Southern Snacks

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.

Guinness Caramel Sauce or Caramel Chews

This starts as a tale of failure. I set out to make a rich, Guinness-laced caramel sauce to drizzle over ice cream. In my first attempt, I dropped the ball, got distracted and cooked the caramel little longer than needed. But as the caramel was setting up, I thought perhaps I could save the day by pouring the thick caramel into a pan to see what happened. What happened was lovely little chewy caramels. I hit my intended goal on my second batch, which made the lovely sauce I imagined. This recipe(s) has been sitting in my files for awhile now, as I wasn’t sure exactly how to share it. But in the end, I couldn’t resist sharing the intended and unintended consequences.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, I frequently pull out the Guinness and start cooking. Deep stout beer adds flavor and depth to so many preparations, from Guinness and Oatmeal Quick Bread to Guinness Sausage Coddle. It’s also an interesting ingredient in sweet recipes too, adding a heady note to this decadent sauce – and the caramel chews. I love the sauce poured over simple vanilla ice cream or drizzled over pound cake. The caramels make a lovely little gift – a special pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Guinness Caramel Sauce or Caramel Chews
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ¼ cup white sugar
  2. ½ cup Guinness Extra Stout, divided
  3. ¾ cup heavy cream
  4. 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the sugar and ¼ cup of the Guinness together in a high sided saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Measure the heavy cream and remaining Guinness together in a measuring cup. Carefully add it and the butter and salt to the caramel, stirring to combine. It will bubble heavily and seize up a little, just keep stirring until it is smooth and creamy.
  2. For Sauce: Cook for 2 minutes, until it is thick and smooth. Let the sauce cool. Transfer to an airtight jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. Place the jar in a bowl of warm water to soften the caramel.
  3. For Caramel Chews: Line an 8 by 8 inch square pan with parchment paper. Cook the caramel for 4 minutes, then pour directly into the prepared pan. Don't worry if it doesn't spread all the way to the edges of the pan; when it is just cool enough to handle, shape any ragged edges into a square. When the caramel is completely firm and cool, cut it into 1 - inch pieces. Wrap each piece in a twist of waxed paper. You can use clean fingers to shape the pieces into a bit more of a cylinder if you prefer, or leave them in rough squares.
Notes
  1. Makes about 1 ½ cups sauce or 20 caramel chews
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Herbed Focaccia Dinner Rolls

If you search through the bread recipes on this site, you will see that it maps out my quest to bake fresh bread without too much effort. I am not one who is going to carefully nurse starters or delicately knead and form stylish loafs of artisan breads. The mysteries of yeast sometimes elude me. I love a shortcut, but I do love the smell of fresh bread baking and the sense of accomplishment of serving a basket of warm bread that I made my own self, so I am always intrigued by easy ideas. I shared my simple method of Super Simple Focaccia a while ago, and this is a take on that idea. Individual muffin tin dinner rolls look gorgeous piled in a pretty basket, and a dozen rolls passed around can be a little tidier to serve than a tear-and-share pan version. The zippy herb and garlic topping adds interest and a nice pop pf flavor.

I love the Italianate flavors of rosemary and oregano in this recipe, but of course you can vary the herbs to your taste and menu. I think a dose of cracked black pepper would be a nice touch. You can easily mix up these rolls, set them to rise and have the bowl washed and put away before guests arrive and just pop them in the oven.

Herbed Focaccia Dinner Rolls
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 7 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  2. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  3. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  4. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  5. 1 package (1/4 ounce) package quick rise yeast
  6. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  8. 1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
  9. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  10. Flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place 5 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon rosemary, 1 Tablespoon of oregano and the garlic clove. Heat over medium heat until shimmering, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Place the yeast, sugar, salt and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Leave for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. Add the flour, remaining 2 Tablespoon olive oil and the remaining herbs and beat for about 2 minutes until everything is well combined. The dough will be sticky.
  3. Divide the dough evenly between twelve regular muffin cups. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the roll dough has risen, remove the garlic clove from the seasoned oil then spoon it evenly over the rolls, making sure to distribute the chopped herbs evenly. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with flaky sea salt, then bake until golden and firm, about 20 - 25 minutes. Place a sheet pan on a lower rack in the oven under the pan in case any oil bubbles over. Let the cooked rolls sit for about 5 minutes, then use a dull knife to loosen from the tins and remove.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Taleggio Risotto Cake

