So here we are the beginning of January 2020! As I think about resolutions, I’m trying tone way more mindful and intentional (which just happens to be my word for the year). So one of my resolutions is to eat breakfast more often. That also includes having quick and easy breakfast available for me and my family to grab.
The first thing I made in this new year is biscuits. Yes, I know they may not qualify as a healthy breakfast but I also believe that anything made at home with quality ingredients better than anything processed outside my kitchen. If combined with a healthy protein and some fruit or veggies, a biscuit breakfast can take you all the way to lunch, without temptation.
I started with my Great-Grandmother’s Biscuit recipe. It laid out most of the ingredients and these instructions:
“Work in enough flour to work out. Cut. Bake”
By the way flour was not listed as an ingredient. I was able to cull together some instructions and made some beautiful biscuits. I have given you a few more instructions. Enjoy!
Please go to Instagram and follow me: @whiskinthesouthern
Preheat oven to 475°
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
Grate butter, into flour mixture, on large hole side of grater box. Work in with hands. You want a coarse meal feel.
Put butter/flour mixture in freezer for a few minutes, here. You want everything to be cold when you start to work it.
Take bowl out of freezer and make a well in middle.
Pour buttermilk into well and start to mix together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
The dough will be sticky.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, gently, 15 times.
Add more flour if you need and start to roll out dough to 1/2" thick. Then fold in half and repeat, 5 times. This step is important because you are forming layers.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Once dough is ready to cut, use a biscuit cutter and cut straight down. Do not twist when making biscuits. Twisting forms a seal and prevent steam which prevents lots of layers of flaky goodness. Place biscuits on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 475° for 15 minutes. Watch your biscuits. Every oven is different and you want a nice golden brown biscuit.
When biscuits come out of oven brush tops with melted butter, immediately. Let cool for just 5 minutes before serving warm biscuits.
As promised on Instagram here is the recipe for that delicious Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. I used store bought Caramel Sauce (Mrs. Richardsons). You can easily make your own. Here is a quick recipe:
1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup whole milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla
Stirring constantly bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. You can use right away or store in an airtight jar in refrigerator.
On another note can you do me a favor? I am trying to get a book deal and need to up my Instagram followers. If you aren’t already following me, will you please go to @diaryofalostchef on Instagram and give me a follow? I really appreciate it. As soon as I have my book deal I will give away books to the first ten of you that follow me.
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
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This is a light almost pudding like cake. It is so easy and yet impresses. It would work well with pears too.
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°.
Generously butter an 18x13 rimmed baking sheet.
Melt the butter in microwave or on stovetop.
In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously until batter is thick, shiny and smooth. I like to use a heavy wooden spoon.
Stir in the flour until well blended then beat vigorously, another 30-40 strokes
Spread batter evenly onto baking sheet in thin, even layer. Push it all the way to the corners. It will seem too thin but the batter will rise.
Add your toppings, pressing in firmly.
I used about 1/2 cup peanut butter and swirled it through the batter and then pressing lightly with wet hands.
I also used mini marshmallows and walnuts for a rocky road as well as dried cherries and almonds. You can get as creative as you want. This is a great activity for a kids or teens party.
Bake until firm to the touch and tester comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely then cut into pieces and serve.
I did one batch and divided it into thirds to try different toppings. Have fun!
Pour yeast into warmed (110°) milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
Meanwhile cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, until well blended.
Whisk together flour and salt.
Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and pour into egg mixture. Slowly start adding flour/salt mixture into yeast/egg mixture until dough starts to form. I reserve about 1/4 cup of the flour mix.
You want the dough to be soft.
Use some of the reserved flour and turn soft dough out onto floured board. Knead slightly and add flour if necessary. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.
While dough is rising you can make your fillings and streusel.
Melt together dark chocolate and oil. Set aside.
I like to make the milk chocolate filling in a food processor. Make sure your butter is very cold. Pulse milk chocolate and butter in processor until small pea-sized pieces. Put back in refrigerator until ready to use.
Using the same processor, pulse together brown sugar, flour, and cold butter. It should be very crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Putting it All Together
Cut a piece of parchment to a little bigger than 14"x18". Place it on cutting board and lightly flour it. Roll out your dough almost to the edges, in a rectangle.
