I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

The true culinary harbinger of Spring – asparagus. When the tender stems push their way up through the dirt and out to the market, I really feel like we can start celebrating spring. Asparagus on the plate and buttercups in a vase mean soft days and gentle nights before the heat of summer truly starts. Color comes back, and the gray days of winter are behind us.

Asparagus Mimosa is a classic preparation, but I like to mix it up a bit by roasting the asparagus to deepen the flavor and bring out the natural sweetness. I up the spring factor by tossing the spears with a simple dressing bright with lemon. The grated hardboiled eggs are where the name mimosa comes from – the yellow and white is meant to look like a shower of mimosa petals. A platter of Asparagus Mimosa is a gorgeous addition to a brunch buffet table at any Spring celebration.

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa
Serves 6
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For the Asparagus
  1. 1 pound asparagus
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
For the Dressing
  1. juice of one medium lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  4. 2 hard boiled eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat to oven to 400°. Break any thick woody stems from the asparagus by just snapping them off. Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and then toss with the oil until each spear is coated. Spread the spears in one even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tender, but still with some bite left to them, about 12 – 15 minutes.
  2. While the asparagus are cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard until smooth and emulsified. Remove the baked asparagus to a platter and toss with the dressing.
  3. Cut the eggs in half and pop out the yolks. Press the whites, one half at a time, through a wire mesh strainer, then do the same for the yolks. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to push them through. I like to do this onto a plate into a pile of whites and pile of yolks, then carefully arrange them over the asparagus.
  4. The asparagus can be roasted and dressed a few hours ahead. Add the eggs just before serving.
Notes
  1. In the picture above, I added some color with a few cherry tomatoes and some chive blossoms I purchased at the farmers market.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Monte Cristo Casserole

Monte Cristo Casserole

I started a tradition when my nieces (and later my nephew) were very young. Every year at Christmas, I took them to lunch at a restaurant and then we went shopping for toys and food for all the folks who didn’t have as much at Christmas as we always have. When the girls were very little, I didn’t have much experience handling kids on my own, so I chose a popular chain restaurant where I knew we could all be comfortable. I wanted them to have fun, and I wanted to avoid any meltdowns. It became for many years “our place.” But another reason I chose that particular restaurant was selfish – they served a mean Monte Cristo. A giant hunk of fried deliciousness that I couldn’t finish in one sitting. It was a little Christmas present to myself. That chain went out of business years ago, and I have yet to find a Monte Cristo that equals theirs, though we have found a new “our place.”

A real Monte Cristo is a restaurant treat for me though. I simply am not assembling, battering and frying – I’ll leave that to the professionals. The classic combination of flavors, though, is downright good – turkey and ham and cheese encased in tender bread with that surprising sweet sprinkle of powdered sugar and a little dab of strawberry preserves. The idea lends itself wonderfully to the classic brunch casserole and here is my version. I like to keep it simple, with lots of ham and turkey and a lightly mustardy custard encasing it all. I generously sprinkle the top with a dusting of powdered sugar, which adds that lovely sweet edge and adds a touch of elegance, and serve place a nice bowl of good preserves next to it so each guest can dollop as much or as little as they like.

Monte Cristo Casserole makes a wonderful dish on a brunch buffet or for a family dinner. I served it to my extended family recently, and when I told them what it was, my nieces both said “oh, like that sandwich you like.” Memories made.

