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.

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake

Fruit and herbs are a wonderful combination. I’ve made Peaches Poached in Basil, a Blueberry Basil Compote, even a Strawberry Mint Vinaigrette. Blackberries and sage a re a lovely pairing, the berries are sweet and the sage woodsy, but together they sing. Sage isn’t generally associated with sweet recipe, but it should be for the lovely herbaceous tone it adds.

I’ve added sage to blackberry jam for years – its one of my standard summer recipes, but I hadn’t really considered using sage in baking. I’ve been experimenting with various herbs in baking recently, and when I decided to use some fresh farmers market berries in this classic upside down cake recipe, I wanted to give sage a chance. It creates this elusive note of herbal freshness under the dark, sweet juiciness of the berries. The cake is tender and moist enough to soak in some of the juices, but not terribly sweet so the berries really shine. A bright note of lemon zest helps bring the whole together.

This cake is lovely on its own for dessert, though I could easily see it at breakfast. A dollop of whipped cream – perhaps infused with sage – or a big scoop of rich vanilla bean ice cream wouldn’t go amiss. And don’t these simple skillet cakes make an impressive presentation?

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 10 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
  2. 1 nice bunch of fresh sage, 5 -6 leaves and 2 Tablespoons finely chopped
  3. 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  4. ¾ cups granulated sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  10. ½ teaspoon salt
  11. ½ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a 10–inch oven safe skillet over medium heat. Drop in 5 – 6 sage leaves to infuse the butter. When the butter is melted and fragrant from the sage, remove the sage leaves, squeezing them against the side of the skillet to remove as much butter as possible. Stir in the dark brown sugar and cook briefly, just until smooth and melted. Do not let it burn. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon chopped sage. Spread the sugar mixture evenly over the skillet, then sprinkle the blackberries in an even layer over the sugar.
  3. Beat the remaining 6 Tablespoons of butter with the ¾ cup granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 Tablespoon of chopped sage, the lemon zest and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly before adding the next egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl.
  4. Scrape the batter over the top of the berries and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, rotating the skillet half way through the cooking time, until the top is a lovely golden brown a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
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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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Mint Julep Vinaigrette

Mint Julep Vinaigrette

Every once in awhile, you absolutely stumble over an idea that makes you feel like a real culinary wizard. This is one of those for me. I was having some friends over to grill burgers. I made a few dishes and I’d picked up some amazing produce at the farmers market, including some beautiful butter lettuces. I had a master plan, but at the last minute, I realized I needed a light dressing for those lovely leaves. I took stock of what I had on hand and inventoried the ingredients in the other dishes I had prepared so I didn’t overlap too much. I had a lot of fresh mint (I always have a lot of fresh mint), so I started there. Literally standing at my kitchen counter with that mint and those lettuces, I spied the bottle of bourbon on the bar and the light bulb switched on “mint julep!” This last minute creation was huge hit.

I love this in the simplest of salads, just beautiful fresh lettuces lightly tossed with the dressing, but it can add a lot of flavor to a salad with toasted pecans and salty goat cheese. I really want to try this drizzled over a salad topped with some grilled chicken or shrimp.

Mint Julep Vinaigrette
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup densely packed mint leaves
  2. 3 Tablespoons bourbon
  3. 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  4. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon salt
  6. ½ cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place the mint, bourbon, vinegar, sugar and salt in a blender and blend to finely chop the mint and dissolve the sugar. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Store in the fridge in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well before serving
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Sweet Potato Vichyssoise

Sweet Potato Vichyssoise

I adore chilled soups during the hot summer months and often wonder why restaurants don’t serve more of them, or people make them more often. Nothing could be more refreshing, and filling. Make a big batch of cold soup and keep it in the fridge for quick lunches, cooling snack or part of a simple salad or sandwich supper.

I often make a big pot of classic white potato and leek vichyssoise for myself and dip out of it all week. So I am not really sure why it took me so long to get around to a sweet potato version. Though normally thought of as a cold-weather food, my favorite Southern tuber is a natural match for the cold soup treatment, as we sure do know a lot about hot weather down here. This soup is very simple with the earthy sweetness of the potatoes is balanced by leeks. Herbaceous rosemary and bay and exotic clove add an extra layer of flavor and a wonderful, mysterious aroma. Don’t be tempted to leave them out.