I did not grow up eating risotto. It was not a dish on the menus of the many fine Italian-American restaurants in Memphis we ate at during my childhood. When it started to become a common and trendy dish, for many years, I assumed it was some sort of chef-secret dish that couldn’t be created at home (a silly thought now I know). Once I realized that at its heart, risotto is simple fare that takes only a little patience, it became a comfort favorite for me. I love a creamy, homey bowl of risotto, and I find the stirring meditative and relaxing. One of the joys of cooking is watching plain ingredients transform into something altogether luxurious, and no dish is more an example of that than witnessing grains of rice release their starch into a luscious, creamy creation layered with flavors and sophistication.

I make risotto with all sorts of flavors – like my Carrot and Dill version, or the seasonal Squash Blossom iteration. Sometimes I go plain with just a dose of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, sometimes I stir in fresh tomato sauce from my summer stash. But the point is, I usually make it only for myself. When you have guests to serve, standing over the stove stirring a pot of rice isn’t always feasible or friendly. I’ve tried baked versions, restaurant tricks for preparing it partially ahead, even a slow cooker method. But none have ever been completely satisfying. Until this springform version. Eggs hold the whole thing together and ricotta keeps the final result creamy. I tend to let the edges get slightly crispy, which adds an extra touch of texture, and I love the gooey layer of cheese oozing from the center. The presentation is pretty impressive too. Unmold the dish onto a pretty platter and add a sprinkle of fresh herbs for color.

My favorite risotto indulgence that I make for myself on special occasions uses salty pancetta, woodsy marjoram and aromatic taleggio. These flavors meld together beautifully to make a very pungent and unique whole. I have used the combination to top pizza and focaccia as well. But once you get the hang of this risotto cake, you can use any flavors you like.

Taleggio Risotto Cake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ounces diced pancetta
  2. 1 large shallot, finely diced
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  4. 1 ¾ cups Arborio rice
  5. 1 cup white wine
  6. 4 - 5 cups chicken broth
  7. 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
  8. ¾ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  11. 7 ounces taleggio cheese
  12. Olive oil
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the pancetta in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat, until it is browned and crispy and has released its fat. Remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. You need about 2 Tablespoon of fat in the pan, so add some olive oil if the pancetta hasn't produced enough. Drop in the shallots and cook until glassy and soft, then add the garlic and cook for just about a minute - do not let it brown. Stir in the rice, coating it well with the fat, and cook for a few minutes until the edges of the grains begin to turn translucent. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is completely absorbed. Add the broth a cup at a time, stirring frequently, letting the rice absorb each cup before stirring in the next. After you've added two cups, stir in half of the marjoram and about a quarter of the pancetta. After adding four cups test to see that the rice is soft, but still with a little bite, then add liquid just until it reaches that point. Season well with salt and pepper. When the risotto is cooked, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and spread it out to cool.
  2. While the risotto cools, cut the rind off the taleggio. It is easier to do this while the cheese is cold. Slice the taleggio into thin slices and set aside. Brush the inside and bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl (or the pan you cooked the risotto in), whisk together the ricotta, eggs and parmesan cheese until smooth and combined. Add the risotto, remaining marjoram and pancetta and stir until everything is combined and well distributed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Spread half of the risotto in the prepared pan and spread it out in an even layer. Drape half of the sliced taleggio over the top of the rice, distributing it evenly. Spread the rest of the risotto in the pan and press it down into an even layer. Place the rest of the taleggio over the top of the rice cake.
  4. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for several hours. When ready to bake, take the pan out of the fridge to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees then bake the risotto for 30 - 35 minutes, until the edges are golden, the cheese is melted and the center is heated through. Let the cake sit for about 10 minutes before removing the side of the pan, cutting into wedges and serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Farro and Herb Minestrone

There are one million and one delicious versions of an Italian style bean soup that it is almost impossible to narrow down a favorite. So the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to start from scratch, and that is what I’ve done here. I don’t really know if this is technically a minestrone, a pasta e fagioli or what, all I do know is that it is really delicious. I have become a huge fan of farro as I work to add whole grains to my diet, and decided it would be an interesting replacement for pasta in a brothy soup. The nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture make it hearty and interesting.

