Wednesday, June 16, 2010

                                               SUMMER FOODS & WINES
Summer is my favorite time of the year to cook because of the fresh and wonderful vegetables and fruits. The wines that go with them are refreshing and light. 

Asparagus & Tomatoes

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite recipes:

Fried Chicken

Alma Wilson has worked with us and been like a member of our family for 35 years.  Her chicken is famous---all of my friends know that coming to our house in the country means enjoying this delicious treat.
It wasn't easy to get this recipe, because Alma has no recipe.  I pinned her down last week and this is what she told me---this will be enough chicken for 4-6 depending on appetites, etc:
Organic chicken, cut up and one dozen wings (my favorite piece)---cut into halves...forget the pointy piece.
2 cups sifted flour
Finely ground sea salt
Creole seasoning for wings---use your favorite---Alma used Konriko or Tony Chachere's.

Canola Oil---she has no exact measurement for this---just use enough that the chicken pieces are almost covered.  Alma uses a deep large pot rather than a skillet.
Wash the chicken pieces and dry well with paper towels. Salt the chicken to taste with sea salt and season the wings with Creole seasoning. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in pan on medium high heat---be sure the oil is hot. While oil is heating, place flour in a small paper bag and place 2 or 3 pieces of chicken in at a time. Shake the bag to coat the chicken. Have all of the chicken coated before beginning to fry.


Fry in batches so that chicken is not too crowded---it is best if the pieces are not touching. Brown on one side and then turn over (this takes approximately 5 minutes if heat is correct) and brown other side. Fry larger pieces first, then smaller ones.  

Drain well on paper towels in single layer. Serve immediately. Alma's chicken is good cold as well because it never tastes greasy to begin with.

Devilled eggs

These are so simple that I almost didn't include them. Since they are a family favorite, I decided I would share.
Boil a dozen eggs (be sure to set timer after they come to a rolling boil) for 10 minutes.

While eggs are boiling, mix 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Spectrum Mayonaise with  1 1/2 tablespoon of Durkee's Salad Dressing (this is not easy to find---it would be in a regular grocery store on the same aisle as mayonnaise).

As soon as eggs are done, drain water off and cover with cold water (I usually do this twice). Crack each egg at the large end for easier peeling. It is easier to peel them under running cold water.

After eggs are peeled and drained on paper towels (be sure they are dry), half each egg and place on serving platter. Sprinkle finely ground sea salt on the egg whites after removing the yolks and placing them in a glass bowl.  

Mash the yolks with a fork or a pastry blender. Add more fine sea salt to yolks, then the mayo/Durkees mixture and mix well. I sometimes use a hand mixer to be sure there are no lumps.

Fill each white half with yolk mixture, then sprinkle with Hungarian Paprika. I like them at room temperature, but if doing ahead of time, refrigerate. They need to be eaten the same day they are made.
I like this as a summer dish because fresh tomatoes, okra and corn are all readily available. My mother made a version of this. Then I found a recipe from a restaurant in New Orleans in Departures Magazine that sounded good, so I combined the two---thus the name of the recipe.
 This recipe will easily serve 4-6 depending on your group.

 Creole in pot 
Creole Plated

1 T. Kosher Salt
½ t. cayenne pepper
½ t. paprika (use Hungarian)
¼ t. garlic powder
Mix all of the above together to use after vegetables are beginning to get tender.
A roux really improves this----my mother didn't do this, but I like it better with this added touch.
¼ cup Canola Oil
¼ cup flour
2 T. canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped (you can use other varieties of tomatoes, but I find that Romas are good for cooking)
1 lb. fresh okra, sliced
2 ears of fresh corn (preferably small white corn) removed from cobb
Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste
½ t. sugar (my mother always said tomatoes need a little sugar to take away the acidic taste and she was right).
2 slices thick sliced bacon cut into horizontal strips (about ¼" wide---I like to be specific!)
1 lb. fresh shrimp (I like to peel and devein my own, but you could buy fresh raw shrimp that has been peeled).  Cut into smaller bite sized pieces.
In a heavy pot, heat 2 T. Canola Oil. Add bacon first, and cook until partially cooked. Then add all of the vegetables and reduce heat to medium. After they are beginning to cook start adding the Creole seasoning along with a little Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste. Barely cover the mixture with boiling water. After vegetables are almost cooked (don't overcook them as they will simmer later), add the shrimp, then taste before adding further Creole seasoning. I like things salty and you may not, so add less rather than more, so small amounts at a time.
To make the roux, just heat the oil in a heavy skillet....once it is hot sprinkle in flour and stir constantly until brown, but do not burn. When brown, add it to the vegetable/shrimp mixture. Adjust seasonings and serve over white rice (I always cook 1 & ½ cups rice for this amount of shrimp/vegetables.).
This is great served with a Bibb Lettuce salad with a simple French Vinagrette dressing and a glass of white Burgundy or good Italian Piemontese....mentioned later in this post.

Asparagus & Tomatoes

This is a great dessert year round----it is best served right out of the oven in the cooler months, but also tasty at room temperature if served the same day.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees---this recipe serves 4 or 5---it's easy to double to serve 8-10 depending on size of ramekins. 
1 cup sugar
3 T. flour
1 cup milk
juice of one large lemon (don't use Meyer Lemons as they are not lemony enough for this recipe)
2 eggs, separated
½ t. salt
Sift sugar, flour and salt. Stir milk in gradually, then add lemon juice and slightly beaten egg yolks.  
Beat eggs whites until stiff and fold into the other mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes in small ramekins that have been oiled in a bain-marie (1" of hot water). When done, immediately remove from pan and place on cooling rack.


These directions are for one glass:
1 1/2 ounces of naturally sweetened chilled pineapple juice
1/2 ounce St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
Fill the rest of the glass with Champagne

I adore summer wines because they are light and simple. Here are a few of my favorites: 


Sommariva Prosecco---you can buy this at Sigel's in Dallas---it is light and goes well with summer foods.  


Domaine Ott---I mentioned this one last year---learned to enjoy it in the south of France and in St. Barths.  


These reds are great year round, but I especially like the light ones in the summer. Also, the French chill their Beaujolais which is highly desirable during the warmer months. The best ones are Fleuries, Chiroubles and Moulin-A-Vents.
Favorite Pinot Noirs are Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve from the Willamette Valley in Oregon---this one is a bit heavier, and Chad from Santa Lucia Highlands in northern California, which is a much lighter style---great for summer. 



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