Saturday, December 24, 2011

Benne Seed Wafers

I make these yummy wafers every Christmas. Well, I have for the last three years. They are so good. So much better than the benne seed wafers that you buy here in Charleston. Benne seed is the what the slaves in the Lowcountry called sesame seeds.  

This excerpt about benne comes from the Charleston Receipts cookbook, America's oldest Junior League cookbook in print:

"According to legend among descendants of slaves along the coast of Charleston, benne is a good luck plant for those who eat thereof or plant in their gardens. It was originally brought in by the slaves from West Africa to this Coastal region."

You NEED to make these. They are buttery, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Be cannot eat just one.

And, they were made to go with one of these. If you're in to that sort of thing. And I am very in to that sort of thing.

Benne Seed Wafers
1 cup sesame seeds, roasted (you can find these with the sushi in your grocery store)
2 1/2 cups firmly pack light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the sugar, butter, and eggs until very light--about 5 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture and stir well with a spatula. Add the vanilla. Stir in the sesame seeds. Drop by 1/2 teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.  They will bake into perfect quarter/silver dollar-sized circles.
Bake until edges are browned, but not burned, 14 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on the cookie sheets, then peel off. Store in an airtight container.

*This makes A LOT of cookies....A LOT. They make great gifts wrapped in cellophane with a pretty Christmas-y ribbon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Five" Song Friday--Christmas Edition!

I have lots of favorite Chrismas songs, but here are my five ten favorite....this year. It's really hard to only pick five ten.

1.  Merry Christmas Baby--Sheryl Crow & Eric Clapton

2. White Christmas--Otis Redding

3.  Christmas Must Be Tonight--The Band

4.  Santa Claus is Back in Town--Elvis Presley

5.  That Spirit of Christmas--Ray Charles

Okay, I can't stop there....

6.  Sleigh Ride--Harry Connick, Jr.

7.  Please Come Home for Christmas--Charles Brown

8.  White Christmas--The Drifters

9.  Little Saint Nick--The Beach Boys

10.  Christmas Wish--She and Him

Chocolate Cream Pie

This is the pie that I made for my family's Christmas get-together. It's my version of the original, which comes from a cookbook called Sunday in the South
Of course, I must tell you that I wasn't trying to be "creative" or "experimental". I, as usual, did not have one of the ingredients required. It asked for unsweetened chocolate, I had I just reduced the amount of sugar that was called-for. And it turned out wonderful! 

Enough talking, here is the recipe.

1 (9") pie crust, pre baked
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 pint whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 oz. semisweet chocolate, shaved

1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Add the milk and chocolate and cook over medium high heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is slightly thickened.  Reduce heat and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

To the beaten eggs, add about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture and stir. Add the eggs to the saucepan, bring to a low boil and stir continuously for 4 minutes. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into the baked pie crust, cool, and chill for 2-3 hours. 

Place the whipping cream in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the sugar and whip the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the top of the chilled pie and garnish with the chocolate shavings.

*If you want to make this Dark Chocolate Cream Pie, add 1/4 cup sugar to the cornstarch mixture, and use 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate rather than bittersweet.

My brother and SIL are Food Network Stars!

Did anyone happen to catch the latest episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network last night? If you did, you saw my brother and sister-in-law! DDD came to my home town of Summerville to feature a delicious hotdog joint called Perfectly Franks. This place is awesome! They have so many different types of hotdogs, but my two favorites are the one they made on the show, The Frank Cuda, and one named after my brother, The Frank Legare.

The Frank Cuda has homemade chili, cheese sauce, bleu cheese coleslaw, fried bacon and fried onions. It is amaaaazing. 

The Frank Legare is basically Frogmore Stew on a bun. Instead of a regular hotdog, it's smoked sausage topped with boiled shrimp, corn relish, and cocktail sauce. mmmmm. Is your mouth watering?

I have the video saved, but I obviously don't know how to upload videos to blogger because I fail every time. Can I get hand here? What am I doing wrong?

Here are some "stills" from the episode...
Perry Cuda, chef and owner
and that's my big brother, Matt!
diggin' into the Frank Legare dog

My beautiful sister-in-law, Ellen!
You know, just chattin' it up with Guy.

So, if you're every in the area, and in the mood for a good hotdog, Perfectly Franks has the best!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas done come early...

When Andy and I got married, we decided that we would alternate our Christmas's between our families. This year is the year we head to Atlanta to spend Christmas with Andy's parents and friends. It's always a blast, will post about it when it happens. 

So, last night we celebrated Christmas with my parents and family. Or, as I like to call them, the Griswold's.

I knew Andy was the one for me when I discovered we shared a love for Christmas Vacation. It had nothing to do with anything else but our love for Cousin Eddie and Clark.

My mom always makes the house look so pretty for Christmas. 

