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.

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

I love a savory cheesecake. Possibly the most talked about recipe in my book Southern Snacks has been the Country Ham Cheesecake. I even made it on the Hallmark Channel! I find the savory cheesecake to be the perfect party piece – it packs a lot of flavor and interest in a make-ahead dish that serves a crowd. And it is easy to make it look really impressive if you get creative with the garnishes. I serve these as an appetizer to spread on crackers, but you can also serve thin wedges as a first course with a salad. My crab remoulade version walks the line between rustic and elegant – take it wherever you want it to go. It’s perfect as for a Mardi Gras blow out or an elegant jazz brunch. But it’s not only for Mardi Gras, it is great for any spring entertaining. Tender crabmeat with lots of tang and fresh lemon is decadent and fresh all at the same time.

I have this lovely 7-inch springform pan which makes a wonderfully sized appetizer, but if all you have is a 9-inch pan, this recipe works just fine. You will need to reduce the cooking time a little, as the filling is not as thick in a bigger pan. Just make sure the center is firm. Serve this as a spread with baguette slices or crackers.

Crab Remoulade Cheesecake

20 buttery crackers, such as Townhouse

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Several grinds of black pepper

¼ ( ½ stick) cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

2 green onions, white and light green parts, and about 1 inch of dark green

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons capers

2 teaspoons grated horseradish from a jar

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sour cream

3 large eggs

2Tablespoons Creole mustard

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 -4 dashes hot sauce, such as Crystal

1 cup crab meat, rinsed drained and picked over to remove shell

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then spray the whole pan with baking spray. Wrap the outside with foil to catch any butter seepage.

Process the crackers, cheese, salt and pepper to fine crumbs in a small food processor.  Add the melted butter and process until it all comes together.  It will be very wet – don’t worry. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan, pressing a little bit up the sides of the pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the Filling:

Rinse and dry the bowl of the food processor and add the green onion cut into pieces, the garlic, capers and horseradish and pulse until you have a chunky paste.

Beat the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and mustard together in the bowl of a stand mixer until very smooth and combined.  Add the green onion mixture, the lemon juice, salt and pepper and hot sauce and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the crab meat and beat on low until it is evenly distributed and combined. 

Spread the filling evenly over the crust, smoothing the top.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes until completely firm and lightly browned on top.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator loosely covered for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, release the springform ring and transfer the cheesecake to a platter. Lining the bottom of the pan makes it easier to slide the cheesecake off the pan bottom to the platter.

Serve with crackers or baguette toasts.

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Margarita Shrimp Salad Platter

Margarita Shrimp Salad Platter

Summer is a wonderful time to entertain – people just seem more relaxed and its easy to do something elegant and impressive without slaving away for days. Like this colorful salad. I love the big platter salad (witness the Southern Buttermilk Cobband the Muffalettaversions). The big platter were purchased from discount stores that have proven fantastically useful. And a big, colorful display of delicious food never fails to impress. And people love to customize their meal without making a fuss – just serve up the bits you like for a perfect meal.

Below I’ve laid out my basic blueprint. This may look like a lot of work, but I promise it is not, but the reward is pretty spectacular. And the elements can be done ahead in stages with only the assembly to deal with, and that doesn’t require turning on the oven or standing over the stove if you plan ahead. Choose any big, generous platter and arrange all the ingredients attractively. I use medium sized shrimp that are easier to eat in a salad, but bigger ones are just fine. I like to line the platter with lettuce leaves, then leave some readily accessible so people can easily build the salad to their own tastes. And get creative – add any other ingredients that take your fancy, I have sometimes sprinkled over crispy tortilla strips or added wedges of lime to squeeze over everything.

Margarita Shrimp Salad Platter

For the Pickled Red Onion:

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup water

½ cup cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon pickling spice

Layer the onions in a pint jar or glass bowl. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a boil in a small pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine over the onions and leave to cool, then seal and keep in the refrigerator for a least an hour, but the onions will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For the Cilantro-Lime Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup buttermilk

Zest and juice of one small lime

1 clove garlic

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon celery salt

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup of cilantro leaves and stems

Place all the ingredient in the order listed in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight container, cover and refrigerated for up to two days.

