Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

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.

Turkey, Pumpkin and White Bean Chili with Cranberry Relish

Turkey, Pumpkin and White Bean ChiliOne of my stand-by kitchen recipes, one I make for friends, family and just for myself on a regular basis is my Tuxedo Chili, made with chicken, black and white beans and warming spices. It even won a recipe contest! It’s a perfect one bowl meal, filling and comforting and perfect for the first chilly nights. With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to give my standard a little seasonal twist. So I’ve combined all the comforting flavors of fall into a delicious, hearty treat.

I swapped out chicken in the recipe for the more seasonally-loved turkey, and added rich pumpkin for depth of flavor and a nice, creamy dose of white beans. Once I had the chili sorted, I couldn’t resist a sweet and tangy cranberry and cilantro relish to top it off, adding another layer of autumn. All in all, this makes for the kind of meal I love to serve family and friends. Make a big pot of chili, put out the various toppings and some good bread and let everyone build their own bowl. For an even more thematic meal, make a batch of Pumpkin Cornbread to serve alongside. I think this is the perfect meal to warm up post trick-or-treating or a trip to the corn maze!

Turkey, Pumpkin and White Bean Chili with Cranberry Relish
Serves 4
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For the Chili
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 pound ground turkey
  5. 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  6. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  10. ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  12. 2 cups (16-ounce cans) pumpkin puree
  13. 1 (15.5 ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  14. 1 ½ cups chicken broth
For the Relish
  1. ½ cup dried cranberries
  2. 4 green onions, white and some green parts
  3. ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  4. juice of ½ a small lime
To serve
  1. Sour cream
  2. Lime wedges
For the Chili
  1. Pour the oil into a large pot, add the onions and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and wilted. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon or spatula, until it begins to brown.
  2. Mix the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon and paprika together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the meat in the pot and stir to distribute the spices evenly. Scrape in the pumpkin puree and stir well, then pour in the chicken broth and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the drained beans. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pot and cook until the chili is thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. The chili can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to two days and freezes beautifully. Add a little broth when reheating if needed.
For the Relish
  1. Place the cranberries in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to break them up. Cut the green onion into pieces and add to the bowl with the cilantro. Pulse until you have a loose relish. Stir in the lime juice.
  2. Serve the chili with a spoonful of the relish and a dollop of sour cream, with some lime wedges to squeeze over.
Notes
  1. Easily doubled!
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess Pie

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess PieI adore sweet potato pie, but I admit I was a latecomer to its joys. I think as a young person, I thought it was a trick to make me eat vegetables. I mean, who puts potatoes in pie? I always avoided the marshmallow topped casserole at Thanksgiving, because I just couldn’t imagine the sweet, sugary combo. I don’t remember when I discovered the pleasure of sweet potato pie, but I have spent many years chasing a signature recipe. I’ve tried it with condensed milk, evaporated milk, a roster of spices, nuts, crumb crusts, bought crusts, bruleed toppings and all manner of things. Now, a classic Southern chess pie I have always loved and I have great memories of little miniature chess pies as a special treat in my childhood. Chess pie was one of the earliest dishes I learned to make. So eventually, coming around to the idea of a sweet potato chess seemed only natural. And now, this is my go to sweet potato pie.

