Recipes From The Heart XXVIII

My favorite season. Moderation is the norm and we are able to enjoy the fruits from nature even in uncertain times. There are so many pleasant diversions now, particularly football. Television brings the games to the safe place of homes and tailgating is forever our celebration of things wonderful. These recipes and wines have built-in taste excitement.

Backyards easily become a great tailgating experience.

Sweet Potato Spice Spread

Juanita Desloge, Galveston, Texas

Sweet potatoes are Southern essentials, and adding jalapeño peppers and chopped pecans just takes this spread to higher ground. It’s perfect to serve with Creole Cornbread and white wine or Champagne for amuse bouche.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups mashed, cooled cooked sweet potatoes
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 Tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños, or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese and sweet potatoes in food processor.  Add onions,  jalapeños, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, pulsing just to blend well.  Put mixture in serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill.

Creole Cornbread

Nothing beats the flavor an iron skillet adds to cornbread.

Chef John Folse

2 cups cold cooked white rice
1 cup plain cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion

1-2 Tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños or 1-2 chopped fresh hot peppers
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Oil skillet with about a tablespoon grease and scatter some dry cornmeal over the bottom.  Set it aside and preheat oven to  350.  Mix the rice, cornmeal, soda, baking powder, salt, jalapeños and onion.  Mix the eggs, milk and oil in another bowl to break up eggs.  Add the can of corn. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well to combine.  Add in 2 cups of the grated cheese and pour into iron skillet. Cover top with remaining cheese.  Add more it you like.  Bake about 50 minutes until it is firm.  The egg/milk/cheese ratio here is almost quiche-like, but the rice and corn pull it into a sort of pudding/souffle realm.  It stays hot as blue blazes for a long time and smells like the right corner of heaven.

Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Grilled fish make memorable tacos.

Ingredients:

For the salsa (makes 2 1/2 cups salsa):
1 cup finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, loosely packed
1 jalepeno pepper, diced & seeded
1 lime, juiced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons juice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional if the salsa is tart)

For the tacos:

1 pound firm-fleshed fish like mahi mahi or salmon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 small (4- to 6-inch) corn tortillas

To serve, have available:

Shredded red cabbage
Sliced radishes
Avocado
Sour Cream
Lime wedges
Cilantro

1 Make the salsa: In a bowl, mix together all salsa ingredients, except for the sugar, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Taste and add sugar or additional seasonings to taste when ready to serve.

2 Heat the grill. If you have a gas grill, make sure to preheat it for at least 10 minutes with the lid closed. If you have a charcoal grill, push the coals to one side to make high heat and lower heat zones for cooking.

3 Prepare the fish: Remove fish from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl or jar, mix spices until completely combined. Brush the fish with a little oil, then sprinkle all over with seasoning.

Rest the fish at room temperature while the grill heats up.

4 When your grill is hot, wipe the grates with oil.

5 Place fish, skin side down, on the grill. If using a charcoal grill, place over indirect heat. On a gas grill, turn the heat down to medium (about 350F) and close the lid.

Grill 2 minutes, then check the fish. The skin should be crisp and brown.

Grill until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.

Transfer the fish to a plate to rest.

6 Grill the tortillas: Turn heat to high and brush grates with oil again (or cook over direct heat on a charcoal grill). Cook tortillas for 30 seconds on each side to warm and soften.

7 Serve: Cut the fish into several pieces. Serve on tortillas, topped with salsa and other toppings

 Wildflower Honey Banana Bread

Janin Bruce, The Honey Shack, Homerville, Georgia

Ingredients:

1/2 cup The Honey Shack Wildflower Honey
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2  eggs
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup ripe banana  mashed
1/2 cup pecans chopped

Cream honey and butter in large mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine dry ingredients. Add alternately with bananas, blending well. Stir in pecans.

Spoon into greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 325°F 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center of loaf comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

(Check often and adjust temperature accordingly- breads and pastries baked with honey brown quicker than those baked with sugar).   

Wine Suggestion: 2014 Domaine De La Fond Moulin-A-Vent and 2018 Dr. Loosen Red Slate Riesling.

 Stay Safe. Eat and Drink Well. Love One Another.

Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. www.thegourmethighway.com | doclawrence@mindspring.com

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