For the Shrimp:

2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen (35- 40 count), tails removed

2 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons tequila

2 Tablespoons lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour in the oil, tequila and lime juice in a bowl or a ziptop bag and stir or shake to blend. Pat the shrimp dry and place in the marinade. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil. Drain the shrimp from the marinade and place in an even layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then roast 8 – 10 minutes until pink and curled and cooked through. Cool the shrimp for a few minutes, then put in a bowl or on a plate and refrigerate until chilled. When they are cold, you can cover the shrimp and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

For the Corn:

12 ounces fresh or frozen corn

2 Tablespoons lime juice

Chile – lime seasoning (such as Tajin) or chili powder

Salt and pepper

Put the corn in a pan and cover with water by about ½ inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Thoroughly drain the corn and place in a bowl, the squeeze over the lime juice and stir to coat. Season well with Tajin, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

For assembly:

One head of butter lettuce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

5 radishes, thinly sliced

1 (8-ounce) jar pickled jalapenos, drained

10 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled

2 avocados, diced

1 lime, squeezed over the avocado to prevent browning.

Line a big platter with lettuce leaves, then attractively arrange the remaining ingredients, with some lettuce readily accessible. Serve with tongs, spoons and a ladle for the dressing.

Serves 6 – 8

Dublin Lawyer (Shrimp in Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce)

Dublin Lawyer

I absolutely discovered this dish because of the name. I first saw it on a pub menu in London and had to ask. After it was described, my dining companion switched his order to it and we both relished bites. But I had to know where the name came from, so I soon set out to do some research. This was many years ago and the internet was not quite so helpful, but eventually I stumbled across an Irish cookbook that clued me in. Dublin Lawyer is traditionally made with lobster, and the story is its name comes from the fact that lobster, whiskey and cream make it “rich as a Dublin lawyer”. I’ve made this for myself for a special treat dinner and served it to friends – a flaming dish is always a hit.

I substitute shrimp in this recipe because they are easier to find and easier to work with. I use great big sweet wild caught Gulf shrimp or almost lobster-like royal reds and think this dish is still rich and decadent. Lobster is not easy to find in landlocked Memphis, and I’ve never been very skilled at cooking with it anyway. You can of course use lobster if you like. Either make the sauce and use it to nap whole lobster tail or stir in lobster meat at the end as you do the shrimp here. You can serve Dublin Lawyer as a first course to an Irish meal or as a main with a green salad. I always serve it with some good bread for mopping up the delicious sauce.

Dublin Lawyer (Shrimp in Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce)

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

4 green onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Dash of cayenne pepper

Sea salt and black pepper

¼ cup Irish whiskey

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus a little for garnish

1 pound very large shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped green onions and sauté until soft and glassy. Add the garlic and cayenne and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook a further minute. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the whiskey. Use a long lighter to light the whiskey on fire (stand back!) and let it burn until the flame dies. (Alternatively, you can return the pan to the heat and boil until the whiskey is reduced by about 1/3). Return the pan to the heat and pour in the cream. Stir well and cook at a nice bubble until the cream is reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Pat the shrimp dry and slip them into the cream sauce. Cook just until the shrimp are pink and firm, turning them over in the sauce, about 4 – 5 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a little chopped parsley.

Serves 4 – 6

Shrimp and Sausage Gravy with Rice Grits

Shrimp and Sausage Gravy with Rice Grits

It’s the time of year, as Mardi Gras approaches, that I start to crave some good Louisiana flavors. And I also find traditional hearty dishes perfect for the cold and dreary weather, from Red Beans and Riceto Shrimp Creole. Warmth and spice are perfect for the season. Shrimp gravy has roots in the Low Country and in Louisiana, and my version is a variation of classic Shrimp Sauce Picante, not quite as kicky and with the added heft of smoked sausage and without the process of a roux. It’s also a simple weeknight dish worthy of a space in the regular rotation.

