Friday, July 14, 2017

New Name, New Mission

Reclaiming Southern Food is now Southern Food and Wine.  Please adjust your bookmarks and favorites accordingly!

Why the name change?  Well, I want to make my blog more accessible.  My mission, from day one, was to not only preserve Southern Food traditions, but to encourage and educate people to eat real food and cook it using real, traditional techniques.  I think I have been fairly successful in presenting those arguments.  However, feedback over the past couple of years has been mixed.  Some folks seemed to find my blog too academic, too complicated or intimidating.  I got a lot of comments along the lines of, "I just want a simple recipe."  Of course, I have included simple recipes all along, but I think many potential readers stopped at the name.  Hopefully, Southern Food and Wine will be less intimidating.

The new mission is to make the blog as accessible as possible.  This not just a name change.  In the coming weeks, I will be offering free video cooking lessons.  This will begin with the most basic techniques.  These techniques will be applied in good Southern recipes, that I will walk people through, step by step, in videos.  As the seasons progress, there will also be instruction in gardening, livestock, fish and game, wine and cider making, pickling and food preservation, etc.

I hope to be able to do weekly videos.  However, I will be relocating to another state soon.... if there is a break, it is because I'm moving and setting up a kitchen.  Reader feedback will be most welcome, and encouragement appreciated.  A good way to encourage me, is to show me that you support my efforts - all that takes is clicking an ad... even if the ad doesn't interest you. Google vets the advertisers to make sure the sites are safe, so there is no risk.   When you click an ad, I make 1 cent.  Last month, I made 3 cents..... not very encouraging.  So, if you like what I do, give me a penny for my thoughts - that penny doesn't cost you anything more than a click!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fermented Foods Radio program

I am guest hosting Tim Roper's podcast this evening. (Thanks, Tim, for the opportunity!) This is me, very plain spoken and decidedly non-PC, discussing fermented foods.... kraut, pickles, ciders, wine, hot sauces, ... all kinds of stuff, both from the aspect of delicious food and for good health. I share some good recipes and some good stories...... it is a bit of a wild ride and I hope y'all enjoy it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Asian Style Chow Chow

This recipe began with a craving for kimchi, when I did not have all the ingredients on hand.  I used what I had, and ended up with a very tasty Asian style Southern Chow Chow!

I just removed my "make it up as you go and use what you have" kimchi from the crock and put it in an old pickle jar, which will store better in the fridge.  I tried a few bites and it is great!  So, now that I know the recipe works, I will share it.  I'm not giving specific proportions, because it all depends on big your fermentation vessel is - use more if you are making a bigger batch, less if smaller.

1/2 - 1 cabbage chopped
3 carrots grated
4 radishes grated
1 teaspoon +/- fresh grated ginger
2 dried cayenne peppers
1 teaspoon  crushed red pepper
1/2 yellow onion chopped fine
3-4 green onions chopped
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon soy sauce or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried/powdered turmeric
2 tablespoons plain (non-iodized) salt
1 tablespoon of kombucha

I chopped the cabbage, half at a time, and worked one tablespoon of salt into each batch.  I did this the same way I would sauerkraut, bruising each bit of cabbage, kneading in the salt until it was standing in cabbage juice.  Then, I mixed everything together.  I packed it tightly into a crock, pressing out all air pockets so that the juice came to the surface and the "slaw" was under its own natural water.  On top of that, I layered a few of the outer leaves that I had taken off the cabbage before chopping, and tore them to shape - these, I just use as a barrier to air.  The cabbage core, which I cut in 4ths before chopping the rest of the cabbage, I also stacked on top.  I covered it all with plastic wrap, pressed out all the air I could, secured the plastic with a rubber band and closed the lid.

Each day, I opened the lid and looked through the plastic wrap to see if the cabbage cores were darkening - that is a sign of oxidation.  The kombucha I had added was just for extra insurance against mold or bad bacteria getting into the kimchi before it had a chance to ferment.  It worked well.  By day 3, the mixture was beginning to bubble and on day 4 some liquid began seeping out through the plastic wrap and rubber band.  Fermentation was going very well.  On day 6 I noticed some darkening of the cabbage cores, so I removed them and the top layer of outer leaves.  I replaced the plastic with clean plastic. I probably could have just left it alone for 10 days, but I had a little head space in the crock which was worrisome. 