Buttermilk is my secret weapon for about everything. It gives this pie a little tang which is a great complement to the rich sweet potates. The buttermilk crust adds an extra layer of flavor as well, and also makes a tender crust. I don’t go overboard with the spices on this one, just a teeny whisper of nutmeg. The lemon really adds balance, but I have also made this with an orange to good results.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess Pie
Serves 6
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For the Buttermilk Crust
  1. 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  2. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  5. ¼ - ½ cup buttermilk
For the Filling
  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  4. ½ cup buttermilk
  5. zest and juice of one lemon
  6. 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  8. ¼ cup light brown sugar
  9. 2 Tablespoons cornmeal
  10. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
For the Pie Crust
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly. Add ¼ cup of buttermilk and pulse until you have a shaggy ball of dough, adding more buttermilk if needed. Remove the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and knead to pull together, then pat it into a disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  2. When ready to make the pie, take the dough from the fridge and let soften slightly. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Roll the dough on a lightly floured counter into a 12-inch round disk. Carefully fit the crust into the pie plate. Prick the bottom all over with a fork, then line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool. Remove the pie weights.
For the Filling
  1. Prick the potatoes all over with a sharp knife and microwave fro 10 minutes until soft when pressed. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, cut in half and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. You should have about 1 cup of puree. Leave the puree to cool.
  2. When the puree is cool and the pie crust is also cooled, add the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and vanilla to the sweet potato in the food processor. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornmeal and nutmeg together in small bowl, then dump it all at once into the bowl and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is completely combined. Pour the filling into the prepared crust
  3. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, the sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top and return to the oven. If the crust is getting very brown, shield it with foil. Bake a further 15 – 20 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Turkey, Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

Turkey, Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

Leftovers are as much a part of Thanksgiving as the feast itself. I have been known to make extra of some favorite dishes (I’m looking at you dressing) and stash them away just to be sure I have some for the weekend. But I know that after cooking the big meal, getting back in the kitchen to cook again is not always an appealing thought. That’s why soup is such a great way to use the leftovers – it’s pretty easy to throw things in the pot and still end up with a delicious, warming meal to share.

Make sure you buy an extra sweet potato and set aside. The same goes for the other ingredients – it’s a shame to be craving some leftover soup and not have what you need. That being said, I take no issue with using bought, pre-diced onions or bell pepper. You could also whip up some dressing croutons to go with this soup. And a little cranberry sauce dollop on top is a festive touch.

Turkey, Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 strips of bacon
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and finely diced
  4. 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
  7. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
  8. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  9. 6 cups turkey broth or chicken broth
  10. 1 cup water
  11. 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
  12. 3 cups diced cooked turkey
  13. 1 ½ cups milk
Instructions
  1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and place in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until the bacon pieces are crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Carefully drain off the drippings and let cool for a few minutes. Return 3 Tablespoons of drippings back to the pot, then add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they are beginning to soften. Add the diced sweet potatoes, the bell pepper, 1 Tablespoon of the sage and the marjoram and stir to coat in the grease. Cook until the onions are very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Pour in the turkey stock and the water, raise the heat and bring to the boil. Add the corn and the turkey, reduce the heat to a medium low, cover and simmer for ten minutes.
  2. Stir in the milk, the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sage and about ¾ of the bacon (reserving some to top the bowls of chowder. Cook until warmed through.
  3. The soup will keep covered in the fridge for 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.
Notes
  1. I like to dice the sweet potato into pretty small cubes so it is easy to eat with a spoon.
  2. Seek out a light colored turkey or chicken broth. Dark stacks give the soup a muddy hue.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Mustard Creamed Pearl Onions

Musatrd Creamed Pearl Onions

Many years ago, when I first started cooking a big Thanksgiving meal, I followed the suggested menu of some magazine or cookbook to the letter, despite existing family traditions or personal preferences. One of the dishes on the list of traditional Thanksgiving fare was creamed onions, which I had never had before. My family had never had them either and didn’t really understand why I had included them on the buffet with all the other food. Everyone tried them, and liked them, but focused more on the dishes standard to our feast. I liked them, and made the recipe a few times to accompany beef roasts. But it fell from the Thanksgiving roster in favor of more traditional Southern fare.

Last year was a transitional Thanksgiving for my family, working to develop new traditions during a time of change. Change of location, new people at the table and some new recipes. Fortunately, we had some distant family relatives from New England in town with recently relocated children. They brought a delicious dish of brussel sprouts that they always have on their Thanksgiving table at home. We’ve never included brussel sprouts at Thanksgiving, its mostly green beans. But they were really happy to see the creamed onions – a throwback from their Eastern childhood. And there were no leftovers.

