The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook

The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook

The Curmudgeon’s Recipe for Romance
For the topping:
1 bodice, ripped
1 chest, glistening with sweat
1 set golden locks, flowing (his or hers)
1 kilt (optional (wife’s note – kilt is not, repeat NOT, optional))
For the filling:
200 pages purple prose

Combine the topping ingredients well and put in front of the filling.
Collect royalties.

Obviously, I am rather cynical about the world of romance novels. When it comes right down to it, though, it’s more a matter of envy than anything. I wish I could write dialog. I wish I could conceive captivating characters and intriguing plots, but that’s just not where my strengths lie. I am definitely a food guy, and I’m happy about it.
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WKNO appetizer

WKNO FM Pledge Dinner

Last Saturday we had the opportunity to cook dinner for for a great couple and their friends to thank them for supporting WKNO FM. We offered to make dinner for the highest pledge made during our on-air appearance on WKNO during their pledge drive. I’m so glad these folks support WKNO. It’s just a shame they had no idea what they were getting into with a meal from us. Here is the menu we prepared using recipes from The World in a Skillet.

Appetizer Course

Little Tokyo Tuna Tartare, Ohitashi, Cucumber Kimchi

Angela was in fine form with her plating. Everyone was wowed by kimchi rosettes

First Course
Pastel de Choclo

Second Course
Tarhana Corbasi, Chicken Kebab

We served the pastel, a Bolivian corn, chicken, and sausage pie in individual ramekins. The tarhana corbasi, a paprika and mint flavored Turkish yogurt soup, was served with a Kurdish chicken kebab on the side. It wasn’t that the dishes weren’t photogenic. It’s just that we were trying to stay out of the weeds, so we didn’t get photos of the finished dishes.

Third Course

Cevapcici, Bosnian hand-rolled sausages made with a blend of beef, lamb and pork served with kajmak cheese spread and avjar vegetable spread on flatbread we picked up at Jerusalem market.

Fourth Course

Twice Cooked Pork

Again Angela’s plating was impressive with her bok choy “pagodas.” This was everyone’s favorite dish.

Dessert Course

Calas, Mato ke Nabinyebwa

The picture is of calas, a New Orleans sweet rice fritter, straight out of the fryer. The mato ke nabinyebwa is a traditional Ugandan dish of plantains and peanut butter. Angela added allspice simple syrup for extra sweetness and Hatcher Dairy cream to make it into a mousse.

Honey-and-sumac-glazed Quail

When we initially started work on The World in a Skillet, we wrote a lot of great material, but it quickly became obvious that if we were to include everything we had originally hoped to include, no one would be able to lift the finished book. This recipe was inspired by the research we did on the Middle East. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for it in the book.

Sumac may not be a part of your spice rack, but it should be. It imparts a pleasantly tart flavor to food. Native Americans used sumac in a drink that was similar to lemonade. It’s not unreasonable to think that they would have used it to season their food. In this recipe, honey counters some of the tartness of the sumac, while also making for a nice glaze.

On the other side of the world, you’ll also find sumac used as a tart enhancement in Middle Eastern food, and it’s a common ingredient in the spice blend za-atar.

Honey-and-sumac-glazed Quail

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 main dish servings

Ingredients

  • 8 quail, split and flattened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons dried sumac powder, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 4 tablespoons honey, raw honey if available

Instructions

  1. Combine the salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sumac powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the birds with the seasonings.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it foams and just begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the quail to the skillet, skin-side down. Work in batches if necessary to prevent crowding the skillet. Cook the quail for 6 minutes, without turning, until the skin is golden brown.
  3. While the quail are cooking, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons of sumac powder with the honey in a small bowl.
  4. Turn the birds in the skillet and brush the skin-side of the birds with the honey mixture.
  5. Continue cooking the quail until the juices run clear, about 4 minutes longer. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the quail rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice or potatoes and a green salad.