Using a pastry brush, spread the melted dark chocolate all over the dough, edge to edge.
Then sprinkle the milk chocolate all over the dough. Try to get edge to edge here too.
Using the parchment paper as a guide, start rolling the dough on the long side. Press as you go to keep the roll tight.
pinch the ends closed and wrap in parchment. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up.
While dough is refrigerator line bottom of 2 loaf pans (9X5) with parchment paper, then spray whole pan with non-stick spray.
Take roll out of refrigerator and remove from paper. Cut in half.
Take each half and, making sure the seam side is down, cut the rolls in half length wise, leaving one end in tact. Essentially you are "opening" them.
With cut sides up, start twisting pieces over each other, keep the open side up. Tuck other end under and place in loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour. You should have 2 twisted loaves.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Whisk together reserved egg white and 2 Tbs. milk.
Once dough has risen, brush tops with egg wash and gently press streusel topping into dough.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here's the trick, if it looks just slightly golden brown but not quite done, it's ok. It will continue to cook in pan and you DON'T want to overcook it or It will be dry.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. You can serve it warm or it is certainly good at room temperature.
Place the cheese, flour, salt and cayenne in a food processor, and pulse, just enough to combine.
Add the pimentos and pulse until mixture is orange. It is important to not over pulse. With processor on low, slowly add chilled butter pieces. Quickly turn processor off and just pulse until dough is pea sized. Add in iced water and pulse just until dough starts to come together, when squeezed in your hand.
Transfer dough to a work surface that has been lightly floured and lightly flour your hands. Form into a tightly packed 2" diameter log. At this point you can sprinkle sesame seeds on surface and roll the log in them or you can press the seeds into the log. I found that a combination of both worked well.
Wrap the log (or logs, I had extra dough) in wax paper or parchment and chill for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days, before slicing.
Preheat oven to 350° and place rack in middle of oven. Using a sharp knife, slice dough into thin rounds, I tried to get 1/8" -1/4".
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and place cracker dough about an inch part. Prick each cracker a few times so they don't puff up.
Bake for 20-25 minutes (adjust for your oven). I rotate my pans about halfway through.
You probably will have to do multiple pans.
Let crackers cool on pan and use a fresh sheet of parchment paper and repeat.
Remember the crackers will crisp up while cooling.
Thank you readers for letting me know that I didn't put the pimentos in the ingredient list. Here is the updated recipe.
Growth comes in so many forms and even when you are not looking. Recently, I overheard women talking about red velvet cake, at the farmer’s market. Okay let’s be honest, I was totally eavesdropping. Anyway, one of them was looking for beets because she wanted to make an authentic, old-fashioned red velvet cake. I said that my recipe was the best (with food coloring) and we started laughing. She asked for my recipe and I quickly said, “It’s on my blog.”.
I was inspired to make my red velvet cake too. I was in the grocery store and wanted to just confirm that I had all the ingredients. I pulled up my blog, on my phone. Wait, what? All the ingredients are carefully listed and then no directions. Ugh! This was one of my first posts with a new recipe template, and I was learning how to input everything. How many of you came here and couldn’t figure out what the heck I was thinking?
So, in the interest of accuracy, I am reposting the red-velvet cake recipe. I’ve included, in the side notes, for making it with beets, instead of food coloring. In this day and age, it is super important to make the healthy choices that feel good for you and your family. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
This year I am making Passover seder both nights. While that may seem daunting, I am doing a lot of it ahead of time. This is new for me. I am no martyr. I give out assignments, everyone brings and I make the recipes that are better if they don’t travel. My point is I usually do everything the day of. This year I will join legions of cooks, some that started weeks ago, and freeze and thaw.
I am making my matzoh ball soup early in the week. As long as you freeze the balls in the soup and defrost in the refrigerator, it will still be delicious. Same for the brisket, chicken, macaroons, and popovers. I can make my hard boiled eggs early in the week and even get my tables set. The only things I’ll have to do the day of is put together my seder plates and make my desserts. This year’s desserts won’t necessarily work better made ahead of time.
