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.

Squash Blossom Risotto

Squash Blossom Risotto

I ate at two restaurants in Rome earlier this summer that claimed to be built on the very spot where Julius Caesar was killed, and visited two tourist attractions that claimed the same thing. It makes a great story to print on a menu, and they each had some historical perspective to back up the claim. Of course, the restaurants are modern buildings now with only a small trace of their ancient ancestry, but the food at each one was quite good. I made sure to order classic and traditional Roman dishes at each (when in Rome, right?), but when I saw the risotto con fiore di zucca on one menu, I knew I had to order it. I love squash blossoms, and they are an ingredient I just have to sample whenever I see them. I had my fill on a trip to Mexico, and was lucky enough to be in Italy when they were abundantly available. So when I sampled this dish, I knew I would recreate it once I returned home.

It was at a restaurant in Tuscany that I had a risotto with a secret center of creamy cheese, and I decided to incorporate that idea into this recipe to add a nice tang and creaminess to complement the rich rice. The flavors here are subtly earthy with lovely strands of the blossoms stirred through. Many dishes that use squash blossoms like to include saffron for color. (I use it in my pesto). You can do that here too, just soak a pinch of saffron strands in some hot broth and stir that into the risotto during cooking.

Squash Blossom Risotto
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 24 squash blossoms
  2. 5 cups vegetable stock
  3. 4 Tablespoons butter, divided
  4. 1 large shallot, finely diced
  5. 1 ½ cups carnaroli or arborio rice
  6. ½ cup dry white wine
  7. ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  8. salt to taste
  9. 4 Tablespoons whole milk ricotta, at room temperature
  10. olive oil for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Grasp the squash blossoms by the stem and twist to remove the hard stem and the stamen inside, leaving only the blossoms. Place 12 of the blossoms in a blender with 2 cups of the stock and blend until smooth. Pour the blossom mixture and the rest of the stock into a saucepan and heat over low until just simmering.
  2. Cut the remaining blossoms into thin pieces. I generally pull the leaves apart, stack them up and use scissors to cut them into fine shreds. Set aside.
  3. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter over low in a large, deep skillet. Add the diced shallots and sauté until soft and glassy, but do not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the butter and cook for a few minutes until the edges of the rice grains are a little translucent. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until it is completely evaporated. Now start adding the stock a big ladleful at a time, stirring after each addition. When each addition has evaporated, add the next ladleful and stir. When almost all the stock has been absorbed, taste the risotto. It should still have a little bite and texture to it, but if it still hard or crisp, keep adding stock until it is al dente. Stir in the squash blossom strips and the grated Parmigiano until combined and melted. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter and stir it through. Season with salt to taste.
  4. To serve the risotto, scoop a dollop of ricotta (about a Tablespoon; I use a small cookie scoop) onto the center if a rimmed plate or shallow bowl, then spoon the risotto around it. Drizzle with good olive oil and serve immediately.
Notes
  1. The ricotta needs to be at room temperature to melt smoothly into the risotto. You can scoop it out onto the plates and have them waiting before you start making the risotto.
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Hoppin’ John Salad with Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette

Hoppin' John Salad

Hoppin’ John is a traditional southern dish of rice and black-eyed peas traditionally served on New Year’s Day to guarantee prosperity in the new year. That hearty, warming dish is in my New Year’s Day rotation, usually made with black-eyed peas I bought at the farmers market and put up in the freezer during the summer. Black-eyed peas are traditional on New Years, but they are in season in the summer. And they make a great cold salad, with a tender bite and earthy flavor. I’ve read recipes for hoppin’ john salad over the years, most using the peas only and those usually canned. But I wanted to create my own summer version, focusing on fresh peas, with truly Southern, tangy-sweet dressing and a hint of fresh from herbs and crunch from the classic vegetables of Southern cooking.