Notes

2012-04-30 00:14:16

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Kitchen Passport

If quail aren’t readily available to you, feel free to substitute 4 Cornish game hens. The glaze is also wonderful over chicken, turkey, or pork. The honey-sumac blend works with grilling as well and is great stirred into plain Greek yogurt.

Sumac is a beautiful purplish-red powder that can make intriguing sweets that can test your tasters’ palates. Pair it with the color and flavor of pomegranates. Add a pinch to chicken salad with grapes and almonds. Sprinkle lightly over grilled fish.

Horchata (Cinnamon Rice Milk)

When we initially started work on The World in a Skillet, we wrote a lot of great material, but it quickly became obvious that if we were to include everything we had originally hoped to include, no one would be able to lift the finished book. This is a recipe that Pepe Magallanes of Las Tortugas shared with us. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for it in the book.

In a column in the New York Times, food writer John T. Edge called horchata the “new sweet tea for a multi-cultural South.” It definitely has some of the same appeal as our beloved sweet tea. It’s been around for a long time, it’s very refreshing on a hot day, and it imparts a sense of place at the first icy sip. It’s also becoming a favorite beverage for Southerners of every age.

Pepe and Jonathan Magallanes of Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana serve gallons of horchata to their patrons every day. One special difference in their version is the use of toasted cinnamon. Toasting changes the flavor by bringing out more of the cinnamon’s essential oils. That difference adds layers of complexity that you can’t help but notice.

Horchata (Cinnamon Rice Milk)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1/2 gallon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 ounce stick Mexican cinnamon (about 1 4-inch stick)

Instructions

  1. Place the rice in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of water to cover the rice and allow it to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Puree the rice and soaking water in a food processor or blender until the mixture is smooth. Strain the rice and water through a fine mesh sieve into a 1/2-gallon container.
  3. Return any rice particles caught in the strainer to the soaking bowl and add at least 1 cup of water to cover the rice a second time. Allow the rice to soak for 1 minute.
  4. Strain the water from the second soaking into a food processor. Add the sugar and honey, and pulse until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Add the mixture to the 1/2-gallon container along with the milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Separate the stick cinnamon into thin layers. Break the layers into pieces no larger than 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon pieces and toast, moving constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes or until half of the cinnamon has turned a dark brown.
  7. Crush the toasted cinnamon in a mortar and pestle and add to the 1/2-gallon container.
  8. Add water to the mixture to make 1/2 gallon. Stir well to combine. Seal the container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  9. Strain and serve over ice.

Notes

2012-04-28 23:24:18

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Kitchen Passport

Try using Carolina Gold rice in your horchata for a slightly nuttier flavor and gorgeous yellow color.

While it is certainly delicious without it, homemade horchata is even better when paired with that old Southern favorite, bourbon. It’s a match made in heaven. The creaminess of the horchata takes the bite out of the bourbon while the bourbon adds a rich caramel overtone that cuts the sweetness of the horchata. It’s reminiscent of the Southern classic, milk punch, but it’s just different enough to stand apart. You could also use rum, preferably dark, or cognac to spike this drink. We add rye whiskey and a few drops of Xocolatl Mole™ Bitters to create our original cocktail, The El Señor John T.

Carbonnades Flamandes (Belgian-Style Beef and Beer Stew)

Cross-posted from the official The World in a Skillet website.

When we initially started work on The World in a Skillet, we planned to devote a great deal more space to the history of immigration in the South. We wrote a lot of great material, but it quickly became obvious that if we were to include everything we had originally hoped to include, no one would be able to lift the finished book. This is a recipe  that didn’t make it into the book. It was inspired by one of the subjects in our chapter on Europe.

Carbonnades Flamandes is Belgian comfort food. This simple stew of beef and onions simmered in beer is a classic dish that has stayed the same for centuries. The combination of beer and slow cooking tenderizes lesser cuts of beef and creates a hearty stew that will make any Belgian feel immediately at home.

In Belgium, chefs sometimes add a piece of gingerbread smeared with spicy mustard to the pot while the dish is cooking to add sweetness and spice while thickening the stew. Since gingerbread isn’t always easy to come by, we add the mustard and spices on their own.