When going gluten-free became popular, it opened a world of recipes for Passover, too. Not all gluten-free recipes are kosher for Passover, but the flourless chocolate cake is. The one bummer of some of the flourless cakes is they tend to collapse int he middle, after baking. This year I will use that collapse to my advantage and fill with a mascarpone chantilly cream. You can dust it with some chocolate shavings or add some fresh fruit and mint for garnish. It is beautiful a tastes divine.
This cake can be made a day ahead of time. I am making this on Thursday so picture to come
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly butter springform pan and dust with extra sugar. Be sure to tap out excess.
Combine chocolate, oil and butter in heat proof bowl and place over simmering water. Water should not be touching bowl. Stir until chocolae is melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.
In a bowl whisk the 4 yolks plus 2 whole eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Temper the chocolate with the egg mixture then whisk all together, until smooth.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until frothy then gradually start adding 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue beat until you have firm peaks. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, until just incorporated. You may want to do this in two steps.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top level. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. sugar.
I like to put pan on a baking sheet and then bake for 35-45 minutes. The top of the cake should be cracking and the edges pulling away, slightly.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Dont worry the cake is suppose to fall inthe center.
Use an electric mixer, start beating the mascarpone then add the heavy cream and sugar. Beat until soft, cloud-like, peaks form.
Once cake is completely cooled, loosen sides of springform and remove from cake.
Mound whipped cream in center of cake and garnish with chocolate shavings or fresh fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!
Oh, my Grandmother’s brownies! I remember and crave them still. She never made any secret about using a box mix for the brownies. I vaguely remember a Betty Crocker box. But she always made this frosting. It was more like fudge, but she wouldn’t put fudge on a brownie, or would she?
The frosting was thick and chocolatey. It had a graininess that let you know how much sugar was in the frosting, but it was so good. The whole brownie was sweet yet not cloying. My Grandmother always put nuts in her brownies., usually walnuts or pecans. I know that cooks are hesitant with nuts these days. I say give nuts a chance!
I tried many “southern” fudge frosting recipes and none matched my grandmother’s. So, I went to a good old-fashioned fudge recipe and changed it up a little.
It’s not too late for a quick Valentine’s Day bake so quickly run to the store and get your ingredients and get to it!
Follow the directions on the box for your brownies. While they are baking get started on your frosting. If you can pour the frosting over the brownies when they come out of the oven its great!
Today is National Chess Day. Yes they are talking about the game, but it made me think about a pie I had as a child, when I would go and visit my grandparents, in Georgia. I looked through a few cookbooks and found no less than fourteen recipes for Chess Pie. Five of them are my own family’s recipes.
Folklore of how this pie got it’s name is that a cook on a plantation made up the recipe and when asked what she had made she answered “Just pie”. Because of her thick accent it was misheard as “chess pie”. Of course there are as many versions of how it got its name as there are recipes for the pie.
Another version of the story is that because the recipe has such a high amount of sugar, it is naturally preserved and therefore didn’t need to be stored in an icebox and could be kept in a pie chest. Again chest eventually got slanged down to “chess”. Finally, there is a version that says Chess Pie is really Cheese Pie, an English recipe that is almost identical and is basically a form of cheesecake. I don’t buy this one at all.
If you don’t know what Chess Pie is, it is a custard pie with a minimal amount of cornmeal or sometimes flour in it. This basic pie exists in every region, in some form. Indiana has Sugar Pie and this may even be a precursor to the base of lemon meringue pie. You could even call it a solid pudding in a crust.
This pie hits all the sensory notes. It is at once smooth with a bit of crunch from the cornmeal. The corn meal will rise to the top and form a crust. When I was a kid I loved this pie because it was so sweet and the more sugar the better. Now that I am an adult, I understand the nuances of the flavor and sugar.
Chess Pie, in the south is like Pound Cake and squash soufflé. If you ask a dozen women you will get a dozen recipes for the same item. I even did a spreadsheet to see where the variances are. I really only wanted to make my family recipe but I tried one other, too. They are both very sweet. In our family recipe, the one below, a tablespoon of vinegar is added. It seems to be what cuts the sweetness a bit.
The ingredients of the recipe are basics and you probably have them in your pantry and fridge all the time. Really, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, milk and butter, is all you need. It all comes together fast so, if you do have the ingredients on hand, you can have a fabulous dessert made in about an hour. However, I do recommend that it cool then get refrigerated over night before serving.