I love rice grits with this gravy. Rice grits, also known as middlins’, are broken pieces of rice and, not surprisingly, have the taste of rice with the texture of grits. Check local rice growers for rice grits, or check out some online sources. I particularly like Two Brooks FarmDelta Blues, or Anson Mills. If you can’t access rice grits, the gravy is delicious over long grain rice or corn grits. I love a simple smoked sausage, but you could use andouille for some added spice.

Shrimp and Sausage Gravy with Rice Grits

For the Gravy:

1 pound medium frozen peeled, deveined shrimp, thawed

4 teaspoons creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s), divided

8 ounces smoked sausage

1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with green chile

1 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

1 green bell pepper, finely diced

1 yellow onion, finely diced

2 stalks celery, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Rice Grits:

3 cups chicken broth

1 ½ cups water

¼ cup (half stick) butter

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1 ½ cups rice grits

For the Gravy:

Lay the shrimp in one layer on a plate and pat dry. Sprinkle 3 teaspoons of creole seasoning evenly over both sides of the shrimp and place the plate in the fridge until ready to use the shrimp.

Cut the sausage into small pieces – I like to cut each link into quarters then cut thin slices across. Put the tomatoes and chiles and the broth in a blender and blend until smooth.

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until melted. Add the diced pepper, onion, celery and the sliced sausage and cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft and just beginning to brown and the sausage is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Sprinkle over the flour and remaining teaspoon of creole seasoning and stir to coat the vegetables, making sure there is no dry flour visible. Pour in the tomato-broth mixture and scrape up the lovely brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the gravy begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they are just beginning to turn pink and curl. Cover the pot and remove from the heat until the shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve over rice grits.

For the Grits:

Bring the broth, water, butter and salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. When the water is boiling, stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender, about 20 minutes. Cover the pot for 5 minutes, then fluff the grits with a fork before serving.

Serves 6

Summer Herb Butter Shrimp

I’m always looking for simple, fresh meals in summer and shrimp is a real go to for me. I buy it peeled and deveined and ready to go, and it cooks so quickly without heating up the kitchen. And I love the versatility – it can take on so many flavors. And abundance of beautiful summery herbs makes for a light and sunny meal. This dish is really simple to prepare – a whir in the food processor, a little sauté and you’re done, but the results are absolutely packed with flavor. It’s simple enough for a weeknight meal, but elegant enough for company. And I love the idea of making a big skillet of this and popping it in the center of the table for everyone to dig into – add a fresh summer salad on the side and you are done.

The shrimp are juicy and tender and bathed in a delicious, herby, sauce. You could serve this over rice or pasta, but I really love it served in bowls with some good bread to dip into all that lovely buttery sauce. I buy beautiful wild caught gulf shrimp and fresh herbs at my local farmers market, but this is an amazing way to use up herbs you may have hanging around and shrimp from the freezer. Parsley is a good base, but you can really use a combination of whatever you have on hand or growing in your garden. If you’d like, you can add a little sliced fresh chili or some chili pepper flakes to the oil when preparing the shrimp.

Shrimp Herb Butter Shrimp
Serves 4
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 large or 2 medium shallots
  2. 2 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 cup loosely packed dill fronds
  4. ½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  5. ¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
  6. ¼ cup loosely packed oregano leaves
  7. Juice of one lemon
  8. ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  9. 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  10. ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Chop the shallot and the garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the herbs and finely chop. Add the lemon juice and pulse a few times, then with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is well blended and emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the herb sauce into a bowl and set aside. The sauce can be made several hours ahead; cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate. Bring the sauce back to room temperature before using.
  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes, just to seal the outside of each shrimp. Lower the heat to medium and add the butter and stir until it is melted and coating the shrimp. Pour over the herb sauce and stir to coat well. Cook just until the shrimp is cooked through, pink and firm. Serve immediately.
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