Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Flatbread with Cranberry Onion Jam and Brie

I had this idea for a flatbread appetizer with cranberries and caramelized onions. I put together a version for a simple friends gathering and I felt like I wasn’t quite there yet, but it got absolutely gobbled up. That’s how I knew I was on the right path. I worked out this amazing cranberry onion jam, which has become a house staple for all sorts of things, and tweeked the dough to be easy and make-ahead. I made it again for another gathering a week or so later with some of the same people, and you would’ve thought I’d invented the wheel for the raves. Best of all, it was an all ages hit. Two friends asked for the recipe because their kids loved it so much. And it does make a stunning display.

I have quite a few helpful notes on this one. First, the jam is really versatile. It would make a fantastic alternative to cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, and/or would be amazing on a leftover turkey sandwich. It takes a little time to cook but can be made a few days ahead and held in the fridge. With the flatbread dough, my trusty recipe makes a crust for 2 pizzas or flatbreads, so I fiddled around with cutting it in half, but in the end decided that was unnecessary, because the easy to make dough can keep in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for up to a month. So why not make a whole recipe and have some on hand, because it can be used for any pizza or flatbread combo you like. I love the creamy, mellow taste of brie, but you’ve got options here too. Taleggio is magnificent but a little spendy. Camembert is lovely or get really tangy with some crumbled blue cheese. This recipe makes a lovely meal with a green salad, but I like to serve it as a party appetizer. Make the jam and the dough ahead, assemble it all before your guests arrive, pop it in the oven as they pull in the driveway. I shape the dough to fit a wooden cutting board for a rustic serving presentation. Don’t worry about perfection – the handmade look is a special touch.

Flatbread with Cranberry Onion Jam and Brie

For the Cranberry Onion Jam

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds yellow sweet onions, finely diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup pure cane sugar or granulated sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 stalk fresh rosemary

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage

For the Flatbread Dough:

2 packets active dry yeast

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 ¼ cup warm water

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Assembly

4 ounces brie cheese

¼ cup dried cranberries

Flaky salt and black pepper

For the Jam:

Pick out a medium sized, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, and make a paper lid for stewing the onions by cutting out a circle from a piece of parchment that will fit tightly over the surface of the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the diced onions. Stir to coat the onions in oil, then cook for about five minutes until the onions begin to wilt and color slightly at the edges, stirring frequently. Sprinkle over the salt and stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium low. Place the parchment paper circle over the top of the onions pressing directly on the surface.  Cook the onions until soft and caramelized and golden brown, removing the paper once or twice and stirring, replacing the paper lid, about 20 minutes. If the onions are catching on the bottom of the pan, stir in a couple of tablespoons of water and scrape up ant browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid is evaporated and replace the cover and continue. When the onions are a lovely toffee color, add ½ cup water, the sugar and vinegar and stir. Tie the rosemary in a little cheesecloth bundle or put it in a tea ball and add to the pot, then add the cranberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the berries begin to pop and split. When you are stirring, press on the berries with your spatula or spoon to break them up. You don’t want any whole berries in the finished product. When you’ve got a thick, dark spreadable jam of a deep wine color, about 20 minutes of cooking and stirring, remove the pan from the heat, remove the rosemary and stir in the chopped sage. Leave to cool.  The jam can be made up to two days ahead, cooked, covered and refrigerated.

For the Flatbread:

Put the yeast, oil, honey and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Give it a stir with the hook, then add three cups of flour and mix until the begins to dough come together, pulling the mass of dough off the hook a couple of times as needed. Add the remaining one cup of flour a little at a time, incorporating it into the dough as you go, pulling the dough from the hook as needed. At times it won’t look like it will combine, but it will. When you have a nice cohesive mass, continue to knead the dough on medium speed for seven minutes, stopping the mixer and pulling the dough from the hook if needed. When the dough is a nice, smooth elastic mass, put it in a bowl lightly brushed with olive oil and leave it in a warm dry place to rise for 30 – 45 minutes until it is doubled in size. Divide the dough into two equal halves. If you are not using it immediately, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for two days (see note). When ready to use, bring one half of the dough to room temperature. 

Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough about ½ inch thick. Use your creativity here – you can roll it to fit completely in an 11 by 7 inch pan, or to fit a 12-inch round pizza pan, or go free form for a rustic look. When you have the shape you want, transfer the dough to the oiled pan and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bring the jam to room temperature. Slice the brie round into thin strips. Spread the jam over the prepared crust, getting pretty close to the edges. Top with the sliced brie, then sprinkle over the dried cranberries. Season well with some flaky salt and generous grinds of black pepper. Bake the flatbread for 10 – 12 minutes, until the crust is golden at the edges, the jam is warmed through and the cheese is melted. Let rest for a few minutes, then cut into pieces.

Note: Wrap the dough halves tightly in plastic. You can keep one half in the refrigerator to use for the recipe. If you’d like, place the other wrapped half in a plastic ziptop freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using, then let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.

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Baked Camembert with Hazelnut and Cranberry Crumble

When I was in school in England many moons ago, the chic appetizer on menus all over the country, from bistros to pubs, was fried camembert with a cranberry relish. Small wheels, or sometimes wedges, of camembert were breaded and fried and served with anything from a canned-type cranberry sauce to complicated cranberry relishes. One English grocery store even (to this day) sells a heat and eat version with a little tub of cranberry jelly. I loved it, and ordered all the time. But the likelihood of me coating and frying cheese has always been pretty slim. I tried coating the top of a wheel with breadcrumbs one time, but that was not very successful. But I love the combination of gooey cheese, crunchy crumbs and tart-sweet cranberry. Hence, this was born. A cheat’s version that truly rivals the inspiration.

A melty wheel of creamy cheese makes a wonderful appetizer that never fails to please. I love the funky depth of camembert, but you could certainly use brie or another creamy cheese. I like to bake it until it is really runny, so the cheese picks up the crumble when you swipe a server through it. Hazelnuts are the perfect winter partner for the cheese, but walnuts or pecans would work well. The cranberries and rosemary give this a festive look. Serve melty hot with baguette slices.

Baked Camembert with Hazelnut and Cranberry Crumble

2 ounces hazelnuts

3 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs marjoram

1 clove garlic

1 ounce dried cranberries

Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 8 ounce wheel of camembert cheese

Put the hazelnuts in a dry skillet and toast for a few minutes over medium heat just to warm them through. Transfer to a tea towel, then fold over the towel and rub the hazelnuts around to loosen the skins. Don’t worry about getting every piece of skin, just the majority of it. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, either with a knife or in a mini food processor. Put about five rosemary leaves aside, then finely chop the remainder. Finely chop the marjoram. Cut the garlic clove in half and very finely mince one half. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the skillet, then add the chopped herbs and the hazelnuts. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently just until the nuts start to take on a little toasty brown color. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. When the nuts are little browned, add the garlic and stir and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately put the mixture in a bowl, then add the cranberries and generous pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat to oven to 350°. Place the camembert in a small, lightly greased baking dish. Rub the cut side of the remaining garlic half over the top of the cheese, the use thin knife to make several slits in the top of the cheese. Poke the reserved rosemary needles down into the slits in the cheese. Bake the cheese for 15 – 20 minutes, until it is warmed through, soft and runny. Sprinkle over the crumble and heat for a further three minutes. Serve immediately with baguette slices.

Barbecue Pimento Cheese

Photo by Jennifer Davick

My third book, Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors was released this week, and its made me a little nostalgic, so here’s a throwback from my first book Pimento Cheese The Cookbook. It’s hard to choose favorite recipes from each book, but this is certainly at the top of my list. I think pimento cheese is the most iconic Southern snack, and I promise it appears in the new book as well!

As a born and raised Memphis girl, my blood runs part barbecue sauce.  So any exploration of Southern foodways for me is likely to loop back around to barbecue. But with the finest barbecue to be had five minutes away in every direction, I have never seen the point of smoking my own pig. I do have my own house barbecue spice that I use on everything from pork chops to popcorn.  And of course, pimento cheese.

