CREATIVE COOKING – SOUTHERN DISHES – NEISD COM ED

Classic Recipes from a Working Woman - Alma Hart AKA Mom or Gram
Gram – AKA Kit Hart  or  MOM  A Classic Cook

Howdy Y’all!  On October 6, 2018, I’ll be teaching a cooking class for kiddos and their parents at the NEISD Community Ed Center (8750 Tesoro).  The recipes are Mid-Century Southern Standards.  Relying on my mother’s recipes, I’ve tweaked and updated her classics with Life Hacks for the busier life style of the 21st century.

I’m attached two recipes in Mom’s own handwriting.  The original recipes are timeless, easily prepared and nutritious.  And versatile.

Yogurt Chicken is nothing more than Tandoori Chicken, American Style.  My mom would not be surprised that this basic recipe of hers is based upon Indian Cuisine.  She loved international foods.

Gram's Skinny Yogurt Chicken
Gram’s Skinny Yogurt Chicken
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Gram’s Skinny Yogurt Chicken – Back Side.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is the versatility.  The marinade works for pork or turkey as well as any cut of chicken.

Bake the chicken, either covered or uncovered.

The chicken can be baked ‘au natural’, removed from the marinade and patted dry.

Or, the chicken can be rolled in bread crumbs, crushed potato chips, crumbled  Shredded Wheat Cereal biscuits (plain not sugar coated).  Bake on a greased baking sheet.  Or line the sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat for easy clean up.

Finally, you can add or remove spices, based upon your tastes.  This dish is great grilled.  The breaded version can also be pan-fried, if you want the extra crunch.

RECIPE TWO – SPINACH FRITTATA – What’s In A Name?
A LOT!!  This recipe started life as Spinach Cottage Cheese Casserole.  YUCK!

1960s Spinach Cottage Cheese Casserole - Now A 21st Century Frittata
1960s Spinach Cottage Cheese Casserole – Now A 21st Century Frittata

Everything my generation ate in the 60s, especially weeknight, were Casseroles    .…..Tuna Casserole…. Chicken Soup Casserole, Cottage Cheese Casserole.  Casseroles were convenient, fast, and frequently mushy or soggy, one dish meals. BORING!!

This recipe served multiple functions:  Diet Dish, Vegetable Dish, Protein Dish, One Dish Meal.  Easy to prepare and cooked in record time.  In the time it took to set the table and make a salad (and drink the first cocktail) my mother had a nutritious meal ready.

This dish is as versatile as the Yogurt Chicken.  Add more eggs and a bit of heavy cream, and you’ve got a QUICHE.  Add a can of drained Rotel, plus a bit more cheese, and you’ve got a spicy veggie frittata, full of protein.  Cook it covered or uncovered, it is a joy to watch as it bakes.  It puffs up while baking, and later deflates when cooling.  It’s soooo easy.  My mother and Grandma Hattie are both laughing at me for ignoring this recipe for so long.

The only permanent change I’ve made to this recipe is the addition of a few grains of rice.  Uncooked rice (15-20 kernels) absorbs any excess moisture that you may have inadvertently left in the spinach.  You hardly notice the rice.  The frittata is light, yet filling.

Enjoy!

Grandma Hattie’s Raisin Cake

Fussy love simple….especially simple recipes.  Take simple ingredients, (most of which were common supplies in a 20th century pantry or frig), boil them together and create a chemical reaction.  In the time it takes an oven to heat up, the ingredients are dumped together to create a fragrant, gooey batter.

1d06a6f3-853e-4279-9613-02c1ead65a76When this recipe was hastily written in Grandma Hattie’s kitchen, this Twenty-Something Foodie, just wanted Grandma’s magic at her fingertips available anytime the mood struck.  Fussy was tired of waiting for the ritual delivery of The Raisin Cake.

The delivery was always a ‘special delivery’. After a visit to a Texas, the cake was the special souvenir.  Wrapped in wax paper, then enrobed in two layers of aluminum foil, the cake was protected by a cardboard lingerie box.  Generally carried on a series of flights between Texas and California, Grandma Hattie’s Raisin Cake was the flavor of Texas.

No matter how well we tried to parcel out the cake, someone always managed to steal a sliver or full blown slice from the deep freeze.     The thievery and deception only made the cake more highly prized.  Fussy decided to own the prize.  Grandma gladly shared.  Hastily written on note paper from a spiral notebook, the recipe became the ‘Go To’ recipe.  Easily prepared, and greatly appreciated.  Minimal effort, maximum acclaim, that’s the kind of recipe Fussy loves.

