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Tag Archive | "Cynthia Graubart"

Green Beans Made Easier


green beansGreen beans have always been easy to make. But thanks to Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, the process just got easier.

Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables v2The authors of “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” (Gibbs Smith, $25) have simplified one step that will make your beans look as good as they taste: Instead of dunking your steaming hot beans into an ice bath in order to keep their color, as most recipes call for, all you have to do is run them under some cold water.

You can learn more vegetable tips from Dupree and Cynthia Graubart at this year’s San Antonio Book Fair. Their demonstration is set for 10 a.m. April 2 at the Central Market Cooking Tent at the Central Library Plaza on Augusta Street. A signing will follow.

Once you’ve got those green beans cooked up, follow the authors’ suggested variations, adding flavors and textures to make your favorite standby vegetable new and delicious. Of course, I’d add bacon to the list, too. After all, it’s considered a vegetable to some.

Green Beans

1 pound green beans, tipped, tailed and stringed
2 tablespoons butter or oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring enough salted water to a boil to cover the beans. Add the beans and return to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, utnil the beans are no longer raw but still crisp. Drain and run under cold water to fresh and set the color. The beans may be made a day ahead and refrigerated or frozen at this point.

When ready to serve, heat the butter or oil to sizzling in a large frying pan. Add the beans and toss until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2016_SABF_POSTERVariations:

–Top the hot beans with tomato conserve or warm tomato sauce.

–Toss with 1/2 cup pecan halves.

–Saute 1 pound of quartered or sliced mushrooms along with 4 chopped shallots or scallions in 4 tablespoons butter or oil for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the cooked green beans to the mushrooms and reheat. Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs if desired.

–Toss with the grated rind of 1 lemon, no white attached.

–Toss with 1 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander seed and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

–Toss with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or chipped pecans.

–Toss hot drained beans with a vinaigrette. Toss just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

–Toss green beans with a mix of sliced roasted cherry, grape or small tomatoes, and add sliced green or black olives, sauteed pecans and/or crumbled goat cheese or other soft white cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

 

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Yes, You Can Squeeze Flavor from a Spring Turnip


Turnips get a bad wrap. Most of us only know them as these oversized, rock-hard roots that you couldn’t squeeze a drop of water from.

turnips and red peppersYet if you can find turnips at a farmers market, give them a chance. They taste very little like their larger cousins, which Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart call “storage turnips” in their new “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” (Gibbs Smith, $25). The two will be discussing their book at this year’s San Antonio Book Fair. Their demonstration is set for 10 a.m. April 2 at the Central Market Cooking Tent at the Central Library Plaza on Augusta Street. A signing will follow.

“Turnips meld well with bell peppers and make a striking contrast that is particularly good with quail and turkey,” they write. “This may be made ahead a day or so and reheated.”

They also recommend storing spring turnips for no more than a few days, while those so-called storage turnips will last a few weeks.

One nice feature of Dupree and Graubart’s recipes is that they include variations to show you how versatile these vegetables can be.

Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables v2 This helped when testing the recipe. I had enough turnips on hand, but not enough red peppers, so I added a small golden delicious apple as the variation suggested. It worked perfectly with apple and red pepper both in the blend. And the dish was even more attractive with its blend of red, green and white. But flavor that is the real bottom line, and this recipe tastes so good that it’s a keeper. I would also serve it with pork chops, roasted chicken and maybe even a hearty fish, such as halibut or flounder.

Turnips and Red Peppers

1 pound red bell peppers
1 pound small white turnips, peeled
3 to 6 tablespoons butter, divided use
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

turnipsCore, seed and slice the peppers. Cut the peeled turnips into quarters if the turnips are golf-ball size, or into eights if the turnips are larger. (Smaller young turnips can skip the next step.) Add larger turnips to a pot of boiling water and cook for a few minutes to blanch; drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan, and add the peppers, young turnips or parboiled larger turnips and the garlic. Cook over medium heat until the turnips are tender when pierced with a knife and peppers are still crunchy; add more butter if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Variation: Turnips and Apples

Substitute any firm cooking apple for the peppers. Cut into wedges, leaving skin on and proceed as above.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

 

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Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetable Salads


Cooks in the South have definite ideas about vegetables — and they aren’t always correct, no matter how tasty their creations are. Often the term is confused with side dishes, so you’ll find restaurant menus with something like macaroni and cheese listed among the vegetable options. Tasty, to be sure, but hardly a vegetable.

Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables v2So, don’t go to Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart’s “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” (Gibbs Smith, $25) expecting to find a host of side dish recipes. Instead, the authors have followed up their definitive “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” with a sharper focus on the rich bounty of vegetables from throughout the region and how to prepare them in traditional ways your family will love.

The authors will present a free talk on their book during this year’s San Antonio Book Festival. It’s set for 10 a.m. April 2 at the Central Market Cooking Tent at the Central Library Plaza on Augusta Street. A signing will follow.

2016_SABF_POSTERIn the introduction, the writers claim, “We traveled all over the South and enjoyed seeing how and where its vegetables are grown. We ate tomatoes from the hills of western North Carolina and ripe melons from the sandy fields of southern Georgia. The Georgia commissioner of agriculture loaned us his plane, and we loaded its storage area with zucchini, squash and Vidalia onions to take home.” And on they go to include sivvy beans, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, peanuts and cucumbers.

Great stuff, unless you’re one of those sticklers who would categorize tomatoes, squash, zucchini, melons, cucumbers and all other foods with seeds as fruit.

Does that matter? Hardly. Faced with this trove of great recipes, you’ll discover flavors that could conjure images from your childhood or enlighten you about how good turnips, butter beans, collard greens with “pot likker” or fried ramps can be.

I headed for the kitchen shortly after opening the book in order to make three salads, all of which came together easily and yet offered bold, rewarding flavors that made me want to revisit them again a few days later. In the next week, we’ll be running more recipes from “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” in addition to those below.

To read more about Dupree and Graubart’s “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” and to find an exceptional biscuit recipe, click here.

Traditional Coleslaw

Traditional Coleslaw

Traditional Coleslaw

“The diversity in coleslaw comes from the size of the cabbage pieces,” write Dupree and Graubart. “It’s very finely machine chopped for cafeterias and schools, and we’ve all gotten to like it on top of barbecue on a bun. Halved and quartered before slicing thickly, makes it more rustic and adds a homemade feeling, sort of “grandmother loves me.” And sliced thinly is like a gourmet chef is coming in your kitchen. Using commercial mayonnaise enables making this dish several days in advance. Some people salt, rise and drain the cabbage before using, to reduce the tendency of the cabbage to release water.

“Homemade mayonnaise is discouraged in all slaw recipes because it is easily diluted as the cabbage weeps. This dilutes the acid in the mayonnaise, which acts as a preservative for the egg in the mayonnaise. In a commercial mayonnaise product, the eggs are processed and therefore still have preservative properties.”

4 pounds green or red cabbage, sliced, grated or shredded
2 Vidalia or other sweet onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, preferably store-bought
Dijon mustard
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cider vinegar

Toss the cabbage with the onions and mayonnaise; taste. Add mustard, salt and pepper as desired. Add a little cider vinegar for a zesty flavor.

Variations:
–Add grated carrots.
–Add a bit of hot red pepper.–Crown with chopped salted peanuts.

Makes 10 to 15 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

cucumber saladRoberta’s Tomatoes and Cucumbers

“Roberta O’Neill Salma and I worked together when we were young women, and we’ve kept our friendship alive,” Dupree writes. “She is a painter and she makes simple ingredients look like art, her food tasting as good as it looks. Her husband shops for the fruit and vegetables and is very picky. Salt brings out the liquid in the tomatoes, making a mouthwatering tomato juice. Omit the vinegar if the tomatoes are ripe and juicy.”

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1-2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil or parsley
Up to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, if needed
2 pounds cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or other fresh herbs, optional

Sprinkle the tomatoes well with salt and pepper, and toss with the herbs. cover and leave 1 hour or up to 2 days to extrude the juices. Taste and add vinegar if necessary.

Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and let sit in a colander over the sink for 30 minutes. Rinse well and drain. Stir inot the tomatoes. Add chopped herbs if using, stir, and pour into a serving bowl.

Variation: Add a few thin slices of red onion.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

 

celery saladCelery and Olive Salad

“Frequently used only as an accent in salads, soups and stews, celery is overlooked as a vegetable,” Dupree and Graubart write. “It can step into service nicely, particularly when the storage bin is bare.”

1-2 ribs celery,
2-3 Kalamata or French black olives
2–3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Remove tough celery strings with a knife or scrape off with a peeler. Place the celery rib flat side down and slice on the diagonal as thinly as possible.

