Friday, July 16, 2010

A Momentous Occasion

I opted for a brunch Thursday since Wes had planned to take the day off. The grits souffle was delicious, and lest anyone be daunted by the word souffle, I must confess that is was merely a casserole baked up in a souffle mold. The best part is that it is one of those dishes that is easily customizable to individual preference- just substitute with different cheese, veggies, or herbs. The children's favorite was definitely the hash browns (or skillet potatoes)- tell me of a kid who doesn't like potatoes covered in ketchup. While cleaning up the messes of the morning, there was a fateful knock at the door... The AT&T man had arrived to put the Hamiter family back into the 21st century. After much weighing of pros and cons, we finally broke down, and decided to have cable installed. So he entered, and after being berated for leaving unsightly wires dangling where they should not be (I'm sorry AT&T man), he began his lenthy instructional lecture in remote control 101. I quickly became mesmerized by the cascade of seemingly endless channels and the high tech additional features- pausing, recording, multiple channel viewing on one screen- Didn't I need TiVo for all of these functions? When last I had TV, there was none of this stuff. My husband and I looked at each other with slightly mischievous grins, as if we had discovered something so pretty and shiny and ordinarily completely off limits. Embarrassingly enough, it had been so long since being tapped into mainstream network shows, that I did not even know who the infamous Gordon Ramsay was, even when going to audition for his new upcoming show, MasterChef, of which I will part of (for how long is, of course,something I can not say). I realized that it would be most impractical to host a viewing party if there was no way to actually view it, which is why we are now officially plugged back in. In honor of this momentous occasion, we bypassed the grill out (rescheduled for this weekend) and went ahead with the oven fried chicken, bacony collards and mashed potatoes, all things that could be made inside, within earshot of Paula Deen. All of these comfort foods are incredibly simple and barely even require recipes, but none the less, had me running in circles when, not once, but TWICE realized I didn't have a key ingredient. Fortunately my wonderfully helpful husband came to my rescue in that department... My first request was for vegetable oil (for frying), to which he happily acquiesced, adding before he waked out the door "Are you SURE you don't need anything else?". Poor guy. Fifteen minutes after he had been home I walk up to him with a saccharine smile and he immediately knows what I am about to ask. Cream. I'm out. I can start the week out with 4 pints of cream and somehow I still manage to run out. I am certain that behind every fabulous cook, there is a loyal ingredient runner- thank you honey! Unfortunately, due to my pantry incompetence, and the children having an 8 oclock bedtime, they missed out on the best part of the evening- dessert. The peach cobbler was the exact ooey, gooey, goodness I was going for, and the very vanilla ice cream I decide to whip up made it all the more irresistible. So much so, that I forwent making scones Friday morning and served up the leftover peachy keen confection instead (which all the more made up for the kids not getting any the night before). As for the rest of the weekend, I will be doing my very best to refrain from streaming Food Network 24/7 (the funny thing is I have no idea what half of the shows are now), as once was the norm in the pre-mom days, but I make no promises!

Grits Soufflé

1 stick unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups grits (not quick cooking)
3 cups milk
1 TBS sugar
2 cups pepper jack cheese
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and miced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 TBS fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

-preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 4 quart souffle mold
-bring the water and salt to boil in a medium saucepan, reduce heat to low, and gradually add the grits in a slow steady stream while whisking contstanly
-stir and cook until the grits have thickened, then slowly incorperate the milk and cook until thickened
-stir in butter and sugar
-add the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture into the prepared dish for 55 minutes

Hash Browns

5 TBS unsalted butter
4 medium red skinned potatoes, cut to a 1/2 inch dice
1 red onion diced
1 tsp salt
2 TBS flat leaf parsley

-melt the butter in a large skillet and add the potatoes, onion, and salt
-cook over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the potatoes are browned and cooked through
-sprinkle with parsley before serving

Peachy Keen Cobbler


6 cups peaches, halved, pitted and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt


1 2/3 all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 1/2 TBS sugar
1 1/2 TBS baking powder
pinch of salt
6 TBS unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing

-preheat oven to 350 and butter a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish
-in a large bowl stir together the filling ingredients and set in prepared dish
-in a food processor or large bowl, pulse or whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then pulse or cut the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture has pea sized crumbs
-slowly add the cream, mixing until dough just comes together
-turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, pat together, and form the dough into 2 inch balls and flatten with your hand
-evenly arrange the dough on top of the peach mixture and brush some cream on top
-bake for 1 hour, or until topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling

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