Today was day ten, and it was perfectly fermented.  It is sour, hot, spicy, sinus clearing, funky, rich, savory... really excellent!  Next time, I will make a full gallon.  I should warn you though, that this stuff REALLY stinks while fermenting!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

hors d'oeuvres of ramps, ham and blu cheese

This is one of the best Hors d'oeuvres I've ever come up with: Crackers topped with baked ham, home made blue cheese and sour cream dressing and a ramp and red pepper salad.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Southern Kimchi?

I had some storage vegetables on hand and was thinking about roasting them. I laid a nice, sweet cabbage on the counter, laid out some carrots, some radishes, storage onions, garlic... a few green onions... I noticed a string of dried hot peppers in the corner.... a knob of ginger..... I realized that I had nearly everything I needed for kimchi! I was out of fish sauce, so I substituted a couple of dashes of store bought soy sauce and a spoonful of kombucha. I'll know in 10 days if it is worth eating, but it tastes like a good Asian slaw already, so I think it is going to be good. Kimchi may not be traditionally Southern, but neither was chowchow or chutney until Southerners began making it..... I'm thinking of all kinds of substitutions using traditional Southern vegetables. Obviously, turnips could substitute for radishes, collards for cabbage.... maybe rutabaga... Vidalia onions... ramps... maybe wild ginger... cayenne peppers.. Do y'all have any suggestions?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Radish Greens

Well, I just had a head-slapping moment! I was chatting with an elderly Asian lady the other day and she was curious about Southern greens. She was very pleased to learn of our passion for turnips - apparently, that is a big deal in Japan. I mentioned that my favorite is mustard. She told me that they have several varieties of Asian mustard, and the greens are among her favorites along with radish tops. Well, I had never tried cooked radish tops. She was amazed by this ...and seemed to think it was a real shame that my radish tops had gone to the compost heap or the chickens. Well, radishes are in the same family as both mustard and turnips... so I gave it a try. WOW! Just cooked in oil and salt, they are awesome! The flavor is somewhere between mild mustard greens and spinach with butter... seriously! The flavor is very buttery. The high mineral content gives the distinct aroma of roasted oysters. The taste is not fishy, but the aroma has a strong aspect of oysters roasted in the shell. So, if you closed your eyes, you would anticipate Oysters Rockefeller. It is really a very good, mild, savory, green with a remarkable depth of flavor and aroma

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Eggplant Parmesan

Here is my eggplant Parmesan recipe (I ate it all before I took a pic, so I grabbed these from wiki).   I make my mayo from scratch, so I use it to enrich a lot of things. I tried it one day just to see if it would help hold the bred crumbs on, and the results were fantastic. That is what got me started pressing the liquid out of the eggplant - that gives it a more meat like texture, firmness and not soggy, so that it really binds with the mayo and crumbs. The mayo gives it a richness, a meatiness and a background layer of tanginess, even though I don't use much. It is not a traditional Italian recipe - just something I came up with.

First, the sauce.... which is the most important thing, because you can use it for lots of other dishes.
Heat a pan to about medium hot and toss in enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add about 1/2 to finely chopped medium onion (yellow or white is best). Once the onion has softened and turned translucent, toss in a 2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves. As those cook, add a pinch of crushed red pepper, a das...h of slat and black pepper, oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme ( a pinch to a half teaspoon full of dried, or twice as much fresh). Then, add one large can of crushed tomatoes. Simmer that for a bit and salt and season to taste.

The second most important thing is getting the water out of the eggplant - it is bitter and makes it hard to cook.

First, either peel your eggplant or peel off alternating strips, so it looks striped.... or leave the peel on (which is what I do). Then, lay it down lengthwise and cut of round slices about 1 inch thick. Salt the round on each side and place them on in a colander, with paper towels between each layer. Put a plate on top and a double sized can of tomatoes (or something about the same weight) on top of the plate. Leave it for an hour. The weight of the plate and the can will press the water out and the salt will really pull it out.

Then, spread a little mayonnaise on each side of the eggplant rounds and coat them in Italian bread crumbs. (home made or store bought). You can then either bake these in an oven, single layer of breaded eggplant rounds on a cookie sheet for about 30 min at 350 degrees, turning over half way, or until brown) or pan fry them in olive oil until brown.

After the eggplant is browned, put a some sauce in a casserole dish or baking pan and sprinkle some parmesan (or mixed cheese) over it, lay a layer of eggplant on that and then put more cheese on the eggplant. Put sauce on that and repeat until all the eggplant is used. Put more sauce on top, more parmesan and some good slices of mozzarella. (if you want to spice it up a little, some Italian sausage between the eggplant layers is really good).

Bake at 350, uncovered for 30 min or until the cheese is browned.