This hearty salad is a perfect side for a cook-out or a fried chicken lunch. It can be made ahead and held until ready to serve. It’s refreshing but filling enough to stand alone. It’s a pretty salad on the table (particularly in this Mississippi made McCarty Pottery Black-eyed Pea platter). When I have it on hand, I use Carolina gold rice t

Hoppin' John Salad with Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette
Serves 8
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For the Salad
  1. 1 cup long grain white rice
  2. 1 pound fresh black eyed peas (frozen if that’s all you have)
  3. 3 green onions, finely diced
  4. 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  5. 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  6. 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  7. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  8. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
For the Vinaigrette
  1. 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  2. 3 Tablespoons bourbon
  3. 1 Tablespoon sorghum
  4. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  5. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. 2/3 cup vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. For the Salad
  2. Place the rice in a strainer and rinse well, until the water flowing through it is no longer cloudy. Place the rice in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Cook until almost all the water is absorbed and little air bubbles form in the rice, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and tightly cover the pan. Set aside for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork to separate the grains, then return to the strainer and rinse under cool water. Shake the rice to remove excess water and spread the rice on a tea towel to dry.
  3. Place the black eyed peas in the saucepan and cover by about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Cook until the peas are just tender but with a little bite to them, about 15 minutes, then drain and rinse and spread on the tea towel.
  4. When the rice and the peas are cool and relatively dry, toss them together in a big bowl using a fork. Add the diced celery, green onion and pepper and toss, then toss in the chopped herbs. Make sure everything is evenly distributed and break up any clumps of rice.
  5. For the vinaigrette
  6. Place all the ingredients in the carafe of a blender and blend until smooth and emulsified. Pour over the rice and peas and stir with the fork to coat everything. Cover and chill the salad several hours or overnight.
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Country Ham Stuffed Eggs

Anytime you pair a classic Southern ingredient with a classic Southern dish its bound to be a wonderful thing. And for me, these are too longtime family favorites, so I earned some extra bonus points. As I’ve said before, in my family we always call them stuffed eggs, not devilled eggs, because devilled smacks of spicy and mama don’t do spicy. Also, I love pulling out my egg trays and putting them to good use.

Salty country ham and creamy egg yolks are a beautiful combination, and I love a edge from shallot, without overpowering the little kick from mustard. I used a thick cut slice of ham for the filling to give it some nice body, but had the deli counter thinly slice a little (prosciutto style) to curl on top of each egg as a nice garnish and additional zing of salty ham. This is a great way to use up a little leftover country ham to make a whole new dish, but don’t be afraid to serve these with more ham. They would look gorgeous on a platter surrounding a whole ham or the piled up slices.

Country Ham Stuffed Eggs
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 12 eggs
  2. 1 shallot bulb
  3. ¼ cup loosely Italian parsley leaves
  4. 3 ounces country ham center slices
  5. 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  6. ½ teaspoon regular mustard powder
  7. dash of hot sauce
  8. lots of freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Instructions
  1. Place the eggs in a large pan and cover with water by about an inch. Place over high heat and when the water comes to a boil, cook the eggs for seven minutes. Fill a bowl with ice and cold water and set in the sink. When the seven minutes are up, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Leave to cool for 45 minutes.
  2. When the eggs are cooled, roll them on the counter to crack the shells all over and peel. Rinse with cool water to remove any stray shell pieces and pat dry.
  3. Cut the shallot into chunks and drop into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to break up the shallot, then add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Drop in the country ham and pulse until everything is finely chopped. You don’t want a puree, just a rough chop.
  4. Cut the eggs in half (wipe your knife on a paper towel before each egg so yolk doesn’t get on the white) and gently scoop the yolks into the bowl of the food processor. Place the empty whites on a tray or stuffed egg plate.
  5. Add the Dijon mustard, the mustard powder, hot sauce and pepper and pulse to break up the yolks. Add the mayonnaise and blend until everything is combined, but there should still be some texture from the ham and shallots – don’t go overboard and make it completely smooth. You can add a little more mayonnaise if needed. Taste and add salt if you want, but the ham is usually enough.
  6. Fill the center indentions of the whites with the filling. Cover and refrigerate the eggs. To avoid plastic wrap touching your beautifully filled eggs, store these in a 9 x 13 storage container with a snap on top or a deep baking dish covered with plastic or foil. These are best made the day you are serving, but can be made a day before and kept covered in the fridge.
Notes
  1. I like to use a very small cookie scoop to fill the whites, then go back with lightly damp fingers to press the filling in and smooth the tops.
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Root Vegetables with Walnut Sage Crumble

Root Vegetables with Walnut and Sage Crumble

Everyone is always eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring and the excitement of the fresh vegetables that begin to grow. And I love that too. Then the overwhelming bounty of summer, when there is so much fresh produce, there is hardly time to sample it all. But I love winter vegetables too. Rich, hearty root vegetables in a beautiful palate of colors. These sturdy vegetables go well with so many flavors – herbs and spices of all sorts, and work wonderfully well – roasted, mashed, pureed, in soups, stew and gratins. I think some of these knobbly beauties are the unsung heroes of the vegetable world, but I am here to sing the praises.

