Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

Follow by Email

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carrot & Raisin Salad

For more than a century, the Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer, Alabama, has built a large and loyal following by serving classic Southern fare, with occasional culinary references to its Greek heritage. Last year, the University of Alabama published “A Centennial Celebration of the Bright Star Restaurant,” which recounts its colorful history and features some of its most-loved dishes, drawing from its Greek roots and the region it came to embrace.

This is one of several recipes that reflect that assimilation of flavors.  This carrot salad is sweet without being cloying. It’s a Mother’s Day favorite at the restaurant.

Grate the carrots with the shredding blade of a food processor to make this a speedy side dish.

2 1/2 pounds carrots, washed, peeled and grated or finely chopped in food processor
3/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup raisins
In a large mixing bowl, gently combine carrots, mayonnaise, sugar, coconut, pineapple and raisins. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Time Veggie Pizza

Such a beautiful Saturday Spring Day in Alabama. We enjoyed being outside this morning and worked in the garden a little. Then came inside to make a pizza for lunch. I love asparagus and this was the perfect light lunch.

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough or a store bought crust
1 lb. asparagus spears, trim the ends if they're tough
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes halved
3 T. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 T. snipped fresh chives
2 t. McCormick's Mediterranean Spice Blend
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you're using a baking stone, preheat it in the oven.

Combine the olive oil and garlic. Place the asparagus and tomatoes in a medium bowl and pour about half of the garlic oil over the veggies and toss to coat. Sprinkle in the spice blend.

Carefully spread out the pizza dough or place the store bought crust on the pizza stone.

Brush the dough with the remaining half of the garlic oil. Place the asparagus spears onto the crust in a circular pattern and then spoon over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the oregano and chives and then top with the Parmesan.

Bake for about 20-22 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese has melted.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cousin Vicki's Lime Tarlets

This recipe is from a friend from my childhood.  She uses lemon juice for a lemon filling, but for this one we used lime juice.  Definitely delicious.  You can fill mini pie shells, meringues, or eat it plain as a custardy pudding. 

Mix in heavy sauce pan:
dash of salt
1/4 cup+ 1T. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar
cook over low heat stirring until thick

In a separate bowl:
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 T. lemon zest
Blend together

Add 1/4 of hot mixture to yolk mix, then pour back into hot mix.  Stir constantly (about 10 minutes) or until smooth and thickened.  Stir in 2 T. butter and spoon into mini-pastry shells.

Grilled Lamb Burgers & Roasted Potatoes

To herald the arrival of Spring, even though we're hovering near freezing temps here at night, we decided to grill some lamb burgers.  This was a most excellent decision.

This was one of those recipes that we made up as we went along and all the planets must have been aligned because we did an AWESOME JOB even as I do say so myself.

Gently mix together:
2 lbs. ground lamb
2 t. minced fresh oregano
1 t. minced fresh mint
1 t. McCormick Mediterranean Spice Blend
zest of one lemon

Form into patties and grill burgers until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. 

Cut pita bread in half and lay on the grill for a few minutes to warm them.

Now on to our toppings:

Baby Spinach
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Pepperoncini Peppers

Thinly sliced English Cucumber

Pitted Kalamata Olives

Red Onion Slivers

Greek Yogurt mixed with minced red onion, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 t. lemon zest and enough McCormick Mediterranean Spice Blend to suit your taste.

You could also mix in some crumbled feta cheese to this or serve it separately.

For the potatoes:  Cube up some firm red potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with McCormick Mediterranean Spice Blend.  Toss in red onion slivers.  Roast in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or so until they're cooked through.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ham, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

You can have this delicious breakfast sandwich ready to eat within 10 minutes.  The filling can be served on biscuits, bakery rolls (like this one) or rolled up in a tortilla.  Delicious!

In a large skillet, melt 1 T. butter or pour in 1 T. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup cubed ham to the skillet.

Cook ham until the cubes are nicely browned.

Beat 3 eggs in a small bowl with a fork until well mixed and then slowly pour into the skillet with the ham.  Lower the heat to medium low.