Monte Cristo Casserole
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounce loaf of Italian bread (soft crust)
  2. ¾ pound deli turkey, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  3. ¾ pound deli smoked ham, sliced about 1/8 thick
  4. 10 ounces swiss cheese, grated
  5. 10 eggs
  6. 4 cups whole milk
  7. 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  8. ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  9. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  10. salt to taste and generous grinds of black pepper
  11. powdered sugar for sprinkling
  12. strawberry jam for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut the bread into rough, bite-sized cubes and spread out on a baking sheet or tray. Leave to dry for a few hours (but not until crisp or hard).
  2. Spray a 13 by 9 inch backing dish thoroughly with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the turkey and ham into small pieces, then shuffle them through your fingers to separate them into a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and the cheese and toss to combine. Spread the bread mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  4. Mix the eggs, milk, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, sugar, salt and pepper together in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly, or blend until smooth in a blender. Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes slowly, making sure it is evenly covering the bread cubes. Push them down under the liquid if needed. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°. Take the dish out of the fridge to take the chill off while the oven is heating. Cook the bread pudding, covered, for 50 minutes to an hour until it is set and puffed up.
  6. As soon as you remove the casserole from the oven, sprinkle a generous layer of powdered sugar through a sieve evenly over the top of the casserole. Serve warm with strawberry jam to spoon over each serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Guinness and Oatmeal Quick Bread

Guinness and Oatmeal Quick Bread

It must have been close to St. Patrick’s Day. I had a six pack of Guinness on hand. Maybe I’d made some Guinness Glazed Irish Bacon or some Irish Rarebit. I love cooking with mallty stout, but I don’t particularly like drinking it straight, so I was looking for ways to use all those bottles. An Irish-inspired rustic loaf seemed the perfect thing. This bread has the lovely, dense texture of a traditional soda bread with the added tang from the Guinness. Oatmeal adds a lovely texture and richness. I like to let it cool just enough to slice easily, then spread it with lashings of Irish butter. Its also delicious toasted, or with a slice of good Irish cheddar cheese.

Guinness and Oatmeal Quick Bread
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  3. ¼ cup light brown sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 12-ounce bottle of Guinness stout
  8. 1 cup buttermilk
  9. ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir with a fork to evenly distribute the ingredients. Mix the Guinness, buttermilk and butter together in a small bowl, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir just until everything is well mixed and there is no dry flour visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan – it will be very wet.
  3. Bake the bread for 30 minutes at 425°, then reduce the temperature to 400° and cook for a further 30 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool.
  4. Serve with lots of butter!
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Christmas Fruit Salad

Christmas Fruit Salad

Christmas is, for me, a time of indulgence. I gorge myself on cookies and candies and appetizers and heavy meals. It is one of the special treats of the season, and motivation for a new year’s resolution. I have been known to serve Christmas breakfast buffets featuring cheese grits, cheese and sausage casserole, bacon, ham, biscuits and all manner of desserts. It’s not how we eat during the year. It’s a special occasion. But it is nice to have some refreshing fruit on the table. But tough to find good fruit in the heart of winter. I love a rich baked fruit casserole, I find this simple bowl of festive fruit really refreshing and a great complement to all the richness of the other dishes.

Bright red apples and juicy green pears get a dusting of mint sugar. This looks absolutely beautiful in a pretty glass or crystal dish, garnished with a few sprigs of mint. It’s also a great way to use some of the pears from that box that so frequently arrives during the holiday.

Christmas Fruit Salad
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  2. 3 red apples
  3. 2 green pears
  4. 2 cups pomegranate seeds
  5. ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  6. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  7. ¼ inch piece of vanilla bean
Instructions
  1. Put the lemon juice in a large bowl and add water to fill it half way. This is called acidulated water and will keep the fruit from turning brown.
  2. Cut the apple into chunks and add to the acidulated water. Cut the pear into chinks and add it to the water as well. Stir the fruit around as you add it to the water so every surface gets a dunk.
  3. Drain the fruit and place in a large bowl. Rinse and drain the pomegranate seeds and add to the apples and pears.
  4. Place the mint, sugar and vanilla bean in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until you have a fine, damp mixture like wet sand. Sprinkle the mint sugar over the fruit and toss to coat. Taste as you go; you may not need or want to use all the mint sugar.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
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Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of the best holiday desserts out there. It is easy to make, can be made ahead, is perfect for transport and imminently customizable. Pound cake really just uses the most basic techniques of baking, made easy using an electric mixer, and it’s a pretty forgiving process. A pound cake can easily be made a few days ahead and kept wrapped tightly on the counter. It can even be frozen (without a glaze or frosting). And if the cake dries out, toast the slices and serve with a drizzle of sauce. A pound cake is sturdy, so it can travel to a party or a road trip without fear of layers sliding apart. And the list of what you can do with a pound cake is endless. Serve it with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce. Berries, poached fruit, jam or a combination of any of the above.