I love this dish for its homey charm and the creative twist – turning the idea of a summer fruit crumble into a hearty winter vegetable dish. This can be served as a side to a roasted joint of meat or as an impressive vegetarian main course. The combination of vegetables below marries into a perfect array of colors and contrasting flavors, but you can sub in other roots in the same quantities.

Root Vegetables with Walnut Sage Crumble
Serves 6
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For the Vegetables
  1. 1 celeriac (celery root), about 14 ounces
  2. 3 carrots, about 6 ounces
  3. 1 large parsnip, about 7 ounces
  4. 1 sweet potato, about 12 ounces
  5. 2 leeks
  6. 1 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  7. 1 (8 ounce) tub crème fraiche
  8. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  9. 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
  10. 4 – 5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  11. kosher salt
For the Crumble
  1. ¾ cup walnuts
  2. 6 sage leaves
  3. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 6 Tablespoons butter
  5. ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel and chop the celeriac, carrots, parsnips and sweet potato. Cut all the vegetables into roughly the same size pieces, about ½ inch. Chop the leeks into half moons and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the root vegetables and stir, then add the leeks and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, stir together the crème fraiche, flour, mustard and chopped sage until thoroughly combined. When the vegetables have cooked, stir through the crème fraiche until everything is fully coated. Season to taste. Spoon the vegetables into a 2- quart baking dish and set aside to cool.
For the Crumble
  1. Pulse the walnuts and sage leaves together until you have a fine meal. Add the flour and the butter, cut into small chunks, and process until you have a nice crumbly topping. Add the parmesan and pulse briefly to mix.
  2. Spread the crumble topping over the vegetables. At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Cook the crumble until heated through and golden brown on top. Serve immediately.
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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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Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts

Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts

Green bean casserole is a traditional, can’t-do-without dish for many families Thanksgiving table. I have to say it though, I cannot stand the traditional version made with canned soup and fried crunchy bits. The beans are mushy, there is no telling what is in that can of soup and the oniony things are too salty. But green beans do make a great casserole for the holidays.

So here’s a perfect, unique version with a fresh, clean taste and a great deal of interest. I love to use tarragon to get a different herbal flavor in the mix, as I always use lots of sage and rosemary in the dressing and the bird. Toastyhazelnuts add a nice crunch, and a hit of cream, tangy mayonnaise and nutty cheese keep things in the traditional vein, while the lemon keeps it from being too cloying. Maybe this will be a new tradition for your family table too.

Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 4 shallots, halved and sliced into thin half moons
  4. 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  5. ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
  6. 3 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  7. zest and juice of one lemon
  8. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  9. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  10. 6 ounces gruyere, grated
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 8 by 8 inch baking dish.
  2. Cut the trimmed green beans into roughly one inch pieces. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil and drop in the beans. Boil for about a minute, just until the bright color of the beans comes out. Drain the beans and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain again.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot strands and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is soft and just beginning to turn a pale caramel brown, about 4 minutes. Add the hazelnuts, stir and cook for about 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the green beans, tarragon, the lemon zest and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice until everything is evenly distributed. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise and cream together in small bowl, then add it to the green beans, stirring to coat well. Spread a layer of beans in the baking dish, sprinkle over half the cheese, then layer the remaining beans and cheese.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake a further 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
  6. The casserole can prepared several hours before baking and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Easily doubled.
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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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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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Buttermilk Bacon Cheddar Macaroni Salad

Buttermilk Bacon Cheddar Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a great summer picnic dish. And it is a classic of the Southern table, from church suppers to days outdoors. I have been served a lot of macaroni salad and read a lot of traditional recipes in Southern community cookbooks that include, like many a southern dish, pickle relish. I am not a fan of pickle relish so I haven’t always been a fan of macaroni salad. So I set out to create a tasty macaroni salad that met my particular tastes, but would appeal to the family and friends I was sure to serve it to. I want tangy and creamy with interesting flavor contrasts and textures, but nothing too out there.