Cut the olives off the pit and in small pieces. Toss together with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, adding more oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled.

Variation: Add 1 teaspoon grated orange rind, no white attached.

Makes 2 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Vegetables” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

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The Best Recipes from 2014


The year 2014 offered plenty of good eats, which made it hard to pick our favorites. Yet here is a collection of what we liked best from the last 12 months. They run the gamut from soup to desserts, and include dishes from local favorite Luca Della Casa, who had a memorable run on “Food Network Star,” and Ross Burtwell, who published his “Texas Hill Country Cuisine” cookbook. There’s even a recipe inspired by the research Bonnie Walker and I made for our “Barbecue Lover’s Texas.”
White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet's White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet’s White Bean Veloute

Chef Hamlet Garcia, or simply Chef Hamlet to the lovers of TV food programs, was in San Antonio Wednesday as part of a fundraiser for KLRN. The star of “Vme Cocina” presented a cooking demonstration of the various dishes that were presented in a lavish dinner held at La Taquilera del Patron, 17776 Blanco Road.

One of the dishes from his Venezuelan homeland was a velvety white bean soup topped with queso fresco, bacon, chives and the earthy brilliance of a few drops of truffle oil. The soup is easy to make, though it takes a day to let the beans soak.

12 slices of bacon
2 pounds of white beans, preferably soaked in water for 24 hours and drained
2 large ribs celery
1 large white onion, chopped in squares
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh thyme
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 gallon chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, cut into small cubes, for garnish
1/2 cup sliced chives, for garnish
4 tablespoons truffle oil, for garnish

Cook the bacon in the oven or in a pan until it is very crisp. Remove from the pot and save the fat for later. Finely chop or crush the bacon in a food processor; reserve for garnishing the dish.

In a saucepan, add the bacon fat and briefly cook the onion and celery in it; stir constantly without browning. When the onions are translucent, add the drained white beans, thyme, garlic, butter, cream and chicken broth. When the liquid is boiling, simmer the beans for 90 minutes, stirring and mixing the ingredients occasionally in the pot. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for one hour. Then, reserve a little of the broth and add the mixture in a blender or food processor; blend until it achieves a velvety texture. Then add the reserved broth and add salt and pepper as necessary to achieve the desired texture or taste.

Garnish each serving with queso fresco cubes, chives, bacon pieces and a few drops of truffle oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Chef Hamlet

Luca’s ‘Franz’ PaninoLuca's PaninoKnown for his work at Nosh on Austin Highway, San Antonio chef Luca Della Casa made it to the finals of “Food Network Star” this year. One of the dishes he made was this panino, which spices up cured Italian meats with a chile paste, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard blend. Then it’s finished off with a caprese treatment, with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. The best of both worlds!1/4 cup cut up red onion
1 garlic clove
6 black olives
Salt, to taste
Pinch, black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chile paste
Juice from half a lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 baguette
4 slices mortadella
4 slices sopressata
2 slices fresh mozzarella
2-3 slices tomato
Several basil leaves

Chop together the red onion, garlic and black olives; combing this mixture with the salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.

Mix together the mayonnaise, chile paste and lemon juice, along with the Dijon mustard. 

Slice a baguette in half, spread with the mayonnaise/mustard mixture, then spread on the chopped onion and olive mixture. Layer on the sliced mortadella and sopressata. Put the baguette in a panini press for 5 minutes. When the panino is ready, add to it the fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil.

Buon appetito!

From Luca Della Casa

Photo courtesy Luca Della Casa/Food Network

Noodles with Walnuts (Gnocchi alla Granerese)

Noodles with Walnuts

Noodles with Walnuts

This Italian dish goes together quickly and makes a great side dish or a meatless main course. You can also serve it year-round.

1 cup ground walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound broad noodles
Chopped walnuts, for garnish

Roll or pound the walnuts and the garlic on a board or in a mortar until a paste is formed. Place in a large bowl. Add the Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, salt and pepper. Mix well. Boil the noodles in salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Add to the walnut mixture and toss lightly with two forks until the noodles are well coated. Place on a heated platter and serve.

Use a few chopped walnuts for garnish.

From “The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook” by Myra Waldo

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Tinga is a shredded meat dish that’s been braised with chipotle sauce. This pork tinga recipe gets an extra kick from the addition of Bohemia Beer, plus it’s attractive because it’s made in a slow cooker. Just gather your ingredients and let it cook on its own until it’s ready.