Here, I up the holiday factor by adding in one of my favorite festive flavors, eggnog. The sweet, creamy flavor is incorporated both into the cake and with a rich frosting, all set off by spicy nutmeg. This cake can make a simple, homey treat or an impressive display. Put it on your favorite funny Santa plate or an elegant cake stand as a centerpiece for a dessert buffet.

Eggnog Pound Cake
Serves 12
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For the cake
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3 cups granulated sugar
  3. 6 eggs
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 cup prepared eggnog
For the frosting
  1. ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. ¼ cup eggnog, at room temperature
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  5. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer on medium until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, a good 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Combine the flour, nutmeg, salt and baking soda and add the creamed mixture, alternating with the eggnog. Do this in three additions, ending with eggnog. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 -60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cover the top of the cake loosely with foil if it begins to brown to much. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert it on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. Beat the butter, eggnog, vanilla and nutmeg together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar gradually and beat until combined and smooth. You want a thick but pourable icing, so adjust with extra eggnog or sugar as needed. Spoon the frosting over the completely cooled cake.
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Homemade Southern Hash Brown Casserole

Homemade Southern Hashbrown Casserole

I rather hope this recipe becomes an internet sensation. Because I know I have searched and searched through websites, engines, magazines and books looking for an old-fashioned style hash brown casserole that doesn’t use canned soup. I cannot abide canned soup, so I finally took it upon myself to come up with a can-free casserole. I don’t know why I was so stymied, going without the soup is pretty darn easy. Okay, maybe I stretch the word homemade a bit – I do use frozen hash browns, but as long as they are nothing but potatoes, I am fine with this major timesaver.

I’ve added all the flavors that are reminiscent of southern cooking to me. Chopped green onions, lots of parsley and a hit of paprika in tribute to my grandmother’s garnishing ways, a touch of bacon, and of course pimentos and cheddar cheese. This can be made ahead and popped in the oven to be hot and ready for a family breakfast or brunch. It is rustic and homey, but I happily serve it with my most elegant silver on a holiday table. And sure, it’s great for dinner, too.

The casserole is adapatable too. You could sprinkle some cheese over the top before baking, though I think that leaves an unappealing crust. Swap out the pimentos for green chiles and use Monterrey jack cheese. Leave out the bacon or use ham instead – or country ham.

Homemade Southern Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 30 ounce bag frozen, shredded hash browns, thawed (potato only)
  2. 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. 3 Tablespoons flour
  4. ½ cup whole milk
  5. ½ cup chicken broth
  6. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  7. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  10. ½ teaspoon paprika
  11. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  12. 8 ounces sour cream
  13. 8 – 10 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
  14. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  15. 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and well drained
  16. 6 strips bacon, cooked and finely chopped
  17. 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Drain the potatoes fully in a colander.
  2. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until combined and you have a thick paste. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth and cook until smooth and bubbling and any floury taste is gone. Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
  3. Toss the thawed potatoes with the green onions, parsley, pimentos, bacon and cheese together in a large bowl until well mixed. Stir the sour cream into the cooled sauce base. The sauce base will be thick, just keep stirring until it is smooth and combined and add to the potatoes. Stir until everything is combined and evenly distributed. Spoon the hash browns into a well-greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
  4. At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated 8 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350° and bake, covered with foil, until heated through and bubbly, about an hour.
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Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter

I’ve been focusing this month on simple comfort foods; food to share with family and friends that are simple and delicious. And nothing is more comforting to me than a homemade biscuit. So in the fall, I like to pair up the best of the season’s apples with a little sweet maple syrup to make a perfectly appropriate treat for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

These biscuits have just a hint of sweetness, so they pair well with the sweet maple butter. Any sweet spread would be lovely from homemade apple butter to a drizzle of honey. Take them more to the savory side with plain butter, or use them for ham biscuits with a little swipe of mustard.