Let me explain my process. Cooking the farro separately keeps the soup from becoming thick or pasty. I love the herbal flavor of this soup – I think that’s what makes it more than broth with beans – but I find chopped rosemary can be too woody in a soup, so I like to simply infuse the broth with rosemary (and crisp celery leaves) then add the other freshly chopped soft herbs at the end so they are bright. I read for years about using a parmigiana cheese rind in soup and thought it was some sort of trendy, over the top silliness, but turns out it is really a great idea. It adds some depth and saltiness, and a hint of nuttiness that goes so well with the farro. Buy a wedge of real parmigiana for the fricos and cut off the rind. But you can (and should) save the rind of any wedge in a Ziploc in the freezer, though I have now found that the better cheese counters at the grocery now sell rinds. I love Italian borlotti beans, and sometimes find them at stores or online, most easily at Hispanic markets where they are labeled Roman beans. If you can’t find them, lovely white cannellini are perfect. Topping this soup with crispy cheese fricos is pretty and interesting, but feel free to just grate some cheese directly over the bowl.

Farro and Herb Minestrone
Serves 6
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For the Soup
  1. ½ cup farro
  2. 1 ½ cups water
  3. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 carrot, finely diced
  5. 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  6. 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  7. ¼ cup vermouth
  8. 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  9. 5 cups of chicken stock
  10. 3 – 4 stalks fresh rosemary
  11. 5- 6 celery leaves
  12. 1 (2-inch) piece of rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional but worth it)
  13. 1 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  14. 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  15. 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  16. 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  17. 1 ( 15.5 ounce can) borlotti beans or cannellini beans
For the Fricos
  1. 12 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese
  2. freshly ground black pepper
For the Soup
  1. Put the farro and water in a small saucepan with a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes. Check to see that the farro is cooked through, but still has a little bite to it (yes, al dente). If there is still some water left, drain it off, though the grains may absorb all the water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium and add the carrot, celery and onion. Stir to coat with olive oil, then cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, then splash in a 1/4 cup of vermouth or water and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated. Continue cooking until the vegetables are a light amber color, soft and glassy, another 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic to the pot, stir well and cook 1 – 2 minutes – don’t let the garlic brown. Pour in the chicken stock, then drop in the cheese rind. Tie the rosemary stalks and celery leaves in a piece of cheesecloth or place in a mesh tea ball and add to the pot. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the herb bundle and the cheese rind and give the broth a go with an immersion blender. You don’t want to completely puree, but it gives the broth a little more body, so just 4 -5 whirs around the pot. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the chopped herbs. Stir in the farro. Rinse and drain the beans then stir them into the soup. Keep the pot on the heat just until the beans and farro are heated through.
For the Fricos
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place 1 Tablespoon mounds of finely grated parmesan cheese about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Grind over a little black pepper. Neaten up the edges, slightly flatten the tops and cook for 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown around the edges. The fricos will crisp as they cool.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Rum and Citrus

Slow Cooker soups are one of winters greatest treats. For very little effort, you get big results, with the added bonus of a house that smells deliciously of warmth and comfort. And in the middle of winter, this black bean version has a tropical, sunny profile that perks things up considerably. Add some colorful toppings and everything will seem brighter. This soup is hearty and fresh all at the same time.