It was such a nice night. Lucy is at the perfect "Christmas age". She loves opening her presents and looking at the Christmas tree. She loved her presents from CiCi and D (me and andy). We got her an extremely large yellow lab pillow pet who she has named "Bir Bir" (Birdie), a Mr. Potato Head family, and a Radio Flyer tricycle. Her favorite, by far, was the tricycle. She kept saying "Yucy's bicycle! Yucy's bicycle!"

Opening her Mr. Potato Head

Even Scout opened some presents.

The dogs had a good time, too.

Mom made her famous split pea soup

And I made a chocolate cream pie for dessert. It was yummy...recipe to come soon.

I got a lot of good stuff, including a roasting pan, cookbook, and some pretty scarves, but my favorite gift was this....

I cannot WAIT to fry up something! Maybe some shrimp, oysters, or beignets! The possibilities are endless...and my a$$ might be endless thanks to this little guy. But that's what new year's resolutions are for, right?

Monday, December 12, 2011

She Crab Soup

So, I've been meaning to post some pics from our Thanksgiving. I could give you the whole long laundry-list of reasons why this hasn't happened, but I won't bore you.

Here is one recipe from our Thanksgiving. I served it for lunch with crostini, kept warm in a crockpot so everyone could eat when they pleased.

This recipe came from Hamby's catering, who catered our wedding. It's yummy and rich, just as she crab soup should be. This recipe makes a lot, so you might want to cut it in half unless you're making it for a crowd.

She Crab Soup
8 Tbsp. butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 quarts half-and-half
3 ribs celery, grated
1 small onion, grated
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
½ tsp. ground mace
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup sherry or to taste
1 ½ pounds crabmeat

Melt butter in a large stockpot. Whisk in flour and cook 4 minutes until smooth and bubbly. Add milk and half-and-half and bring to a boil. In separate pan, sauté celery and onions. Add vegetables to milk mixture and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mace, salt, pepper and sherry. Fold in crabmeat and simmer 5 minutes longer. Do not boil.

*I do not know what mace is, and I never can find it. So, I leave it out. Not sure what I'm missing out on, but it's delish without the mystery ingredient.
*Also, don't even try to "grate" your celery or onion. Buy one of these instead. I use mine all the time. 
Tupperware Chop n' Prep Chef
or you could just use a food processor to chop the veggies finely. are some long overdue Thanksgiving pics. 
Cranberry Relish

Pecan Cheese Log

fryin' the bird.

not a very good pic..
collard greens, squash casserole, asparagus casserole, fried turkey, glazed carrots, dressing, mashed taters

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Here's a Health Carolina...


it's a great day to be a gamecock. actually...the past 3 years have been pretty amazing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving is the BEST!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

I love it for so many reasons...

1.  There is no gift giving/receiving, unless you count food as a gift.

2.  Eating is my favorite, and my family is filled with good cooks. My momma makes the BEST collard greens ever. My daddy fries a mean turkey. Sally bakes a yummy pumpkin pie.

3.  Cooking is my second favorite, and we do Thanksgiving at our house so I make a large portion of the food for our feast. I love every minute of it.

And finally...
4.  Thanksgiving is all about family, and I have one amazing family.

Speaking of family, here are a few family recipes that I made today for Thanksgiving morning breakfast/dessert.

My grandmother's recipe for Graham Cracker Pralines, Andy's grandmother's recipe for Cranberry-Orange Bread

MaMa's Graham Cracker Pralines

graham crackers
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400.
Line the bottom of a ridged cookie sheet with a single layer of the graham crackers. Heat sugar and butter over medium-high heat until it boils vigorously. Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Pour immediately over crackers. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

*I baked mine for about 8 minutes and they were perfect.

Andy's Grandmother's Cranberry-Orange Bread

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 egg
juice and zest from one orange
2 tablespoons shortening
boiling water
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup raw firm cranberries, cut in pieces

Preheat to 350.
Sift together twice the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. 
Pour the orange juice and zest into a measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup-ful. Add the shortening, and whisk to combine--set aside. Stir the egg into the dry ingredients. Add the orange juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the cranberries and nuts and mix well.
Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to and hour (until a wooden pick comes out clean).

This pumpkin bread isn't a family recipe, but its one I made based on a recipe I found a while ago. I made some changes, and it turned out yummy. 

Pumpkin Bread
yields 2 loaves

3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 cups canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir well. Pour into two greased loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour (or until wooden pick comes out clean).

*The recipe calls for 1 full cup oil, instead I substituted applesauce.
*It also called for 4 eggs. I misread the recipe (imagine that) and didn't add any eggs at all. And my bread is moist and dense and lovely.

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Here is our menu for today

She Crab Soup

Cranberry Salsa
Pecan Cheese Ball
Liver Pudding and Cheddar (for my daddy)

Fried Turkey
Asparagus Casserole
Squash Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Collard Greens
Glazed Carrots

Pumpkin Pie
Graham Cracker Pralines