The vibrant orange color of this creamy soup makes it a showstopper on the table. I have served it at seated dinner parties and casual gatherings. If you are so inclined, it would make an interesting soup shot passed as an hors d’oeuvres. I love to sprinkle each bowl with some chopped honey roasted peanuts for a little texture and a sweet-salty finish, plush some chives for color and to complement the leeks.

Sweet Potato Vichyssoise
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, to make 4 cups chopped
  2. 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. 1 cup white wine
  4. 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
  5. 4 cups vegetable stock
  6. 3 cups water
  7. 2 stalks fresh rosemary
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  10. ½ cup heavy cream
  11. finely chopped honey roasted peanuts for garnish
  12. finely chopped chives
Instructions
  1. Slice the white and lightest green parts of the leeks into halves lengthwise, then into thin half moons. Place the leek slices in a strainer submerged in a bowl of water and shake around a bit to loosen any dirt. Let the leeks sit for a few minutes while you melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Then remove the strainer and shake out excess water. Drop the leeks into the pot and stir. Sauté until the leeks begin to soften, then pour in the wine, cover the pot and cook for about 8 minutes, until the leeks are soft. Uncover the pot and cook for a few minutes to reduce the wine until it barely coats the leeks. Do no let the leeks brown. While the leeks are softening, chop the peeled sweet potatoes into small chunks. Add to the softened leeks with the water, broth and a good sprinkling of salt. Tie the rosemary, bay leaves and cloves up into a little cheesecloth package or place in a tea strainer ball and drop in the pot. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium - low, cover and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the herb package.
  2. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, filling the blender about half-full each time. Pour each pureed batch into a bowl. When all the soup is pureed, whisk in the cream. Cover the bowl loosely and refrigerate for at least two hours but preferably overnight. Taste for salt and season before serving, garnished with chopped honey roasted peanuts and chives.
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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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Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Strawberry season is in full swing and I am incorporating them into as many delivery systems as I can. With baskets and baskets of berries in my house and family coming over for lunch, I decided to veer from my normal sweet tea punch and put the berries to good use.

This flavored teas is miles and miles from any packaged product packed with “real fruit flavor.” The fresh berry taste shines through with just enough sweetness to highlight it. Sure, this takes a little more work than pouring water over tea bags, but the reward is well worth it. My whole family loved it (maybe more than the actual lunch). And with a fresh berry and mint garnish, its pretty to boot.

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces strawberries, hulled
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  4. 3 -4 stems of mint
  5. 4 family size tea bags
Instructions
  1. Puree the strawberries in a blender, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. You should end up with about 1 cup of strawberry juice. Add water to make two cups, then pour it into a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir well, then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove from the heat, stir in the mint and leave to cool.
  2. Place the tea bags in a 1 gallon jar or pitcher. Pour over 7 cups of boiling water and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the strawberry syrup back into the tea through the strainer to remove the mint leaves and stir well. Add 4 cups of cool water.
  4. Garnish with sliced strawberries and mint leaves and serve over ice.
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Hummingbird Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Pineapple Cream Cheese Glaze

I love a traditional Southern cake, but my ability to successfully make beautiful layered creations is limited at best. So I am always looking for ways to reimagine the classic layer cakes in Bundt, loaf or sheet form. I can’t make a tall caramel cake or a lusciously frosted red velvet, so I developed cheats that offer all the deliciousness without the wonky, lopsided, collapsing layers I usually end up with.

One of my favorite Southern cakes is the Hummingbird, moist with pineapple and banana and lightly spiced. I’ve converted this cake to a Bundt version, I’d say reconstructing rather than deconstructing the classic. Instead of the layers of billowing cream cheese frosting on a the traditional cake, I fulfill the cream cheese requirement with a cream cheese and pecan filling and cover the cake with a pineapple-boosted glaze. I love the added sweetness of diced sweetened dried pineapple sprinkled on top, plus it makes the finished product pretty.