Barbecue Pimento Cheese

1 Tablespoon sweet paprika 

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon celery salt 

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼  teaspoon onion powder 

¼  teaspoon chili powder 

¼  teaspoon crushed red pepper 

¼  teaspoon garlic powder 

1/8 teaspoon cayenne 

8 ounces sharp orange cheddar cheese

8 ounces naturally smoked orange cheddar cheese

4 green onions, white and some green parts, finely diced

1 cup mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained

Mix all the spices together until thoroughly blended.

Grate the cheeses together into a large bowl and toss together to combine.  Add the green onions and toss again.  I find my clean, dry hands the best tool for this.  In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with 2 Tablespoons of the spice mix and stir until completely incorporated.  Stir the mayonnaise into the cheese mixture until everything is well blended and all the cheese is coated.  Stir in the pimentos until they are evenly distributed throughout the mix.  

Chill the pimento cheese, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld.  This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes 3 ½ cups

There will be some spice blend leftover.  Keep it in an airtight container and sprinkle it over hamburgers, steak or, my favorite, popcorn.

 

Lady Pea Buttermilk Vichyssoise with Crispy Country Ham

 

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes in summer serve cold soups for supper. Mostly vichysoisse from a can and something called consommé madrilène. I didn’t not like this. The idea of cold soup just didn’t square in my adolescent brain. But like most things, my mother was right. Cold soup is such a perfectly refreshing summer meal. And it is a great opportunity to make the most of summer’s delicious produce, like my summer squash Vichysquash, or Cold Vidalia Onion Soup. And my favorite summer produce is unquestionably field peas. Add a touch of buttermilk and I am in chilled soup heaven.

Delicate lady peas are perfect for pureeing into a light and creamy soup. Tangy buttermilk and soft leeks add layers of flavor. The crispy country ham adds the perfect salty note and crunchy texture to finish it off. This soup can be an elegant dinner party starter, and I can also see it as one of those soup shooters serves at a cocktail party, with a pretty shard of country ham balanced on the glass. But I also like it for a simple summer dinner, maybe with some sliced tomatoes on the side, and having some in the fridge over a weekend to sip for lunch or a snack is a treat.

Lady Pea Buttermilk Vichyssoise with Crispy Country Ham
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only (about 3)
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 1 pound fresh lady peas
  4. 3 celery stalks
  5. 2 shallots
  6. 6 – 7 stalks of thyme
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. zest and juice of one large lemon
  9. 1 ¼ cups whole buttermilk
  10. 6 ounces thinly sliced country ham
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. Remove the strainer and shake out excess water. Drop the leeks into the pot and stir. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not let the leeks brown.
  2. When the leeks are soft, add the lady peas, the celery stalks (broken in half if needed) and the shallots. Pour over 6 cups of water. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and drop in the pot with the bay leaves. Zest and juice the lemon and set aside both. Drop the squeezed out lemon halves in the pot, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the peas are very tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Fish out the bay leaves, the thyme bundle and the lemon halves, then cool the soup to room temperature. Transfer the soup to a blender (in batches if needed), add the lemon zest and juice and puree until completely smooth. Season well with salt – it may take quite a bit. Pour the soup through a wire mesh strainer, scraping it through, into the cleaned out pot or a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Whisk in the buttermilk until smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
  4. Cut the country ham into thin slivers and cook in a skillet over medium high heat until brown and crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain.
  5. Serve the soup topped with the slivers of country ham.
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Parmesan Thyme Cocktail Biscuits

Savory little cheese wafers are the perfect accompaniment to a sophisticated cocktail. I have made more versions with cheddar cheese than I can count, and have branched out with my famous Blue Cheese and Fig Savories. But you can never have too many variations of these lovely little nibbles, and this one is a perfect treat with a glass of champagne or a crisp white wine. And best of all, they are simple to make and can be prepared ahead. But for all that, they are still elegant and sophisticated.