It was a really nice meal, sharing our family traditions. I can’t say for sure if creamed onion are a purely regional specialty for the holiday, but it is not a tradition on the tables of any of my Southern friends. I have streamlined and jazzed up that original creamed onion recipe, and it makes a lovely accompaniment to the centerpiece turkey.

One reason I chose to make this last year is that I found some beautiful multi-colored pearl onions at the grocery that I couldn’t resist. All white onions are perfectly good if that’s what you find.

Mustard Creamed Pearl Onions
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups pearl onions (white, yellow, purple or a combination)
  2. 1 ½ cups light - colored chicken broth
  3. ½ cup white wine
  4. 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 2/3 cups heavy cream
  7. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Cut the tops and roots off the onion. Try to leave a little of the root end intact to hold the onion together. Drop the onions into a pan of boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain the onions, and when cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. This can be done up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Put the onions and the broth and the wine in a medium sauté pan and sprinkle over the sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Bring the broth to a boil over medium high heat and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is gone, pour in the cream and add the mustard. Stir and cook over medium until the cream is reduced and thickened and coating the onions.
  3. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce

I am very nostalgic about gingerbread, though it is not part of some long-standing family holiday tradition. Other than the occasional hard gingerbread man cookie, I was well into my teens before I ever even knew there was any other form. But soft, cake-like gingerbread seems to hark back to the olden days. It has a Little House on the Prairie or Frances Hodgson Burnett kind of quality to it. Maybe it’s the gingery smell of Christmas when the cake is baking, or the rich, warm spices so associated with the holidays. Gingerbread makes me feel like I am continuing a tradition, though I never had one to begin with. And it does play nicely into my anglophilia, for it is definitely an British tradition.

I’ve upped the American ante here though with our native cranberries for a festive touch. This cake perfectly straddles the Thanksgiving – Christmas line, featuring flavors perfect for both. Make it for either or both. This recipe can be made ahead, which is always a bonus during the hectic season. I serve this as dessert, and the butter sauce adds a touch or decadence fit for the season. But this would also make a lovely breakfast without the sauce.

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce
Serves 9
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups fresh cranberries
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  6. ¼ cup molasses
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 cup buttermilk
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  11. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  12. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  13. ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  14. ½ teaspoon salt
  15. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  16. 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  17. For the Butter Sauce
  18. ½ cup (I stick) butter
  19. 1 cup granulated sugar
  20. ¾ cup heavy cream
For the Cake
  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor (the mini one works fine) until roughly chopped. Add the flour and 1 Tablespoon sugar and pulse until you have a fine rubble.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Cut the butter into chunks and place it in a 9 by 13 glass baking dish. Melt the butter in the oven for about 5 minutes. Swirl the butter around to cover the sides of the pan, then pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium low for a few minutes until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the egg and beat until combined. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Mix the flour, soda, salt, and spices together in a small bowl, then beat into the wet ingredients until combined, scraping down the bowl a few times. Add half of the cranberries and mix in gently. Take the bowl off the mixer and give the batter a good stir to distribute the cranberries. Scrape the batter into the buttered baking dish.
  5. Spread the remaining cranberries evenly over the surface of the batter. I find my clean fingers the best tool for this, breaking up the cranberry mixture as best I can and distributing over the batter. The batter will not be completely covered, just do your best to evenly spread the cranberries and press them lightly into the batter.
  6. Mix the cinnamon and remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar together for the topping and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. The cake can be cooled and covered and kept for one day.
For the Butter Sauce
  1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a medium saucepan until it is bubbling and spitting and just beginning to brown. Stir in the sugar and the heavy cream and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then remove the sauce from the heat and stir well. The sauce can be served warm or a room temperature. You can cool, cover and refrigerate one day ahead, then loosen the sauce by heating it in the microwave.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Luxurious Cranberry Port Compote

Luxurious Cranberry Port Compote

The time has come to talk about Thanksgiving. The turkey, the dressing, the sweet potatoes, the pies…but don’t relegate the cranberry sauce to the back of the buffet! A rich, homemade cranberry dish can be a stunner on the spread. With rich port wine, balsamic vinegar and an intriguing blend of herbs and spices, this compote is a showstopper.