1 ½ pounds lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
½ cup Bohemia Beer
1 pound (about 5 medium) red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 large white onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices (preferably fire-roasted)
1 cup chipotle salsa
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt
½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or farmers cheese
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from skin and diced
Warm corn tortillas

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Bohemia Pork Tinga Tacos

Pat pork dry with paper toweling. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet until hot. Add the pork in a single, uncrowded layer. Cook, turning until brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pork to a plate as the remainder browns. Afterward, pour Bohemia into pan and boil gently while scraping up all the browned bits from the pan.

Put browned pork and pan juices into a slow cooker. Add the potatoes.

Combine the onion, tomatoes, salsa, Worcestershire and ½ teaspoon salt in large bowl. Mix well. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker and stir to mix thoroughly.

Cook for 6 hours at the highest temperature. After 6 hours, gently stir the tinga. If it seems really thick, add a little water. Taste and season with more salt.

Serve the pork tinga in a large bowl, sprinkled with fresh cheese and diced avocado. Pass warm tortillas for making tacos.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Bohemia Beer

 

Brisket Chiles Rellenos

Brisket Chiles Rellenos

Brisket Chiles Rellenos

If you love brisket tacos, odds are good you’ll like another Tex-Mex innovation, Brisket Chiles Rellenos.

As for getting that brisket, you might make your own at home. Just picking up brisket from the local barbecue joints is a good idea, too. We have our local favorites, of course, but now we also crave barbecue from places discovered driving around the state for our book, “Barbecue Lover’s Texas” (Globe Pequot Press, $21.95).

This idea occurred while we were using up leftovers from the mail-order Rustic Iron BBQ in Odessa.

Make these chiles rellenos as you would in the usual Texas style: peel roasted, meaty poblano chiles, stuff with chopped brisket and some cheese, too, if you like. Dip in egg batter, fry and serve with salsa.

One hint: Warm up the brisket, then chop, and stuff into room-temperature chiles before cooking. You want the cheese and brisket filling to be plenty hot. Another hint: If you don’t have time to make your own salsa, try Julio’s. It’s made in San Angelo and is our current favorite ready-made.  (No, they’re not paying us to say that!)

Sausage would work just as well in these rellenos.

2 large chiles poblanos, roasted and peeled, with seeds scraped out (cut a slit the length of on broad side of the chile and carefully pull seeds out or scrape out with a spoon)
8-10 ounces chopped smoked brisket, warmed
2-4 ounces cheese — longhorn, colby cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc. — grated or sliced into narrow pieces
1 tablespoon minced onion
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking oil for frying (about an inch to 1 1/2 inches deep in a roomy sauté pan or skillet)
Salsa, for serving

After preparing the chiles, set aside at room temperature while you prepare the brisket. After chopping the brisket, mix with the grated cheese and onion. Then, stuff each pepper with half of the mixture. Press the chile around the filling, making sure you can still close the sliced sides together over the filling.  Set aside on a plate.

Put the oil in a sauté pan or skillet and turn the heat on to medium.  Keep an eye on the oil, you don’t want it to overheat. As the oil is heating, put the egg whites into a mixer, or use an egg beater, and whip the whites up to a fairly stiff peak, but not too dry. Beat the egg yolks in another bowl with a whisk until they lighten in color, at least a minute or so. Fold the egg yolks into the beaten whites and gently combine.

Put the flour into a shallow bowl and add salt, mixing together. When the oil appears hot but not smoking, put a little bit of the egg into it. The egg should sizzle around the edges and fry quickly but not get brown too fast. Put the shallow bowl with the flour and the bowl with egg mixture near the stove.

Carefully put the sliced side of each stuffed pepper down in the flour, then carefully roll around, holding the sliced side closed with your fingers. Then, dip into the whipped egg mixture. Get plenty of the fluffy mixture on the chile, then place it sliced side down into the oil to fry. Repeat with the second chile. You can spoon some of the leftover egg mixture onto the top of the chiles, if you wish. Turn the chiles when you can lift one end and see that the bottom side has turned golden brown.  When they are done, lift the chiles out of the pan, place briefly on some paper towel and then transfer to plates. Spoon over a little salsa and serve more on the side.

Makes 2 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Chicken Breasts with Artichokes (Petto di pollo at carciofi)

“The Venetians have always been meat-eaters. In times past they ate the whole animal, and were thus able to satisfy both their taste and their pockets.”