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  2. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 3 teaspoons sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, plus ¼ teaspoon
  6. ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, divided
  7. ¼ cup milk
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
  10. 1 medium apple
For the Maple Butter
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  2. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Grease a small baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, 3 teaspoons sugar, salt and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon together with a fork in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Toss the butter to coat it with the flour, then use two knifes or your good clean hands to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal.
  3. Measure the milk into a jug then add the egg and maple syrup. Beat with a fork until well combined. Add to the flour and butter and still with a fork until the dough is just coming together. Peel the apple, remove the core and cut it into very small pieces. Drop the pieces into the bowl and use your clean hands to lightly knead the dough until the flour is all incorporated and the apples are distributed evenly. (peeling and chopping the apples right before adding them prevents browning.)
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a rectangle about 4 by 8 inches. Press any stray apple pieces into the dough. Flour a knife or bench scraper and cut the dough into eight squares. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the greased baking sheet.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Stir in the 1 Tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon until you have a thick paste. The sugar will not dissolve completely. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the biscuits using a pastry brush. Make sure you get some sugar on the biscuits. Coat the biscuits well, but you may not use all the topping.
  6. Bake the biscuits until risen and golden on the edges, 8 – 12 minutes, watching closely.
  7. For the Maple Butter
  8. Whip the softened butter and maple syrup together with an electric mixer until completely combined and smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
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Cheeseburger Quiche

Cheeseburger Quiche

My family ate together almost every night when I was growing up. We sat at a little table for four in the den; the table came from a restaurant that was once on the property when my grandparents bought their farm lock, stock and barrel. My mom cooked mostly, sometimes my dad, sometimes me as I got older. Never my brother as I remember, though he is a good cook now. The meals were not always complicated, though my mom did tend to go through exotic vegetable phases and my father periods of interest in Chinese cuisine or James Beard books. But sitting at that table as a family was probably the most formative experience of my youth.

This is not, however, a dish from my childhood. But it is the perfect family dinner. It is easy to make and has a whimsical appeal that all ages can love. I take no issue with using purchased, roll-out pie crust, and you can easily brown the beef, onions and garlic early and assemble the quiche right before baking. The shredded lettuce and tomato topper is fun, and you can make up a side salad with any extra lettuce. As I have made pretty clear, I am not a fan of pickle relish, but if your family is, stir a little into the filling or serve a dollop on top.

I asked my family if I should call this quiche or pie, and they suggested Quicheburger Pie. For clarity’s sake I stick with the original, but I will always think of it as Quicheburger now!

Cheeseburger Quiche
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for one 9-inch tart pan (store bought, ready roll is fine)
  2. 1 pound ground beef
  3. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  4. 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1 cup mayonnaise
  11. 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  12. 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  13. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  14. shredded lettuce
  15. diced tomato
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Fit the pastry into a 9 – inch removable bottom tart pan. Line the pastry with parchment and fill with pastry weights (or dried beans or rice) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and leave the crust to cool.
  2. Break up the meat into a large skillet and cook until it begins to brown, breaking it up into small pieces as you cook. Add the onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside to cool. Spread the meat over the crust, then sprinkle over the grated cheese in an even layer.
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire together in a bowl until combined and as smooth as possible (there may be some small lumps). Pour the filling over the meat and cheese in the crust. Use a fork to help some of the custard seep through the filling.
  4. Bake the quiche for 25 – 30 minutes until the center is puffed up and firm. Let the quiche cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove the ring around the tart pan. Serve the quiche warm with the shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top.
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Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

I’m sticking to my simple comfort food theme here. This recipe is no innovative or new, just simple delicious. You’ll find similar versions in all sorts of community cookbooks I am sure. It’s the type of 9 by 13 dessert you might take to a church social or a big family gathering. The cake is delightfully moist and hearty with a nice caramel undertone. The topping adds sweetness and crunch, but I promise is not overwhelmingly coconutty. Cut this in small pieces to serve a big crowd or big slabs with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a comforting, filling dessert. I bet someone you serve it too will have a memory of something similar in from his or her childhood.