I love the Caribbean profile of this version of black bean soup – a little Cuba, a little Jamaica, a little Mexico – but all flavor. A nice dose of rum adds a good punch and tangy citrus brightens the rich soup up considerably. I like to serve some lime wedges for squirting on the top and add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, but you can mic a little sour cream with some of the citrus juice and float dollops of that, or top with some diced avocado or red onion. I think this would be great beside a Cuban sandwich or a piece of avocado toast. If you like things spicy, add a finely diced jalapeno or two with the vegetables or serve with some hot sauce on the side.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Rum and Citrus
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large yellow onion
  2. 1 carrot
  3. 1 green bell pepper
  4. 3 cloves garlic
  5. 4 (15-ounce) cans black beans, well rinsed and drained
  6. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  7. ½ cup dark rum
  8. 4 cups vegetable stock
  9. 1 orange
  10. 1 lemon
  11. 1 lime
  12. 2 bay leaves
  13. 1/4 cup citrus juice
  14. 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the onion, carrot and bell pepper. You want very small pieces. Finely mince the garlic and place them all in the crock of a slow cooker. Add the beans, cumin, rum and vegetable stock and one cup of water. Stir well.
  2. Peel a thin strip from the skin of each of the orange, lemon and lime using a vegetable peeler. Place the citrus strips and bay leaves on top of the soup, cover and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 7 – 8 hours.
  3. Thirty minutes before the cooking time is completed, squeeze the juice from the orange, lemon and lime. Remove the strips of peel and the bay leaves from the soup, then measure out ½ cup of juice and pour it into the soup. Add the chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or transfer it to a blender and give it a whirl. Finish cooking the soup until it is warm through.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Gorgonzola and Rosemary Gougères

I discovered gougères quite by accident when I was a teenager curious in the kitchen, though not at that point by the name gougères. I found a recipe for cheese pastry puffs in a cookbook or a magazine and gave them a try. They were such a hit, particularly with one family we used to have for dinner, that I made them over and over and over again. I think I wanted that family to come to dinner so I could make the little puffs and bask in the praise. Years later, when I really got serious about cooking, I discovered that those simple little bites where in fact a classic of French cuisine. It’s a traditional choux pastry with the added cheese, which will impress your guests when you say “oh, it’s just a basic choux puff.”

My original version used parmesan cheese, more traditionally gruyere is the cheese component. Gougères are spectacularly adaptable. I include a pimento cheese version in Pimento Cheese The Cookbook, and I vary the combinations frequently. This particular version has become a favorite, but honestly it was born from the ingredients I had on hand in the fridge. Making gougères takes a little elbow grease, but it is not difficult by any means. And they are a perfect holiday appetizer, as they can be made ahead, frozen and baked just before serving. And they never fail to impress. They are traditionally served with wine or champagne, and there is nothing better than a warm, cheesy gougère with a cold glass of bubbles, so it makes an elegant sanck on New Years Eve.

Gorgonzola and Rosemary Gougères
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 4 eggs, at room temperature
  7. 4 ounces finely crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  8. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  9. Coarse salt, like Maldon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and put it and the water into a large, sturdy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to melt the butter. When the butter is melted and the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and dump in the flour, salt and pepepr in one go. Stir vigorously with a sturdy wooden spoon. It will all come together in a big ball. Continue cooking for about two minutes, stirring constantly. You want to cook out any raw flour taste. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for about 4 minutes, so the eggs won’t cook when they come into contact with the dough.
  3. Stir the eggs in one at a time until you have a smooth dough a little looser than what you started with. Make sure the egg is completely incorporated. Stir in the cheese and rosemary until everything is completely combined and the cheese is evenly distributed. This all takes a little elbow grease.
  4. Scoop the dough onto the prepared sheets using a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon. Space them about 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with a bit of a pinch of coarse salt. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350° and bake a further 15 minutes until they are puffed and golden and lovely.
  5. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. Scoop the dough onto a parchment lined and freeze until firm. Transfer to a ziptop bag and freeze up to a month. Bake the puffs from frozen, adding a few minutes to the final cooking time.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Super Simple Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

There is nothing like freshly baked bread, of any kind. And there is a real pride when you manage to do it yourself. That being said, I find a lot of traditional bread recipes a little too intimidating and technical for me, so I am always looking for the easy way out. Hence this unbelievably simple method for making focaccia. The base recipe comes from the fine folks at King Arthur Flour, and I have been making versions of this for years. It never fails to impress when you pull out a handmade, fresh pan of golden focaccia from the oven, and of course the scent of baking bread makes everyone happy.