Ignore the holiday shopping list.  Read through the blurred smudges.  The recipe is forgiving.  Ingredients need not be precisely measured.

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Add pecans, add vanilla, add a splash of rum.  Leave out cloves, add some ginger. Use oleo or butter.  These things don’t matter.  Any simple recipe has at least ONE detail that matters.  It could be a single ingredient.  It could be a technique. Patience is the crucial element of this recipe.  Once the baking soda has been dumped in, turn off the stove, and stir the batter continuously until the foaming bubbles subside completely.  Don’t rush the process.  Always keep stirring  and folding the mixture until the chemical reaction stops.  Only then has the batter cooled enough for the flour to be folded in.  The photo shows the ooey gooey dark batter before being baked.  Wasn’t enough patience for photos before Fussy served the cake tonight.  Fussy believes in sharing food, in sharing love, in sharing secrets.  endblogWhen you make this family secret, enjoy, knowing that decades of tradition are part of this simple recipe. Remember, simple can be complex if not done right. Fussy loves simple.

GHEE – A Runyonesque Recipe

ahartsignatureIn a prior post, Fussy talked about A Hart and this emoji’s meaning.  Whenever you see this emoji, a recipe is close by.  The recipe is for Ghee or Clarified Butter, as mentioned in the Guys and Dolls post.

A Hart started out as Alma Mae, the second youngest in the clan.  She ended life as Gram.  In between, Gram was an Air Force veteran, the first college graduate in her family, a professional career woman, a wife, a mother, a homemaker and an adventurer.  Gram was an old school feminist, who believed that a woman should excel in every room of the house.   Including The White House.  That kind of feminism is hard to live up to.   It’s fun to try.

Family,  food and fun were Gram’s focus.  Gram knew how to cook.  She appreciated chi chi with a dose of common sense.  Boeuf Bourguignon and Vlaams Carbonade were relatives of Beef Stew.  Gram appreciated the nuanced cultural differences.  However, Gram firmly believed that decent cooks could adapt a recipe to the  ingredients on hand.  No wine.  No problem.  No beer.  No problem.  Add okra as the finishing touch and a Hart Family classic was born.  Learn, adapt, improve, simplify.  No detailed explanations were required. Notes and rating system were.

GHEE, where were we?  Oh, yes. Ghee is the term used for
CLARIFIED BUTTER:

Warm half a pound of butter over low heat until melted.  Turn off heat. Let the solids separate from the fat.  Pour off the clear butter.  Higher cooking temperature.  Richer flavor.  Perfect with artichokes, lobsters, and oh so much more.  Ghee.  That’s clarity you can taste. Smakelijk.endblog

Guys and Dolls

“On behalf of the former sinners of tomorrow, I protest…..”    This is exactly the kind of phrase that asks to be posted, shared or tweeted.   It triggers an immediate response.  It’s just got to be relevant.  It’s so clever …  familiar ….. timely….ageless….provocative… entertaining.  As a stand alone phrase, it’s great.  One more piece of inane bull### that we love to share.  However, there is so much more to it than the gut response.  The phrase is Runyonesque.   Now this odd adjective and the phrase require a bit of context.

Context, in most things, provides clarity.  Context clarifies much in the same way butter* is clarified.  Clarification takes time and thought.  It’s simple.  The end product is richer and more intense.  Fussy loves simple.

So, put on a low flame…. mentally.  As the flickering blue heat tickles the gray matter, search your memories, ideas and life experience. No knee jerk reactions please.  NO internet.  Then, let the flame die… let  the reflections settle, cool and collect. Now decide; where does the phrase come from? What does it mean?

Fussy knows. Not fair? So what!  Here’s the context along with Fussy’s clarification:

Damon Runyon was an American journalist and writer.  His ability to capture a specific era in America was so impressive that the adjective Runyonesque came into its own. Runyon described life on the streets of early 20th Century Times Square.  His articles and stories were based on real people with larger than life personalities.  Sky Masterson was one such Runyonesque character.  Sky, an inveterate gambler,  spoke the line, in the musical, “GUYS AND DOLLS”.   Marlon Brando, what a hunk, played Sky in the 1955 MGM movie.

Does Fussy’s context provide definitive clarity?  Absolutely not. Ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.  Fussy has forgotten more than you’ll ever know.  Here’s one thing Fussy didn’t know.  Damon Runyon’s legacy lives on, not only in popular media, but in the fight against cancer.  Visit DamonRunyon.org to discover how Runyonesque life can be.  If you’ve enjoyed this simple phrase and story, follow along. Regular posts on all thing simple.endblog

*GHEE!  How do you clarify butter?  Coming in a blog post soon.