If you are in charge of the whole meal, this can easily be made ahead and not seem like a cranberry afterthought. But this luxurious recipe is perfect for those assigned to bring the cranberries to a gathering. Don’t plop a can on the table – show your friends and family that you care and took your humble assignment seriously. People will actually be talking about the cranberries!

Leftover cranberry sauce is always good on a turkey sandwich, but give this a try over ice cream for a sophisticated treat at anytime of year.

Luxurious Cranberry Port Compote
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Ingredients
  1. 1 2/3 cup ruby port wine
  2. ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  3. ¾ cup white sugar
  4. ¼ cup light brown sugar
  5. 2 sprigs rosemary
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  8. 1 star anise
  9. 1 cinnamon stick
  10. 12 ounces fresh cranberries
Instructions
  1. Stir the port, balsamic and sugars together in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Tie the rosemary, bay leaves, cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick up in a small piece of cheesecloth or place them in a mesh tea ball. Drop the packet into the liquid and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries, lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries pop and break down and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Fish out the spice packet then cover and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. Yields about 1 1/2 cups
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Pumpkin Tres Leches

Pumpkin Tres Leches

Moist, sweet and tender Tres Leches cake is a favorite of mine. A classic of the cooking canon of many Hispanic cultures, “three milk” cake is simply a delicate cake soaked in a combination of milks. For years, I used a recipe given to me by a friend from Nicaragua that used a box cake mix and it was always a big hit. I eventually developed a from-scratch recipe, and then adapted that to become one of my favorite Christmas dessert, Eggnog Tres Leches. It’s a fabulous holiday dish, because it needs to be made ahead and can serve a crowd. So for Thanksgiving, it seemed only right to come up with a pumpkin version.

Pumpkin Tres Leches is a great treat for any seasonal entertaining, and with its origins is a great choice for a Day of the Dead celebration. Serve it up as a post trick-or-treating feast of Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce or Spicy Chorizo, Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili (because you can’t have too much pumpkin on Halloween). And it is a natural for Thanksgiving and is imminently portable if you are headed to another house for the celebration. An artful dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of nutmeg add an elegant touch if you’d like.

Pumpkin Tres Leches
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup vegetable oil
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  9. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  10. ½ teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  12. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  13. 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  14. 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  15. ¾ cup evaporated milk
  16. ½ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 13 glass baking dish.
  2. Beat the pumpkin, sugar and oil together in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Mix the flour, soda, spices, and salt together in a small bowl. Beat into the pumpkin mixture at low speed until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature.
  4. Stir the condensed milk, evaporated milk and buttermilk together in a 4-cup measuring jug until completely combined. Poke small holes over the top of the cake using a skewer or cake tester. Slowly pour the milk mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Leave the cake to soak up the syrup for up to 12 hours.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Cranberry Tangerine Relish

Cranberry Tangerine Relish

I am pretty traditional about the cranberries on the Thanksgiving table. I have to have my traditional cooked cranberry sauce. But I like to mix things up sometimes and have a second version as well. But I am not from the jiggly can of cranberry sauce camp, so it’s a chance to get creative.

This raw relish is sweet and tangy and a definite twist. Usually made with oranges, I find the sweetness of tangerines a special touch, and add a little kick of bourbon. You can use small tangerines, larger honey tangerines or even clementines. Serve this with the big meal, and there will still be lots left to go beside leftover sandwiches.

Cranberry Tangerine Relish
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ounces whole tangerines
  2. 8 ounces fresh cranberries
  3. ½ cup pecan halves
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 2 Tablespoons bourbon
Instructions
  1. Cut the tangerines into pieces – skins and all - and place in the food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse six to seven times to break up the tangerines. Add the whole cranberries, sugar, pecans and bourbon and pulse until you have a rough relish. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times and make sure everything is well combined. Scoop the relish into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours or up to a week. If lots of liquid accumulates in the bowl, you can drain the relish.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)

Decandent Chocolate Bread Pudding

I’ve been making this bread pudding for years, when I really want to pull out the stops for a decadent, but homey, dessert. It’s another of those recipes written on card, transferred to a notebook, moved to a file folder – the victim of my many attempts to organize a lifetimes worth of shared and saved recipes. The chocolate custard soaks through the bread and the chocolate morsels add little surprises of molten chocolate. This is not a dessert for the faint of heart.