You can add different flavors, too. The easiest way is to change out the vanilla for another extract. However, you can add 1 cup of coconut or ¼ cup cocoa powder too. The cocoa powder also cuts down the sweetness.
Just one bite of this pie and I am driving down a red dirt road to my grandparents and catching lightning bugs.
Mama’s Fish house was officially opened in 1973, in Pa’ia, Maui. I went to Maui for the first time in 1974. So we practically grew up together. I was on the Kannapali side of the island and Mama’s was on the Wailea side. I was hitchhiking from our apartment in Napili to Lahaina, while over at Mama’s, fisherman were pulling their boats up onto the beach to sell their fresh fish. If you look on a map of Maui there is a natural divide and back then, and even kind of today, that divide was very real. As a resident of the Westside I very rarely ventured to the North. If I did, it was probably to go to the airport and if we were eating, it was at Chuck’s Steakhouse. Steakhouses were big in the 70’s & 80’s, on the island.
Throughout the 80’s I would go back to Maui again and again, but it was always back to the Kannapali side and it was mostly to “party”, lay in the sun and repeat. In the mid-nineties, I was invited back by my soon to be fiancé and we stayed on the North side, in Wailea. It was 1997 and this would be my first trip to Mama’s.
Even in 1997, 24 years after it opened, Mama’s was still more a hidden treasure for locals than an in demand tourist destination. The restaurant was way bigger than the shack it started out as, but I bet it still only sat maybe 50 people. The, always missed the first time, driveway was now marked by the very boat they used to catch their fish on. The menu had not changed very much. They still told you who caught the fish and where, on the menu. Their signature dish of Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi-Mahi, stuffed with crab was still their best seller and you still got sand in your shoes walking to your table.
After that 1997 trip to Maui, going to Mama’s became a tradition every trip. From 1997, when we got engaged, to 1999 the birth of our first child and beyond; we went every year until 2013. Each year as our children got bigger, so did Mama’s. Now you walk in and go down some stairs to get to the hostess stand. They have valet parking and postcards to send back to the mainland. But they have always remained true to their roots.
When Mama’s opened in 1973, they wanted to showcase the fish and foods of Polynesia. Even in 2000, that remained their driving force. That was the year they re-introduced the long neglected, breadfruit, a fruit similar in texture to a potato but sweetens when cooked, and other Polynesian foods. They began working with local Farmers to grow the best organic produce and they continue to put the name of the fisherman, his catch, and where it was caught on the menu.
Today, Mama’s stays true to itself, even in a restaurant big enough for a convention, that might be held at the new Mama’s Inn, on property. The mahi-mahi is still the signature entrée. Through the years they also became famous for their Ceviche and Maui Banana Macadamia Crisp. This was my first trip there in four years, but it was just as fantastic as it has ever been. They keep their recipes pretty close, so I was unable to get the recipe for the mahi-mahi I had this year. This year it was served with a pineapple beurre blanc. However, I think I’ve come pretty close in re-creating it. I hope when you bite into the tender and mild white fish, the salty taste of the crab and the sweetness of the pineapple beurre blanc, you will be transported to a shack on the beach in Maui.
Macadamia Nut Encrusted, Crab Stuffed Mahi-Mahi with a Pineapple Beurre Blanc
Make a horizontal cut in one edge of each fillet, creating a pocket, but leaving the other sides in tact.
Lightly dust the fish fillets with the seasoned flour.
Toss together the macadamia nuts and bread crumbs. Saute the nuts and breadcrumbs in 1 T. butter until just toasted and golden brown.
Mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, parsley and old bay. Set aside.
Fill each fillet with about an ounce of stuffing. You can eyeball it. Just make sure it is even among the fillets.
Heat remaining butter and oil in a large sauté pan.
Dip stuffed fillets in egg. I like to do one side at a time and let the excess drip off. Then repeat on other side.
Press the fillet firmly into the topping.
Make sure the sauté pan is hot before placing the fillet and cooking until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Turn and repeat. Be sure to watch closely. Macadamias have a lot of natural oil and can burn quickly.