That quote comes from Roberta Pianaro, who created the recipes in “Brunetti’s Cookbook,” which is based on the popular mystery series.

5 medium globe artichokes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1  3/4 pounds chicken breast
2 tablespoons white wine
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Remove the tough stems from the artichokes, trim the tips and peel the stems. Plunge into a bowl of cold water with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Cut into fine slices, starting from the stems, and place in nonstick pan or casserole with the oil, salt, garlic, pepper and at least 3 1/2 cups of water. Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Place the 2 chicken breasts at the bottom of the pan among the artichokes and after 2 minutes add the wine and continue cooking. Be careful to not burn the artichokes. When the chicken is cooked, remove and cut into thin slices. Add slices to the artichokes and let season. Drain and serve hot.

From “Brunetti’s Cookbook”

Texas Tarragon Shrimp Scampi with Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits

Chef Ross Burtwell

Chef Ross Burtwell

This recipe come from chef Ross Burtwell’s cookbook, “Texas Hill Country Cuisine,” and it has quite a lot of Lone Star flavor in it.

Texas tarragon is an herb generally called Mexican mint marigold, but it’s probably used in Texas more than in other parts of the United States. So, we claim it as ours.  If you don’t have any growing in your garden, use a mix of dried or fresh tarragon along with some minced fresh mint or dried mint (spearmint or garden mint, not peppermint).

Shrimp Scampi

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large Texas wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Texas tarragon (Mexican mint marigold), minced
20 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup Texas viognier white wine
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
Jalapeno Three-Cheese Grits (recipe follows)
2 scallions, green tops only, thinly sliced

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Immediately add shrimp and top with garlic. Shake the pan to keep the shrimp from sticking.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add the tarragon. Saute until shrimp starts to curl, turn pink and begin to turn opaque in the center.

Add the grape tomatoes (if using) plus lemon juice and zest. Stir. Add wine.

Once the liquid is simmering and the shrimp are about 90 percent cooked through, add butter, shaking the pan back and forth to form a creamy sauce.

Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup quick grits (not instant)
1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup Texas goat cheese
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 fresh jalapeño, finely minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring chicken stock to a full boil and whisk in grits.

Turn heat down to medium-low; allow grits to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove grits from heat and stir in all cheeses, cream, butter and jalapeños. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Dish assembly: Place a heaping spoonful of Jalapeño Three-Cheese Grits into warm bowls. Ladle shrimp and sauce over the top and garnish with sliced scallions. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Texas Hill Country Cuisine” by Cabernet Grill chef/owner Ross Burtwell with Julia Celeste Rosenfield

Ultimate Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t want the creamiest mashed potatoes imaginable? America’s Test Kitchen delivers with this recipe.

Why this recipe works: Sometimes we want a luxurious mash, one that is silky smooth and loaded with cream and butter. But there’s a fine line between creamy and gluey. We wanted lush, creamy mashed potatoes, with so much richness and flavor they could stand on their own — no gravy necessary.

For a creamier, substantial mash, we found that Yukon Golds were perfect — creamier than russets but not as heavy as red potatoes. Slicing the peeled potatoes into rounds and then rinsing away the surface starch before boiling helped intensify their creamy texture without making them gluey. Setting the boiled and drained potatoes in their pot over a low flame helped further evaporate any excess moisture. Using 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream gives these potatoes luxurious flavor and richness without making the mash too thin. We found that melting the butter and warming the cream before adding them to the potatoes ensured that the finished dish arrived at the table piping hot.

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 medium), scrubbed, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2 teaspoons table salt

Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cool running water, tossing with your hands, for 30 seconds. Transfer the potatoes to a large Dutch oven, add cold water to cover by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to heat to medium and boil until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the Dutch oven. Stir over low heat until the potatoes are thoroughly dried, 1 to 2 minutes. Set a ricer or food mill over a large bowl and press or mill the potatoes into the bowl. Gently fold in the warm cream mixture and salt with a rubber spatula until the cream is absorbed and the potatoes are thick and creamy. Serve.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. This recipe can be cut in half, if desired.

From “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: 2001-2015″

Looking for a way to add a little twist to your cranberry sauce? Try this spiky variation, which uses tequila and jalapeños. Best of all, it’s easy to put together.  

Tequila-Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

Add some tingle to your cranberry sauce with tequila and jalapeños.