Hummingbird Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Pineapple Cream Cheese Glaze
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. For the Filling
  2. 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  3. ½ cup granulated sugar
  4. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 1 egg
  6. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  7. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  8. ½ cup chopped pecans
  9. For the Cake
  10. 3 bananas
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 1 cup canola oil
  13. 2 cups granulated sugar
  14. 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  15. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  16. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  17. 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  18. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  19. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  20. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  21. ½ cup chopped pecans
  22. For the Glaze
  23. 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  24. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  25. 3 – 4 Tablespoons pineapple juice
  26. dried sweetened pineapple pieces
  27. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan thoroughly with baking spray such as Baker’s Joy.
  2. For the filling
  3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and cinnamon together in the small bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the pecans and beat until thoroughly combined. Set the filling aside while you make the batter.
  4. For the Batter
  5. Thinly slice the bananas and add to the large bowl of stand mixer and add the eggs. Turn the mixer on medium low and add the oil and sugar and beat until smooth. Add the pineapple and vanilla and keep beating until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and beat until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Using a large spoon, dollop the cream cheese filling in a ring in the center of the batter. Try your best to keep it in the center of the batter. Cover the filling evenly with the remaining batter. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover the top of the cake loosely with foil if it starts to brown too much. Cool the cake completely in the pan set on a wire rack, then turn it out onto the rack. Place a piece of waxed paper or foil under the rack to catch drips when you glaze the cake.
For the Glaze
  1. Beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the small bowl of a mixer until smooth. Drizzle in the pineapple juice, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until you have a thick, spoonable glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing some of it drip down the sides. Garnish the top with the dried pineapple and chopped pecans.
Notes
  1. My stand mixer came with two bowls. I use the small bowl to make the filling, rinse and dry it and use it to make the glaze. I use the larger bowl to make the batter. If you don’t have two bowls, make the filling in the bowl, then scrape it into another bowl, clean the mixer bowl and proceed.
  2. If you don’t want to buy a big bottle of pineapple juice, look in the Latin section of the grocery for individual cans of pineapple nectar. Use the remainder to make a sweet tea punch, a great accompaniment to a slice of Hummingbird!
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Old Fashioned Chicken Salad with Cooked Dressing

Old Fashioned Chicken Salad with Cooked Dressing

I am a late in life lover of chicken salad. As a child, I had an aversion to this type of mixed up dish coated in dressing – I felt they were primarily tools my mom used to hide things I didn’t want to eat. I was always concerned that chicken salad or casseroles were stealthy ways to get me to eat my vegetables. But I got over that as an adult, in part because I reached a stage in life where you simply couldn’t stomp your feet and refuse to eat something and still be accepted in polite society. And then I realized how very good a well-made chicken salad truly is. So, all those years, my chicken salad – loving mother was right.

Over the years, I have created Lemon Dill Chicken Salad to appeal to my mother and a fall appropriate Maple Mustard version. I have made chicken salads with Moroccan flavors and with an Asian flair. These are dressed primarily with mayonnaise with additions of buttermilk and yogurt. But over the years, as I have perused my ever-growing collection of community cookbooks, I kept running across recipes for “Cooked Dressing for Chicken Salad.” Rarely is there an actual recipe for chicken salad, just the dressing, but after seeing do many recipes, I had to give it a try. And I am glad I did. The dressing is creamy and tangy with a sweet-and-sour edge from the sugar and vinegar. I kept the recipe simple here, with crunchy celery and almonds and a nice herbal note from parsley, but this salad will absolutely work with a variety of additions, so get creative. By the way, my mom loves this version.

Old Fashioned Chicken Salad with Cooked Dressing
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 3 chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup chicken broth
  3. 1 lemon
  4. 3 celery stalks
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2/3 cup sugar
  8. 2 Tablespoons flour
  9. ½ cup white wine vinegar
  10. ½ cup water
  11. ½ teaspoon salt
  12. 2 Tablespoons butter
  13. ½ cup slivered almonds
  14. 3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan that fits the breasts in one layer and pour over the broth. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, then drop in the juiced skin. Break up one celery stalk and add it to the pan with the bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the chicken breasts if needed, then place over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (165° internal temperature), about 10 -12 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate to cool.
  2. Make the dressing while the chicken is cooling. Beat the eggs in a medium sized saucepan, then beat in the sugar. Stir the flour into the water to make a paste, then add it to the eggs. Add the vinegar and salt and stir to fully combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the dressing thickens to the consistency of runny pudding. Pull the pot of the heat, and stir in the butter, a small piece at a time, until each piece is melted before adding the next. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Finely chop the remaining two stalks of celery and place in a large bowl. Dice the chicken into small pieces and add the bowl with the almonds and parsley and stir to combine. Spoon in the dressing a bit at a time and stir to coat the chicken until you have a consistency that suits you. You may personally not want to use all the dressing.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and chill until ready to serve. The salad will keep for two days.
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Chicken, Cheddar and Pecan Pie