What comes out of the oven is beef and onion stew transformed. The spices create an aroma that perfumes the kitchen. The onions will have melted to thicken the rich gravy, and the meat will be meltingly tender. This is the sort of dish that encourages sopping and instantly creates that sense of comfort that only a warm bowl of stew can create.

Carbonnades Flamandes (Belgian-Style Beef and Beer Stew)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 4 to 6 main dish servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 4 medium onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Belgian ale
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tablespoon ginger, ground
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 8 medium waxy potatoes, boiled and quartered
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or oven-proof pot over medium heat. Season the cubed stew meat with salt and pepper and add to the pot, working in batches if necessary to prevent crowding in the pot. Cook the meat for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl.
  3. Deglaze the pot by adding 1/2 cup of beef stock to the hot pot and scraping loose any browned pieces of meat. Add the liquid and loosened bits to the bowl of meat.
  4. Add the chopped bacon to the skillet, cooking for 10 minutes or until crisped. Transfer the cooked bacon to the bowl of meat with a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon drippings in the pot.
  5. Add the onions to the bacon drippings and cook for 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar to the onions and continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently, for an additional 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and slightly browned. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well to combine. Add the meats and juices reserved in the bowl to the onions. Increase the heat to medium-high.
  6. Add the Belgian ale and beef stock to the meat and onions. Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and ginger to the mixture, stirring well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook slowly in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened.
  7. Stir in the mustard just prior to serving. Serve over boiled potatoes and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Notes

2012-02-20 01:01:45

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Kitchen Passport
While this stew is wonderfully rich when made with beef, it’s also wonderful when made with pork. You could also consider using this preparation for a rabbit stew. The slow cooking will ensure that the rabbit remains tender and flavorful.

Pozole Blanco (Pork and Hominy Stew)

Cross-posted from the official The World in a Skillet website.

When we initially started work on The World in a Skillet, we wrote a lot of great material, but it quickly became obvious that if we were to include everything we had originally hoped to include, no one would be able to lift the finished book. This is a recipe that didn’t make it into the book from one of the subjects in our chapter on Mexico.

Pozole has been a part of the Mexican diet since pre-Columbian times. While “pozole” is the name of this hearty soup, the soup is based on “posole,” or hominy. While the meat and accompaniments may differ across the regions of Mexico, the posole in the soup is a constant.

As Armando Rodriguez of Mobile, Alabama, tells us, pozole is a common dish in Mexican home kitchens. He grew up on pozole and still eats it often in his home today. It’s easy to see why. This simple recipe creates a hearty stew that offers great variety and all of the components of comfort food.

The flavor of hominy is such an important part of this stew. It brings the flavors of corn, but it also brings the Southern flavor of grits to the mix. Since ground hominy is the base for corn tortillas, you’ll notice the flavor of them even if you’ve never eaten hominy.

Pozole Blanco (Pork and Hominy Stew)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 8 main dish servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or loin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head garlic, split into peeled cloves
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 (28-ounce) can white or yellow hominy corn, drained
  • Salt
  • Garnishes:
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • White onion, diced
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Limes, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado, diced
  • Mexican oregano, dried
  • Crushed red chile flakes
  • Corn tortillas

Instructions

  1. Place the pork in a large stockpot along with the bay leaf, garlic, and the quartered onion. Cover the pork with the gallon of water and bring to a boil over medium--high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the pork for 2 hours.
  2. Strain out the bay leaf and garlic and discard. Strain out the pork and allow it to cool enough to handle, reserving the broth. Shred the pork and add the meat to the broth with the drained hominy and return to a simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Serve with garnishes so that diners can add them at the table.

Notes

2012-01-27 02:18:39

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Kitchen Passport
If pozole blanco is a little too mild for your tastes, Armando recommends his family’s variation. Grind 1 dried ancho chile in a blender with 2 or 3 whole cloves. Add this to the pozole when you add the hominy. If this still seems mild to you, add some cayenne pepper to spice it up or a second ground ancho chile.

