. You need only enough oil to fill about 3 inches of your pot or pan. Stir together the hushpuppy mix, eggs, corn, salsa and creole seasoning. Allow the batter to rest for 3 to 5 minutes and then stir it again. Carefully drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. (Do this in batches, so that you don’t overcrowd the pan.) Use a wire basket to gently turn the hushpuppies in the oil so that they are golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Stir the ingredients together to make the sauce. Serve warm hushpuppies with the sauce on the side!

 

 

 

My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve been cooking and craving Southern food from the Carolinas. Among my favorite things are those delicious cornmeal fritters known as hushpuppies. You can find hushpuppies in every diner worth its salt – the appy is served right from the fryer, into the paper-lined basket. You see them at every church fish fry, and on every barbecue buffet. No longer just a southern thing, you can find some version of hushpuppies on fast food menus across the country and around the world.

The lore behind the name has variations of the same tale. Confederate soldiers, Southern mamas and even nuns were said to use a deep-fried concoction of cornmeal, egg and seasonings to throw to the barking dogs to quiet them down. But, if we look back through America’s early written history, we can find references to fried cornbread that predates these stories.

Southerners have been eating fried cornmeal for a long time. Early writings refer to Red Horse Bread which was famously made by a well-known South Carolina fisherman. He served fried fish with all the fixins from his shack along the river; not only to locals but to prominent gentlemen and politicians from far and wide. An early newspaper columnist wrote, that Red Horse Bread was made by “simply mixing cornmeal with water, salt, and egg, and dropped by spoonful’s in the hot lard in which fish have been fried”. As it turns out Red Horse also refers to the type of fish caught and then fried.

How Red Horse Bread evolved to hushpuppies, is still a question for historians, but one theory is that these tasty cornbread fritters are used to hush the dogs howling in your your grumbling tummy.

This is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it, is – you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. Be as creative as you want with add-ins and sauces. I only ask one thing…. Please don’t feed them to the dogs!

Hush Puppies

With Spicy Remoulade sauce

serves a crowd

30 minute cuisine

These fritters are rich and doubly corn-full! They are really easy to prepare and a great appy for your Southern barbecue!

For Hushpuppies:

2 cups Hushpuppy Mix (like House-Autry brand)

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup frozen corn, thawed and chopped

¾ cup prepared chunky salsa

4 green onions finely diced

1 teaspoon creole seasoning

For Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons chili sauce

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (like Frank’s)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 green onions, finely diced, about 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat vegetable oil in a fryer or deep pot to 350°. You need only enough oil to fill about 3 inches of your pot or pan. Stir together the hushpuppy mix, eggs, corn, salsa and creole seasoning. Allow the batter to rest for 3 to 5 minutes and then stir it again. Carefully drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. (Do this in batches, so that you don’t overcrowd the pan.) Use a wire basket to gently turn the hushpuppies in the oil so that they are golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Stir the ingredients together to make the sauce. Serve warm hushpuppies with the sauce on the side!

 

 

 

Ahhh Baklavaaah!!!!

Ahhh Baklavaaah!!!!

We have a dinner club with a couple of my gal pals. The hostess picks the theme, and the rest of us decide whether to bring dessert or an appetizer. Most recently, my friend chose a Lebanese theme and dessert fell to me – someone who considers herself a mashed potatoes kind of girl. However, I can and do make a mean dessert, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on one that’ll knock your sweet tooth loose.

The arrival of an early summer in certain parts of the country is what got me started. Where I am, it’s hot! I pictured sitting on my front porch, fanning myself with an old magazine. The ice melts in my glass as the lemonade (a cool pitcher of lemonade, by the way, goes perfect with baklava) quenches my thirst. I reach for that little sumthin’ sweet and here it is: a sticky, buttery, rich bite of nuttiness. It may have its origins in the Lebanese kitchen, but this baklava has a lot of Southern soul too.

I wanted this dessert to reflect my own American roots, but stay true to its Middle Eastern origin.

I researched and found that Lebanese kitchens often offered their version of baklava as the sweet meal ending dish. In Lebanon, baklava is made of phyllo dough sheets filled with nuts (pistachios, walnut, cashews, pine nuts, almonds) and steeped in “Atir” (ka-tr) syrup made of orange blossom honey or rose water and sugar. It is cut in triangular, rectangular, diamond, or in square shapes. The city of Tripoli in Lebanon is famous for its baklava products.

Finding a recipe for traditional Lebanese baklava was tough. Once I did, I realized that I had to blend the traditional with a bit of Southern soul. The phyllo dough stayed. But…I added pecans to the nut mix and replaced honey with Sorghum syrup. You’ll see from the cooking instructions below, that it’s pretty darn good and a lot easier to prepare than you might think.

Baklavah!
Yields about 2 dozen pieces
30 Minute Prep; 40 Minute Baking; at least 2 Hours to Cool

For Baklava:
½ pound frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, melted 2 sticks

For Syrup:
½ cup butter, 1 stick
2 cups sorghum syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Thaw the phyllo dough in the fridge overnight or by leaving the package (rolled up) on the counter top for about 2 hours. Do not unroll it until you are ready to rock and roll!

Place the nuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to form coarse crumb size pieces. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, and pulse one to two times more.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt two sticks of butter. Use a pastry brush to butter the bottom and sides of an 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking pan.