Adding vinegar to the cooking water and tossing it with the cooked pasta helps to season the salad without adding buckets of salt. A touch of bacon grease keeps the pasta from sticking together. I like to keep this pretty simple, with the herby ranch style dressing creamy with buttermilk, tossed with sharp cheese and crispy bacon. This salad will appeal to all ages and leave no picky eaters passing it by because they are concerned about all the bits and pieces in the dish. If you’d like, you can add to it. A little finely chopped celery or bell pepper or onion could add texture and flavor.

Buttermilk Bacon Cheddar Macaroni Salad
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 strips of bacon
  2. 2 cups elbow macaroni
  3. 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
  4. 4 green onions, white and light green parts only
  5. 3 Tablespoons chopped chives
  6. 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  8. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  9. ¾ cup buttermilk
  10. ¾ cup sour cream
  11. 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over medium-high heat until very crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain and reserve 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease.
  2. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of water with 1 Tablespoon vinegar according to the package instructions until cooked through. Drain the pasta and rinse with cool water and drain well again. Return the pasta to the pot and add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of cider vinegar and the tablespoon of bacon grease. Stir to coat the pasta well and leave to sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Place 3 of the green onions, the herbs, salt, pepper, buttermilk and sour cream in a food processor or blender (I like the mini-food processor for this) and blend until smooth and combined. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and stir gently to coat. Add the grated cheese and bacon and stir to distribute. Finely chop the remaining green onion and add to the salad, stirring to combine. The dressing will absorb and thicken as it chills, so don’t worry if it looks a little loose. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Cover the salad and refrigerate until chilled. The salad will keep for 3 days covered and refrigerated. You can stir in a little more buttermilk to loosen the salad up before serving.
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Fresh Herb Field Peas

Fresh Herb Field Peas

I buy field peas in bulk in the summer. Ladys, creamers, zippers, whippoorwill, crowders, purple hulls, you name it. Farmers market Saturdays for me are about canning and putting up, followed by a Southern supper of field peas, corn and tomatoes. So I am always looking for creative ways to prepare them. This is my new favorite. It’s clean and summery with a good dose of the best of the seasons herbs.

It can be a little hard sometimes when writing recipes to quantify herbs. Particularly for a recipe like this. So I just say handfuls. You want the potlikker the peas cook in well flavored, and the finishing butter to be chockfull, so the peas are well coated with fresh green herbs. Choose whatever herbs you have to hand. I love a good blend of leafy basil and parsley with a little hint of mint, combined with onion-y chives and woodsy oregano. I love the flavor pork adds to field peas, but you can leave it out to make a vegetarian version of this dish.

Fresh Herb Field Peas
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound purple hull or other field peas
  2. 6 cloves garlic
  3. 2 generous handfuls of fresh herb leaves – basil, mint, oregano, chives, parsley and thyme
  4. 3 strips bacon
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  6. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the peas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to settle for 30 minutes, then scoop off any floaters. Pick out any bruised peas, then lift the peas out of the water into a saucepan using your hands. Don’t pour through a strainer, the dirt only gets on the peas again.
  2. Pick out a good handful of herbs and tie them together in a piece of cheesecloth. Nestle the herb bundle, the bacon and 4 cloves of garlic in the peas and add fresh water to just barely cover. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam or scum that rises. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the peas, uncovered, for about 1 hour until soft and tender but still holding their shape.
  3. While the peas are cooking, finely chop another handful of herbs and place in a bowl with the softened butter. Put the remaining two cloves of garlic through a press or very finely chop them and add to the butter. Use a fork to mash the herbs, garlic and butter together. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine thoroughly.
  4. When the peas are cooked, strain through a strainer and discard the bacon, garlic cloves and herb bundle. Scrape the herb butter into the saucepan over low heat until it begins to melt. Return the peas to the saucepan and gently stir through the butter until the peas are coated. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.
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