This recipe is loosely based on one from seminal British food writer Elizabeth David, and in a nod to the original, I have veered away from a traditional thin cheese wafer and cut these thicker. I love that this creates crispy edges with a crumbly center. David was known for bringing the flavors of the Mediterranean to a postwar, ration-weary Britain, and though this recipe certainly has an Italian flair, her inspiration was a recipe from a cookbook published in 1909 from the notes of an English aristocrat. I have simplified things with the food processor and the roll and slice method and added a nice herbaceous note from fresh thyme. A final sprinkling of nice flaky sea salt is the perfect finish.

Parmesan Thyme Cocktail Biscuits
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  2. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  3. ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  4. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  5. ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to sprinkle the tops
  6. 2 egg yolks
  7. ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put it on top of the flour in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pulse until crumbly and combined. Add the egg yolks and process until the dough just begins to come together and looks moist and grainy. With motor running, drizzle in the water until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and form a ball.
  2. Remove the dough to a piece of waxed paper and knead a few times to bring it all together. Form the dough a log and roll tightly, pressing in to form a nice solid log. Twist the ends of the waxed paper like a candy wrapper. Refrigerate for at least an hour before baking, but you can refrigerate them for two days or freeze them for 3 months.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 320° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the rolls from the fridge and slice into medium-thick wafers, about ½ inch each. Place them on the baking sheet with a little room to spread and sprinkle the tops with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Bake until golden around the edged and firm on the top, about 25 - 30 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown. Cool on the pans for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool.
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Baked Roast Beef, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Sliders

In my recently released The Southern Sympathy Cookbook, I included a recipe for perfect little baked sliders, because several people told me they had always called them “funeral sandwiches.” The book version includes a delicious country ham spread, cheese and a sweet buttery topping. Working on that recipe, I realized what a great concept they are – perfect flavor-packed hearty bites that feed, and please, a crowd. So I have been a little crazy creating different fillings and toppings. This is one of my favorite iterations – tangy and cheesy, sweet and savory, gooey and rich. Little sandwiches like these are often thought of as snack food or party appetizers, but they make a great meal too. They can be made a day ahead and heated up when ready to eat. Serve with a salad or a bowl of soup (tomato is particularly good).

Use the shredded mozzarella from a bag here, not the fresh Italian variety. The melty mozzarella helps hold the sandwiches together without overpowering the blue cheese flavor. Choose a good roast beef from the deli, I find a roasted London broil I like, and have it thinly sliced. Whole wheat rolls add a nice touch here, but regular rolls are just fine.

Roast Beef, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Baked Sliders

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided

3 yellow onions

2 dozen honey wheat Hawaiian rolls

½ pound thinly sliced deli roast beef

8 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella from a bag

¼ cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Melt ¼ cup (½ stick) of the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and begin to brown. Pour in ½ cup of water, stir well and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are a rich caramelized amber color. Leave the onions to cool. They can be prepared up to a day in advance.

Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil with ends hanging over. This makes it easier to lift out the cooked sandwiches. Use a high-sided brownie pan, not a shallower glass casserole.

Use a long, sharp bread knife to slice each package of rolls in half horizontally. Do not separate the individual rolls, slice open the whole rectangle. Spread caramelized onions in an even layer over both bottom halves, spreading evenly to the edges of the bread. Carefully transfer the covered bread to the prepared pan. They will fit snuggly and you may have to wiggle them in and press them down. Layer the roast beef evenly over the onions, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle the blue cheese in an even layer over the roast beef, then sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese, making sure to reach the edges of the bread. Place the top halves of the rolls over the cheese. Use a thin knife to run through the separations in the rolls to make them easier to pull apart when cooked.

For the topping:

Melt the remaining stick of butter, brown sugar, mustard and pepper together in a small saucepan. When the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.  Drizzle the topping evenly over the sandwiches in the pan, using a spatula to spread it out evenly if needed. Leave to cool, then cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sandwiches, covered, for 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are heated through. Uncover and cook for a few minutes, just until the tops are lightly toasted – be careful, the topping can brown easily. Use the overhanging foil to lift the sandwiches from the pan, then separate them and arrange on a platter.