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting
Serves 10
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Cake
  1. 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  2. 1 ½ cups boiling water
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon salt
  12. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Broiled frosting
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  2. ¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  3. 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  4. 1 cup shredded coconut
  5. 1 cup finely chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. For the Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray (I like Baker’s Joy for baking).
  3. Put the oats in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave the oats to soak for 20 minutes.
  4. Cream the butter and both sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until completely incorporated, scrapiing down the bowl as needed. Beat in the soaked oats until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, until the top is just beginning firm.
  5. For the Frosting
  6. Make the frosting while the cake is baking, put the butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium, just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat. A gew minutes before the cake timer goes off, bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and boil for 1 minutes. Stir in the coconut and pecans until well combined. Take the cake out of the oven and pour and spread the frosting over the top. The frosting will be thick, just do you best to spread it out. Don’t worry about evenly covering the cake, or if some of the cake seems to pull up and mix with the frosting. The end result is a fabulous concoction of cake and gooey frosting.
  7. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
  1. I particularly like the cake served slightly warm, but it is equally delicious at room temperature, and leftovers make a delicious breakfast, room temperature or lightly warmed.
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Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Soufflé

Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Souffle

I’m a little obsessed with Vidalia onions. I love the sweetness with the onion edge. I buy them in bulk when they are in season, and I tie them up in pantyhose to hang in my pantry for winter storage. Really. Vidalias are sweet and smooth without any of the burn of other onions, so it is easy to make them the star of a dish. The flavor is mellow and rich, creating a unique soft onion flavor.

The slow, gently cooking of the onions brings out their sweetness, but leaves the characteristic onion taste in tact. Patience is a must here, just cook them to a soft, glossy tangle; you don’t want deep sticky caramelized onions for this. Marjoram is a wonderful complement to sweet onions with its mildly woodsy taste. If you can’t find marjoram, use thyme or oregano (though slightly less of either). Find a good, soft, salty goat cheese with lots of flavor (I use a locally made chevre). This soufflé makes a wonderful side dish to a roast, but is also an elegant vegetarian centerpiece. This doesn’t rise up and puff the way a traditional French soufflé does, but is light and creamy and packed with flavor.

Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Soufflé
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, divided
  2. 3 medium Vidalia onions, finely sliced
  3. 6 sprigs fresh marjoram
  4. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 1 cup milk
  6. 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  7. kosher salt to taste
  8. 5 egg whites
  9. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Instructions
  1. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Stir to coat in the onions in the butter and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Partially cover the pot for the first 5 - 10 minutes of cooking just to wilt the onions, but stir frequently. A little browning is okay, but you don’t want to caramelize the onions, just make them really soft. If they start to brown, turn down the heat and watch carefully. Sprinkle the leaves of about three marjoram sprigs over the onions, then leave the onions to cool to room temperature.
  2. Scrape the cooled onions into a blender or food processor and process until you have a rough puree, sort of like loose mashed potatoes. You should have roughly 2 cups of puree.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until you have a smooth, thick paste that is pale in color, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking away any lumps, until thick and smooth. Reduce the heat to low and cook the base for 10 minutes. Add the onions puree, stir well to combine and cook a further 10 minutes. Whisk in the crumbled cheese a handful at a time, making sure each addition is melted before adding the next. Finely chop the remaining marjoram leaves and stir in with a big pinch of salt. Leave the mixture to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray or butter.
  5. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until almost stiff. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar and beat until the whites hold very stiff peaks. Stir a big spoonful of the whites into the onion base to loosen things up, then gradually fold in the remaining whites a big spoonful at a time, doing your best not to deflate the whites. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, lightly smoothing the top.
  6. Bake the soufflé for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is light golden and puffed. Serve immediately.
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