½ cup tequila
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
2 fresh sliced jalapeños in thin rings (seed and all)

Heat tequila over medium heat until reduced by half. Place cranberries, sugar, water and jalapeños in the sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir often. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Take off heat and let it rest for 30 minutes occasionally stirring while resting.

Makes 8-10 servings.

From chef James Draper/Hyatt Hill Country

Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Two-ingredient biscuits

Two-ingredient biscuits

Biscuits are a cornerstone of Southern cooking. But, of course, they should never be hard as a stone; only light and airy will do.

You can do that in your kitchen, using only a couple of ingredients.

In “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” (Gibbs Smith, $$45), Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart write that “it’s miraculous to make a biscuit with only two ingredients, particularly when making such an impressive biscuit, light and tender, capable of convincing anyone that the cook was born holding a biscuit bowl. This recipe is a good fallback for anyone who hasn’t made a biscuit for a while or has to hurry up and get some baked. If using a cream with less fat (heavy cream has 36 percent), start with less and use only what is needed to make a moist, slightly sticky dough. Half-and-half just doesn’t work well enough to use by itself. This is really and hurry-up recipe, but the directions are detailed.”

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, divided use
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided use
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Selecting the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, a pizza pan, or an ovenproof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and create a crisper exterior. Brush selected pan with butter or oil.

Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Slowly but steadily stir 1 cup of the cream, reserving 1/4 cup, into the hollow with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredient is moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in just enough of the reserved cream to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a plastic sheet, a board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour if sticky. With floured hands, folks the dough in half and pat it into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if sticky and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for normal biscuits, a 3/4-inch-thick round for tall biscuits , or a 1-inch-thick round for giant biscuits. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although they will be tougher.

Using a metal spatula, if necessary, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 10 to 14 minutes, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard the browning. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown. When they are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with softened or melted butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.

Variations:

  • For Sour Cream or Cream Cheese Biscuits, substitute 1 cup sour cream or cream cheese for the heavy cream. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. This makes a moist biscuit.
  • For Yogurt and Cream Biscuits, use 1/2 cup yogurt and 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • For Yogurt Biscuits, add 1 teaspoon salt to the flour and 1 cup plain yogurt for the heavy cream. Add a bit of milk or cream to moisten if a “drier” yogurt is used. Yogurt biscuits are a bit “bouncy.”
  • For Strawberry Shortcake, add 1 or tablespoons sugar to the dough. Line a cake pan with parchment paper. Pat the dough into the lined cake pan. Bake as above. Remove from the oven, brush the top with butter, and turn upside down on a rack to cool slightly. When cool. slice in half horizontally. To serve, sandwich with sugared strawberries and cream or serve a bowl of each separately.

Makes 14 to 18 (2-inch) biscuits.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

Triple-Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Threat Chocolate Chip CookiesPack a box of these cookies for your loved one in lieu of store-bought treats. That little bit of personal effort makes a gift a whole lot better, and this recipe from Pastry Queen Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman is one of the best.

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coasely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the pecans and walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Cool the nuts completely.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray.

Melt the butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir occasionally, watching carefully to make sure the chocolate does not burn. Remove the pan from the heat to cool.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 3 minutes until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes, until the dough is thick and glossy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, which makes it easier to scoop.

Use a 1  3/4-inch-diameter scoop to drop spoonfuls of dough on the prepare baking sheets, spacing them at least 1  1/2 inches apart. Wet your fingertips lightly with water and gently flatted the cookie dough (no need to press hard, just press out the hump). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes before removing them from the baking sheets.

Rather Sweet Variation: Tor Triple-Threat Rocky Road Cookies, a favorite with elementary school kids, add 1 cup quartered mini-marshmallows to the dough along with the nuts and chocolate chips. Bake as directed.

Makes 4 dozen.

From “The Pastry Queen” by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Rich? Yes. Delicious? How could it not be?

Also, if you’ll notice in this recipe for Doughnut Bread Pudding, it calls for dried fruit. This isn’t the fruit that goes into fruit cakes, and it isn’t freeze-dried fruit, either.  As you’ll see in the instructions, Nature’s Eats of Bourne makes a mixture that you can purchase at H-E-B and it works well in this recipe.  Enjoy!

Pudding:
10 stale glazed doughnuts
1 cup bite-size dried fruit (see note)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, room temperature
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Whiskey sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/8 cup whiskey, divided use
Pinch of salt

Note: Use the dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries or cherries. Nature’s Eats of Boerne does a Dried Fruit Medley that includes pineapple, apricots, raisins, cherry-flavored cranberries and papaya, all in bite-size pieces.You can find it at H-E-B.