Dampen a clean dish towel. Roll out the phyllo dough on your work surface and cover with the damp towel. (Phyllo dough is a bit tricky. If you leave it out, it can dry up and become very difficult to work with. Keeping a damp towel on top of the sheets will prevent this.)

Brush the top sheet of phyllo with butter. Use the sheet below it to help you lift both sheets into the pan, butter side down. Repeat this process so that you have a total of 6 phyllo sheets in the bottom of the pan. Now, cover the remaining phyllo sheets with your damp towel.

Cover the phyllo sheets in the pan with a layer of chopped nuts. Remove the towel from the unused sheets, and brush the top sheet of phyllo with butter. Again, use the sheet below it to lift two sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts, butter side down. Do this again, so that you have four sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts. Cover the remaining phyllo dough with your damp towel.

Keep layering buttered phyllo sheets and nuts until all the nuts are gone; you should have 4 sheets of phyllo left. Brush the top sheet of phyllo with butter, and use the sheet below it to lift the two sheets into the pan, butter side down. Repeat with the final two sheets, but this last time leave the buttered side up.

Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the baklava into pieces. Start in one corner and cut to the opposite corner. Repeat the process to create an “X”. Continue to cut diagonally, creating 2-inch diamond shape pieces. Bake until the baklava is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Make the syrup by placing 1 stick of butter, sorghum syrup, granulated sugar, vanilla and ½ cup water into a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until the butter melts and the sauce begins to boil. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 5 minutes. The syrup will turn a caramel color and thicken slightly. Keep the sauce warm until the pastry comes out of the oven.

Remove the baking pan from the oven. Pour half of the syrup over the entire pan of baklava. Wait a minute or two while the pastry sucks up the syrup. Pour the rest of the syrup over the pastry. Let the baklava cool in the pan, uncovered for several hours. Slice the pieces again, using the same cuts you made earlier. Carefully remove the pieces to a serving platter. Try not to lick your fingers until after all the slices have been removed!

Chow-Chow: Simple Down Home Goodness You Can Make Tonight

Chow-Chow: Simple Down Home Goodness You Can Make Tonight

Traditional stew meal with a floral handmade embroidery

An earthenware pot, Granny would have loved…

In the Deep South, “Chow-Chow” is a well-known decoration on sandwiches and plates of BBQ. One of my readers, Martha McCray Wallace, is on a mission to recreate her Grandma’s Chow-Chow, so it lives up to the version in the food memoir she seeks to publish. My assistant, Jen Russon, is editing Martha’s book, and I have to tell you, the passages she’s shared with me about Martha’s grandparents and their downhome country cookin’, had my mouth watering! I look forward to this poet and journalist’s narrative cookbook gracing bookstands – the memoir has so many recipes that are just a thing of beauty, in terms of simplicity and tastiness. I can’t wait to make them all!

When you make Chow-Chow, your home fills with a savory aroma that doesn’t seem possible, considering how few ingredients are involved. Beyond the vegetables called for, I used only butter, salt and pepper to flavor this dish. True, when I served it, I added a dollop of sour cream, but I would have been pretty happy with or without that.

 

I think the next time I make kielbasa, Chow-Chow is going right on top.

 

Other than lots of chopping, it’s easy to make. So, if that’s so, then why is it hard to find or duplicate in one’s own kitchen, a faithful rendering of Granny’s Chow-Chow? Well, it could be that Martha’s grandparents, born of Alabama sharecroppers, grew nearly everything they ate in their own backyard. These Chow-Chow experts also used top secret recipes: special pickling spice and vinegars they shared with no one – not even Martha. When I told her my own version of Chow-Chow contained butter, she was quick to point out her Grandma skipped that ingredient, altogether. Whoops…well, it was still darn good!  

Country Cookin’ back in the day: How Granny Made Chow-Chow

 

“The chopped veggies were placed in an earthenware crock, with kosher salt, for about 12 hours. Then the spices got mixed in. The following day, Grandma drained the veggies with cheesecloth, then placed them in a large pot and put the water, seasonings, sugar, vinegar, pickling spice…letting them cook about 5 minutes. While they were cooking she prepared the mason jars for canning it.”

 

I’ve seen Chow-Chow at farmers markets, but it’s just not the same. Those vendors average short spans from field to table, too, but it’s still hard to get that recipe exactly right. I will have to see if my Watauga County Farmers Market in North Carolina carries it, and does an honest job. As to Martha’s search, LaGrange, Georgia had something almost akin, but it lacked the amazing earthy flavors of her Granny’s version.   

Why don’t you take a stab at it, and let us know how your Chow-Chow turned out?

A Quicker but Still Pretty Savory Version of Chow-Chow

Prep Time: About 15 minutes, and an hour to cook

Serves 8

Ingredients:

·         1 large head green cabbage, chopped, about 6 cups

·         2 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced, about 4 cups

·         2 large green bell peppers, seeded and diced, about 4 cups

·         5 green tomatoes, diced, about 4 cups

·         1 large white onion, diced, about 2 cups

·         1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pats

·         1 teaspoon each, sugar, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Place chopped vegetables into a Dutch Oven or large stock pot, and mix in pats of butter, sugar, salt and pepper. Adjust the stove to medium high heat. The butter will melt over the vegetables, and help mingle and marry their flavors. Stir often, so that none of the veggies stick to the pot. After the first 8 to 10 minutes, lower stove temperature to low, and let cook for 30 minutes and up to an hour. Serve as a garnish for meats, on top of any sandwich, or enjoy as a stand-alone dish.  

Isn’t the aroma divine?