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Authors: Allison Vines-Rushing

Southern Comfort (9 page)

BOOK: Southern Comfort
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1 large red bell pepper
½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pecans
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup minced onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola or other neutral vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To roast the red bell pepper, coat the pepper in olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast until charred on all sides and soft when touched, about 30 minutes.
To toast the pecans, place the pecans on a second baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven for 7 minutes. Let the pecans cool, then chop them finely and reserve.
To prepare the roasted pepper, remove the pepper from the baking sheet, place in a small plastic bag, and seal tightly. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the pepper from the bag. With the back of a spoon or with a knife, scrape off the charred skin from the pepper. Halve the pepper and remove all the seeds and the stem. Chop the pepper finely and reserve until needed.
To form the cheese balls, place the grated cheese in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until lentil-size pieces form. Combine the cheese in a large bowl along with the red pepper, pecans, mayonnaise, onion, green onion, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, combine all of the ingredients together to form a smooth paste.
For each cheese ball, place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture between the palms of your hands and roll quickly to form a ball about the size of a ping-pong ball. Repeat until all of the cheese mixture is used. Place all of the pimiento cheese balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Fill a heavy, deep saucepan with at least 6 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high
heat until it registers 340°F on a deep-fry thermometer.
Meanwhile set up a breading station: Place the flour in a bowl. In a second bowl, make an egg wash by whisking the eggs and milk together; set aside until needed. In a third bowl, place the panko. After the pimiento cheese balls have chilled, bread them in this order: dust in flour, then drop in the egg wash, then coat in the panko crumbs. Place the breaded pimiento cheese balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate until you are ready to fry them.
To fry the croquettes, drop them in the hot oil in small batches and fry them until they are golden brown and begin to float, about 2 minutes.
Serve them right away and as we do, in a linen-lined bread basket.
Vietnamese cuisine is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of New Orleans. Around the end of the Vietnam War, many refugees from that country settled here, drawn by the familiar climate and the strong Catholic community. Many of them are employed by the local fishing industry, while others have opened traditional restaurants. On our days off, we often dine at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant on the Westbank, Tan Dinh, where the food is always fresh and vibrant. This canapé reflects those light, clean flavors we just can’t get enough of.

1 pound (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large egg whites
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon
pepper vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro
Small Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving
To make the sausages, using a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the shrimp until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the egg whites and pulse until well incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, remove the shrimp mixture from the food processor and transfer to a bowl. Add the white pepper, cayenne, paprika, ginger, garlic, salt, green onion, and cream and mix thoroughly.
For each sausage, place a 12-inch-square piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Put 3 tablespoons of the sausage mixture in the center of the plastic wrap. Fold the bottom corners of the plastic wrap up to touch the top corners of the plastic wrap, forming a rectangle. Pull the plastic wrap back until it is tight around the sausage mixture, forming a cigar shape about ½ inch in diameter. Using your fingertips, tuck and roll the sausage forward and twist the ends of the plastic wrap tightly closed. Tie off the twisted ends of the sausages with kitchen twine or unflavored dental floss. Repeat with the remaining sausage mixture. You will have about 20 pieces.
Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Poach the sausages in three batches (still in the plastic wrap) for 3 minutes. Place in the ice bath to chill completely, then unwrap and set aside on a plate. This can be done 1 day ahead.
To make the sauce, whisk together the garlic, pepper vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a small bowl.
Slice the sausages into ¼-inch slices. To serve, wrap slices of sausage in lettuce leaves, garnish with julienned carrot and cilantro leaves, and drizzle with sauce.
These biscuits remind me of deer hunting with my dad in Mississippi. When as a boy I was too small to climb up into the deer stand by myself, my dad would kneel down, have me wrap my arms around his neck, and carry me up like a little monkey. On those cold winter afternoons, I had my dad all to myself in the woods. Trekking back home, we would listen to the owls hoot as the sun went down. That comfort comes back to me every time I make these biscuits.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut in small dice
12 ounces sharp Vermont white Cheddar, grated
14 ounces venison sausage, crumbled
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg
½ cup heavy cream, for brushing the tops
Butter, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, cheese, and sausage and working quickly, rub all the ingredients together with your fingertips until the butter is the size of small peas. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and bring them together with your hands just until the dough comes together.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and work the dough by carefully kneading it, just until the dough becomes nice and smooth, about 10 times. Be careful not to overwork it or the biscuits will be tough.
Lightly flour the work surface again, if necessary, and roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is 1 inch thick. Using a 1½-inch round cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them on a nonstick baking sheet, about 1½ inches apart.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with the cream. Bake until golden brown on the top, about 15 minutes.
Serve immediately with butter, if desired.
At MiLa, we serve lima bean puree with our cornbread and sweet potato rolls. Our customers constantly ask for the recipe and are surprised at how few ingredients it contains. This puree is very versatile. We have served it as an elegant accompaniment to lamb, and it is also quite nice as a cold dip for crudités. Here is it a great stand-in for hummus, served with purchased or homemade pita chips. Keep the leftover dip in your fridge for up to two weeks for a quick snack or sandwich spread.

1 pound dried lima beans
4 cups water
1 carrot
1 onion
1 stalk celery
1 head garlic, top cut off
1 bay leaf
½ cup unsalted butter, diced
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon
Creole spice
1 bag pita bread
Canola or other neutral vegetable oil, for frying
Sea salt
To make the dip, place the lima beans, water, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmmer, and using a ladle, continue to skim the scum off of the surface for about 5 minutes. Once all of the scum is removed, decrease the heat to low and simmmer until the beans are easily smashed between two fingers, about 1½ hours. Remove the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, and garlic and discard them. Stir in the pepper vinegar. Put one-third of the beans and cooking liquid and one-third of the diced butter in a blender. Before turning on the machine, be sure the lid is tightly secured and covered with a towel to prevent the hot mixture from escaping. Blend the mixture first on slow speed, gradually increasing the speed to high until it’s a smooth puree. Transfer the puree from the blender to a large bowl, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the jar. Repeat this process twice more until all of your beans are pureed with butter. Whisk the salt and white pepper into the puree until fully incorporated. Place the puree in a serving bowl and top it with the olive oil and Creole spice.
BOOK: Southern Comfort
4.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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