Cut up the doughnuts in a 9-by-13-inch dish. Sprinkle dried fruit, almond slivers and zest over the top and mix in.

In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk, then add vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon and mace. Incorporate thoroughly. Pour over the doughnut mixture. Let set for 15 minutes.

Eight or 10 minutes before it’s ready to bake, heat your oven to 350 degrees. When the dish is ready, place in a larger dish and add water to at least halfway up the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whiskey sauce.

To make whiskey sauce: Warm cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan oven medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and 1/8 cup of whiskey until the starch is thoroughly dissolved. Whisk into the cream mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is ready, stir in a pinch of salt and the final 1/4 cup of whiskey. Let cook for another minute over low heat. Serve warm.

From John Griffin

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Mastering Biscuits Is Part of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking


When Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart were working on their exhaustive, hefty and mouthwatering cookbook, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” (Gibbs Smith, $45), the biscuit recipes began to get out of hand.

Cynthia Graubart

Cynthia Graubart

Without realizing it, the two had gathered 30 different biscuit recipes and were far from done, Graubart said in a recent telephone interview. So, they did what any good cookbook writers would do: They used all those wonderful recipes in another book, which they titled “Southern Biscuits” (Gibbs Smith, $$24.99).

But they had to include some recipes in their award-winning tome on Southern cooking, because biscuits, after all, are one of the hallowed hallmarks of the cuisine. So, the list includes Angel Biscuits, also known as Bridegroom’s Biscuits, biscuits you can make in a food processor and sweet biscuits used for strawberry shortcake. There’s also a recipe for Two-Ingredient Biscuits, which Graubart will be demonstrating in San Antonio on April 5, when she appears as part of the San Antonio Book Festival.

Southern biscuits are fluffier than those from the rest of the country because of the type of wheat used in the flour, she explained. Southern flour, sold in brands such as White Lily, is made from soft winter wheat, which has less gluten. As a result, the biscuits rise and the texture is fluffy.

You might also find that, in many corners of the South, biscuits are small, as opposed to those gargantuan creations some restaurants serve to cover half of the plate. That’s because the biscuit maker of the family was always up early to make breakfast, including biscuits, Graubart said from her Atlanta home. But families were larger then, and in order to have two biscuits per person, the biscuits had to be smaller.

The ideal biscuit recipe, she said, would be one that is “quick to make, quick to bake.” And so it is with her Two-Ingredient Biscuits. It’s the kind of recipe that home cooks love to latch onto because the biscuits don’t take much time to make once you get used to the technique. So, you can be like a true Southerner and serve biscuits hot out of the oven for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Your family will love you for it, until your dying day – and that’s the Southern Way.

After you’ve gone, “the thing they should miss about you most should be your biscuits,” Graubart said, with the appropriate amount of Southern Gothic mixed in for good effect.

Southern cooking has that effect on people. That’s because it’s “incredibly soul-satisfying and comforting food,” she said, adding that it has undergone a renaissance in recent years because, “well, we’ve had a long spell of depriving ourselves of food that tastes good.”

Is there any dish as Southern as biscuits?

Is there any dish as Southern as biscuits?

“Southern cooking doesn’t have to be high fat, high calorie,” Graubart said, mentioning the wealth of choices that comes from three growing seasons a year, with everything from collard greens and yellow squash to Okra and Tomatoes. All of these are just made to go with the likes of fried chicken, ham with redeye gravy or Shrimp and Grits with Brie, the other recipe she’ll be demonstrating when she comes to town.

No discussion of Southern food is complete without discussing the many pies, cakes and sweets that have been served through the years. Treats such as Mississippi Mud Cake, coconut cake, sweet potato pie, hummingbird cake, Brown Betty, pandowdy, peach cobbler, divinity and pecan brittle are as much a part of the South as crab cakes and corn fritters.

“Southerners definitely have a sweet tooth,” Graubart admitted. “We do like to say you can stand a spoon straight up in a glass of iced tea, there’s so much sugar.”

But the cakes and pies are often saved for celebrations, rather than being an everyday feature.