Continue to stir the eggs until soft curds form.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese (or whatever flavor you want) and remove from heat.  Gently fold in the cheese until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon onto toasted rolls, hot biscuits or tortillas and enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Home Fries

My love of potatoes is well known.  I'm not in the least embarrassed to admit that.  And for breakfast, nothing beats  some of these lovely little cubes of potato love. 

Let's start with four medium russet potatoes, diced
3 T. of canola oil
a large skillet

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until it shimmers.  Carefully add the potatoes in an even layer.  Lower heat to medium high.

Continue to cook potatoes, flipping them over occasionally.

When they reach your desired level of brownness, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels and salt immediately.

Lolly's Limearita Chicken

I've been turning this recipe over and over in my mind for a week.  Last night I decided it was time to just wade in and make it up as I went.  In all honesty, this is one of the best things I've ever cooked. 

Read through the entire recipe and have all your ingredients for the sauce ready to go.  Once you start making the sauce, it goes quickly.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1 1/2 t. Tone's S.W. Chipotle Seasoning
1/4 t. jalapeno salt
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. ground cumin

Mix flour and seasoning in a shallow dish.  Lightly coat chicken cutlets.  Reserve this seasoned flour, you'll use it to thicken the sauce.

Heat 3 T. canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook chicken turning occasionally, until cooked through.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Drain all but 1 T. of oil from the skillet.

Ingredients for the sauce:
2 oz. tequila
4 T. breading flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 large jalapeno, diced
4 green onions, white and green part, thinly sliced
8 - 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 T. freshly squeezed lime juice

Over medium high heat, deglaze the skillet with the tequila, scraping up browned bits.  Sprinkle in flour and quickly stir until the flour is browned.  Slowly pour in chicken broth and whisk until the flour is dissolved.

Lower heat to medium and add in jalapenos, onions and tomatoes.  Lower heat to low and continue stirring until the vegetables soften, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Add the lime juice at the last minute right before serving.

At this point, you can either add the chicken back to the gravy and let it heat through or you can plate the chicken over yellow rice or beans and ladle gravy on top.

Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Green Onion Slaw

Thanks for Bobby Flay for this unique slaw.  It has quite the zip!

1 cup green onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 small serrano chiles
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pure olive oil
1/2 head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Blend green onions, vinegar, chiles, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and oil in a blender until emulsified. 

Place cabbage and red onions in a bowl, add the dressing and stir until combined. Fold in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Number of Servings: 8


This is semi-homemade Sangria.  Chill one bottle of Arbor Mist Sangria.  Pour into chilled pitcher and add sliced lemons, sliced limes, apple slices and mandarin oranges.  Enjoy!

White Cheddar & Rosemary Savory Shortbread Squares

This is a play on the Southern favorite:  Cheese Straws.  Using white cheddar instead of yellow and adding rosemary are my changes.  Instead of using a pastry bag and piping out straws, this recipe can either be rolled out and cut into whatever shapes you want or rolled into a log and sliced into circles or squares and baked.

However, you choose to form/cut/slice them, these are a delicious snack.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
pinch of ground white pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
8 oz. extra-sharp white Cheddar, finely shredded (I used a microplane)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 T. finely minced fresh rosemary

Combine butter with salt and peppers in mixer on low until combined.  Don't over-mix.
Add flour, cheese and rosemary and mix on medium-low until well combined and a ball forms.  Again, don't over-mix.
Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.   If you want to use the slice and bake method (so you don't have to roll out your dough), shape dough into a log before refrigerating.

Heat oven to 325° convection (350° conventional).   Line two sheet pans with silpats or parchment paper.

Roll out dough to 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface, or slice rounds from log that are 1/4" thick. If you roll out the dough, use 2" round cutter and place each biscuit on sheet pan as you cut them out. Biscuits hold shape well when baked, so you can use any cookie cutter you like here.   You can re-roll dough scraps.

Bake until puffed up, golden on top, and browning on edges, about 18 - 20 minutes. Store at room temp in a ziploc or airtight container.
Based on a recipe from Epicurious

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

A special thanks to my friend Beverly for baking this bread for our St. Patrick's Day meal.  So very tasty with butter and also eaten alongside the vegetable soup cooked for that night.

3 cups (12 oz.) of wheat flour
1 cup (4 oz.) of white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt)
14 ounces of buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
2 ounces of butter if you want to deviate a bit.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.  In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.  Rub in the butter until the flour is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.

Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Let cool and you are ready to have a buttered slice with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Recipe from Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Parmesan

Looking for a quick breakfast that's loaded with protein and vitamins?  Look no further.  Don't have spinach?  Any kind of green will work.  No need to wait for the weekend to cook this one.  In 5 minutes you can have this lovely breakfast cooked and ready to eat.  Want to make it for dinner?  Add some salsa and chopped ham.  And how about some mushrooms?  Put your thinking cap on!
Pull  the eggs off the heat while they're still a little loose.  They'll continue to cook with the carry over heat.
Whisk two large eggs in small bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Set aside.
Heat 1 t. olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add three cups baby spinach and cook, tossing, until wilted about 1 minute.

Slowly pour in the beaten eggs

Stir the eggs very slowly to combine with the wilted spinach.

Continue to gently fold the eggs into the spinach and vice versa.

Now add 1 T. of whipped cream cheese and stir to incorporate into the eggs

Now sprinkle in 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese and a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes and you're good to go!

From February 2013 Bon Appetit

Roasted Potatoes a/k/a "Roasties"

These roasted potatoes are a staple in Irish hotel restaurants. Simply parboiled, slightly cooled and then baked with fat until they’re crisped and browned, they are a wonderful treat.

To make good “roasties” peel as many medium-sized, floury potatoes as you want. Larger potatoes should be halved. The ideal size is a sort of medium, oval potato.

Place potatoes in cold, salted water and boil for 10 – 12 minutes until the potato is not quite cooked through. Drain the potatoes and let them air dry for a few minutes.

Heat a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet (cast iron is perfect!) on the stove top for several minutes. Ladle about ¼ inch of fat (goose, duck or beef), peanut or olive oil in the bottom. Let the fat or oil heat in the skillet for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and gently ladle the hot fat over each one. Don’t toss them vigorously, or you’ll break up the potatoes.

Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in the oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, shaking the pan now and then.

Roasties can be forgiving enough to stay in the oven another 20 to 30 minutes, but no longer. They should be very crispy and dark brown all over. Keeping them warm for more than hour will result in touch leathery outsides.

From Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Double Cut Stuffed Pork Chops

Double cut simply means that the pork chops are cut double the thickness of regular pork chops.  These are stuffed with a light, not heavily wet, stuffing.  The diced apples were a perfect accompaniment to the pork.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and diced small
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 t. fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 cups soft fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
6 double cut boneless pork loin chops (about 1 1/2 - 2" thick)
2 T. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the onion and celery.  Cook for 5 - 6 minutes until softened and translucent.  Add the apple and continue to cook for 3 - 4 minutes to soften the apple slightly.  Stir in the parsley, sage and thyme.  Add the breadcrumbs and toss to combine.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon the stuffing into a bowl to cool slightly.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.  With a sharp paring knife, cut a large pocket inside each chop, working the knife parallel to the surface and making an opening about 2 inches wide at the side of each chop, opening the pocket wide inside the chop.  With a spoon, fill each cop with about 1/2 cup of stuffing, pressing and packing it in.

Put the wiped skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of the cooking oil.  When the oil shimmers over the heat, put in the first three chops and brown the first side well, 5 - 6 minutes.  Flip and brown the other side for another 3 - 4 minutes.  Lay the first three chops in the prepared baking dish and repeat with the remaining three.

Cover the dish with aluminum boil and bake for about 45 minutes, until an instant read thermometer in the center of the stuffing reads 150 degrees.

From Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Chocolate Guinness Cake

This cake was the PERFECT dessert for the St. Patrick's Day meal.  The combination of Guinness and chocolate is a delicious balance.  This cake is child friendly.  The alcohol completely bakes off and leaves a chocolate cake with an incredible depth of flavor.

1 12-oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 inch round cake pan.  Butter the bottom and line it with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the Guinness and butter just until the butter melts.  Whisk in the sugar and the cocoa.

With the batter will in the large saucepan, whisk in the sour cream followed by the eggs and vanilla.  Beat until the mixture is smooth.  Whisk in the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 50 - 60 minutes, until a test in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out carefully and cool, right side up, on a cooling rack.  Do not cut the cake until completely cooled.

From Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Irish Coffee

The story goes that this drink was invented for tourists by a chef at a restaurant at Shannon Airport. The most important thing to remember in making this after dinner favorite is this: Irish Coffee is made with only very lightly whipped cream. The goal is to make the cream float so it looks like the foam on a pint of Guinness. The coffee can’t be too hot or the cream will quickly melt.

2 – 4 T. whipping cream
1 cup strong, freshly brewed coffee
1 T. sugar (or more to taste, but not less)
1 jigger Irish Whiskey

Whisk the cream until it starts to thicken. Beat it just until soft peaks begin to form.

Ideally, use a footed Irish coffee mug. Fill about ¾ full with coffee that’s not super hot. Stir in the whiskey and the sugar.

Hold a teaspoon upside down and horizontally over the glass with the tip of it not quite touching the coffee. Slowly drizzle the cream over the spoon.  It should flow off the tip and slowly spread across the surface of the coffee instead of plunging to the bottom of the mug.

 From:  Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Cabbage and Kale

Regular readers of the blog are very familiar with my love of kale.  Sadly, this is the last of the kale from the winter garden. 

3 T. butter
1 pound savoy cabbage, cored and choped
1/2 pound kale (a small bunch), stems discarded, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  When it foams, add the chopped kale and toss to coat.  Pour in a cup of water and clap on the lid.  Bring to a boil and cook, 5 - 7 minutes, until the leaves are softened.

Add the cabbage and stir it in well.  Put the lid back on and cook another 6 - 7 minutes, just until the leaves are tender but still toothsome, not mushy.  Season liberally with salt and plenty of black pepper.  Eat hot.

From:  Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Carrot & Parsnip Mash

Boiling these two root vegetables together brings out the delicious sweetness of both.  When they are cooked to softness and mashed together they never fully incorporate with each other leaving a gorgeous mixture of the colors.  Served in a Fiestaware "Shamrock" serving bowl, you have all three colors of the Irish flag!

1 pound carrots
1 pound parsnips
salt and pepper
2 - 3 T. butter

Peel and dice the carrots and parsnips.  Put in a saucepan with cold, salted water just to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until the vegetables are completely tender, 15 - 20 minutes.  (Test them once or twice with a fork.)

Drain and add the butter to the pot.  Mash with a potato masher to a coarse puree and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

From Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country

Irish Farmhouse Vegetable Soup

This is my new, all time favorite soup.  Such simple ingredients come together to form a delicious, nutritious, satisfying soup.  It was the unanimous decision at the dinner table last night that this was the favorite on the St. Patrick's Day menu.

This would be a great soup to stop the cooking process before the veggies are cooked through, cool and freeze in gallon sized bags.   Let the soup thaw, let the veggies cook and add the cream. 

2 T. butter
2 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t. dried sage
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Stir in the onions and celery and put the lid on the pot.  Cook the vegetables covered for 6 - 7 minutes, so they steam and soften, but do not brown.

Add the potatoes, carrots, stock, thyme and sage.  Bring to a boil, cover loosely,and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.  Add the peas for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Add the cream, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Using an immersion blender, purée most of the soup, leaving a few visible chunks of vegetables.  (Note:  I asked my dining companions if they wanted the soup puréed or left rustic, we voted on no puréeing.)

Serve with freshly made croutons, if desired.

Salmon Spread with Wheat Toast Triangles

This recipe had several variations:  ham, shrimp, salmon or chicken.  Because this was the appetizer portion of our St. Patrick's Day meal, I thought salmon was very appropriate.  Next time I'd add a little more lemon juice, but it was delicious prepared as written.

2 T. butter, melted
2 cups cooked, skinless, boneless wild salmon
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add all ingredients.  Process by pulsing to form a coarse paste.  Taste and add salt or lemon juice if needed.

Refrigerate until served.  Serve with toast points or crackers.

From Real Irish Food by David Bowers

Cookbook Recommendation

I don't normally give recommendations on cookbooks, but David Bowers' Real Irish Food:  150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country is one I wouldn't hesitate to give as a gift or encouarge anyone to purchase. 

Lovely photographs, history of Irish food and delicious authentic recipes.  You won't be disappointed in this lovely book.