Roasted Rosemary Grapes with Goat Cheese

Grapes are, I think, so unexpected in any form other than right off the stem for a snack. My parents always had a colander full of grapes near the sink, and the grandkids would snack off them constantly. So grapes have been sort of stuck in the realm of kid food to me, but this sophisticated dish dispels that idea quick smart. It has the effortless sophistication in food that I strive toward, but don’t always reach. And the broody color of the softened grapes garnished with a woody sprig of rosemary makes a striking and lovely Autumn treat.

This is one of the simplest, but still elegant appetizers in my repertoire. Toss grapes with oil and vinegar and roasting them creates this sweet, tangy rich topping for creamy goat cheese, with a wafting flavor of rosemary. I like dark, jammy black grapes, but fruity red grapes work as well. For me sherry vinegar or Jerez vinegar to have the perfect balance of richness and bite. I find balsamic a little syrupy for this, but use red wine vinegar if you need a substitute. You could also swap out the rosemary for another woodsy herb like thyme or marjoram. And of course you could serve the grapes with a different cheese, like brie or camembert, but I find the saltiness of goat cheese the perfect foil.

Roasted Rosemary Grapes with Goat Cheese
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups black or red seedless grapes
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  4. 1 teaspoon honey
  5. kosher salt and pepper
  6. 3 large stalks rosemary, plus one for garnish
  7. 1 4-ounce log soft goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the grapes with olive oil, sherry vinegar, honey, salt and a generous dose of ground black pepper in an 8 by 8 inch ceramic baking dish. Tuck the rosemary stalks among the grapes. Roast the grapes for 20 - 30 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the grapes are soft beginning to collapse.
  2. Let the grapes cool for about 5 minutes, remove the rosemary stalks, then spoon over the goat cheese. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Serve with hearty crackers or baguette slices.
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Radishes with Browned Butter Spread

I think radishes are absolutely gorgeous and I love it when they start to appear at the farmers market. Beautiful red and pink and pale purple Easter egg radishes, long ombre breakfast radishes, simply orbs of bright red. But to be honest, I’ve never really known what to do with them besides slice them for a salad. I’ve been so tempted by their beauty that I searched out recipes and ideas, and I’ve tried some with nice results, though I truly think the simple, French way of serving radishes with very good butter, flaky salt and soft baguettes is the best. It is that type simply stunning presentation you see in magazine spreads that I always aspire to reproducing. The beauty of the radishes does most of the work. And I find people are always excited or intrigued. Just to spark things up a little, I whipped up this browned butter spread

Use a good European-style butter for the best flavor, there is so little to this dish that you want to make every ingredient count. I think this is charming with pink Himalayan salt, or really striking with black salt, but crunchy flaky white salt, such as Maldon, is perfect. Any type of radish works, and you can slice them to drape over baguette slices slathered with the butter, or leave them whole for swiping through the spread and eating out of hand. The browned butter spread is good on just about anything!

Radishes with Browned Butter Spread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  2. ½ teaspoon flaky salt, pink, black or white
  3. radishes
Instructions
  1. Cut one stick of the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan (light colored or stainless is best so you can see the butter as it browns). Heat over medium high heat, watching constantly, until the butter is melted. It will start to spit and hiss, then you will see brown speckles appear. Stir the butter to distribute the browned bits, and as soon as the butter has an even brown color and a nice nutty smell, pour it into a measuring jug. Leave to cool, but not solidify.
  2. When the browned butter has cooled, place the remaining stick of softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the loosen up the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle in the browned butter, leaving the brown bits at the bottom of the measuring jug. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the salt and beat until well blended. Scrape the butter into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours (or up to three days) to allow the flavors to meld. Return to room temperature before serving.
  3. Serve with radishes and sliced baguettes.
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Bacon Praline Shrimp

Many years ago, I hesitate to say how many, the hot appetizer around town, both in restaurants and from party caterers, was bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp, often with a sticky glaze. They were an absolute hit with everyone. I, of course, re-created the dish at home and for some years served it at my own little gatherings. But it was (and still is) a lot of work. Butterfly the shrimp, carefully stuff them, hold them together while wrapping in bacon, securing with a toothpick, brush with a glaze, cook and serving immediately. I eventually gave up the ghost as I thought it was more trouble than I was willing to go to anymore. But bacon wrapped shrimp is just a plain delicious dish, so I worked to create something that mimicked the flavor without all the fuss. So here you go.