Still, the book features recipes on everything from Charleston pralines to key lime pie from Florida. What exactly is the South? And is Texas a part of it?

mastering the artTexas is “such a thorny issue,” Graubart said. “There are parts of Texas that are Southern; geographically that would be the more eastern part of the state.” But it’s also a border state that’s close to Louisiana, and “what kind of South is Louisiana?”

Though “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” has been out for more than a year and won a James Beard Award for American Cooking, Dupree and Graubart aren’t finished with the topic, and they will never be, as long as they live in the South.

“Nathalie and I haven’t stopped debating what is the South,” she said

Cynthia Graubart will appear at the San Antonio Book Festival on April 5. Her demonstration is from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Central Market Cooking Tent located at the Southwest School of Art, outside in the Ursuline Campus parking lot on Augusta Street.

 

 

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Your Okra Never Has to Be Slimy if You Follow One Easy Rule


Don’t like the sliminess of okra? You don’t have to worry about that. It’s all about what you pair with it.

Okra is in season, so why not treat yourself to some while it's fresh.

Okra is in season, so why not treat yourself to some while it’s fresh.

In “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” (Gibbs Smith, $45), Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart tell us that acid counters the mucilaginous, or slimy, quality of okra. “With this discovery, okra and tomatoes became the basics of many vegetable dishes and soups,” they write.

In Dupree’s husband’s South Carolina family, this dish was always served over rice.

Okra and Tomatoes

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups okra, caps removed and sliced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Granulated sugar, optional

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and okra, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until thick, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes taste “tinny,” add a little sugar to smooth out the flavor.

Variations:

  • For Fresh Tomatoes and Okra: Peel and seed 4 to 5 large tomatoes to substitute for the canned tomatoes.
  • For Okra with Corn and Tomatoes: Scrape corn off the cob and add to the pot 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

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Yes, You Can Make Fluffy Biscuits Using Only Two Ingredients


Biscuits are a cornerstone of Southern cooking. But, of course, they should never be hard as a stone; only light and airy will do.

You can do that in your kitchen, using only a couple of ingredients.

Make biscuits in the size you like.

Make biscuits in the size you like.

In “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” (Gibbs Smith, $$45), Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart write that “it’s miraculous to make a biscuit with only two ingredients, particularly when making such an impressive biscuit, light and tender, capable of convincing anyone that the cook was born holding a biscuit bowl. This recipe is a good fallback for anyone who hasn’t made a biscuit for a while or has to hurry up and get some baked. If using a cream with less fat (heavy cream has 36 percent), start with less and use only what is needed to make a moist, slightly sticky dough. Half-and-half just doesn’t work well enough to use by itself. This is really and hurry-up recipe, but the directions are detailed.”

Graubart will be demonstrating how to make these beauties at the San Antonio Book Festival on April 5. She will appear from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Central Market Cooking Tent located at the Southwest School of Art, outside in the Ursuline Campus parking lot on Augusta Street.

Two-Ingredient Biscuits

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, divided use
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided use
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Selecting the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, a pizza pan, or an ovenproof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and create a crisper exterior. Brush selected pan with butter or oil.

Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Slowly but steadily stir 1 cup of the cream, reserving 1/4 cup, into the hollow with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredient is moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in just enough of the reserved cream to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a plastic sheet, a board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour if sticky. With floured hands, folks the dough in half and pat it into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if sticky and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for normal biscuits, a 3/4-inch-thick round for tall biscuits , or a 1-inch-thick round for giant biscuits. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although they will be tougher.

Using a metal spatula, if necessary, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 10 to 14 minutes, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard the browning. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown. When they are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with softened or melted butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.

Variations:

  • For Sour Cream or Cream Cheese Biscuits, substitute 1 cup sour cream or cream cheese for the heavy cream. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. This makes a moist biscuit.
  • For Yogurt and Cream Biscuits, use 1/2 cup yogurt and 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • For Yogurt Biscuits, add 1 teaspoon salt to the flour and 1 cup plain yogurt for the heavy cream. Add a bit of milk or cream to moisten if a “drier” yogurt is used. Yogurt biscuits are a bit “bouncy.”
  • For Strawberry Shortcake, add 1 or tablespoons sugar to the dough. Line a cake pan with parchment paper. Pat the dough into the lined cake pan. Bake as above. Remove from the oven, brush the top with butter, and turn upside down on a rack to cool slightly. When cool. slice in half horizontally. To serve, sandwich with sugared strawberries and cream or serve a bowl of each separately.

Makes 14 to 18 (2-inch) biscuits.

From “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

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