When I was making this again to test and photograph it, I was suddenly struck with great indecision. Should I make a peppermint version? Add a new sauce? I finally decided the most helpful thing to do would be to stick with the basics and share this template recipe, which is utterly delicious and perfect as it is. But I offer some seasonal variations and additional trimmings from the archives.

Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound loaf challah bread or soft Italian bread
  2. 3 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  3. 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  6. 5 large eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. ½ cup whole milk
  9. 11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate morsels
Instructions
  1. Cut the bread into roughly 1-inch chunks and set aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and drop it in a food processor. Heat 1 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave (about 45 seconds) or in a saucepan until just steaming. Do not boil or bubble. Process the chocolate for a few seconds to break it up, then pour over the warm cream and process until smooth. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, the melted butter and the vanilla to the chocolate mixture and process until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing until smooth between each addition. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a capacious bowl –one that will fit the bread too. Stir in the remaining 2 cups cream and ½ cup milk and stir until smooth. Add the bread cubes and the chocolate morsels to the bowl and gently stir until the bread is well coated, the morsels are evenly distributed and everything is well combined. Scrape the mixture into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to six.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Take the baking dish out of the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes to get the chill off. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. You can serve this with ice cream, plain vanilla, salted caramel or peppermint or with whipped cream, or try it drizzled with Toffee Sauce or Bourbon Sauce.
  2. Give an autumn twist by adding 2 cups of dried cranberries, soaked in a little brandy to plump and ½ cup chopped walnuts, using just 1 cup of chocolate morsels.
  3. As the holidays approach, mix this up to make a Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding. Swap the vanilla for ½ teaspoon peppermint extract and use white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint candies before serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Tennessee Hot Browns

 

Tennessee Hot Brown

My mother used to make a dish she called Hot Browns on cold nights when we were kids. I loved hot brown nights. I didn’t know that Hot Browns were a real dish, something with a history and many fanatical supporters and traditionalists, I just thought it was something yummy my mom invented, specific to our house. I have to admit that my mom’s version was not traditional. It involved sliced turkey, ham and cheddar cheese soup from a can. My mom always made them in these white porcelain dishes that I think of today as Hot Brown dishes.

As an adult, who cooks the vast majority of the Thanksgiving meal, I have asked my mom to make Hot Browns with the leftover turkey. So it occurred to me some years ago that I should develop a recipe for this favorite treat. In researching the idea, I discovered how serious the discussion of the Kentucky Hot Brown is, with fervent camps for versions with sliced tomatoes, and those without. I even had a Hot Brown in Kentucky that had potato chips piled on top. But I didn’t necessarily want to share the classic recipe, but to re-create the memory from my childhood. So I call these Tennessee Hot Browns to stay out of the battle. I like lots of cheddar cheese, and no tomatoes, but crispy bacon is always a good thing. The sandwiches are hot and cheesy and comforting and perfect for a long weekend.

Tennessee Hot Browns

½ cup butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

6 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (plus a little for sprinkling)

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

8 slices white bread

About 2 pounds sliced roasted turkey

8 strips bacon, cooked until crispy

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then whisk in the flour until smooth and pale in color. Whisk in the milk, cooking until the sauce is thick. Whisk in the cheese and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the broiler of your oven. Lay a slice of bread in the bottom of each of four oven proof dishes. If you don’t have individual dishes, lay the bread in a 13 by 9 inch dish. Layer the turkey on top of the bread, then pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the top of each sandwich. Broil the hot browns until the tops are speckled brown and bubbling, about 5 minutes – but watch carefully. Lay the bacon slices on top of the hot browns and serve immediately.

Makes 4 sandwiches