I’ve used shrimp of all sizes for this dish, but for toothpick appetizer purposes, little one bite morsels work best. Warm a serving dish in a low oven to serve these in, though they will remain delicious at room temperature. I have served this spooned over rice as a meal as well, and it makes a lovely supper. I do recommend making this and serving it quickly, but the sauce can be made a half hour ahead and kept warm over low heat. Up the heat and cook the shrimp as directed.

Bacon Praline Shrimp

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

½ cup chopped pecans

3 strips of bacon

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup water

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 Tablespoons bourbon

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Rinse and drain the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Toast the pecans in a dry, deep skillet until lightly browned and they have a lovely nutty fragrance. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook in the skillet over medium high heat until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then carefully pour the bacon grease into a bowl. Don’t wipe out the skillet, just return it to the heat and add the water and brown sugar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Drop in the rosemary and bring to boil. Cook until syrup and thickened, about 5- 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon and lemon juice. Stir in 1 Tablespoon of the reserved bacon drippings and the butter and stir gently until the butter is melted. Stir in the bacon and toasted pecans. Return the pan to medium heat and add the shrimp, basting them with sauce until they are pink, curled and cooked through, just a few minutes.

Serve the shrimp immediately with toothpicks and some good bread for sopping up the sauce.

Serves 6 – 8

 

Liptauer

LiptauerMany years ago, as a kid, I saw a recipe and photo for Liptauer in a cookbook or magazine, and I remember that it looked impossibly elegant and sounded so exotic and sophisticated to me. I didn’t understand all the ingredients –capers and caraway sounded foreign and out of reach. The picture showed a fancy mold surrounded by intricate garnishes – carved radishes and celery fans. I can still call that image to mind. For years, I’d come across recipes for Liptauer and still imagined it was above my palate and skill level. The first time I ever tasted Liptauer was in Vienna on a family vacation. We visited one of the “huerige” wine halls and sat outside under a canopy of trees. We drank local wines and enjoyed a big Viennese meal. But to start it out, our local guide ordered Liptauer. Far from the fanciful creation I had imagined, it was served in a rustic pottery crock with brown bread. And it was delicious. I knew the time to work on a recipe at home had come.

Years later, at a book signing in North Carolina for Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook, a woman approached me and said she was from Austria, and she grew up eating a spread with cream cheese and paprika, and since she’d been living in the States, she had come to liken it to pimento cheese. I’d never thought of it that way before, but I love the idea of cross-cultural, cross culinary links. Now this is totally different from pimento cheese, but it makes a wonderful party dish; since I’ve started serving it, I either get reactions from people who remember it as a 70’s party dish their parents served, or people who’ve never had it before but ask for the recipe. It’s become a staple dish for me, one I turn to whenever I need an easy to make but exciting appetizer. I love to serve this with sliced pretzel bread or rolls or rye melba toast.

Liptauer
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Ingredients
  1. 3 teaspoons capers in brine, drained
  2. 1 small shallot, peeled
  3. ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed
  4. 1 Tablespoon roughly chopped chives
  5. 1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
  6. 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  7. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  8. 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika (if you have half-sharp, sub it for ½ teaspoon)
Instructions
  1. Put the capers, shallot, parsley, chives and caraway seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until everything is well chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the cream cheese and butter, cut into pieces, and pulse a few times. Add the mustard and paprika and blend until smooth and well combined.
  2. Scrape the liptauer into a bowl and refrigerate until firm. This will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you would like to serve a molded liptauer, line a bowl or mold with plastic wrap and press the liptauer into it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, then turn the spread out onto a platter, unwrap and serve.
Notes
  1. Makes about 3 cups
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