I share here my favorite iteration of my many experiments with the recipe. I think it is perfect for fall, scattered with toasty walnuts, rich blue cheese and woodsy rosemary. Generous squares of this can make a decadent accompaniment to a roast dinner or a meal served beside a hearty salad. The olive oil in the bread makes butter unnecessary. This is best served warm, and though I always try to give instructions for making something ahead, this recipe is so easy, there really is no need. You can have the dough spread in the pan and topped and the bowl washed and put away before your guests arrive or dinner is ready, then pop it in the oven. Use the instant yeast from a jar rather than the packets of active dry yeast for this. You’ll find this so amazing to make, that you’ll add it to your repertoire and use that yeast in no time.

Super Simple Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. Olive oil
  2. 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  3. 1 ½ cups warm water
  4. 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  5. 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  6. ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  7. ½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  8. 1 Tablespoon very finely chopped rosemary
  9. flaky salt and black pepper for topping
Instructions
  1. Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into a 9 by 13 inch metal baking pan. Swirl to coat the pan.
  2. Put the yeast, warm water, salt, 3 Tablespoon of olive oil and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium for 60 seconds, until you have a cohesive but sticky dough. Dump the dough into the oiled pan and use your fingers to spread it out. Don’t worry too much about getting it to the edges of the pan; rising will take care of that. Cover the pan with a tea towel and leave at room temperature to rise for one hour. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet until brown and fragrant and quickly remove to a plate to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375. When the dough has risen and is nice and puffy, sprinkle the walnuts and crumbled cheese evenly over the top of the dough. Sprinkle over the rosemary, then a generous grinding of pepper and some flaky salt. Lightly press everything into the dough, then make three rows of three indentions in the dough by pressing you thumb into the dough to make a little divot. Drizzle over about a tablespoon more olive oil, then bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden and firm.
  4. Leave the focaccia to cool for a few minutes before slicing, but serve warm.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Crispy Pork Schnitzel with Fresh Tomato Dill Sauce

In the height of tomato season, I am always looking for creative ways to make the most of the bounty. I can, I sauce, I freeze, I dry, I soup. And I use the other ingredients I find at the farmers market as much as I can too. So when I found myself with a few extra tomatoes and the rest of a bunch of dill from canning Dilly Beans, I figured I could make it into something. This sauce is a nice departure from the classic tomato basil combo, with a great fresh note from the celery and lots of spiffy fresh dill. The sauce can be used in any sauce situation, but I found myself with a craving for crispy schnitzel and this sauce makes a perfect pairing.

I think schnitzels are a wonderful summer dinner – the prep takes a little fiddling, but they are super quick to cook and can be made ahead, ready to fry up and serve. You can use the same technique for chicken breasts if you’d like. In summer, I love these with a simple green salad, rather than the more traditional, and to me more cold weather, mashed potatoes or dumplings. If you want to go the potato route, try a vinegary potato salad.

Crispy Pork Schnitzel with Fresh Tomato Dill Sauce
Serves 4
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For the Sauce
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 small onion, finely diced
  3. 2 stalks celery, with a few leaves if possible, finely diced
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. ½ cup white wine
  6. 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  7. ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  8. salt and pepper to taste
For the Schnitzels
  1. 4 thin-cut boneless pork chops
  2. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon paprika
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 Tablespoon milk
  8. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  9. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  10. olive oil for frying
For the Sauce
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and add the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions are glossy and the celery has softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Pour in the wine, bring to a bubble and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomatoes, stir well and bring to bubble again. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and have released some liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Transfer the tomatoes to a blender and blend to a rough, textured sauce. Scrape the sauce back into the pan, add the dill, salt and pepper and stir well. The sauce can be made several hours ahead at this point, covered and refrigerated. When ready to serve, heat through over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
For the Schnitzel
  1. Place the pork chops one at a time in a large zipper bag. Pound them to an even, thin piece about 1/ inch thick. Remove each chop to plate and continue with the next. In one shallow bowl or plate, mix together the flour, paprika, salt and pepper until evenly combined. Beat the egg with the milk in a second shallow bowl, and mix the panko and dill in a third. Dip each schnitzel in the flour, turning to coat evenly, then saking off any excess. Next, dip it evenly in the egg, then in the panko, pressing the crumbs evenly to cover the entire chop. Repeat with the remaining chops, placing them back on the plate as you finish. The chops can be loosely covered with plastic and refrigerated for several hours at this point if you’d like.
  2. Put the oven on a low heat, just to keep the schnitzels warm as you go. Heat about 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add a schnitzel to the oil and let it crisp and brown for about three minutes, then flip it over and cook until crispy and browned on the other side. Remove to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you continue with the remaining pieces. If there is a lot of burned residue in the pan between any chops, wipe it out, heat more oil and continue.
  3. Serve each schnitzel topped with the warmed tomato dill sauce.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Greek Style Green Bean Salad

Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to the Memphis Greek Festival. I go as soon as it opens and stock up on frozen spanikopita, delight at the flaming cheese saganaki and pig out on the cookies and pastries made by the ladies of the church. And it always gets me thinking about Greek recipes. I’ve only been to Greece once, many years ago, with friends on a budget and without a lot of knowledge about Greek cuisine. But we ate well, and those flavors have always stuck with me. One dish we found on many menus was green beans stewed with tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and it sometimes just came with whatever cheap plate meal we ordered. I’ve used that idea as a template for cooking fresh green beans at home, or for maximizing the flavor of frozen beans. But I flipped the script here to create a refreshing summer salad that makes great use of the farmers market abundance here in the South.

Beans cooked just until crisp, tomatoes roasted to bring out their sweet richness, fragrant oregano and salty feta cheese marry together perfectly. I prefer to use a solid block of feta cheese which I cut into small pieces. Pre-crumbled cheese tends to dissolve and muddy up the finished product.

Greek Style Green Bean Salad
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds fresh green beans
  2. 12 ounces fresh tomatoes (about 2 medium)
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 6 -7 sprigs of fresh oregano
  5. 7 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  6. 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1 large shallot
  9. 8 ounce block feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and fill a large bowl or sink with ice water. When the water is boiling, drop in the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and plunge them into the ice water to stop cooking. When the beans are cold in the water remove them to a tea towel to air dry. The beans can be cooked up to a day ahead and refrigerated in a ziptop bag.
For the Vinaigrette
  1. Preheat the oven to 300. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place in a small baking dish close together. Tuck the garlic cloves into the tomatoes, so they do not touch the bottom of the dish. Tuck three – four sprigs of oregano into the tomatoes, then drizzle over 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Turn the tomatoes around in the oil so they are coated, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 ½ hours, until the tomatoes are completely soft. Scrape the tomatoes and all the collected juices into the carafe of a blender and leave to cool. When the tomatoes are cool, add the vinegar and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the remaining 6 Tablespoons of olive oil until the dressing is smooth and completely blended. The dressing can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge. Blend again before adding to the salad.
  2. When ready to serve, cut the beans into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the shallot and add to the beans. Cut the feta cheese into small cubes and add to the bowl. Finely chop the remaining oregano and add to the bowl. Toss everything to combine, then pour over some of the dressing, then gently stir to coat the beans. Start with about three-quarters of the dressing, then add more as you like. You may have a little more dressing than you want to use. Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. The salad can be kept in the fridge for a few hours. Serve chilled.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Mexican Chocolate Chewies

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, thoughts often turn to tacos, queso and margaritas. But let us not forget the sweet side of life. Chocolate goes with everything and it’s nice to have a little sweet nibble at any fiesta.

These cookies are a classic recipe, one I have made since I was a kid. I pulled it out recently to make a batch to send to my niece in college, and as I was working, I thought a could jazz it up in some way. Then I had a thought – I bought a fancy, Tennessee-made chocolate bar in Mexican Chocolate flavor a few days before, and was really excited about the special treat. But I accidently threw it away when unpacking the huge load of groceries. I’d been kicking myself for the carelessness. So I decided to verve up these cookies to replace my lost candy bar. The rich chocolate cookies get a twist with cinnamon and just a dash of chili and cayenne. The cookies are soft and chewy and chocolate-y and perfect at any time.

Mexican Chocolate Chewies
Yields 20
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  2. 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  3. ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  8. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  9. 1 cup all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Put the chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat, strirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth and combined. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Add the flour, and stir well to make sure the flour is completely blended in to the batter. Pull the pot of the heat and let the cool for a few minutes.
  3. Scoop the dough by Tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. I like to use a medium cookie scoop. Press the dough lightly with your fingers to slightly flatten, then bake the cookies for 12 – 13 minutes until firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/