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Showing posts from January, 2012

Southern Cuisine- Fact and Fiction

With all of the commentary on the news lately about Paula Deen, diabetes and her perceived lack of candor, I feel like once again a negative light has been shone onto southern cooking. 


For those of you who think that all southern cooking is about mayonnaise, grease, deep frying and fat, it's time to take a look at the real southern cuisine.


As with any style of cooking, you will find people who indulge in stereotypes. For example, quasi Italian restaurants that use far too much garlic and put everything in a tomato sauce or Chinese restaurants who promote Chinese cuisine as sweet and sour everything. This is inaccurate and it's sad, because it degenerates these fine cuisines. 


To this end, I wanted to share some of my favorite southern cookbooks and encourage you to take another look. If you want to know about real southern food, well simply put, it's about utilizing the local produce and finding what is at the peak of freshness and preparing it in a non fussy manner and it …

The World Famous "Sunday Sauce"

As any of my readers know, I love Italian food and I am particularly partial to the real Italian comfort food which has been practiced in kitchens with  the loving hands of the nonna’s or Italian grandmothers.
Sunday is a special day when the family comes together for a big meal and while each family has their own traditions of which dishes are served. In the US, the tradition of the Sunday Sauce is essential.

While this is a marinara base, the key is the slowly braised meats which flavor the sauce and then impart a flavor to the sauce that is beyond delicious.
You can also add braciole, lamb necks and/or veal knuckles etc, but this is optional. Bottom line, if you cook anything in a tomato sauce for 3-4 hours, it will come out great.
The key, as with all comfort food, is to use the best ingredients, take your time and layer the flavors. Here is what you will need.

Ingredients

Meatballs ½ lb ground Beef ½ lb ground Pork 2 Tbsp Grated Romano Cheese 2 Tbsp Breadcrumbs, I like panko breadcrumbs o…

Grilled Shrimp with Tasso Ham Buerre Blanc

For all of the seafood lovers out there, here is a wonderful Creole dish. It is similar to one I had at the Commanders Palace in New Orleans years ago. This is a perfect dish for a special evening, and is remarkably easy to prepare. Once again, when working with seafood, the key is “mis en place” Everything needs to be in its place.



Find extra large shrimp and the fresher the better. This does not work well with smaller shrimp, as you lose the firm texture, which is an important part of this dish.
Ingredients

10 large shrimp peeled, deveined and slightly butterflied ¼ cup of Tasso ham, you may substitute Smithfield ham or Pancetta if need be ½ cup green onion, finely chopped 1 cup of heavy cream 2 Tbsp butter 1/4 tsp cayenne Salt and pepper
In a sauté pan, render the Tasso ham down in the butter and then add the green onion. Once done, add the heavy cream, cayenne and salt and pepper. Reduce sauce by half and while reducing the sauce, you should grill or broil the shrimp.
Skewer the shrimp onto …

Pancakes, pancakes pancakes!

I love pancakes. I think they are one of the best comfort foods around. However, what passes for pancakes around most tables is just sad. I have always said, why not make your own and people look at me like I'm crazy. For some reason, people think pancakes are hard to make, but that's just not so.


Here is a recipe from one of my Southern moms and I can promise you if you whip up a batch of these on a Sunday morning with butter and maple syrup, you will be a hit. They are to die for, and this recipe makes a lot of pancakes. By the way, this makes good waffles too.

2 cups of AP Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
21/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
21/2 Tbsp Sugar
2 large Eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
2 cups of Buttermilk


Combine all of your dry ingredients and mix them with a whisk. Then gently add the remaining ingredients and just mix until it is blended. Do not over mix, or they will be tough.
Use a ladle and add about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of batter to a lightly greased preheated…

Norfolk Style Seafood

This is such a good recipe and so simple to make. The story behind this recipe is interesting. When I was a young boy, we used to go to a seafood restaurant in Washington DC called O'Donnell's. They had wonderful food, and most importantly, they had Buck.


Buck was a gentle giant at 6' 2" and was always talking to me about his recipe. He had invented this style of cooking seafood and had even developed special pans which could be used over open flame and then it could be delivered to the tables still sizzling. He was rightfully very proud of this. 


After being there quite a few times, Buck shared his recipe with me and told me to keep it a secret. Since this was over 40 years ago, I guess I can reveal it now. 


Ingredients

1/2 lb Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Crab or Langoustines, raw and shelled
2 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
Dash of Old Bay Seasoning
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Few dashes of Tabasco
Splash of White Wine
Salt and Black Pepper


Heat your pan until fairly hot, then add butter an…

On the search for a REAL Italian grocery in LA

I love California and I love living here. However, I have always been challenged to find authentic Italian foodstuffs. When I lived in Boston, every Monday was a trip to the North End, where I bought all of my groceries for the week.


Sadly in LA, I had not been able to find the quality and the consistency, so I had resorted to mail order, which made ordering certain meats and perishable items very difficult.


However, while on the search for some guanciale to make a Pasta ala’ Amatriciana, I stumbled onto a gem in Santa Monica. Guidi Marcello.




What a find, and for those of you who already know about it, well you will know why I am so excited. I had heard good reviews, but was so used to being let down, I didn't get up my hopes, but wow, what a great selection of wines, meats, cheeses, pastas, tomatoes, and every ingredient you can imagine and all of the highest quality. I can only say, give it a visit and if you need an excuse, here is my recipe for Pasta ala’ Amatriciana.
1 large fine…