Chicken, Cheddar and Pecan PieChicken, Cheddar Pecan Pie

The British have a brilliant tradition of savory pies that hasn’t quite translated to the American menu. Sure, we have chicken pot pie and the occasional quiche, but the traditional British pies of flaky pastry double crusts filled with meat and vegetables and rich sauces aren’t too common here. And it’s a shame. Because a savory pie makes a great meal. Now, I say all of this in praise of the supper pie, not because this is a traditional British style pie. I’ve gone pretty full on Southern here. The crumb crust and topping is reminiscent of our classic cheese straws, while the hearty chicken filling is studded with pecans, green onions and cheese – a few of our favorite things.

I love this pie as a homey dinner served with a lovely salad or a cup of creamy soup, but it also makes a nice brunch dish. The pie is best served warm, but is fine a room temperature for serving on a buffet or making ahead of time.

Chicken, Cheddar and Pecan Pie
Serves 6
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For the Crust
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  3. ½ cup chopped pecans
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¼ teaspoon paprika
  6. 6 Tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Filling
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1 cup sour cream
  3. ½ cup chicken broth
  4. ¼ cup mayonnaise
  5. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  8. a dash of hot sauce (or more to taste)
  9. 2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
  10. 2 green onions, finely diced
  11. ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
  12. ¼ cup chopped pecans
  13. pecan halves for decoration
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a deep 9-inch pie plate or tart pan.
For the Crust
  1. Pulse the flour, cheese, pecans, salt and paprika together in the bowl of a food processor until well combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until the mixture is sticky, with the texture of wet sand. Remove ¾ cups of the crumbs and set aside.
  2. Press the remaining crumbs over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan to form a crust. Make sure there are no gaps. Bake the crust for 10 minutes then leave to cool.
For the filling
  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in the sour cream, chicken broth and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the Worcestershire, salt, pepper and hot sauce and whisk until combined. Fold in the chicken, green onions, cheese and pecans until everything is combined and well coated with the creamy mixture. Spoon the filling into the crust, making sure the chicken is distributed evenly. Sprinkle the reserved ¾ cup of crumbs evenly across the top of the filling. If you’d like, decoratively arrange some pecan halves on top of the pie.
  2. Bake the pie for 50 minutes to one hour minute until the filling is set and the top is golden. Let the pie sit for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing and serving warm.
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Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

I’ll admit, with all the travel to share Pimento Cheese The Cookbook I did in the fall, I got a little behind on recipe planning. So I’ve had a bit of a scramble to get myself organized, get things tested and photographed and out on the blog. When I started thinking about Valentine’s Day, I racked my brain to come up with something decadent, romantic, creative and over the top. But the ideas just weren’t coming. So I stepped back and said to myself, just think of something really chocolatey. And this was the first recipe that came to mind. The starting point for this is written on piece of lined notebook paper, in a much younger version of my handwriting. I must of copied it out of a cookbook or from somebody, maybe when I was a teenager. I know it was a staple of my repertoire for awhile, but I was surprised that my mind brought it out when I needed to think of chocolate. I mean, that’s going back aways! I’ve updated the recipe a bit, streamlining it and making the frosting a touch easier to work with, but this is just plain, old fashioned good.

I made this again for friends and one immediately asked for the recipe, because it was just like something here grandmother used to make, so I knew I’d hit on the right recipe for Valentine’s. Because showing someone you care isn’t just about fancy frippery and gimmicks, it’s about good old fashioned love and kindness, and this cake just shouts that out.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Serves 12
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  6. 1 cup water
  7. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. ½ cup buttermilk
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Frosting
  1. ¼ cup (half of a stick) of butter
  2. 4 Tablespoons buttermilk
  3. 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the butter, water and cocoa powder in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. With the mixer running, pour the hot chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk, then the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25- 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the frosting
  1. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, bring the butter, cocoa and buttermilk to a boil in a pan (you can use the same one used earlier). Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Pour the warm frosting over the still warm cake, tilting the pan to cover the cake evenly, and leave to cool.
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