East Tennessee Caramel Popcorn

We’ve been traveling across our state a lot this year, and two of our favorite Tennessee products have to be country ham and sorghum molasses (or sorghum syrup or sweet sorghum — whatever you want to call it). For a Christmas snack, we decided to put those flavors together, and they’re very happy that way.

East Tennessee Caramel Popcorn

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

East Tennessee Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces country ham
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sorghum molasses
  • 6 cups popped popcorn

Instructions

  1. Slice the ham as thinly as possible. If you can see through it, you've got it about right. Try not to snack on too much.
  2. Mince the sliced ham.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the ham as you would bacon. You want to render as much of the fat from the ham as possible and slightly crisp the ham, about 5 minutes. Drain the cooked ham on a paper towel-lined plate. Leave any grease still in the pan.
  4. With the heat still on medium, add the stick of butter. Because country ham is salty, using unsalted butter is a must. Allow the butter to melt, about three minutes.
  5. Add the sorghum molasses and begin stirring until the syrup mixture comes to a rolling boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until a caramel forms that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or leave a clear path when you drag a spoon through it along the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat, and work quickly to add it to the popcorn while it is still hot.
  6. Pour about half of the popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the fried ham and half of the prepared caramel. Using tongs or buttered hands, toss the popcorn to blend the ham and caramel through evenly. Add the rest of the popcorn, ham, and caramel and repeat. Expect some popcorn balls to naturally form.
  7. Let the caramel popcorn rest for 5 minutes before enjoying.

Notes

2011-12-22 18:45:32

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Hot and Numbing Rabbit

Cross-posted from the official The World in a Skillet website. We are posting what we call “deleted scenes” recipes, recipes that are great but that we didn’t have room for in the book. Become a fan of our Facebook page and get a look at the recipes two weeks early.

Hot and Numbing Rabbit

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 main dish servings

Ingredients

    For the marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon chili oil
  • For the main dish:
  • 12 ounces boneless rabbit (meat from 1 26-ounce whole rabbit) or 4 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 ¼ cups peanut or canola oil
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • 1 dried Tsin Tsin chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons whole Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • To serve:
  • Cooked white rice

Instructions

    To prepare the marinade:
  1. In a small bowl, blend together the cornstarch and cold water until no lumps remain.
  2. Stir the Shaoxing wine and light and dark soy sauces into the cornstarch and water mixture.
  3. Stir the cubed rabbit into the marinade to rest while you are preparing the remaining ingredients.
  4. To prepare the sauce:
  5. In a small bowl, blend together the cornstarch and cold water until no lumps remain.
  6. Stir the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil into the cornstarch mixture, combining thoroughly.
  7. To prepare the dish:
  8. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.
  9. Carefully add the marinated meat to the hot oil and fry for 30 seconds. Remove the meat from the wok and allow the oil to reheat.
  10. Return the meat to the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes or until golden.
  11. Remove the meat from the wok and carefully drain all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Return the wok to high heat.
  12. Working quickly and stirring constantly, add the peanuts, scallions, ginger, chopped chili, chili flakes, and Szechuan peppercorns to the hot oil, cooking just until toasted, no more than 30 seconds.
  13. Return the meat to the wok and stir into the pepper and scallion mixture.
  14. Carefully add the sauce to the wok and stir to coat the meat.
  15. Add the sesame oil to the meat and stir to combine.
  16. Serve with cooked white rice.

Notes

2011-12-02 18:36:18

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Kitchen Passport
This is a great recipe to play with balance. Try varying the heat by changing the amounts of hot chilies and Szechuan peppercorns. Try varying the salty-sweet balance by playing with the soy sauce and sweet Shaoxing wine amounts. While this recipe specifies rabbit or chicken, the same seasonings and preparation are equally great when prepared with thin slices of lean pork or beef. Serve the pork or beef rolled in a thin pancake with fresh cilantro instead of with rice.

The Work of Paul and Angela Knipple