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.

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.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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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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Slow Cooker Southern Black-Eyed Peas

Slow Cooker Black-Eyed Peas

I feel very strongly about the importance of eating black-eyed peas on New Years day to ensure luck for the coming year (and greens for prosperity). But New Years Day is also not always a day I want to be slaving over the stove. Peas and greens are generally pretty hands off foods, but this has got to be the simplest recipe around for getting your dose of good luck with a nice punch of flavor. I only use the slow cooker, so no extra pots are necessary. Pre-chopped, frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes make this an even simpler prep, but the spices and cured pork add deep, rich flavor.

Start this in the morning to have for dinner, or cook it overnight for a nice lunch. Scoop it as is into generous bowls, or serve it over rice or grits. Some Cast Iron Collards served on the top would make a one bowl meal full of good things for the New Year.

Slow Cooker Southern Black-Eyed Peas
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  2. 10 ounces frozen vegetable seasoning mix (onion, green peppers, celery)
  3. 1 piece of cured pork (about 5 ounces) – country ham shank, ham hock, smoked ham, salt pork
  4. 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  5. 4 cups chicken broth
  6. 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  7. 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  8. ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  9. ½ teaspoon celery salt
  10. ½ teaspoon black pepper
  11. 1 jalapeno pepper
  12. 4 cloves garlic, peeled
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter into pieces and place it in the slow cooker set to high until it begins to melt. Add the vegetables and pork, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the butter is melted. Add the peas, broth, 2 cups water and tomatoes and stir well. Stir in the paprikas, celery salt and pepper. Drop the whole pepper and the garlic cloves into the pot and cover.
  2. Cook the peas on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours until the peas are tender. Discard the pork and the jalapeno and serve. If using ham hock or smoked ham, you can shred the meat and stir it into the peas.
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Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)

Decandent Chocolate Bread Pudding

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

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

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

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter

I’ve been focusing this month on simple comfort foods; food to share with family and friends that are simple and delicious. And nothing is more comforting to me than a homemade biscuit. So in the fall, I like to pair up the best of the season’s apples with a little sweet maple syrup to make a perfectly appropriate treat for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

These biscuits have just a hint of sweetness, so they pair well with the sweet maple butter. Any sweet spread would be lovely from homemade apple butter to a drizzle of honey. Take them more to the savory side with plain butter, or use them for ham biscuits with a little swipe of mustard.

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  2. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 3 teaspoons sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, plus ¼ teaspoon
  6. ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, divided
  7. ¼ cup milk
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
  10. 1 medium apple
For the Maple Butter
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  2. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Grease a small baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, 3 teaspoons sugar, salt and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon together with a fork in a large bowl. Cut 6 Tablespoons of the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Toss the butter to coat it with the flour, then use two knifes or your good clean hands to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal.
  3. Measure the milk into a jug then add the egg and maple syrup. Beat with a fork until well combined. Add to the flour and butter and still with a fork until the dough is just coming together. Peel the apple, remove the core and cut it into very small pieces. Drop the pieces into the bowl and use your clean hands to lightly knead the dough until the flour is all incorporated and the apples are distributed evenly. (peeling and chopping the apples right before adding them prevents browning.)
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a rectangle about 4 by 8 inches. Press any stray apple pieces into the dough. Flour a knife or bench scraper and cut the dough into eight squares. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the greased baking sheet.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Stir in the 1 Tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon until you have a thick paste. The sugar will not dissolve completely. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the biscuits using a pastry brush. Make sure you get some sugar on the biscuits. Coat the biscuits well, but you may not use all the topping.
  6. Bake the biscuits until risen and golden on the edges, 8 – 12 minutes, watching closely.
  7. For the Maple Butter
  8. Whip the softened butter and maple syrup together with an electric mixer until completely combined and smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
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Crispy Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Crispy Buttermilk Baked Chicken

I spend most of my time creating and testing recipes. And I get caught in the cycle of always trying to think of something new and different. How can I add a twist to this recipe, or update an old stand-by? And I love every minute of it. But I realize that sometimes this means I discount or overlook wonderful recipes, or maybe just ideas in my head, that are standard, simple dishes. Because I assume there is nothing special or unique about them. I think of them as something I whip up for myself or for family. The things I no longer need to look at a recipe for, or a procedure that is etched in my mind and doesn’t need any thought. At some point though, I realize that the reason I keep returning to these dishes is because they are good. Not fancy, not innovative, just plain good. This is one of those recipes. Simple and quick, no fancy tricks or exotic ingredients. Just good food. I never thought to post this, because it is so simple, but the last time I made it, everyone was just plain happy to have it for dinner. And that’s the kind of recipe I want to share. Food that makes people happy. So here’s to simple and delicious!

Crispy Buttermilk Baked Chicken
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 2 cups buttermilk
  3. 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  4. 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  5. 2 ½ sleeves buttery cracker (such as Ritz), about 75 crackers
  6. salt and black pepper to taste
  7. ¼ cup butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in a bowl or a ziptop bag set on a plate. Mix the buttermilk, Worcestershire and hot sauce together and pour over the chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for several hours or overnight. The longer the better, and it can be up to 24 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°. Slice 2 Tablespoons the butter in a baking dish that will fit all the chicken pieces and place in the oven to melt.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the microwave or a small saucepan. Place the crackers in a ziptop bag and crush finely with a rolling pin. Mix in some salt and black pepper (I like a lot of black pepper). Spread the cracker crumbs out on a plate or baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the fridge. Shake any excess buttermilk off the chicken, then roll each breast in the cracker crumbs, coating well, and set aside. When you’ve coated all the chicken pieces, remove the hot dish from the oven and place the chicken breasts in the melted butter. Drizzle over the melted butter and return the dish to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°. You can turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end to brown the tops if you would like.
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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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